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Old 12-24-2014, 07:32 AM   #1
TheOneRonin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Default Zombie Killing

So the recent Zombie Apocalypse thread and my time spent catching up on The Walking Dead inspired me to start working on my own Zombie game.

I'm planning on using slow zombies, but I'm having some difficulty on figuring out how the players will actually be able to kill these things.

Of course, The Walking Dead makes it look a LOT easier than it would be in a fairly realistic game, but is it too difficult?

Let's assume a slow Zombie that doesn't Dodge or Parry and only attempts to get into CC and perform a grapple/bite action as the opposition. Also, let's go with damaging the brain as the only way to actually "kill" them.

A character with a long knife intent on stabbing said Zombie in the head would be faced with the following skill modifiers:

AoA (D): +4 (risky, but one hit is probably enough to kill, and it's going to take the Zombie at least two turns to deal damage).
Telegraphic Attack: +4 (Zombies don't defend, so why not?)
Targeting the Skull: -7

So a net +1 to skill sounds pretty good, but what about characters using weapons they are not proficient in?

So you want to use a crowbar to smash a Zombie skull? Okay, that's an improvised weapon and is probably Axe/Mace -1. You don't have the Axe/Mace skill? Well, it defaults to DX -5. Add all of that up with the modifiers I listed above and your DX 10 Cab Driver is at an effective skill of 5.

Your high school math teacher wants to use that kitchen knife on the Zombie shambling towards him? That comes out to an effective skill of DX -3.

Your deer hunter character is out of ammo and wants to use his Machete to kill a Zombie? At least it's not an improvised weapon, but he's never trained to FIGHT with it, so no SHORTSWORD skill. That leaves him at DX -4.

For what it's worth, I get that these numbers may be very realistic. But are they workable in a Zombie Apocalypse game?

I wouldn't want killing zombies to be quite as easy as it is in The Walking Dead but damn...with the numbers above, it's so hard, only the people with real melee combat skills have a reasonable chance of doing it.

Has anyone had any experience with this in games you played or GMed? Were zombies that hard to kill or did you/the GM give the players some leeway? How did it work out for the enjoyment of the characters?

My initial thought was that single zombie shouldn't be TOO MUCH of a threat vs. an aware, armed, and uninjured character, even if that character is DX 10 and has no actual combat training. But if I go with the rules above, only high DX and/or characters skilled in Melee combat have a decent chance of being able to kill a zombie before becoming a light snack.

I want the players to be capable, but not all super-combat experts.
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Old 12-24-2014, 07:39 AM   #2
DanHoward
 
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Default Re: Zombie Killing

If you go hand to hand with a zombie with a weapon you aren't familiar with then you deserve to get eaten. The only people who survive more than a few days are the ones who are already skilled with weapons or who are lucky enough not to get killed until they get skilled. The characters in Walking Dead have had a lot of experience killing these creatures and their weapon skills should reflect that. They also seem to have developed special techniques specifically to use against these creatures.

The safest way for unskilled people to kill zombies would be to work in pairs. Start by knocking it down with long polearms. Once on the ground, one person uses his weapon to hold it in place while the second person hits the head until it stops moving.
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Last edited by DanHoward; 12-24-2014 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 12-24-2014, 07:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Zombie Killing

Also I'd say in America the most likely (and the most likely to at least have a point in the Sport version for most people) weapon to go after zombies with is going to be a baseball bat.
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Old 12-24-2014, 08:14 AM   #4
barna10
 
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Default Re: Zombie Killing

This is realistic for the start of the game. After a session, the players should put a point into Axe/Mace or some other weapon skill to reflect what they've learned.

Also, there should be player deaths early in the game! Survival doesn't mean anything if it's the only possible outcome!

I'd allow the players to keep reusing the same characters, just with different names, to save time during the game. Maybe reward Character Points after each encounter instead of each session to really award survival. This would classify as an "Intense Learning Scenario" and you would learn something every minute you stayed alive. If you do this, the character's could dedicate a CP to whatever skill is necessary to use that improvised weapon after surviving one battle. They could then work on negating the Improvised Weapon penalty with a technique with each subsequent battle.
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Old 12-24-2014, 08:21 AM   #5
RyanW
 
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Default Re: Zombie Killing

Quote:
Originally Posted by barna10 View Post
Also, there should be player deaths early in the game! Survival doesn't mean anything if it's the only possible outcome!
Wow, that's hardcore. Dark Dungeons got nothing on you.

Unless you meant player-character deaths, in which case I agree. :)
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Old 12-24-2014, 08:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Zombie Killing

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOneRonin View Post
[snip] I'm planning on using slow zombies, but I'm having some difficulty on figuring out how the players will actually be able to kill these things.

Of course, The Walking Dead makes it look a LOT easier than it would be in a fairly realistic game, but is it too difficult?

Let's assume a slow Zombie that doesn't Dodge or Parry and only attempts to get into CC and perform a grapple/bite action as the opposition. Also, let's go with damaging the brain as the only way to actually "kill" them.
You could quickly and easily make it a lot easier for unskilled people to kill them by not requiring damage to the brain. Just sayin'. If you want to encourage it without ruling out things that will blow the body into hamburger or squish it into bacon without destroying the brain, IT: Unliving + IT: No Vitals is a popular build.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOneRonin View Post
[snip] So you want to use a crowbar to smash a Zombie skull? Okay, that's an improvised weapon and is probably Axe/Mace -1. You don't have the Axe/Mace skill? Well, it defaults to DX -5. Add all of that up with the modifiers I listed above and your DX 10 Cab Driver is at an effective skill of 5.
I frequently give cab drivers and other appropriate recipients Dabbler (Casual Blunt Weapon User: +2 Default for Axe/Mace, Broadsword, Flail, and Two-handed Axe/Mace) [1].

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOneRonin View Post
I wouldn't want killing zombies to be quite as easy as it is in The Walking Dead but damn...with the numbers above, it's so hard, only the people with real melee combat skills have a reasonable chance of doing it.
Is it important to the game that the PCs be able to wade into melee with the zombies and win? If the zombies are really tough but slow and kind of dumb, you could make zombie-killing more of an exercise in detecting them, running away, using tactics and distractions to herd them into booby-traps, sniping, running them over with a hot-wired school bus, etc, which some players might enjoy. Sure, their melee defaults might come up if they get surprised by a horde and overwhelmed, or screw up badly, but those will be disaster scenarios they probably wouldn't survive even with melee skills, not their standard operating procedure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOneRonin View Post
Has anyone had any experience with this in games you played or GMed?
A little.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOneRonin View Post
Were zombies that hard to kill or did you/the GM give the players some leeway?
Depends on the specific game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOneRonin View Post
How did it work out for the enjoyment of the characters?
The characters had a terrible time, every time. Some got eaten, some went mad, and one guy lived but got his eyes put out by skeleton thumbs. The players always seemed to have fun, though.
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Old 12-24-2014, 08:28 AM   #7
barna10
 
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Default Re: Zombie Killing

Quote:
Originally Posted by RyanW View Post
Wow, that's hardcore. Dark Dungeons got nothing on you.

Unless you meant player-character deaths, in which case I agree. :)
Lol. Explains why I have no players right now...
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Old 12-24-2014, 08:32 AM   #8
TheOneRonin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Default Re: Zombie Killing

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
If you go hand to hand with a zombie with a weapon you aren't familiar with then you deserve to get eaten.
That's a fair assessment, and the GURPS rules I mentioned above pretty much illustrate that very thing.

My question is "Does that make for good gameplay in a Zombie game where most of the characters are not skilled melee experts?"

Quote:
The only people who survive more than a few days are the ones who are already skilled with weapons or who are lucky enough not to get killed until they get skilled.
No arguments here. But does that make for a fun experience with there may not be more than one Melee-weapon-trained character in the whole party?

Also, how do you GET skilled without actually using weapons to kill zombies? I would imagine the price for failure while learning is "zombie food".

Quote:
The characters in Walking Dead have had a lot of experience killing these creatures and their weapon skills should reflect that. They also seem to have developed special techniques specifically to use against these creatures.
By Season 3/4, ABSOLUTELY. But it takes them a while to figure all of that out. In season 1/2 you see people like Dale and Andrea kill zombies with hits to the head and that is clearly before they get experienced at it.

Ultimately, I don't want it to be as easy as is on the show, but I want it to be MANAGEABLE by untrained characters. If I stick with the rules in the Basic Set and Martial Arts, it's not even close to manageable until the characters get some training/experience.

Quote:
The safest way for unskilled people to kill zombies would be to work in pairs. Start by knocking it down with long polearms. Once on the ground, one person uses his weapon to hold it in place while the second person hits the head until it stops moving.
That's actually a very good tactic, and something the characters would have to figure out on their own.

Maybe the best way to get them to come up with solutions like that is to stick with the rules and allow it to be just that hard for an untrained character to kill a zombie with a melee weapon.

Have you ever experienced that in an actual game?
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Old 12-24-2014, 08:38 AM   #9
TheOneRonin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Default Re: Zombie Killing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crakkerjakk View Post
Also I'd say in America the most likely (and the most likely to at least have a point in the Sport version for most people) weapon to go after zombies with is going to be a baseball bat.
So how would you handle that? 1 point in Sports (Baseball) lets a character swing a bat at a Zombie at DX -1?

Makes sense to me.
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Old 12-24-2014, 08:40 AM   #10
fifiste
 
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Default Re: Zombie Killing

I'd say it might be a start to make combined head/skull location with -5 hit penalty instead of -7 skull only. Looking at the ease of which stuff penetrates the skulls(or smashes them completely) in the Walking Dead and the similar there should be no 2 DR for skull either.
Giving slow zombies altered time rate disadvantage and even a non skilled character should be able to learn from altercations with single zombies instead of being eaten.
You have better chance to actually hit them in the head, you have an actual chance to stop them with these hits and if you fail to connect you have better chance to extricate yourself from situation and use the learned CP to buy your first point in axe/mace afterwards.
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