In my Series there is a zombie apocalypse that has fast zombies in it. They are equally if not weaker than the average man. The problem is that running zombies are bad for storytelling. So I'm asking how I can make running zombies seem like less of a threat? Preferably equal in danger to 2-3 slow zombies. Below are some requirements both for design and story;

The characters will need to be able to survive the apocalypse without military aid.
They need to be under constant threat.
The zombies need to be capable of destroying walls and barricades in large numbers and still be manageable.
They need to be dangerous enough that survivors have to question whether or not to go guns blazing.
The survivors will be average people with average skills.
The infection will cause hydrophobia, insanity, Congenital insensitivity to pain, cannibalism, hallucinations, and animilistic behaviors.

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    $\begingroup$ It causes "congenital insensitivity to pain"? Is that a time traveling virus thing where I won't have felt pain since birth or are your zombies breeding? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Jul 31, 2015 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ The zombies are alive people with a mental and physical disease so they do breed. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Jul 31, 2015 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ set in distant future, bio-nanotechnology develops a weapon and test went awry, infected tissues and cells (human DNA) dissolves and reassembles into a giant biomass now imagine a tsunami of human biomass literally! advise to the survivors stay away and go for higher ground and I've met all of your conditions lol. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Aug 1, 2015 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ I think by 'congenital' you might actually mean to say 'chronic'. $\endgroup$ Aug 3, 2015 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ You know, longer answers aren't always better answers. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Aug 18, 2015 at 21:21

4 Answers 4


Since the key differences with your Zombies and the "traditional" zombies is these are alive but have limited intellectual ability, then your survivors will need to be able to create deadly traps.

Any sort of man trap, big game trap or powerful weapon will help your survivors prosper. Since the fast zombies will simply mindlessly run at food, a person could theoretically lure lots of zombies into a deep ditch that is between him and them. Filling the bottom with spikes or razor wire will make it more deadly, or alternatively you could fill the bottom with flammable fluid and incinerate them. Flame weapons should otherwise be avoided, a burning fast zombie will be a torch running through the landscape and probably spread fire until it falls over.

Since digging a ditch will be very time and resource intensive, it will be a lot more effective for the survivors to lay razor wire fences, abitis or other field fortifications that can be made in a workshop and rapidly deployed (being thrown off the back of a truck, for example). Building a perimeter will be time intensive, so they should focus on a small perimeter at first, then gradually expand it for more farm land and so on. The effect when looking overhead would be a checkerboard of small perimeter fences butting against each other, which would have the added advantage of providing a series of defendable areas, even if one or more were to be breached.

If the fast zombies are really as stupid as described, then weaponry could be a simple as bolt action rifles (you wouldn't have to lead the target or deal with a zig-zagging target trying to evade) or even a long boar spear (the zombie will impale itself 6' away from you but the cross piece will prevent the zombie from getting closer until it bleeds out). Polearms might also be acceptable, so long as you are proficient and lucky enough to prevent a zombie from getting "inside" your guard; yuou want to be far enough away that you don't get spaced with blood or infectious fluids. I would avoid swords (even longswords or katanas) or bayonetted rifles since this brings the zombie too close for comfort.

A large calibre pistol (.45 ACP, .357 magnum or similar) would make a good secondary weapon if you are proficient in its use, otherwise a 12 gage shotgun loaded with 00 magnum shot will put down human sized targets at close range.

Finally, living quarters should be elevated and have limited access, preferably something like a ladder or climbing rope that can be raised or lowered. Should the zombies manage to breach the perimeter, then a raised platform will give you a final refuge, and you can always reach down with pole arms or shoot down with weapons to clear the perimeter area.

The key is having access to sufficient resources, enough people who are willing to form a cooperative work crew to build and man defences, and constant vigilance to prevent fast zombies from closing to running and striking distance.


If you have several types of zombies, perhaps your zombies have different levels of intelligence.

"Fast zombies" are completely stupid - they see food, they respond by running straight to it. They are naturally fast so this strategy works for them. When the food is no longer in their sight, they are too dumb to remember they just saw it disappear behind that door - or too dumb to remember how to open a door. Depending on just how much less of a threat you want them to be will make them more dumb.

"Slow zombies" cannot depend on overtaking people like the fast can, they are too slow due to physical impairment or whatever. The ones who figure out how to survive do so by being more intelligent. They can open doors, launch ambushes, and maybe even figure out weak points of structures.

In my opinion, doing this actually makes one slow zombie equal in danger to 2-3 fast zombies, which might be too far, but you can either scale down slow zombie intelligence or scale up fast zombie intelligence depending on your needs.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the help. I like this idea. SO far I've decided that the zombies will be living people that are infected and multiple strains makes sense. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Jul 31, 2015 at 18:17

To make your fast zombies an average-man manageable threat, make them legally blind. They can see and track moving objects but have difficulty differentiating motionless prey from the surrounding clutter.

Enhance all of their other senses, so that the smell of an open wound or the sound of a loud breath negates the concealment of motionlessness.

Running through a zombie crowd would be suicide, but standing totally still and controlling your fear would work until one of them bumped into you.

  • $\begingroup$ That's so weird. They are blind. Since I've decided on fast and slow zombies the fast zombies eye burst and they are blind $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Aug 4, 2015 at 16:25

I ask a lot of questions in my answer not so you can answer me or give clarification, but so you have ideas and know what to think about when writing your story. Please don't disregard my answer for that alone. Anyhow...

My first thought would be to make these faster zombies short-lived. If they are fast, this means that whatever made them zombies has avoided most of the muscular (and probably skeletal) system. Because the pathogen hasn't impacted their movement and metabolism as much as normal zombies, they burn more calories, are more active, and therefore go through more wear-and-tear than traditional zombies.

A faster metabolism also means that these zombies need to consume more to maintain their energy. Naturally, this means they are more susceptible to starving, and would have to consume far more nutrients than a traditional zombie. And since they're zombies, perhaps whatever made them zombies also impacted their body's natural ability to analyze fat cells and the body randomly starts breaking down random pieces of flesh for energy (giving you an explanation if you wanted the traditional "bones showing through ripped jeans" look).

You mentioned that the zombies are afraid of water. There are a couple variables you can play with here. For example, whether or not they're afraid of small amounts of water, like a liter, or if it requires a larger amount; if they're afraid of blood (more on this later), etc. There are other hazards that need to be considered as well, such as fear and damage from fire, sunlight, impact/puncture/slashing damage, sounds, general light, etc.

So, blood. Zombies being afraid of blood opens up all sorts of possibilities. The first thing that came to mind was the potential of the survivors cutting themselves in order to release blood to scare away the zombies. This has all sorts of repercussions, like infection (especially to zombification), wasting of medical supplies, permanent physical damage preventing future escape or defense, psychological repercussions (and they, too, would eventually become numb to pain), etc. And do the zombies fear their own blood (if they have it), and if so, how does this affect feeding?

Now, the others focused primarily on what makes these faster zombies weaker than traditional zombies. But first we have to decide what makes them stronger, as well as what makes zombies strong in the first place.

Zombies often have strength in numbers. Hordes, mobs, gangs--whatever you want to call them--of zombies are much harder to defend against than a single or a handful of zombies. This pack mentality is a strength in that they know to gang up on survivors, but is also a weakness since these zombies fail to analyze their environment or formulate any other "strategy". Against hordes, limitations are mostly limited to marksmanship, ammo, strength/energy, fatigue and means of escape. A fast horde merely makes all these factors more important.

Next I want to talk about durability. Exactly how much damage will your zombies be able to sustain before showing signs of weakening and eventually defeat? Will a headshot limit their motor abilities (or even kill them), will damage to any part of the body limit its use, and how much can they heal after "battle"? That last one is a big one I don't think many consider. Strategically, how much of their resources will the survivors put in to defeating zombies they meet in order to prevent them from coming back to get them? And if the zombies survive, will they be able to tell other zombies the survivors' location? (like how ants and bees can alert others)?

Now, processing and computational ability. Just how much can zombies learn, analyze, perceive, process, etc.? Can they measure danger, and retreat to save their own lives? Do they even have instincts to survive, and if so, how much (and why would they go after humans if it means certain or a high chance of defeat (if they can think that much)? Before I mentioned a pack mentality, and psychology is a far overlooked element in zombie literature and media. Do they require others to process information and make decisions? Are there alpha males and beta females? Are there even genders? Is there a hive mind, or does the pathogen give them new instincts to go on? Do they have families, friends, relations, etc.? These can all cause strife on their own. Examples: a renegade from the hive, conflict for the position of alpha male, political events and political power, alliances/factions, etc.

How is the virus spread? Is it airborne, intravenous? Does it use living vectors, like plants, natural bacteria (like the ones we have on our skin; this a big one, because if so, there's not much way to avoid it for long), or through asymptomatic/immune carriers (like a seemingly uninfected bird or dog)? Are they afraid of water because the pathogen can't spread over water?

You mentioned various kinds of strains, and I would like you help you improve upon that. Assuming you know how the pathogen can spread, what if there were certain forms of zombies that acted like infantry and ran only to spread the virus (like suicide bio-bombers)? Plants and fungi are crucial topics. Can they spread through root systems and mutate the plants, creating spores or poison? Can they sense and communicate through plants?

If you want fast zombies, perhaps they're just animal versions of these zombies. If the virus can affect multiple species, you could just have different variants that depend on the species, like air-bombing birds and espionage squirrels.

That also brings up the topic of pets. A pet is another mouth to feed, and one requiring special food, but have superior abilities. They can alert the survivors to zombies using their superior senses. Birds can deliver messages (if they've traveled a route previously and are trained) and can do "reconnaissance". Dogs can attack as well as scavenge for food, as can cats. Perhaps reptiles and amphibians are immune to the virus (antidote, anyone?). Pets can also provide psychological support, which is direly needed in a situation as damaging as this. Remember, power is not just in destructive capability but in all results that can be achieved.

I might add a little more after submitting, since this was a very long-winded answer. But I had a ton of fun writing it, so thanks!


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