by Amato Davide
The barbarian warriors gazed at the monsters in despair. None of them was a coward. None of them feared the zombies. But they all knew of the painful, rotting black fever which would burn the survivors.
Art by andi jones
A Plague Zombie is a peculiar type of undead, useful against armies, especially if they do not have advanced medical knowledge or powerful healing magic.
The Plague Zombie is the corpse of a drowned man, bloated, smelly and full of insects, larvae and pus. Its skin is white and bloated, its movements uncoordinated, and its tongue is swollen and black, hanging out of its opened mouth. Anybody not used the sight of zombies or dead bodies must make a Fright Check at -5.
To create a Plague Zombie a mage must first take a fresh corpse, and let it ripen in swamp water for three days. To animate it, use the Plague Zombie spell, described below. The Plague Zombie has no skills, and understands only the most basic commands -- "go," "stop," "here," etc. It cannot fight or use equipment. If ordered, it will move towards its master's enemy, but it cannot fight. Plague Zombies have no combat skills at all.
Instead, their power comes from what they carry inside them. Anybody standing within 5 yards of one must make a HT roll or catch a Plague. The roll is at HT-2 for anyone wounding the Plague Zombie, and HT-4 for anyone foolish enough to touch it. The use of TL5+ antiseptic washes, masks, etc. will give a +3 bonus to the roll. Airtight armor or other type of suit will offer complete protection, but will be tainted on the outside and can still infect the wearer if not properly sterilized before removal.
VariationsA TL5+ caster could spread a disease organism in the swamp water. A TL8+ caster with appropriate skills could bio-engineer an appropriate disease. Use the Medusa Plague (GURPS Cyberpunk Adventures). Another standby, the Bubonic Plague, is fully described in GURPS Swashbuckler.
How to Use Plague ZombiesI have used the creature in narrow areas, like a twisting cave. Another good use is in a mountain hut. The heroes arrive, smash the door in, kill the monster and . . .
Outdoors, the Plague Zombie is less useful. A quick-witted warrior can use ranged weapons or other tactics, or simply outrun the slow-moving monstrosities.
Plague Zombie SpellThe subject of this spell must be a relatively complete dead body that has been left in swamp water for three days. The animated corpse becomes a servant of the caster. It does not have the "soul," skills, or memories of the living person.
Duration: Until destroyed.
Time to cast: 1 minute
Cost: 10 for a human-sized or smaller corpse, Proportionally more for larger corpses.
Prerequisites: Zombie , Pestilence (GURPS Magic, pages 64 and 65)
Move 4 Speed 4.25
No attacks or skills.
Article publication date: September 17, 1999
Copyright © 1999 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.