Help support TMP

"Are your Zombies medical or magical?" Topic

28 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Zombies Message Board

732 hits since 20 Apr 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

It seems to me Zombies come in two broad flavors: medical and magical. The medical has them animated by a virus, plague or mutation. The magical has them created by magi, Voodoo or rifts in the space time continuum.

I prefer magical zombie as "medical" one have such a short life span.

Of course, the background doesn't *really* matter if you just want to hunt Zeds. But it makes for a limiting boundary on the stories about the hunters….

Which do yuo prefer and why?

rotscheck20 Apr 2017 10:16 a.m. PST

I actually bounce back and forth between them. I have fantasy zombies (swords and clubs) that are raised/created/controlled magically by something or other, and I have modern zombies (modern clothing, ruins of military gear) that are virus-infected.

It would seem easier to do that just because those are the most common themes used but in my opinion medieval characters wouldn't know about infections or viruses necessarily, except as a direct result of getting stung/bitten/exposed. Of course he's diseased, he got bit by that wyvern yesterday. Has nothing to do with the room-temperature goat's cheese and meat strips we've been carrying around the last month or so. Diseases, poisons and injuries aren't treated with antibiotics and splints, they get trotted to the nearest cleric or whoever's carrying the potions. So even if the GM set up the zombie plague as being transmitted by virus or tainted water or whatever, it's pretty good odds the PC party will storm around looking for the guilty necromancer anyway.

Similarly in a modern setting when the players run into corpses getting back on their feet their first thought would be the CDC and not an exorcist, unless the setting specifically includes and accepts magic (Cthulhu, Shadowrun). (Well, the FIRST thought will be 'fire will purge')

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 10:25 a.m. PST

For my Zombie rules I'm going with modern setting but "magical." Fire is good, a shotgun is man's best friend (actually a blunderbuss is even better – just load with any old thing).

But the X allows the Zeds remain stable (no more decomposing) and go dormant when there are no humans around (think Hibernation).

28mm Fanatik20 Apr 2017 11:07 a.m. PST

The "science versus superstition" debate applied to zombies.

I'm always partial toward science myself.

kallman20 Apr 2017 11:43 a.m. PST

As stated it depends on the setting. Fantasy equals raised through necromancy and more or less permenant until destroyed.

Modern equals virus or other scientific means to create/animate the zed.Rot already mentions the hybrid setting of Cthulhu or Nazi Scince merged with Voodo. What is more fun than killing Nazis? Killing Nazi Zombies.

roving bandit20 Apr 2017 12:30 p.m. PST

Most of my games so far that are zombie specific, the cause isn't really a concern anymore. It's all about survival. (Project Z, All Things Zombie, etc)

Most of my games that have zombies included in a larger whole, fantasy, pulp, etc., it is usually some form of magic.

advocate20 Apr 2017 12:37 p.m. PST

Any sufficiently advanced medicine can be considered magic.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 12:53 p.m. PST

My setting is several years past Z appearance. So post-apoc as well. The civilized world has survived in reduced form = basically in walled enclaves where infrastructure could be rebuilt locally.

But meanwhile out in the wastelands, there are humans trying to make thier own way and deal with the Zeds…

So I need a "more or less permanent" Zed, otherwise you just wait it out until decomposition does its thing.

boy wundyr x Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 1:10 p.m. PST

You could argue the virus eventually stops decay, in order to keep its vectors functioning to spread itself to new hosts.

Private Matter20 Apr 2017 1:29 p.m. PST

Mine are always medical as magical is just plain unbelievable. 😉

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 1:51 p.m. PST

They really only make sense in a magical/fantasy setting.

Modern/science/medical zombies have no plausible explanation that bears any kind of scrutiny. I default to the "we don't know how or why" excuse.

John Treadaway20 Apr 2017 2:17 p.m. PST

My zombies are neither: they are non corporeal…

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 2:41 p.m. PST

Depends on the flavor of the month/setting.

Fantasy: Necromancy/Demonic Action
Gothic/Pulp Horror: Eldritch Magic/Voodoo
Modern/Post-Apoc: Biological Agent
Space/Cyber Fiction: Biotechnical Agent (faulty nanites, or cybernetic implant malfunction/hacking)
Real World: Socio-psychological Conditioning (as Haitian Voudoun belief) combined with pharmacological effects (re: The Serpent and the Rainbow.

Of course, the biological agent one that's currently popular falls apart very quickly when you realize that in any human the entire muscular, circulation, respiration and nervous systems must be essentially intact for a proposed "zombie" to move. Rotting tissue ain't gonna cut it, superbug or no superbug.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 3:28 p.m. PST

Lol. Most of the explanation that passes for "medical" is borderline magical.

If you don't have a circulatory system, the tissues will starve of oxygen (fuel) and the lack of constant distribution of fluids will turn muscles as hard and stiff as jerky.


Mick the Metalsmith20 Apr 2017 3:39 p.m. PST

As a native Louisianan, all zombies are the result of magic. That virus its created bymagic from the practitioner you may not know is even there.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 5:26 p.m. PST

I favor the medical angle. And the Z virus doesn't really kill, it simply takes over bodily functions and turns the zed into a mindless machine dedicated to spreading the virus by attacking the living. Like the 28 Days Later movie and the John Ringo Under a Graveyard Sky novels.

Dynaman878920 Apr 2017 5:46 p.m. PST

I put it all under magic. Kinda like Star Trek really being magic with the technobabble being magical incantations.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 5:49 p.m. PST

…or drink orders at Starbucks…..

War Monkey20 Apr 2017 6:16 p.m. PST

Medical, always medical there's always room for a chance for a cure.

Cmde Perry20 Apr 2017 6:21 p.m. PST

From a DM/GM point of view, switching the cause and the setting is amusing.

The horde of undead approaches the party. The cleric handily destroys the skellies, ghouls, and ghasts; and turns the mummies and spectres, but the zeds keep a-coming. "But I'm 15th level! The zombies should have been destroyed!"

The player characters skillfully corral the zeds into a sunken driveway where they can easily dispatch each zed from above with a single well-placed shotgun blast. They congratulate each other and go inside for a bite of lunch, not hearing the rustling of mostly decapitated bodies in motion toward the house.


basileus66 Inactive Member20 Apr 2017 7:46 p.m. PST

I am not too fond of the scientific explanations. Most of them are illogical. Even novels like World War Z, that I enjoyed a lot, have "scientific" explanations that are not that different from magic, actually. Only the game The Last of Us has a marginally more logical explanation to Zombism: by using an actual fungus that hijacks ants brains and made a super-fungi of it. From that point, it deviates a lot but it is the most rational explanation fluff-wise that I have read, bar magic of course!

Whitestreak Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 7:55 p.m. PST

If I'm going to play a Zombie game, I want the Z's to be like Ringo's "Dark Tide Rising" series:

A manufactured virus that basically strips humans to a lower bestial state.

They can be lured into traps by lights and noise, they can be killed like an animal (head shots are not the ONLY way to kill them), they go dormant if needed to survive and they have survival traits – enough explosions and fires will cause most to retreat.

One of the first signs of infection is an act of stripping, in order to "get them off me!" (Imaginary things are crawling on the victims.)

John explained that since zombies seem to have to eat to survive, that meant that their digestive systems operate, which implies necrosis around the anus if fecal matter packs up inside clothing.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 8:30 a.m. PST

@PZVH43: "I favor the medical angle. And the Z virus doesn't really kill, it simply takes over bodily functions and turns the zed into a mindless machine dedicated to spreading the virus by attacking the living. Like the 28 Days Later movie and the John Ringo Under a Graveyard Sky novels."

Exactly. Living beings that just happen to be infected with something that completely takes over their behavior, but they remain alive. Like the crazed people in "28 Days Later" (2002) or "I Am Legend" (2007).

Not the illogical undead half-decomposed corpses that I keep seeing in SF games.

TMP link

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 8:43 a.m. PST

I want to eat my cake and have it too – I want my Zombies decomposing, still alive even if in two parts. Otherwise they're not Zombies to my eye.

And since science can't, or won't, give me proper graveish Zeds, I let magic do the heavy lifting.

mwindsorfw Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 1:12 p.m. PST

I don't care if they are medical or magical as long as they are slow and shambling. The fast zombie thing is all wrong for me.

I tend to favor the medical (plague) idea, EXCEPT… if they are falling apart, couldn't I just hole up for a few months, and let decomposition do the work for me? Why fight them when I can watch (and smell) them decomposing from my window?

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 2:09 p.m. PST

@Extra Crispy: "I want my Zombies decomposing, still alive even if in two parts."

So, if they are decomposing and falling apart then they are dead, right? :)


Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Apr 2017 11:40 a.m. PST

Yeah I should have typed "moving." Zombies are dead reanimated somehow.

The medical version to me is just "sick people."

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.