The zombies in the Monster Manual are differentiated only by size. While simple, that system makes zombies of very different creatures turn out the same. To give Dungeon Masters more options (and player characters more terror!) this article features a new template for creating zombies. The template enables DMs to preserve some of the base creatures' features; thus, a goblin zombie is different from a displacer beast zombie.
In general, this template produces much more powerful zombies than those found in the Monster Manual. This increase in power allows the DM to challenge the PCs without having to use really large zombies. Humans become the Medium-size zombies found in the Monster Manual, with a few differences. First, the zombie in the Monster Manual is unarmed and unarmored, while a human zombie made from the template may be armed and armored. The template version, therefore, has a slightly higher Challenge Rating. (Sample zombies that span Challenge Ratings from 1/2 to 6 are included.) Another difference is that these zombies have neutral evil alignments. The alignments for zombies in the Monster Manual were assigned at a time when we made all nonintelligent creatures neutral. Since nonintelligent creatures can (albeit rarely) have an alignment, it makes sense for zombies to be neutral evil.
Zombie Type Modifiers
Zombies keep some type modifiers and lose others.
Humanoid subtype (e.g., Elf)
Creating a Zombie
"Zombie" is a template that can be added to any corporeal creature other than an undead (referred to hereafter as the "base creature"). The creature's type changes to Undead. It retains most type modifiers (such as Fire or Aquatic), but loses alignment type modifiers (such as Good) and type modifiers that indicate kind (such as Goblinoid or Reptilian). See sidebar. It uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Hit Dice: Drop any Hit Dice gained from experience, double the number of Hit Dice left, and raise them to d12. If the base creature has more than 10 Hit Dice (not counting those gained with experience), it can't be made into a zombie with the animate dead spell.
Speed: If the base creature can fly, its maneuverability rating drops to Clumsy.
AC: Natural armor increases to a number based on the zombie's size. (Use the base creature's natural armor, if it's higher). See Table 1.
Attacks: The zombie retains all the natural attacks, manufactured weapons, and weapon proficiencies of the base creature. A zombie also gains a slam attack. Recalculate the zombie's melee and ranged attack bonuses based on its new type (Undead) and abilities (+2 Strength, -2 Dexterity). Undead creatures have a base attack of HD ' 1/2 (same as a wizard).
Damage: Natural and manufactured weapons deal damage normally. A slam attack deals damage depending on the zombie's size. (Use the base creature's slam damage if it's greater.) For purposes of Strength bonuses to damage, a slam attack is considered a two-handed attack. See Table 1.
Special Attacks: The zombie loses all special attacks.
Special Qualities: The zombie loses all special qualities except any subtypes it retains (such as the Fire subtype). The zombie gains the Undead type (see the Introduction of the Monster Manual) and this special quality:
Partial Actions Only (Ex): Zombies have poor reflexes and can perform only partial actions. Thus they can move or attack, but can only do both if they charge (a partial charge).
Saves: Base saves are Fort +1/3 HD, Ref +1/3 HD, and Will +2+(1/2HD) (same as wizard).
Abilities: The zombie's Strength increases by +2, it's Dexterity decreases by 2, it has no Constitution or Intelligence score, its Wisdom changes to 10, and its Charisma decreases to 1.
Skills: The zombie loses all skills.
Feats: The zombie loses all feats and gains Toughness.
Climate/Terrain: Any land and underground
| Hit Dice
|| Challenge Rating
| 8, 10
| 12, 14
| 16, 18
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: Hit Dice are based on advanced Hit Dice, if applicable.
Table 1: Zombie Armor and Damage