The Drunk Tank (the podcast by the Rooster Teeth guys) where the subject of Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising come up repeatedly, and me watching the anime High School of the Dead, has got to have something to do with it.
So, my mind has wandered onto some very interesting subjects; chief among these is the two-fold variation of the zombie in popular culture. Zombies have always been an integral part of D&D and RPG’s in general, so I think this subject is highly relevant to our collective interests. The variation I speak of here is this: supernatural or biological. If you put these two types of zombies into a boxing ring, who would come out the victor… I wonder.
So, in the red corner, we have the Supernatural Zombie. This one is the classic. Whether raised by black magic, or through a twisted ritual of the Necronomicon, the Supernatural Zombie has the power of pure evil on its side. In Fantasy RPG’s, the Supernatural Zombie has been the enemy of more adventuring parties than I can imagine. With their incredibly low level, they make great enemies for most early adventuring parties. They make great enemies to throw into a dungeon and with some skeletons on their side, they can make for a great undead encounter. If you haven’t seen films like “The Evil Dead”, or “Night of the Living Dead”… I’m not even going to finish that sentence; you have seen these movies and you know your supernatural, flesh-eating, undead friends.
In the blue corner, we have the Biological Zombie. Biological Zombies are a bit different in terms of their origin stories, but the flesh-eating fun remains the same. We see a lot more Biological Zombies in TV and movies now than we did 50 years ago. The Biological Zombie has been created through some type of horrible virus or man-made apocalypse. The Biological Zombie is quite the nasty little threat. We have seen in “Resident Evil”, “Shaun of the Dead”, and “Zombieland” (by no means an exhaustive, or necessarily even best of list of biological zombie films – these are just some of my favorites) that the Biological Zombie spreads its “undead plague” through the world when they bite. If you get bitten, don’t count on staying as part of the living.
So, who wins? Enter Zombie Pin-Up girl to declare that round 1 begins! - FIGHT!!!
Unfortunately, the fight quickly becomes a stalemate since neither side recognizes the other. The lack of living flesh and brains has resulted in both the Supernatural Zombie and the Biological Zombie ignoring each-other and turning against the audience!! AAAH!!!
Really, I’m not sure which zombie is stronger, but I know I’m a lot more afraid of the Biological Zombie in the real world; but, in my D&D game I am definitely not looking forward to fighting any necromancers and their zombie hoards – those zombies always dull my dwarven battle axe.
But, a 3rd Challenger enters the ring… the biological/supernatural zombie. Raised through a supernatural plague, Bio-Evil Zombies have the power of black magic on their side and spread their biological sickness just as fast. Nothing worse than a Bio-Evil Zombie plague (check these Zombies out in Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom by Nevermet Press).
Fightfest one is over. The fight is a draw. Sorry folks, stay tuned for match two wear we dangle a living human over the zombies and see if we can’t get some unlife out of them.