The aim of Zombie LARP, always – for both survivors and zombies – is to make good stories happen. It doesn’t matter if you get out alive or die in the first few minutes, as long as you have fun and you get a good yarn out of it.
There are two main formats of event, depending on the number of players available, the length of the event, and the size of the venue. The biggest difference between the two types (‘outbreak system’ and ‘run system’) is the starting ratio of humans to zombies.
The ‘outbreak’ system
This is the system used for larger numbers of players and bigger venues. In each round, a large number of humans are pitched into an area which is contaminated with zombies. The number of zombies is initially small, but the round continues for an hour or more, which is enough time for the ratios to swap around as humans are killed and become zombies. The means of escape is usually simple, but difficult for a single team to accomplish – for example, a number of scattered items need to be recovered before the exit will be open. Sometimes there is more than one way to escape/survive, some of which are incompatible with each other.
Usually it’s possible to fit in about four rounds of this sort of game in a day, so each player gets to start as a zombie for one of those runs and start as a human for the other three. Survival rate for human players, in the outbreak system, has so far been about 5 – 10%, so most players turn into zombies as the outbreak progresses.
The ‘run’ system
This was the original concept for Zombie LARP, back when it was designed for teeny tiny venues in which there wasn’t much room for any of that there freeform non-linear emergent scenarios and whatnot.
At run system events, a few humans form a team and are given a simple objective – go here, fetch this – in order to get out of a building overrun with the living dead. Each run is tailored to the team that’s playing, so we can run a wide variety of different scenarios. On each run, most of the other players present for the event act as zombies. Once the team of survivors are dead – or they manage to get out alive – it’s another team’s turn to try and survive. Runs generally last a very short time – twenty minutes maximum, with a minimum of, um, about twenty seconds – but they feel much longer when you’re running for your life.
The run system scales down very small – our smallest game at Shunt involved three rooms, one staircase, twelve zombies, and teams of just three or four survivors – but our most successful games so far involve teams of six to eight people against about fifty zombies, in a university building.
Occasionally, on a whim, we run NERF wars. Turn up in a park or friendly office building, bring as many NERF weapons as you can carry, and have a good fun afternoon playing traditional team games like Capture the Flag, Battle Royale and massively simplified versions of Zombie LARP. These games are much shorter, much more free-form and much more suitable for folks who don’t really do horror or fake blood.
We can tailor our rules to specific styles, objectives and stories – if you want to hire us to run a PR event, a team-building exercise or a party of some kind, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
If you want to license our rules for a commercial enterprise, please get in touch at the same email address to let us know what you’re thinking of doing, and we’ll discuss things from there.
Using our rules
We don’t mind if you want to use our rules to run your own games. In fact, we like it when people do that! We’re an odd bunch. As of 2012, small Zombie LARP spin-off games have already sprung up in New Zealand, Kansas, Texas, South Africa, and a few places around the UK.
If you’re going to use our rules, or a modification of them, for a game/event of your own, we ask that you do the following:
- Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to know what you’re up to and may be able to help!
- Credit us as your inspiration or source of rules*, and include a link to our site if you post stuff online.
- Only use the rules in a non-commercial (i.e. non-profit) way.
That’s it! We’re always happy to help with suggestions and tips for running the game, and we can even help out with promoting your game on our site and through our social media. And we’d love to see pictures/video of your events.
*If you do decide to use our rules without crediting us, we reserve the right to ridicule you in public for stealing something that’s available for free and passing it off as your own work. Because doing that is stupid. Especially if you ignore our requests for credit. “Zombie LARP of Hunstville Alabama”, we’re looking at YOU here.