A friend and I were talking the other day, and we came across the topic of zombies, and the various types. After some discussion, we decided there were two main types, with a few sub-types: Reanimated Dead (a la necromancy or voodoo) and Mindless Living (a la virus or… well, voodoo). This then lead to the following idea: Why not have a game (whether RPG campaign or video game) whereby you have both types?
The setup would be something like this: An outbreak occurs, causing an zombie plague. This could probably be from natural variation of the flu/rabies (Left 4 Dead) or from scientific meddling (Resident Evil). This plague starts threatening a small town, which happens to house a necromancer. In response to this threat, he brings forth an army of the Undead to try to halt the spread.
Alternatively, it may be a necromancer that is threatening a town and the local protectorate gives a number of the militia a "super serum" that will make them fearless so they can fight off the invaders… but it turns out that the serum has a few side effects.
In either case, the heroes arrive. They will probably start slaughtering the zombies willy-nilly, but they might notice that the zombies appear… different. Some have a shambling walk, stiff limbs, and are decaying, while the others are more agile but don't seem to have as much purpose. If they look into this, they will hear one group's side of the story, and they must decide whether or not to side with one side or the other… or simply kill them all.
A few more thoughts (more pertinent to video-game rendition, but still helpful):
- Virus zombies still need sustinance and will die if they run out of food
- Reanimated zombies can keep going as long as necromancer/artifact animating them survives
- Virus zombies are more agile, but seem listless until they have a goal (i.e., get food)
- Reanimated zombies have very jerky movements due to rigor mortis, but have more purpose due to being controlled by a central mind
- Virus zombies are fairly easy to stop: take out nervous system or let them bleed out, as they are still alive
- Reanimated zombies will keep attacking even if they are decapitated: You must take out all limbs and destroy the parts
- Virus zombieism spreads quickly and simply: A single bite or scratch has a chance of infection and becoming a zombie after a few hours or days. Keep an eye on members that are injured
- Renamated zombieism doesn't spread except by raising more dead: A scratch or bite won't do much except hurt and possibly bleed out/get infected with standard infections. Antibiotics and bandages should keep an injured team mate on his feet
- Virus zombies want to eat your brains
- Reanimated zombies just want to complete the task at hand
Any other thoughts? Any useful tips I missed out on? How would you incorporate this into a campaign? Which side are you rooting for?