Wednesday, October 30, 2013

[Zombies] Zombies!

I thought up some mechanics for zombies a while ago -- almost two years ago, according to Google Docs -- so I figured I'd post about it on account of it almost being Halloween and all. I'm talking about aim-for-the-head, brain-eating shamblers here, so don't try to apply these to, I dunno, voodoo zombies or 28 Days Later zombies or whatever.

So first of all, zombies don't have the same skills PCs do. Instead, their skills represent body parts: Claws (attack, create advantage), Legs (overcome, create advantage), Teeth (attack), Body (defend), and Head (defend).

The typical zombie might rank them like this:
Fantastic (+6) Head*
Great (+4) Body
Good (+3) Teeth
Fair (+2) Claws
Average (+1) Legs
*I'm fully aware of how dirty this sounds and regret nothing.

When you attack a zombie, you choose how it defends -- Body or Head.

A successful attack on the Body deals a consequence. Zombies don't have stress tracks, but they do have two mild consequences (or Arms consequences) and one moderate consequence (or Legs consequence). When a zombie's taken two Arms consequences, it loses its Claws skill. When it's taken a Legs consequence, it loses its Legs skill. But a consequence is the best you can do when you attack the Body. Well, you can get a boost if you tie or succeed with style, but the point is, even if the zombie's taken all three consequences, even if it's lost its arms and legs, it's still alive.

So, my God, how do you stop it? A successful attack on the Head takes the zombie out. (I'd fluff a tie against the Head as blowing its jaw off or something, thus the boost, but leaving the brain intact. Related: I'd also severely limit, or even eliminate, Weapon ratings, because all it takes is one shift on a headshot to take out a zombie. Like, shotguns and katanas are Weapon:1, but almost everything else is Weapon:0, and I don't mean Wolverine.)

Putting those two things together, obviously no one's going to attack a zombie's Body if it already has three consequences (or even two or probably one), but that's how these things usually work, isn't it? And mechanically, there's no reason to go for the Body once it's taken a consequence, because you can invoke it for free to cancel out the Head's higher skill rating.

It might seem odd for zombies to have a Great (+4) skill for defense, but it's not that they're so great at dodging or anything. On the contrary, they're easy to hit. They're just not necessarily easy to damage in a substantial way. So that's how I'd color that in play. Most failed attacks against their Body are actually going to be "narrative hits," in that I'd describe them as on-target but mostly harmless.


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