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Where do all these undead come from?


mausoleum (Photo credit: andrewpaulcarr)

One of the ideas I just was having while thinking about the Wilderlands and their inherent danger was the amount of Undead one might encounter.  Where do all these come from anyway? There is not really a necromancer around everywhere, is there?

No, there isn’t. But what we have is ruins and lost villages, thorps that never had a chance, and the remains from battles long forgotten who never received a proper burial. And even if the dead received a proper burial their people might be gone now, and nobody would take care of their graves anymore.

In a lot of cases it might be that burial rites in a fantasy culture are not so much about giving people some closure about the loss of a loved one, but also to prevent their loved one to come back wrong. If graveyards and other burial places are not taken care of, if the spirits are not satisfied with the care they are given, they might just decide to come back. Alternatively if the empty bodies of the dead are not protected by reverence over time it might be that other, malicious spirits slip in and decide to use the body to fulfill their cravings  and desires.

d10 Why is that Undead around Table

1. Necromancer
2. The stars are right
3. Desecration, intentional
4. Desecration, unintentional
5. The lonely dead
6. Bodyjacker
7. Hell is full
8. Ancient battlefield
9. Wandered off
10. Escaped Slave

Necromancer: he/she is training the art of necromancy, local authorities might offer a small amount to catch the graverobber
The stars are right… well, right enough for some dead to come back at least. The rest of the apocalypse might wait a bit longer, but for tonight the characters might meet 2d6 other undead of the same type around
Desecration, intentional: someone desecrated the gravesite, intentionally. Of course they might not have thought that their actions would make the dead walk again, but who would have thought? The gravesite needs a small ritual or cleansing performed to keep the dead from walking. A cleric might know what to do here.
Desecration, unintentional: someone desecrated the gravesite, unintentionally. “What do you mean our inn is build on an ancient Elvish graveyard?”. Technically a ritual would be needed here as well, but finding out what ritual that might be can be an adventure on it’s own. Turns out the tribe that lived here emigrated to the other side of the country, last century or so…
The lonely dead: nobody took care about the right rites for too long, now the dead feel lonely. So they come out of their graves to see their relatives. And then scold them for being so negligent in their duties. This might be solved by holding some simple rites to appease the dead.
Bodyjacker: these bodies were just lying around without an owner, so something (bad spirits, demons, etc.) decided to use them. Now they either need to be exorcised, or the bodies need to be made unusable
Hell is full, the dead walk the Earth. Oh, well… tonight town is full of them, for no reason at all it seems. But pretty much every more or less decent body (and some of the worse off) are on the street. 1d100 zombies and skeletons
Old battlefield: hundreds of warriors fell here, and nobody had time to bury them all. Now that just pisses off some people. There they died for their cause and now they are left to rot. As a twist on this the adventurers have been hired to lay a certain body to rest, but that one has wandered off in the meantime.
Wandered off. Somewhere in the area is a large tomb/mausoleum/dungeon full of the undead. This one just managed to walk past all the traps and doors into the outside.
Escaped Slave: someone in this area has been using the local dead as a cheap if gruesome workforce.  Now that might be of interest to the local authorities. Or it might be just what people do with the dead in this area.


One response to “Where do all these undead come from?

  1. Isabella Noel January 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Superstition also played a part in the selection of cross-roads in the burial of suicides. Folk belief often held such individuals could rise as some form of undead (such as a vampire ) and burying them at cross-roads would inhibit their ability to find and wreak havoc on their living relations and former associates.


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