Zombie template for 4e

There’s a lot to love about 4e D&D, but there’s also a few things that niggle. One of those is the way that, per the rules, applying a template to a monster automatically makes it Elite or Solo. Surely that should depend on the relative power of what you’re adding to the critter; all of the templates given in the DMG would certainly fall into the Elite category, but what if it’s just a minor alteration which adds a Power, or gives it some minor ability or immunity? These wouldn’t exactly count as a boost up to Elite status, but would perhaps be worth an extra 50-100 xp. The DMG advocates (and encourages) making cosmetic changes to a critter, there’s quite a jump between changing a monster’s appearance and making it Elite – 4e needs some minor templates, methinks.

Just a thought.

Be verry quiet. I'm hunting zombeeeez.
Be vewwy quiet. I'm hunting zombeeeeez.

Anyhow, with that in mind, here’s a 4e Zombie mini-template for you. Add to your critter to get instant headshot fodder.

Zombie (undead) +50xp
Speed Reduce by 1 square
Senses Darkvision
Immune Disease, poison
Vulnerable 5 radiant
Zombie Weakness Any critical hit to the zombie reduces it to 0 hit points instantly
Zombie Grab (standard; at-will) STR vs. Reflex; the target is grabbed (until escape). Checks made to escape the zombie’s grab take a -5 penalty.


EDIT: As sugested by Eric Maziade, I’ve added a Speed reduction to the Zombie template.

19 Comments on “Zombie template for 4e”

  1. As per the rules, sustaining a Grab is a minor action meaning the Zombie critter can chow down with other attacks each round until the vic Escapes or the grab is somehow broken. The poor victim can’t move and as they’re restrained that grants combat advantage meaning they’re at -2 to attack, plus attacks against them have +2 attack bonus.

    Grab in 4e is nasty!

  2. Hmmmn … I think you may find that grabbing gives the Immobilised condition, not the Restrained condition (PH. p.290).

    Unless there be rules specific to Zombie Grab giving Restrained? I’d be keen to know if this is indeed the case, as I predict a fair amount of zombie grabbing in my campaign tonight.


  3. @Fromost They say that you’re immobilized, but I prefer to favour interpreting it as Restrained because you’re being physically held – they very definition of being restrained. So being Grabbed = Restrained in my book.

    But then, I’m an evil GM like that :D

  4. @Fromost: In the 4thed Monster Manual, zombies grab… and, as you mentioned and grab gives immobilized.

    Restrained would’ve made more sense to me. A bite attack would’ve also made sense.

    As it stands, if you follow the MM one zombie grabs a PC and his zombie friends slam it to death.

    Eric Maziades last blog post..Playing a zombie character

  5. @Greywulf: I answer and two replies appear?! :)

    Fromost refers to this part of the PHB at page 290, in the descriptino of grab:

    Strength Attack: Make a Strength attack vs. Reflex.
    Do not add any weapon modifiers. You must have at least one hand free to make a grab attempt.

    Hit: The enemy is immobilized until it escapes or you end the grab. Your enemy can attempt to escape on its turn.

    Eric Maziades last blog post..Playing a zombie character

  6. Yeah, I agree that just immobilising does seem a little tame for the effect. But then again, immediate restraint is relatively powerful … I’d be tempted to up the effective level of any monster that uses it, as it is a significant advantage/effect.

    Or maybe add a second grab check after the first, to advance the immobilised condition to restrained, which then needs *two* escape attempts to free from, like the old grappled -> pinned system from 3.5 ..?

  7. When I was running a few test encounters on my own, trying to find the “fun” in my warlock, I actually pitted it and a Genasi Jedi friend against a handful of zombies.

    Reading Fromost’ comments, I realize that I have been playing the zombies’s grab as if it gave “restraining” instead of “immobilize” – I figured that being immobilized gave the other attackers combat advantage.

    Now that it just immobilizes, I think I like the zombie monster a bit less…

    I think the zombie template in this post is probably a better alternative than the “plain” zombie monster…

    Eric Maziades last blog post..Playing a zombie character

  8. I think that Restrained is a bit more extreme. Just because someone has you held so you can’t walk away (Grabbed) doesn’t mean they’ve got you pinned in such a way that you can’t defend yourself (Restrained).

    If Grab==Restrained it would be too power for a single attack combined with a minor action to sustain.

    I think the point, in this case, would be to keep a target in a flankable position. Plus, since the sustain is only a minor, you still attack them as well.

    I think with the reduction in movement, Zombie Weakness, and Vulnerability to Radiant being tossed into the mix, the other advantages are probably not significant enough to justify the XP bonus… There are few player controlled Disease and Poison effects (A couple of poison, I don’t know of any Disease), so there’s little benefit to the creature there. A lot of creatures have Darkvision already, so there’ll be little change, plus characters are likely to have a light source, so creature darkvision won’t change the combat much. The Zombie Grab is a nice effect, but less powerful (at least by the book) than you initially thought. I think that once the weaknesses are balanced against the strengths, they come out about even… Still it’s only 50XP, so it’s not game breaking…

  9. @Greywulf:
    That’s an interesting idea. The way I visualize it, with the first grab, the zombie is using one hand to prevent its victim from moving – leaving another hand free to claw at him.

    The second grab uses its second hand to truly restrain the victim – at which point the zombie doesn’t have any attacks left (except for a potential bite attack, if it has any).

    Can a player escape being restrained the same way as being grabbed/immobilized?

    Eric Maziades last blog post..Chatty Shows Us Some [Kobold] Love (Scene 1)

  10. @Eric Maybe one Zombie could grab twice and restrain while the rest of the Zombie horde chow down. The Zombie doing the holding shouldn’t need a free hand to make a Slam attack – that could be a body blow, bite, headbutt or whatever.

    I’d suggest escaping from being restrained works as per grabbed. Make one escape and you’re back to being just grabbed, make another and you’re free.

  11. “How about if two consecutive Grabs = Restrained? That would work, and probably balance out nicely too.”

    Too powerful for things with something like “Improved Grab”. It works fine for normal situations, where the grabbed has a decent chance of escaping the grab every round, reducing the chances of being of ending up restrained. I’d also say that if you’re going to do this also make second the Escape attempt a Minor action. So: Move action when restrained (at least in this manner) and you’re only Grabbed, Minor Action (Sort of a continuation of the last action) to then Escape the Grab. -Or- offer a bonus for the attempt to escape the grab immediately following the escape from restrained (must be in the same round) (and perhaps both would be necessary to balance it…).

    These changes could make the +50xp justifiable, but I think you’d need to look at the xp rewards for any creature with “Improved Grab Capabilities” at that point…

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