Injuries in Zombiepocalypse are purposely abstracted to keep the game from becoming to bogged down in minutia. When a character is wounded by a monster, that Injury may range from deep bloody scratches to losing a finger or even breaking a bone. However, they are not intended to be seriously debilitating, especially if the character is - as the Players' Characters most likely are - running on adrenaline and fear. An Injury may slow down a character or interfere with their concentration (represented by the -1 Penalty to all die rolls and movement) but in and of itself is not life threatening. It can be assumed that characters apply basic first aid to themselves automatically to keep themselves from immediately bleeding out, although to properly Heal themselves requires the aid of another character and a Medkit. Furthermore, the character's normal activities probably leaves them with a variety of bumps and scrapes but - unless these are so serious as to inflict an Injury on the character - these will not require any medical aid and cause no penalties.

If a player is Injured in combat, he will suffer a -1 penalty per injury to all rolls, including "To Hit", “Damage” and all Skill Checks. However, the maximum penalty is -3. Injured characters also suffer a -1 hex to movement speed per injury, with a maximum penalty of -3. There is no limit to the total number of injuries a player can sustain. Even though the maximum penalty is -3, the total number of Injuries should still be counted. These penalties stack with any penalties from weapons, range or Difficulty modifiers.

Any character can attempt to Heal another, assuming there are sufficient bandages and supplies. Characters may not heal themselves. In order to heal another, the character providing the aid must make a Skill Check.  Each attempt will remove one Injury - and thus one -1 penalty - from the injured character. If the injured character has four or more Injuries, the healing attempt only reduces the count of the injuries but the penalty to his rolls is not reduced until he has two or less Injuries.

In order to heal another, there must be sufficient medical supplies. If there are no such supplies, the attempt will automatically fail unless the healer has invested their Players Option in "Medical Expert” skill. In addition to receiving a +1 bonus to all healing rolls, they can also attempt to heal with makeshift medical supplies (e.g., torn clothing in lieu of bandages, bits of wood for a splint in lieu of a proper cast, etc). Applying a medkit for Healing requires 5 rounds to complete, although they do not need to be consecutive rounds. Player Characters with use their Players Option for the “Medical” skill receive a +1 bonus to all Healing Skill Checks.

If a player fails his Skill Check attempting to heal another, he cannot attempt to heal that character again until that character is either first healed of at least one Injury by another character or is injured again. Each Healing attempt - whether successful or not - consumes the medical supplies used in the attempt. Difficulty modifiers or penalties from their own injuries stack with any other penalties. The GM may also choose to apply Complexity rolls for particular complicated Healing attempts.

If an Injured Player Character has four or more Injuries, he still only has a -3 penalty to his rolls. Healing one of those injuries will not remove any of the penalties, however, until the character only has less than three Injuries remaining. Only when the third Injury is healed will the penalty drop to -2 (with two remaining Injuries, and then -1 when he is down to 1 remaining Injury). There is no maximum to the number of Injuries a Player Character can have.

Once an injury is healed, all penalties from that injury (-1 to all rolls, -1 to movement) are removed, so long as the total number of injuries remaining is 3 or less. Characters cannot die from Injuries, no matter how many they receive; death only occurs if the appropriate roll is made on a Damage roll.

Medical Kits, or Medkits, are a necessary part of the healing process. Without a Medkit, characters cannot Heal their Injuries. Any attempt to heal without a Medkit will automatically fail.

The term "medkit" can actually refer to a variety of doctor's bags, paramedic kits or other similar paraphernalia. They usually include bandages, splits, antiseptic washes, tourniquets and painkillers, although more extensive kits may include surgical tools, oxygen, defibrillators and more. They generally weigh anywhere from five to ten pounds and take up one Inventory slot. Each Medkit can heal one Injury.

Characters with the Medical skill can create their own equivalent of a Medkit using makeshift tools, such as torn bits of clothing for bandages, belts for tourniquets, staple-guns for sutures and bits of wood for splits. If, for whatever reason, even this minimum of supplies is available, even a character with the Medical skill will fail to Heal his target.

Downed Characters
If a character is knocked out of combat due to suffering three (or more!) Injuries in the same combat encounter, he is considered seriously injured, or “Downed". Downed characters are unable to further participate in that combat encounter and must be helped to his feet by another character after combat ends before they can make any other actions. Helping a Downed character up does not require a skill roll, nor does not require or consume medical supplies, but it also does not heal any of the injuries that character has incurred. It merely brings them back into the game. This action cannot be made during combat and takes 10 consecutive rounds to succeed, during which time neither of the characters can be attacked or otherwise interrupted lest the attempt to revive the injured party automatically fails (failed attempts can be retried until successful, however). Until the Downed character is thus revived, he cannot perform any actions, fight or defend himself, or move in any way. Once he is revived, he retains the -3 penalty from his injuries, however.

Infection (Optional Rule)
If a player is Injured by a zombie and the zombie(that is, the zombie makes a successful “To-Hit” roll and rolls 4-5 on for Damage) the GM secretly rolls a D6 to determine if the character was Infected with the zombie virus. If the GM rolls a 6, the character has been Infected. Infected characters will eventually die and then come back as undead. Once a character dies, he no longer controls the character.

Infected characters will not automatically know they are infected, although they may suspect based on the injuries they have sustained. In 1-6 hours (the GM will roll a die to determine the length of time), the first symptoms will start to appear, which include aches, fever and bruised or gangrenous skin. The Infected character will suffer a -1 penalty to all die rolls and move -1 slower than usual, as if he were Injured. The GM will secretly notify the player that he is Infected, at which point the Player can chose whether to inform the other players or keep his illness to himself. Any other Player Character that attempts to Heal the Infected character will automatically notice the Infection.

However, Medkits will not be able to heal or remove the penalties. 1-6 hours after the symptoms first appear (again, determined randomly by the Game Master), the character will fall unconscious and die shortly thereafter. Several minutes later, he will revive as a zombie under the control of the GM.

Whether there is a cure to the Infection is up to the GM. Finding the cure - or even some medication that slows down the disease - may be part of the adventure.

Non-Combat Injuries and Damage
Although fighting with zombies and other opponents are the most likely way for characters to become injured, the world of Zombiepocalypse is a dangerous place and there are many other ways to get hurt or even killed. These might include falling, getting caught on fire, getting hit by falling objects, being in a car crash, or any of hundreds of other possibilities. Injuries sustained outside of combat use the same Damage roll that is used for combat, with effects ranging from a temporary stunning (results 1-3: Stagger), an injury (results 4-5, with a -1 penalty on to a player's future rolls), or death (6). The GM must always allow a player to roll a Skill Check to see if he avoids damage entirely, although the GM can “stack the deck” against him using Difficulty and Complexity modifiers (remember, however, that no more than a -3 penalty can be applied). The GM can also mitigate (or increase) the potential for damage by applying a modifier (up to +/-3) to the damage roll as well. Injuries sustained outside of combat have the same effect as those inflicted during battle.

Fire and Falling Damage
Two exceptions to the above rule are Falling and Fire Damage. Falling damage applies when, obviously, the character is falling. If a character free-falls more than 6 but less than 20 feet, he must roll a Skill Check to avoid damage; if he fails, roll the Damage die as usual. For every additional 20' feet the character falls, there is a +1 “bonus” to the Damage used to determine damage. Unlike other rolls, there is no maximum penalty; the penalties continue to stack. A fall of 140', therefore, results in a +6 penalty bonus to the damage roll and is unlikely to be survivable

Falling Damage Penalties Table
Height of Fall
Damage Roll Penalty
(additional +1 per 20' fallen)

Fire damage works similarly, except the penalties apply to the character's skill rolls instead of to the damage roll. If a character catches fire, he cannot do anything except attempt to extinguish himself. A successful Skill Check will extinguish the flames. If he extinguishes the flames in his first attempt (each attempt takes 6 seconds, or one combat round), he suffers no damage. However, for all subsequent rounds, he must roll a Skill Check first to avoid damage, and then a damage roll for the results. Each attempt past the third inflicts a -1 penalty to the Skill Check. The maximum penalty is -3. These penalties stack with other Difficulty modifiers.

Fire Damage Penalty Table
Rounds on Fire
Skill Check Penalty
0 (no damage roll)
5 (and on)

Food & Water (Optional Rule)
Surviving the zombie hordes is only half the battle. With the Undead roaming the earth in their countless numbers, everyday activities we take for granted – like eating – become a struggle all on its own. Depending on how late into the zombiepocalypse you set the adventure, food may be scarce and hard to find, whether due to shortage, spoilage or hoarding. Unlike zombies, however, the Living can not continue on indefinitely without food or water.

Although it is recommended that GMs track food usage sparingly – the game is intended to be a fast-paced action-adventure, not a simulator, after all – some adventures may benefit by roleplaying food or water shortages. In Zombiepocalypse, food is tracked by daily Rations, which consists of the an unspecified amount of food that fulfills the daily requirements of an average character. Each day, a living character requires 1 Ration of food and water. Failing to consume the required amount results in the following penalties.

Food Shortage
Food Rations Missed
-1 to all rolls, including Skill Checks, To Hit, and Damage, -1 to movement
-2 to all rolls, including Skill Checks, To Hit, and Damage, -2 to movement
-3 to all rolls, including Skill Checks, To Hit, and Damage, -3 to movement

Water Shortage
Water Rations Missed
-1 to all rolls, including Skill Checks, To Hit, and Damage, -1 to movement
-2 to all rolls, including Skill Checks, To Hit, and Damage, -2 to movement
-3 to all rolls, including Skill Checks, To Hit, and Damage, -3 to movement
-4 to all rolls, including Skill Checks, To Hit, and Damage, -4 to movement
-5 to all rolls, including Skill Checks, To Hit, and Damage, -5 to movement
Character unable to perform any actions or movement

Penalties from Food and Water shortages are cumulative with each other, as well as any other penalties, such as from Injuries, Difficulty, or Range. Penalties from food shortages max out after thirteen days (with a -3 to any rolls), while any character that is without water for seven or more days is rendered unable to move or perform any attacks or actions. The GM may wish to rule that characters continue to go without food or water beyond that point are at risk of dying.

If a character that is starving or dehydrating receives a single ration of Food or Water, this removes all penalties and effectively resets the timer before new penalties are applied. All food and water found in Zombiepocalypse just happens to be found in amounts equal to one ration. Each Ration of Food and Water takes up one Slot in the character's Inventory.

A character can extend the length of time he survives without food or water by going on half-rations. Each day he eats or drinks only half his normal Ration of food or water. This will extend the initial period before penalties are applied (8 days for food, 2 for water). However, he must eat or drink two rations before he can return to normal and remove the penalties.

The world of Zombiepocalypse is a deadly one. The undead roam the Earth, eager to slay any living they come across. Civilization has collapsed; the few survivors are heavily armed and desperate, and even the simplest of activities – such as crossing the street - can be dangerous. Death is not only a possibility in this world, it is a dead certainty. Eventually, inevitably, the player characters will die. This may happen at any time, be it the first few minutes of the game or at the very conclusion, moments before they reach the long-fought for escape. Death may just claim one character, or the entire party.

But unlike most other role-playing games, the death of a player character is not a major disaster to be avoid at all costs; it is an expected occurrence. This attitude is an important difference between Zombiepocalypse and other role-playing games and should be encouraged in both the players and the GM alike. While players should still strive to keep their avatars alive, the system is designed so that death is only a minor stumbling block; when one character dies, creating a new character takes only a few moments. The GM should then strive to have the rest of the party come across this new survivor as soon as possible to minimize downtime for the player with the new character. Even the death of the whole party can be circumvented this way; simply have another group stumble upon the remains of the defeated party and continue on from there.

Players are therefore encouraged to make their characters take stupid risks and do things they might otherwise not think to do; it might just work and the penalty for failure is fairly low. Similarly, GMs should not feel to overprotective of the player characters and protect them from bad rolls or poor decisions. Having said that, extremely reckless players should not be rewarded and if their characters die often, GMs should make it more difficult for them to rejoin the party or recover lost equipment. Nor should GMs be too ruthless; stack the odds against them, but be sure to offer them a chance for escape. Remember, the game is supposed to be as much fun as it is brutal.

Once a character dies, he is out of the game and no longer controlled by the player. If the GM wishes, he may wish to have the players encounter the the player again as a zombie in a later encounter. Any re-animated characters will start with half the Injury penalties they had prior to their death (e.g., a character that died with a -2 penalty due to injuries will be revived as a zombie with a -1 injury penalty).

Notice 1 
ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is still in development. Although playable, the system is not complete. Not all the rules have been written and those that have been are subject to change at any time. And editing for clarity and readability is low priority. Despite being made available to the public on this website, ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is still considered to be in beta form. You have been warned.
Notice 2
The Roleplaying Game System currently known as ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE is being made available to the public for free for their enjoyment and use. However, the author maintains all rights towards its distribution and development. You are free to view or download the rules and make use of them in any game sessions for the personal use of you and your friends. You are not free to redistribute the rules in any way, nor are you allowed to make any derivative works from it.

In English, this means you are free to download this game and play it amongst friends. You are not allowed to give the rules away to anyone else (redirect them to this website instead), nor can you take these rules and create a derivative work from them.

For more complete licensing information, please see our License page.
(c) 2013 Spalls Hurgenson

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