• Justin Handlin

D&D Monster Tactics: Zombie

Listen to Episode 49: Monster Tactics

In Dungeons and Dragons zombies are soulless, fearless, and stupid. While zombies are tossed into nearly every campaign, we feel that they have just become minions to be mowed down by adventurers. Often just tossed into a crypt and that's about it. In this episode we breakdown just how versatile they zombie can be, and how you can get the most out of your zombie encounters.

From somewhere in the darkness comes a thump and a scuffle. As the noise comes again, drawing closer, a gurgling moan can be heard-the rattling wheeze of rotten lungs pressing air out. A form lurches into view, dragging one foot as it raises bloated arms and broken hands like a child seeking an embrace. This creature is a zombie,and it blindly seeks to crush life.

First we look at what we know about zombies.


  • No need to eat, drink or even breath

  • Any corpse with flesh suffices to make a zombie. It might be a dead warrior from a battlefield, bloated and blistered from days in the sun, guts trailing from a mortal wound.

  • A zombie could wash ashore or rise from a marsh, swollen and reeking from weeks in the water.

  • It might be a muddy cadaver of a woman recently buried and risen again, leaving maggots and worms in her wake.

  • A zombie could instead appear alive, crafted from a recently deceased corpse.

  • The corpse could belong to the smallest beast or the largest giant.


  • Easily replaceable, zombies are a dime a dozen.

  • Place them in rooms with deadly traps - flooding, crushing walls/ceiling, entire floor that collapses. Since they lack everything required to care for ones survival, they make perfect cannon fodder.

  • Contagion - place poison/disease upon them(cackling zombie monster variant)

  • Place harmful spells upon them - Rune of fireball, cloudkill.

Players: How to overcome.

  • Common knowledge that zombies often are unable to comprehend obstacles, tactics or dangerous terrain.

  • They will often walk right into a river, acid or caltraps just to reach its target.

  • Often they can only follow basic orders and can barely tell friend from foe when instructed.

  • Holy water is a powerful tool if the characters are aware they are going to engage with the undead.

Unearthed Tips and Tricks! (We give you creative content for your next adventure)

Character Concept: Brawling Tavern Wench

Saffron Woodley:

Olivia, a former tavern wench who got tired of hearing others’ adventures and decided to set out as an adventurer herself! She dual wields big heavy metal beer steins to pummel her foes.

Monster Variant: Zombie Lord

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or turn into a zombie in 1d4 day( the zombie stat block). Remove Curse can end the zombie state.

Encounter: Paul Schirf & Kendrick Jackson

The Gifted Zombie Horde

Place zombies in an inverted pit trap i.e, stuffed into the ceiling behind trap doors that open, dumping them ahead and behind the party. Sure they take a little damage from the fall, but the ability to say “it’s raining men...undead men” is priceless.

Additionally, throw one intelligent zombie among a hoard of zombies. Just imagine them fighting a small horde of them, but a perception check shows one zombie looking right at the group and observing them. He moves with purpose. He uses other zombies to block and take damage for him. Then, in the confusion they lose track of him.

Talk about scaring the crap out of a group, if they know an intelligent zombie threat is lurking somewhere and has survived an encounter with them.

Magic Item:

Listener: Justin Dameron

Shifting Armor:

This armor looks like a robe. But will shift into any armor the wearer thinks of. It takes 1 minute to change from one armor type to another. When the armor is shifted you receive all the benefits and drawbacks of that armor type.

Dungeon Master Tip:

Patron: Leigh Pierce:

Keep a couple of devils contracts in your folder...you never know when a character will be stupid enough to NOT read a contract and sign it. (Happened last night...player sold their soul to Strahd!)

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Listener: Adam Buxton

Print out your spells and memorize them.

Or purchase the spell cards.

Allows for quick and easy retrieval of your prepared spells.

Speeds up caster turns significantly if you don't have to look them up.

Tip - the get the DnD5e spellbook app - can take screenshots and print them out.

This also works with other features as well, such as Ki points or magic items that have multiple features.

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