GRANT has been part of the ref crew since the Founding. He is the closest thing the ref crew have to a Human Resources officer, doing his best to get people into the correct places at the correct times and making sure that they have fun when they get there. His other main role is Shouter. If you are in doubt as to which one Grant is, he is the one Shouting. Grant is the tall side of six feet tall, has bright red hair, and sometimes wears a waistcoat because it makes people believe his lies. His turn-ons include rules systems, kebabs and idleness.
MARY is the shortest of the ref crew. She is, however, loud and purposeful. Her main role is to work out how many undead need to be placed in each corridor to ensure that the players almost get out alive, and what rules they need to follow to make the level design work. If we had to put Mary’s title on a business card, it would be undead strategist, zombie hustler, or just Hive Queen of Hungry Undead. Turn-ons include efficiency, caffeine and smelling of gingerbread.
TODD was involved in the first playtests of the Zombie rules, and fell into reffing from there. He mostly does what the other refs tell him to do – be it quickly rustling up a small herd of zombies, or standing completely still and getting shot. During the pre-game briefings, Todd tends to be the “example zombie”. He will also answer to the name John; some have speculated that it’s even his real name. His hair is dark-brown or black, depending on the light and the amount of dye. He is the tallest man in the world under six feet. His turn-ons include Cillian Murphy/Ryan Reynolds slashfic and girls who quote ‘Jimmy Eat World’ lyrics.
BEN became a member of the ref team during or perhaps after the Second Incident. He helps with ideas, set-up and zombie-wrangling. Ben is fairly tall, but then so are about half the members of the ref team. Ben’s hair is in various states of bleach. If in doubt, Ben is the one who looks like Jesus. Turn-ons include frantic deaths and nerdgasms.
TIM is our artistic director, which means he makes the artwork, the posters, and the props and set dressing that you’ll see if you turn up for one of our games. His turn-ons include lists of people’s turn-ons, wolves, and lists of three things where the second thing is ‘wolves’ and the third thing just refers back to it.
KEEPER, aka Andrew, is technically not a ref but since he keeps turning up at games and being terribly helpful we reckon he deserves an honorary mention here. Plus he was very good at tactics when he was a player – so good, in fact, that we’d rather have him on our side than yours. He is not particularly tall, but he is one of pointiest men in existence. He tends to be accompanied by a tiny, quivering dog, known by the rest of the ref team as Moondog.
GEORGE, who has run may errands, and done much stalwart Nightmaring and Leeching.
TARNIA, who has zombied, Nightmared, and been gruesomely Baxterized in the name of SCIENCE!
CHRIS was the other Founding Father of Zombie LARP, but has since he moved away and has been less involved with the game. You can see how incredibly tall he is on several of our oldest videos. He is about as tall as a stack of velociraptors, though not as fast as the individual velociraptors would be if the stack were disassembled.
How it all started
When we started Zombie LARP, we had a total of two hours’ experience of the traditional forms of live-action role playing. (If you must know: the experience consisted of half a morning running around in damp chainmail, and one evening sat in a plastic chair pretending to be a Death Mage.)
That tiny amount of experience inspired us to make a live-action game with the highest possible ratio of fun to effort – a game that doesn’t require “getting into character”, and involves few sitting-around-talking bits, no slow rules-based combat, and absolutely no stick-on pointy ears. All we ever wanted was an excuse to run screaming through the darkness, firing NERF guns at people. Or rather: we wanted a new excuse, because our old excuses were wearing a bit thin.
Zombie LARP is the result of these childlike desires. What started as a game played after too many drinks, running in and out of Halls of Residence kitchens, has evolved into a much bigger animal with more legs. We have increased our arsenal of NERF guns from four to more than fifty, including shotguns, rifles, submachineguns, and heavy support weapons, and the typical number of players has risen to more than a hundred, from, um, about three.
And the wonderful thing about Zombie LARP is that it’s actually quite hard to get wrong. We’ve gotten a lot better since the start, but the fact remains that running around a big building with a load of foam-firing guns and shooting at people is a very good laugh regardless. The most important bit is making sure everyone gets a good story – and once you establish that as your base idea, there’s only so much you can do to mess it up.