Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to make undead scary again

I've been thinking about undead lately. Since I started my campaign before I really had planned much, I just wanted to get going, I never had much of a theme to my dungeon levels. Now I have started to think more of that. I know that we have had much fun, and I have actually imposed some sort of overreaching feel to what I've designed so far, even if the theme is not so strong. Now I have decided upon a theme for level three. Undead.

For those of you who have played D&D and know what to expect from undead monsters, let me tell you that there are no clerics in T&T. No turning. None. Scary enough?

So, how do you make undead scary anyway? Think about it. They are the very essence of a world of wrong. You know what is cold and what is warm, what is day and what is night. The undead challenge all that and cross the most definite border of all, i.e. death. I remember how I once read a scenario for Chill, about a small Caribbean island overrun with zombies when it hit home. Suddenly the very idea of a dead person walking again overpowered me and I felt a deep sense of dread. The reality of "undeadness" had kind of sunk in. I really which I could get that feeling again, and even better if I could convey it in gaming.

Since T&T isn't primarily a horror game, and I don't play it deadpan serious, I'm not going to aim for that kind of effect. But, it would be nice to break out of the 1 HD skeleton trap.

  • Skeletons - These undead are very mindless, but also kind of vulnerable, so I think they should probably go for the soft spot at once. Every combat round they try to grab hold of you and them rake you with their clawlike hands, tearing out your eyes. Make a SR on SPD to avoid being grabbed. MR 20, 2/claws out an eye.
  • Zombies - Zombies are most known for their resilience, since they keep coming until you make a head shot. Let them come in hordes, and allow a SR DEX of twice the PC level to use a ranged weapon and take one zombie out flat. MR 35
  • Wights - These are undead that are only half corporeal so they need soul stuff to maintain their existence and not fade into the void where they belong. MR 60 and can Drain Life for each 2 Spite. They drain 1d6 of primarily STR, secondary CON, etc. Immune to non-magical weapons unless they are made of silver.

What do you say? Nasty enough? If I can't accomplish anything like real dread in the player I can at least aim to make them respect the undead as dangerous opponents.

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