Inviting Zombies to game – integrating a zombie apocalypse into your RPG system

We here at Troll in the Corner have been thinking about zombies a lot lately.  More specifically about inviting them into a role playing game.  While we’re not sure which system we’re going to integrate them into yet, we’ve been sketching out a few thoughts about bringing zombies into systems that don’t come stock with zombies.

Not your D&D style, couple of zombies in an encounter meet up.  We’re talking full on Zompocalypse here.  A situation where the majority of humanity is either dead, or dead and hungry.

We’ve taken ideas from various books, movies and a few personal encounters with the living dead.  Or possibly just creepy sounds at night. We’ll go with the former.

Books like World War Z and folks like George A. Romero figure strongly into our thoughts at the moment.  We’ve updated a few concepts perhaps and borrowed freely from every source we could find with the exception at the moment of Haitian zombies, who don’t really fit what we’re trying to do here.

Below you’ll find the beginnings of our zombie-apocalypse-in-a-can.  These are ideas on the zombies themselves.  In future posts we’ll cover the human side of things, including settlements and the causes and solutions to the zombie problem.  These are still fairly rough and we invite comments!

Zombie types


This is your typical zombie. Generally animated some time after death – may be days or weeks. Slow, dumb, with various parts missing. Not able to use tools or weapons, but can open doors, go around/over easy obstacles, slowly climb stairs, etc.


Generally slower, but possessing great strength. Animated shortly after death – just a few hours to a day or so. Faster and slightly smarter than the Creepers. Not able to use tools or weapons, but can open doors, climb stairs, go around/over obstacles, etc. Difficult to differentiate from a Creeper.


This zombie possesses a higher animal intelligence – something akin to a cat. Animated shortly after death – just a few minutes to hours. This zombie typically maintains the physical aspects of its host body – speed, agility, strength. It prefers to stalk its prey – sometimes for days at a time – until the opportunity for a surprise strike presents itself. Not able to use tools or weapons, but is able to survey its surroundings, use cover and concealment and use rudimentary camouflage (in order to lull its prey). Is also one type of zombie that can solve simple puzzles, such as opening doors.

Zombies in water
Zombies are able to survive underwater. Any dry zombie entering the water will initially float for a period of up to one hour or more. Eventually they will get waterlogged, ingest water through various holes and sink to the bottom. For game purposes, zombies are able to traverse lakes, ponds, and very slow moving rivers. Faster rivers will sweep them away, where they will emerge some time downstream in a random location. Larger bodies of water (large lakes, deep lakes, oceans, the Great Lakes, etc.) are considered impassable by zombies, as they will inevitably get hung up on the bottom in either canyons or debris. For instance, a zombie could walk across the bottom of Lake Quinsigamond, but would not be able to make the trip to Martha’s Vineyard, thus explaining the cost of real estate there.

Zombies and Stimulus
Zombies are attracted to the following.  At long range noise, light and movement can attract zombies.  Car alarms, stereos and other such noise makers can attract groups of zombies from several miles away, as can bright, flashing or moving lights.  At close range, zombies can also use sight and smell to find prey.  This becomes further problematic when entering an area with a large but spread out zombie population. Zombies tend to emit a low, distance traveling moan when they are excited by potential prey.  This in turn attracts more zombies, increasing the noise level until all of the zombies in a given radius have congregated into a zombie mob.  Attracting a stalker or leader can be particularly rough as they will actively attract other zombies as well.

Radiated Zombies
Zombies that have entered radiated zones or themselves been irradiated (through the use of nukes, for instance) are doubly dangerous.  Not only will they behave as normal Zombies attempting to kill the living but they can cause sickness and death through close, long term proximity.

Zombies in Ice

When the ambient air temperature is consistently at or below 31F (0C) for more than 24 consecutive hours, the liquid inside zombies freezes solid, rendering them immobile.  As soon as Zombies have been given sufficient time to thaw (24 hours of temperatures above 36F or 48 hours of temperatures between 32/35F) they become fully mobile again.  This makes cold weather areas potential safe zones during the winter months and areas with permafrost year round safe zones.  Unfortunately it’s very hard for larger groups of the living to survive in permafrost areas for any length of time without specialized training.

Last Man on Earth (LME or Lemmie)

This refers to a syndrome experienced by some survivors in which they are convinced they are the last fully human being left in the world.  Convincing these people otherwise after they’ve experienced 2 years of believing this can be difficult if not downright impossible.  Lemmies tend to shoot first and not ask questions, are extremely paranoid and should be treated with extreme caution or avoided altogether when possible.  While not common to encounter, they possibility of running into a Lemmie in areas that have large sustained zombie populations or have not been resettled are higher.

For more zombie goodness, check out Part 2: Living with the Dead.

Photo courtesy of CC attributed flickr image.

[tags]rpg, role playing games, zombies[/tags]

6 thoughts on “Inviting Zombies to game – integrating a zombie apocalypse into your RPG system

Add yours

  1. Thank you for explaining about different types of Zombies… It was very informative.. Yo have revealed a lot of facts through this article… Thanks for the post.. I will keep referring to your site for new information.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: