Zombie Gait
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Basic Information

Romero Zombies and Voodoo Zombies are often depicted as having a slow, laborious, shuffling walk, making it possible for folks who aren't paralyzed with fear to out run them. Their tissues are dead and damaged after all, and rigor mortis may have set in1. This is most common when zombism is explained as being a form magical reanimation, not just a disease.

Sometimes this horror trope can be applied to other undead, such as a mummy or ghoul, alternatively this may be how the survivors learn to tell the entry level zombie from something a little more upmarket…

One should take care not to be fooled by the zombie gait. Yes, they're slow. However, they're also single-minded, not deterred by pain or discomfort, probably don't sleep, and may be capable of a Deadly Lunge. They may lie in ambush (often unintentionally) or chase you down a dead end.



Game and Story Use

  • Here's a mechanical idea on how to make use of Zombie Gait and Deadly Lunge, provided you don't mind a little book-keeping. Give Zombies a base movement 1 or 2 units (spaces, "inches", or some number of feet) slower than normal humans. Then, once per zombie, they can take a single turn of moving double pace. Afterwards, their movement rate is reduced by another unit. Should a particular zombie survive to recur in a later scene, it can do this again once per scene. Eventually, though, it'll run out of movement units and be immobile. The GM can describe that it's muscles have torn and bones have broken from the stress, or that rigor mortis finally caught up with it.
    • For games with an "extra-effort" mechanic where living creatures can exchange more effort now for some kind of fatigue, the zombies take damage instead.
    • Foreshadowing this end-state early on, with a zombie that can barely move, or that runs for a few moments only to fall apart, is a great way to keep the players from feeling like you cheated when other zombies lunge at a critical moment in a later scene.
  • Zombies, like the humans they originate from, are great pursuit hunters … yes, their prey can outrun them, but sooner or later their prey needs to eat, sleep and drink2. And they keep coming.
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