Living Dead (D20 Modern Creature)

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Living Dead

Medium-Size Undead

Hit Dice: 3d12 + 3 (24 hp)

Massive Damage Threshold: --

Initiative:- 1 (Dex)

Speed: 30 ft.

AC: 11 (- 1 Dex, + 2 Natural)

Attacks: 2 Claws + 2 melee, Bite + 3 melee

Damage: Claw 1d4 + 1, Bite 1d6 + 1

Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft. / 5 ft.

Base Atk / Grp: +2 / +3

Special Attacks: Living Death, Swarm Attack

Special Qualities: Unliving, Scent, partial actions only (see below), damage reduction 5/slashing, Darkvision 60', Cold Resistance

Saves: Fort + 1, Ref + 0, Will + 4

Abilities: Str 13, Dex 8, Con --,Int 2, Wis 10, Cha 1

Skills: --

Feats: Toughness, Multiattack

Action Points: --

Reputation: --

Allegiances: --

Climate / Terrain: Any Land and Underground

Organization: Horde (10 - 100)

Challenge Rating: 2

Treasure: None

Alignment: Neutral Evil

Advancement: 4 - 5 HD

Living Dead are an Apocalyptic Zombie for use in any d20 Apocalypse campaign. These Zombies are perfect for any world that has been overrun by hordes of the undead.

The Living Dead are the reanimated remains of Humanoid corpses. While Living Dead are reanimated corpses, they are not Undead in the strictest sense. Instead they are corpses that have been given unlife through some form of unnatural disease. Where or how this disease came to be is unknown, many have speculated as to it’s origin; some say a Government or Private Scientist created it, some say it is a mutated form of a natural disease, others say it comes from exposure to meteors or comets that struck the Earth, and the list of opinions goes on and on. In the end the origin of the malady matters little, for the result is horrifying and wholly destructive.

Living Dead are driven by an insatiable need to spread their infection, using what little remains of their Intelligence to reach the living prey they need to carry on their nightmarish plague. Some Living Dead are able to use minor tools or implements (open doors, smash windows with rocks, etc.), but they are unable to communicate or use weapons in anyway. The most terrifying use of their vestigial intelligence is the fact they are drawn to former friends and loved ones as their initial victims, often using the sympathy these people feel for their former acquaintances as a lure.


Living Dead attack by rending, tearing, and biting their victims. Their initial attack is with their bony claw-like hands, attacking twice (without penalty) with them, if either (or both) of these attacks hit they can then attempt to bite their victim (again without any penalty). While their claw attacks will pass on their infection, it is their bite that carries the immediate threat. Often Living Dead will use their fist Claw attack to perform a Grapple, if successful they will attempt to Pin their victim and gain the +4 bonus on their following attacks. Once a Living Dead begins to attack someone they continue to do so until the person dies, at that point they cease their attacks and continue on looking for living prey.

Swarm Attack: The more Living Dead that surround and attack a victim the deadlier they become. For every two Living Dead that are attacking a singular target each one gains an additional + 1 on their to hit rolls (example: if 6 Living Dead are attacking one person each Living Dead gains an additional + 3 on their to hit rolls). For this reason alone one should never allow themselves to become surrounded by the Living Dead for in large numbers even the strongest of Heroes will quickly be overran by them.

Unliving: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, radiation, and disease. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage. The Living Dead have the same speed and reflexes that they had in life, even being able to run (or sprint) for indefinite amounts of time due to their complete lack of exhaustion, although this will change as they age (see below). Living Dead are unable to use any Mutation they had in life. Unless the Mutation is passive and does not require any activation or involve the use of energy of any type (mental or otherwise), such as Claws, Tough Skin, etc. As well any being that is Plant based (or has significant Plant biology) is immune to the Living Death virus. All Living Dead have Darkvision 60'.

Scent: Living Dead are able to locate and track their Humanoid prey by using their Scent ability. They draw air into themselves through what might remain of their nose or mouth in order to “smell” their intended victims. As they release the air from their bodies Living Dead emit groans and wails that chill the blood and have been known to drive some people to the verge of insanity. Because their Scent ability is exclusively used to hunt Humanoids, Living Dead gain a +2 bonus on all checks made with this ability.

FromSoil.jpg Image by BryanBaugh

Living Death: The true horror of the Living Dead is the infection they carry within themselves. As it grants them a semblance of life, it is a virulent toxin to the already living. While the infection itself is transmitted by even a scratch from one of these monsters, their bite is what can cause the worse effects to manifest almost immediately. When their victims are bitten they must make a Fortitude Save (DC 22), failure results in the victim suffering Ability Damage of -2 to their Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores 1d10 rounds after being bitten. The victim then continues to lose 2 points from those Stats every hour after becoming infected, until the victim’s Constitution reaches 0 and he/she dies. If a victim dies from the infection (or is killed by damage caused by the Living Dead) they will reanimate 1d6 rounds after death as a newly formed member of the Living Dead. Once infected the victim cannot heal either lost Hit Points or Ability Damage (neither naturally, or through technological means). There is no known cure for the Living Death infection (although DMs may wish to use the search for one as a basis for a campaign).

The infection itself has an effect on the decay of the corpse it reanimates. It slows down the rate of decay to almost a standstill, allowing the Living Dead to function without any major decline in ability for 2 - 4 years after death and reanimation. Drier (or colder) climates can allow them to exist even longer. Living Dead lose 1 HD for every 2 years they exist, causing most to decay away in about 6 years, arid and/or cold climates slow this rate to 1 HD per 4 years. Once a Living Dead Zombie loses 1 HD they gain the Partial Action quality, the decay causes poor reflexes and Living Dead can only perform partial actions from that point on. Thus they can move or attack, but can only do both if they charge (a partial charge). The same byproduct that slows decay also acts as a natural anti-freeze, therefore Living Dead never freeze solid (even in sub-artic or artic conditions). This has the added benefit of granting them Cold Resistance (Living Dead take half damage from any cold or cold-based attacks).

As stated above, even the slightest scratch from one of these monsters will transmit their malady. Anyone who takes damage from a member of the Living Dead (either from a Claw or Bite attack) becomes infected with Living Death. The infection will remain dormant within the victim for the rest of their lives, and while dormant the victim will be able to heal normally and suffer no obvious outward effect of the infection. The infection becomes active as soon as the person dies (no matter the cause) causing them to reanimate 1d6 rounds after death, becoming a member of the Living Dead.

This version assumes the campaign setting does not include Magic, if yours does you may wish to include some of the details from the D&D version of them (particularly the Unliving and Living Death sections).

Note: Some Players, particularly Zombie Movie Fans, may decide "Head-Shot Kills" are needed to destroy these monsters. While this is unnecessary, a simple game mechanic can be used to simulate this. Characters suffer a -4 penalty to hit the head, if successful the weapon causes "Critical Hit" damage (this supercedes their normal immunity to Critical Hits) and bypasses their Damage Reduction for non-Slashing weapons.

Adventure Ideas

Start off with a d20 Modern world set in our current time (this works even better if the Campaign is set in the Player's Hometown). An unknown Comet strikes the Earth exploding in the upper atmosphere. Aside from a spectacular light show it appears to have caused no harm. The comet carried the Living Death virus and it is released into the Earth's atmosphere (or this may be a red herring). A week after the impact the virus has mutated into it's horrific form and well over 70% of Earth's population now carries it in it's dormant form. As people continue to die of natural causes (ie. murder, accidents, disease, old age, etc.), they begin to rise as the Living Dead. As well it appears the terminally ill, the critically injured, and the very old become stricken with an active form of Living Death, and begin to weaken and die. Within a few hours the world is in chaos and the situation goes from bad to worse. At this point the Campaign can begin.

Living Dead for D&D

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