Monday, July 18, 2011

Surviving Among the Atomic Zombies

part 3 of the Atomic Zombie Apocalypse guidelines for Mutant Future.

The Atomic Zombie Apocalypse lends itself to the sub-sub genre of survival horror. Survival includes staying alive, staying fed and keeping what's important.

The Rules of Three
In an older post I outlined the rules of three. It's a popular memory gimmick of the survivalist crowd and they are pretty much true. PC's in a Atomic Zombie Apocalypse are going to need shelter, food and ammo.

Let's start with shelter. PC's need someplace they can rest up and stay out of immediate danger. If you can't get out of the heat or cold you die. If you can't stay away from the Atomic Zombies, you die. What constitutes safe will vary greatly from moment to moment. Being on the other side of a good door makes one moderately safe in a combat situation against zombies (for a few rounds). Early in the campaign fallout is going to be a problem or at least as big a problem as the ref wants to make it.

Dealing with Fallout, Radiation and Mutation

Fallout is persistent accumulating radiation thrown off from the burnt pulverized cities destroyed in the initial strikes. Fallout should expose the PCs to radiation over a period of days or maybe even hours for the first six weeks to 3 months of a campaign set in the days right after the war. Fallout exposure should be kept to the low end of the scale (1d4 intensity level) except for those times the ref really wants to make it a point on the terrain or during an adventure.

Radiation and mutation are not even vaguely realistic and do not follow all the rules as in the Mutant Future rules. PCs and NPCs are still damaged as expressed in the rules but each time a character suffers radiation damage equal to or greater then their constitution they have suffered serious exposure. Once 5 serious exposures have been suffered a character will sicken and become bedridden for 1d3 days suffering 3d6 damage each day, during these days (if the character survives) a mutation will manifest (roll on the normal physical or mental mutation tables). A radiation save is required at the end of the sickness, if the save fails the PC permanently losses one randomly determined ability point.

People will react poorly to mutants as anything odd and different is generally trying to eat their brains lately. Mutants will be avoided, ostracized and driven off if not out-right killed by the vast majority of folk. It isn't healthy to be a mutant in an Atomic Zombie Apocalypse campaign.

Shelter and Fallout
A Woodframed house will cut exposure to persistent fallout by 1 level.
A brickhouse will cut exposure to radiation by 2 levels
Staying in an intact basement of an intact home will halve exposure to fallout.
A poor quality fallout shelter will cut radiation exposure to 1/4th it's intensity.
A good quality fallout shelter will cut radiation exposure to the point it isn't dangerous as long as the air filters hold out.

Food and Water
PCs will likely die if they go 3 days without drinkable water. Water polluted by radiation will stave off thirst but will expose one to radiation (with a -4 saving throw).
Finding water and a safe ready source of water will be an occasional priority early in the game and the ultimate priority in finding a safe place.

If character goes without food for 3 days they will not heal HP if wounded. Once one hasn't eaten for as many days as they have points of CON it is recommended they lose 1 hp a day thereafter. Eating 4 meals over 2 days will stave off hunger.
Going without food for a week weakens a character to the point their move is cut to 1/2, saving throws and attack rolls are made at -2 and total damage inflicted in melee combat is halved.

A PC needs 3 cans of food a day to keep the hunger pangs away. A can is going,to be a rough measure for a light meal as for the era the end came had plenty of canned goods available.

Eating irradiated food causes one to suffer radiation exposure with a -4 on their initial save and another save (at -4) must be made 4 hours later.

If one dies of radiation there is a 50% chance they reanimate as an Atomic Zombie in 1d12 houts.
A mutant that dies of radiation exposure has a 90% chance of reanimating as an Atomic Zombie in 2d12 rounds. If mutations still function or not is at the discretion of the ref.


The destruction of civilization the death of millions, the hazards of radiation and the walking dead are going to take a toll. Everyone is under a lot of stress and that stress is going to addled minds and drive people to places they never imagined they would go.

Whenever an NPCs fail a moral check roll on the following table

Keeping it together (roll 2d6)
2-6- simple panic- as for normally failing a morale check
7- paranoia- jumpy and irrational for 1-3 days
8- rage- charge those that get in their way, friend or foe.
9- denial- can't bear up to what the world has become, unable to act meaningfully for 2-7
rounds after failed morale check.
10- hallucinations- unable to act meaningfully for 2-7 hours.
11- raving madness- unable to calm down or stay quite for 1-8 turns.
12- helpless catatonia- fall helpless for 2-12 turns.

Still to come: Loot and Adventure

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