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D&D 3E
undead plague in the city, but my players are too high level to be… 
9th-Feb-2005 03:46 pm
undead plague in the city, but my players are too high level to be challenged by zombies, which seem appropriate. they're all 6th level. wights? ghouls? ghasts? i suppose a whole buttload of ghasts would work. when the necromancer cult who started it finally shows i can whip out the big guns and hit them with red dragon skeletons and frost giant zombies... but for now when there's just this plague of undead contagious undead they have no reason for yet... what do i go with?
9th-Feb-2005 08:54 pm (UTC)
Well, there's more to an encounter than just the challenge rating. You can still use zombies. Try an encounter with 30 of them on one group, and then cascade it (follow up immediately with no time for healing or whatnot) with a zombified ogre or hill giant or dire alligator.

Or yeah, just use differnt undead.

Alternately you can use standard zombies with extra HD and maybe added on a few powers or abilities.
9th-Feb-2005 08:56 pm (UTC)
are there special rules for fighting multiple combatants that make such a fight harder? doesn't really matter if they're fighting 30 zombies if none of the zombies can hit them. part of it will be in the sewer so zombified gators could be cool.
9th-Feb-2005 08:58 pm (UTC)
Make the zombies tougher. Advanced them enough HD to make them a viable challenge.
9th-Feb-2005 09:05 pm (UTC)
Well, you could swarm them. Have the zombies aid-other on a designated hitter. Give the zombies boosted strength or something through an unholy enchantment. Have an encounter where the zombies burst up from the ground all around the players and escaping means taking lots of attacks of opportunity. Grapplings, disarms, pulling people under the mud or into the water of a canal (zombies don't breathe). Zombies attacking in the midst of poison gas clouds or mixed in a group where a few have reach weapons..

I'm pretty sure I could make a zombie swarm ugly for my 14th-15th level group. I'd have to use hundreds and all types to get over the turning attempts by the cleric (which are sure to wipe out a bunch) but I could make it interesting. 6th level should be a piece o cake.
9th-Feb-2005 09:52 pm (UTC)
Wait. Your PCs are immune to Zombies because Zombies can't hit them?

What are your PCs AC?
A base Zombie has a +2 attack. Which means, they hit a 17 AC 25% of the time. Not great, but not awful. At level 6, assuming a 25 point build and around average gold-piece value for PCs, ACs are around there. Maybe a little higher.

Your PCs stronger than that, or all have ACs in the low twenties?

Have the opponent be a cleric, and have them cast desecrate on the area, and use their 'turning' to bolster undead. Assuming an opponent cleric, that also means they can cast Prayer, Bless, and similar abilities to help the zombies.

Have an opponent maneuver the fight so that it is on muddy ground (Balance check to keep footing means that anyone with less than 5 ranks of Balance loses their dex bonus to AC, EVEN IF they make the balance check). Soften Earth to Mud, or whatever that spell is now named, for instance.

Have the Zombies not be entirely brain dead due to their direction, and have them flank the PCs when possible. Alternatively, swarms lead to flanking, which means, regardless, +2 to attacks, unless the PCs have improved (un)canny dodge.

Give the zombies some armor. And maybe some Masterwork weapons. Clubs or the like.

So, using all of the above, that's +1 from bless, +1 (on average, as the PCs can move out of flank) from Flanking, +1 from Desecrate, and +1 from either prayer or the bolstering. Which means a +6 to hit, which will hit an AC 21 25% of the time. Put the fight on mud, and the average non-Rogue/Monk PCs will lose 2 points of AC (plus, if there is an opponent Rogue around, they're now easy pickings). A handful of Masterwork weapons adds another 5% to their to-hit.

Upgrade the Zombies to mightier or larger creatures. Ogres with the Zombie template are impressive.

Undead are immune to precision damage. Which means the PCs don't get Critical Hits, Sneak Attack damage, Favored Enemy damage and similar bonuses. Take advantage of that.

Even your fighter, with Plate Mail +1, Shield +1, and Ring of Protection +1, who is around a 24 AC, is now being hit 25% of the time. And with his +12/+7, is hitting the Zombies 75% of the time on the first strike, 50% on the second. Even with Cleave, he's only taking out 1 or 2 Zombies a round.

PCs have ACs larger than that, at 6th level? Either you're letting them Min/Max to ridiculous extremes, or you've given them too much stuff.
9th-Feb-2005 11:26 pm (UTC)
no, their AC's aren't all that high, there's one guy with a 21 when he dodges, the others are average. i just don't see zombies as being that much of a challenge. personally *I* feel as if they have slightly too much trasure. but one of the other players who is taking over as DM (soon i hope i really want to play) who i confab with thinks i've been a bit light with it. but they've been mowing through what i think are challenging encounters. its hard to scale when you have 6 players. i eaither beat their asses mercilessly, or they have no trouble at all. since i went from 5 to 6 players i can't seem to find a happy medium and i don' think standard zombies would cut it. but you make some good recomendaitons, thanks.
10th-Feb-2005 01:13 am (UTC)
There's a feat in Libris Mortis that works a little like Augment summoning for undead creation. Say the Zoms have been made using this, give 'em +4 str and have 'em try for the grapple and munch.
9th-Feb-2005 11:19 pm (UTC)
In addition to what everyone else said, how are you working the "undead plague"? If being simple slashed by a zombie can infect you, that should scare the players enough to make them feel that multiple zombies are a challenge. Instead of a sarcastic "Oh boy, I took 8 damage. I'm scared now" it's a terrified "Oh shit! It touched me!" The challenge doesn't become surviving the fight, but surviving the fight without a scratch, which is much more difficult.

You could also have the plague just inflect them with some kind of fear or light disease (maybe giving them a -2 to hit or AC) instead of transforming them into zombies. Make it something interesting. Do that enough and you'll be weakening them so that even the lowly zombie can muck with them.
10th-Feb-2005 02:06 am (UTC)
If you want to beef up the Undead, slap a Spellstiched template onto them, as long as they're intelligent enough to benefit from it.

As the DM, you can tweak things around and make things work.

If, as you say, there is a Necromancer cult, they would logically make Zombies. Every army needs its cannon fodder. To spice it up, and make something that few people would expect, having undead that wouldn't normally be able to cast spells flinging them left and right is a great thing.

For the Spellstiched Template, look in the back of the MMII.

I think the best thing about this is: it can lead to a dual adventure. Take a look at the Emancipated Spawn prestige class (I think in Savage Species?) and apply it to a stronger Undead thing that you've created (of course...it would have to be a spawn, but that's cool) and have the Emancipated Spawn take on some undead allies and launch an agenda of its own.

Heck, it might even hook up with the party if its sufficiently pissed off enough at the necromancer cult.

:] Hope I gave you something to work with.
10th-Feb-2005 03:59 am (UTC)
Have you read the 3.5 MM? Ghouls in the new edition are straight-up Dawn of the Dead zombies. They're fast, they bite you, they infect you with Ghoul Fever, which when it kills you turns you into a ghoul.

Ghasts are the same thing, only more.

Enough of those make it rough for even mid-level characters. And remember: they come in HORDES.
10th-Feb-2005 01:16 pm (UTC)
Why not hordes of zombies? As in... a hundred? You can get bags of 100 zombie minis for $10 to go with the game Zombies! They could also be ogre zombies, or something even tougher. Hill giant zombies? And why not have the zombies grapple? Don't forget to have them surprise the party every once in a while.
11th-Feb-2005 07:47 am (UTC)
Zombies are a template so just stick it on a bunch of 6th level adventurers that "failed" to solve the problem. Since zombies can't cast spells it'd be more like some fighters or rogues.
11th-Feb-2005 05:45 pm (UTC)
After filtering through the comments, I thought there was something additional to add. Have you tried the idea of an ethereal undead? The ghost template does wonders, and it's a refreshing change from standard damage monsters.
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