The Living Dead, Part 1

This Vestitas encounter is about a town overrun by plague zombies of Nurgle, and is split into two parts. The first part details the town itself, while the second part will deal with the estate at the center of the town, where the Nurgle sorcerer who’s responsible for the whole mess has holed up.

Summary: A small frontier village just outside the jungles of the Bedlam Tangle has been targeted by a Nurglite sorcerer trying to keep Imperium colonists from encroaching on the territory of Chaos. His specific method of doing so is unleashing a zombie plague, which has claimed the entire town, leaving its shambling inhabitants immediately hostile to anyone not thoroughly blessed by Papa Nurgle.

Discovery: The village’s destruction wasn’t and isn’t subtle. The place is clearly crawling with zombies from a distance of 100 meters.

Exploration: The zombies will not be automatically aggressive to any blessed by one of Nurgle’s plagues, but otherwise they’ll attack absolutely anything they detect and will not respond to any attempts at diplomacy. The exception are a handful of unique zombies, each of whom retains some memory of who they were in life. They’re mostly insane and respond poorly even to Nurgle cultists (none of them have accepted Papa Nurgle’s love (yet)). Nurgle cultists can help them become enlightened by asking them to embrace their new circumstances and that the love of Papa Nurgle and all his children is the only thing they need to be happy. Doing this successfully requires a Disposition check on the part of the Nurgle cultist, which is virtually guaranteed to fail unless the zombie’s Disposition has been built up first.

Confrontation:

The Living Dead (1)

A) The main road out of town emerges from the surrounding wilderness here. The lane is dotted with a few houses marked by plague crosses. One house is still occupied (of sorts) by three plague zombies, who will emerge to attack anyone they hear coming down the road. The zombies have a -10 penalty to Awareness to detect anyone passing by outside the house.

B) Wooden houses here are packed tight together, with narrow passages only a meter or so wide between them and frequently no alley at all. During the night, a half-dozen plague zombies shuffle through these streets. Under daylight, they hide in houses nearby and will emerge only if they smell living flesh outside. As in the road into town, zombies hiding in the houses take a -10 penalty to Awareness checks to detect those outside.

C) This is a pub just off the main street at location B. An unarmed phage zombie is at the piano, holding in trance eight plague zombies at the seats and a screamer zombie standing listless on the performance stage. None of the zombies will notice or react to characters entering unless they make a loud noise (like a lasgun crack, hitting something really hard, or shouting) or directly harm one of the zombies, and in the latter case only the harmed zombie will be broken from their trance. If broken from trance, the screamer zombie will summon a random encounter each turn until silenced. The screamer is coherent (barely) and has the unhinged personality, but has a starting Disposition of 10 and will immediately attack anyone who breaks her from the phage zombie’s trance. She can be spoken to while tranced, and her disposition cannot decrease while in a trance, however every time a social check against her is failed she rolls Disposition, and on failure the trance is broken and she attacks (she also decreases Disposition as normal in this case). The screamer loves music and is distraught that her once beautiful singing voice now produces nothing but hideous shrieks. Those loyal to Nurgle may enlighten her by convincing her that what really matters is that Papa Nurgle and all his children will always love her no matter what she sounds like.

D) This narrow alleyway is home to a single plague zombie. The back door to the pub and the church both lead here, and on the other side are a bunch of abandoned houses.

E) These houses thin out to nothing as they approach the edge of town. One house is boarded up against the zombie hordes, but there’s a breach at one of the windows. Now a small mob of nine plague zombies loiters in and around it. Since several of these zombies are in a small side yard with clear line of sight (or line of smell, rather) to the street, they do not take a penalty to Awareness checks to detect anyone attempting to sneak through these streets.

F) This is what used to be the church, now rededicated to Nurgle. The Emperor’s faithful sheltered here until the zombies overran them. Most who hid here were women and children, and now four plague zombies and six child zombies sit or stand listless about the pews. Those who guarded the front entrance when the zombies broken in were entirely devoured, their bones still littering the ground at the shattered door, and those near the door who remained intact long enough to become a zombie themselves have shuffled out to the main square at G.

G) This is the main square of the town, a large, cleared area home to a sizable horde of twenty plague zombies, and four phage zombies, three unarmed and one with a flamer. The flamer-armed phage zombie was once the town preacher, who wandered here after succumbing to the children of Nurgle at the entrance to the church at F. The zombies here are led by the behemoth zombie, who will retreat towards the manor to the north after losing half of his wounds. The behemoth zombie was an heir to the Lord Mayorship of the town and is dedicated to the town’s well-being and security. He defends it more zealously than ever now that he is dead, still thinking he can restore the town to its former glory if he just waits for the Nurgle sorcerer to return and kills him (anyone reading ahead will note that the problem with this plan is that the Nurgle sorcerer is in fact inside the estate the behemoth zombie is guarding). He is capable of conversation (though he speaks mainly in half-grunting monosyllabic demands that interlopers leave). He has the unhinged personality, a starting Disposition of 10, and attacks anyone uninfected by one of Nurgle’s plagues on sight (he is filled with rage at the sight of healthy humans, and in his madness he assumes this is because they are Nurgle cultists). Characters may be able to convince him of the truth and get him to switch to their side, however the behemoth zombie suffers a -10 penalty to all attacks made against other zombies and a -20 to all attacks made against the Nurgle sorcerer. Nurgle cultists can help him find enlightenment by convincing him that thanks to Nurgle’s blessings, the town is now immortal.

H) This was once the local PDF headquarters. The rotting flesh of dozens of zombies blasted apart or shot through the head still lie about from the PDF’s last stand, as do the bones of several PDF troopers devoured by ravenous plague zombies. Three phage zombies remain, each armed with an autogun, as well as the brute zombie, who was formerly the local PDF captain. Like the other unique zombies, he retains his coherence, has a starting Disposition of 10, and the unhinged personality. He was an authoritarian in life and is now terribly distressed at the total collapse of hierarchy in death. Nurgle cultists may attempt to persuade him that his control was only ever an illusion which could come tumbling down at any time, and now that it’s gone he can be at peace, as he no longer has to worry constantly about mutiny from below or dismissal from above. This is a hard sell, though, and efforts to this end take a -10 penalty to the Disposition check (making it straight up impossible without first building up his Disposition with some other checks).

I) The streets here are packed with houses on all sides. Three different groups of zombies, two with four plague zombies and the third with five plague zombies, huddle in different homes. Each of these zombie packs rolls to detect sneaking parties individually and take a -10 to detect anyone in the street, or a -20 to detect someone in a house other than the one they are in. However, if the characters make a loud noise like gunfire or do not even attempt to sneak through the area, they will draw the attention of all three groups of plague zombies. It takes each plague zombie group one turn of movement to reach the street, and from the street one more turn of movement to reach the inside of any house other than their own.

J) On one end of this street are houses, and on the other is the back wall of the estate. The wall is five meters tall and requires a Challenging(+0) Athletics check to scale. Successfully scaling the wall puts a character in the estate’s gardens. Three plague zombies hide in one of the houses on the other side of the street. They take a -10 penalty to Awareness checks to anyone trying to sneak through the streets outside.

K) This is the town cemetery, with entrances to the street on the north and a side entrance into the church to the south. The lone inhabitant of this cemetery is the bile zombie, who was formerly the town undertaker. He’s relatively friendly, with a Disposition of 20 and the usual unhinged personality for zombies who can speak at all. The bile zombie is still trying to bury all of the town’s dead, but the cemetery has completely run out of space, so he’s exhuming old bodies, putting them in a pile, burying the new ones, and then, seeing the exhumed bodies on the pile, decides to bury them, which requires exhuming another body, on and on forever. He’s getting pretty frustrated about it and will attack anyone who interrupts his work. Nurgle cultists may attempt to convince him that the journey is the destination and it doesn’t matter whether or not the job ever gets done, so long as he is content to do it.

L) The houses here are more sparsely placed. This entrance into the town is completely deserted, although loud noises or hanging around for too long will still draw in random encounters.

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