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Old 05-14-2014, 01:10 PM   #1
Mean
 
Join Date: May 2014
Default Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Hello errybody!

I'm not new to GURPS, but I am new to GM'ing a game. I'm trying to put together a zombie survival game, à la "The Walking Dead," "Day By Day Armageddon" by J.L. Bourne, and "Dead" by T.W. Brown. I don't want this to be an on-the-fly kind of game, because the people involved would lose interest quickly. I'm already looking at forcing GURPS on them as a new system, because only one of the players has ever seen 4e.

So, to the question. Does anybody have suggestions on game structure? I want them to live in fear of zombies and running out of resources (food, water, ammo), and I want them to have to think about shelter, and how for they can tracel in a day while rationing supplies. I want them to get to a point where they are less likely to open fire and more likely to retreat or use quieter means of dispatching zombies.

I am thinking that I won't make a cause for the appearance of zombies available.

One of my concerns is how to go from "no zombies" to "OMG THERE ARE ZOMBIES EVERYWHERE!"

If anybody has any campaign notes, I would love to read them.
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Old 05-14-2014, 01:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

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Originally Posted by Mean View Post
Does anybody have suggestions on game structure? ....If anybody has any campaign notes, I would love to read them.
GURPS Zombies
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Old 05-14-2014, 02:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

Blog record of my zombie game, including the full session logs
Corresponding website article, with more behind-the-scenes stuff
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Old 05-14-2014, 02:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

One thing to remember is that at base, zombies aren't a threat in the usual meaning. They're more like an ongoing natural disaster.
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Old 05-14-2014, 04:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

I've found that its useful to frame the zombie rise inside of another incident, a plague, a long taxing war or some other occurrence to explain why civilization is particularly vulnerable. Have the undead come about fairly suddenly, just for whatever reason the dead start to rise. Anyone that dies unburied reanimates and goes on to infect others. The initial incidents might be considered random attacks or insanity, then mob violence as number grow.

The zombie's bit could cause a slow burn infection. The victim of a small bite seems fine for awhile, but hours later succumbs and transforms, allowing the spread the infection along with anyone that dies rising as well so more zombies are created if there's panic or civil unrest especially before anyone knows how to put them permanently.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

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Originally Posted by Whitewings View Post
One thing to remember is that at base, zombies aren't a threat in the usual meaning. They're more like an ongoing natural disaster.
This is very good advice and I can't stress it enough. Zombies are frankly a fairly weak threat and are easy to deal with even in mass, which is why almost every zombie fiction which has to rely on liberal use of plot induced stupid and writer fiat to make them an actual danger to anyone. So as Whitewings suggested I wouldn't make them the main games focus but just a hazard hanging out in the background while you deal with the real stories focus in the foreground.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:36 AM   #7
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

Don't forget the official plan.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

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I honestly don't see anything weird about this as a military / emergency-preparedness exercise. Sure, this specific situation is very unlikely to ever actually happen, but it presents a very textbook example of a broad disaster that threatens all humans domestically and is likely to result in temporary international cooperation at official levels (despite total chaos on the ground in places) even among the bitterest of foes because otherwise total human extinction, for exercises in dealing with that scenario, with a fun metaphor that everybody is familiar with at this point given how played-out the whole zombie thing is now.

Last edited by Gold & Appel Inc; 05-15-2014 at 05:50 AM.
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:59 AM   #9
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

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Originally Posted by Jonas View Post
This is very good advice and I can't stress it enough. Zombies are frankly a fairly weak threat and are easy to deal with even in mass, which is why almost every zombie fiction which has to rely on liberal use of plot induced stupid and writer fiat to make them an actual danger to anyone. So as Whitewings suggested I wouldn't make them the main games focus but just a hazard hanging out in the background while you deal with the real stories focus in the foreground.
Depends on how it is told, really.

Zombies seem like a bastion for even more mundane diseases, regardless of the origin of the zombies. If someone is carefully creating and controlling them, maybe it isn't an issue but that usually isn't how a zombie apocalypse scenario works (or when it is, control is lost pretty quickly). Infrastructure concerns would pop up if "suddenly" large packs of rabid dogs were a daily occurrence, and it is still a scary thing today when a random rabid animal pops up.

A lone zombie that isn't "enhanced" and is even impaired by its state (in terms of combat prowess) but is shambling around trying to grapple and bite people until it is no longer able to move is probably spreading mundane disease in addition to potentially infecting some unlucky (or impaired) person. Unless being a zombie makes itself obvious, quite a few people could be infected and able to approach at least the periphery of "civilization" (let alone isolated homes) before people really took notice.

A pack of them may not seem much different, except now instead of a critical failure causing disaster, it just a normal one is required... which is how these kinds of things seem to get started. Of course if you got the World War Z (...the book, I haven't seen the film nor do I want to) route it is very obvious why it is such a problem, and anything that makes people seem stupid is intentional and realistic based on how actual events have transpired. Unless we do get unparalleled, competent international cooperation, it feels like a "waiting to fail" kind of scenario.

Roaming around a landscape with mobility deficient zombies that are no better at attacking me than an unarmed, untrained human in an impaired, altered mental state becomes a problem due to being overwhelmed and again, the mundane disease factor on top of zombificiation.
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Old 05-15-2014, 12:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Surviving the Zombie Apocalyse

I strongly recommend GURPS Zombies. As the author, I cannot claim to be objective, but I honestly believe that it addresses many salient concerns. More interestingly, perhaps, it doesn't assume one kind of zombie . . . You can have "zombies as natural disaster" and "zombies as disease," sure, but those are hardly the only options and are arguably the most boring options. You might instead have "zombies as weapon of mass destruction, softening up the population," "zombies as Final Judgment," or even "zombies as bizarre social phenomenon," among other possibilities.

If your zombie apocalypse is caused by a rival nation's weaponry, is localized around where the bombs or shells landed, and leads to zombies with specific, scary abilities designed to enhanced collateral damage, then you're not in a "classic" scenario. If your zombie apocalypse is The Apocalypse, then you're exploring religious themes, and maybe the zombies aren't even attacking you per se. And if your zombie apocalypse is memetic, conveyed by billboards and Twitter and TV, then the zombies might crash cars into you and trample you on the way to the Apple Store, but they're not what's eating your brains – that's the meme.
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