So, as long time followers may know, I’m a nerd and proud. Besides loving horror movies, I play a lot of roleplaying games. (I even worked on a new edition of Mind’s Eye Theatre: Vampire The Masquerade that you should check out.) This weekend, I gave the zombie LARP Dystopia Rising a try. For those of you looking for something more intense than horror movies, you might really like it.
The concept is that it is 4 generations after the zombies rose and mostly wiped out mankind. Between nuclear radiation and the infection of the zombies themselves, the few people that survived the apocalypse have…. evolved. Instead of playing elves or dwarves like fantasy LARPs, you play Strains. These are different types of humanity based roughly on where they were in the world when humanity fell. There is everything from Lascarian tunnel dwellers to Merican badasses to Yorker gangs to the Semper Mort pseudo-vampires. These various survivors are trying to eke out an existence in a world overrun by zombies, raiders, and other associated assholes.
The above photo is me as my Baywalker, Six Arlington. This was somewhere between holding the tavern as it was assaulted by wave after wave of zombies and running down a river from a group of raiders while only wearing my bra and panties. Oh and my sword. Yes, seriously.
I wasn’t prepared for the physicality of the event. I knew it was a full-contact LARP, which meant we were really swinging swords (made of foam) into each other. But I didn’t realize that it meant 3 full days of not sleeping, of running for miles, of literally having to fight through a horde of zombies just to go to the bathroom. (Ever tried to swing a sword when you really have to piss? It’s difficult.)
The game was really intense because it never stopped. We played in an unused RenFaire surrounded by miles of scrubland and desert. On the second night, the NPCs that controlled the town pulled out their guards just as the sun went down. We knew that if we stayed in the town, we were going to be overrun by the undead. The area with the tents was already crawling with zombies. We had no way to go back for our stuff - no way to get food or water or jackets or sleeping bags or anything. We had to run with just what we had on us. For me, that was what you see in this picture… which is not exactly warm when the sun sets.
We ended up fleeing through the town, expecting to be attacked at any moment. The RenFaire created lots of little allies and corners where the zombies could hide. Whenever we slowed to a walk, it seemed like there was a zombie just waiting to grab us. So we ran. And ran. AND RAN.
There was an abandoned ampitheater about a mile and a half from the camp where we decided to hole up for the night. It had two entrances and was easily defensible. When we got there, we found about 40 other players down there. Instead of working together, we fell to arguing immediately. When the first few zombies attacked, many of the players fled into the trees. With only about 20 of us left, we had to figure out a new plan. Stay or go back to the town? After two hours of brutal arguments, we finally organized enough to go back to the town.
That was when the zombies found us. They surrounded us once we were just far enough from the ampitheater that we could not go back but still too far from the town to reach safety. We were slaughtered, forced to scatter into the darkness. I was put into bleed out, where you basically have to lay on your back and scream for help until someone rescues you. The fight raged all around me and, at first, no one could get close enough to save me. Finally, one of my fellow players jolted me back to health and told me to flee. I spent the next hour hiding up a tree, listening to my friends screaming and dying but unable to help, not even able to tell which of the figures in the dark were friend or foe.
It was terrifying.
Half of my group never made it back. Many of those who never regained the safety of the town had to sleep on ledges, up trees, or out in the fields in the hopes that the zombies wouldn’t find them. It was crazy intense. I managed to make it back to the town but, because I lost my group of allies, I was forced to stay in the tavern with other players I didn’t know while we regrouped. It meant I had others around to use as meat shields but none of them would go out of their way to save me (nor I them). And the tavern, with so many people making noise inside it, attracted wave after wave of zombies. I was up until almost 4am, battling zombies, until I managed to find some shelter to sleep until dawn. Then I got up and did it again.
I definitely encourage any of you out there who are interested to give it a try. Let me know if you do!
It’s kinda hard to see but I have matte black nails with glossy tips.
I love my nails right now