Killin’ Zombies! Nazi Techno-Zombies to be Precise

In my last post, I mentioned a short campaign idea based on the movie Outpost: Black Sun. The Outpost series (I see there are three of them) is basically a zombie movie franchise with a slight different: the zombies are technological in origin and they are Nazi. That makes them extra fun to kill.

Kill it! Kill it! From Outpost: Black Sun

But killing zombies isn’t easy in the Outpost series. Killing zombies at all is kind of difficult in most media portrayals. A headshot is not an easy shot to make, and in Outpost, the headshot won’t do it. The zombies are animated by an electromagnetic field that keeps them active even after catastrophic injuries. An electro-magnetic pulse renders them vulnerable, but those things – in the movie – are large and one-shot. After you fire it off, you’re just out of luck.

There’s no way I would put my players up against un-killable foes. Actually, I might, but it would be a very different game. It would be about remaining unseen and losing foes who have spotted you. That’s not the kind of game I was envisioning.

They’re here to kill zombies and chew bubblegum. And they’re all out of bubblegum. From Outpost.

So what are the mechanics of facing Nazi techno-zombies? I would throw out “the EM field keeps them undead” and switch that to “the EM field keeps them powered.” You mess up the device that routes the power within their body and they are rendered inert. You could put that device in their head no problem, and then the headshot trope works. I’d put it in the chest, behind reinforced ribs – I mean you’re cracking them open to put the device in anyway, why not leave a little extra protection behind?

The actual game mechanics are pretty simple. In a game like D&D, you’d have a super high AC but very low HP. You would make the target area really hard to hit, but not terribly difficult to destroy. In the games I’m running, it would pretty much be the same thing. Give them a target number of Olympian proportions, but the damage threshold of a Mook. Really hard to hit, but one shot can kill.

Inspiring Outpost

I recently watched Outpost: Black Sun, the sequel to the movie Outpost. Both movies offer some gaming inspiration, but I think for a short campaign, Black Sun offers the most grist.

The story of Outpost: Black Sun is that of a young Nazi Hunter (second generation) who finds out about a secret Nazi project from World War II and in pursuing it, stumbles upon an old acquaintance who seems to be some kind of engineer/researcher of weird science – like Dr. Zarkov in our A Team of Losers Pulp campaign, but saner. In the Balkans, they stumble across an expanding bubble of electro-magnetic sciency wiency stuff. And the Nazi zombies are there. And there are evil special forces guys who are also good.

And loud roar! Scary!

Okay, anyway, Outpost was also inspiring, but much more of a “survive the night’s siege of supernatural monsters” game. That’s cool, but not really a campaign. I see Black Sun as a short campaign. I’d break it into four or maybe five one-pagers.

The first would be hunting down the evil Nazi who clues the team on to the Zombie-machine (of course he never admits that’s what it does, and since he’s old, if they are about to get that out of him . . . heart attack!). I’m thinking either the PCs are a group of famed, globe-trotting trouble shooters hired by McGuffin Exposition or they are a super-secret team from government of your choice. They know something about something – this scientist dude was involved in something and they finally have a bead on him – but they don’t know the whole story.

The second would be finding the outpost. It should be someplace remote and also shitty. There’s a low-grade civil war going on and both sides are firing surface-to-air missiles at everything, so no helicopters allowed. Besides, they don’t have an exact location, just a bunch of vague clues or half-remembered directions using long-lost landmarks. This is where the PCs hear all the crazy rumours from the townsfolk. Everyone says the village was ethnically cleansed, but the locals talk about werewolves and ghosts. This should also be the part where the team meets their first Nazi Zombie. And those things are tough to kill, not like regular zombies.

The third adventure would be chasey, shooty fun, as the team moves through a no-man’s land created by the expanding bubble of science in which the Nazi Techno-Zombies can operate. The PCs have a chance to help villagers and realize just how tough these bastards are. There’s also a dude that’s with the Zombies, and he doesn’t seem techno-zombified.

The fourth would be the Outpost – dungeon-crawl! It’s an underground base, a secret factory for putting stuff into people so that they are super strong and super tough to kill. The PCs need to destroy The Machine (patent pending) and then the Zombies will be regular Nazis – which are evil, but not so hard to kill. Of course, the heroes succeed . . . or get wiped out. It depends.

I’d do a fifth based on another team of specialists that seem to shadowing the PCs. If they are caught, it turns out they are working for the same employer OR for the same government, but a different agency. These guys are here to bring back all the techno-zombie tech so that employer or government can build their own zombies. In the fifth, I’d give the PCs a chance to track down the baddie, and stop the spread of techno-zombies!

While Nazi Zombies are pretty cool, I might do Soviet Zombies as well, and set it in Siberia or one of the Central Asian republics.

You can learn more about Outpost: Black Sun here.