UNDEATH GM Manual

UNDEATH GM Manual

Introduction

Hello, and welcome to the Game Master seat. My name is James and I made Undeath partly for fun and partly because I haven’t yet found a zombie apocalypse tabletop RPG that I like. GMing in Undeath requires knowledge of your setting and how to present it, just like any other game. If you’ve never GMed a roleplaying game before, you should look up some tips online before you start reading this to get an idea of how to go about what you’re about to do. The most important thing is to cater to the players while also enjoying yourself, and hopefully I’ll explain how to do this successfully in Undeath. 

Your first concern should be the player’s engagement in the process. How do you draw your players in and get them excited about this game? Be creative, try to do the unexpected to keep your group on their toes. There are a few things more important to Undeath than anything else:

  1. Mortality: Players should always be on guard and never feel truly safe, but must also not feel completely overwhelmed or they will get burned out.

  2. Uncertainty: Players should have a mystery to solve in and should be somewhat afraid of the zombies: This is a game that tries to revive the horror aspect of zombies, not treat them as a joke or just a trope. 

  3. World Building: The world the players are in is interesting enough to merit some attention. Put some work into the player’s surroundings, have some attention to detail, but also be good at making things up on the fly. 

Game Mechanics

Some mechanics are meant to only be understood by the GM, until players figure them out themselves. This is key to keeping the mystery and horror of the game.

Scavenging: This is important for GMs who want to focus on the survival aspect, and the ‘loot’ of this game is much more oriented to allowing players to keep surviving than being shiny piles of gold and goodies. GMs want to get into the mindset of thinking of all of the useful items for survival in a given area, and what would be obviously taken, what would be hidden, etc. Some locations it is easy to think of what loot a player might find, such as in a convenience store or a grocery store. However, it is not easy to keep answering questions like “Is there peanut butter anywhere in the store?” “Is there tofu in the store? My character is a vegan.” Other locations like houses, it is hard to come up with entirely unique locations and items on the fly. Hence whenever players scavenge, use these methods to save a lot of time. Some item descriptions are purposefully left slightly vague, this is so that the GM can throw in a bit of variety and not have the exact same results every time. For example if I throw a 6 on the food roll for the convenience store, I can tell the players they find ice cream sandwiches or drumsticks or a quart of ice cream. If players request a specific item that is close enough to the rolled item and is reasonable (for example, a bottle of ketchup in the convenience store) then you could replace a bag of snack food with a bottle of ketchup, since that sits out on the shelf, but if that is not rolled, don’t give the players any unless you really want to. To summarize, this is an aid to help thinking on the fly, it’s not set in stone.

PLAYERS SHOULDN’T ALWAYS FIND EMPTY UNLOOTED STORES. And if they do, it may be a trap… Be creative with your scenarios!

Convenience stores/supermarkets:

If the power would be out for an area, any frozen meals rolled are unusable and moldy.

Convenience store: Roll 6d6 food, 5d6 drinks, 3d6 items. IF HEAVILY LOOTED- roll 1d6 for each.

Roll result

1

2

3

4

5

6

Food

5 units (bags usually) junk food

10 packs gum

5 Frozen meals (can also include stock for fresh food e.g. hot dog rollers)

2 Boxes of candy

2 Bags of candy

Assorted ice cream products- 

Drink

5 2L bottles of soda

Case of water bottles(24 pack)

Case of beer(24 pack)

5 cans energy drinks

Slurpee machine/soda machine

Coffee machine or coffee products

Supplies/Items

Box of hygiene items(tampons, toothpaste,mouthwash etc)

2 Decks of Playing Cards/Ping Pong Balls/souvenirs 

Packs of Plastic utensils/cups/plates

Flash light/matches

Over the counter drugs- Cough drops, ibuprofin,acetaminophen

20 packs Tobacco items

Market: Moderate size, meant for a small town. Roll 10d6 food, 7d6 drinks, 3d6 items. IF HEAVILY LOOTED- Roll 1d6 food, 1d6 drink, 1d6 items.

Supermarket: For example, a Giant Eagle. Roll 15d6 food, 10d6 drinks, 5d6 items. IF HEAVILY LOOTED- Roll 2d6 food, 2d6 drink, 2d6 items.

Roll result

1

2

3

4

5

6

Food

5 units (bags usually) junk food

10 cans assorted canned food

5 Frozen meals

5 small containers Assorted spices/condiments/etc 

2 Bags/boxes of candy

2 bags Assorted cooking/baking ingredients (flour, sugar, pasta, rice)

Drink

5 2L bottles of soda

Case of water bottles(24 pack)

Case of beer(24 pack)

5 cans energy drinks

3 bottles Liquor/Wine

3 2L bottles juice (apple, vegetable, etc)

Supplies/Items

2 Boxes of hygiene items/toiletries(tampons, toothpaste, TP, etc)

2 Decks of Playing Cards or 2 Nerf Guns or other children’s toys

2 thermos/4 water bottles/1 cooler

Flash light/matches

Over the counter drugs- Cough drops, ibuprofin,acetaminophen

Office supplies- Posterboard, staples, paper, 

Houses:

Small: Little townhouses, trailers, 1 story houses

Roll result

1

2

3

4

5

6

Food

1 unit (bags usually) junk food

3 cans assorted canned food

1 Frozen meals

2 small containers Assorted spices/condiments/etc 

1 small bag/box of candy

2 bags Assorted cooking/baking ingredients (flour, sugar, pasta, rice)

Drink

5 2L bottles of soda

Case of water bottles(24 pack)

Case of beer(24 pack)

5 cans energy drinks

3 bottles Liquor/Wine

3 2L bottles juice (apple, vegetable, etc)

Supplies/Items

2 Boxes of hygiene items/toiletries(tampons, toothpaste, TP, etc)

2 Decks of Playing Cards or 2 Nerf Guns or other children’s toys

2 thermos/4 water bottles/1 cooler

Flash light/matches

Over the counter drugs- Cough drops, ibuprofin,acetaminophen

Office supplies- Posterboard, staples, paper, 

Medic(Savant): When a player achieves this skill, tell him/her that they need the given equipment in the Zombie creation table to research the zombies, and more will be revealed after a week’s research. Once the player performs a week’s worth of research, pull him/her aside. Tell the player the following things: 

You now have access to the Medic(Evil Scientist) and Medic(Savior of Mankind) skills, and gain one of them for free. In addition, you can now create Control Pheromones, which is a chemical that prevents zombies from being aggressive towards the target. Applied in the form of a sprayable gas, it lasts a few hours. Side note: In order to create things, the labs need a constant supply of scrap metal/electronic parts and electricity. Here are the skill descriptions:

Medic(Evil Scientist): Prime stat INT. The player may use zombie samples to create weapons of terrible destruction. Immediately gives access to Attack Pheromones, makes zombies incredibly aggressive towards the target, and is put into gas grenades. Additional days of research generate 1 research point each:

Item Name

Points Needed

Description

Zombie Poison

2

A poison that prevents zombies from regenerating, and permanently kills them upon introduction to the system. Can be applied to weapons.

Pheromone Cannon

3

A device used to spread control pheromones. Using this device in an area will draw many zombies from afar.

Zombie Modification Lab

7

Required for any upgrades below this one.

Resource Machine

5

A machine that allows the zombie source to breed, creating zombie material or zombies for use in other projects.

Gene Modification Station

7

This machine allows humans to gain incredible abilities derived from zombies. It takes a full day in the machine for effects to apply. Each time a player takes a modification, they have a 5% chance of their INT being reduced to 3, turning into a disfigured creature.

Gene Modifications:

Incredible Strength- Your STR is immediately increased to 22. Gain +3 damage to any melee attack, permanently, and you have a 500 pound carry weight.

Regeneration- Your END is immediately increased to 22. You cannot die from bleed state, unless your head and torso are completely destroyed. (Destruction of the head will cause a memory wipe, however) You will regenerate any lost limbs in a week. You also recover to full health any time you sleep.

Bloodhound- You can detect the scent of blood or living things from a mile away and identify different people by their smell from a slightly shorter range. Consuming fresh blood for a combat round heals you for 25% of your maximum health.

Bone Enhancements- Your bones grow, becoming armor and weapons simultaneously. Gain +2 to AC permanently and 1d2 damage absorption. Your arms have bone blades protruding from them, and each count as a slash/stab weapon dealing 5 damage with 2 attacks per round. You have proficiency with them and can use both in one round without penalty.

Zombie Control Device 

14

The player unlocks the secret to easily controlling the hordes. This machine sprays pheromones over a long distance which make the zombies susceptible to broadcasted commands. This essentially gives the player a mindless army with which he can give simple commands to groups which they will follow to their best effort. 

Zombie Enhancement Device

7

This allows players to look at the list of zombie types in the GM document and modify existing zombies to those specializations, or infect humans and make specialized zombies from them.

Medic(Savior of Mankind): Prime stat INT. The player may use zombie samples to create miraculous cure-alls and eventually reverse the zombification process. The player immediately gains use of the Combat Booster, which is a syringe-delivered medicine that gives targets 8 temporary points of health and renders them immune to fear. Additional days of research generate 1 research point each:

Item Name

Points Needed

Description

Plan Z

2

A syringe- applied medicine that can be injected into bite or infection victims, that will kill off and prevent infection.

Vac-Z-n

3

A vaccine that prevents infection from happening with a 95% success rate. GM rolls for this chance in secret for each exposure/infection chance. For parasitic infection, it repels the parasites from targets with 95% success.

Medical Research Lab

7

Required for any items below this one.

Gene Modification Station

7

This machine allows humans to gain incredible abilities derived from zombies. It takes a full day in the machine for effects to apply. This version of the machine is safer than the Evil Scientist one but has less powerful effects. Each time a modification is taken beyond the first, there is a 5% chance of having your INT reduced to 3 and becoming an abomination.

Gene Modifications:

Great Strength- Your STR is immediately increased to 20, or 22 if you already had 20 or 21. Gain +1 damage to any melee attack, permanently, and you have a 300 pound carry weight.

Great Health- Your END is immediately increased to 20, 22 if you had 20 or 21. You cannot die from bleed state, unless your brain is damaged. You also recover to full health any time you sleep.

Imitation- You can change your voice to match any sound you have heard, or any other voice you have heard. In addition, your skin can change color like a chameleon’s.

Flexibility Enhancements- Immediately increase your AGL to 20, 22 if your stat was 20 or 21. You gain the ability to climb on walls without a check, and ceilings with a roll against 20. (Given acceptable STR to do so)

Autonomous Doctor Pack

7

These devices can be worn on a limb to automatically inject Combat Booster or a healing chemical upon entering bleed state or at the wearer’s discretion. The chemical restores the user to full health, and can repair any broken bones or critically wounded organs/limb with a reconstructive compound. Only one use of each before it needs to be refilled.

The True Cure-All

14

A device is created and can be replicated, which takes in zombies and cures them entirely of the infection, as long as their brain is intact. It also fully heals any human subjects, curing them of any diseases or injuries. Takes a full day to use. Additional devices take only 5 days of work to produce.

Zombies:

All zombies upon reduction to 0 health become immobilized. Tougher zombies may remain conscious, but immobile. A double tap is required to consist a full kill, players must destroy the seed inside the undead, which is a black tumorous mass with tendrils that are anchoring it in the flesh, but it is usually found in the abdomen or torso, so it is not visible. If not fully killed, a zombie will enter a regenerative state until it can function (If the players leave them, they take about a half day to complete this process undisturbed.) Regenerated flesh is a sickly black color. The main reason this mechanic exists is to make the zombies somewhat scary, because players will not know how to fully kill them until they actually take one apart. Mystery is a huge part of horror, especially since we can’t really use jumpscares or visual horror. 

Physical Description: 

Blackish coloration of the skin. Tumorous growths are apparent throughout the exterior of the subject. The cancerous cells generate the phenacetin to reduce pain in the infected, with the side effect of the discoloration of the skin and blood. When a body is infected, the cancer makes its way to the brain and severely impairs mental ability. Extreme pain is felt in the subject, to the point of self mutilation, due to the extreme growth rate of the cells. Infected humans find their wounds healed more quickly and pain to be lessened, with a varying degree to how long they have been infected. Players can be kept alive longer while infected if surgery is conducted to remove the main tumor as it forms, but the human body does not have enough strength and resilience to have this surgery conducted more than a few times. Once it reaches the brain, it creates a new section of grey matter, overriding and controlling. At this point the person is fully infected. This process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a day. Once a zombie is fully turned, it will attempt to gorge itself on whatever flesh possible, but will not lead with a bite as an attack, it will attempt to kill its prey first. The flesh will be absorbed by the cancerous cells. Once it has consumed enough, the zombie will find a quiet, dark spot and lay down. Its skin will balloon out like a sac and it will undergo a growth period and transform into an evolved state, often much different from a human form. 

How infection spreads:

Infection is different with each game, so whatever triggers the infection based on your rolls or choice will incur an infection check.

Infection checks from wounds: Roll secret checks at end of combat, not immediately, unless infection method calls for immediate checks. 

Infection checks for exposure to contaminated air: Roll secret check immediately if character is not holding breath, or for each round of breath. Characters can hold breath for 3 rounds performing normal actions/movement and can hold breath for 6 rounds if doing nothing/moving very slowly (10 ft/rd). Even if characters held breath/had gas masks, if eyes were exposed or wounds were exposed to air, one secret check is performed.

Infection checks for exposure to contaminated food/water: Roll a secret check at the end of each day, after marking those who consumed it. Boiled water and well-cooked food are safe. 

Roll a secret END check to determine if the player is infected- 

Zombie Traits:

Traits can be selected randomly or at discretion, I would recommend discretion because certain combinations may not work out well, but it you’re creative enough anything here can work. The traits being different for each group means that replayability exists, as players will once again be in the dark in regards to how the zombies work.

Overall Zombie Type:

  1. Virus- A microscopic culprit. What most people expect from zombies.

  2. Fungal- The Last of Us, anyone?

  3. Parasite- Burrows into the body, through flesh or orifices.

  4. Super Cancer- Severe deformations are common, as cells grow uncontrollably.

  5. Necromancy- Change the Medic(Savant) categories to magical abilities and shrines. Zombies can raise each other from the dead with magic or it just happens. Creativity required to fill in the blanks.

  6. Irradiated Freaks– Zombies spread radiation as well…

Spread of Infection: Choose two or more.

  1. Bites/Scratches- The classic method. Can be modified to make more terrifying, for example, a barbed tongue that shoots out from zombies’ mouths within a short range is what infects.

  2. Air Contamination- Doesn’t spread quickly as it can only be concentrated in certain areas (Example: fungal spores from The Last of Us)

  3. Water Contamination- Spreads quickly. Beware of drinking dirty water.

  4. Zombification Upon Death- Just like the Walking Dead. Guaranteed infection on any human that dies- Be sure to double tap.

  5. Special Delivery- Certain special zombies spread the infection through bile, secretion, or other delivery methods, and are more common. Other zombies cannot spread infection.

  6. Immorality- A blight to punish the sins of the unworthy, choose this as an additional spread of infection trait. Characters that are good are infected less and more slowly, while evil characters are infected much quicker and easily. Not recommended for standard campaigns. Could be extremely flavorful considering the players are convicted criminals unless stated otherwise. (This could also be a sense, as in zombies ignore those who are pure of heart.)

Early Symptoms of Infection: Within 1d6 hours. Choose two or more. (NOTE: Infection times can be adjusted to be shorter or longer, depending on how you want the campaign to feel. Shorter times will be more fast paced and combat oriented, longer times may result in a race against time idea and moral dilemmas.)

  1. Nausea

  2. Fever, flu-like symptoms

  3. Migraines

  4. Insomnia

  5. Rapid weight loss

  6. Discoloration of skin

  7. Numbing of affected areas

  8. Acute joint pains

Late Symptoms of Infection: After 12+1d6 hours. Choose two or more.

  1. Paralysis

  2. Comatose state

  3. Sluggishness and slowed heart rate

  4. Increased aggressiveness, pacing, feelings of anger

  5. Severe dementia

  6. Cellular necrosis/gangrene

  7. Organ failure/Cardiac Arrest

  8. Onset of Narcoleptic tendencies/exhaustion

At 24 hours: Full infection.

Sensory Attractions: Choose one or more. IF SIGHT/LIGHT ARE NOT CHOSEN- Roll for blindness- Roll a 1d8, 1-3 is blind, 4-8 is not.

  1. Sight/Light- Zombies are vision based and can distinguish their own kind from humans by sight.They are also very attracted to movement/light sources.

  2. Normal hearing- Zombies use hearing to discern the location of their prey. 

  3. Echolocation- Clickers a la The Last of Us. Perhaps they use a different sound, for example short moans or grunts, to echolocate. 

  4. Smell- Zombies can sniff out food from a certain distance away.

  5. Unexplainable sense- Zombies mysteriously detect enemies when they are within a certain radius, regardless of senses.

  6. Cold Blooded- Zombies are attracted to heat, and enjoy standing out in the sun.

  7. Light Hating- Zombies cannot stand heat or light, and prefer to come out at night and lay dormant in the day.

Durability and Regeneration: Choose one or more.

  1. Rotting Flesh- Zombies are weak, and fall apart over time, but are relentless and not stopped by injury or losing an arm. -2 to AC, but 150% HP for all zombies.

  2. Hardened- Zombies are fairly durable, but once they have enough wounds they will go down. +1 to AC, 1d2 damage absorption for all zombies.

  3. Achilles Heel- Zombies have a specific weak spot (Central parasite, created organ, brain, etc.) and will go down for good once that spot is destroyed, but otherwise will regenerate over time to full health. Zombies will collapse at 0 HP, but will regenerate after a few hours.

  4. Instant Regen- Zombies regenerate health at an alarming rate, but are overall weaker. -2 to AC and 75% HP, but regenerate 1 HP (2 HP if base health is over 15) every other combat round.

Unique Attributes: Choose as many as you like.

  1. Lies Dormant- When a human is infected, the symptoms do not show for 2d2 days. The transformation process is incredibly quick to compensate and surprise, occurring within a few minutes. 

  2. Oil Slick- Zombies ooze large puddles of slick goo upon death. These impede foot progress, requiring AGL checks to stay standing.

  3. Pack Animals- Zombies generally travel in packs, staying close together, searching for food.

  4. Loners- Zombies are oblivious to other zombies, and wander about aimlessly.

  5. Hungry- Zombies eat their prey alive.

  6. Methodical Hunters- Zombies kill their prey with blows before attempting to consume them.

  7. Just Violent- Zombies don’t eat anything at all. They just exhibit high levels of aggression towards anything that comes near them.

  8. Intelligent- Zombies can figure out how to open doors and get around obstacles. Makes for a slightly more terrifying zombie threat, at the expense of the human v. human conflict.

  9. Cooperative- Zombies will work together to solve problems, stacking on top of each other to bypass barriers, spreading out to circle prey, etc.

  10. Muscle Memory?- Zombies remember parts of their past lives, and will wander through their old daily routines very roughly.

  11. Pustules- Zombies have various boils that develop on the body, and have a low chance (10%ish, change to your liking) to explode upon taking damage. A gas rapidly expands from a burst boil, impeding vision in the area and causing those that inhale it to have some detriment, for example, a fear check, a CON check, or possibly infection.

To roll for how many zombies are in an area on the fly, come up with a size rating and roll on this table once for each number of the rating (Rating from 1 to 20, or larger if necessary.) This table should be for unplanned areas, otherwise roll percentages. If you get more than two Walkers in a row, roll until you get something else (this is to force variety.)

Type

Roll on 1d20

Result 

W – Walker

1-12

Add 4 walkers

I – Immobile

12-13

Add 2 immobile

C – Crawler

14-17

Add 2 crawlers

R – Runner

18-20

Add 2 runners

Type

% Chance Appearing

AC

Speed

To hit bonus

Attacks/rd

DMG

HP

Special

Abilities

Reg. Walker

80 (1d8)

10

10 ft/rd

+1

2

4

9

N/A

-Reg. Crawler

50 (1d3)

8

5 ft/rd

+0

1

3

9

N/A

-Reg. Runner

50(Variable) (1d4)

11

20 ft/rd

+2

2

4

11

N/A

-Reg. Immobile

20 (1d2)

5

1 ft/rd max

-1

1

3

9

N/A

Climber

N/A

13

15 ft/rd

+0

2

5

11

Can climb walls and ceilings using sharp claws.

Sprinter

N/A

13

40 ft/rd

+3

2

4

11

Burst of speed once an encounter, +10 feet and gives a tackle attack with a strength check for falling down.

Jumper

N/A

13

20 ft/rd

+2

2

5

11

Pounce- Ranged melee attack that gives +3 to hit and aim, and lowers AC

Parrot

N/A

11

15 ft/rd

0

1

4

9

Voice imitation.

Swimmer

N/A

11

10 ft/rd 

+1

3

4

13

Can swim. Other zombies walk on the bottom or float aimlessly.

Thug

N/A

16

30 ft/rd

+5

(Large swing radius) 

10

20

Throws objects, no bonuses to hit/aim. Bone armor gives it 2d2 damage absorption.

Animal Infected

Dog

10 (2-3)

12

Med

9

Deer

N/A

12

Low

9

Exotic(Zoo animals)

Varies

Bear

N/A

13

High

20

Small (rodent, etc)

N/A

14

VLow

3

Biped

N/A

15

30 ft/rd

+5

High

15

Blades for hands, +5 to dmg.

Glue Guy

N/A

13

15 ft/rd

+1 per corpse

Depends on size

9 ea, add hp 

Sticks to other infected and combines them with itself

Glider

N/A

16

30 ft/rd,

50 gliding

+2

Med

Glides through the air to land on targets with arm flaps.

15 ft a rd (3 sec rounds) unless dashing in which case 30 ft

Undeath Plot
Undeath Premise

All players start on an island called Grylford Isle, as an inmate at Cooperston City Correctional Facility, an old prison consisting of about 500 inmates. Grylford is a small island off the coast of Rhode Island, with a population of about 12,000 people. The island was originally used by the colonies as a prison island, as well as an outpost for naval activity, hence the small military outpost (coast guard) that currently exists.

Cities on the island: Cooperston, Grylford City, Teraton, and Randall. Cooperston is a city that evolved as a prison town, so it has the smallest population of the four, only about 400 people live there excluding inmates. Teraton is between Grylford and Cooperston, and it is an agricultural town, mostly growing peaches and apples, and about 1000 people reside there. Grylford is the largest with a pop of 7000, and is the port city of the island. Finally, Randall is a town that evolved around the military base(coast guard), sprung up over the years, and has a population of 3000 people.

Premise of zombies: 

Hoffman Co. in Randall is a military funded and military focused research facility, names after its CEO, Craig Hoffman. Many have speculated that the most dangerous small-scale experiments in the US are carried out here, because of the isolation the island provides. It was shut down in the 1940’s after the war effort, when it did not have a name and was simply a government research facility, but reopened in the 1980’s. A scientist named Reddi Markov was performing research on cancerous cells in attempting to understand these cells better, in particular a specific strain found in [REDACTED]. These cells had the remarkable ability to regenerate, no matter how many were killed, as long as one was left- at an incredible rate, and using very little energy. Hoping to use them to develop groundbreaking new medicine, he performed various experiments on them. After a few days, Markov realized he had an overgrowth of the cells- and could not kill them with the methods he had been previously using. He tested many methods to see which would most effectively kill the cells, but each attempt became less and less effective, and he was in effect evolving the cells, creating an evolved ‘super cancer.’ Markov attempted to dispose of the sample once he discovered this, and closed the samples into a pressurized container, dropping the container far out at sea. Unbeknownst to him, the container burst from the rapid cell growth, and fish fed on the cells that now formed a mass of [REDACTED]. Birds ate the fish and eventually, one day, (insert date of first session) the news headline read VICIOUS CANNIBAL ARRESTED AND HOSPITALIZED. This is where our story begins. 


When the outbreak begins, players hear about it a day after it begins to spread wildly. Give them only subtle hints as to what is happening, to set the tone: Through this, remind them that like most zombie universes, this is one in which zombies as an idea do not exist in culture, John Romero, instead of Night of the Living Dead, made Night of the Alien Attack. Life continues as normal for two more days. Use this for details on prison goals: 

Accepting Responsibility:  This program helps inmates explore the "justification thinking errors" and addresses accepting responsibility for destructive behaviors.

Fear: The Anger Trigger:  This program helps inmates take a look at their destructive force "anger" and how it impacts others and the thinking behind explosive anger.

OSP Wellness Program:  Medical, Unit Staff, Recovery Services, Mental Health and Recreation provide education on topics related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Activities are structured to motivate inmates to be responsible for their well-being physically, mentally, and emotionally. Educational activities are provided on a weekly basis for six months.

News is withheld from the prisoners, until finally a lockdown is called into effect. (Blares through a siren etc) Prisoners are locked up for two days, fed meals in their cells instead of in the mess hall. Players should begin to wonder what's going on, and why you aren’t jumping straight into the action. That’s okay, this is very important for setting the tone, and immersing you and the group in the campaign. Near the end of the second day, gunshots are audible from somewhere in the facility. Prisoners go crazy, and eventually chaos breaks loose as infected wander through the cell block. (You can have whatever zombies you want for this part, but a good way to set the horror tone is to have one strong special infected, for example, a Thug, and have the players roll a fear check. I have the thug burst through a door or wall.) Over the speakers a chilling speech is heard: 

"This is Warden Bridges." (He pauses a moment, panting and gasping.) "I've been ordered to keep you all in your cells." (Another pause, he catches his breath.) "The world has been exposed to the horrors of hell, I'm afraid… I'm certain most of you will die of dehydration before the army gets off their sorry asses and lifts quarantine." (You hear the cocking of a gun.)  “This is something I never thought I would say, but… Escape… This is your-" "Your second chance. You're all free to go, don't fuck this up. Try to save some lives and do some good, instead of rotting behind bars…" (Heavy breathing and a click as a switch is pulled) "You have one minute to steel yourselves, before the delayed release goes off… Good luck and God bless." "Don't let this spread… The demons can't spread if you don't let them… I'm doing my part." (Bridges begins to sob, next lines are fainter) "God, hast thou forsaken me?! Why did you take Anette? Why?! (A gunshot is heard and the speakers ring, go into static, and turn off. The doors to each cell then open one minute after the click sound.)

GM Note: Bridges does not actually shoot himself. He pretends to commit suicide so that the inmates will feel sympathy for him and not attempt to find him and kill him, instead firing into the intercom system. Bridges may be encountered by the party later on, at which time he may disclose the information that he knew some of the inmates would try to kill him no matter the situation because of personal vendettas, and he thought faking his death would prevent them from chasing after him.

Initial release: The prison room is formatted with 500 cells, in five blocks. Each block has two sides, and two floors, leaving 25 cells in each row. On each end is a staircase. Randomly select player locations unless you have plot reasons for where they are. You can play out the scenario multiple ways, by having the thug break in through a wall or through a door, but always leave a way for players to escape as this initial encounter isn’t meant to kill them unless they play very stupid. Initially one zombie bangs on a door: You hear a faint thumping on the door that slowly rises in volume, to a loud banging. Some inmates complain etc. Suddenly, a roaring is heard coming closer and the door explodes inwards, and a 9 foot tall figure (thug zombie) rippling in muscle flings a guard across the room, breaking his neck. Both have a [sickly black hue and sores on their skin]. Bullet wounds are visible in the larger creature, and panic breaks out over the room. Cue warden bridges here, then leave it to the players to try to get around the hulk. Inmates will be running for their lives, swarming the scene. A few inmates are running the opposite direction, to the kitchen, and some to the exit. Players can go grab food which will lead to a human v. human encounter or can escape.

Alternate zrpg plot:

Begin in washington. The makeshift government of the us exists here, the vice president is president, the actual pres is dead. What remains of the army is supplemented by militia, and walls have been built around an area in dc. The president assigns the main objective to search for a cure to a special force named CT-Z, and it is believed that someone has info about it, a recurring character from original plot who survived. They find him first, in x city, then send in the military group to retrieve evidence/cure. Someone in the secret service defects and tells the group the pres wants to use the cure sparingly, as a weapon almost, and the agent wants to spread it to all. The group must fight the us govt as well as zeds to make it to and secure the cure, as it turns out the scientist succeeded in finding a way to kill the cells and retain the regenerative ability. From there, if the group has gotten a following like secret service guys suggests, takeover ensues. Otherwise the party must figure it out or something, discretion.

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