As the party enters into a small town, they find it eerily quiet. If they try calling out for anyone, they hear some groans from around the corner before seeing a pair of undead shambling into view.
“Psst, hey you,” a voice whispers from one of the nearby houses. “Get in here before they spot you!”
The party can comply and follow the voice, lying low in the darkened house until the undead stumble past and out of sight. Alternatively, they can eliminate the two undead first, thereby prompting the voice to step out of the house, looking very impressed.
Regardless of how introductions are made, the person reveals himself to be a faun named Shaun.
“It all happened so suddenly, ” he says, “I woke up this morning after a bit of a bender and found the entire town overrun with undead. Luckily, I have a plan that’s a slice of fried gold. With your help, I think we can accomplish it.”
Shaun the Faun then proceeds to outline his spectacular plan:
- Hoof it over to his girlfriend’s house and retrieve her
- Head to the center of town and hunker down at the Whimchester Tavern
- Have a cold pint of ale and wait for all of this to blow over
If the party asks Shaun why the Whimchester, he will explain that it is a defensible location because of its strong doors and deadbolts. He also adds that there are plenty of peanuts and drinks to help pass the time.
“Oh, and the owner, John, he used to be a zombie-fighting cleric before opening the bar. I’m sure that could be helpful somehow.”
If the party agrees to help the faun rescue his girlfriend and get to the tavern, then the true escort mission begins. Shaun can defend himself (somewhat) and will take cover when in danger; he wields a bat/club that deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage. The party needs to clear the streets or figure out a way to stealthily traverse the town with Shaun in tow. Between stops, have the party confront a street filled with zombies that they must mow down, sneak past, or somehow distract.
DM Note: If you have players who are fans of Shaun of the Dead, at one point, Shaun can point to a low wooden garden fence and say. “We can cut through here. Come on, guys. Never taken a shortcut before?” If the party agrees, each member will need to roll an acrobatics check, including Shaun, with a DC 10, to leap over the fence or else it collapses with a crash. The player who collapses the fence takes 1 HP of fall damage and attracts 1d6 worth of zombies to their location.
Once the party arrives at the corner where Liz lives, they can spot her in an upstairs window, throwing various objects down on the heads of two zombies trying to break through her locked/barricaded front door. Off to the side, a wight can be seen nocking an arrow, apparently preparing to fire up into Liz’s window.
If the players have been sneaky, they can launch a surprise attack. The zombies are fairly dumb and not paying close attention (aside from where they can find their next snack), but the wight is far more intelligent, so any sneak attacks against him must be conducted carefully.
Once the enemies have been taken care of, Liz will come downstairs, briefly introduce herself to the party, and throw her arms around Shaun in gratitude. Like Shaun, she can also defend herself and benefits from natural armor (Liz is a Lizardfolk). Her weapon of choice is a shovel that, similar to Shaun’s bat, deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage.
When Shaun the Faun mentions to her where they’re going, Liz rolls her eyes and says, “why am I not surprised…”
Once the party makes it to the tavern, Shaun shouts through the keyhole of the door. After a moment, the heavy wooden door is unlocked, and everyone is carefully welcomed inside.
Inside, the party meets Ed, Shaun’s best friend. He’s a very lazy druid who doesn’t do much besides feeding his gaming/gambling addiction by selling questionable herbs on the side.
Aside from Ed, however, there’s John: the elderly owner of the tavern and, as Shaun said earlier, a former cleric.
“I’m glad you’re all here,” John says, “I have an idea of what we can do, but it’s going to require all of us to work together.” He reaches down behind the bar and pulls out a silver rifle. “One of your new friends should take this, Shaun. No offense, boys (he looks directly at Shaun and Ed), but I’d be afraid of letting either of you wield a firearm.”
Shaun and Ed nod in agreement. John looks at Liz and then looks at the party. “I used this baby back during my undead-fighting days as a cleric. It’s particularly potent against zombies. Who wants it?”
The Whimchester Rifle deals 2d10 piercing damage plus an additional 1d8 radiant damage against undead. It’s a two-handed firearm and must be reloaded between shots, using an action or bonus action (player’s choice).
John continues. “I can create a ritual circle that will destroy all undead within a certain radius. The only trouble is, we’re going to have to bring them in close to the building in order for me to reach them. Your job is to keep yourselves alive and fend off those monsters while I’m conducting the ritual; can you all do that for me?”
If the party agrees, John will begin using what he has available to him. He takes some potato chip-like snacks from behind the bar and crushes them up, pouring the dust into a small circle in front of him (the high salt-content makes this a usable substitute). He clasps his hands together and says, “Let’s begin.”
The players can think of some loud noise/light show to pull attention toward the Whimchester. If they have no such things available, they can always lean out a window and fire the rifle into the air; the loud “boom” will attract the horde.
Zombies will show up in droves, but you (as DM) can choose how many are actively engaged in combat based on the ones who successfully climb through windows/walk through doors. If the players attempt to block any of these entrances with furniture, then a zombie must use an action to dismantle the obstruction before entering.
Attempts by the players to escape to the outside will not be possible because of the masses of undead pushing against the tavern’s doors and windows (unless they’re going to wild shape into a rat and weave between legs and/or crowd-surf the sea of zombies).
At the end of each round, a zombie or wight will climb through each unobstructed opening of the tavern. To determine which enemy enters, consider rolling a d6; if it lands on a six, then one of the entering undead is a wight.
Once zombies have entered, there begins to be a faint holy sparkle to them; the ritual has detected an undead presence and is now underway to being fully cast.
The party must survive 5 rounds (without John being interrupted). DM Note: if this gets to be too busy, you can have Shaun, Ed, and Liz simply flanking John and protecting him, thereby not needing to worry about their role in combat and focusing exclusively on the zombies fighting against the players.
Once completed, there is a flash of white light that momentarily blinds everyone. Within that flash, there is brief screech before all the sounds of zombie groaning, shuffling, and scratching cease entirely. As the harsh white light fades and the room returns to candlelight, the area inside and around the tavern is completely devoid of undead. All NPCs still standing release a collective sigh of relief.
As a reward for saving the town, John allows the party to keep the Whimchester Rifle: “Aside from this one strange occurrence, it’s not doing me any good collecting dust behind my bar counter. I think you could put it to much better use.”
The town then proceeds to launch an investigation into the random arrival of undead (potentially paving the way for a larger conflict/mystery for the party) and better safeguard their town against sudden unexpected zombie sieges in the future.