1,000 Abnormal Zombies
by Creighton Broadhurst
October 24, 2019
Zombies are classic monsters. They appear in practically every role-playing game in every genre. However, zombies often end up as nothing more than generic, bland enemies. That’s a shame as their appearance and accoutrements could provide clues as to their fate and inject more flavour and detail into an otherwise standard combat encounter. A standard zombie appears thusly:
This rotting, walking corpse wears only a few soiled rags. It stumbles forward, arms outstretched.
To this basic description, apply one of the entries below:
- One side of the creature’s face is nothing more than a suppurating, bloody mess; one of its eyes is missing.
- The zombie’s left arm is unnaturally bent at the elbow. As the zombie shuffles forward, shards of white bone break through its rotten flesh.
- Clad in blood-soaked peasant’s clothes, this person clearly suffered horrendous wounds before death.
- A huge chunk of this zombie’s stomach is missing; a few strands of entrails droop from the gaping wound, creating a skirt of sorts hanging down toward the zombie’s knees.
- This zombie’s head lolls from side to side in a disturbing, unnatural fashion; its neck is clearly broken.
- This zombie has no legs below the knee. Consequently, it crawls forward reaching its prey much slower than its companions.
- This zombie’s neck is partially severed; muscles and bone are clearly visible through the gore.
- This corpulent zombie is completely naked, and filled with a build up of noxious gases. If struck with a sharp melee weapon, it explodes coating adjacent creatures with blood, bone and viscera.
- This zombie has had its jaw ripped off. Blood and gore cover its chest.
- A gaping wound pierces this creature’s rib cage, exposing the badly damaged and desiccated organs within.
In battle, some zombies fight differently to their brethren:
- This zombie is much slower than its companions due to a broken leg. It moves at half speed.
- As it advances, this zombie stumbles and falls. The next round, it struggles back to its feet before continuing its advance.
- This zombie carries a one-handed melee weapon—perhaps a longsword or axe—but has forgotten how to use it. Every round, there is a 50% chance it accidentally uses the weapon.
- This zombie has a shield strapped to its arm. Thus, its armour class is slightly better than its brethren.
- This zombie fixes its dead, baleful gaze on one target and focuses on that individual above all others.
- This zombie moans and groans as it approaches its prey.
- Freshly dead, this zombie leaves a wide trail of slippery blood and viscera behind it; incautious combatants could slip and fall in the gore.
- This zombie tries to grapple opponents instead of simply beating them to death. If successful, it begins biting.
- This zombie is faster than its brethren and outpaces them in its bloodlust.
- This zombie has a smashed voice box. It yips and cackles in a similar way to a hunting jackal, as it approaches.
Sometimes, zombies yet have some small trinket or treasure about their person. Roll on the table below, if you determine the creature has a small item of personal treasure:
- This zombie yet wears a wide leather belt. Stained with blood and other unwholesome liquids, at first glance it seems worthless. If cleaned, however, a complex pattern of stitches emerges depicting what seems to be a section of sewer complete with a secret room!
- One golden hoop earring hangs from one of the zombie’s decomposing ears. The plain band is worth 2 gp.
- This zombie wears fine, knee-high leather boots that create an audible clacking sound on stone flooring. If cleaned, the boots are worth 3 gp.
- A woven leather necklace hangs around the zombie’s neck. Perceptive PCs spot, hidden within its strands, four thin golden threads. Each is worth 5 gp.
- This zombie’s previous victim was rich. It has a slender finger wedged in its mouth which wears a thin golden band decorated with beautifully etched leaves and vines. The ring is worth 25 gp, but covered in foul-smelling saliva.
- A slender silver chain encircles one of the zombie’s ankles. Four small charms—each representing one of the four elements—hangs from the anklet. It is worth 10 gp.
- A gore-coated dagger juts from the zombie’s chest. The wickedly sharp silver dagger is wedged between two rib bones. It is worth 90 gp.
- This zombie wears the slashed and stained remnants of a silk doublet. Unless magically repaired, it is essentially worthless as an item of clothing, but a skilled seamstress could harvest enough silk for several hankies and the like.
- Slipped within its knee-high leather boots, this zombie carries a small, sharp dagger. Its pommel has a clenched fist design.
- This zombie wears a voluminous cloak sporting a deep cowl. The previous owner hid two platinum coins sown into the cloak’s hem. Only perceptive characters discover the coins.
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