Monday, November 7, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse

As some of you might know, I'm a big fan of zombies. It's one of the reasons I enjoy Savage Worlds so much--how could I not like a game whose examples of play inevitably include zombies? I've been playing a lot of Dead Island lately, and celebrating the premiere of the new season of The Walking Dead.

Because of that, I went and picked up War of the Dead, a fairly good adventure path style campaign set from Daring Entertainment. While I would recommend the adventures for people interested in running a zombie campaign, I find the infection rules a little harsh. Yes, I agree that genre emulation calls for a fairly lethal zombie plague, but fun is a higher concern than genre emulation--and seeing at least one PC die every fight isn't all that fun.

Since a lot of video games now posit the idea of player characters as immune to the zombie plague, here's some setting rules and material for a Savage Worlds zombie campaign to back that up.

Setting Rule:
Zombie Plague

All zombies, unless otherwise noted, are infectious. The disease commonly called zombie plague is blood-borne, spread through direct blood contact with a zombie. Just getting splashed with a zombie’s blood isn’t enough to spread the disease to wild card characters (usually), but since a zombie’s saliva has been replaced by blood, getting bitten is a surefire way to catch this terrible plague.

Most zombies attack with a slam--simply bashing their prey with fists and flailing limbs. With a raise on a slam attack, the zombie does not get the usual damage bonus; instead, the zombie has bitten a hero rather than bashed him. With two raises, the zombie gets both the bite and the +1d6 damage for a raise. If a character suffers a Wound from a bite attack, the character must make a Vigor roll at –2. On a failed roll, the character has become Infected.

Once a character becomes infected from a zombie bite, the rate of death and transformation depends on the seriousness of the wound. In Savage Worlds, this is indicated by the number of wounds the character received during the attack that made him Infected.

One Wound: If the character only received a single wound, the bite isn’t usually deep. The character begins to suffer from the infection after 2d10 days.

Two Wounds: When a character receives 2 wounds from a zombie’s bite, the injury is usually enough that the virus has entered the bloodstream directly. The character begins to suffer from the infection after 2d6 hours.

Three Wounds: If a character receives at least 3 wounds from a single bite, the depth of the wound pours infected blood into the character's body at a prodigious rate. The character begins to suffer from the infection after 1d6 minutes.

Once the infection begins to affect him, the hero gains a level of Fatigue as the fever starts. This Fatigue does not go away from the character resting. Every day, hour, or minute (depending on the severity above), the character must attempt a Vigor roll to avoid gaining a new level of Fatigue. When a character infected with zombie plague dies, he rises again as one of the undead in 1d6 minutes (unless the head is destroyed before then).

New Edges

Boom! Headshot! [Combat Edge]
Seasoned, Agility d8+, Fighting d8+ or Shooting d8+
When your character makes a called shot against a zombie’s head, you only suffer –2 to the roll rather than –4. When your character takes this Edge, it applies only to the combat skill used to qualify for it (Fighting or Shooting). If the character has (or later gains) d8+ in the other skill, it applies equally to that skill as well.

Immune Survivor [Background Edge]
Novice, Vigor d6+
For whatever reason, a few rare people are naturally immune to zombie plague. Your character has already gone through his first exposure to the dreaded disease and come out the other side unscathed. The hero suffers no special effect from a zombie’s bite (other than taking damage, of course).


B said...

Tell me you're running the War of the Dead here in Lexington...I'd be super interested in that!


Jeremy Puckett said...

I don't have any current plans to run War of the Dead, but I am working on a hybrid of that campaign and Palladium's Dead Reign to run (using Savage Worlds) some time next year. I'll keep everyone posted. =)