Realistic Zombie apoclypse

Hey Veeky Forums I'm working on creating a setting where a realistic 'zombie' apocalypse has occurred. I'm trying to keep the science as hard as possible while still creating a doomsday scenario. I would love to get some input and criticism. (What I've got so far to follow)

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The pathogen is fungal in nature with single and multicellular stages.
It was initially spread by a large well organised doomsday cult (Think Aum Shinrikyo) who simultaneously released it in international airports and major transport hubs around the world by having members either working as or disguised as janitorial staff place automatic air fresheners with the pathogen in them in public restrooms.
There is no known cure but around 20% of the population is immune with about half of the immune actually being carriers.

Stages (Hours given are approximates due to high degree of variation in individual cases):
> Infection (Hour 0): Direct fluid transfer (e.g. bite) requires only a very small amount of infectious particles for infection to occur but infection can also occur from moderate amounts of infectious material in the mucous membranes or eyes, or even large amounts of infectious material on exposed skin.

>The pathogen is fungal in nature with single and multicellular stages.

So like Last of Us?

> Initial proliferation (Hours 0 – 12): The pathogen in its single cellular phase reproduces in the hosts tissues and blood, hosts are typically asymptomatic or have mild cold like symptoms. At this stage pathogen is difficult to detect and then only via specific blood test.
> Initial infectious stage (Hours 10 – 72): The pathogen having reached sufficient concentration in the host, some begin to enter the multicellular phase growing more complex structures centred on the host’s spine and central nervous system. The pathogen also begins to alter the host’s brain chemistry and hormones. During this stage all the host’s bodily fluids become highly infectious and behavioural changes occur. The host’s energy, appetite, libido, and desire for social contact all steadily increase during this stage, hosts in this stage also experience mild euphoria and difficulty feeling any stress or anxiety. Aside from the behavioural changes hosts are typically largely asymptomatic with the exception of an unproductive cough which facilitates droplet infection. Pathogen is easily detectable via testing of any of the hosts bodily fluids and appropriately trained sniffer dogs.

> Late infectious stage (Hours 48 – variable): The host has become completely saturated with the pathogen with multicellular structures dominating the host’s nervous system and with fruiting bodies emerging from the skin. To the naked eye these fruiting bodies appear to be a dark greyish green ‘fur’ surrounded by psoriasis. Closer examination reveals ‘spore launchers’ similar to those possessed by Ascomycota and Zygomycota which in addition to releasing a steady stream of infectious material will begin to actively fire when the host enters heightened states of activity. Hosts also begin to emit pheromones that will cause other hosts to avoid attacking them. In this stage the growing mania of the previous stage becomes more and more pronounced coupled with a rapid loss of higher brain functions the host becomes violent, frantically seeking out uninfected humans and attacking them. Attacks are viscous and brutal usually utilising teeth and fists. However the highly distractible nature of the hosts in this stage mean they are often non-fatal as the host will often become distracted before they can inflict truly serious injuries allowing the victim an opportunity to escape. It is important to note that from this stage onwards while hosts are still killable in most of the same ways as an uninfected human they lose all sense of self-preservation, become entirely incapable of feeling pain or going into shock, and the high concentration of pathogen in their blood dramatically increases the rate at which their blood clots reducing their chance of bleeding out. Hosts also will continue to eat and drink and will continuously wander heading towards any sign of life.

> Terminal stage (Variable): Typically triggered by either serious but not immediately fatal wounds or starvation, hosts that begin to die will experience a final burst of activity in which all the body’s reserves including non-vital organs will be metabolized as they will seek out the nearest uninfected human, high point (typically a tree or rooftop), or body of fresh water at which point they will enter the final stage.
> Consumption (Variable): During this stage the pathogen begins to consume the host’s body entirely converting all available material into its infectious single cell stage and launching them into the wind and or water. Once launched these cells typically remain viable for about 2-3 hours in the air or ground (double to triple that if not exposed to sunlight/UV) and for about 12 hours in freshwater.

Right so that's most of what I've got so far I was trying to make something that could theoretically actually exist and a scenario; giant outbreaks EVERYWHERE at once and a decent infectious stage where they aren't obviously zombies and can still think, that would explain why it wasn't just quarantined and stopped.

In so much that it's fungal.

It works pretty well. Twenty percent of the population being immune is pretty big though, even with carriers included.

I know this might be kind of a touchy idea, but have you considered associating immunity with some other genetic trait or even ethnicity? It seems weird that something like that would be completely random.

>The host’s energy, appetite, libido, and desire for social contact all steadily increase during this stage

20% seems like a lot until you start realizing that there's going to be a lot of people dying from things other than zombies. The main idea was to create a big enough number for there realistically still be some (semi)functional groups forming.

As for your second point I'm I agree that it's a little weird but I couldn't really think of anything that would obviously make sense so I went with just random mutation/luck of the draw.

The pathogen is already doing everything it can to get spread and sexual transmission works just fine. Plus it fits with the whole 'desire to seek out other people' aspect.

You mention sniffer dogs. Does the fungus affect any other animal besides humans?

Also, not a negative comment, but I feel like this would be a very short apocalypse. I doubt there would be any infected left even a decade after the initial global outbreaks. The population would rapidedly bottleneck into only people who are immune and the fungus doesn't have a very long life span in the wild.

>wife real horny all the sudden
>mfw she was just infected

Short is fine I'm planning on setting any games during the initial chaos/early rebuild period. The idea was to have a scenario where things go to absolute shit VERY quickly.

I figure that actual 'zombie' period won't last longer than about 20 years in total.

Oh and as for other animals this things pretty host specific I think at most the other great apes would also be at risk. Sniffer dogs were just mentioned because I figured with all the metabolic/pheromone changes anything with a sensitive enough nose would be able to pick up that something was going on.

So what do you imagine the breakdown of society would look like? Because your initial descriptions of the pathogen look fine.

So you made rape zombies? Rapies?

Well there's where I've hit a bit of a problem. While I know enough biology/health science to have a pretty good idea of how the pathogen should work and enough epidemiology to propose a nightmare scenario I don't really know enough about what a massive global collapse would actually look like to be confident in how it would play out, any suggestions?

I should have known that would be the aspect that people would latch on too. Yes libido is up and some rape is probably going to happen but if you look at the description by the time they start getting violent they're also losing their higher reasoning and becoming easily distracted attackers. Chances are they're only going to rape if they were already rapists.

Just take a few ideas out of nature, they liked to get up high so they can spread spores more effectively.

Yeah those were an inspiration for this thing read the terminal stage section.

I'd suggest avoiding the conventional 'everyone goes crazy and starts raping/murdering/pillaging' until after the start of play, keep some expectation of normal life at first and then show it being lost, or even give them some influence over how the inevitable descent plays out.

Confusion is a good cover for a lack of detail in society breaking down- if the initial discovery is politicized or made by fringe scientists, there might be large communities of people who don't believe there even IS a fungus until they see it firsthand. A media blackout is almost impossible in the modern era- too many different pieces of information, without clear conclusions is a better smokescreen.

But definitely the following- food stops being delivered regularly. Even if there isn't panic buying, the store shelves are empty real quick, trucks of supplies might get diverted by the government/military/bandits. Some gas stations run out, finding which stations still have gas is an activity people have to start doing. Electricity might be intermittent depending on it's source. Things become difficult and annoying, but they don't just *stop* and suddenly medieval era. There's a lot of ruin in a country, even when zombies are involved.

Of course, none of that applies if you start the game at ground zero with the zombies actively rampaging around the players. That's a fairly different game style to be honest, less tension and prep than full on combat. It's hard to imagine the players surviving all that long in most cases- spare set of character sheets made in advance, maybe?

>spare set of character sheets made in advance, maybe?
Hmm I like that, I was thinking of making 'forming a group' a big part of the game and letting players be influential people within their survivor groups recruit npcs and able to transfer to any of their npc group members in the event of their main dying.

Also I figured one of the biggest sources of confusion that would occur with this thing is the fact that given the way the infection works and was initially released you're going to have tonnes of late stage zombies cropping up at the same time plus the early stages are hard to detect so it's probably going to take a while before people even realize what the early infectees are like or even that you can have infected without any kind of bitemark on em.

Mutant bacteria found in beef. Spreads throughout the world before undergoing a sudden mutation.

>It was initially spread by a large well organised doomsday cult (Think Aum Shinrikyo) who simultaneously released it in international airports and major transport hubs around the world by having members either working as or disguised as janitorial staff place automatic air fresheners with the pathogen in them in public restrooms.
Is this fucking 'Эпoхa Mepтвых', comrade?

>Эпoхa Mepтвых
I have no idea what this even says. I just went with what seemed a plausible way for someone to release a bio weapon without being noticed.

That's really not how mutation works user.

It was basically the plot of that zombie apocalypse series.

Just remember that if a human is reduced to their basest instincts, that includes a sense of danger. Shooting a zombie will scare them off.

>realistic 'zombie' apocalypse
>A handful of chucklefucks get infected
>They don't make any headway and are taken out fairly quickly, because zombies are the least threatening enemy ever.

how about some enzyme in the appendix? had a dm run a zombie game and say that since appendixes aren't needed for survival, and are slowly becoming less effective, theres an enzyme in the appendix that prevents the infection. if someone has their appendix removed, or has an evolved appendix thats too far gone, boom. infection

>they lose all sense of self-preservation

Did you read any of the description? That's specifically the scenario I was trying to avoid.

Yeah but the majority of people still have their appendix plus I'm going on the assumption that this is a new engineered disease.

thats where the evolved appendix comes in, so that its still a "luck of genetics" but it has more reason behind it

I heard that the appendix was useful for producing acids for our stomachs to eat grass

As humans ate less and less grass, till becoming more dependent on meat grains and more palatable vegetables, the appendix became less and less useful.

So maybe in our world, like in the last of us, the Zombie 'virus' is grass based.

If you get infected, your ass is grass

The "zombies" aren't actually dead; they still have a pulse and metabolize, but their mind is scrambled by an extreme, rabies-like disease that gives them animal behavior and a hunger for flesh. Also it might cause degeneration of the skin or tissues close to the body's surface for that decayed, zombie look.

Do you know what the issue is with that is? Or really zombie apocalypses in which the zombies are still alive. Chemical weapons. I mean it. The simpler ones are not that hard to make and the hosts would likely be less able to stay function in the face of them then a normal person. Most live threatening inflections suppress immune systems and most 'living zombies' also kick the metabolism in overdrive. Taking together doses that would hurt a normal human would likely kill the host outright.

No, most of the world does not stock chemical weapons. Nor do they have production plants ready to go online per sa. However things like Phosgene can be made at ornery civilian chemical factories with production only taking days to get started.

Why point this out? One the protective gear needed to try to fight against something that has a airborne pathogen is the same needed to fight in a area that chemical weapons are used. Two homeland security toyed with the idea.

>It was initially spread by a large well organised doomsday cult (Think Aum Shinrikyo) who simultaneously released it in international airports and major transport hubs around the world by having members either working as or disguised as janitorial staff place automatic air fresheners with the pathogen in them in public restrooms.

Only issue that is it is very common for those places to have hepa air purifiers in their vents. Mostly to cut cases of employs getting sick. It would work inside the room were they put but most likely not go very far past it. Its also the case that those places have security that is among other things aimed at stopping people from trying to past themselves off as airport staff. For reasons of both terrorism and drug tracking. Not saying that at a given spot they will be found but doing it world wide greatly increases the odds of some of them being found at some of those sites.

grass? i always heard it was for raw meat

either way, 10/10 pun

Honestly I was thinking if I'm just going luck of the draw genetics it will have somehting to do with the blood chemistry and or CNS.

Also going AFK for a while pleas keep discussing and suggesting.


The thing is that inside hours of there being identified cases in different countries all air travel will stop will other types stopping short after that. If at one of the places they found the cultist they got them to talk travel would stop earlier. Basically the spread has a window to act in. If has gotten to critical mass (i.e the government can not stop it) inside that window then a lot more people will die them just from the fungus. Why? No time or ability to do a soft landing of the supplies chains ending.

If it did not reach critical mass in that window there is a good chance that it will be stopped. Because the government IRL is willing to go much further then it was in "The Last of Us".

idea: only people with o negative blood live

the virus feeds off of the other kinds of blood, cause proteins or some sciency shit

7 percent of the world has o negative, so thats still plenty to say that factions form, but low enough so that everything collapses

Raw meat? Someone forgot to tell these lovely people.

>If you get infected, your ass is grass
I laughed

Are you John Ringo?

You could have it simply that you have a 20% chance of survival with few symptoms and then you have natural immunity. Many viruses such as Herpes Zoster lurk deactivated in your nervous system for years, later it can reactivate and cause shingles.

Realistic zombie apocalypse is shit because the zombies are still operating human bodies and need food and water like a human. They are vulnerable to heat and cold like people too so even without doing anything the zombies would collapse on their own logistical idiocy.

Personally I always figured the major population centers would just get fucked, and then all the zombies would die or rot away while isolated rural communities were pretty much fine.

If you'd read the thread, you'd realize the zombies aren't the actual problem. They're just a way to make the fungal pandemic more hectic.

Wouldn't it be better to have some kind of virus that is highly contagious but with a very long long and completely harmless incubation phase? People maybe would get a fever and some minor rashes for a couple of days after initial infection and then symptoms would disappear. It's only tow or three years later that the virus would start to take effect, again progressvely.

For propagation, I assume that a blood and body fluids transmission would be optimal. Insects, like mosquitos, fleas and ticks could spread the infection. Body fluids is also pretty good for transmitting an infection through coughing, kissing and intercourse.

The virus could work in three stages. First stage is the long incubation phase where most of the virus is spread. Second stage is the virus slowly changing the carrier's hormonal balance, making hin more aggressive and increasing sex drive (the virus gets even more spread, criminality starts to soar). Third stage would then be the zombification. The carrier turns into a zombie. His blood is full of virus.

In the actual political context, we could say that North Korea creates this virus as some kind of doomsday device. Or if we want to go the /pol/-route, we could say that it's the Muslims.

Mostly actually realistic;

A form of highly virulent retrovirus somehow mutates to cause bleeding in the brain.
Probably large patches of micro-bleeding.
While it will obviously vary from person to person how much you show symptoms, sufferers get poor movement coordination, impulse control, and often become functionally retarded. A few even die.
Like HIV, once you have it, you carry it and spread it. It spreads through saliva and phlegm, like a flu.
There is no cure, and it is highly virulent.
To begin with, a large push is made to care for the sufferers, or treat symptoms, but as infection continues, society becomes segregated.
Walled communities become the norm, as in plague-times, because no one wants to risk their children or loved ones catching it.

Blood-tests become a norm for job-testing, and renting / buying homes.

Large communities of sufferers live in camps or run-down detroit-style shitholes, a parallel society with rampant violence and terrible living conditions.
Functionally, what if being a shit-tier-socioeconomic black person from the ghetto was infectous?

There is no right or wrong answers, or morally saved approach. The sufferers are still people, and not undead, just incredible prone to group-madness and violence, as a group.
All the while, many of them a peaceful, and not even exhibiting symptoms, but they might give you the virus, still.
And instead of 13% of the population, it is 80%.

'Realistic' zombie apocalypses usually still aren't very realistic.

It's possible to think that a disease or drug could make someone rabid and ignore pain. Going much beyond that is very unlikely. Zombies would still require food, water and air to survive, and would become weak or die rapidly without them. Just being outside in a lot of weather for an extended time would kill them. Injuries that damage critical organs such as the heart or lungs would kill them quickly, as would anything causing serious blood loss. If zombies aren't especially smart, this makes them easy to contain and highly vulnerable to modern weaponry, or indeed just to injuring and killing themselves by doing dumb shit. Zombies don't do much to maintain their own health, so the apocalypse will be over in any particular place within days, and globally probably within months.

Even if a disease is transmitted easily through blood or other bodily fluids and rapidly changes the host, it would be extremely easy to contain. Just stop people getting bitten, and quarantine those that have been or show signs of infection. Fungal diseases are a fun idea due to Cordyceps, but would struggle even more due to the inherently massively slower replication of fungi. This both makes it easy to catch cases before they become a problem, and makes it harder for the disease to rapidly adapt to develop resistance to treatments or otherwise avoid strategies to control it.

You can get around some of these issues, although how much you can change before they aren't zombies anymore I'm not sure. You could make it an intensely developed bioweapon to at least explain its potency and outbreaks across a large extent of the globe. It likely needs to be viral or bacterial, and preferably airborne, to explain its rapid spread and defeat of modern quarantine protocols and medicine. Zombies likely also need to be brighter than usual to survive for long, and immune to pain rather than injury.

You can't have dead zombies and realism, cadavers are ridiculously frail even when overtaken by parasites.
You either play with rabies, or with voodoo.
Rabies doesn't give you a perpetual threat, because suffering an illness that overcomes the human animal's survival instinct and drives it to relentless violence, the patient won't last long as they forget to eat, sleep and protect themselves from harm.
Narcotic mind control requires massive organizational efforts, more of a Blade Runner than a Mad Max.

Did any of you bother to read OP's scenario?

Yup. An infection that is serious and takes only a few days to reach terminal phase would quickly land on a watchlist and then very quickly become high-priority for treatment. Direct fluid transfer is also a pretty ineffective infection vector.

Yeah but unlike most outbreaks this shit is breaking out everywhere at once and direct fluid isn't the only vector.

This guy gets it.

>realistic zombie apoc
>6 month in and every zombie is dead of dehydrataion and/or lack of food.

They might no longer be very smart but they're still eating and drinking anything they find. Also any that start starving too much turn into clouds of infectious particles.

Op, why fungal? You could easily make a CRISPR carrier viral bioweapon that spreads through air. With CRISPR you can edit genome however you want. For example you could switch cells into adrenaline and norepinephrine factories. You could change cell biology to store large amounts of ATP for later use. This is an easy way to explain rage "zombies" that are usually comatose, but when they hear prey, they're able to run 20 km/h, lift cars and break through walls with their bare hands.
CRISPR is really the "it's magic, I don't need to explain shit" enabler of hard sci-fi.

OP's is fairly decent, although some good points have been raised that it's in an awkward middle zone: It probably isn't devastating enough to entirely collapse society, just seriously fuck it up the ass, but it's bad enough that regular joes such as the PCs have pretty much no hope of surviving any sort of direct confrontation with the infected without being infected.

IMO the point where society would really collapse is if you have something like the contagion from Stand Still Stay Silent, where the latency period is fucking HUGE, and the disease can spread to most mammals. But of course, then the apocalypse isn't so much the presence of zombies wrecking everything as it is the sheer number of people who are now doomed to be time-bombs.

Like, even in the modern day where we like to think we've largely excluded vermin from our way of life, zombie rats that give you zombie-itus would fucking end humanity. Rats get everywhere, and we still aren't very good at dealing with them. In fact, zombie rats and mice might not even be vulnerable to traps, which would make getting rid of them beyond fucking wild.

And then you have the whole WWOOOOO RABIES bullshit from which obviously creates a better gameplay scenario but would be contained super-quickly.

This is actually the route that the zombie containment efforts in "Instruction for a..." went down. Unfortunately for humanity, the zombies in that one were complete bullshit, pretty much 28 days later zombies that could also infect *any* lifeform with neurons, so blanketing the earth in white phosphorus and nukes rapidly became necessary just to get the infected clear of whatever shelters they could put together.

I ran a game like this once. It ended up as Resident Evil: Retarded edition.


Pretty much this The problem with a "realistic" zombie apocalypse is that if you make the zombies literally undead you've thrown realism out the window, but if you don't (e.g. "the zombies just have rabies") it's extremely hard to justify the world's militaries (or even police forces, for that matter) not being able to easily take them out, since humans are ultimately pretty fragile. World War Z goes into into detail about how unprepared modern militaries would be to fight zombies or how unsuitable modern weapons are but all of this depends on the zombies being undead (e.g. "Many soldiers would be lost because soldiers are trained to shoot at the center of mass and zombies must be shot at the head. Artillery would be useless because zombies don't have biological systems to shock and shrapnel that doesn't destroy the head is useless, etc.).

This doesn't even start to touch on the logistics of the zombie apocalypse. Again, if they're undead, it's not an issue but neither can you start calling them realistic. If not, they'll die out in a couple weeks from some combination of starvation and exposure.


Remember the otherwise horribly bad "28 weeks later"? When the situation goes out of control and the HQ decides to just gas the area and contain everything.
Situation under control within 10 minutes

Last of us thread?

>Wouldn't it be better to have some kind of virus that is highly contagious but with a very long long and completely harmless incubation phase?
This user's got it.

A long incubation period is absolutely the only way something like this would get off the ground in a realistic way. If people are turning left and right the CDC, Military and Martial Law would stop the spread dead in its tracks in any first world country.

It's also highly realistic for a virus to incubate for extended amounts of time. For instance, Rabies has been known to incubate for upwards of eight months to a year.

You can also forget about the "spreading by bite" thing. It's just too conspicuous. Even if you assume this takes place in a setting where people haven't been bombarded with zombie fiction left and right, any event in which people start randomly biting each other is going to draw a lot of attention and contained as soon as it's clear shit's gone bad.

An airborne pathogen would be far more realistic. Something like Ebola, but far more contagious and with a far longer incubation period.

Yes. What I wrote included multiple reasons why OP's scenario wouldn't really work, as well as including more general commentary on why zombies are generally unrealistic.

Have you ever seen a major fungal outbreak? There has never been a single recorded fungal pandemic in human history. Fungi have complex life cycles, and generally display high host specificity. They grow and adapt very slowly, making them easy for the immune system, and now modern medicine, to beat. Millions die from fungal infections each year, but fungal infections are generally a disease of the diseased, killing people whose immune systems are already crippled.

Apparently OP's magical fungus can infect people with a small amount of material through multiple infection routes and then rapidly proliferate and take over the body in mere days, something pretty much unthinkable for a fungus even without a functioning immune system reacting to it. It possesses a complex life cycle that seems specifically adapted to infection of humans, yet has never been seen in human history. This implies it is perhaps a new weapon or similar, yet it is specific and complex enough that you could spend countless millions and decades trying to get a research team to develop such a thing and still fail, all whilst having to listen to them telling you how impractical and pointless it is to do so. Lets assume for now that the doomsday cult somehow pulled off this absolute miracle however, and that fungi actually grow and proliferate at an impossible speed.

Fungal spores are big, making them relatively easy to filter from the air. A lot may be filtered out accidentally before infecting anyone, and once health agencies know the pathogen is fungal they’ll have a relatively easy time containing it. Simply get some people in decent personal protective equipment and cleaning it properly after venturing outside and they’ll be immune. Blood tests and scans to check for ‘complex structures’ will likely allow you to differentiate infected people quickly and deal with them appropriately. 20% of people being immune is substantial, and will really help to prevent an apocalypse occurring and make repopulation easy after assuming this trait is heritable OP’s spores don’t remain viable for long for fungal spores so that could be increased however, making long term contamination of areas a scary proposition for those that aren’t immune.

The zombies themselves develop behavioural changes before or as they become infectious, making them easier to notice. In the late infectious stages they can apparently seek out water and food and approach the living. Good luck doing that effectively when they’re dumb as rocks. OP sensibly made them ignore pain and be resistant to bleeding but that’s not sufficient. The zombies will die within days, even without violent intervention. In fact, the extent of the physical changes described would kill them far more quickly than that due to the amount of energy and disruption to human physiology that they’d require.

I think these issues makes it tough for a full apocalypse to occur from this pathogen, even if it could exist. I don’t think it’s reasonable to claim the scenario is particularly realistic or close to ‘hard science’. I do think OP has put some solid thought into this however and dealt with some of the common criticisms of zombie scenarios. I’m also always up for rule of cool trumping realism to create a cool setting too. There’s also grounds for interesting discussions about morality in the post-disaster world. How will the carriers be treated in the world afterwards? They could be a vast number of individuals, yet could further infect other people and possibly their own offspring assuming resistance is heritable. The popularity of the Cordyceps-style zombies in the media recently (The Last of Us, The Girl with all the Gifts, probably others) regrettably kills a bit of originality here too, but fungal zombies are still great and the weird nature of their life cycles means there’s always new ground to explore. In this case I agree with a lot of the other posters that the spores are a far more serious threat than the zombies themselves, and likely to kill the PCs unless they happen to be immune themselves.

It's fungal because it needs to be able to have complex interactions with the CNS and there are precedents in nature. The alternative was a parasite but they tend to be less infectious.

But rabies works too and it's a virus. With a designer virus able to target single cells and modify them, you can have complete control over all hormones, etc. IMHO it gives you as much control over brain as this fungus.

Parasites are less infectious as you say. Some such as Trypanosomes have really cool ways to evade the hosts immune system and make drug treatments ineffective, but they'd certainly be easier to contain. Engineering one would be even tougher than for a fungus.

An engineered virus would be the most likely scenario with our current Biotechnology proficiency. You might be able to produce a highly infectious airborne viral agent that is ultimately fatal, but that also makes infectious individuals more gregarious.

You'd miss out on the cool body horror elements of Cordyceps, and imagery of terrifying drifting spores in the air however. There'd still be plenty of scope to work through the moral dilemmas and questions about society that zombies are usually used to discuss I guess. In spite of concerns about realism, I'd be tempted to go with fungal zombies if I was building an entire setting.

Whatever the agent, one key feature of zombies is that they are generally pretty stupid. An angle I haven't seen 'zombie' scenarios take (although perhaps there are some out there) is perhaps for the infected to retain a greater degree of their intelligence, but for it to make them euphoric to the extent that they want to spread it to others to gift them that experience, even though they know they will die. The mental effects could vary, with some directly and almost rabidly trying to infect others, and some working more subtly to ensure its spread. This would also fit in quite well with a doomsday cult, although the infected probably wouldn't really be zombies at this point. There's probably better things along this line that someone could come up with.

Right looking at what people are saying it looks like despite the whole 'zombies just make the fungal pandemic worse' angle I was aiming for there's still too much opportunity for an organized response stopping this thing early.

To that end I propose two modifications to the original scenario:
> The initial infectious stage lasts much longer (say a week or two) giving a much longer period in which no one is likely to notice anything is wrong as more and more people just sort of get a bit more friendly. However a quorum sensing type effect occurs if hosts in this stage are exposed to enough people in the late infectious stage resulting in them entering the late stage faster.
> The doomsday cult that originally released the pathogen conduct a bunch of conventional terrorist activities around the world in order to jump start some of the chaos are provided a big distraction.

Here's the pro tip for a zombie apocalypse that doesn't feel run of the mill.

The whole world hasn't gone to shit, only pockets of infection exist across a single country.

The problem is that zombies are the fucking worst way to spread a disease. The only way zombies make sense is when you have some WW3 scenario.

Faction A and Faction B nuke each other. They've now run out of nukes. But Faction A and Faction B are still active. Both countries have lost millions of people, and their infrastructure is wrecked, but there are still soldiers alive with intact command structures and some material left. Faction A knows that an invasion of Faction B is possible, so Faction A deploys a zombie virus to ensure that Faction B remains focused on itself, while Faction A begins building up it's armies and infrastructure again.

drop the fungus, go full EBOLA IN TOWN
the infected are desperate because they know they'll inevitably liquify so some of them have gone into riot mode. It's crazy contagious so everyone's locked themselves inside. Some people are surviving but they're still infectious and also now completely fucking nuts. And to go with , set it in some large city in some third world shithole, but with international interests and NGO's.
There are lots of strains of filoviruses so you can play around with the symptoms a little bit. Localize the infection so they aren't totally bedridden, make it airborne (real, ps), whatever.

>what do you mean jerry isn't here? we need those 5 kilos of coke right now, or william is going to cut us up and feed us to the pigs!
>dude, they locked down the interstate 35 in a 80 mile radius. there's been an infection. jerry is probably wandering around undead with the five kilos of coke in his backpack!
>fuck me, we gotta find a guy in the national guard who can get us into the zone...

You need at least a 2-4 week infectious period with no symptoms for this thing to get off the ground. Otherwise you're just going to have a fungal pandemic that's quickly contained. At worst, it'll be like the Spanish Flu hitting.

If you're not going for undead zombies that are ridiculously hard to put down and keeping things 'realistic', your vector absolutely needs time to spread beyond any reasonable hope of containment.

I mean, you do realize that most first world countries don't just yank freshwater from the rivers and lakes, they go through a purification process that kills or filters out fungal spores and bacteria, yes?

If you're going to make a realistic zombie apocalypse, why make a zombie apocalypse?
A normal virus ultimately create the same consequences as zombies and you don't have to come up with an explanation for why the fuck there are zombies in a realistic setting.
"Realistic" zombie apocalypse settings are overdone anyway.

Don't forget to make it an escaped or deliberately triggered bioweapon, for added military cover up. Make it real nice and difficult for the players to leave this place, else the campaign will lose all tension too quickly.

Instead have them hear reports on amateur radio stations and such as they treck through the infected streets.

>Realistic Zombie apoclypse
jokes aside, one of my country's political party asked the government about this, the government took it as a joke, and now the opposition is saying our government isn't taking state matters seriously.

Such is the life in the 1st world.

No it isn't. Not if you're only using airports as a vector and it only takes 48-72 hours to start showing symptoms. Seeing as OPs fungal spores only live so long outside of water, you're looking at -maybe- 100k people infected out of billions.

And that's being wildly optimistic. Even if it spreads, they die easily enough. Fists and teeth don't do so well against riot gear, and gas masks filter out fungal spores just fine. Since they're not undead that require headshots, a few automatic weapons on rooftops and a quarantine will bring things into line within weeks. And assuming the cultists didn't infect themselves and turn zombie, expect a flurry of dronestrikes or extraordinary rendition CIA ops within a few months.
Double that infectious period. You really do want to get practically everyone who's not immune. It needs to have time to spread aboard navy vessels, SSBNs in particular unless you want your survivors to be irradiated by fallout from nuclear strikes to take out large groups of urban infected.

Also, your cultists need to either infect themselves or suicide bomb. Otherwise, in a first world nation, they will be caught and more importantly interrogated before symptoms start to express, possibly in time for global quarantines to be enacted.

Sounds like Outbreak. Not a bad movie. I recommend watching it to get an idea of just how far authorities will go to contain infectious bioweapons.

How'd they phrase the question? Did they ask if they had a plan for 'zombies omg!' or 'a highly infectious bioweapon that manifests symptoms of hostility and psychosis?'

honestly I was thinking something like this:
extra fun for being 'fuck someone put monkey in the chef boyardee'
could still be bioweapon of course

The exact question was "what are your government plans in case of an apocalyptic zombie infestation", no joking.

Our president answered: "Well, if we reach the apocalyptic part, nothing to do much about it" and laughed

Having been that kind of person who watched all of Romero's work and read Brooks and consumed a lot of overall shitty zombie media in my teens, because I was edgy and thought zombies were the shit, I've done a lot of brainstorming for more realistic outbreaks too.

I also arrived at the conclusion that the disease should be fungal in nature, but here are some things to consider, at least if you want to make a "lasting" outbreak scenario.
First, one big stuff about zombies is that they're pretty much exposed to the elements, and are either very sick or outright dead people - which means that if people just hid away for a prolonged period of time, the zombies just die off due to natural rot and decay. This is also due to the work of carrion eater animals, which, remember, include flies, and larvae can do devastating work - I've seen zombie settings which say "but vultures and other animals don't attack zombies because they're still moving!" well yeah, that doesn't apply to flies and other insects at all.
There are two ways to go around this - either the zombies have a way to actually benefit off these animals, or the pathogen plain makes their flesh 'poisonous' to the point flies would die just by resting on them.

Then there's the most realistic problem - for movement, zombies still require energy, therefore they need some way to eat and store energy. I don't remember if this was the case with Last of Us zombies, but I think the best conclusion is to make it so that zombies work basically like plants, requiring sunlight, water, and some nutrients acquired one way or another (like, say, their flesh working like carnivorous plants. Think of the drosera genera). This, coupled with periods of "dormancy" whenever there isn't a human being nearby, should work do the trick. It also paints a neat image - dozens of corpses laying down all over the street, but they're actually just... sunbathing zombies.

So much this. This whole everything collapses shtick is boring tbqh. I think shit like this is more interesting because TWD gets so boring when marauding Band of psychos Nr. 600 appears.

I wouldn't limit infected zones to a single continent though.

I know shit about virology but rabies like shit with a looong incubation period sounds better than this funghi stuff. When people finally start turning it should be enough that in some areas military and Police organizations have to retreat.

The military, CDC and Police should get on top of things at some point (stabilizing most cities etc) with a good chunk of deadzones.

Some areas get reconquered but the infection periodically flares up again claiming others. There are asymptotic carriers spreading this shit.

Maybe the Players are asymptotic and have to dwell in infected zones to not get killed by the military (that runs the society in collaboration with the CDC).

Maybe they are running a large Meth lab in a Deadzone.

Maybe they are adrenaline Junkies running a successful webblog, having to please their viewers.

Maybe they are scavengers looting the infected zones.

Maybe they are escaped convicts trying to keep it low for a few years.

My point: this zones would be quickly populated. Ranging from Drug runners and corrupt National guardists looting to libertarian survavilists.

>Also, your cultists need to either infect themselves or suicide bomb. Otherwise, in a first world nation, they will be caught and more importantly interrogated before symptoms start to express, possibly in time for global quarantines to be enacted.

Solution there is pretty simple if you look at real world cults you often have multiple levels to the point where people living in the same compound don't have a clue what the other is doing. Just make sure the conventional chaos causers don't know anything about the bio weapon.

Well, they're not wrong. Not much to do if it reaches the apocalypse. As other anons have pointed out, chemical weapons will handle anything short of that or the undead sorts.

The problem I see with the idea that chemical weapons would solve everything is that if the infection has already spread everywhere by the time people realize that there's a zombie problem wouldn't it be a bit to late?

That's gonna be a hard sell if they're an apocalypse cult small enough to not be on a terror watch list to begin with. I mean, you're talking about a lot of airports and getting a good load of spores through security.

That sort of preparation and coordination doesn't lend itself well to secret. Particularly given the tech required to brew up this fungus in the first place.
Only for the people who aren't in the government and private bunkers, user. You know, the plebs.

As epidemiologist that doesn't sound like huge threat unless the sporeshedding during the early stages is very infectious. No primarily injury/sex transmitted pathogen is going to threaten the first world.

'Cause our border security, quarantine and public health infrastructure is just too good.

But the ways you'd solve that - increasing airborne spread, increasing fomite survivability on surfaces - don't necessarily make for a good story. Lengthening the initial infectious but mostly asymptomatic stage might work if you played up the confusion and emotional disinhibition aspects.

Alternativelyset the campaihm in Brazil, Africa, India or somewhere else susceptible to massive disease outbreaks something that could be controlled in the west can still be devastating elsewhere. That sort of campaign also opens up plot points re. the resurgence of n xenophobia in the West vs humanitarian aid, and the goal of fleeing to the relatively safe West vs hunting down the cult vs helping find a cure vs just trying to look out for you family.

Another option is to massively boost the funding and manpower of the cult. You'd need a bit of an illuminati conspiracy aspect but that way you could justify widespread infection of the West and poor response from public health services

OP, maybe look into the Infected series by Scott Sigler. It got pretty pulpy occasionally, but it also legitimately scared me a few times.

>little monglet wearing little rubber wellington bloodboots and drinking blood out of a teacup with a cocked eyebrow while the others eat like savages
I want to be his(?) friend

It's for sampling waste matter entering your large intestines. Sets off an immune response if anything nasty gets through. There's also some evidence saying that it holds samples of natural intestinal flora in case your microbiome gets knocked out.
Nice pun though

Looks a lot like red markets

So, your players just either hold out until winter or travel far enough north and then win? No matter how "living" the tissue In any zombies body Is, they'll all pretty much just die off from exposure. Their muscles and tendons will stop working after a couple days In low temperatures, since they have no sense of self preservation. Even In earlier stages they wouldn't be thinking straight enough to survive the cold.

You could do an outbreak in a single city. It still takes time for the government to mobilize so a Resident Evil 2 scenario of a remote town/city going to shit and having to escape before everything is nuked still works.

The hard part is having some sort of macguffin to keep the players in the town at first instead of escaping immediately.