The living dead. What brings about such perversions of life? Rituals derived from dark sorceries imbue a dreadful force into corpses, creating a puppet bound in necromantic power. These zombies are crafted by the spells and rituals of adept necromancers, aiming to create a slave or build an army. Plagues created by the most vile of creatures corrupt and sicken victims, eventually overwhelming them and turning them into walking diseases of their own right. These are often accidents, potentially prevented by proper preparation rather than giving into hysterical campaigns. Even alien horrors have their means of parasitically bonding to a host, creating their own version of zombie. Some of these victims aren’t just alive, they have some level of consciousness. However, not all origins are evil. Some were created as punishment at the hands of powerful spiritual priests. However, the zombie created by necromancy is by far the most common sight.
No matter their sources, the terror of the zombie is a known one. Shuffling corpses, either confused by their existence or enraged by it, find themselves at odds with the living. Some of these abominations are at the whims of a mad master. Others are distorted by outside forces, left to rampage against all in their wake. And even worse, the zombie will never give up. While it is devoid of emotion or any ideology, the zombie is relentless until it’s impossible for it to continue. Some will fight until literally falling apart. Converted into killing machines, these mockeries of life are a blight to all who are haunted by their presence.
Author’s Note: I’m back. Pardon these disappearances. Things have been a little rough, I’ll spare the details. In addition, I haven’t been happy with a lot of things, hobbies included. That’s made it a little harder to work on these posts. Admittedly, one of things keeping me going is created content for settings that WotC has forgotten. The people deserve to learn at least a little about these cool places! Anyway, here’s my updated take on some variant zombies! Ooooh, spooky! Also, to the one of my friends who wanted me to tack on a tacky coronavirus reference on this? You’re welcome.
“The vast frontier. It’s a place of wonders, of possibility, of a quick and easy death! Don’t let the charms of a free and open land fool you, traveler. It’s a killer place out there. But, the market’s wide open for the taking if you know where to look. There’s a lot of devils in mortal skin looking to sell you a miracle tonic or a little company. If you’re smart, you’ll keep your wallet hidden and find a way to pull a fast one of your own. Or if you’re stuck in the wastes beyond town? Best pack well and ready more than one gun. You don’t know if it’s a pair of fangs or a bandit’s gun that will do you in out there. Of course, you can always drink and gamble your troubles away with us, stranger! We don’t cause much harm, mostly to ourselves… The ladies of the tavern are good at taking care of ya though. Or if you prefer, there’s a handful of men who are good companions too. I’m not just saying that as a recurring patron, either…”
-Rowan T. Jammerson, Human Maverick Rogue, drunken troublemaker, despised wandering womanizer, bastard son of Ex-Mayor Jammer J. Spellman, denizen of the town of Cactus Sting.
Whether in the “civilized” frontier or the badlands beyond, tons of terrors walk the weird western soil. From bandits beyond the grave to massive parasites that love the smell of gold, settlers and pioneers have more than their fair work cut out for them. Even the native locals are wise to keep away from many dangerous lands. And for a good trade, they might even be willing to disclose such information.
Author’s Note: Most of this comes from a mostly forgotten mini d20 setting that is chock full of cool inspiration! Spellslinger was part of the Horizon line by Fantasy Flight Games, who are mostly known for board games. Horizon was a series of D20 books that twisted the system into various new forms, continued through Legends and Lairs. These books allowed for play in steampunk, mecha, horror, weird western and other genres and were all around a good find! Sadly, they’re a bit rare. However, one need not obtain the books to enjoy these monsters. Also, I twisted around some of the magical “brands” into NPC monsters of their own… twisted versions of the old player options, if you will. Look out for a handful of other references too!
You can also find a variety of NPCs at your disposal over on this page.