…I’ve been thinking about Skeletons and Zombies.
Probably because of the Ghouls from the last game session, and my Ghouls are far more inspired and drawn from Lovecraft than from AD&D… 😉
But I always thought that basic Skeletons and Zombies were kind of… off… and looking at them again (as compared to the versions for my HomeBrew) I have to say that I have the same opinion. My vision of Skeletons is rather Ray Harryhausen-esque, lightning-fast and deadly. So years ago I made the decision that they had two strikes per round, but also did damage by weapon type and had AC based on the armor worn (usually with a bit of penalty due to rot and damage). I think the “always do 1d6 damage” was a hold-over from OD&D that makes little sense in a world of mutiple damage dice for weapons. It’s fine for thier claw or bite attack, but a weapon is a weapon.
Zombies were better, and I didn’t really change them all that much – the big difference is that I always thought it made sense that they had the chance to cause disease when striking somebody like a Giant Rat. I never went so far as to make them Romero-esque zombies that passed on a zombie plague (that was a different creature entirely), but I always figured being clawed or bitten by a rotting flesh and bone is pretty nasty.
But what I was thinking about was Skeleton and Zombie animals. I know (or seem to remember) that there are rules for these in the Monster Manual II, but I’m kind of wondering what I would come up with that let’s me just turn around and apply it to and normal creature and come out with the monster in question.
So (Demi)Human(oid) Skeletons are 1HD, a normal human is 1d6HP, so Monster Skeletons are 1 and 1/3 the normal HD or HP range of the creature in question. If a normal human punches for 1d2 HP (generous, but reasonable I think for these purposes and based on a 1st level Monk) and a Skeleton does 1d6 then Monster Skeletons do roughly 3x damage dice when attacking – plus they get double normal attacks. A normal Human is AC10, and a Skeleton is AC7, so we’ll give Monster Skeletons the same 3 point AC shift.
Zombies are 2HD, which would suggest that Monster Zombies are 2 and 2/3 the normal HD or HP range of the creature in question when measured against a (Demi)Human(oid) standard HP. Looking at damage, they would 4x the damage dice (often rounded to nearest die or so). They still attack last, in Post-Rounds, and get half normal Movement because Zombies only have 6″ Move compared to the normal 12″ human move. Zombies are AC8, so Monster Zombies get the 2 point AC shift.
I think it is also reasonable to suggest that Animate Dead animates 1HD per level, not just 1 Skeleton or Zombie per level of the spell caster. This means that Zombies are harder to call up, but I’m ok with that. Of course, it also suggests that the Clerical Turn Undead table could or should be modified to key to HD instead of creature type (didn’t 2E do that?)
Skeleton (Black) Bear: HD4+4, AC4, Move12″, #Attacks: 6 (Clawx2/Clawx2/Bitex2 – 1d8+1/1d8+1/3d6), Special Attack: Trample as Bear (for 4d4), Special Defences: 1/2 Damage from Sharp/Edged Weapons, Immune to Sleep, Charm, Cold/Frost and Hold. Special Vulnerabilities: Can be Turned/Rebuked, Holy Water causes 2-8 points of damage per vial.
Damage for the trample was reduced because a skeleton simply doesn’t have the mass of an actual bear.
Zombie Lion: HD13, AC4, Move6″, #Attacks: 3 (Claw/Claw/Bite – 2d8/2d8/4d10), Special Attack: Automatic Rake with Hind Claws (3d8/3d8) after two hits with Claws, Can Leap up to 10′, Special Defences: Immune to Sleep, Charm, Cold/Frost and Hold. Special Vulnerabilities: Can be Turned/Rebuked, Holy Water causes 2-8 points of damage per vial.
Leap was reduced because of zombification, and AC was simplified.
Yup, this seems pretty simple – and means that really nasty zombies and skeletons are going to be limited in number for the most part simply due to the difficulty in controlling them.