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Classic Dungeons & Zombies

Froghemoth Froghemoth

There's a new all-fluff (no rules) D&D book coming out shortly called the Dungeon Survival Guide that looks back over D&D's 30+ years of history and features some of the classic dungeons. Apparently there was no room in it for the infamous S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks which is a terrible shame in my view. No one who's ever played it will forget the police robots, the ray guns that you shot yourself with while trying to use them or the menagerie of silly monsters in the botanical gardens - this is where the wolf-in-sheep's clothing originated. I certainly won't forget the froghemoth (above) - I think our party actually bottled out of fighting it based on Erol Otus' brilliant illustration.

The official D&D website also has some stuff about 4e zombies that seems very cool:

Shambling, mindless corpses are getting all gussied up for 4E Although it might be hard to believe that something as simple as an animated carcass needed an overhaul, with ample influences in movies and video games, the designers knew the zombie was an ideal guinea pig for applying the new monster philosophy. So they set about keeping the zombie simple to run, but they gave it a clear role and made it feel more like the zombies from the big screen.

Every 3rd Edition D&D player thinks of a zombie, at best, as a tough bag of hit points that can take a beating. At worst, the zombie is seen as a really slow fighter or grist for the turn undead mill. Unfortunately, a Large or smaller 3E zombie really required a weapon to be scary on the damage-dealing side, and they were a lot easier to take out than any movie zombie.

Rethinking the zombie required harkening to the zombie in popular culture while maintaining the D&D elements that make undead cool. Zombies move slowly, dragging their lifeless feet, and it takes a heck of a blow to kill one, so tough is right. But zombies don’t pick up weapons, even convenient ones. They tear you apart with their bare dead hands. They overwhelm you with numbers, drag you down, and eat you.

The new zombie is a brute with just enough reasoning power to know who to kill. It’s easy to hit—zombies don’t dodge—but it’s rotten body just soaks up blows that would kill a living creature. You had better be hitting the zombie hard every time, or it’ll just keep coming. If you manage to hit it really hard, say with a critical hit or a power that deals hefty damage, you might just take the creep out in one fell swing.

That’s right. I did say, “critical hit.” The zombie is vulnerable to that now, which is sweeter than a head shot in any zombie flick.

If you’re a player, take a moment right now to thank the merciful designers that turn undead is still in the game. That power doesn’t send the zombies running off to gods knows where, but if it doesn’t turn them to putrid dust, it does hold them at bay. Believe me—you don’t want zombies close to you. Even though they won’t come wielding greataxes, zombies can take your head off with their vicious slams. The bigger the zombie, the uglier the thump. And when zombies swarm you, some of them are going to grab you, maybe even pulling you to the ground. That’s not the place to be when the dead come knocking.

At appropriate levels, a fight against zombies should look more like a horror movie scene. Protagonists have to maneuver to keep away from the possibility of devastating damage while trying to cut their way through a relentless wall of dead flesh. The players get a thrill when a zombie goes down to massive damage, and the DM gets the satisfaction of using a monster that lives up to popular expectations.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
I'm glad they are doing something to 'upgrade' zombies in 4e. You shouldn't only be scared of them at 1st level!

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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