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The Walking Dead: Psychologies 
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Evil Genius
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Post The Walking Dead: Psychologies
Further into the same chapter of the "VanRichten's Guide to the Walking Dead" there is some discussion about psychology and obsession of the walking dead and I thought it might be fun to come up with some interesting and hopefully creepy ideas for different walking dead behaviors. I'm not looking for stats, (especially since more than a few people here are likely using a variety of editions) but a thumbnail concept that could either spice up one encounter or an entire adventure using those entities qualified as "Walking Dead".

A good example might the individual mentioned in the "Coin Cannibal" thread ... a man so obsessed with taking his wealth with him that, after death, the man contiues as some kind of hungry dead with a craving not for flesh, but money. The creature gravitates toward high currencies first, and only accepts less if none is to be had or hunting becomes too difficult in an area. A bloated, misshapen creature with a massively distended stomach which can result in some strange sounds when it stumbles into objects, or is struck by a blunt weapon; like the sound of coins shifting within a heavy purse. A fact that may have got more than a few muggers and pick pickets into more trouble than he'd been looking for.

The Coin Cannibal was a man of means and so his clothing should be - at least to casual observers - of fairly nice make ... allowing him to move around the fringes of higher society with little fear of being molested by your average guard doing his rounds. This is good, because the Cannibal prefers to hunt were the wealth is, as they usually have the most valuable stuff. Unfortunately for them, they're rarely willing to give it up either, and the creature is forced to kill them for it. In a lot of ways these crimes will likely appear to be muggings - and if the victim is smart enough to drop his money and flee - the Cannibal has no interest in chasing them ... not when it can be eating their wealth ... always trying to take just a little bit more with it.

The Larger such a Hungry Dead becomes the slower it can move, trying to drag the weight of its body full of undigested coins - long since having burst the organs it once used to digest in life ... now just so much meat mixxed in with the horded coin. This would make it less likely to take damage from blunt or piercing weapons, however, as its internal mass of coins are diffiucult to penetrate. Slashing wounds, however, have a possiblity of cutting deeply enough to cause coins to spill through the wound; whether this drives the Cannibal into a rage, or causes it to turn abount and try to reconsume the lost coin, has a lot to do with whether the investigators stay to fight or use the wound as a distraction to help them get away.


Another idea might be the "Binging and Purging" zombie who was once simply a woman suffering, tragically, from bulimia until eventually dying from it. Imagine, driven by an inescapable and immediate hunger, it stalks city streets on vast binges of slaughter and feeding, eating any living thing it can get its hands on, until it is near to bursting - then a phantom memory of shame overwhelms its previous hunger, driving it to vomit out its evenings feats, in rank piles of chewed and torn and barely digested meat. Once done, it goes back to whatever hiding hole it has, lairing there for days, or a week, until the need can no longer be overcome and it once again hunts the streets if a horrible parody of the illness is suffered in life.


Those are my initial two ideas; Who's next?

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:35 am
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Invisible Menace
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
Since you're taken by this indeed very good book... Wait till you reach Toben the many. ;)
It would rock your world.

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:56 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
Oh, I've read all the Guides and most of the Ravenloft splat books, it has simple been a long time since I did so - so I'm brushing back up on the material. The only problem I recall having with Toben the Many was the "Hannibal Lecter" vibe they seemed to be shooting for ... that personality was overdone a lot in the years following "Silence of the Lambs" and its sequel, so it lost much of its "cool factor" for me.

But "Walking Dead" was certainly my favorite of the "Weathermay Twins" Guides.

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:28 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
I love that idea of the coins pouring out and the creature re-consuming them. super-duper creepy. very nice!

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:43 am
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
Yes, I agree. Good allergen.
(and good loot for PCs. :) )

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:24 am
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
Gonzoron of the FoS wrote:
I love that idea of the coins pouring out and the creature re-consuming them. super-duper creepy. very nice!


Thanks. I give half the credit to the guy who brought up the "coin cannibal" thread, as that is what got me thinking in that direction. What about the rest of you, though, I imagine you guys have some interesting ideas for unique zombie styles, (that is, not focused on their combat abilities, but delivery and behavior) ... which is what I was hoping to generate some discussion on with this thread.

(I've been away from the setting for a long time, you guys will be a big help it getting me back into the atmosphere)

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 3:42 pm
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
I heard an idea once about a teacher who keeps trying to each her children who have all been turned into zombies. The children are chained to their desks, but eventually the teacher gives up and frees them all (I'm assuming from a place of safety).

The next morning, the kids are at their desks, ready for the next lesson.

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:59 pm
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
Nah, my hungry dead are mainly interested in eating people. In traditional and untraditional ways, but that's their driving force. They're the usual "Behind you! Cut off its head!" kind of thing.
I've made 2-3 deeper hungry dead, with story and character... and I never had the chance to put it in play. You see, my hungry dead were feeding on people so they made quite a commotion. The PCs found them and chopped them, never initiating dialogue or asking later "so... why was the ghoul with the extremely long tongue that could cling on roofs wearing the remnants of a velvet blue dress and jewelry?" :(

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Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:35 pm
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
alhoon wrote:
"so... why was the ghoul with the extremely long tongue that could cling on roofs wearing the remnants of a velvet blue dress and jewelry?" :(


Man, don't I know how that works ... that has got to be one of those very frustrating things all us GMs go through ... "So, I've created this fascinating backstory and motivation for the villain, I can't wait for the players to read his journal (talk to his lover, question his captives, whathaveyou) and learn all about it ... the expository dialogue before the fight should be very interesting as well!" ... ::Players walk into tower, either don't visit or burn every room, then storm into the inner sanctum and kill the villain as soon as he starts to talk ... they assume the villain is just a monster to be killed and are never the wiser::

I actually had to start implementing an informal "cinematic confrontation" rule, which stated the players were not allowed to attack until I was completely done describing the scene and villains actions/dialogue ... unfortunately that fell apart a bit in my Star Wars game when it was entirely within the Mandalorian's character - and tactical nature - to attack while the enemies were trying to talk. Still, for the most part, the rule stands and players have gotten used to giving villains the opportunity to speak before they start stabbing things. (It didn't make this rule go down any easier, initially, when they had just finished fighting a Vassalich who'd distracted them and used a magic item to cast spells on the sly, while they were talking. As a side note, I have discovered that randomly rolling magic items for - even named - villains can result in some tactics you had never even conceived of ... either because they end up with items you'd never heard of, or in determining how they'd use these items best you come up with some very interesting tactics. In the Vassalich scenario the creature ended up with an item that allowed him to delay the effects of spells for 12 rounds ... so he used the item just as the players came in, turned about to talk to them - casting spells on the sly for 12 rounds using a "still casting" type feat - and then attacked ... for the next 12 rounds the players were being hit by 2 spell effects a round; then, because every other item I rolled for the Vassalich created darkness in some fashion, I ended up planning his strategies around the heavy use of darkness spells. All in all the combat was nothing like it would have been if I hadn't randomly rolled items, and turned out to be horribly difficult and interesting for the players involved. Similarly, when rolling up a Planescape character for a drop in player, I generated 5 random magic items for her ... the items ended up heavily informing her backstory and added some fascinating rp to the character as she responded to what these items said about her - one of my favorite items was an intelligent talking sword normally owned by a named npc ... to explain why she had it, I decided her thief had stolen it during the course of a previous adventure ... but the item was none too happy and would constantly berate her and compare her unfavorably with its previous owner.)

That said, for the Walking Dead - typically creatures the players won't be spending much time studying the background of - you can tell a lot of their story simply through their physical manifestations. Take both my previous examples in this thread: the "Coin Cannibal" and the "Binge and Purger" could both be encountered as asides to other adventures, with the players knowing no more than they can learn by witnessing it, but each version tells a story by its unique physical and psychological characteristics.

Take another idea: The "Leering Molester" was a man who had an unhealthy sexual appetite for children when he was alive; and was likely killed because of it. (often by irate parents, mobs, etc.) The Molester now only feeds on children ... instead of smelling like rot, it tends to smell like candy; it hovers around areas children are likely to visit - schools, playgrounds, etc. just watching them until it is spotted; it will never fight adults if it can run away instead; it typically attacks children when they are alone and not in groups. The Molester does not sexually abuse children anymore, as that is beyond its facility as a Walking Dead, so instead it eats them to fulfill much the same need ... if your players can handle it, and you don't mind getting very graphic, it may only eat their sexual organs as well. (that last image actually disturbs Me, which means it would certainly stick with PCs ... but, of course, this is a monster one should only use if they know their players very well)

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Sun Jul 03, 2011 6:55 am
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
About the cutscenes it was suggested in DM's guide for Ravenloft DMs. I've used that a few times.

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Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:15 am
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
alhoon wrote:
About the cutscenes it was suggested in DM's guide for Ravenloft DMs. I've used that a few times.


Well, what do you know? I didn't imagine I was the first person to come up with the idea, but wasn't aware it was actually suggested in the DM's Guide. I don't think I've ever actually read through an entire DMG ... now I have to wonder how many "discoveries" I've made in the art of GMing over the years that I could have learned earlier by actually reading the book.

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Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:34 am
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
Amusingly I went to check Deviant Art and this picture was posted by one of the guys I watch: http://browse.deviantart.com/?order=24&offset=24#/d3ktxgg

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Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:57 am
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
In the original Lost Journals (not v2) there's an entry with an interview with a cannibal zombie that shows one example of walking dead psychology. In this case intense physical pain and guilt over what they've become and what they did afterwards. It just seems natural that a creature who was ripped from the grave against their will would be filled with negative physical and emotional feelings unless they were able to feed whatever need it is that is instilled in them (the cannibal zombie and ghouls and ghasts to eat, revenants to resolve whatever issue brought them back, etc.). Some seem to find a balance in their unlives and retain a greater grasp of their minds, making them all the more dangerous for it. A ghoul that mindlessly eats is dangerous if pathetic, but one that eats just enough to survive and laments its existence or actively pursues some other agenda is more compelling.

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Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:56 pm
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
A deceased circus fire-eater with a thirst for flammable liquids (lamp oil, strong spirits, etc) and the ability to vomit them back up onto a flame as a breath weapon.

A deceased circus geek who only eats the heads off small live animals to start with, the characters would hear of or find the corpses of small birds and rats, at first. But an ability to unhinge his jaw might inspire the creature to start working his way up to larger prey: rabbits, cats, dogs, goats...

A vain woman in life, obsessed with projecting an image of refinement and wealth, is now compelled to leap upon young, well dressed women to strip them and devour their clothing. Played right, it could almost be funny, until it isn't...

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Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:22 pm
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Post Re: The Walking Dead: Psychologies
How about this one? A young lady whose fiancee perished on his way to their wedding is driven to suicide by loneliness and despair, only to find that her death is not the end. She spends her time searching for and then stalking men who remind her in some way of her beloved. When they inevitably reject her, she kills them and eats their flesh to "keep them close", then moves on with her search.


Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:12 pm
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