Recently I attended Z World, a post-apocalyptic Zombie LARP, set 40 years in the future. Coming into the event I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I had only planned to attend the Thursday before and was only able to find a little online. The game is a boffer and Nerf, campaign LARP. With a focus on PvE.
The one element of the game that stood out to me the most was just how responsive the game runners were to the player initiative. At times I would see an NPC doing a little hand-holding of the players to move the story along, but this was the exception, not the rule. Despite the plot members worrying about how the event would end, player actions trying to solve the problem of that game lead to a perfect opportunity for an excellent satisfying conclusion.
Even though that game has a PvE focus the plot team has skilfully created factions with different goals and motivations. This creates conflict and forces choices on the players. The consequences of which play out over the following events. Overall the story was easy to follow, and a lot was going on.
As for the game rules, like so many LARPs, the rule book seemed intimidating, and a bit hard to follow. Once I got playing, I was pleasantly surprised. As a level one the player, I did not feel useless, or weak in combat, unlike so many other LARPs. The basics were easy to pick up, and once combat happened it was fast-paced, easy to follow, and a lot of fun if combat is your thing. The rules were simple and fairly straight forward. An example of this is the game items and loot. If an item isn’t special, it does not need a tag. So my sword, was just a sword, that anyone could use. What items existed were unique items that did special effects? The loot that was needed as resources were divided into three colour coded categories, scrap, essence, and bio.
I also learned a bit about the crafting system of the game. Again this played on the best strength of this game, player initiative. Players would come up with an idea, and make a blueprint. They would submit it to the plot team for approval. As an example that players crated a gun that would shoot bananas, with the resulting effect of being a stunning effect on robots.
Due to work obligations, I missed the beginning of the game, and arrived on site early Saturday evening. Pulling onto the game site, in West Gray Ontario, I was amazed. The sight had a western-themed town with three streets, about a dozen cabins and a saloon. The building was festooned with all sorts of decorations, that made them feel right out of the apostolic. This site was the best I have played on in regards to immersive it was. I later found out that this was a special sight that they only use once a year. Normally they play at Kinsman Kamp Tanner near Stratford Ontario.
Despite it being a zombie LARPs, the atmosphere was often light-hearted. A pervasive feeling of fun seemed close at hand at all time. This is not to say that there were not moments of horror. Waking to find out that a cabin had been attacked and heads were taken overnight was a bit grim. This did not stop the fun, overall I got the feeling that the game was quite serious and scary at times, and when it wasn’t it was quite silly and light.
For the most part Z world is well designed, and well run. The website, as of writing, is wanting (I have been told they are working on a new one.) If you’re looking for a game that takes itself seriously all the time, maybe look elsewhere, but if you like some silliness mixed with your horror, then Z world would be a good fit. I would say that Z world was a very enjoyable experience. Fun, fast-paced combat. A plot team and game design respond player initiative. I would definitely go again.