Thursday, October 29, 2015

D&D 5e: Horde Zombie variant

Zombies! (...and just barely in time for Halloween).

Even as far back as AD&D, zombies have been a somewhat easy source of XP for low level parties... But even with large numbers of zombies, they've never really been frightening in the "horror" sense of the word. Even in the mists of Ravenloft, zombies left something to be desired.

Yet, in classic horror films and especially the modern day Walking Dead, zombies are a force to be reckoned. To the protagonists, they are the incarnation of fear, and they are deadly in numbers. To be pulled down into frenzied feeding of a horde is one's worst nightmare.

This Zombie variant is intended to add a little more "Aaah!" into an encounter with a shamble of zombies. They're still not excessively hard for a low level group, but the Advantage and extra damage they get when attacking en masses might give your players a case of the willies next time they run across a large group.

If you have more ideas on making zombies a bit scarier, add to the comments!

Horde Zombie
Medium Undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 8
Hit Points 22 (3d8+9)
Speed 20 ft
Saving Throw Wis +0
Immunities Poison
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 10
Languages  understands the languages it knew in life but can’t speak
Challenge 1/2
14 (+2)6 (-2)16 (+3)3 (-4)6 (-2)6 (-3)

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the zombie to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the zombie drops to 1 hit point instead.

Keen Sense. Horde Zombies have heightened sense of smell and hearing that add +2 to their perception and passive perception.

Horde Feed. For each Horde Zombie that has grappled a single opponent, the escape DC for the group grapple is increased by +2 (DC 14 for 2 zombies, DC 16 for 3 zombies, etc). However, a single successful escape action by the PC will break all Horde Zombie grapples on the grappled PC. Grappled creatures grant Advantage to the Horde Zombie's Bite attack.

Grab. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) bludgeon damage and target is grappled (escape DC 12, see Horde Feed). 

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8+2) piercing damage.  A Horde Zombie has Advantage on its Bite attack against a grappled opponent. May infect PC with Zombie Plague Rot Disease (optional - see below).

A Horde Zombie's entire existential goal is to feed upon the living. As such, a Horde Zombie will attempt to first grab an opponent with its claw attack and feed upon the grappled opponent with its bite attack in subsequent rounds. A Horde Zombie may bite a target grappled by another zombie (or other creature) without first attempting the grap.

Zombie Plague Rot Disease (optional - updated 12/11)

When a player is infected by plague zombie rot, they must make a CON saving throw 8 hours after the initial infection and each day thereafter. On a failure, the PC takes a permanent 1d6 CON damage (with HP maximum permanently lowered accordingly) and 2 levels of exhaustion. (The new save is made using the adjusted CON score). Due to the nature of the disease, exhaustion may not be recovered while the PC is infected (except magically). After 3 failed saves, the PC dies and will rise as a Plague Zombie in 1d12 hours.

After 3 successful saves, the PC is healed of the disease, but still suffers the effects of the CON and HP loss. A Lesser Restoration spell will not automatically cure the disease, but may be used to grant the PC one automatic save toward recovery and heal 1 level of exhaustion. Three castings of the Lesser Restoration spell may be used to cure the disease, but does not restore lost CON or HP maximum. A Greater Restoration spell will cure the disease completely and restore the permanently lost CON and HP maximum.

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