Zombies vary depending on the personal style of the necromancer that creates them. But something they all have in common is that they are not Vampires nor are they werewolves: you cannot catch zombie-ism from a zombie. The worst thing a zombie can do to you is kill you. Sometimes they’ll eat you, but they don’t actually need to eat, and will in fact bloat up and sometimes burst if they eat too much, because they cannot digest, food simply accumulates in their stomach. Of course, if you are killed, then the necromancer can create a zombie from your corpse, but he has to make the effort.
The best way to combat zombies, like most undead, is most likely necromancy. A more powerful necromancer can wrest control from the originating necromancer, or at least disrupt his control or dispel the zombie. Holy magic also works quite well to destroy a zombie. It is important to make sure it’s actual white or holy magic, though. Mere life magic will do nothing at all to a zombie, because zombies do not have any life force. Anything that completely destroys the body will destroy the zombie, so cremation is effective, but simply setting it on fire is unlikely to be very helpful in combat. Zombies are no more or less susceptible to silver, iron, or any other metals, unless it’s imbued with white magic, and regular sunlight also has no effect on them. Most zombies can cross running water with no impediment, though there exist a very few varieties that cannot.
To what extent a zombie can be damaged physically mostly depends on the necromancer that created it. If the necromancer is weak, or far away, or trying to control many zombies at once, an injury of sufficient strength to any part of the zombie can disrupt the spell. It is uncertain whether the brain is an effective place to aim, because a zombie does not actually use its brain for anything, but a headshot does seem to be more effective than a blow to the heart, I’m not entirely certain why, though I have theories. Conversely, a strong necromancer, concentrating on a few zombies that are physically nearby, can create undead which are nearly invulnerable. If decapitation doesn’t stop it, then your best bet is probably to cut off its limbs. Even then, you might find disembodied arms crawling after you, but if you cut it into small enough pieces, it will die.
If the necromancer dies, or becomes unconscious or otherwise loses control, or stops bothering to control his creations, unpredictable things can happen. Again, it varies depending on the individual necromancer’s techniques. Usually, without a master’s constant input, the zombie will simply become a corpse again. Sometimes it will remain animate, but will lose focus and begin to shamble aimlessly, and harmlessly. Occasionally, rarely, it will go berserk and attempt to kill everything in sight.
Creation and Ruling
Creation of a zombie obviously requires a deceased corpse. The difficulty to reanimate this corpse as a zombie can be anywhere from 70 (if the body is fresh and the surroundings are conducive to necromancy) to 90. Add 10 more difficulty for each undead creature already under the necromancer's control, excluding those which have any free will of their own.
Once he has brought his creation to "life", the necromancer can attempt to seal the spell into his creation to make it last more than the standard few hours, which works the same way as enchantment (and uses the difficulties under 'extending a spell effect' on that page).
Unless subverted by another necromancer, the zombie should obey all orders from its master unquestioningly.
Stats are as follows:
- Life: Equal to the spell's Points Produced.
- Endurance: 25 if the corpse is fresh; less if not.
- Strength: Equal to the spell's Points Produced
- Dexterity: 25 if the corpse is fresh; less if not.
- Intelligence: Equal to the Points Produced, divided by 10.
- Spirituality: Zombies always have zero spirituality.
- Charisma: Zombies always have zero charisma.
- Skills: Zombies can be given skills at the caster's discretion. They will be equal to the Points Produced, but every skill added increases the difficulty of the spell by 15. Examples of possible skills:
All the stats and skills of a zombie are subject to a hard cap of 50, and cannot be higher than that except under extraordinary circumstances.
- Physical Combat: A zombie can be given a physical combat skill. It can be given a skill for the use of a weapon, if it is given one.
- Awareness: Zombies can be given awareness skills, limited to two senses like any awareness skill.
- Intimidation: Creations can be given an intimidation skill.
- Magic: Zombies cannot use magic per se. However, if the caster is himself any other sort of mage, he can imbue his creations with the essence of a magic. For example, a mage who is both a necromancer and a pyromancer can create fire-breathing zombies. This requires a separate roll for imbuing the magic.
- Other Skills: Up to the discretion of the SH and the caster.
- Animated Skeletons operate on most of the same principles as zombies, but all their flesh has decomposed away.
- Wights operate on similar principles as skeletons and zombies, but are usually given weapons, armour, and a slight degree of free will.
- Trivia: zombies are one of only two things that can be said to shamble (the other being giant ambulatory fungus)