Mixing Up Zombies
They shamble through countless mist-filled graveyards, haunted forests, and deadly dungeons all across the realm, and their moans are the only warning one has before their rotting fists clobber you into a bloody puddle. I'm talking about zombies, of course, and they're a staple of Dungeons and Dragons! To keep these undead horror-classics fresh no matter how many times you use them, the following 3 stat blocks offer new, unique, and exciting types of zombies to throw at your players!
When the creator of a zombie wishes for it to be near impervious to any sort of hacking, slashing, or battering, the result is an ironclad zombie. First, rusted iron plates are nailed or screwed into the zombie’s flesh like a gruesome suit of plate armor. Next, the zombie’s hands are severed and replaced with heavy, blunt weapons such as maces or flails to better help the undead smash its victims into a bloody paste. Lastly, the zombie’s teeth are pulled out and replaced with nails and jagged pieces of metal which allow the zombie to latch onto creatures as they batter them to death.
Overburdened Brutes. Though an ironclad zombie feels no pain, the excessive amount of weight it must bare takes a gruesome toll on its body. Typically the creature's arms dislocate within the first week of being risen, and its lips and gums are reduced to a bloody paste as a result of the nails. Terrible infections spread throughout the zombie’s rotting tissues and muscles as its metal armor rusts. All of this results in the zombie moving terribly slow. Unable to pursue a creature moving at even a slow walk, ironclad zombies are typically left or chained up near a specific location or object to guard it.
A zombie without instruction or prey can stand in one place for months, even years, as its body rots away. In those instances were a zombie finds itself in the wild without direction, the nearby vegetation begins to grow over the zombie’s body. After a few weeks, the zombie is completely overgrown with vines, creepers, thorns, and whatever other plant life grows in the area making it indistinguishable from a rotting tree trunk or fallen log.
Living Nest. At the same time the zombie’s body is being consumed by plants, small insects burrow into the zombie’s flesh to create nests or hives. No longer feeling pain, a zombie rarely notices these tiny intruders and thus rather large swarms can eventually claim the zombie’s legs, stomach, and chest cavity as their home. When the zombie is attacked or begins to move, these insects burst out in a sudden panic and attack whatever might be threatening their home.
Plague zombies are the risen corpses of the unfortunate souls who perished during a horrendous plague, either natural or magical in nature. Having died a slow death as their body attempted to fight off the illness, a plague zombie’s figure is terrifyingly gaunt, its thin skin clinging to a skeletal frame, its eyes sunken back into pockets of blackened flesh.
Plague Bearers. While plagues come and go, a plague zombie can continue to carry the foul disease which killed it in its earlier life for decades. The slightest scratch from a plague zombie’s puss-filled fingers or bite from its cracked teeth can infect a creature. Once infected, the creature’s body rapidly succumbs to the effects of the plague as well as the other awful diseases passed over during the undead’s assault, rising as a new plague zombie shortly later. In this way, it is not uncommon for a plague that was thought to have died out many years ago to suddenly reemerge, wreaking havoc on entire populations and accompanied by hoards of plague zombies wandering across the region.