By now many of you that downloaded the Gravity Age: Creature Update: 00 have either used nano-zombies against an unknowing party of characters, or fallen victim to them. Here’s where I poke a little fun at the fatalities and defend the CR ½ difficulty.
During our playtest, the heroes bravely entered one of Starmetal Labs secrete research stations hidden in the Pollux asteroid belt. They entered though an umbilical into an unpressurized airlock. They hacked the station door to override the airlock and ambushed a space goblin sleeping in one of the stations emergency gathering points. Without even looking through the next portal window the Legendary Heroes of Legend (‘LHoL”) open the portal and wham walk straight into their first nano-zombie.
At this moment as a GM, and a guy that has been waiting to publish these books for two years, I was more than a little disappointed that I didn’t get to play up my ruse that the scientists were still alive. I was going to draw the LHoL in with vivid descriptions of the scene playing out before them and lure them into melee…. Nope, they open the portal without looking, literally walk into a nano-zombie.
Round 1: 4 of 6 party members fail their surprise rolls fail their surprise. Wham! The party’s cyborg operative gets hit for 12 damage during the surprise round. The two non-surprised characters fire their salvaged goblin junk lasers but miss.
Round 2: Cyborg operative stands his ground and attacks the nano-zombie with a baton, (Baton? Really? A baton?!), and does 1 point of bludgeoning damage. A brave shirren operative within striking range charges in to take advantage of his precision damage, he scores a hit and does 2 points of bludgeoning damage (with a baton no less, apparently, they were on sale). Wham! Zombie hits Cyborg and he goes down, GM fudges the dice a bit so he doesn’t die from massive damage. Second, operative swings again, misses. The kasathas solarian charges in and does 4 points of slashing. Zombie gets hit by two more lasers.
Round 3: Everyone in the party misses. Wham! The solarian takes 12 points of damage from the zombie and retreats.
Round 4: A few characters hit the nano-zombie with their lasers, the solarian drags the downed cyborg away, the operative retreats, the nano-zombie’s healing nanites kick in and it heals all but one point of its damage.
I admit I thoroughly enjoyed the look of dismay on the faces of LHoL.
Round 5: Solarian runs up, goes supernova, and roasts the zombie for 12 hit points. A few of the other players hit with their junk lasers, and the brave shirren operative charges in to get precision damage and does 3 points of damage with his baton. Wham! Shirren gets rocked for 11 damage.
At this point I am worried that I potentially blew the CR rating on the nano-zombies, because one zombie, although badly wounded at this point is on the verge of causing a complete party wipe. Then the sixth round happened…
Round 6: One player hits with his junklaser. The solarian and shirren operative retreat. The zombie doesn’t swing at them as they flee and then walks up to them on its turn without slamming them again. Click! Light bulbs go off in the majority of the party’s heads all at once…zombies are permanently staggered!
After this round I did get a few good licks in later on, but the players adopted a run and gun strategy throughout the rest of the research station which worked quite well. I feel like their later encounters with the other nano-zombies validated the ½ CR once they fully took advantage of the zombie’s staggered condition.
I think there’s a lesson here. If you are 1st level, two or three nano-zombies will kick your ass! Only go toe to toe with them in melee using batons, if you have a blank character sheet ready for a new point buy character! I am still not sure my party knows about slashing weapons but that is a topic for another day.