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Zombie Apocalypse


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Well, one of our former forum colleagues, William "Yamo" Mistretta, did use Fifth Edition Hero System to adapt the world of George Romero's "Living Dead" movies. He put up pretty detailed campaign guidelines on his personal website, and although that's now defunct the archive of it can still be found below:


Twilight of the Dead

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I like the Morning Star trilogy by Z A Recht
it has both fast and slow zombies
if you got bit and did not die you turned into a fast zombie(about 3/4's speed of a normal human
you could kill them like a person(blood loss,heart/lungs)

this will stop them for an hr or so

if you died of wounds and had been bitten you became a slow zombie(head shots only)

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I have been running a home-grown zombie apocalypse campaign for over a year now.


I didn't make the zombies particularly dangerous, just regular people with extra resilience (damage reduction 50% but not in the head, and some extra STR, BODY, PD and STUN). Infection is airborne however so there is a change of catching the disease which turns them into "zombies" just from being near them (random change 8-, 11- or 14- to catch it depending on the level of contact, a CON roll after 2 days of symptoms to survive it, and every time you survive you get a +1 next time). I am using a custom "hero point" system to make sure players don't usually die on a bad roll. Technically the "infected" in my campaign are not actually zombies since they never died - just got sick and got tougher and dumber.


As others have said, and the various long-running TV series demonstrate, the main enemies in this genre are actually other survivors. As modern society descends into a feudal (or barbaric) system. Some local groups of hardy, well equipped or just lucky people organise themselves to survive the harsh dangerous environment, the zombies become less of a danger and more of an environmental hazard. These groups are not constrained by the pressure of broad cultural standards, and instead organise themselves around a wide variety of power structures, from brutal warlords, to ideology-driven cult, to the superstitious idol-worshipping zealots, there are so many ways people can get weird. This also lends itself nicely to episodic campaigns, as the party encounters each new group or society and need to work out what sort of people they are, what capabilities/resources they have, and whether they can trust them. 


They party is approaching the 12 months anniversary of the apocalypse (it was a "there from the start" beginning) and there is now the question of what do the zombies eat? I am assuming they start with pets and then wildlife, maybe plants, etc, but I wanted it to be at least somewhat realistic with no mysterious magic force resurrecting the dead and keeping them alive. There is a significant logistical difference between cities and country areas to consider. In the country there will be plenty of passive wildlife and vegetation to find, but in the city it is unlikely that the entire population could possibly get enough energy from that to survive.


In the country areas, greater separation means that "soft" populations might organise themselves into survivable positions ,lead by a few capable fighters (law enforcement, ex-military, martial arts practitioners, etc). In the cities however, the population density would mean that few citizens will avoid succumbing to the cascading effect of infection, violent contact, and resulting transmission. Only those lucky to develop a miraculous resistance as well as having fair pre-existing combat skills are likely to survive to form hardened gangs of survivors.


In any case, the party is now moving on to deal with the real threat - the human "Dark Army" which masterminded the apocalypse to take over the world, in collaboration with their AI partners which took over the great-power global defence (and attack) systems. It is not yet clear whether the Machines and the Dark Army will remain tight or whether one will betray the other eventually. Sowing dissent among the Dark Army leadership is going to become part of the next phase which will have a "Matrix-like" cyberspace element to it. 


In any case, I think you need to have a significant non-zombie element in a "zombie apocalypse" campaign, whether it is a big conspiracy or large social structure formed after the world changes to provide a recurrent enemy, as well as the isolated "pocket societies". There are only so many warehouses and sports stadiums full of zombies to lay to waste and after a few gaming sessions, when the party works out their vulnerabilities (doesn't need to be headshots, of course) that gets pretty repetitive.


There is also the variety of interesting settings - take any modern place and imagine how it might be changed to provide a defense against the zombies. Using real-world landmarks familiar to the players is a lot of fun! 


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