Zombie Legion
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Basic Information

The Zombie Legion is very different from most movie Zombies. It isn't infectious at all, and can only be raised by Necromancy or raised by powerful Intelligent Undead or a Demon - broadly your standard fantasy zombie. Chances are this is a far faster process than what's used to raise a Voodoo Zombie, being able to convert corpses off a battlefield instead. Vast hordes of rotting flesh, bones, and Steel shamble forth, an unholy conscription that results in an instant army. Another potential source of such a legion is an artifact of doom such as the classic undead spewing cauldron crops up from time to time.

Unlike most other zombies, this type is likely to retain the use of weapons or tools. While it lacks persona and soul, it doesn't necessarily lack intelligence. Alternately, it may be that a lifetime of Military Drill has ingrained these fiends with an unconscious directive to fight with weapons or even in close formation. It may be that only the corpses of those will military training can become a Zombie Legion. On the other hand, it's also possible that the Big Bad Evil Guy who commands the legion enforces his will upon them and empowers the nightmare to use close-order drill and effective weaponry.

The Zombie Legion might not be made up entirely of Zombies, either. It's not uncommon to see something more accurately described as a Ghoul , Skeleton (undead), or Golem mixed within the ranks. If the big bad is some sort of Evil Priest, there could be a human auxilliary of fanatical warriors as well, who've been promised life after death. The army may have started as 90% human, 10% Undead, and eventually reversed those numbers. Some portion of the Legion might not have the Zombie Gait, but to be an effective force the army will have to move at the speed of the Weakest Link. In general the zombie legion serves as a steamroller - it should be nearly impossible to defeat in the field, but equally should be easy enough to avoid by anyone not ready to meet it.

The naval corps equivalent of the zombie legion is Zombie Pirates. It doesn't matter if they were Pirates in life, just like it doesn't matter if they're Zombies or some other type of undead.

There are three limitations that determine just how big the Zombie Legion can grow:

  1. How frequently the Big Bad can use his reanimating magic.
  2. How hard fresh corpses are to find in the setting.
  3. Whether or not a dismembered Zombie can be re-raised by magic, of if there's just one life after death.


1. Miniatures Game: Warhammer Fantasy features an undead army that fields Zombies, Skeletons, Vampires, Ghouls, etc.
2. Movie: Army of Darkness

Game and Story Use

  • Can exist on a tiny scale (say, a few bodyguards for the Necromancer) on up to an epic never-ending tide of bones that threatens to swallow the earth.
    • Becoming a foot-soldier in your enemies army is Fate Worse Than Death. If fighting this sort of foe, never leave a man behind.
  • For significant horror, your PCs could serve in this army - perhaps in some kind of Anabasis type scenario, where their (originally all human) unit is cut off and reanimating its dead just to survive … as the campaign goes on, slowly more and more of their comrades are converted into undead.
  • Horror can also kick in when, once the BBEG is killed, the zombies don't just disappear, but instead just become an uncontrolled roaming mob that still needs to be hunted down. This sort of thing can make useful backstory to the usual fantasy tendency to have uncontrolled undead hanging about in every hole in the ground.
    • Also, mass animation rituals that don't grant control of the resulting undead… great when the PCs interrupt the ritual halfway through.
  • If zombies can be stitched back together, or re-raised as other (weaker?) undead, then this gets pretty fearsome. The longer the war rages, the more pressed for troops the good guys are. However, the villains army just keeps getting better. Eventually there's a tipping point, where hope is lost.
    • Unless there's No Ontological Inertia and the Zombie Legion collapses to dust once the Big Bad is killed.
    • This actually justifies the use of a band of adventurers - engaging the enemy in the field simply turns your troops into theirs, whilst the fantasy equivalent of a special ops team can penetrate and destroy their HQ and either invoke the lack of ontological inertia against them, or at least cut the supply off at source.
  • If the zombies were a military unit in life, it may be that some aspect of their former identity remains and allows a potential for them to be subverted - for example, an undead Roman legion might obey whoever holds their eagle, and if the necromancer who raised them didn't bother to track it down (despite the fact that it would be an excellent focus for his magic), there may be potential in using it to get them to change sides. Likewise, it may be that troops who don the uniform of the dead men's own (long extinct) nation, might not be attacked (or at least might be immune from attack without direct and specific orders from their controller) or those who can convincingly imitate an authority figure the undead revered in life (a great hero or divine emperor perhaps) might be able to win their allegiance. Getting your history right here could be vital (an army of Julius Caesar's fallen, for example, are unlikely to rally to someone imitating Pompey, no matter how good their acting, whilst history shows that vice versa could actually work…, Chinese or Egyptian undead might be less picky about exactly who they follow as long as that person can convince them that they are "The Son of Heaven" or Pharaoh at the moment).
  • For those who like the undead as possessed corpse meme consider "our ... name ... is ... legion ... for ... we ...are ...many".
  • Consider, also, the potential for "marine corpse" jokes.
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