Zombie skills are available to zombies at a cost of 100 XP.
List of Zombie skills
- Scent Fear: Survivors with fewer than 25 HP are shown as "wounded", and those with fewer than 13 HP are shown as "dying" in room descriptions. Both are asterisked on the map.
- Scent Blood: The HP values of nearby survivors are displayed next to their name. This skill also allows zombies to distinguish infected survivors from the uninfected. Infected survivors' HP are shown in light green with this skill.
- Scent Trail: Zombie is able to sense the new positions of survivors it's had recent contact with (if the survivor is within 10 blocks of the zombie and neither one has been either killed or revived).
- Scent Death: When a zombie or survivor with this skill sees a pile of bodies, they can tell how many of them are in the process of revivifying. They get a message like "There are x dead bodies here. y of them smell strange", where x is the number of bodies in total and y is the number of revivifying bodies. "Scent Death" also is an action that can be used by the zombie for 1 AP to view a "map" that indicates how many dead bodies and zombies are in the surrounding 5 block radius, plus directions to the nearest grouping of members of the zombie's own group, if any such exists. The map looks as shown at the right. It seems that zombies show up as progressively brighter values of green (more zombies) and dead bodies as brighter values of red (more bodies). When green and red mix, you get various shades of brown, orange, yellow, or lime, indicating squares with both zombies and dead bodies (as most often seen in a siege, or anywhere zombies are being killed / revived). Notably, the ability to tell if a body is revivifying using Scent Death is the only Zombie skill which continues to function even while that character is still alive.
- Digestion: Whenever the zombie deals bite damage, it gains HP equal to the damage dealt. Also, zombies with Digestion can "Feed on a corpse" if there is a dead body on same block as the zombie; this costs 1 AP and restores 4 HP. If a zombie tries to feed on the flesh of a reviving body, they get the message:"The body is tainted with strange chemicals. The flesh fizzes against your tongue, and you spit it out." this doesn't waste an AP, but doesn't gain the zombie any HP. Zombies that try to feed on bodies that have already been fed upon 10 times each will receive the message: "The body has already been picked over, and has grown cold and indigestible." This also doesn't waste an AP or give the zombie any HP.
- Vigour Mortis: Zombie gets +10% to hit with all non-weapon attacks. The Corpse class starts with Vigour Mortis.
- Neck Lurch: Zombie gets an extra +10% to hit with bite attacks.
- Death Grip: Zombie gets an extra +15% to hit with hand attacks.
- Rend Flesh: Hand attacks deal an extra 1 damage.
- Tangling Grasp: If the zombie hits with hands, its further attacks on that victim get +10% until it loses its grip. Tangled attacks are also effective against other zombies. 50% of missed hits result in loss of grasp. It also seems that only one zombie can grasp a target at a time - you may well lose your grasp if another zombie with tangling grasp makes a successful attack on your target before you do.
- Feeding Drag: Zombie is able to drag dying survivors (those with 12HP or less) out into the street, provided there are no barricades and the doors are still open.
- Memories of Life: Zombie is able to open doors to buildings.
- Death Rattle: Zombie is able to communicate in zamgrh or through a limited, groaned form of speech.
- Feeding Groan: If faced with one or more survivors, the zombie can emit moans audible to characters (zombie or survivor) in nearby locations. The range (in blocks) at which this call can be heard is equal to the number of survivors, with a maximum range of 6 blocks. Feeding Groans can not generally be heard by characters who are inside a building, except when the groan originates in or outside that building, but can always be heard if you are outdoors and in range. When hearing a groan, the directions to its source are given, similar as for flares. If you are a member of the same group as the zombie who groaned, the groan will additionally be described as "familiar".
- (A detailed list of messages given upon issuing a groan can be found here.)
- Bellow: When facing at least 25 survivors, the zombie can give a groan audible up to ten blocks away. Bellowing costs 10AP. If a zombie attempts to bellow when there are less than 25 survivors, they will groan instead, seeing the message: You aren't enraged enough to bellow at this group. You graagh threateningly, your call echoing around the room.
- Ransack: Zombie is able to damage the interior of abandoned buildings, making them harder to search and impossible to barricade until they are repaired.
- (Ransacked buildings cannot be repaired if active (standing) zombies are present. In addition, ransacked buildings cannot be barricaded until the damage is repaired and it is harder to find items in a ransacked building. Only buildings containing no standing survivors can be ransacked. The act of ransacking a building also provides the zombie with 1 XP. After five ransacks, the building is ruined, requiring the construction skill and a toolbox to repair.)
- Flailing Gesture: Zombie is able to gesture towards people, objects, buildings, and compass directions.
- Lurching Gait: Zombie can walk as fast as the living. They spend 1AP to walk from one square to another, versus needing 2 AP.
- Ankle Grab: Zombie only spends 1AP standing up (unless they died from a Headshot, in which case 6AP is spent).
- (This skill also works when standing up as a human.)
- Brain Rot: Zombie is harder to DNA-scan, and can only be revivified in a powered NT building using NecroNet access.
- Flesh Rot: Zombie has a maximum of 60 Hit Points, and takes reduced damage from firearms. This is equivalent to the survivor skill Bodybuilding and the item Flak Jacket.
Zombies can attack with their Hands or Teeth (or with blunt weapons, should they die holding them, though these are less accurate than a zombie's unarmed attacks). Characters beginning as a corpse possess Vigour Mortis, which alone makes the Bite the slightly more effective attack (see Table, below). Slain characters that started out alive become zombies without Vigour Mortis, making both of their attacks less accurate, and making the Claw attack the more reliable until Vigour Mortis is gained.
The only ways a Zombie can earn XP to purchase skills are to attack others, ransack buildings, destroy barricades, radios, or generators. Strategic consideration thus focuses on dealing the greatest amount of damage in the shortest amount of time.
Basic Combat Skills
With the first few skills acquired, the most sensible options are to enhance either the claw or bite attack as much as possible. Players who began without Vigour Mortis need to purchase it before making further improvements to their skills.
After Vigour Mortis, improving the bite attack with Neck Lurch gives the greatest power increase available in a single level. However, the claws can be made into an even more powerful attack with two extra skills. The combination of Death Grip and Rend Flesh gives an attack that, while weaker than the bite, is far more accurate. Claw attacks using these two skills provide the highest average rate of damage available to zombies. In addition, you cannot break down barricades by biting, so Death Grip has another advantage in that it helps you break down barricades more quickly.
Tangling Grasp further enhances the accuracy of either attack, though its usefulness relies on landing a successful claw attack in the first place, and so it is best purchased after Death Grip.
The main use of Digestion and Infectious Bite is to increase the odds that you remain standing while your enemy dies, as well as adding variety to gameplay. No extra XP is gained for the health extracted from a survivor, or for the damage done by their infection. They may not be the ideal choice for players whose main aim is to level up quickly.
Although not exactly a combat skill, Feeding Drag gives a third attack that moves the zombie and a survivor with fewer than 13HP outside. It is a useful tool for killing humans outside of survivor-filled areas, or letting lower-level zombies enjoy a good feeding. In addition, dragging a survivor out of a darkened building will allow you to finish them off more easily.
If your main food source is zombies, you'll earn XP equal to half the damage you deal. This means that each successful bite attack yields 2XP, and each successful claw attack yields 1XP. Note that this does not improve after acquiring Rend Flesh, as the game rounds down the resulting decimal.
Maxed out claws (including Tangling Grasp) yield 0.6 XP/AP, which is the same as a maxed bite attack without using Tangling Grasp. Therefore, the strategy which yields the most XP from damaging fellow zombies is to use bite attacks after grabbing your victim with Tangling Grasp.
Finishing a zombie off earns the full 10 XP bonus in addition to the above (reduced) rewards for causing damage, so it really pays to maximize your kills if Zombie Killing is your main source of XP. The best way to do this is to contact list as many zombies as you can, so that you can select them as individual targets whenever you see them. Hit each one you see with your most accurate attack in order to find out which has the lowest HP's, then attack that one consistently until you kill it. This works especially well at revive points, where many zombies will "Mrh" so that revivers (and you) can add them as contacts, and these Mrh Cow zombies less often move away or get killed by XP seeking survivors. By using this tactic, a level 1 zombie can normally expect to earn 30-40 XP per day, and might also delay revival for a few survivors.
AP Saving Skills
Two skills directly reduce AP costs, which allows a zombie more attacks per day.
Lurching Gait may be rarely used or totally essential depending on one's playing style. A zombie who finds pickings slim and must hunt for his food will constantly benefit, while a zombie in a siege will rarely have to move between blocks to find targets.
Ankle Grab is perhaps the most powerful zombie skill, since it largely removes the (already small) penalty associated with a zombie's death. Zombies in areas densely populated with survivors should acquire this skill relatively soon, though others may find they rarely encounter the inconvenience of death anyway.
The Scent skills may not appear powerful, but can aid a zombie to choose his targets wisely.
Scent Fear gives an indication of a zombie's odds of killing a survivor - a satisfying experience that yields a 10XP bonus on top of the damage inflicted.
Scent Blood gives a more precise indication, and is particularly useful when infecting a large population of survivors, as it becomes obvious which characters have already been bitten. The survivor skill Diagnosis lacks the 'infection-detection' aspect of Scent Blood, giving it an edge. (see below).
Scent Trail enables a zombie to chase down survivors that have recently attacked them or otherwise interacted. Useful when pickings are slim or vengeance is called for.
Scent Death eases the task of finding a horde. Co-operating with other high-level zombies can greatly improve a zombie's success in finding and destroying survivor populations.
The remaining skills are generally used by advanced zombies; they yield no XP gain and are most useful when part of a horde.
Memories of Life is essential for breaking in to food sources, but only one zombie is needed to open a door - a low-level zombie can still manage to eat well if there are others present with the skill.
Feeding Groans can be heard by both zombies and humans who are standing outside within range. Groans can be made inside, but will still be heard outside rather than in neighbouring buildings. Groans are much more likely to attract zombies than humans, since the latter tend not to spend long periods of time outside safehouses. The range at which a groan can be heard matches the number of survivors present, up to a maximum 6-block range. Players hearing a groan will not be able to identify the zombie who made it, but zombies in the same group will notice the cry is 'familiar'.
Death Rattle makes it possible for zombies to say more than just the preset couple of groans. In fact, an entire language has developed using the Death Rattle skill, as well as vocabulary listed in Guides:The Zombie Lexicon and in Guides:kiZombie-English_Dictionary. Some zombies use Zombie Speech Translators to "encrypt" plaintext into decodable strings containing only the characters that Death Rattle can transmit.
Ransack may only be used when a building is emptied of survivors. It damages the building, reducing search rates for any survivors that enter. Ransacked buildings may not be barricaded, and survivors may only repair the damage if no zombies are present. This is primarily a way for zombies to stake territory and cut off human access to buildings that provide useful items. Ransack cannot be used on Junkyards. A location after being ransacked 5 times turns it into ruin.
Flailing Gesture allows zombies to point at most things near them. The default 'Pointers' are: North, North East, East, South East, South, South West, West, North West, the sky, the ground and yourself. The other things you can point at are the barricades, the buildings in radius of you, nearby zombies, and nearby humans. You can select which human to point at by name, and when you have pointed at said human you get a link to his profile in the pointing message. You can also gesture at any zombie or corpse you have in your contact list.
Brain Rot makes it almost completely impossible for a zombie to be revived. (Brain Rotted zombies may still be brought to life by a survivor with Necronet Access in a powered Necrotech building.) Humans trying to peform DNA extraction on Brain Rotted zombies will also have less success. This skill is taken on only by those truly dedicated to the zombie cause.
Flesh Rot is a skill that branches off Brain Rot. It means that the zombie get the effects of the survivor skills Bodybuilding and the survivor item, a flak jacket. This eliminates the need for a zombie to revive in order to get these skills. Especially useful if the zombie has Brain Rot.
Human Skills useful to Zombies
Certain skills purchased by survivors are also useful when dead. Even a dedicated zombie might find a brief spell of living useful.
Body Building gives a zombie 60HP instead of the standard 50. Slowing down the rate at which your enemies can kill you is always helpful. (Body Building is not useful to you as a zombie if you have purchased Flesh Rot)
Diagnosis is similar to Scent Blood, the crucial difference being that it does NOT detect infections. It works when alive or dead, allowing you to see other survivors' Hit Points. Another difference is that survivors can purchase it straight away for 100XP, while Scent Blood requires the previous purchase of Scent Fear, making a total of 200XP. Low level zombies may find a well-timed revive will help them get this skill faster.
Necrotech Employment, among other things, labels Necrotech Buildings on the map screen. This works for zombies as well as survivors, and may be of some use in selecting targets.
There is also one human item that presents a significant benefit to zombies: the Flak Jacket. This will reduce the damage a zombie receives from firearms by 20%, so that pistols inflict 4 damage and shotgun blasts inflict 8. However, the same benefit is available to zombies who have purchased Flesh Rot. (A Flak Jacket is not useful to you as a zombie if you have purchased Flesh Rot.)
Comparison of Attack Skill Combinations
The Bite skill (Neck Lurch) offer more damage and experience per action point than the Claw skills at early levels and complements Digestion (to restore hit points) and Infectious Bite (to harass survivors), however biting has no effect on the barricades which survivors hide behind. The flesh-ripping power of the Claws is slightly greater in the long run (see below), but doesn't offer any "healing" ability - you'd have to backtrack and cover both bases later. Unless you intended to gain XP by attacking other zombies at the start of your zombie career, it is generally accepted that after the acquisition of Vigour Mortis, Death Grip and then Rend Flesh are the two attacking skills that zombies should buy.
Here's how the damage breaks down:
|# of Skills
per Action Point
|Average XP gained vs.
zombie / survivor
|None (newly slain survivor)
|0.2 / 0.4
|0.25 / 0.5
|Vigour Mortis (starting zombie)
|0.4 / 0.8
|0.35 / 0.7
|Vigour Mortis + Tangling Grasp
|0.475 / 0.95
|0.406 / 0.812
|Vigour Mortis + Neck Lurch
|0.6 3 / 1.2
|Vigour Mortis + Death Grip
|0.5 / 1.0
|Vigour Mortis + Rend Flesh
|0.35 / 1.05
|Vigour Mortis + Death Grip + Tangling Grasp
|0.559 / 1.118
|0.571 / 1.143
|Vigour Mortis + Rend Flesh + Tangling Grasp
|0.479 / 1.125
|0.406 / 1.218
|Vigour Mortis + Death Grip + Rend Flesh
|0.5 / 1.5
|Vigour Mortis + Neck Lurch + Tangling Grasp
|0.592 / 1.185
|Vigour Mortis + Death Grip + Rend Flesh + Tangling Grasp
|0.559 / 1.324
|0.571 / 1.714
|Vigour Mortis + Death Grip + Neck Lurch + Tangling Grasp
|0.688 / 1.375
|Vigour Mortis + Rend Flesh + Neck Lurch + Tangling Grasp
|0.592 / 1.346
|Vigour Mortis + Death Grip + Rend Flesh + Neck Lurch + Tangling Grasp
|0.688 / 1.563
1 XX% (XX%) = Chance of hitting target (chance of biting target).
2 Best possible combat effect after two skills, Vigour Mortis + 1.
3 Best possible combat effect after three skills, Vigour Mortis + 2.
4 Best possible combat effect after four skills, Vigour Mortis + 3.
Figures that involve Tangling Grasp are based on calculations using methods from this source.
Each skill in the game is assigned a letter by the system. These are normally not visible, but are used in the code that purchases your skills, submitted to the server in a form. Skills can not be purchased without using this form, in order to prevent abuses where people were tricked into buying skills (most often brain rot) by following a link.
- Scent Death = "R"
- Scent Blood = "m"
- Scent Trail = "x"
- Neck Lurch = "s"
- Death Grip = "t"
- Rend Flesh = "F"
- Tangling Grasp = "O"
- Feeding Drag = "S"
- Death Rattle = "z"
- Feeding Groan = "M"
- Ransack = "P"
- Flailing Gesture = "T"