Author’s note: if you are having a meal or snacking at your keyboard or smart phone as you read this, you may want to finish eating before proceeding. This post describes the natural decay of human remains in a rather graphic manner, which could affect a reader’s appetite.
Zombies are a staple of most fantasy and horror role-playing games, and have become so common in films and comic books that little effort is required on the part of a Dungeons & Dragons player to imagine what a zombie looks or acts like. It is so easy to imagine zombies, in fact, that many dungeon masters don’t devote much effort toward describing them, since players can mentally fill in the necessary level of detail for purposes of play.
Assuming that is true, why would a DM make a point of describing zombies more vividly? The answer is that doing so can make an ordinary zombie encounter more dramatic and memorable, even if the monsters used in every zombie encounter are mechanically identical.
Of course, providing more detail as a means of improving the play experience is nothing new. This blog has posted on the topic of improving read-aloud text for that express purpose. But, as few of us have extensive experience with human corpses, what details should a DM add?