Last November I attended one of the UK’s coolest live action zombie events. Zombie LARP: Nightmare took place at the UEA Norwich and was an epic event jam-packed with zombies, genetically modified mutants, lunatics, rubber fire axes and an armoury of Nerf weaponry to satisfy even the most disturbingly enthusiastic gun-bunny. I was a little late signing up to play but was happy to join the ranks of the perma-zombies and excitedly attended the event, with video camera in hand.
Unfortunately for some the adverse weather meant a few attendees had to cancel and the GMs offered player slots to the perma-zombie crew. Anxiously, but excitedly, I accepted.
I’ve done my share of LARP over the years; even running events myself, but that was then. I hadn’t partaken for some time and, quite frankly, Zombie LARP presents an interesting new take on the LARP formula.
Nerf Maverick: Modded and Painted - Nerf BAP
Gone is the tavern/bar and talks around campfires, the hours of chatting (character development), the epic linear and a boss-battle on a Sunday morning. Zombie LARP starts In Media Res…and there it stays.
A quick in-character briefing, a few moments of foreboding paranoia and then…well…to quote Jeff Goldblum. “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s the running and screaming."
Zombie LARP takes place over the course of one night as a series of ‘runs’, each ‘run’ is approximately 15 minutes long with a half-dozen or so players taking part. The layout of the site means they can go wherever they want and the games are fast-paced, intense, action driven and combat heavy. The beauty of the formula is, pretty much everyone who attends gets to play during the night and almost everyone not ‘playing’ is either a zombie, special character or GM so, whichever way the party goes, something grizzly and challenging awaits.
Something that sets Zombie LARP apart from traditional LARP is that dying is, refreshingly, an accepted, if not encouraged, part of the event. Survival is cool, but the game is not about winning; it is about being in the midst of a zombie outbreak and we all know that typically involves having your guts shredded or being eaten alive at some point during the proceedings. The survival rate is low and as they put it ‘Your character's death is often your best chance to write yourself into the many legends and myths of Zombie LARP’. They even have a forum thread entitled ‘So, how did you die?’
The events are very atmospheric. Shadowy figures of the recently deceased shamble in the dim half-light. Claustrophobia reigns. The visceral feel of a sidearm in a sweaty palm does little for your confidence as the moans of the undead fill the corridors and the screams of their victims spread panic through the party. It’s a fun-filled night zomb-gasm of a way to spend a night.
Their current site is well suited to the genre, although they are looking for new venues, the rules are simple to learn and ‘add’ without ‘detracting’ and the attendees are all there for one thing – the joy of zombie apocalypse simulation. The GMs do a fantastic job of putting together a great event and make sure everyone is having fun and is well and truly in the spirit of the event. If you get rule 1, you get the vibe.
Check them out. The website it is well presented, superbly written and laced with a wonderful sense of humour. It’s about zombies, about killing zombies, about being eaten by zombies and about having fun with people who are as geek as you about zombies. Did I mention the zombies?