Sunday, September 21, 2014

Zombies of Greyhawk

Time for an offbeat Greyhawk topic. I recently finished reading the collected works of the Walking Dead graphic novel and I must say it's amazingly good. Then it got me thinking how zombies in D&D aren't as scary as in pop culture. Sure D&D zombies don't die instantly when hit on a called shot to the head but there is no viral zombie outbreaks in the World of Greyhawk (yet) or any other setting for that matter (not sure about Ravenloft). That's because nobody wants to see their 10th level fighter get bit on a lucky "20" and then have to cut his limb off to save his life. Zombies also come in many flavors in movies and TV, but in D&D they tend to be slow, generic 2 HD bodies animated by necromancers and they don't eat brains. On the bright (dark) side, there is in fact different types of zombies in D&D plus some cool zombie lore for Greyhawk if you know where to look. Here's a short list of some good zombie material (and I'd like to hear about others I overlooked).

Sea Zombies: My favorite, the Drowned Ones debuted in Greyhawk Adventures hardback and are direct creations of Nerull god of death. As such they cannot be turned. They are fast in water, can use weapons and have a horrible stench. Some even retain spell-casting ability. Yikes.

Delglath: First seen in Ivid the Undying by Carl Sargent, this insane cleric of Nerull rules the city of Rinloru in the fractured remains of the Great Kingdom. In a region where undead are in abundance (animus and death knights galore), Delglath stands out by intentionally trying to turn all his subjects into zombies. So far he has over 3000 in his city alone!

Ju-Ju Zombies: These intelligent zombies were created by soul draining magic. Not only are they smart, ju-ju zombies' leathery gray skin makes them so tough that only magic weapons can harm them.

Dahlvier's County: Speaking of ju-ju zombies, in the Horned Lands from Iuz the Evil lurks Count Dahlvier a lich who remains neutral in the war between Iuz and the forces of Good. His castle, reputedly built on the ruins of an ancient elven city, is defended by an army of 1500 ju-ju zombies led by ghasts. Better bring a lot of magic arrows.

Ravenous: These hungry zombies are found in Hepmonaland from The Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook. Ravenous were created by the evil god Meyanok from the cursed population of a city. They may be the closest thing to modern zombies that I've found in D&D with their insatiable hunger and a touch that drains Constitution points eventually killing a person and causing them to rise as a new ravenous zombie. Beware!

Lastly is a creation of my own (though I never made stats), called the Dry Ones. These zombies, a variation of sea and ju-ju zombies, are found in the lawless frontier land of Ull near the forlorn desert tower of Abi-Dalzim. Dry Ones are created by animating a humanoid after they are slain by the spell Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting. The resulting creature is resilient as a ju-ju zombie and lethal as a drowned one, yet not as smart. These zombies don't hunger for brains, instead they thirst for water and are able to desiccate living beings by contact. Don't be caught out alone in the fringes of the Dry Steppes!


James Mishler said...

I've always gone with:

Zombies = Slow Zombies (Original Night of the Living Dead series, Walking Dead)
Ghouls = Fast Zombies (Night of the Living Dead series remakes, most other modern zombie flicks)
Ghasts = Smart Fast Zombies

Mike Bridges said...

James, that's a fast and easy assessment for sure! Zombies would be x1000 more scary if they caused paralysis though!

Brandi Williams said...

Ahhh, my favorite of course would have to be Ravenous! I love insatiable hunger...

Bit if that's not an option, I like Warm Bodies zombies, looking for love.
If I were a zombie, I'd never eat your brain.
I'd just want your heart, yeah, I'd want your heart! ;)