Doctor West Will See You Now: Zombies in Call of Cthulhu
While I've been examining zombie gaming possibilities, I've got a late 19th century Call of Cthulhu game going on. Some of the players in my group suggested we do a zombie Call of Cthulhu adventure.
While we've got the pulp dials cranked up pretty high, I do want to keep the game Lovecraftian. I'm a huge Jules Verne fan and can see at some point doing a Victorian-era adventure and/or horror game in the vein of Pinnacle's Rippers or Cubicle 7's Victoriana. But for this game I do want to stay grounded in Lovecraftian horror.
Which brings us to one of Lovecraft's least favorite creations, Doctor Herbert West, the "protagonist" of his serial "Herbert West - Reanimator". This serial examined West and his obsession with reversing death. To quote the first section of the serial:
In his experiments with various animating solutions he had killed and treated immense numbers of rabbits, guinea-pigs, cats, dogs, and monkeys, till he had become the prime nuisance of the college. Several times he had actually obtained signs of life in animals supposedly dead; in many cases violent signs; but he soon saw that the perfection of this process, if indeed possible, would necessarily involve a lifetime of research. It likewise became clear that, since the same solution never worked alike on different organic species, he would require human subjects for further and more specialised progress.
West spends the serial developing his serum, trying to perfect it. He is faced with the need for fresh corpses and his results tend to be zombie-like monstrosities. It occurs to me there is opportunity to explain West was trying to repurpose some ancient Hyperborean formula used to reanimate the dead - perhaps as a weapon. These reanimated dead, zombies if you will, would be able to create more zombies by the serum transferred by bite. Of course without the proper mechanisms to control them, they become mindless killing machines...