In life, any life, before or after an apocalypse you meet all kinds of people. The thing with people is they tend to fall into categories. They don’t do it on purpose, in fact they don’t do it themselves, our minds do it to the people we meet. We categorize and stereotype for our safety and to save space in out brains for things like the lyrics to the Ninja Rap from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In the future though, when we’ve only got a tenth of our population and don’t know who is friend and who is foe, it will help to be cautious of certain people you meet based on some well worn stereotypes.
You see them in all your study materials 1 but never really acknowledge what they mean to you and your survival if they land themselves in you party or in your path on your way to hide in the abandoned mental institutional.
Below is a handy reference guide to some of the people you may meet on the other side of the apocalypse and the issues that may arise from dealing with them 2 .
Types of People
People who choose to pray rather than run or fight or generally be useful. Don’t lose precious time trying to convince them that their efforts are futile. Just save yourself. Maybe their God will come through this time. I mean, he does have some make up to do since letting that whole apocalypse fall through the cracks…
Strong, Full Stop.
The dude who can pick up anything. And throw stuff really far. And is tall. He’s slow, though, from the smoking and the anabolic steroid withdrawals. But, why’s he always yelling? Must he face every obstacle with clenched fists, a growl, and the invitation to “Come and get it.”? He’ll suggest the females should show some gratitude with their lady parts. We suggest he’s a good tool in the short term and merely a tool in the long term.
Clever Little Technophile
A teen hacker. A hermit with a hobby. Some guy who doesn’t seem like much until society falls and no one has a clue how a barometer works or how to hot wire a car. No one except him that is. He’s constantly and quietly saving everyone’s ass. Keep in mind, louder players will often see his size as a weakness and suggest using him as bait or leaving him behind. He’s probably faster than he looks. Running from bullies is good exercise.
Do you know how to find, set up, and run a generator? Neither do I. But, this guy?! He’s even done it once. When he packed his “Go Bag” he included tools and their accessories. His weapon of choice is an over-sized wrench. He smokes a pipe, maybe a cigar. He’s probably a grandpa or retiree, but stronger then the “young bucks,” as he calls reasonably aged men. If he falls behind, help him out; he’s worth it.
She can’t do much aside from twirl her hair around her finger, look concerned, and elicit leers from creeps, but she sure does try her hardest.
All those video games and schoolyard fights have given him an unexpected edge and the shine of youth gives him an mildly annoying but still refreshing optimism. While he seems to complain a lot, most of it isn’t about how we’re all doomed but about the discovery that hard work is actually hard.
Mother With Child
Don’t ask this lady’s kid to do any work unless you want to get into it with Mama Bear. Her precious snowflake is all she has left in the world and that last thing it needs is to have its innocence ruined by having to pull its weight. Fortunately, she’ll do some extra work because she’s use to it, but mostly around childcare and housework. You’ll want to cut them both loose, but when danger comes around, she’s not cowering behind Dude Manrod. Mommy Dearest will be defending the team and her young with the same fervor any other wild animal would have.
Mother Without Child
Sadly, this nice woman seems to have lost her child. She’ll risk life and limb to find it. Unfortunately, she’s not only willing to risk her safety but also yours. Lady had skills you can use but her frantic searching and emotional detachment makes her a loose cannon at times.
Dear Ole Dad
Not really sure where his family is, he won’t talk about it. He works hard and expects you to as well. He’s good with kids and treats women with respect. Rumor has it he’s been heard to apologize before killing an enemy. A man so loyal and humble you’ll surely never forgive the asshole he ends up throwing away his life to save.
He’s strong and capable but he’s also super creepy and you wouldn’t trust him with your life before so doing it now isn’t really an example of your best decision making skills at work. “I fell in with the wrong sorts and got caught robbing a liquor store,” he tells you sheepishly. You think you see regret in his eyes. The very same eyes with black tear drops tattooed underneath them. Just like I’m going to tell you all I loved camping and know how to fish, the convict isn’t going to tell you he’s actually a rapist/murderer/molester. Life Lies are the new black in the post-apoc; all the cool kids are covered in ’em.
The Creep is similar to the ex-con except without the sigma of having been labeled by the state as someone to stay away from. Regardless of where he came from and who has or hasn’t formally judged him, his freak flag flies. He’ll make suggestions about repopulating and compliment small children while stroking their faces. He should be accidentally left behind at the earliest opportunity. Just remember, these are the kinds of people who’ll pop back up when you’re least expecting it. Probably as the jailer of the colony you might find yourself imprisoned in.
Mary Sue Awesome Face
You want to hate her, but she just killed and skinned a deer using nothing but her wits and high-gloss hair that always seems to gently wave even without a breeze. Though she’s covered in dirt and deer blood and is as unwashed and downtrodden as the rest of the party, she looks Amazing. But she’d never mention it, because she’s also humble. She won’t complain as she cooks the deer (which will taste delicious) for the rest of the group. While she’s cooking, she’ll answer questions from children, reassuring them that the world is still a wonderful and secure place.
These uniformed fellas come in a multitude of flavors: The well-armed deserters turned stick-up men. Those who believe chain of command still exists even if society doesn’t. Soldiers who just keep staying on mission even though there’s straight up chaos running rampant and not a sole has returned radio hails in over six weeks. And, finally, people with survival skills and weapons and a bit more fortitude than the rest of us (we want these).
He knows everything. Absolutely everything. Because he has a PhD, damn it! He learned everything he knows from books, and has never been forced to use it in real life, let alone the hell you are all living in now. His knowledge is very rarely useful or applicable, but he assumes he’s of more use than those of you who’ve been planning for this for years.
A Bad Bitch
It’s not clear what niche these ladies filled in the world before the apocalypse, but it was probably one that involved being unfuckwithable. Mercenary? Maybe. Whatever it was, this chick can do anything the boys can do, better and with a growl. She came around already wearing fingerless gloves and combat boots. There’s malice in her eyes and knife strapped to her ankle. She’s probably showing some cleavage so that some man can creep up and become the example of what happens to those who test her unfuckwithability.
A Couple in Lust
A couple is one thing. A fine thing, that consists of two people who know each other. However, if you’re stupid enough to hold hands while you run or have sex in the backyard of the safe house, you deserve to be the first ones eaten. Moreover, just like in the movies, no one will feel bad for you.
Crazy Amateur/Disenfranchised Scientist
Umm, hopefully this dude isn’t in your party already, or leading the camp you’ve stopped at for a rest, or anything but some story you heard about and plan to avoid. Thing is, he has great ideas. Ideas so great society couldn’t handle them. Society just wasn’t ready for his genius. And by ready for his genius, if we take a look back in time, we see that society wasn’t cool with live human experimentation. Or mixing voodoo and science. Or whatever other “greater good” sacrifices he was willing to make towards progress. We don’t know for sure if this guy actually cause of the apocalypse but we do know, he’s not going to make it any better or any more comfortable.
A Real Life Scientist Who Knows Things
They sound great on paper but by the time you get to one of these brilliant folks, guilt will have eaten away at them to the point where they’re too scared to do more than just eek by. You’ll want to keep dragging them out of the path of danger and reminding them that they can still make a difference but sooner or later you’ll have to leave Dr. If-We-Only-Had-More-Time crying in the middle of the road so the rest of you can run and hide from the mutant marauders.
The Short-Sighted Survivalist
Not short sighted as in needs glasses but short sighted as in unable to take the long view. The short sighted survivalist is excellent when you need help in the early days. They’ll have prepared, obsessively for the weeks and months immediately after the apocalypse, with shelter filled with tinned food and weapons. However, they’ll have no seeds, no livestock and no plans to get any. They aren’t very good when you’re planning for long-term survival, as their eye is always on today.
Mr or Mrs ‘Personal-Choice-Is-Paramount’
Don’t get me wrong. In the modern world, untainted by apocalypse, I think personal choice is paramount too. You are an individual, and your desires are important. Post-apocalypse? Fuck off. Personal desires are secondary to the survival of the species as a whole. I might want to sleep instead of doing my mandated watch, but I won’t be able to. These are dangerous people. Don’t let them into your survival compound; they will create dissatisfaction and possibly riots and get you killed. Let them make their personal choices out there in the wasteland.
Oh, the idealist. The wonderful idealist. They know life in the post-apocalyptic nightmare is hard, but they think fixing it is simple. All it needs is for everyone to be nice to each other. They have no idea that post-apocalyptic survival and rebuilding is a constant barrage of morally grey choices to make. They’ll get on your nerves very quickly. However, society needs idealists to give us something to strive for– as long as they’re kept ‘safe’, there shouldn’t be any problems.
The Borderline Psychopath
The Borderline Psychopath is useful while you are trying to find a permanent place to stay. He or she has spent their whole life being avoided by others because they give off the ‘vibe’. Now, they are finally liked and useful. Keep them at the front, with a big weapon, and hope they die before you find a permanent home. Don’t let one in if you already have a permanent home. They’ll kill you. Not immediately, but almost definitely while you’re sleeping.
He wears a suit every day and he’ll die trying to out run whatever monsters await was on the other side of the apocalypse because his shiny shoes have no traction and his briefcase is slowing him down because he filled it with money to bribe his way into someone good graces. Too bad he spent hundreds of dollars a month on a gym membership just die a victim of fashion.
Goldmine! This guy has been living off the land and roughing it outside of society for years he’ll be the perfect addition to your party, a fountain of knowledge! Right? Wrong, so very wrong. This man hated society and the people inside it so much he not only disengaged but also separated himself completely. As far as he’s concerned the world after the apocalypse is mostly the same but with some grand improvements and the minor annoyance that more people keep finding his cabin in the woods. [Note: The city dwelling variant is often a bit more compassionate and will likely help to get you as far as some-place-on-his-way-to-where-he’s-going or to the edge of what he considers his territory.]
You majored in arts and crafts and communications at college. You work in a cubical and your biggest accomplishment this month was finally making a pot of rice where half wasn’t stuck at the bottom… You don’t even own a baseball bat much less a crowbar or a gun. You’ve fallen in with a group of strangers and you’re desperately hoping no one brings up cannibalism based on who’s the least useful.
While you’re sitting around worrying and trying not to be noticed and they’re fighting amongst themselves about who’s most qualified to lead or what should happen next, remember some of that useless shit you learned in college or online while you should have been working.
You (kind of) know the basics of philosophy, (mostly) understand the hierarchy of human needs, packed a bag with multiple forms of portable entertainment (some of which can also double as useful survival equipment) and even though they’ll laugh at you at first, you found some useful tips in the Worst-Case Scenarios book you brought with you.
Fear not, you’ve traveled these roads every day and studied them whilst in traffic, wondering to yourself, What would I do if the traffic ahead turned out to be from zombies? And you had a plan. A a plan that accounted for the fact that you haven’t been to the gym in weeks and don’t know how to read stars.
While we still have time, you should probably take the time to honestly reflect on skills you do and don’t have. You may need to acknowledge (to yourself, and no one else) that if the apocalypse happened tomorrow, you might tip the scales on the useless side. While that might be the case, you’re not completely useless. You’re your best advocate and what others don’t know about you is your best defense. Sure subversiveness can be a sensitive and entangling beast, but it’s also an effective means of convincing people to like and trust a you who mightn’t actually exist. A you who deserves to live and stick with the group.
- read: books, movies, comics, etc. ↩
- Don’t think you are without flaws here! If somehow you’ve gotten to be the leader of this ragtag group, you’re probably arrogant, stubborn and obsessive. You could also get everyone you know killed if you take too many risks — or be killed yourself if you’re too annoying. Watch out. ↩