A Review of and Torg Mechanics for
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
This movie is a remake of George Romero’s Dawn
of the Dead, but has little in common with its predecessor
except for the barest basics—people are trapped in a mall after
zombies take over a city (and, perhaps, the world). Zombification
is a pseudo-disease, spread through bites and other blood contact.
Destroying a zombie’s brain “kills” the creature.
Other than that, everything is different.
These zombies are not your typical slowly shambling monsters.
Taking a page from 28 Days Later… (another great zombie
flick), these zombies are strong, fast, and feral. They are physically
the equal of the humans in the movie. A crowd of zombies attacking
a human resembles a riot. And, given the virulence of the infection,
even a small bite must be considered
lethal. A zombie crowd chasing after a few running humans is horrifying.
This is a zombie movie, solidly in the more modern version of
the genre. People get eaten, turned into zombies, and our heroes
must defend themselves with a great many head shots. This is post-apocalyptic
survival horror at its best.
It is, despite being a genre pic, a good zombie movie. Those expecting
long treatises on the meaning of life or Foucalt are likely to
be disappointed. Those expecting chases, blood, gunshots, and mass
zombie mayhem will be pleased.
The movie maps well as a location-based adventure. The characters
have as great many combat scenes, one or two Dramatic Skill Resolutions,
and even Personal Stake and other obvious subplots. The writer
well, managing to force the characters to do the one thing they
do not want to do—leave their safety zone. This movie should inspire
many ideas for scenes in modules.
Send them a plague of zombies. Even in the midst of an unexpected
place, a horror can be hiding. The Comaghaz could infect anyone,
who infects someone else, and so forth. And technodemons can mass
produce biological agents.
This is a zombie flick, a straight genre picture, and therefore
appropriate to mine for inspiration in Tharkold, Orrorsh, or the
Space Gods. Although, of the three, a Core Earth invasion from
Tharkold is most appropriate.
The Comaghaz could use a little more horror and gore. The masses
of “third stage” Comaghaz victims who roam the countryside of South
America can take a few lessons in how to capture their prey from
the zombies of this movie. Scare your players by stealing a few
of the gory and horrifying scenes.
Orrorshan monsters prefer stealth, though a more intelligent,
less outré zombie might make a good villain in the “secret
gathering of cannibals” mold, heading up a Victorian secret society
zombie cult. Such zombies would be akin to Gothic vampires, only
a well done human thigh (with a white wine and blue cheese) instead
of drinking blood. Such a society could keep zombies like those
in the movie in a basement somewhere, the poor victims of the aristocrat’s
inhuman desires. An accident could release the mindless zombie
vermin, terrorizing a town.
Tharkold zombies usually prefer cybertech and plasma cannon, being
from the realm of munchkin horror. A Tharkold-derived plague which
can exist under CE’s axioms could spread terror, pain, and death.
This movie would be a good model for a Tharkoldu amusement park—surround a city, let drop the plague, and watch the monkeys eat
Dawn of the Dead (2004) Zombies
Dexterity: 8 (varies as a normal human’s does)
unarmed combat: 9-14 (varies
long jumping: 9
Perception: 6 (The zombies don’t tend to notice things
Mind: 2 (Zombies have no knowledge of language nor
memory of how to work complex machinery. They only run, attack,
Zombies are the reanimated corpses of humans who have been killed
by other zombies. They are mindless, but fast and deadly. They
exist only to consume human flesh, but seem to gain no nourishment
Zombies chase relentlessly after living humans. They only stop
if dismembered and burnt or if their brain is destroyed.
Zombies resemble dead human corpses, without the rotting. They
often exhibit signs of the attack which killed them, including
bite marks and ripped or torn flesh.
Natural Tool: Teeth, Str +1 (11).
Zombies use unarmed combat attacks to seize and hold a
human, then bite them. Any single
zombie can make a good start on eating a human corpse. A crowd
of zombies can strip a man in several minutes, like piranha.
Immunity to Pain: Zombies do not take Shock or
K/O damage, they simply ignore those combat results. They cannot
be fatigued. They can, however, be Stunned (knocked down).
Limited Immunity to Non-Combat Interaction: Zombies
are effectively immune to test of wills, intimidation, or taunt.
They are as susceptible to trick or maneuver as any creatures with
the same attributes. Zombies are also immune to charm and persuasion.
Heightened Wound Capacity (+3 wounds): Zombies
can take more Wounds than normal. A zombie can take up to 7 Wounds
(which represents destroying the body). Zombies with
4 or more Wounds are usually hampered in some way, missing an arm
or leg or suffering some other deformity (game effects as gamemaster
Vulnerability, Head Wounds: Characters can make
a special Vital Blow attack on a zombie, aiming for its brain (-8
to hit). Such a Vital Blow doesn’t do any more damage than usual,
but a single attack that does 4 or more Wounds kills the zombie,
Disease: Zombies are carriers of a mystical ailment
that mimics natural diseases. Zombies who score one or more Wounds
on an unarmed combat attack infect the victim. This infection attacks
a character’s Toughness and can be resisted with a Toughness (25)
check. If this check fails, the disease slowly kills the victim,
over the course of (victim’s Toughness) # of hours. Shortly
after dying, the victim rises as a new zombie.
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