Three Historical Settings for Your Zombie Game

Three Historical Settings for Your Zombie Game

The zombie genre has become a zombie itself: shambling, decaying, wandering on autopilot. Yet we still keep making and enjoying zombie stories-so what's the solution? We change the formula. Galvanize the sucker. Shoot twenty thousand volts into that old corpse.

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You lost me on the second sentence.

Why is enjoying something something we need a "solution" for?

You lost me on the second sentence.

Why is enjoying something something we need a "solution" for?

I had the same thought. It makes more sense if your talking about trying to revive a genere that has already died.

That said Zombies are durable creatures, that can be inserted in nearly anything. I once ran an adventure (part of a longer campaign) that featured a bunch of undead sailors deploying from undersea ghost ships to attack the PCs who were holed up in a deep sea research station (ie the setting of movies like "Leviathan" and "Sphere"). These were supernatural zombies however, and needed to be taken out by total destruction (head shots just annoyed them, cutting them up lead to animated body parts, etc...). It was however a super hero/pseudo-horror game, and part of the gimmick was that what the party could use was limited without wrecking their own (needed for the moment) habitat since not everyone had innate life support.

I also once invented a monster that was basically the animated dust of cremated corpses, in response to the old "we'll solve the undead problem by burning all the bodies!" trope of a lot of settings where such is known to be an issue. They didn't occur very often, but when they did they were pretty difficult to stop, the most effective way to be locking them in an urn or other container it can't open, which isn't easy. typical solution involved players using water (from a fire hose, or once in a fantasy setting a "Decanter Of Endless Water") to turn the dust cloud into mud and then scoop the mud into an urn and weld/stone shape it shut. The threat of these things (which could possess people and corpses, and attack through suffocation) being seen as worth the risk of zombies, skeletons, and the occasional greater undead, the truth of them being lost to lore, but ultimately explaining why cemetaries and grave yards still exist. ;)

I wonder if there could be a prehistoric zombie apocalypse.

I wonder if there could be a prehistoric zombie apocalypse.

Depending on what you mean by that, it may already have been done.

That said, I'd play the shit out of a game centered around playing as dinosaurs fighting zombie dinosaurs in the aftermath of Chicxulub.

All Royal navy ships until the 1970s carried cutlasses, all way useful for fighting off zombie attacks. Also, most destroyers carried as many Lewis and Vickers machine guns as they could get their hands on in addition to the official complement. All naval warships are compartmentalised, to prevent hull breaches flooding the entire ship, so its very easy to control movement. Its also possible to selectively flood compartments to counter lists caused by battle damage. All the ships heating in 1940s was done by steam line bleeds from the boilers. Cutting into a normal steam line is more than capable of boiling a zombie and high pressures steam line would produce an invisible jet of steam that is strong enough to cut people in half. Destroyers don't have holds, only cargo ships do. Last, but very pedantic point, Hunt class destroyers were steam turbine powered and don't have cranks.

I am so glad to see 7th Sea get a mention. If you want a horror version instead of the legend version, use the zombie rules for 7th Sea instead of making the zombies brute squads, henchmen, and villains.

That second scenario is pretty much the entire premise of Unhallowed Metropolis. Set 200 years after the apocalypse though, so society has changed a little. The professional mourners mentioned? They're now traditionally armed with giant knives and sit and mourn over the corpse watching for any sign of movement for several days. Fantastic game.

Meh, so sick of zombies. Let's start a new genre.

"In a world where all hunting and meat eating has been banned, wildlife has been breeding out of control for the last century. Shortage of food, and a failed attempt at reduction of population by chemical means, have turned once peaceful herbivores into ravening carnivorous killing machines. Mutant deer rampage throughout our cities gobbling every human in sight. Watch out! It's the BAMBI APOCALYPSE!!"

Oh and when you shoot them, they EXPLODE!! Eat your heart out Michael Bay.

One idea I had a while ago was to mash-up 1920s mafia film type scenarios with zombies. It creates all sorts of fun ideas about ancient Italian secrets, etc. Plus, tommy guns, great suits, flappers, etc. It's just a fun image.

I actually think the Alamo scenario would work really well with the Deadlands-rules. Sure, Deadlands is set in the Wild West (around the 1880's, I believe), but there isn't that much that needs to be altered for it to work with 1836. Also, it fits the tone of the setting: you can fight the horrors, but you can never truly win...

I did really like the ship idea (like a poster said above me, not exactly correct, but it's the IDEA). Something like that, with having to deal with a cramped space, and other dangers apart from the zombies.

Well, I know that right now, I am running a Dwarf Fortress inspired zombie apocalypse. Basically, in Dwarf Fortress, zombies happen one of two ways:

1. A wiza- A necromancer did it.

2. A cloud of weather or an evil biome resurrects the corpses, bodies, body parts and skins/muscles etc.

So basically, a storm blows through and the players have to deal with the zombies it causes. It means that sure, they can just kill the zombies normally, but the moment a storm starts... well, all of a sudden the entire horde is back. The best part is that they have not figured that out yet. Add to that the fact that they must look after their weapons and armour, as well as food, and we have a rather tense campaign that links into the over-arching story of my world.

So the normal idea of a Zambie apocalypse works well enough in most settings. Just make sure that the zombie apocalypse doesn't JUST add zombies. Give special reasons for things, enforce survival rules, and make it a proper thing. I don't like campaigns where "there's zombies everywhere!". But the DM doesn't deal with weapon degradation or food, so all that happens is that there are a lot of zombies everywhere. Not fun. That's why I like the ship idea. Yeah, there's zombies. But it's happening in World War 2, there are Germans everywhere, the ship is fucked, limited weapons until you find all of them delicious MGs and also zombies.

My temptation is to play around historical events with zombies as a stand-in; the black death, the Spanish flu, the Mongol horde, the siege of Leningrad, etc

I think the 18th century might make an interesting setting. I imagine some form of reworking of the French Revolution, except the peasants become infected with the zombie plague, whilst the aristocracy keep within their secluded manors. Eventually, the undead break in, and the otherwise foppish aristocracy must toughen up and defend themselves, escape the manor, and learn to survive in a word where food no longer comes at the ring of a bell...

However, it unfortunately means that at some point, someone will have to launch an ambush with a cry of "Stand and deliver! Your money or your brains!"

I've always wanted to see if the Huns invaded Europe because of a zombie virus with them, as the East and West Romans, the numerous barbarians, steppefolk, and Islamic nations struggle against the plague.
Especially as it would play out interesting with the legionnaires focus on stabbing to bleed out, which would be rather ineffective against zombies. Additionally, as the tribes were already fleeing the presence of other stronger tribes, political tensions would flare up, and internal strife, as is the best part of zombie situations.
As, remember, the apocalypse isn't the major issue of any end-of-the-world scenario: it's people surviving in the new situations with their fellow man.


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