Last time the set-ups were pretty standard fare. Scenarios you've seen in many zombie movies, games and books. A rag-tag bunch of strangers, thrown together in an every day situation (a crashed bus, locked in a mall, hiding in a cabin in the woods) and they must survive the overwhelming onslaught of the undead. Death is rampant and expected (each player begins with four 0-level characters), and only the best (or more likely luckiest) will survive.
This time a few of the scenarios are quite a bit weirder and may take some more prep work. If you don't want them, don't pick them, or if you roll them randomly, then just roll again. The idea of this is to give you a quick, easy and fun jump start-start into a zombie survival game. If it's not fun, don't do it.
10 More Random Zombie Survival Intro Scenarios
Once again, feel free to steal these for other games/purposes. I probably just stole them from someone else anyway.
11. Comic Con... of Death!
Ever want to shoot Sailor Moon in the face? What happens when you're trapped in a Game of Thrones panel in Hall H when the zompocalypse strikes? This works for any large convention such as San Diego, New York or Wizard World Chicago. This one's not about long term planning but just surviving the immediate danger of getting out of the hotel or convention centre when 100,000+ plus nerds start trying to eat each other's flesh. Also, it provides the added opportunity of fighting all your favourite pop culture characters in the form of zombie cosplayers.
12. Asylum of the Damned
I'm talking a creepy, old-fashioned asylum for the criminally insane like Shutter Island or Arkham. When a supposedly "insane" new patient starts biting and infecting everyone else, the staff flee, leaving the characters (who may be staff, visitors or inmates themselves) to deal with an ever-expanding zombie horde as well as wandering lunatics and pyschopaths. For bonus horror points, set the facility on an island, and the cowardly doctors took the only boat.
For extra fun, set it during the early 80s in Fort Lauderdale before Floria raised the minimum drinking age to 21, when 250,000 to 350,000 thousand kids would descend upon the city each year.
14. Stupid Long Bridge... of Death!
There are some insanely long bridges in the world. In the United States you have stuff like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (24km) in Maryland, the Seven Mile Bridge in Florida or the 38-kilometer long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana. The party starts stuck in the middle of one of these bridges with traffic blocked on all sides. The only way out is to get out of their vehicle(s) and hoof it on foot (or jump in the water and risk swimming miles to land). Supplies would be plentiful if anyone wanted to risk going into zombie-infested cars to get them.
15. You Are the Bad Guys
Contrary to pretty much every other option, in this scenario the players start off well-stocked and equipped. It is several weeks into the outbreak and the players are members of a small community with lots of weapons, food, and a defensible location. They've built fences and barricades around a small collection of houses (and probably a field for growing food) and while zombies are a regular threat, they are usually easy to deal with.
The bigger problem arises when word gets out to other survivors of the players' hideout and suddenly desperate people are pounding on the gates asking for help. At first it's just a few, but the groups get larger until literal busloads start showing up at the door. The players don't have enough food and supplies for everyone, but who do they help and who do they turn away? Not to mention the larger groups will attract more zombies, and the more people involved the more likely something will go wrong (infected gets in the walls, someone leaves a gate open, etc). Do they players try to find a bigger, better location for everyone? Do they pick and choose who to save (and deal with the consequences)? Do they abandon the rest and try to make it on their own?
What if the zombie infection doesn't just affect humans? What if animals can catch it, too? More importantly, what happens when you're trapped in a zoo with zombie lions, tigers and meerkats? Zombie humans are optional, but I would imagine they're around. We're not letting you get out that easy.
17. Das Zombie Boot
During the height of the outbreak, a small number of naval sailors abandon their post and escape to sea on a submarine. They take a number of civilians, perhaps their family, perhaps as hostages, perhaps just random people they tried to help escape. Either way, the players are among the group when it's discovered - too late - that infected individuals are among the survivors. The zombies spread quickly in the enclosed space, and the submarine's pilots are among the first causulaties. Firearms are probably plentiful but incredibly dangerous to use in the enclosed sub. The players must somehow deal with the zombies and figure out how to get back to the surface, where even more danger potentially awaits...
18. Death Mountain
Once a challenging, nearly impossible feat of human endurance, Mount Everest is now summited by hundreds of people a year. Thousands flock to the famous mountain every season both to scale it and to provide support and services for those attempting the climb. Despite being big business, the ascent is still very dangerous... made even more dangerous by a zombie outbreak among the climbers. Perhaps the players are fleeing from the infestation in lower lands, or perhaps the apocalypse starts right on their very slopes - either way, the only thing that matters is surviving one of the most inhospitable environments on earth and getting back down the mountain while simultanously battling the shambling monsters coming up at them.
(Do zombies have the coordination to keep climbing up the mountain? You may have to take some liberties on this one)
|Art by BorjaPindado|
Dresden Germany, February 1945
One of the last major Nazi strongholds is infected with a zombie outbreak. The city is overrun, and though the military presence is strong they don't know how to deal with the crisis and they have no back-up from outside. The players could be civilians, soldiers or Allied spies/POW's (though let's be honest, the true allure of this setup is the opportunity to kill Nazi zombies).
The kicker in this scenario of course, is that one or two days into the outbreak, Britain and the US will launch the most devastating bombing assault in history (outside of the atomic bombs in Japan) on the city. Over a three day period (Feb 13-15) Allied bombers will drop thousands of tons of high-explosives on the city, killing tens of thousands of people. Can the players survive a zombie horde as well as the bombs?
(If you don't like the WWII setting you can use this same scenario in a modern city where the military bombs the place to try and clear out the outbreak, but then you don't get the Nazi zombies.)
20. Castle of the Dead
This one's a bit different, and may not be everyone's cup of tea. But if you REALLY want a random intro scenario, surprise your players by starting them in a medieval European village during the dark ages. Sure, you'll need to tweak the characters a little (but since the rules I use are based on D&D/DCC, it's really not much of a stretch) but it will certainly put the players in a precarious situation.
People in the middle ages are used to plagues, but what happens when those who die start coming back to life? How does anyone survive against the zombie hordes in a world without magic or modern weapons? Surely they will try to flee to the local castle, but inevitably an infected person is going to get in, and now they're trapped INSIDE with the zombies. Either way, it will be a change of pace if you've played a few of the other scenarios on this list.
So whaddya think? Did I miss any big ones? Remember, Scenarios 1-10 are here.
C.D. Gallant-King wrote a book. It doesn't have zombies in it, but it does have flesh-eating Time monsters. It's available now from Amazon.com. You can also catch him on his other blog, Stories I Found in the Closet, on Facebook and on Twitter.