…and who to avoid and why.
Early on, if you’re a decent person, your impulse will be to try to save as many people as you can. And, if the Outbreak looks like it’s going to be contained and controlled and a promising treatment developed soon, that’s not a bad idea. However, if the Outbreak overwhelms civil authorities and you find yourself in the midst of a full-fledged “The End Is Nigh” apocalypse, you’re going to want to be a bit pickier about who you save and who you leave to fend for themselves. Now, bear in mind that this is just a list of guidelines and suggestions and not a hard-and-fast Gospel so with your grain of sodium chloride ingested, we shall proceed.
Those To Save
This is my wall and I’mma guard it, k?
It’s a simple fact that any group is going to need a good number of defenders. These are your Ricks and Dales. Almost all the able-bodied adults (male and female) will be called on to handle defense but there will be a couple of them for whom defense of the group is going to be a primary calling. Leadership might also tend to go naturally towards them or it might not but they will generally be mostly concerned with strategies that ensure that the group survives over the long term and that the people within the group have their talents and skills used in ways that benefit the group’s chances to survive.
That said, the defenders will tend to get so focused on survival that they will forget all about living and growing. They do suffer from tunnel vision and can adopt something of a bunker-mentality wherein anyone outside the group is not to be trusted. They will need the occasional break from defense to something else in order to keep this from happening.
Is Jim gonna have to smack a bitch?
Builders are good, too. These are your mechanics, your carpenters, your handy-men. If you break it, they can fix it. Most of them will have worked with their hands before the Outbreak but some of them will not. Those who weren’t handy-men (or women) before the Outbreak will generally have a way of looking at things or seeing potential in a place or in items and inventing something that makes you remember the scene from Apollo 13 when the NASA guys managed to make the “wrong” CO2 filter fit in the CLM opening so the crew wouldn’t asphyxiate on the return trip (it was awesome). You’ll want these people around because they’ll make life so much simpler and they’ll be able to repair, replenish, or just flat out invent and innovate their way through the Outbreak. Sometimes their hair-brained ideas will blow up in your face but sometimes those ideas will lead to breakthroughs that make Salk look like a slacker.
However, the two types of builders exist in a very yin-yang relationship. Sometimes they get along great and you’d think they are all speaking a language that no one else knows. Other times getting them to work together makes herding cats look simple.
Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I’ve gone stupid, son
Teachers are those who have knowledge and can pass it on to others. And, yes, everyone is going to be a teacher in some form or fashion during the ZA. However, the elderly and women who are pregnant or with young children will generally be the primary teachers in your group just because that’s how the resources are going to fall out. That said, if you stumble across someone who is a biologist, a chemist, an engineer, a physicist, an astronomer, or has other highly advanced knowledge of the sciences like that — save them unless they are completely irredeemable because that knowledge is fucking invaluable.
What? It’s true
Thinkers come in all shapes and sizes. They’re not just the verbose, lettered, bookish types who can quote all manner of esoteric arcana at the drop of a hat like me. Some of them are the surly, crossbow-wielding type who could track the wind over rocks. The commonality is that we all live in our heads, we tend not to deal well with other people, social graces escape us completely, we’re way outside our comfort zone dealing with “teh feelz” of any kind, we tend to act quickly and sort out how we feel about it much later (if ever) and some of us can rationalize damn near anything even if we know it’s immoral and unethical.
Still, we generally come in useful, we’re fairly low maintenance, we pitch in and help out, and aside from the fact that we have a tendency not to socialize, we’re not bad people.
You can count on us for anything
These are the people who don’t fit into any particular category above or who maybe kind of fit into some of them but not completely. They may not be specialists but they work hard, are honest, do their share, make life easy for others, are fun to be around, and genuinely care for the rest of the group. You need them if you’re ever going to have any hope of rebuilding the world. These are people like Glenn, Beth, T-Dog, Carol, Martinez, Michonne, Tara, Tyreese, Carl… They aren’t perfect but then, no one is.
Those To Avoid
Avoid. Avoid. Avoid!
It doesn’t matter how close you are to them, how long you’ve known them, how much you care for them, or how skilled they are — drama queens are going to be more trouble than they are worth and they are going to get you killed. In the ZA, the energy they consume is going to be greater than that which they contribute. Their need to be the center of attention and the constant siren-call of their psyche for self-reinforcing immediate gratification is going to get you (and everyone else) eaten by the undead. Avoid them. Avoid them at all costs.
Heed my advice: don’t stick it in the crazy
If the population drops by 90%, there’s going to be chaos. Yes, you are going to need to concern yourself with reproducing and that means you are going to have to start thinking about things like genetic variability and possibly considering alternate marriages like line marriages (as from The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress) or something like that to avoid the bottleneck (or Founder’s) effect which can happen if things get really, really, REALLY bad (like if there are less than 10,000 people in the world). However, even with those “alternative” schemes in mind, adultery cannot be tolerated. Men and women who have committed to a relationship — in whatever form that takes in your group — have to be faithful. If they’re not, then that behavior can’t be tolerated.
It’s not actually the sex per se that is the problem — it’s the secrecy and betrayal. Minus those, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Egomaniacal Totalitarian Messiah Wannabes
Bet you thought I was gonna post The Governor
You will run into more of these than you would have believed. Most of them will be very charismatic, persuasive, and charming or will be able to claw their way to the top of a power structure and use their influence over the muscle to maintain their power base. If you happen to stumble across a group like this, get away from them and put as much distance between you and them as you can. They will wind up destroying their group and killing whoever is with them once their ego is threatened and, in a ZA, their ego will be threatened.
There is one last group of people — the largest group of people, actually. They are the Questionables. Some of them can be saved and some of them can’t. It will all come down to your individual experience with them.
In our next entry, we’ll go over some of the forms of groups that you’ll encounter might take and how to deal with them and their command structures.