My game will soon feature a great throng of zombies shambling their way right towards the player characters; rather…

My game will soon feature a great throng of zombies shambling their way right towards the player characters; rather…

My game will soon feature a great throng of zombies shambling their way right towards the player characters; rather than spend several sessions making hack and slash rolls, I spewed out these custom moves. I’d love your feedback; are these fun? Are they dangerous enough?

When you fight the zombie horde, roll 2d6+STR

10+ choose 2

7-9 choose 1

You avoid being caught by the zombies

You land a meaningful hit, roll damage against a zombie.

You maintain your position in the face of the zombie horde

You help another person escape the zombies

When you’re caught by zombies, roll 2d6+STR

10+ You escape their grasp

7-9 You aren’t mauled or eviscerated, but they worsen your position – pin you down, take a weapon away, etc.

6- The undead horde tears you to shreds and feasts upon your bits

15 thoughts on “My game will soon feature a great throng of zombies shambling their way right towards the player characters; rather…”

  1. It’s important to note that my intention here is to make the zombies into less of an enemy to fight and more of a disaster situation to be dealt with. Killing zombies can be helpful, I’ll keep track of the size of the horde, but in general I wanted this to be a situation where brawn is not enough.

  2. For the “caught by zombies,” I’d use a “pick 1/pick 2” option. And I never state what a 6 is– I might want the 6 to mean they get separated from the rest of the PCs some other way, or that something else happens.

  3. I like these. I wouldn’t worry about tracking the # of zombies unless there’s a realistic chance they could wipe out the horde piecemeal.

  4. It’s an interesting point, Stephanie Bryant. I do generally like to keep my options open in the way you suggest – it’s super fun to seperate people and take away their gear and stuff.

    …but I feel I do that too often. I really want to threaten the group; I want to increase the threat level to Mega-Nova-Red and show them this move, letting them know they’re not going to be losing hit points, they’re going to lose the contents of their skull.

    Is that fair? Is that fun? Or is it just the GM saying “Look at my big bad monsters, AREN’T THEY BAD??”

  5. Normally I’d agree with Stephanie Bryant on not bothering to write in a 6- result, but considering what you just said…that they’re a situation/obstacle and not a foe…it might make more sense to make it absolutely clear before dice hit the table that a 6- can mean death. That’s something the PCs may want to know before they do Something Stupid.

    Also, if you’re not planning on counting every single zombie, an option to deal damage doesn’t seem like a useful option. Maybe replace it with something with more utility, like “you gain a superior position on the horde; take +1 ongoing when you stay in this position and make moves against the horde,” or something like that.

  6. That’s the idea, Peter Johansen. The Horde doesn’t have hitponts per se, although it’s constituents do. The Horde is more of a rotten-flesh-tornado than a group of zombie monsters.

  7. I like the fighting the zombie horde move, I think it’s evocative of the scene you’re trying to set and it would be nice in your setting to have something that differentiates between horde-fighting and just regular hacking and slashing against a few zombies.

    However I’m worried that your move has a few non-choices in it. Why would the players ever not pick “You avoid being caught by the zombies”. Especially if there’s an explicit risk of being torn to shreds in the follow-up move.

    Generally I think the choices in moves should be purposefully vague but evocative. They’re choices that, if you had no context, wouldn’t really matter, but in the heat of the moment you know exactly what they mean. That’s why you see “put yourself in a spot” crop up so often, because the “spot” is usually pretty apparent but could be anything.

    There are really only two reasons to stop and fight a zombie horde, either you’re hoping to hurt it, or you want to help out a friend, so what about this change to the move:

    When you turn to face the zombie horde, roll+STR

    On a hit you may either, deal your damage, or help a friend escape. Also, on a 10+ choose one, on a 7-9 choose two:

    • Your valiant attempts have put you in a spot

    • The time you spent facing the zombies have allowed them to flank you

    • One zombie manages to grab your wrist or ankle

    That way, as the GM, you can describe the situation then ask, “what do you do?” instead of knowing exactly what happened. It allows for slightly varied situations and outcomes.

    Which leads me to my thoughts on the follow-up move. If they were to choose to be caught it would, in theory,  immediately trigger the “Caught by zombies” move, which removes your own agency as the GM from the situation. You don’t really get to make your soft or hard move because you know exactly what happens next. I think this move is essentially just a defy danger with the danger being “you will be ripped to shreds by zombies if you fail”. I think you should just allow your players to decide how they want to escape the zombies whether that be using DEX or STR or maybe something else you didn’t expect. But at the end of the day, on a 7-9 or miss when you defy danger to escape zombies, they will probably either “worsen your position – pin you down, take a weapon away, etc” or “tears you to shreds and feasts upon your bits”.

    So, this was a really long response, but I think it made sense. Just to sum up for my own sake; I think the first move is cool, you just need to both identify the goal and leave the consequences a bit more vague. And the second move, I think, is just a defy danger with the consequences spelled out which removes your agency as a GM. So I don’t think you really need it.

    What do you think? =)

  8. Ben Badger hit the nail on the head. I posted these moves knowing there was something about them that sucked, and I do believe you found it! I’m going to try the move as you wrote it. I think it’ll work nicely, especially considering that “being ripped to shreds by zombies” is simply a danger that must be defied, like any other.

    I do love vague outcomes; they’re half of why I like Dungeon World. I’m trying to get more specific with this move because if the rules don’t explicitly say “this will kill/maim you”, I find that I can rarely bring myself to kill/maim a player character. I think the outcomes of “Facing the Zombie Horde” will be informative enough to keep the action both terrifying and heroic.

    I’ll let you know how it goes after Thursday’s game! Thanks everybody!

  9. As an aside, I also do have a hard time killing the players. You could try just letting the, know ahead of time that if you defy danger against the horde you run the risk of a good maimin’. Or you could do it in the fiction by feeding a trusted NPC to the horde 😉

  10. When actually faced with a zombie horde, the wizard dispelled them, temporarily causing the horde to collapse, at which point they were all set on fire.

    My players are much smarter than I thought.

  11. Always be a fan of the players, but also make their lives dangerous 😉

    What happens when tens of thousands of rotting corpses are set on fire?

    My favourite part of this game is the consequences =D

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