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phoenix240

Using Hero System for Zombie Survival Horror

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I'm planning on running a zombie survival based game but there are two points that I am bit concerned with. First, the classic zombie head shot vulnerability seems like it would be more of advantage in Hero System than in the source material. It's a -8 to hit the head and even with a basement DCV (which I would imagine most zombies have as they have almost no self preservation instincts) it seems like it would be much more difficult for the "normal" (typical civilians which wouldn't have a high level of combat training) level characters I have in mind to effectively fight them.

I want it to be a struggle (otherwise, its no challenge and the monsters aren't very scary) but I don't want it to be frustratingly impossible.

 

 

Second, how would you suggest implementing the zombie bite. In the source material its typically very infectious even outright toxic and usually kills the target with the smallest wound and the victim rises as a zombie soon after. Instant, unavoidable death from a single successful attack does seem like much fun in a role playing game. In a story, the writer controls who gets bitten and when but there are no guarantees in a game. But on the other hand, like the head shot issue this aspect seems import to the feel of the genre. Letting the creatures get close is BAD idea and (of course) often unavoidable.

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Re: Using Hero System for Zombie Survival Horror

 

The first issue can be resolved (or at least partially resolved) by giving the zombies a Complication to the effect that they are always "out of combat" for DCV purposes. That would put them at half DCV for all attacks, and halve the penalty for called shots. A head shot would still be -4, but that's a lot easier to deal with than -8.

 

For the second, I would build the zombie bite with "must follow grab", giving the characters at least one extra phase to take out the zombie when they're about to be bitten. Making the bite do minimal damage would help, as leather jackets, boots, and gloves become viable armor, and you could even limit the bite by saying it only penetrates heavy cloth (like denim) on an 11- check. Human teeth aren't really the best for chomping through anything tougher than slightly unripe fruit.

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Re: Using Hero System for Zombie Survival Horror

 

Head Shot - Have you looked at "high shot" modifiers? The traditional headshot is a one-shot kill aspect. The greatest power of zombies is not their disease or ability to take a lot of damage but the sheer numbers and overwhelming their prey. Trying to take only head shots and fighting them with perfect kills ends up as a losing strategy. The characters will need to figure other ways to stop large numbers. Secondly, if it can't walk since you blew a leg off or such, you have all the time in the world to set and brace to remove modifiers. If it is too easy to drop them with head shots, you lose the panic and the atmosphere of a zombie attack. If the zombie has no torso and legs via massive damage, you don't have to worry about attack. Thirdly, this would be a great excuse for them to spend all the experience points in OCV level for called shots at the beginning. They would also have all the chance to learn it with all the combat. Remember, a zombie survival scenario is all about that initial adjustment and getting through it.

 

Zombie Bite - I would use a transformation attack. You decide how fast it would transform someone and whether there are ways to reverse it. You could even have something where the amount of damage the character suffers speeds up the effect. It would end up in losing a lot of characters to start but there are usually a lot of opportunities to meet other small groups to align with. It might be a good idea to have the characters create a number of characters even if not fully fleshed out. We use a house rule that new characters come in with the same experience as old characters to keep everyone close. It might add and would also allow for some great role-playing where characters would sacrifice themselves for others. We don't penaltize players for that either with our rule. We did the same with other systems and some players needed a few characters to start and others needed only one.

 

We did a game where you only had a 20% chance of being infected per bite. Of the 5 characters, 4 failed their first roll and the 5th ran. It was designed to have the players making those hard decision to kill one of their own, etc. but the dice said F you. Dice have a way of really messing things up. Be ready for it.

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Re: Using Hero System for Zombie Survival Horror

 

Thanks for the suggestions. Susano, thank you particular for the write ups. They'll make a good basis for my creatures if I should use them. Unfortunately. I've started to reconsider running a zombie based game. They're so rarely successful from what I've seen.

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Re: Using Hero System for Zombie Survival Horror

 

1: Head shots have a tendency to be a little to easy in the source material lol but I get your point. If you remember the post here.

I've been thinking for quite some time now that it's quite appropriate to give Zeds something like this...

 

No Survival Instinct -Physical Complication: Zombies don't defend themselves, don't take evasive action, and move predictably most of the time. All Hit Location Penalties are halved for purposes of aiming, just as if they had been Surprised Out of Combat

Also the zombies in my campaing can be stunned although they take no stun damage. Also I give them very low body stats compared to how big they are to simulate that they easy to maim.

 

2: The zombies must grab the victim before they bite down on it so the first attack will never kill, and I think that its "fair" to the players that the zombie get a bite attack if the players have not broken contact or taken care of the zombie after the first attack.

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Re: Using Hero System for Zombie Survival Horror

 

For part 2 provide the PCs with immunity. Don't tell them of course, and I'd probably still have them get sick, just not dead (and undead). I'm guessing knowing most players they will take care of the situation in a colorful way, and not even make you bring up the immunity, but on the off chance they decide to babysit a PC until they turn, hey guess what not everybody turns into a zombie when bit (and potentially some guilt for those who they have not given that opportunity to).

 

In reality very few diseases are 100%, no reason zombie virus should be different from smallpox or plague.

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Re: Using Hero System for Zombie Survival Horror

 

Thanks for the suggestions. Susano' date=' thank you particular for the write ups. They'll make a good basis for my creatures if I should use them. Unfortunately. I've started to reconsider running a zombie based game. They're so rarely successful from what I've seen.[/quote']

 

Before you give up completely, perhaps you'd benefit from looking at this quality free HERO System (5th Edition) web sourcebook by Will Mistretta for running a zombie survival campaign set in George Romero's "Living Dead" universe: Twilight of the Dead. The issues you raise are dealt with specifically, along with much other detailed genre-running and game-mechanic advice, and suggested permutations to customize your campaign to your liking.

 

(Note that this is an archive of a now-defunct website, so you might have to click on the "Impatient?" link on the page that first appears, to get to the one you want.) ;)

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Re: Using Hero System for Zombie Survival Horror

 

Zombie games don't tend to be long-running, in my experience, but can be fun. You can play with the genre rules and see how your players respond. For instance, I wouldn't tell them if the bite is infectious or not. In the original movie, the bite didn't turn you into a zombie. Everyone who died for any reason would arise. A young girl just happened to get bitten and she died from blood loss and general ouchiness. Leaving players in the dark like that could add dramatic tension because they don't know exactly how things work.

 

In horror movies, characters usually aren't familiar with the "rules" of a horror movie. They don't know not to go down in the basement. They try to save Uncle Gertrude when he's been bitten by one of the monsters and looks pale. They go river rafting in Alabama. Players don't make those mistakes, because they think they know the rules. Change things up a bit, don't let them know exactly what is going on, and they'll fall all over themselves to get killed.

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