Daily Illuminator

August 1, 2012: A Zombie On Zombies

You might have heard that I'm writing GURPS Zombies. Indeed I am! I've been at it for only a few weeks, and I still have most of the book to go, but between what I've outlined and what I've written, I feel confident enough to share at this stage.

What will the book be about? My aim is a broad subject-matter guide in the tradition of supplements like GURPS Blood Types and GURPS Undead. Much as those books gave you "all vampires, all the time" and "all the world's undead," this one will give you "zombies, zombies, and more zombies."

It'll be a survival-horror supplement, then? Not quite. It will support GURPS Horror to some extent, but it won't take the exclusive stance that zombies are horror, never mind the downright narrow view that zombies only occur in apocalypse-sized lots and will eventually kill most or all of the heroes.

But what else is there? A look at the origin of zombie stories (hint: start at least 3,700 years before George A. Romero was born), why we like zombies, and what roles zombies play in fiction. A typology of zombies: slow and fast; undead, infected, and constructed; accidental, cursed, magical, and natural. Character traits, meta-traits, and templates for all kinds of zombies. Rules for zombie-hunters and zombie-makers. And more.

Ah, so it won't just be about zombies? Sure it will! It just won't take a strict Romero or Brooks view of things. Zombies animated by wizards and evil priests in fantasy games are still zombies, even if they don't come in hordes or "turn" others. So are the infected of Left 4 Dead, who are described as "zombies" despite not being undead. And I dare you to tell Herbert West that his work doesn't count!

And what was that about zombies not always being horror? Let's be honest – the Evil Dead series is too goofy to count as horror, Fido is a kind of family drama, Shaun of the Dead even calls itself a romantic comedy, Dellamorte Dellamore is also a romance of sorts, and while it's probably best that we don't mention more than the title of Zombie Strippers, that tells you all you need to know. Zombies are versatile!

When do we get to see proof? If all goes well, there should be a playtest before winter 2012.

-- Sean Punch

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