At some point during a Zombie LARP event, you’ll be called up to start a round as a zombie. Players are given zombie training at the start of each event, but the rules are here if you’re interested. As with all rules on this site, it’s likely that a few things will change for each event.
For rules and tips about fighting against zombies, see the pages on humans.
Zombies have flexible rules so that you can be a dynamic threat to your food source, which is people. When playing a zombie, your goal is not to win – it’s to give humans a continuous challenge and frighten them out of their good senses.
Real-time combat is chaotic and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to follow the rules perfectly. The most important thing is safety. After that, your priority should be to be the best damn zombie you can be. If you think a lump of human meat-prey is ignoring your attacks and treating you like set-dressing, it’s usually better to let him or her get away with it temporarily, rather than break character. If you’re concerned, find a ref and tell them what’s happened.
As a zombie, you have three movement speeds:
Dormant. Zombies which haven’t seen food for a while can slump to the ground and play dead until something happens. If you’re a zombie, you can do this any time you like. It’s a good way to create surprises for humans. As soon anyone comes near you, lurch upright and start hunting.
Wandering. You’re looking for food, but you don’t have the intelligence to do it well. So you shuffle around, moaning occasionally. Imagine you’re in HMV but there isn’t a particular DVD you want. When you see movement (at Zombie LARP, this is, not at HMV), or see a light that wasn’t there before, or hear a noise, wander over to investigate. If it turns out to be a living human, you can stop wandering and start hunting.
Hunting. This is the fun bit. Stagger clumsily towards the humans, snarling and moaning, and attack them.
Swipe at the humans and touch them with your hands. That’s it.
It doesn’t have to be a gentle caress, but don’t hit hard enough to hurt anyone – just to make them aware they’ve been hit. Avoid touching the tender, spongy and post-watershed areas of the human body. When you’ve hit someone, stagger back for a few seconds before hitting them again – this represents them fending you off.
If you are shot or hit in the torso by a gun dart or a melee weapon, drop to the ground. After a slow count of ten seconds, if you’re not being pinned (see below), you can get up again and carry on with your busy zombie day.
If you’re shot or hit in the arms or legs, try to react in a way which seems physically appropriate – collapse if hit in the legs, or flail backwards or slump against a wall if hit in the arm. Wait about five seconds before attacking again.
If you’re hit with a melee weapon, react appropriately. If someone has lightly tapped you on the arm, give it a couple of moments before you pile back in – but if they’ve lined up a massive, swinging shot, stagger back dramatically and go down. Be cinematic in your response – but always give the player the benefit of the doubt.
If you end up down on the ground, you should get out from underneath other players’ feet for safety reasons. Ideally, fall out of the combat or slump against a wall and slide sideways to the floor so that your legs don’t trip others. Do not attack players’ legs while on the ground – this is dangerous. Be ready to roll out of the way if someone comes charging in your direction.
If you’re on the ground or slumped against a wall, you can be pinned. Human players pin you by holding the end of a melee weapon against your front or back. If you’re pinned to the floor, you can’t get up. If you’re pinned to a wall, you can’t move from that spot – but you can twitch, snarl, and claw uselessly with your arms, to make the humans feel nervous. As soon as the pinning weapon is removed, resume normal zombie behaviour.
If you are already on the ground and someone shoots you in the torso to finish you off, you are destroyed. Wait until the players leave the area, then come back to life as an entirely new zombie.
Tips for good zombieing
You react to movement, lights, and sound. But if you come across a human who is keeping still and silent, you can eventually realize – after much sniffing around – that it’s a human and that you can eat it.
React proportionately to attacks. If a human lines up the perfect baseball-bat swing to knock you out of the park, then you are allowed to fling yourself violently across the room when it connects – provided there’s no-one in the way, of course.
Once you’ve been “killed” and come back to life, act out a horrific injury – mangled legs, snapped neck, dead arm, or a smashed brain which makes you shriek horribly whenever you move. (You don’t have to keep these injuries any longer than you want to, but it adds to the atmosphere if the zombie horde is composed of shattered, hopeless lumps of pulped and leaking meat-wreckage.)
Moderate your hunger. Your level of aggression should depend on how much danger the humans are in. If they’re already in a lot of trouble, you don’t need to be much more of a threat. If you’re part of a big pack of zombies, give the others their chance to attack. The rule of thumb is: it should always be possible – but difficult – for humans to get past you.
Don’t run. For a zombie, running breaks character. It’s ok if you’re doing it out of sight of human players for a behind-the-scenes redeployment, but don’t do it as part of gameplay. ‘Fast zombies’, if they appeared, would be a very different sort of challenge for the human players, and can unbalance the game.
Don’t say “braaaains”. Or “yum”. Or “nom”. Just make snarling, moaning noises. Zombies can’t talk, and they’re also not especially interested in the brain, since it’s less accessible than all the tasty meat on the arms and legs.
Our zeds are based on archetypal “Romero ghouls”, as seen in the 1968 movie ‘Night of the Living Dead‘ and its five million sequels. Zombie LARP zombies need to be a bit more responsive than the most gormless Romero specimens type, but if you want to train yourself to be a good deadhead, you could do a lot worse than watching ‘Dawn of the Dead’ or ‘Day of the Dead’.
You don’t need any kind of costume. We love it if you have one, but it’s not necessary. We set up a ‘blood station’ for zombies to apply fake blood to themselves and each other. A smear of fake blood around the mouth is enough to make you into a disturbing sight.
But some players do go further: blood dribbling down the neck and chest; blood on the hands, smeared up to the elbows; gaping throat-cuts; gore streaming freely from eyes filled up with blood, or retinas shrunken in horrid milkiness. We’ve had zombies with arms and legs missing (which takes particular effort), with patches of skin torn away, and with surgical tubing sticking out of bleeding holes in their chests. And we love every one of them.