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The zombie empress has unleashed a zombie horde to take over her country. The military has been defeated, with the bodies of their soldiers that are still intact being added to the horde. This necromancer has succeeded in taking over the government. However, after she installs herself as leader, she realizes that she has two problems:

A. It's no fun ruling over dead people who are essentially slaves with no will of their own.

B. She needs human society to thrive. The zombies will eventually rot away, and she will need new bodies to replenish her ranks in order to maintain his power and defend the country from outside threats.

These brillant deductions has led her to conclude that she needs human society to remain productive and stable in order to maintain power, yet remain weak enough to prevent them from challenging her. How can she maintain this balance and allow both groups to exist side by side to support each other? What policies can be put in place to allow humans to thrive under their zombie overlords?

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  • $\begingroup$ The answers to this question should be of interest to you. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 29 '17 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ Check The Strain TV series or the books and German history around WWII. Depending on your Empresses' ruling aspirations a totalitarian regime can be a perfect fit. $\endgroup$ – Olga Aug 30 '17 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ Do bodies for good zombies need to be young and healthy or will the elderly and infirm do? $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 30 '17 at 9:26
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Some ideas:

  1. Recruit some humans to positions of power. Giving humans power over humans seems to work pretty often. Promote them based on how how well the other humans under them thrive. If you do this well, you could be seen as a benevolent dictator.
  2. Give them control of small squads of zombies. Given that the zombies are, ultimately under your control, they can be used to turn on your people who turn against you. You are giving people a tool that is both a carrot and a stick.
  3. Use the zombies to help stabilize the situation. They can clear rubble, carry supplies, etc. Try to get the people to start seeing them as useful tools rather than monsters.
  4. Make cremation illegal.
  5. Start a religion that features zombies as a higher state of being.
  6. Give zombies different jobs based on how they acted in life. Someone who was a good citizen gets to be a royal guard or firefighter. Someone who was a scum bag gets to clean the sewers. It makes no difference to the zombie but it might influence the living.

There is no reason the leader has to be a despot. There can be benevolent dictators. The trouble there is that the benevolent dictator is usually not ruthless enough with those under him/her and gets deposed. By having the absolute loyalty of the zombies, you can afford to be kind.

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  • $\begingroup$ These are really fine and original ideas. The idea of giving your human subordinates control of zombies is novel but just like giving them rifles or any other weapon. Idea #6 is novel and excellent. $\endgroup$ – Willk Aug 29 '17 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Will, yes but it is like giving them rifles that you can order to kill their wielder. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Aug 29 '17 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ Literally all 6 points can be summed up as starting a religion. 1 & 2. High Priests. 3,5,6 Zombies are the next stage of life. 4 Heresy $\endgroup$ – user2259716 Aug 29 '17 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @user2259716, yes but we ease them into it. Each step seems more reasonable if it follows the previous step. Also, by creating a zombie cult, you give the population a bunch of crazies to point at: "Sure zombies are a useful and necessary part of society but at least we don't worship the mindless things like those guys." $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Aug 29 '17 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @ShadoCat You literally just destroyed / conquered the world. Easing people into it is counterproductive. Much better to push it all up front so people can accept it better. $\endgroup$ – user2259716 Aug 29 '17 at 19:26
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They're not zombie overlords

They're zombie protectors.

First of all, no human citizen of this new country is required to serve in the military anymore. Maybe the old army was voluntary, maybe it was compulsory--regardless, it's something that can be pitched as a new kind of freedom. The zombies are here to shield us from the scheming, aggressive nations at our borders! The remaining soldiers can be disarmed and generously granted amnesty. They get to come home to their families! If they still want to take up a combat-oriented career, there are great opportunities for one or two humans to work alongside each zombie platoon, providing a friendly face as they patrol the border (and also dividing them up so they don't have opportunities to coordinate armed resistance).

They're not just protectors

They're a zombie labor force.

Every large society requires tremendous amounts of human labor to function--agricultural work, mining, building, transportation, and (beyond a certain point) dangerous, low-skill industry. If zombies are capable enough to defeat an army, they're capable enough to swing a pick, or pull a plow and pick weeds. "A Zombie In Every Shed" is a reasonable propaganda slogan, especially if it gives everyone more leisure time.

Sure, there is the slight price that families won't be able to bury their own dead anymore. But as long as Grandpa gets shipped off to another part of the country where the family can forget that he's been sentenced to endless labor in undeath, people will get used to it.

They're not just a labor force

They're a zombie surveillance instrument.

Okay, this part is less suitable for propaganda, but depending on the nature of the necromancy in this world, the empress could very well use her well-distributed hordes to personally observe and gather information on any fomented rebellion, then quash it before it has a chance to gain momentum. Many people, even under occupation, are willing to accept peace over freedom if the rebellious never get a chance to disseminate and promote their ideas; if that peace also comes with an increased standard of living, it's a much easier sell. And the longer the era of peace, the more acceptable it becomes.

Won't the rebels just hold their meetings out of sight of zombies if they catch on? Sure, but zombies might become effectively invisible in a surprisingly short time. (Right now, in 2017, thousands of people are installing internet-connected microphones in their own homes because it's a convenient novelty.) If they're given shrouds to reduce the sight and smell of rotting, people will start to see them as furniture. It might even be a popular project for people in domestic roles to knit or quilt shrouds for their zombies.

The Overton Undead

So those are your policies: disarmament and amnesty for human soldiers; migration of the armed forces to the living dead; broad distribution of free labor to undesirable jobs; and instant, quiet suppression of insurgency. Humans probably will thrive, just like some animals in captivity. And if they fail to thrive--hey, more free zombies.

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She has to take over as many funeral parlors as she can and keep a series of well preserved "divisions" in freezer ready to be waken up if and when needed.

Keep only a few zombies as "private guard" and make a strict rotation so that any rotting will happily go to cremation chamber with its own legs while fresh ones taking their place.

The "divisions" will have to follow similar rotation (but they will have to be carted to cremation) and some "reviving" spell should be prepared in advance so some simple trigger will wake up the whole division if and when some "strike force" is necessary.

There still is the customary problem of a single person to control a whole world, day and night, but such a powerful necromancer might find a way to sleep undisturbed.

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Since undead are a lot more productive than humans (24/7) the only thing humans will be needed for are the body. As such the empress should find ways to improve the birth rate of her new country. To allow a quick increase in the birth rate food will have to be abundant.

Also, the mortality rate is probably nowhere near what she will need to maintain a zombie horde in good condition. She will need to increase it or bring in corpses from neighbouring country by trade or military.

To prevent unrest, rebellion or massive emigration the people need to know that they are safe and that tomorrow they will not be the next zombie. There are many ways to go about it. One way that could be interesting is to use a caste system. The "normal" human would be free to live their life except that each family would have to give a newborn to the other caste. These ones are to be turned into a zombie when they turn 18 or 20. The members of that caste are probably taken care of by their own family, or it could be an adoptive one, because they represent safety for the rest of the family.

You might want to read about Amonkhet (a world in the game Magic the Gathering). They use mummies with treated bandage and the desert keeps the zombie dry, which helps explain how they are not ridden with diseases and infections for the living population (very important for the agriculture).

There is always the option of using something else than a normal zombie such as a mix of a vampire and a zombie. Zombies could be fed blood to slow down the rotting process which, would keep the population weaker, while allowing the military and work force to last longer.

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