Guides:So you've decided to become a zombie

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You're dead, huh? Whether you simply got tired of life or ended up as a tasty snack, you've decided to make the most of your zombiefied state - after all, death isn't the handicap it used to be in the old days (as a certain space bum once said). Being a zombie is certainly an interesting career move, and one which poses many problems and dilemmas. After all, it's a zombie-eat-human-shoot-zombie world out there in Malton, and you want to get to the top of the writhing pile as quickly as possible. So what's the best way to do this?

Your first zombie-steps

To grow up nice and strong, baby zombies need love, hugs and plenty of raw meat

A certain children's TV character once said "It's not easy bein' green", and that's especially true when the green bit just happens to be your brain. The basic key to getting stronger is racking up experience points, and when you're a baby zombie the only way to do this is to attack and kill survivors.

And this brings up your first problem - how do you find your targets? Many zombies in Malton are feral, just living the outdoors life by wandering around town on the off-chance that they'll stumble across an open building with survivors inside, or munching on a foolish human who you've caught sleeping in the street after they failed to ration their Action Points properly (you may have a limited amount of success doing this, especially if you're in a relatively safe suburb and the locals are living in a false sense of security, but this is unlikely). If you happen to come across a building that is only lightly or loosely barricaded, you could try smashing at the door a few times but unless you have the required skills, you'll quickly find out this is a complete waste of time. Living (or rather un-living) this way could mean slow progress and one bored and hungry zombie.

If you want to find plenty of juicy targets, your best bet would be to join one of Malton's organised zombie groups (or at least tag along). Yes that's right, organised groups - contrary what you've seen in the movies, Malton's zombies are not mindless shambling oafs. They're a special breed capable of co-ordinated, organised attacks, and it's only through a joint effort that zombies have any real hope of breaking into an extremely heavily barricaded building.

These organised groups rarely stay in one place, roving from one suburb to another, tearing down the local defences en masse, gorging themselves on the yumminess inside, then moving on to redder pastures. Some groups actively help baby zombies to grow big and strong by opening up buildings, attacking the survivors inside until they're almost dead, then dragging them out into the street for the young'uns outside to finish off. When you're a fresh-faced zombie looking to make it in this crazy world, groups really are the way to go - after all, a kill equals 10 XP, and getting fresh meat delivered to you allows you to quickly rack up these points with minimal effort.

Zombie skills - u haz dem

So you've been feasting away on the locals, you've made a few kills and your zombie has reached the 100 XP milestone. Now you're left with a happy dilemma - what fruit to pick first from the tree of skills? Some of the skills available are absolutely vital for turning you into a lean green killing machine, others are good for helping you help others, while others are just plain fun (from a zombie's point of view anyway).

Happy feet

One obvious disadvantage faced by new zombies is their lack of mobility - it takes twice as much effort for them to move from block to block compared to survivors and older zombies. You'll need to remedy this to be an effective hunter, so Lurching Gait is an absolute must. After all, if you're part of a horde which is moving to a new suburb, you'll need to keep up with them to gain the maximum benefits. On the other hand, if you've chosen to go it alone, Lurching Gait will allow you a bigger hunting ground as you'll be able to cover a larger area each day.

Unfortunately, this isn't the end to all your problems in the department as zombies have yet another weakness - they simply aren't endowed with the co-ordination and balance of a human. Walking with a healthy lurch is all well and good, but what happens when you've fallen? Getting killed then getting back up takes a lot of effort - 10 AP in fact - and it gets even worse if you've been Headshot. This is where Ankle Grab, the second of these essential zombie skills, comes into play. With this, a bullet in the brain will never bother you again... well, it will (having a bullet rattling around in your skull must be an odd sensation), but it won't cause you to waste a sizeable chunk of your daily action points.

Get your claws out for the lads

This horde of zombies (one of whom looks strangely familiar) can't wait to show you how awesome their claws are

Okay soldier, we've got your legs sorted out, now let's work on those arms! A zombie's claws are their primary weapon - for starters, they're the only thing they have to attack barricades with (zombies attempting to nibble on barricades will quickly find out they're not at all nutritious). For low level zombies, these are your only effective weapon as bite attacks only have a 10% chance of success (unless you started out as a corpse, in which case you can add another 10% to this), so it makes sense to strengthen your claws as quickly as possible.

If you started out as a zombie, you'll already have Vigour Mortis - if not, you'll have to get this skill very early in order to get some sort of meaningful attack capability. Once you have this, four new claw-based skills are available to you (plus one bite skill, which we'll come to later). Death Grip gives an extra 15% chance of landing a strike and Rend Flesh increases the damage dealt by each attack, so these two should be next on your list. This is followed by Tangling Grasp - with this skill, any successful hand attacks will result in your zombie grabbing hold of its victim meaning that, while they're getting up close and personal, any attacks get an extra 10% chance of success. Obviously this is good, not just for your hand attacks but also for biting, so Tangling Grasp is another essential skill.

The fourth claw-based skill, Feeding Drag, enables your zombie to drag a dying survivor out of the building and into the street. When you're just starting out on the road to zombiehood, this skill isn't really important to you at this stage as it is mostly used by older zombies for helping low level zombies get some early kills under their belt. The only time you'd be using this for yourself would be when attacking survivors in a dark building - all attack percentages are halved here, so it makes sense to drag the unfortunate victim into broad daylight at the earliest opportunity and finish them off nice and quick. Other then that, Feeding Drag serves no vital purpose so this skill can be safely left for later.

The smells of success

Once you've got your arms and legs sorted, the next area for improvement is your head. However, before we begin work on those teeth, let's take a look at the nose as, surprisingly enough, a zombie's nose (or what's left of it) can be just as important when it comes to making him (or her) an effective killer. The first nose-based skill is Scent Fear which enables a zombie to tell which (if any survivors) are injured or dying. This skill happens to be the root of the scent skills, so it must be gained first before any of the others. The next skill on this list is Scent Blood, which expands on Scent Fear by telling you the exact number of Hit Points each survivor in your building / block has.

The quickest way for a zombie to gain experience points and new skills is making kills, and this is the reason why these two skills are so useful. Before now, when faced with a group of survivors, you would have to physically attack each one to determine which one was the weakest, but gaining these two skills enable you to target the weakest survivors first, therefore increasing your chances of making a kill and getting that extra 10 XP. Yes, these are very useful skills to have, and should be high on your shopping list.

Scent Trail enables a zombie a trail a human its recently had contact with - this may be good if some cheeky NecroTech scientist has ticked you off by extracting your DNA and scoring some points off you, or if someone has used you for target practice but were unable to finish the job. Assuming these people are still breathing within 10 blocks of your current position, you'll be able to find them and potentially dish out some justice undead-style. On the other hand, Scent Death enables you to keep track of zombies and bodies in your vicinity, and will also identify if any of these zombies are part of your horde.

Unlike Scent Fear and Scent Blood, these last two skills aren't particularly important and can be safely left for later - after all, there's still some other parts of your body which need a workout...

Flashing those gnashers

When your teeth are as strong as this, feeding becomes a breeze

The teeth are the secondary means of dishing out pain and hurt to the breathing masses (or to other zombies, if you're that way inclined). Although seemingly ineffective at first due to their relatively low chances of scoring a hit, the combination of Vigour Mortis and Neck Lurch quickly bring your pearly-whites into play. This is ideal if you're tagging along with a horde as this skill gives you the strongest attack at your zombie's early stages, but it's not quite as useful if you're going solo as teeth are useless against barricades. When this skill is combined still further with Tangling Grasp, your zombie will have a dental record that even the bravest dentist won't dare to criticise.

Two other bite-based skills are available to zombies. Digestion enables a zombie to increase their hit points either by biting an enemy or by feasting on a corpse. A fun and easy way to regain your health... surely an essential skill to have, right?

Not necessarily.

If you're wondering why, just ask yourself this question: what happens when a zombie reaches zero hit points? Answer: they just stand up and carry on doing whatever it was they were doing. There's no need to go out of your way to find a revive point, no finite amount of lives, and precious little in the way of consequences (assuming you already have Ankle Grab). A zombie feels no pain, its flesh is expendable. Unless you're overly concerned about other players scoring points off your character or you're part of an organised attack on a strongly-defended safehouse, there really isn't any need to worry about how many hit points are remaining. Your health is one area which can be safely neglected, therefore Digestion can be left for later.

The second of these skills is Infectious Bite, which can only be obtained after Digestion. This skill does exactly what it says on the tin - it makes your bite infectious. Nibble away at a human and, if they're fortunate enough to slip away and don't fancy dying, they will have to either use a first aid kit on themselves, waste precious hit points going to the nearest hospital and finding a FAK, or waste time finding a safehouse and asking its inhabitants nicely if they could dispense a little healing. Unfortunately, this is the only way you can damage a survivor and not gain any XP from it, although it does leave you with the warm glow knowing you've somewhat inconvenienced a rival. In other words, this skill is sadism, pure and simple.

Thanks for the memories

Despite starting out as beings of limited abilities, Malton zombies can quickly relearn new skills that they took for granted before the outbreak, starting off with Memories of Life. That's right, for just a hundred XPs, your zombie can be just like Bub from Day of the Dead... except you won't be able to fire guns... or use a toothbrush... or know what the hell to do with a book... but you will be able to open doors, and when your claws are powerful enough to tear down barricades, being able to open doors afterwards can be very useful (especially when you're hungry and there's a building full of breathers just waiting to sustain you).

Once you have obtained Memories of Life, a number of other skills become available to you and, although these aren't as useful to a lone zombie as Memories of Life, two of these skills (Feeding Groan and Flailing Gesture), quickly come into play when working with other zeds. Feeding Groans are an all-too-common sound in the city - they're basically zombie-speak for "Dinner is served", usually indicating that a building has just been breached and some yummy morsels await. As soon as you have entered a building, it's best to emit a feeding groan as soon as possible in order to quickly attract ferals before the residents can escape or re-secure their building. On the other hand, Flailing Gestures can be used in other situations, albeit not so commonly. For example, you've been doing a number on a building's barricades but you've not quite been able to breach them - if there are any zombies nearby, you can go to them and gesture towards the building, and hope they take the hint that you want them to finish the job. Likewise, if you've entered a building with survivors and zombies, you can gesture towards a survivor to indicate that's the one who should be taken out first.

Another skill in this tree is Ransack, which is a key skill in the larger scope of the human-zombie struggle as ransacking (then ruining) a building makes it impossible to barricade the building and makes searching very difficult. This of course means that items such as the NecroTech Revivification Syringe, weapons and ammunition would be much harder to come by, thus hampering the human effort. For a new zombie however, this skill is hardly essential and can be left for later. Lastly, there's Death Rattle, a skill which opens up a whole new vocabulary to you - unfortunately, this language is only of any real use if you happen to keep a dictionary close to hand, and so this skill is rarely used. Indeed, the only zombie word which has any real use seems to be "Mrh?", which any zombie can say.

Being a rotter

The last two skills are of the rot variety and the first of these, Brain Rot, represents what is probably the only major decision a zombie will ever have to make. One of the two effects of this skill is that it makes it much harder for your DNA to be extracted, which denies any would-be scientist a couple of easy XPs. Also, if you're in the mood to frustrate the survivor cause a little further, you can head on over to your nearest revive point and use this skill to disrupt the queue. How? This is where the second aspect of this skill comes in - it's impossible to revive a rotted zombie outdoors, and as zombies at revive points always form a nice orderly queue, any zombies standing behind the rotted zed can't be revived until the rotter in front has either moved, been removed by force, or they have successfully DNA scanned you and are able to move onto the next zombie (they may be able to do this first time, or they may be unlucky and waste umpteen APs on you).

All good fun, especially you feel strongly about making Malton 100% zombified. However, obtain this skill and chances are you'll never breathe again as it is only possible to revive a brain rotted zombie in a powered NT building. If you plan on ever becoming human again (either to gain some useful survivor skills or if you just fancy changing sides for a while), do not get rotted. If you're part of a group, the decision if and when to get the rot will probably depend on the tactics your group uses - some players within zombie groups will deliberately avoid getting this skill as being revived will enable them to scout closed buildings and destroy generators, while other groups will encourage getting this skill early. If you've decided to go feral, it's probably best to leave this skill for later.

The last skill, which can only be obtained after Brain Rot, is Flesh Rot which will increase your maximum hit points from 50 to 60. All well and good, unless you're of the opinion that hit points aren't especially important to a zombie. The point at which you gain this skill will depend on whether you choose to get Brain Rot or not. One thing worth considering is that the benefits of Flesh Rot can be replicated using some human skills and equipment - this is covered further down the page.

Summary of skills

This list is simply a suggestion, and assumes you've chosen to leave the Rot skills until last. The order in which you obtain these skills will depend on how exactly you want your zombie to develop.

High priority - horde zombies

  1. Vigour Mortis
  2. Lurching Gait
  3. Ankle Grab
  4. Neck Lurch
  5. Tangling Grasp
  6. Death Grip
  7. Rend Flesh
  8. Scent Fear
  9. Scent Blood
  10. Memories of Life

If you've chosen to become part of a horde, your priority should be to maximise your mobility and then your attack capabilities. The best way to do this is to concentrate on your bites first as statistically these are your best attacks early on. Unless you already started out as a zombie, Vigour Mortis is probably the best skill to get first just so you have some sort of offense. After that, Lurching Gait and Ankle Grab are strongly recommended to make your zombie a more efficient hunter. Then comes Neck Lurch and Tangling Grasp, which will make your bite attacks more precise and more powerful. Once that's taken care of, you can concentrate on your claws and scent skills.

High priority - feral zombies

  1. Vigour Mortis
  2. Lurching Gait
  3. Ankle Grab
  4. Death Grip
  5. Memories of Life
  6. Rend Flesh
  7. Scent Fear
  8. Scent Blood
  9. Tangling Grasp
  10. Neck Lurch

If you've chosen to go solo, you'll probably need to work on your claws first purely for debarricading purposes. As before, Vigour Mortis, Lurching Gait and Ankle Grab should be your first choices. Death Grip will increase your accuracy (both against opponents and barricades) and Memories of Life would probably be more useful at this stage as it will enable you to open buildings once you've torn their barricades down, allowing you to get a few nibbles in before the inhabitants and local zeds realise what's happening. After this, Rend Flesh can be used to maximise the hurt caused by your claws, and the first two scent skills to enable you to select your targets. After this, Tangling Grasp and Neck Lurch can be obtained to further strengthen your all-round attacks.

Mid priority

  1. Feeding Drag
  2. Feeding Groan
  3. Ransack
  4. Digestion
  5. Infectious Bite

Feeding Drag and Feeding Groan are two skills which are generally used in conjunction with other zombies, although Feeding Drag comes in useful when attacking survivors in a dark building. After this comes Ransack, which will give you a few easy points once a building has been cleared of life. If you're concerned with your zombie's health, Digestion gives you an easy way to top up your hit points, and Infectious Bite lets you give your survivor friends a going away present.

Low priority

  1. Scent Trail
  2. Scent Death
  3. Death Rattle
  4. Flailing Gesture
  5. Brain Rot
  6. Flesh Rot

This group of skills includes the two less-useful scent skills and two communication skills which certainly aren't used as much as Feeding Groans. Naturally, the time which you choose to obtain the two rot skills depends on whether you don't mind your zombie being revived or not - if you're dead against those pesky NecroTech scientists using you to go about their business, these two skills can be obtained a lot sooner. The effects of Flesh Rot can also be replicated by survivor skills and equipment (see below).

Plan of attack

Survivors

Once you've got your claws and jaws up to speed, you have a number of options available to you when it comes to interacting with the local humans. The simplest method is to keep hammering away with your claws as this is statistically the most effective attack. Indeed, if you're attacking a survivor in a dark building, claws are your only effective weapon (don't forget to drag them outside once they get to 12HP or below). However, there are a few combinations which could be used in order to bring other skills into play. One slight variation on the simple claw attack is:

  1. Attack with claws until you've caught your target in a Tangling Grasp.
  2. If they're not already infected, leave them a souvenir of your visit by biting them.
  3. Once you've successfully infected your victim, carry on clawing away.

For those who prefer biting to clawing, a good method is:

  1. Attack with claws until you've caught your target in a Tangling Grasp.
  2. Once caught, commence with a barrage of bites.
  3. If you lose your grasp, switch back to attacking with claws until you've once again grasped your target, then carry on biting.

Buildings

First things first - keeps your ears and eyes open for feeding groans and flares. Why waste your time smashing your way through barricades when someone else has done it for you?

When it comes to attacking barricades, you really do need to select your targets carefully. If a building is heavily barricaded, you've got next to no chance of opening it solo - even a Very Strongly Barricaded building can be a tough nut to crack if luck is against you. Unless you're part of an organised attack, or if there are a large number of zombies in the area who can help, then it isn't worth trying to attack heavily barricaded buildings - chances are you'll run out of action points before completing the job, any survivors inside will realise what's going on and quickly reinforce the barricades, making all your efforts a waste of time.

Once a building has been cleared out, the next step is to ransack and ruin it if possible. This isn't just to satisfy any destructive urges you may have - if a building is ruined, it will make it much more difficult for survivors to search for items, and they would need to spend action points repairing them before they could be re-barricaded.

Thankfully, surgery isn't one of the human skills that a zombie can use

Human skills - u can haz dem 2

While zombies have their own set of skills, they are by no means restricted to them. There are a number of human skills and equipment which can be used even after you've shuffled off your mortal coil (again). Bodybuilding is the most useful of these as this will increase your maximum hit points from 50 to 60, meaning you can benefit from increased fitness without the rot. Flak jackets (which are mainly found by searching in police stations and armouries) replicate another benefit of Flesh Rot by reducing the damage taken from firearms. Needless to say both of these are very useful, especially if you're not particularly keen on getting Brain Rot.

There are also a couple of Science skills that can be used by the undead. For example, if you've been on NecroTech's payroll while you were alive, you'll still be able to identify NT buildings as a zombie. Diagnosis is a scientist's skill that can also be used by zombies and works in roughly the same way as Scent Blood as it displays the hit points of any survivors in the vicinity. However, what it doesn't do is tell you whether a survivor has been infected or not (which Scent Blood does), but it will tell you whether the survivors are at their maximum possible health. Whether you decide that this is important enough to gain this skill or not is up to you - as far as pure zombiism goes, the ability to sense infection is probably more useful as you can concentrate on clawing your victims to death rather than getting them infected first. On the other hand, Diagnosis is cheaper - 100 XP (75 for scientists, or 150 for military personnel) compared to 200 XP for Scent Fear and Scent Blood.

Zombies are also able to use crowbars, baseball bats and a number of other blunt melee weapons. However, these are all pretty much useless - even without Vigour Mortis, your teeth and claws are more effective as zombies simply don't have the manual dexterity needed for Hand To Hand Combat skills.

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