EXCERPT: Larping the Apocalypse 2: The Nano-Plague by Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt’s short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short StoriesThe Year’s Best Fantasy, and other nice places. His most recent collection is Hart and Boot and Other Stories, and his work has won a Hugo Award and been nominated for World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Stoker, Mythopoeic, and Nebula Awards. He blogs intermittently at timpratt.org, where you can also find links to many of his stories. Pratt is also a senior editor at Locus, the magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field. He lives in Berkeley CA with his wife, writer Heather Shaw, and their son River.

Larping the Apocalypse 2:

The Nano-Plague

This is not a live project. This is a draft shared by the LARPing the Apocalypse LLC for feedback.

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This project will only be funded if at least $1,000,000 is pledged by June 15.

You can be part of the most realistic post-apocalyptic live-action roleplaying game ever . . . if you live long enough.

Project Goals

Thanks again to those of you who supported our previous Kickstarter, LARPing the Apocalypse. We were one of the most highly-funded crowdfunding projects in history, and we used that money to create our Origin Award-winning sourcebook, our mobile app (five million users and counting), custom-made replica weapons, and the rare and beloved “Murdercycles” for our top backers. The game has thriving player bases in most major metropolitan areas in the US—we’re also big in London, Paris, and Tokyo—and we’re looking to build on our success.

But how?

After a lot of thought, the development team has come up with a truly exciting approach to making a more realistic live-action apocalypse experience. Our motto has always been “Live the Game,” and now we’re going to start living up to that.

Roleplaying life in a post-apocalyptic world, where the human population has been reduced from billions to millions and killer robots roam the landscape, is all well and good, but sometimes it’s hard to suspend disbelief, especially when “normals” come wandering through your space and make fun of your styrofoam body armor and plastic guns. Playing in abandoned factories and industrial sites can be enjoyable, but what about the fun stuff you see in post-apocalyptic movies, like the pleasures of ransacking a major department store, or singing the national anthem in the middle of an abandoned baseball stadium, or driving a bulldozer down Fifth Avenue and smashing up cars? None of that’s plausible now unless you want to get arrested.

So we’ve decided to bring down a real apocalypse, and totally clear the field for play. Our development team, flush with funds from the last Kickstarter and the runaway sales of our merchandise, has hired a cutting-edge biotech expert—we can’t say his name because he’s technically a fugitive from justice, which matters for at least the next couple of months—to come up with a way to vastly reduce the population without destroying all the world’s infrastructure and breaking all those potential toys. He’s engineered an awesome “nano-plague,” which should sweep through the world rapidly once it’s released in key population centers. (We’ve got great simulation data for how this thing will spread, thanks in part to our robust player base—we’ve got records of all your movements, mobile-app users, so thanks!)

That’s right. No more using your imagination. You’ll get to play LARPing the Apocalypse in a real depopulated wasteland, but because we’re not dropping bombs or setting things on fire, you’ll be able to live in a luxury penthouse, stockpile canned goods, race sports cars around the streets, and basically fulfill your every crazy desire. Cozy Catastrophe? Screw that. We’re talking about a Badass Catastrophe.

The plague will serve to rapidly calcify bones and soft tissue, freezing those affected in place, whether they’re sitting at a desk, hanging out at the park, or sleeping in bed—we think it will add a real creepy element to the game, being surrounded by “statues” of the once-living. (Though the remains can be safely burned if you’re trying to clear out a “home base.”) We figure some twisted bastard will make the “statues” into human chess sets, or pose the bodies in weird scenes, which should add to the horror element that so many players enjoy.

We intend to release the plague about six weeks after our Kickstarter funds. We’ll use the money to buy more supplies, weapons, and amenities for the bunker where the development team and those lucky backers who sign up fast will be headquartered, and to build more autonomous robots to release and roam the landscape. (Yes, Virginia, there are killer robots, only now they’re not your friends dressed in costumes, but the real deal!) We can’t release the plague any sooner, because once all world governments collapse the cash won’t be good for anything, and we need to convert your money into more useful items before we can push the Big Red Button.

As you can see, we offer a number of reward tiers. We want a robust player base, so we’re offering a million slots at the “Survivor” level. Obviously we have to limit the number of backers at the “Roboticist” and “Warlord” levels to keep the game balanced, and the most exclusive levels are for those who can afford to join us in our totally sweet pimped-out bunker, loaded with all the comforts of home and more heavy weapons, small arms, badass vehicles, and cool body armor than we could ever need.

Please support us, and spread the word. The plague’s going to be released whether we reach our goal or not, and we deliberately set the goal low to recognize that fact. We’ve already got the bunker for the development team set up—but you’ll be a lot happier if we fund. Remember: you can’t win if you don’t play. And you can’t live if you don’t pay.


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