Zombie game help!


Advice


Hello Paizo boards, it's good to see you all! I am here because I am considering running a zombie style game with pathfinder rules, except things are going to be as non-fantasy as I can make them. No spellcasters, no magic items, no magical creatures, just a scientifically born disease that is causing the end of the world.

This idea is very, very, VERY raw. So I wanted to ask you guys: How would you go about doing this? I want generalizations as well as specific ideas so I can start writing down what I want to get doing.

So for example, I wanted to implement a "field of vision" system. Possibly something like you can be in one of two modes of awareness: Broad but shallow, or distant and detailed. Focusing on a zombie to attack/kill it would automatically put you into narrow focus, potentially allowing a zombie to sneak up on you (as we see in so many zombie movies).

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Concerns? Ideas? Feelings? Drink?


Alchemy and Gunslingers come to mind as being the primary classes you will see in use.

Consider the 'guns everywhere' variant rules from Ultimate Combat which gives characters the Amateur Gunslinger feat for free.

Alchemy is a very good 'nonmagical' access to important metagame structures like healing and buffing. It could also be used to explain the outbreak of zombies.

Consider some variant of a bard or a rogue that has has access to a bardic performance like ability.


I like ruling 'guns everywhere'. However I forgot to mention that I plan on the PCs being ordinary people before the outbreak, so I don't think I'll give everybody the Amateur Gunslinger feat. After all, not every person today is trained in using a firearm.

Even though I agree alchemists will be a (probably necessary) part of the game, I'm going to nerf healing into the ground. When you break a leg from jumping off a building it's going to ail you for weeks. However alchemists would probably still be the best healers, helping to prevent infections and set broken bones and whatnot.

Dark Archive

Are you talking about modern world or real world world history when you say no fantasy? Modern tech would be a huge difference in survival. Even somtbing as simple as a hand crank radio to get far reaching news is incredible. Same for hand crank flashlight. Funny thing us those hand cranks are not silent and could draw the undead or even enemy survivalist attention.

A single scratch that could turn you means that HP totals are irreverent. A scratch could turn a d10 class as easy as a d6 class. Maybe use remaining HP to see how long before you turn or how long till you can get a antidote to stave off infection. Maybe consider fort save to resist turning? Paizo's philosophy of insisting bab and hp get locked in together breaks down if only a scratch can turn you. Those big d10 pools could still be useful versus enemy survivalists though. Not everyone works together in the zombie apocalypse, some people will still raid/steal from other groups.

Do not make everything a zombie. Nit even templates can delay the disappointment of fighting the same stuff all the time. Throw.in some.other undead also.


Try using the Obsidian Apocalypse "Shambling Horde Zombies" It's a Zombie template that adds a lot of threat. For every Zombie that is adjacent to a character he looses 5' of movement. If his movement drops to 0 then all the zombies get a free Rend attack on him.

Dose a lot to reinforce the idea of Don't let them Swarm you and keeps players thinking mobility = survival.


@Raymond Lambert - It's going to be set back in a typical setting, although advanced enough for firearms. Thanks for bringing that up. As far as the health goes, what do we think of this:

Health never goes up but varies amongst classes. A fighter will always have 10 health and the rogue will always have 8 health. But when a zombie "hits" them (beats their AC) they have to do damage equal to their hit points to actually have a chance of infecting them (rolled separately from regular damage). That way a fighter is still actually tougher than an alchemist and so on. Thoughts everybody?

Oh yeah, heavily zombie focused but there will be all sorts of other stuff. Every variant of zombie I can find for sure, lots of other undead, the occasional hostile enemy party, etc.

@Greylurker - That sounds awesome! Could you post a link to that? My Google ability is currently limited.

Dark Archive

Not sure that I understand you. You mention health without fully explaining it. Sane for this rolling infection separately. What are you trying to address? That the class HD acts like a DR versus infection? What us up with a separate/2nd die roll for damage? In your proposed system, how many hp/health would a 1st level fighter have compared to a 2nd level fighter? What about a multiclass ftr/wiz? Why would people.notgo first level d10/12 and just take full caster levels after that if health always stay the same.

What level of guns ate you talking about. Both in real world history time line and Paizo firearm catagories like advanced. Make sure you check the level of guns your PCs use and what tech level Paizo lists it on. Otherwise expect them to just take whatever looks the best in the chart or in the weapon description.


Guns Everywhere, as I said. If you don't understand what that means there is a chart for them.

Yes, when a zombie hits you there will be two damage rolls. The normal damage roll that will lower your current HP, and the "infection roll" that will have a chance of infecting you if it is equal to or greater than your current HP (but doesn't do any damage besides that). Gaining levels would still get your regular health, but your "infection health" would never go up. The main reason somebody won't start barbarian and go caster is because casters won't exist, and also because if somebody tries to be a powergaming dick in recruitment I won't accept them.


Guns Everywhere: Guns are commonplace. Early firearms are seen as antiques, and advanced firearms are widespread. Firearms are simple weapons, and early firearms, advanced guns, and their ammunition are bought or crafted for 10% of the cost listed in this chapter. The gunslinger loses the gunsmith class feature and instead gains the gun training class feature at 1st level.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It sounds like you have alot of ideas for how you want this game to play, not sure if pathfinder is going to be the best system for you. In general the game doesnt work well without healing, it also doesnt work correctly without scaling hp. I mean I totally get wanting to make a tense 'oh man im gonna die' zombie game. I am just not sure pathfinder is a good system for it.

Anyway. I have a couple thoughts.

1. Are you familiar with the concept of E6? Or Ewhatever. This might be a good path for you, maybe like E2? Essentially characters never advance in 'level' past whatever number you choose, and only take feats from then out. If you dont want people to have tons of hp, its probably a good idea to go with that, because the scaling abilities that come with higher levels are going to be messy if HP stays low. E X stops the numbers from balooning (including HP) but allows some feeling of advancement with additional feats.

2. You dont want magic of any kind, so I'd recommend taking a look at a set of 3rd party classes by rogue genius games called Anachronistic Adventures. I say this for several reasons.

First and foremost, all of the classes work without magic (though there are a few archetypes with a little bit of magic its really diluted).

Second they are designed for more modern concepts, which will fit a little better in the genre of zombie movies, and in the realm of more 'typical' people. The investigator also has some options for a doctor type, but without being as potent as healing magic. Having someone with these abilities would allow for the game to continue to function without the 'fix it' button of cure spells. For instance they have an ability called 'splint' which temporarily relieves some ability damage (like strength damage from a broken arm) but doesnt fix it. It still has to heal over time.

Third, enforcer has rules for firearms that I think are WAAAY better then paizos and would be I think more suitable to a zombie game. Even if you still want a victorian setting or whatever, I like those rules ALOT more then I do the ones by paizo.

3. Be careful how deadly you make the zombies. Sure you want it to be a constant threat, but if you have 3 character deaths an encounter, you arent going to have anything like a coherent story. So be very cautious about where you go with house rules on 'infection' and whatnot. You may want to just go with the Left for Dead route and have the party be one of the .01% of the population immune to the disease. The zombies can still maul them to death, but if every hit is just 1 die roll from essentially killing the player, its going to be a real problem for maintaining the game.


Check the Carrion Crown Adventure Path section on the forums for a guide to Sanity Rules...
Link

Dark Archive

You may want to give each player 3 PCs so a pc can dieevery so often but the group as a whole can continue with the story

You also might want everyone o know they are immune to avoid infighting when one is in danger of infection. Avoid the "We gotta kill him before he turns!" scenes like in 28 days later.

If not, what are you planning for infection rolls? Why not use the same number as the damage roll?

I don't think you mentioned the timeline. Surviving tech of today could be like magic. GPS to avoid getting lost. Satilite images or security cameras to scry. Radio and phones for long way instant communication. Even just figuring out if this is a day of horse and buggy, trains, or deserted cars all over the place will be important.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder is...not the best game for this concept. Why not try another?

All Flesh Must Be Eaten is an excellent game, pretty simple, and actually designed specifically for this, for example.

Lantern Lodge

Fields of vision would be hard to do, since pathfinder doesn't recognize facing, but you could certainly roll perception every round and add modifiers to character's roll without them knowing. Maybe even a second board where the player's can't see, so that you keep track of where all the stealthy zombies are without the players meta gaming.

Rangers are not too far fetched, I AM LEGEND kinda had a man and an animal companion idea going. Fighter's would work too. If you had armor, make it very rare, but very worthwhile to be in full plate (nearly immune to zombie bites, but much slower).


@Kolokotroni I admit it's not a good system for this particular setup, which is why I'm trying to make modifications and am asking the community for help ;)

1) I am not familiar with that. Could you link it? Sounds like it might work well.

2) I like that, I'll look over it. I'm heavily considering allowing a lot of third party classes to compensate for the lack of options from no spellcasting.

3) Unless somebody is very unlucky a zombie won't one shot anybody. If somebody plays a rogue with 7 CON, maybe, but they will have to take a few hits before they will be susceptible to an "infection hit". The "infection damage" will most likely be something like a d6, possibly even a d4. This game will be deadlier than your average campaign but it won't be "DM counting the bodies of PCs and laughing".

@Cardinal Chunder I had toyed with the idea of sanity damage and that looks like a good way to do it, thanks for the link!

@Raymond Lambert Yes I expect many players might play multiple characters.

Actually, I think I'm going to allow infighting (but only with good reason). It may be cruel, but logically it makes sense to kill somebody before they turn.

I actually did mention that. It will be set back in a typical time setting for pathfinder.

@Deadmanwalking What an appropriate name.

Could you add a link for that please?

Liberty's Edge

CampinCarl9127 wrote:

@Deadmanwalking What an appropriate name.

Could you add a link for that please?

Sure. Link. Or check wikipedia for a full description. It's actually a cleverly disguised universal system (only with Zombies!) with sourcebooks featuring setting adaptations from sci-fi, to fantasy, to World War II...but your pitch sounds exactly like what the corebook alone delivers: Zombie Apocalypse in the modern day.

It's actually pretty much my go-to game for realistic gaming (ie: being shot or stabbed is decently likely to kill you, and even more likely to take a long time to recover from if you survive), and is an Attribute + Skill +1d10 system with damage measured in what amounts to hit-points, so it's easy for people only familiar with Pathfinder/D&D to grasp.


All depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Do you want 1 zombie scratch/bite to be deadly? If not, you could go to a Vitality/Wound system. Vitality is the same as standard HP. Wound = a character's Constitution score.

Vitality represents avoiding/deflecting attacks. Wound represents being physically hit. As an option, critical hits go straight to Wound (making them deadly.)

But I will also agree with previous posters that stated that Pathfinder is not a good rules system for this.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CampinCarl9127 wrote:

@Kolokotroni I admit it's not a good system for this particular setup, which is why I'm trying to make modifications and am asking the community for help ;)

Happy to help, but I think maybe you need to set some clear goals for what you want your house rules to do, so we can help a bit more. Right now I just know you are trying to round peg square whole. You can do it, you just need a plan.

Quote:

1) I am not familiar with that. Could you link it? Sounds like it might work well.

Original Rules were 3.5 house rules, but someone has pulled together a pathfinder specific version here. Though the jist of it is essentially, at the level you choose (say 2 or 3 for your game) you no longer advance in level. The only way you advance is by getting additional feats when you gain a certain amount of additional XP. IN E6 its every 5000 xp, but you can adjust that according to the pace you want. It allows you to cap 'power' at a certain point, but still allow players to advance. There are custom feats (see codex) for gaining higher level abilities (usually 1 or 2 levels higher then the cap) as a sort of end cap.

Quote:

2) I like that, I'll look over it. I'm heavily considering allowing a lot of third party classes to compensate for the lack of options from no spellcasting.

I hope you like it. I have had a zombie game kicking around in my head for a while, though it will be modern. If I ever run it it will be with those classes.

Quote:

3) Unless somebody is very unlucky a zombie won't one shot anybody. If somebody plays a rogue with 7 CON, maybe, but they will have to take a few hits before they will be susceptible to an "infection hit". The "infection damage" will most likely be something like a d6, possibly even a d4. This game will be deadlier than your average campaign but it won't be "DM counting the bodies of PCs and laughing".

After you look over E6, maybe you could detail some of the house rules you are already thinking of. Its kind of hard to offer advice/comments without a clear understanding of them. For instance, in my head, if someone only has 8 hp, it will be fairly easy for 1 hit to bring them to 0 hp and then presumably run a risk of infection. If thats the case, that seems like a really high mortality rate (assuming the majority of infections are lethal). Again, without a clear understanding of the rules you plan to use, I am just speculating. Its just how it sounded to me.

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