I have a pretty wide variety of unusual skills myself. Balloon animals? I can do that. Nunchuck skills? Sadly, no. But I promise to be impressed by yours. But back to my skills - what's the point in being able to deal 3-card Monte or put together a wicked Halloween costume on the fly? It's all probably a lot less advantageous than you'd think. So I've been rating my various abilities in terms of how useful they'll be during the inevitable zombie invasion, because that's just how my mind works. And because really, when they come (oh, and they will come), it isn't just about being able to wield random weapons scavenged from a sporting goods store, it's also about being essential to your group of survivors so that when they have to decide whether to leave you behind or come back for a daring rescue, you'll be worth saving.
[caption id="attachment_916" align="alignnone" width="219" caption="TCG Skills are also important for this particular survival group."][/caption]
My co-blogger, Jackalope, is in good standing. He's funny, so that's a plus - he'll be popular. And he's a fast runner, so he'll definitely keep up. He can juggle, and that's...well that's only rating about a 3 on the "critical skill" scale I just invented, but you just never know. When he's trying to manage a grenade, a vial of antidote and a firearm while holding the door against the invading undead, that could still come in handy.
Me, on the other hand? Well I'm not so funny, and I'm not particularly sure-footed. I'm fairly likely to be the one who gets separated from the group and stuck up a tree, on a roof, or cowering inside a locked van being swarmed with rotting zombies trying to break in and eat my brain. I don't want to be that person, but I know at some point my physical prowess will fail me. I'll surely stumble over a root, or my foot will slip from the escape ladder, or maybe I'll just freeze in a blind panic. I don't know know it will happen, but I do know they aren't coming back for me unless I've got skills!
[caption id="attachment_917" align="alignnone" width="280" caption="Poor Bebs...they got her when she stopped to pet a stray kitten. We're totally not going back for her."][/caption]
So yeah...I've got a handful of talents that rate a 7 or better on the Zombie Survival Critical Skill Scale. I've got first aid and CPR, but who doesn't? I can cook, though. It may not seem like much until you're living off of cans scavenged from an abandoned supermarket and small rodents you've managed to snare near camp, but I like to think I could take that combination and make it something you'll actually be able to eat without crying. Somehow. And I do have vast knowledge about nutrition. Sure, you won't be watching your carbs too closely when you're eating something you once saw on Fear Factor, but someone like me can be the difference between fighting off zombies and fighting off zombies while suffering from scurvy and rickets. Trust me here, you do not need an additional challenge in the zombie battle.
[caption id="attachment_918" align="alignnone" width="127" caption="Get to the warehouse...we've got cases of this stuff. "][/caption]
So what can you do? You'll be worth gold to the survivors if your chosen profession is doctor, nurse, engineer, mechanic or farmer. Celebrities, real estate agents, lawyers, hairdressers and others of this ilk should probably just go ahead and join the ranks of the undead early to spare everyone the angst of watching them be picked off. The rest of us do appreciate your sacrifice. But here's a partial list of critical skills, compiled by me. I suggest you master as many as you can:
- Dual Wield. My survivor group will definitely put up with a lot of flack from the guy with superior knowledge and proficiency with a wide array of weapons. Navy SEALS? Army Rangers? Weird hairy guys with a secret arsenal in the mountains? I'm looking at you.
- Intelligence. This is one you can develop yourselves, friends. Learn the enemy. I'll share more information with you on that next week, but for now, just realize that all those comic books, movies and video games aren't really entertainment, they're reference material. If you happen to be in some other zombie survivor group, they'll appreciate your expertise.
- Stamina/Toughness. Okay, you don't have to be built like George St. Pierre to survive, but the fact is, at some point, you'll probably need to sprint. At the very least, manage to clip along for a brisk walk. If you're lucky enough to encounter the slow and shambling type of zombie, that may suffice. But it does pay to be fit. Having the brute strength to hold back a moaning horde of half-rotten corpses against the warehouse door while I make my brave escape is just plain convenient. And if you are built like St. Pierre, well, welcome to my ToyWiz.com survival group, friend.
- Engineering. Oh yes, at last, the engineers get their due respect! Whether you're the kind of engineer who gets the generator running and fixes the abandoned tank we found just outside of town, or the kind that makes big KABOOMs when something breeches the perimeter, I'm awfully glad to have you on the team.
- First Aid. Surgeons, doctors, nurses, EMTs...please try to make your way to the ToyWiz.com warehouse. You're definitely worth your rations. And at this point, it doesn't matter if you're still a student, a veterinarian, or whatever. I'm not looking for credentials here; just know your way around the human anatomy and bring one of those nifty black doctor bags so I'll know you're legit.
- Wisdom. Okay, if you've played any RPGs you already know that's not the same as intelligence. We'll need all the able bodies we can get, but not if you're constantly making terrible decisions that put us all at risk. So sharpen your wits! Zombies aren't very bright, but please...be smarter than they are, at least.
- Tradeskills. I'm using a catch-all here, though some are obviously far superior to others. You're good with paper crafts? That's nice, but not particularly important. But if you can forge a weapon, that's awesome. Slightly less awesome, but still handy, is the ability to pick a lock, sew, tan, grow food, cook or make fire. With a modicum of effort and the internet (or the Scouts), you can master all of that well enough to be pretty important to the team.
- Hand-to-hand combat. Sorry, MMA fans, but this is actually less important than you might think, no matter what level you've achieved. Sure, it is somewhat useful, but come on...if you're going mano-a-mano with zombies, I don't care how good you are...you're going to sustain an injury. And well, when you do, I'm going to have to take you out. I'm really sorry in advance, but I'll totally do it. Don't look at me that way...it's for the safety of the group. What do you mean it's just a hangnail? I can't take any chances.
[caption id="attachment_921" align="alignnone" width="289" caption="Oh...hi! Didn't see you standing there."][/caption]
So there we go, guys. That's all I can think of for now, but I'd love to know if there's something I overlooked here. What talents do you have that will come in handy? Comment to let me know. If it's really good, I'll give you the code word to get past the perimeter so you can join our group of survivors when it all goes down. And trust me here...not only will we survive, our group will have some fun out there.