In Retrospect: Night of the Walking Dead

Obligatory: Spoiler Alert

Despite some of its flaws, Night of the Walking Dead remains one of my favorite adventures from the AD&D 2nd Edition era. It was the first Ravenloft adventure I’d run for my players. They found it challenging and mysterious. We’d tried out the rules for Fear, Horror, and Madness.

The adventure has a nice mix of combat encounters and investigation with, of course, a heavy dose of horror. When the character first arrive at a remote village, it appears the villagers have put somebody alive in a coffin. After the PCs sort that out, soon villagers drop dead for no apparent reason and rise as zombies.

Meanwhile, as a subplot, a madman stalks the village.

Then, for the module’s climax, zombies rise from the nearby cemetery in accordance to a prophecy.

After the adventure was over, I recall one player saying how he enjoyed the final battle with the zombie lord and his zombie minions.

So I look back on the module with certain amount of fondness.

However…

Here’s what I would change now…

1. That prophecy.

To get DMs to buy more Ravenloft modules, they included a prophecy in five or six modules which foretold a disaster which would befall the land. This became known as the Grand Conjunction. When my players found a copy of this prophecy, they thought it had something to do with adventure at hand. And since I didn’t have the other adventures, I didn’t know what to say.

So if I ran Night of the Walking Dead again, I change the prophecy to one that specific to the adventure itself, or to the campaign I’d run.

2. Add more side treks and red herrings.

The adventure is plot-based, and certain encounters must happen in a certain order for the adventure to progress. These are spread out among three or four days leading up to the finale.

When I ran this adventure, I was flummoxed as to what the characters would do between these moments. While they needed to do some investigating, there was a big chance they would bypass everything and head straight to the haunted cemetery and confront the zombie lord.

The module’s advice wasn’t much help either: just double the amount of undead listed. I saw this as risking a TPK.

Maybe there’s a location in the swamp to check out. Maybe the madman can pass as a normal villager and deliberately lie to the characters to send them down false leads or into a trap.

3. Have Animals Rise as Zombies

What’s more frightening that a human zombie? A zombie horse or a dog, especially if it was your horse or your dog.

Oh the horror!

One comment

  1. I read this module a lot back when I was trying to get more people to play 2e, and although it has some good moments, its tone was quite different to what I wanted to run at the time. (Sadly, it was also the only free 2e module for first-level characters available at that point.)

    Liked by 1 person

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