A Zombie Apocalypse is a modern or near-future post-apocalyptic genre, where the world has been overtaken by the undead and civilization is reduced to chaos.
The main focus of a zombie apocalypse fiction is not the presence of the undead, but the struggle of once normal people trying to survive. What makes it more interesting then a more believable disaster/epidemic fiction is the presence of a tangible threat that the protagonists have more control over. That is, you cant fight a flash-flood or earthquake, but a hoard of walking corpses is something a people can fight against.
Most people think that the genre got started with George A. Romero's 1968 classic Night Of The Living Dead. In truth, Richard Matheson's I Am Legend - which was the inspiration for the movie - that really started the whole genre. Night Of The Living Dead (and all the movies based off of it) is about a group of survives, trying to survive a nightmarish world of the walking dead. The racial subtext was purely accidental. I Am Legend (which is nothing like the Will Smith movie - although, the Vincent Price version is true to the book) is about the personal hell of a lone survivor, in a world overtaken by vampires.
Zombie Flick ClichéEdit
There have been a number of clichés that formed around Zombie Apocalypse movies.
Each survivor usually falls in at least one stereotype:
- The calm and resourceful leader
- The anti-leader (see Shaun of the Dead)
- The bully (who tries to take control - see tin-god military leader, below)
- The streamer
- The luggage (the slow or helpless person, who needs to be carried)
- The infected one!
- The genius (who gets himself killed)
- The tin-god military leader
- The loyal solider (who follows the commander, even if he is evil)
- The hesitant, humane solider (who finds it hard to hurt people and loathes killing zombies)
For the most part, zombies appear as they did in life, with the last clothing they had on before they died. In a zombie flick, their are some commons sorts that you would likely see amongst the mob:
- The fat guy in a wife-beater shirt
- The middle-age housewife in a moo-moo
- The salesman, with wool coat
- The old lady with a ling brim hat
- The bum that might have smelt better after becoming a corpse
- The fat redneck in plaid and overalls, with bubble-chins
- The skinny redneck in plaid and overalls, with no chin
- The gratuitous naked girl (it never seems right without one ;P)
- Elderly person, in pajamas or medical gown
- A Circus clown
There are some that tries to enhance the basic shuffling zombie. Some try to make them fast, while others try to make them beefed-up mutants.
- Basic Zombie - basic instincts drives it to living flesh, but moves about slowly and awkwardly.
- Vampireic Zombie - intelligent but mindlessly ravenous. Mostly likely the recently turned victims of a Vampire attack.
- Fast Zombie - being more ravenous and mobile, they will chase down pray without the limits of fatigue.
- Necromutant - a zombie who somehow mutated (before death or after). They usually appear overly muscular, with bulging green veins, or they have claws and spikes. They maybe the product of mad science.
- Cyborg Zombie - an animated corpse with old cybernetic parts on it. They maybe the product of mad science.
- Zombie animals - like wild animals, but undead and bloodthirsty.
- Corpse Construct (flesh golem) - the product of mad science! A living body crudely fashioned from body parts and cybernetics. May not be vicious.
- Corpse Master/Necromancer - an intelligent zombie or living person who can control zombies in some way.
- Ghouls - semi-intelligent, but cowardice. What they lack in sight, they makeup with an enhanced sense of smell. Possible paralyzing touch.
- False Zombie - mad and unkempt to the point of looking like a zombie. Maybe the product of a drug or outbreak.
With most zombie apocalypse stories, its good to know what types of zombies effects the players are going to encounter.
- How to become a zombie:
- Infectious bite: Kills after a few hours, then causes reanimation. Sometimes anyone who dies, no matter the reason, becomes one.
- Outbreak: Air or waterborne disease that will turn dead bodies into zombies regardless.
- Necromancy: A supernatural effect by a Necromancer or unseen force.
- Non-: Basic instincts only. No sense of self-preservation.
- Semi-: Just enough intelligence to survive. Maybe trained like an animal.
- Normal: Smart as a normal, living person (INT of 3-18). Maybe driven mad or into an altered state by undead condition.
- Slow: Stiff and awkward do to rigor mortis. Movement rate is slower, and acts last in a combat turn.
- Normal: As fast as a normal, living person. If fatigue is not an issue, it will run as fast as possible in combat.
- The Brain: It is harder to kill unless you aim for the head (with to-hit penalty).
- Fire: It is harder to kill unless you burn it. It may even fear open flames.
- Divinity: It will avoid crosses, chants, pungent plants (garlic, aconitum, etc.) and holy places. Will not cross lines of salt or wardings. Burned by salt, holy water and blessed weapons.
- Light: It burns in, and is blinded by strong lights.
Common Zombie Stats:Edit
Cordyceps Brain Infection (The Last of Us)Edit
The video game, The Last of Us, introduces a new concept on the zombie apocalypse called the Cordyceps Brain Infection. Unlike other zombie apocalypse fiction, The Last of Us based their zombie outbreak on the ophiocordyceps unilateralis, a real life fungus that effects ants, making it the most scientifically accentuate within its genre.
Cordyceps Brain Infection
Save Modifier: -2
Infection Duration: 1-2 days
Affected Stats: INT -2 WILL -2 CHA -2
Damage per day: 2d6
Those inflicted with Cordyceps Brain Infection becomes what are called "The Infected." It spreads through bite or by spore, and the infected loose their higher brain function until they are in an aggressive, animal-like state of thinking. Stage 1 starts anywhere in between 1-2 days of infection. As the infection progresses, the infection begins altering their sight as a result of progressing fungal growth over the head and corruption of their visual cortex (stage 2), stage 2 starts anywhere in between 1-2 weeks of infection. The infection will eventually scar their face completely, causing them to lose their sight, resulting in them developing a primitive form of echolocation to compensate (stage 3), stage 3 starts anywhere in between 1-2 years of infection. Over a very long time, they will eventually develop hardened fungal plates over most of their body (stage 4), stage 4 starts anywhere in between 1-2 decades of infection. If the fungus kills the host, the host's body will grow stalk-like fungal projections which release infectious spores. It is best to use gas-masks when moving through an area full of cordyceps spores.
Symptoms: Irrationally, heightened aggression, vision loss, glowing red eyes, higher pain tolerance, facial deformity.
The infection seems unable to spread in open air areas, such as the countryside, although it thrives in underground areas, especially sewers and subway tunnels.
Stage 1 Inflicted: RunnersEdit
|No. Enc.:||2d6 (3d6)|
Mutations: Poor vision
Runners are the first and weakest stage of the Infected who have just recently entered their transformation. Since the eyes are first targeted by the fungus, runners have poor eyesight, but maintain many human instincts. For example, their moans are still human, just like their overall appearance. A way to tell them apart from normal survivors is their glowing red eyes. Their body language is sluggish while they are passive, suggesting they are resisting the fungus's influence. Sometimes they do not attack at all, even when non-infected individuals are right in front of them. These non-aggressive runners will only attack if attacked first or when an object is thrown at or near them, thus losing control. Much like sneezing, the urge to attack after such interactions happens involuntarily and unwillingly by the host. Runners are confirmed to be able to attack in packs flailing their arms trying to trample the survivor. People who have been infected will enter this stage within a few days, with increased irritability and hostility towards others being a key symptom.
(Some of the concept art in The Art of The Last of Us shows Runners wielding tools such as shovels and rakes. This indicates that at one point in development, humans in the early stages of infection would possess enough intelligence to use tools as weapons. As this concept was not used in the actual game, there is no way of telling if the in-universe Runners and Stalkers were still capable of such actions. This info in included for Mutant Lords who want to make things harder on the players, by giving them more, if drastically deduced, intelligence.)
Stage 2 Inflicted: StalkersEdit
|No. Enc.:||2d6 (3d6)|
|Damage:||1d8, 2d8 plus disease|
Mutations: Echolocation, poor vision (eyes and echolocation)
Stalkers have the vision and speed of Runners, with the ferocity of Clickers. The most notable physical traits that define the Stalkers are the distinct croaking noises they make, the beginning of fungal growths on the head and face with only one eye left, the development of pseudo echolocation, and their discretion upon spotting a victim at distance. They will strafe and take cover, eventually closing in on the victim, hence the name "Stalker". Up close, Stalkers are very aggressive and will charge directly at the victim. Stage 2 may take place anywhere between a week after the start of the infection (Stage 1) and up to a year (Stage 3)
Stage 3 Inflicted: ClickersEdit
|No. Enc.:||1d6 (2d6)|
|Damage:||1d8+1, 2d8+1 plus disease|
Mutations: Echolocation, moderate natural armor
Clickers are the third and most distinctly recognized stage of the Infected. They have had prolonged exposure to the fungus, and now possess strength that significantly surpasses the average human. This makes them deadlier, but at the price of being completely blind due to fungal infection overtaking their face. However, Clickers are able to maneuver through areas by utilizing echolocation, which produces noticeable clicking/screeching noises to locate sources of sound.
Clickers appear less human than Runners and Stalkers, with faces that are completely skewed and scarred by fungus developed from their infected brains. The fungal plates have apparently adapted to keep the host/pathogen alive and able to spread, as a direct shot to the face with a strong weapon, like a battle axe or a shotgun, will more often than not just break off a chunk of the mold, leaving the Clicker's brain unharmed. Clickers are dangerous and much more aggressive than Runners, and like Stalkers; they no longer resist the fungus because their humanity has been completely eliminated. They seem to have enhanced strength capabilities, as they are shown to almost always overwhelm and kill people if grappled. Clickers also possess what seems like very high intelligence — for a zombie-like creature — never leaving an area when they have heard food run by them, and will constantly check every available nook and cranny to locate the source of the sound with little regard to give up on the task at hand.
When provoked, a Clicker will immediately enter into a "berserk mode," aggressively flailing its arms and 'roaring', adding a +2 to their "to-hit" rolls due to their ferocity. At this point, if someone has been spotted by a Clicker, the Clicker will attack head-on and will not flinch when shot, unless the pray is using high-powered rounds. They will never retreat in this state.
Stage 4 Inflicted: BloatersEdit
|No. Enc.:||0 (1)|
|Attacks:||1 (grab or grenade throw)|
|Damage:||5d6 or 3d6 plus disease|
Mutations: Echolocation, increased strength, extreme natural armor, grenade-like fruit, poor vision (eyes and echolocation)
Bloaters are the fourth, final and most dangerous stage of the Infected. Bloaters take the longest to develop, making them the rarest of the infected. They are covered in thick fungus that effectively doubles as armor plate. Due to this protective covering. Bloaters are extremely aggressive, but are rather slow-moving causing them to be more predictable than other infected. Like Clickers, Bloaters "see" using echolocation to locate and trap a victim. Because the fungus has completely deformed their face and blinded them, their echolocation is a lot less refined than the Clickers. If a Bloater grabs a survivor, it will forcefully them apart through brute strength, or grab the victim's head and smash it, killing them instantly. Unless the victim is super-strong, there is no way to defend yourself if grabbed - the result is likely an instant kill. Bloaters will throw sacks of Mycotoxin, a toxin produced by many fungi in the real world. The sack will explode on impact, spraying the target with the toxin. They draw their Mycotoxin bombs from bright, deformed patches growing on its body. Each Bloater has three: one on its lower right abdomen, one on its upper left chest, and one on its upper right back. An aimed shot to the any one of growths, at -2 "to-hit", destroys a Mycotoxin bomb, with the Bloater taking half damage. The Mycotoxin bombs have the same effect as irritant gas grenades, but with the added effect of infecting their victims with the Cordyceps Brain Infection.
Green Flu (Left 4 Dead)Edit
The video game, Left 4 Dead uses a rabies-like virus called "Green Flu" to establish its zombie apocalypse. The game introduces several types of zombies, each with their own abilities.
(where do I even start? WIP)