Your DM has carefully designed the undead scourge plaguing your campaign to be as terrifying as possible. Still, at the same time, you can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some sort of weakness that you can exploit to destroy these brain-devouring enemies once and for all? Well, wonder no more! Zombie D&D 5e is here to tell you everything you need to know about dealing with the undead horde!
What are Zombies?
A zombie is a type of undead, mindless creature. They are usually former humans who have died from unknown causes. Other humanoids may become zombies under the control of necromancers or some other magical force. Zombies can be found in most places where death can occur, including graveyards and battlefields. Zombies are sometimes kept as enslaved people by powerful spellcasters such as liches. A zombie resembles a living humanoid, but its skin has turned pale blue or gray. Its flesh has rotted away in places, exposing bone and sinew. Zombies attack any creature that enters their territory. Their rotting bodies give them resistance to poison damage and immunity to disease. Zombies’ single-minded focus makes them immune to charm effects, ignore pain effects, never grant combat advantage, and make saving throws with disadvantage.
How do Zombies Work in 5e?
Zombies are undead, cannibalistic creatures created by powerful necromancers. They retain only a fraction of their former intellect but make up for it with raw strength and cunning. In 5e, zombies can’t speak or be understood—in fact, they rarely communicate except to moan or make similar sounds. Instead, they obey their master’s every command. Zombies in 5e come in two varieties: regular zombies and advanced zombies. Regular zombies are simple automatons who mindlessly attack anything that moves. Advanced zombies (including zombie dragons) have some remaining intelligence, so they’re capable of rudimentary communication—but only with their creator.
The Advantages of Zombies
In combat, zombies are relentless monsters with a lust for fresh meat. On their own, they’re not especially scary; groups of zombies are what get people. If you encounter just one or two, they’re easily handled by an average adventurer—but don’t underestimate them. Zombie tactics include swarming over unwary victims and crowding into small spaces to prevent escape. Zombies can follow orders and fight intelligently if given basic instructions, such as killing anyone who enters that door. This trait makes zombies ideal guards in certain situations. Zombies usually have little need for rest but regularly require some form of sustenance (such as flesh). They do not eat dead flesh; only living creatures sate their hunger.
How to Make Zombies Fun
You’ve likely played one or two zombie games in your time, but have you ever played a good zombie game? It’s easy to make zombies dull, uninspired creatures that serve only as a source of XP. Here are some tips for making these monsters fun and exciting enemies • Zombies Are Hard To Kill. Zombies are immune to poison damage and resistant to non-magical slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning damage. Their movement is never impeded by difficult terrain (unless they’re swimming). And unlike most undead, zombies don’t require air; they can survive indefinitely underwater or buried underground. • Zombies Are Fast. Zombies move at a speed of 40 feet when not slowed by armor or encumbrance. They also have a climbing speed equal to their walking speed and can move through any terrain that slows movement (such as undergrowth, rubble, and similar terrain) at no penalty.
Pair Them with Other Undead
No, zombie dragons or zombie ogres aren’t available as standalone monsters—but you can combine them with other undead to create a zombie. If you think zombies are too soft for your group, throw in undead threats (zombie beholder) or monstrous humanoids (gallon zombie). This beastly undead will make your players scream in terror! Zombies have no special abilities beyond their basic zombie template, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. When paired with other undead creatures, zombies become even more formidable foes. Zombie giants are especially dangerous because of their size and strength; pair one with an ogre zombie for maximum effect! Zombie giants also work well when paired with other giants, such as frost giants or hill giants. Zombies won’t put up much of a fight on their own, but you can use them alongside various types of undead to spice up combat encounters. And if your players still find zombies boring, wait until they see what else is lurking in those crypts!
Zombies are not a race, but they are a template. In 5e, they’re templates that can be applied to nearly any creature—making them a powerful tool for dungeon masters looking to crank up the fear factor of an undead encounter. When you apply it to giants (see below), zombies can be terrifying. This guide covers everything you need to know about running your zombie encounters in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition… Since zombies are so versatile, many ways to use them in your game exist. To help you get started, here is a list of zombie variants and ideas for how to use each: Zombie Ogre: A zombie ogre is just as dangerous as its living counterpart.
Zombie Other Creatures
Once you’ve got a creature type down, it’s time to add some zombie-ism. First up: zombies are slow. We want to replicate that sluggishness with a difficult terrain movement speed penalty for non-zombies. So, let’s give zombies a –5 ft. movement speed reduction in addition to their normal base speeds (for example, an ogre zombie would have a base speed of 20 ft., reduced by 5 ft.). Next up: zombies don’t feel pain! This means they’re immune to all effects that require a Constitution saving throw to resist or take half damage from effects that do not require such a save. Zombies also can’t be frightened or charmed.
Do Zombies Have Weaknesses?
Zombies have an interesting number of weaknesses. Zombies are immune to most mind-influencing effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms), paralysis, poison, polymorph (though they can be polymorphed into other forms), sleep effects, stunning, disease, death effects, and necromancy effects. How Do I Kill a Zombie? Answer: Zombies aren’t undead creatures—they’re living creatures that have been transformed by magic or some foul plague. They also aren’t subject to many things that make fighting normal undead so difficult—they don’t care about holy water or sunlight, for example, and they don’t even fear turning on each other if you try to make them run away from you.
Do Zombies Carry Disease?
Zombies do not carry any diseases but are immune to all the effects that cause disease. This immunity does not extend to magical diseases (such as mummy rot) or other supernatural afflictions (such as mummy curses). They may become diseased if infected by a mortal creature. The zombie can infect mortals with its bite attack in combat, though it can also infect them while grappling. On a successful bite attack, you must make an immediate saving throw (DC 12), modified by your Constitution modifier. On a failed save, you contract zombie rot; see appendix A for details on how zombie rot affects you. You begin play knowing three zombie-specific feats—one at 1st level, one at 2nd level, and one at 3rd level. You gain additional zombie feats as shown in Table 1–2: Zombie Feats. These feats cannot be used unless you have a zombie form feat.