Saturday, August 11, 2012

Zombie Outbreak In Stars Without Number & Other Space Opera Retroclones

I've been talking to a number of SWN players & DMs over the internet the last couple of days as well as going over the Mongoose rule book. They've been talking about converting their old Stars Wars & Star Trek campaigns over to this system. Weird thing is that I've been reading the book as well for my Highwayman campaign .The thing is that there's an epidemic lurking within those pages.
 Page 111 of the Mongoose book has the Outbreak! There's nothing better for a DM then the break down of civilization.
Zombies are cool & adding them to anything lately has been a recipe for sales! It also adds up to a monkey wrench that you can throw your players way.

Who Are The Infected? 
The first thing is too decide who your going to infect. How will this effect the campaign. Unless you want this to be a full blow event in the campaign then I would suggest an isolated area or planet. Then add cause & PCs, step back & watch mayhem.
Decide three factors with your cause. Can it be reversed( 9 times out of 10 it can't), how long is incubation period,  how long do you want your zombies to last (Yes zombies have a shelf life), & what strange twists you want on your infection.
 The other major opportunity that many DMs pass up is the chance to infect a major NPC with the Zombie rot. This not only shocks PCs but brings home the infection & gives a chance for combat. 

What Are The Zombies 

No matter how you slice a zombie up with a lightsaber its still an animated corpse. That's not going to change or is it. Science fantasy & science fiction have some advantages. Choose something weirder then the standard,"The dead rise from their crypts". The images of body horror ala The Thing or alien slugs infesting the mind & bodies of their victims will throw players for a loop. Especially if combined with your favorite science fiction or space fantasy franchise. Yes Star Trek & Star Wars which already have had official comic book zombie love.

When The Darkside Isn't Dark Enough

There seems to be a propensity for Star Wars Rpgs too really shy away from the darkside of horror & body horror. The writers flirt with it but its not really dealt with. The Darkside of the force always seems to be a one on one personal struggle with darkness blah blah. Change that make those psychic ninja work for their greater good. How?
Why a dark side artifact of incredible power. Say the "Jesus juice" from John Carpenter's Prince Of Darkness!
Instant zombie mystic/psychic apocalyptic vision with little to no guilt! 

Its called the dark side for a reason, why not give it one. The number of civilizations in Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. all created any number of mystic crypto psionic artifacts to wreck havoc on worlds. Why not create your own. 
Where Does The Infection Start & End In Retroclones 

Given the propensity of the Undead in AD&D Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, etc. There is an under utalized AD&D mythos that hardly ever gets used these days. That's the Negative material plane which is one of the main animating forces of these creatures. Everyone I've talked with has said that there's a connection between  the demon lord Orcus & this plane.
 The Negative Material really came into its own in the hands of Jeff Grubb in the Manual of The Planes & several Dragon magazine articles. But it hasn't been heard from since. Personally I've used it as the abode of this gentleman &  the source his technology.

The Phantasm movies allow a DM to throw in a zombie plague into a game but allow the undead to be a controlled burn off rather then a full on balls to the walls zombie infection. This saves the background of the campaign while having the threat of the shambling hordes in the background. Also psychic classes should be able to detect the negative energies.
Where In The Multiverse 

Zombies are in every single retro clone that I own in one form or another. The fact that all of these games traces their linage back to Gary's grand game speaks for itself. The question isn't where zombies can appear its where can't they.
The fantasy based ones like Labyrinth Lord also Swords & Wizardry among others have the necromancers for this sort of thing. Why not take it one step further & have Orcus himself causing the problem. Cults of Orcus can be & have been the focus for countless campaigns. Why screw with a classic? 

Negative Material Incursions & other planar events can cause all kinds of havoc & are among the more popular rising of the dead. These can occur anywhere especial given the dimensional instability of the worlds of  Mutant Future.
Carcosa & the science fantasy realms are perfect for one of my favorite causes for the dead to rise, alien invaders from beyond the pale of man! These guys are the cosmic necromancers of their time & may have an agenda beyond the norm!
Also Carcosa may have more of its share of zombie juice laying around in leaking toxic waste barrels.. Who knows what weirdness may result. Actually my Nazi Carcosa players will be finding out this Sunday.
The Warden from Metamorphis Alpha is primed for a infestation of zombies & would allow players to cut loose with weapons & mutations. Terminal Space has any number of space hulks that pass through with infected. Zombie eradication might be a fast way to make a buck or too in space!
As is Logun's Run & Planet of the Apes.
Notes About the '30s & 40s Infested


Those zombies from such films as  White Zombie & Revolt of Zombies are slightly different then the run of the mile undead. They are slow moving, strong as hell, & prone to choking the living day lights out of their victims.
The psychic force of their masters actually animates them & they are under his complete control. They are infested with negative energy which allows total subversion of will & mind. These poor wretches exist part way between living & undeath. Those taken over by the necromancer in question will within 1d6 days become total monsters under the master's will & domination.
 Those who come to the notice of these monsters may within 1d4 days of domination make a saving throw vs. death to throw off the weird conversion to undeath.
Those who are under the sway of such a monster will convert over to the shambling infected state within 1d6 weeks as the negative energies course through their bodies wrecking havoc.
Those zombies & undead seen in horror comics from the 30s & 50s were as intelligent & smart as a normal humans. This makes them some of the most dangerous monsters players will encounter. They are also given a propensity for magic & a hatred of the living 


  1. LOVE the references of Creeps and Phantasm 2! Great stuff:

  2. Thanks Orc both movies are near & dear to my twisted little heart. There's more to come man!


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