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Writing Excersize I'm designing a world (more of a series of… 
28th-Jul-2005 12:19 am
Writing Excersize

I'm designing a world (more of a series of adventures) where the events of the campaign will be taking place a few years after a genuine Zombie Apocalypse. The town that the players will be starting off in is comprised of a castle keep and assorted living quarters located on a misty little island connected to the mainland by two wooden bridges. The bridges were originally destroyed during the apocalypse to separate the island from mainland, but have since been rebuilt with large planks of wood missing from the structure. The purpose is to create large gaps where the bridge is uncrossable. If the bridge needs to be crossed, the reinforced planks are placed across for the duration of the crossing and then removed. Most river crossings are done with boats or rafts, which zombies obviously cannot jump in and operate.

Several watch towers are erected across the river from the island and manned by guard. Mages take watch staring into the horizon for hours at a time using detect undead spells, and warriors stand at the ready to quickly dispatch any threat that may appear. If the danger is too great they retreat across the river via boat and devise other ways to deal with the massing undead across the river banks.

Anyway, the entire island is essentially occupied by buildings and such now. There's almost no room for farmland or anything like that... so the farm is actually located miles away, in the ruins of a very small walled city (it was more of a military encampment) that had fallen during the apocalypse. The strongest and bravest men from the city set out daily in an attempt to clear the city of any undead that may have remained inside. Eventually the city was cleared, walls restored, and gates closed. The buildings inside were razed and the interior was converted to farmland. Several Rangers and Druids babysit the farm in attempt to keep the land blessed and fertile for the survival of those on the island.



I sort of like the setting so far, but things are still (REALLY) choppy at best. What say you, LJ'ers? Would you enjoy playing in such a setting? What would you like to see done in a campaign with a setting like this? What kind of things would you like the DM to include, what would make the setting better, what would make your experience more enjoyable or memorable? Leave some feedback :)



(x-posted in: dungeon_masters, dnd3e, & dms_corner)
Comments 
28th-Jul-2005 08:09 am (UTC)
I would endeavor to more fully steal the plot from Land of the Dead and involve the theft of a mobile seige weapon.
28th-Jul-2005 07:53 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't. And I'm not sure if that's a crack at me or not, but trust me I'm not trying to rip off that sorry assed movie X.x



~Ray
28th-Jul-2005 08:49 am (UTC)
I love this... it's late so i can't really put too much thought or input in this post... but...
Hit me up on AIM if you want to just bounce ideas around...

Armius13
28th-Jul-2005 11:22 am (UTC)
Sounds fun to me.
(Deleted comment)
29th-Jul-2005 12:37 am (UTC) - Re: zombie of light
Aye, anything that can be zombified will be zombified. Although I don't plan on only including zombies. There will also be a gelluge of other undead to deal with :P

I was just reading through "Libris Mortis" and found some cool ideas for beefing up your average zombies and such. I'm definitely going to play with a lot of the ideas.

Right now though.. I really have no idea what the hell started the apocalypse. The whole "the god of deaths said 'fuck you' and released all of the souls of the dead" thing is a bit cliche... but it's all I really have right now.



~Ray
(Deleted comment)
29th-Jul-2005 12:44 am (UTC)
Those are all great ideas, man.. Regarding the whole "zombies start getting smarter/stronger/more powerful" idea, I had something similar in mind but I'm not sure what the "source" would be. I would assume that some stronger undead evil thing in the area is sick of his living neighbors and decided to rally the troops to put down the aggravating bastards once and for all.



~Ray
28th-Jul-2005 01:57 pm (UTC)
One problem you will surely run into is semi-boredom setting in because of the remote and very isolated location. Make sure you know every person there, because with that tight a quarters, you'll need to. Every life counts at this point in your story.
28th-Jul-2005 02:58 pm (UTC)
we made a 20 modern zombie game a couple years ago ,it was fun but after a while it didnt seem to go anywhere. the big problem with zombie games is the scenario seems to never really end ,run from zombies ,fight zombies ,kill zombies ,loot supplys,run from zombies.
lucjkaly if your doing a d&d version there are allot more undead types and races in general to keep it interesting,clerics will be wholely unbalanced tho,beings that turn undead in 3.0and 3.5 is totally bad ass
29th-Jul-2005 12:48 am (UTC)
I was putting some thought into that. A lot of thought, actually... but in the end the extreme kick-ass of 3.0e/3.5e "turn undead" is what's going to keep the party and the city alive. When your facing unending hordes of undead, you need all the help you can get, lol.

Plus I'm running it low magic and low level, so there won't be very many high level NPCs floating around to drop Holy Nukes 87 times per day.



~Ray
28th-Jul-2005 03:39 pm (UTC)
It's not a bad concept but here are some things that I think need work but I'm not sure how to explain them.

Why did they repair the bridge and leave out planks so the zombies couldn't cross? If they have to go across them quickly will the survivors have time to put the planks down and retrieve them again as they run?

How do they keep the zombies away from the towers on the outer moat (unless I read that wrong and they are the first defense after the moat)? If there are as many as you claim the wizards would be exhausted by all the spells they had to constatly cast to keep them away.

How did they make it to the farming location without being overcome by zombies? How do they defend it? How do they transport the food back to the survivor location without being overrun by zombies?

The boredom factor would also be a worry for me. Killing the same thing over and over gets old. The idea of another settlement that has a way to stop them is intriguing. BUt a twist could be after they get rid of the zombies the person who wanted their help becomes a tyrant (new adventure).

I also like the Necro's being outlawed or even evil and good ones.

Hope that helps.
29th-Jul-2005 01:04 am (UTC)
"Why did they repair the bridge and leave out planks so the zombies couldn't cross? If they have to go across them quickly will the survivors have time to put the planks down and retrieve them again as they run?"

Bridge crossings are usually reserved for supply caravans only. There is a lot of security on the bridge when supply caravans need to come across. If any undead are present at the time then a war party will basically go out and tie up the undead on the opposite side of the river in hopes that the caravan can cross the bridge unhindered. After the caravans get across the planks are once again removed and the "security element" retreats across the river via boat.

"How do they keep the zombies away from the towers on the outer moat (unless I read that wrong and they are the first defense after the moat)? If there are as many as you claim the wizards would be exhausted by all the spells they had to constatly cast to keep them away."

I'm thinking about scrapping the tower idea all together to be honest. It's a cool concept, but it just doesn't make much sense. I think a better alernative would be to have old stone lookout towers that were constructed before the apocalypse. There's not many of them (two or three of them), but they exist a decent way into the mainland. Maybe lookout crews take "shifts" in the towers and light bonfires or something to alert the city if there is a threat.

"How did they make it to the farming location without being overcome by zombies? How do they defend it? How do they transport the food back to the survivor location without being overrun by zombies?"

The entire area isnt teaming with zombies 24/7. The occasional big horde comes through, but for the most part it's just a bunch of leftovers. The location of the island is more or less away from the "main" area of the kingdom. It's on a frontier, so it's out in the boonies. Most of the undead activity is probably centralized in the once heavily populated areas of the kingdom.

Every now and then (I haven't worked out a schedule yet) a supply caravan consisting of wagons and such will leave the city and stock up on food from the farm The caravan is escorted by a lot of the stronger members of the city who can turn the undead away or just plain hide the caravan from sight using magic. The caravan quickly goes into the farm, loads up, and returns to the city to fill the supplies.

"The boredom factor would also be a worry for me. Killing the same thing over and over gets old. The idea of another settlement that has a way to stop them is intriguing. BUt a twist could be after they get rid of the zombies the person who wanted their help becomes a tyrant (new adventure)."

Yea.. I'm worried about the boredom thing too. I'm purposely designing the campaign with a lot of open ends though that was I can quickly change things around to keep the players interested.



~Ray
28th-Jul-2005 03:41 pm (UTC)
I think the seed of the idea is rockin'. I'd totally play in this, if it were developed further.

My main question: What do characters do? That is, other than kill zombies.
29th-Jul-2005 01:06 am (UTC)
Drink ale, screw whores, gain treasure, and raid dungeons? lol

Other than giving them a few options for storyline-affecting quests... I'm really only designing this as a "fun" campaign for my group. I'll basically see how it flies for a few sessions and make adjustments and add things to do to as I see a need for it... or a player desire for it.



~Ray
28th-Jul-2005 03:43 pm (UTC)
I'd suggest finding the specific elements in Land of the Dead that really appealed to you, and reinterpreting those in D&D terms. Detect Undead is (IIRC) pretty short in duration and line of sight. It wouldn't be difficult to make permanent items/beacons, though. It should also be possible to cast it as a permanent spell.

Maybe start with an undead apocalypse - some blast of negative energy (a negative energy comet or sun? evil ritual?) that makes things go bad. I think it's important for there to have been a reason why things went bad, because then the PCs have the chance to eventually fix it.

D&D undead don't breathe and don't have any particular problem with water. What if the last city is protected by a major ward against undead (either from an ancient civilization or a potentially corrupt local mage), or was the site of a martyr or god who sacrificed themselves? The creatures are on the outside, trying to get in, and some of them are intelligent - vampires and perhaps liches as well as zombies, ghouls, etc.

I'd agree with mrbadluck that you want to leave options for getting out into the countryside and doing stuff. (The relative power of clerics is also true - but there's something appealing about "the gods went away" suggestion from dungeon_masters.) Maybe deal with some escalating threats coming in - zombies, then ghouls, then less substantial and darker powers.

You don't have to start with the fourth movie - you could run (possibly a zero level prequel adventure) with the PCs as the undead take over the world.
28th-Jul-2005 06:40 pm (UTC)
Perhaps water destroys the zombies? This could make a partially aquatic base for the campaign. Perhaps this citadel had always had water based magic. You can use the energy substitution feat to make waterballs, waterbolts, etc. as a way of getting from town to town. This would also be why the zombies didn't just swarm the island without going into the water.

Finally, do they NEED to feed on human flesh or do they just like to, because if they need to, they are going to run out eventually... hideous visions of desperate zombies walking over the bloated waterslain bodies of their kin to get to the fortress certainly makes a sense of desperation! If they just like to, this makes a more manageable campaign... ie the zombies aren't going to just "go away"!
28th-Jul-2005 08:14 pm (UTC)
Are all survivors human in this fortress? If not, work out the distribution. Regardless of whether the besieged are all humans or not, there still might be conflict among them. This could lead to several things; for example, maybe while the players are stealthily gathering supplies from off the island, the fortress erupts with a feud between two factions that slowly developed over the course of the game, maybe even with you hinting at it up until it happens.

The races would have an impact on this as well. Humans might be more prone to immediate action and investigation into overcoming the aftermath, recklessly even. Elves with their long life spans and vast intellects might opt for slow and strategic action.

And if the survivors in your castle are all human, were there other races in far off places that survived the cataclysm as well? Dwarves holding out in underground metropolises? Orcs fighting bitterly on open plains? Elves concealed in camouflaged forest cities?

Also gotta think about cannibalism too. I dunno, just food for thought. Sounds really sweet though, and I would definately play in something like that.
29th-Jul-2005 01:46 am (UTC)
"Are all survivors human in this fortress? If not, work out the distribution. Regardless of whether the besieged are all humans or not, there still might be conflict among them. This could lead to several things; for example, maybe while the players are stealthily gathering supplies from off the island, the fortress erupts with a feud between two factions that slowly developed over the course of the game, maybe even with you hinting at it up until it happens."

I haven't worked out the exact demographics yet (as it's still in the development stages), but it's definitely not ll human. There are other demihumans as well as humanoids in the city. I like the feuding faction idea, though. It works well to aid the feeling of the time. Although the overall atmosphere of the city is something akin to that of NYC post 9/11 ("we're in this together", "us against them", "we're all on the same team" etc etc), feuds will still happen.

"The races would have an impact on this as well. Humans might be more prone to immediate action and investigation into overcoming the aftermath, recklessly even. Elves with their long life spans and vast intellects might opt for slow and strategic action."

Again, good point :P

"And if the survivors in your castle are all human, were there other races in far off places that survived the cataclysm as well? Dwarves holding out in underground metropolises? Orcs fighting bitterly on open plains? Elves concealed in camouflaged forest cities?"

There are other surviving places. Elven tree cities, dwarven mines, etc etc.

"Also gotta think about cannibalism too. I dunno, just food for thought. Sounds really sweet though, and I would definitely play in something like that."

I like this idea. Some kind of result of a death cult or something like popping up within the city. (real HP Lovecraft-ish stuff).



~Ray
29th-Jul-2005 02:06 am (UTC)
hey I really like that Idea !!!!!!!
about the whole undead getting stronger thing aided by stronger undead is valid because the book of vile darkness has a section on dark chants... which are permanent turn resistance bonuses check it out!

(Im also running a campaign of mostly undead villians)

this setting reminds me a little of the midnight campaign setting in that its a localized game/adventuring and that the evil enemies are practically infinate.




too help keep the characters interested the game could be focused on finding supplies and actually constructing defenses because i think its fun to play as almost an engineer. this gives characters with carft skills and disable device etc. a chance to use their skills. also power struggles within the ranks of the community etc.

An interesting addition that i was going to create/use would be a character class like an antidruid like the blighter calss in the masters of the wild book. They would be part of the intelligent force guiding zombie activities.

Another theme would be trying to work out politics of each community trying to gain trust and form a national identity etc. this gives a chance for more "face" classes to use their skills

Maybe using prestige classes that are guardians or having new classes be guardians who defend caravans etc. CARAVANS WOULD BE VITAL TO THIS CAMPAIGN also focus on different wagon types for defense etc.

Instead of having watch towers of stone etc. have them be shoddy VERY tall so zombies cant climb them and made of tall pine tree trunks.... the kind of pine treees that are like 250 ft tall. occupying them would be month long shifts. this allows dex absed range chars to use their skills against zombies who are mostly melee combatants. this would sorta look like the watchtower in the beginning of the anime film Princess Mononoke

i really like your idea of the bridge.

the banks of the river should be pseudo-cliff faces like 5-10 feet above water level to increase effectivesness of the bridge and island. this also gives a chance to have underground structures possibly... grottos for cleric guilds etc. meeting places for village leaders, a base for the pcs etc. magical lab for adepts etc.

fishing should be very important and maybe fishing boats could go out like two guards a couple spearfishermen in a shoddy longboat


I REALLY LIKE THIS SETTING update us on ideas would you?


29th-Jul-2005 02:19 am (UTC)
i was reading more and had some more dieas... haha

about the zombies not breathing and they dont care about water? well thats why the cliffs are there and the waters are rapids and they slam people against sharp rocks..... this environment would be ideal for breeding eels...
the natural defenses of this island would make it unnecessary for there to be a MAGICAL WARD or powerful wizard protecting the village. this is especially important because you said its low level and low magic.

the part about buildings underground are also useful because there is no room anymore above ground.

- maybe all the construction above ground is lopsided tilted shoddy and dilapidated loooking

-the reason we have no cool buildings that are well built and are integrated in real life (like buildings that have bridges between them or are huge) is because the buildings are all built independently. if they are built all mostly built at one time, relatively, the builders we take into consideration all buildings and use them together this might result in a large bunker, greathall with heavy defenses et al. or buildings spaced defensively, space used wisely, every inch built up with tiny cramped homes inbetween thick-beamed bastions.

i dont know if that makes sense at all sry haha


maybe deal with the reason for the "apacolypse" by having it be the consequence of an event that took place on the otehr side of the planet in lands far away and unheard of... thsi would give a chance for diffferent factions to arise becuase each believes a different cause for the apacolypse. this furthers teh tehme of trust in the campaign because other factions dont even trust each other.

29th-Jul-2005 02:34 am (UTC) - haha sry ok now i read it all
zombies arent that intelligent and since they are teh stragglers that mostly stumble upon the settlement they would have no desire to enter the city or ability to do so, cliffs adn water.... also im stressing their lack of all skills climbging getting over obstacles... this would be very easy to set up ambushes for them THEY ARE IMBECILES dont be afraid to play them like that.since the settlement is multiracial elves and druids would be able to defeat lots of zombies provided they had enough prep time etc. (think drizzt do'urden and that druid he was with when he got to the surface)

the whole "us against them" thing is also neat in that traditional villains like orcs and such would not necessarily be enemies... maybe they come together in times of great need lending their skills as tough entourages protecting caravans filled with food that they also need!. this is because there is less wildlife for them to hunt becasue the zombies destroy all life they encounter etc.
maybe a small crummy orcish sect joined the settlement and is now getting uppity after the pcs make life easier for everyone... they go back to beign their bossy violent selves.
consider refugee camps for monsterous humanoid races, "the greenskin district"possibly.
29th-Jul-2005 05:41 am (UTC)
Consider that clerics and paladins would be very powerful, as would faith, during that time. Undead are turned (or rebuked) by clerics. A theocratic monarchy might exist, where sacred kings are clerics. If some survivors have a mining operation, then weapons will be somewhat available, but perhaps precious metals might not be (nor would gold and jewels seem terribly valuable, perhaps).

The peasants would probably array some sort of militia, trained by paladins if the situation is ideal but usually just trying their best. Assume that every adult male is training to be a warrior or is a warrior. Young adult males who are 2nd level warrior/experts or warrior/commoners might be more frequently seen, whereas older adult males might even be anywhere from 3rd to 5th level.

Typical armaments would include long ranged weapons (short bows) for chasing off beasts and bandits, the easiest crafted of slashing weapons (handaxes, scythes, and sickles I'd guess), and in case of skeletons they'd probably have light hammers, slings, and innovated quarterstaves that are long as longspears or longer:

12' Longstaves: A twelve foot longstaff has reach -- you can hit an opponent ten feet away with it, but cannot use it against an adjacent foe. A medium longstaff deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage with x2 critical on a 20, cannot be used as a dual weapon, weighs seven pounds, and is as simple to craft as a quarterstaff although sensibly more wood is needed (trees of normal height must be cut down to make these).

22' Longstaves: A twentytwo foot longstaff has reach -- you can hit an opponent twenty feet away with it, but cannot use it against an adjacent foe or a foe that is less than sixteen feet away. Otherwise, damage is the same for a 22' longstaff, but it weighs eleven pounds.

Infantry formations would array as pikemen or hoplites, with people in front wielding hammers and clubs, and behind them people with twelve foot longstaves and behind them people with twenty foot longstaves. Approximately two hundred per unit, this can be formidable to skeletal opponents.

Cavalry would have older, experienced warriors riding horseback with slings or composite shortbows. They would ride a safe distance from the slower undead foes, orient their slings and/or shortbows, and loose fire, retreating if charged only to fire again once at a safe distance.

If fighting zombies, the ranged cavalry would probably feel safer with thrown handaxes (like the francesca -- a good thrown handaxe), and coming slightly closer to the enemy. Also, the militia infantry would be armed with scythes, sickles, or handaxes with either of these weapons: those with both handaxes and either scythes or sickles would throw the handaxe then charge.

Clerics and other spellcasters would be urged to ride mounts, to keep their valuable persons safe as possible.

Armour would tentatively be padded, but in situations where large amounts of livestock can actually be protected, the male cattle would be butchered for whatever they can use, leather armour being part of the uses. Only one ox need be kept alive at any rate, with cows being most important.
29th-Jul-2005 05:42 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, wooden bucklers would be quite commonly held.
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