The Zombie Rules
This is a zombie apocalypse survival horror campaign that uses the Top Secret S/I role-playing game. It is sufficiantly open-ended enough that I think you could use this for any type of zombie apocalypse. I’m going with a base of “non-mystical” and “non-religious” cause (re: biological). Anyway, you’ll need to know the Top Secret S/I game to really make use of it…other than mining for ideas to incorporate into your own prefered RPG system (shouldn’t be too hard to transpose them).
- Paul L. Ming
Without giving too much away…
An ancient disease has spread throughout the world, more or less. It originated in the thawing ice shelves of the north and south; dormant for tens of thsousands of years, with global warming it was awakened. Entering the food chain it quickly spread throughout the world. A few months went by with some people getting sick…all the symptoms of some kind of “almost bird flu”. Encouragement of vaccination for the latest strain of bird flu only gave the virus more opportunity to spread (lots of people in a confined space waiting to get their flu shot). International travel, warmer and wetter than normal weather, and presto!
Almost as if it had some sort of intelligence, the zombie-virus made itself known. Over the space of just 3 days, much of the worlds population succumbed to the plague. Those who were already dead, remained dead. But those still living, died within the first few hours of showing symptoms (cold sweats, feaver, vomiting, drymouth, slowly anemic, slurred speach, muscle control loss, confusion, death). After death, they rose. Sometimes it was within minutes, other times within hours. So far, the only consistant thing is that the newly risen zombies want to kill people, tear them apart and eat them…and not neccisarily in that order.
Zombies all have between 1 and 6 boxes per location. They are unaffected by all ‘pain’ type effects and deterants. Only the “head shot” counts though; use per location for specific situations (re: zombie trying to get through a door…PC tries to hack off arm with an axe to close door completely).
Typical, average adult Zombie stats are as follows (numbers in brackets are most common):
An important thing happens when facing down death and isolation; people either start to gain confidence, or they start to loose it. This is called the Critical / Panic mechanic. Heheh…
Anyway, anytime a stressful situation arrises and a player needs to make a roll to check something (skill check, stat check, to hit, etc.), that roll can sometimes instil a sense of supriority and confidence, or it can instill a forboding sense of dread and panic. How? Simple. Doubles. Anytime a roll results in doubles, it indicates that the character is either happy or sad…basically. If the roll is a success, then it counts as a “Critical”. If the roll is a failure, then it counts as a “Panic”. As these rolls happen, the character slides up or down this little scale:
You will see “ABC” and “XYZ” on the scale. These indicate Critical Confidence; with a + or ABC, or Panic Hopelessness; with a -, or XYZ. All characters start the game at 0. As the make Criticals or Panics, they circle the number/letter/dash up or down, as applicable. For example, a character gets a 88…panicking failure. He circles the “–” under -1. He next rolls a 11…critical success. He erases the circle under -1, and re-circles “0”. He then rolls another critical success with a 33; he erases the circle and circles the “+” under 1. His last double roll of the game session is another critical success, with another 33; he erases the circle under 1 and circles the “+” under +2.
NOTE: In case you missed it…its easier to get to X than it is to get to C, and easier to get to Y than it is to B. Yeah, trying to survive in a zombie-apocalypse is kinda disheartening. Deal with it.
Critical Confidence Levels
C – Character may declare 1 roll (after dice are rolled) as a “Lucky Break” during a game session.
B – Character may declare 2 rolls, as above.
A – Character may declare 3 rolls, as above.
This is a player choice; the GM has no say in the matter, period.
Panic Hopelessness Levels
X – GM may declare 1 roll of the PC’s as a “Bad Break”, or give an NPC opponent a Lucky Break, 1 / session.
Y – GM may declare 2 rolls, as above.
Z – GM may declare 3 rolls, as above.
This is a GM choice…however, another player may use up one of his A, B or C declared Lucky Breaks to cancel the Bad Break against the affected PC as long as the helpful PC is able to come up with some roleplaying, in-game reason for it. Yes, it can be outlandish, or even nigh-absurd (like “I throw my axe across the parking lot to hit the zombie in the head before it munches on his character!”). The more absurd the idea, the more the GM will have to work in exactly what happens (like, “You throw your axe…about half way…where it bounces off a car hood…which causes the cars alarm to go off…which distracts the zombies around his character…one of which accidentally close-lines the zombie who was going in for the killing bite…”). Crazy shit like that happens in movies…go with it!
Here’s a big blank space for you, the GM, to make notes about how your zombies “are” (re: do they ‘freeze’? Do they float? Sink? Need sight/smell/hearing, or just ‘know’ where their food is? Are there different kinds of zombies? (slow moving, ‘runners’, ‘brutes’, ‘leaders’, etc). Anyway, get to it! Come up with some cool zombie variations on your own and terrorize your players!
One zombie is one zombie. Two is a pair. Three, a trio, Four and five are “four or five zombies”. Six is “half a dozen”. Between 7 and 10 is a “small group”. Once you hit 11 – 15 you have found a “large group”. And before you ask, no, there is no “medium group” of zombies…its small, large or…. When you hit more than 16…you have yourself a zombie-hoard. Zombie Hoards range from “small” (20 to 30), to “pretty big” (30 to 50), up to “OMFG WE ARE ALL GONNA DIIIIIEEEE!!!!!” (at 50+).
If you find yourself fighting a zombie hoard, things are looking grim. If you go down during a zombie hoard, no amount of Luck Points will save you. You are immediately set upon by the ravenous dead and devouered. Even as little as “four or five” zombies will spell your end, regardless of Luck, if nobody is around to save your ass. That said, one to three zombies…you can Luck out.
A zombie hoard functions as a “single entity”, more or less. The average CON of the zombies involved is used, rounded up to the nearest 10.
They all move at the MOV of 25 (unless they “Surge”; see below).
If they (PC’s) do MORE than the hit points of the average zombie in the hoard (re: CON / 10), they kill one zombie. If the character does LESS than the hit points of the average zombie, the zombie hoard does NOT loose a member (see below). The zombie hoard still attacks that character (if they are up close enough), and they still advance as if nothing happened (re: they move 25). To put it another way…the march of the zombie hoard is relentless and brooks no injury to itself until the very last zombie is dead.
The GM simply needs to keep track of the total number of zombies and tick them off, one by one, as they go down. Only when the last zombie is dispatched is the “hoard” considered gone (e.g., even if you are down to a trio of zombies, they still count as a “hoard”). Yes, it kinda sucks for the PC’s, but this is a zombie apocalypse…it’s not supposed to be fair!
Each round, the player can attack the hoard. A zombie hoard can surge each round. A surge is when they get pushed ahead from more, uh, pushy zombies in the back. Or, maybe new zombies come out of the back room…or out from behind an overturned bus…or from the bushes…or, hell, crawl up out of the freaking ground! The point is, each round the GM rolls 1d10. If the d10 comes up the same as what any PC’s initiative die was, the zombies surge; the zombies move twice as fast that round (re: 50). Whats worse, is that whatever the 1d10 result was, that’s how many new zombies are added to the hoard. If the PC’s are in a heavily populated area (re: a big city or the center of town), you can DOUBLE that number. (moral of the story; if you need supplies from town, don’t send ‘everybody’…small and quiet is probably better…maybe…ish…).
Additionally, if the PC’s are making a lot of noise (re: using guns, chainsaws, cars, etc.), double the number surging. So, if a tie initiative roll of 6 comes up, that’s 6 more zombies. If that happened in a downtown area, make it 12 new zombies…oh, the PC’s are using shotguns? Double it again, to +24 zombies.
Zombies show up within the number rolled x10’ (ex: 6 tie = +6 zombies which appear within 60’). Generally, half of them will be within half of that. That is also a radius; those 6 extra zombies could have 2 directly in front of the Pcs, 1 comes from the right side of an overturned bus, and the last 3 are actually right behind the characters…in the supposedly locked drugstore they were backing up towards to try and get some cover… (the GM is encouraged to be devious here…not unfair…but definitly devious…).
Wearing armor in a zombie hoard will do one thing; prolong your suffering. Zombies may not be able to hurt you, but they will eventually overwhelm you and bring you down. At that point, you are getting all your non-armored bits chewed off. That will kill you. Armor also makes you slower, so a zombie hoard may be able to actually catch you. Then, they chew off your unarmored bits. That will kill you. You may think to discard your armor to move faster. That takes time, and in that time they may catch you. And chew off your unarmored bits. That will kill you.
When large weapons enter the fray, zombies blow up or flame up, or melt, or whatever. Things like granades, molotove cocktails, land mines, etc., all fall into this category.
Normal damage is rolled as if a hit (c’mon, how hard is it to toss a grenade into a hoard of 20 zombies?). That damage is then multiplied by 1/2 of the number of zombies in the hoard (rounding down). That number then divided by the hit points of the average zombie. That many zombies are destroyed. Remainders are ignored (other than makeing the zombies look even worse now…) as bits of zombie fly off all over the place.
Example: A grenade does 4 to a hoard of 17 zombies (with 5hp each). Six zombies are taken out (4 × 8; /5, rd = 6).
Current Goings On In The World
It’s all bad here. Really bad. With such large, dense populations all pretty much within walking distance of one another the virus hit hard and hit fast. The first indications of zombification occured on the same day that it did on this side of the world, but it only took slightly more than 24 hours to have decimated the population from Norway down through Southern France. A day after that, and europe as a whole was one big zombie orgy.
Either you’re screwed, or you’re fine. If you are anywhere near a populated area, you’re as good as dead. If the zombies don’t get you, the armed religious dictators will. If you are out in the boonies…you’re pretty good to go (assuming that the harsh reality of “normal” nature doesn’t put you down, of course).
Every man for himself, and every man with a half-dozen guns has NOT made the Americas a very nice place to be. The US is a lawless expanse of gun nuts, doomsday preppers, and paranoid families preaching that all of this was Gods Will and punishment for [insert persons particular hang-up here]. Nobody helps anyone…shoot first, ask questions later. This will likely kill them all off, as there is pretty much no cooperation between anyone. Those smart enough to realise that there is safety in numbers also realise that if they have something good, someone is going to try and take it (re: the whole “every man for himself” and “survival of the fittest” and good ol’ ’merican “I must win!” mindset). Bottom line…stay OUT of the USA.
Actually not bad. The big cities are hell-holes, sure, but that said, there are very few “big cities” in Canada. The sheer distance betwen settlements has made it much easier for people to get out of their core city/town and set up a defensable area. Many Canadians are used to being “in the wilderness”, or at least they understand it to some degree, and have started to gather resources they will need to survive the winter months. Some of the northern communities don’t even know what’s going on, really. Little contact with the ‘outside world’ hasn’t much phased them at all. That said, they have heard that the dead are rising, and, whilst this may be true, doesn’t seem to bother them much. The thing they are worried about is the influx of nigh-psychotic Americans trying to come in and avoid getting munched on by zombies.
Jungle hell-hole. Drug cartels, savage wildlife, densely populated cities, all spell “screwed”. Those that managed to go deeper into the jungles or other out of the way areas are barely surviving. The cities have areas that are under the ex-drug lords (they had all the guns). They tend to shoot first and not bother asking questions.
All bad, like Europe. Pakistan and India are, for all intents and purposes, no more. Almost their entire population are zombies. Horrible infrastructure pretty much sealed their fate, as well as the religious ferverence, believing that if they just pray enough Allah/God/Vishnu/Whatever, would save them. That didn’t work out too well. At the first sign of zombification, families immediately set upon families as “proof” that they were more loved by “god” than the other guy. The seriously screwed up caste systems were the nail in the coffin, so to speak. If the zombies didn’t get you, some nut bar with a gun, grenade, or bomb strapped to his chest did it for you. The coalition forces there knew what was going to happen, and a mass bug-out in the first 4 hours got most of them out and back to “civilization”, with all their guns, and probably grenades (see “America”, above for how that turned out).
With a hugely dense population and their socially active society, Japan went down as fast as Europe. That said, the countries love for the martial arts and kendo (sword play) gave more of the population a chance. Currently, there are small enclaves of folks who have holed up in various strong-points where they fight off the zombies, primarily in hand-to-hand combat. Bloody, messy, and dangerous…but at least it’s quiet and doesn’t tend to attract more zombies.
Australia / New Zealand
With some wide open spaces (re: the outback) and ample places to run to, Australia and New Zealand have fared relitivly well. Good fishing from the ocean and surrounded by water, the populations have fallen back into small communities with well-defended areas (either high rock-hills or sea-side cliff areas).
Greenland / Iceland
Sparce population has been a godsend. Very little zombification found it’s way here. Broadswords, shields and armor and a warriors attitude have made a huge difference. At least 50% or more of the population is non-zombified. Greenland and Icelands infrastructure is still more or less as was before “Ragnarok”. Then again, pretty small populations so every person “counts” here.