View Full Version : Something worse than undead

Orcus The Vile
2015-07-24, 09:30 PM
So in my new camping I want a group of necromancers convincing a kingdom that necromancy and undead are not bad things.

But I need a type of creature that they can use as a scapegoat. I need a vile type of creature or one that they can convince people that are far worse than the undead in the moral aspect.

Any ideas? Golems perhaps?

2015-07-24, 09:37 PM
Demons, easy. They're inherently evil as part of their nature. Illithids as a second choice.

2015-07-24, 09:44 PM
Depending on your game, anything from the Far Realm (or other reality-warping abomination from beyond this universe.)

Dragons are a good one too.

However, it could make for an interesting campaign if your necromancer created a new kind of undead. Like a flesh golem, except so unbelievably lifelike that it is difficult to realize that the thing is undead. It needs to be a giant rampaging monster that needs to be fought. Depending on how evil your necromancer is, he may want to create such creature as to convince the king that his undead are useful in defeating it, thus allowing them into the royal military. Of course, the creature has to be secret until it's released.

2015-07-24, 09:48 PM
Man is the real monster

Oberon Kenobi
2015-07-24, 09:59 PM
Man is the real monsterCliche though it might be, this.

Point to the wars, the barbarian hordes, the bandits and plagues and whatever else that turned man, woman and child into corpses in the first place. That's your real evil. The necromancers? What they do might make people uncomfortable, but the undead they raise can help rebuild a land ravaged by war and guard against far worse things. Like keen steel and keener malice.

Scapegoats only hold the people's attention until the threat is gone. If you really want them to stay on your side, you need to convince them that you're on theirs instead of just being the lesser of two evils.

...Mind you, if the necromancers are actually evil and are just lulling the kingdom into a false sense of security, then yeah, demons and mind flayers are great. :smalltongue:

2015-07-24, 10:37 PM
The best scapegoat is something that already plagues this kingdom - preferably something that specifically engages in the kind of nasty crimes that undead generally don't commit (like crop destruction or mass arson). It works even better if you can specifically make your undead out of whatever menace that was. if you produce your skeleton horde by killing off the orc horde and using the skeletons as a garrison against more orc attacks, that's going to go a long way.

2015-07-24, 10:41 PM
Kender could work.

Milo v3
2015-07-24, 10:55 PM
Fey can work, since they are often erratic, mind control innocents, and attack the resource gathering locations of the kingdom (wood cutting, mining, farms, etc.).

2015-07-24, 11:22 PM
getting thrown back into the hand :smallmad: and then counterspelled!!!:smallfurious:

wait... this isn't magic the gathering? My mistake

2015-07-25, 01:12 AM
This totally depends upon your gameworld (and therefore system).

Most of the suggestions so far seem to be D&D-based, but that's not an assumption that is valid for this (there are sub-forums for that).
I think I can rule out Glorantha (another sub-forum).

Demons as suggested above are always a good choice.
If you have a Medieval-Europe flavor then the Fay are a good choice as they got blamed for a lot of things ("The undead are our only defence!")
If a "western 'understanding' of the orient" flavor then Oni meet the demon suggestion, alternatively Gaki.

On the "people" option - always a good choice to blame - there are really two options:
1. A neighbouring country that isn't powerful enough to really cause problems.
2. Any minority in the population that isn't well integrated with the main population (historically think of Jews and Roma).

2015-07-25, 02:19 AM
To figure it out, lets look at why undead are so squicky, and then try to outdo that. From least awful to most awful:

- Undead are constant reminders of death. They make something which most people put out of mind as an abstract fear into something concrete and everpresent. People know that they will die some day, but generally to protect themselves they don't think about that constantly - otherwise, you'd see a lot of 'well I'm going to die eventually anyways, so why do anything?' kind of depression. So undead which can be recognized as such can psychologically destabilize the living population around them.

- Undead are beings who were once someone, but after their death they're now someone else serving the purpose of the necromancer. So each corpse walking around is a reminder to the friends and family of the person who became that corpse of that person. In some sense, its stealing the impact or significance of that person's death. There are also implications of violation here - the body belongs to the dead person or their family, so the necromancer is stealing it.

- In cultures with belief in the afterlife and the soul, there's also the unsettling thought of 'is this actually a husk, or is the person's soul trapped within?'. If the undead behaves differently than the living person, but still behaves like a sentient being, there's the potential implication that the soul has been twisted or altered by the working (rather than just replaced with a different agency).

Of course, there are lots of ways to lessen the negative impact of these. Sentient undead who are hard to detect and who behave like the person behaved during life and are not under the control of their necromancer are probably the easiest to get a society to adjust to - at that point its just a form of life extension with some minor side-effects. On the other hand, shambling rotting corpses mass-animated by government mandate, and which show faint signs of recognizing people they knew in life are pretty much the worst case scenario.

So this new monster needs to do worse than destabilizing the psychology of the population, constantly reminding people of old emotional traumas and sorrows, and violating a person's body and soul.

One thought is that anything which works through people's children might work. For example, some kind of monster which essentially takes over or infects a child even before birth and as the child grows slowly turns them monstrous. For maximum degree of awful, the child should retain enough of itself just long enough to show a glimmer of the person they could have become, just before the monster inevitably takes over.

If you really want a perfect storm, have it so that killing the child and raising them as sentient undead can actually cure them.

2015-07-25, 03:31 AM
Aberrations would be the other odds-on favourite; undead might potentially destabilize the population mentally; Aberrations would destabilize the population mentally just by being visible. Or by eating their brains :smalltongue: Basically, bringing in Aberrations would be setting up an Angels, Devils and Squid (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AngelsDevilsAndSquid) situation (warning, TVTropes link), or even an Evil vs. Oblivion (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvilVersusOblivion) (ditto) one, depending on how good/pathetic your Necromantic PR division is.

2015-07-25, 04:22 AM
Pick something the civilians don't need to have personal experience with. Fey and barbarians may be antagonistic, but most people have never had to deal with them directly and aren't directly opposed to them.

Demons and Aberrations, however, are pure evil, everyone can tell you that. Who hasn't heard the stories of the foolish mage who summoned a demon, only for the creature to lay waste to his sanctum? Who doesn't fear the tales of sentient blobs of flesh who are directly trying to turn our world into a warped wasteland?

2015-07-25, 05:49 AM
I nominate Tomies. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomie)

2015-07-25, 07:04 AM
Why not care bears?(if you already have lost your mental insanity)
Else you might try something like the Thing(infest people but they stay like they were before and are as smart as before but want to infest more people they are also more or less immortal because each cell is autonomous and able to infest someone and it regenerates and can take curious shapes see the movie from John Carpenter).

2015-07-25, 08:07 AM
Illithid would make a lot of sense for this.
It is stated in one of the books that undead are one of the few enemies who scare them. On account of not having functioning brains they are immune to mind-affecting abilities and can't have their brains eaten, this makes them pretty dangerous for mind-flayers. If a kingdom was having Ilithid issues an undead army would be a pretty good solution.

2015-07-25, 12:52 PM
Undead also remind people about their lack of control of their circumstances. Furthermore, the type of undead being used matters. As another poster said, zombies, ghouls and ghosts are very demoralizing to the living. If the necromancers can make masses of undead with their own agency, they would be considered a threat by other countries and probably wiped out. So I'm guessing they make dumb undead en masse. But lower undead are a lot like an army of constructs. Sure they don't have morale to worry about, but they also will never be opportunistic, and rely wholly on the skills (tactics) and abilities (how does the commander issue orders to the different undead?) of the being commanding them. If the command section dies, the undead army becomes very easy to defeat.

Finally, certain magic users could destroy such an army very quickly.

So why not just make them constructs instead of undead? Same basic outcome, less population morale damage. Now they're just unhappy that so much of the country's resources are going into making the soldiers.

2015-07-25, 01:22 PM
So in my new camping I want a group of necromancers convincing a kingdom that necromancy and undead are not bad things.

But I need a type of creature that they can use as a scapegoat. I need a vile type of creature or one that they can convince people that are far worse than the undead in the moral aspect.

Any ideas? Golems perhaps?

In my last campaign this came up. There were Lovecraftian monsters from the Far Realms that got stronger and more connected to the world the more living minds that knew about them. The necromancers proposed as a solution turning everyone undead.

2015-07-25, 01:34 PM
It's pretty hard to convince people that there's something worse than bringing back their loved ones through a horrid semblance of life with black magic.

But yeah, demons might work.

Honestly a better way would be to just lie about what the undead is, it's not really raping the cycle of life, they're just "different" and you're getting back the ones you lost.

2015-07-25, 04:33 PM
Daemons (or worshipers) of Chaos. Or Sith.

This is setting-dependent obviously, but if your setting has some sort of corrupting force that means people who enjoy fighting too much risk flipping out and turning into massively powerful, kill-happy maniacs (and who like tempting those who fight them into copying their powers and tactics in order to have a chance to defeat them, with the inevitable result that they'll end up switching to the dark side), then opposing them with a mindless horde of zombies or skeletons might make sense.

(Of course, constructs might be an even better solution, but that won't stop the necromancers arguing for an undead army).

2015-07-25, 05:22 PM
You need tons of feats for creating constructs for cheap else with the money for making the most basic construct you can feed 100 times the planetary population.(well not so much but it is still monstrously enormous) while there is ways to build undead for totally free with only one or two feats.
Also do not you find skeletons cute?(as a necromancer)
Also some constructs are super evil and scary.
(And most dnd golems needs you to imprison an non willing elemental inside which might be seen as way more evil than creating skeletons)

Lvl 2 Expert
2015-07-25, 05:33 PM
Find the biggest thing normal humanoids and the undead have in common that is viewed as positive by both, then find the largest group that doesn't have that. I have no clear idea where that will take you, but my guess is you're going to end up with something like outsiders or constructs or some smaller more specific group, because they're so unnatural they can't be killed by nonmagical means or can't be resurrected (by some means) or can't decompose or are incorporeal (depending on what type of undead this world has) or something like that.

I'd be easier if the whole country was just being overrun by a goblin horde or something, the undead wouldn't need any arguments to point them out as the bad guys, but them finding a good group to frame is cooler to think about.

2015-07-26, 04:58 PM
So in my new camping I want a group of necromancers convincing a kingdom that necromancy and undead are not bad things.

But I need a type of creature that they can use as a scapegoat. I need a vile type of creature or one that they can convince people that are far worse than the undead in the moral aspect.

Any ideas? Golems perhaps?



Start by blaming the "liberal media". In the case of D&D that would be the Bards.

Then, blame "environmental extremists" and "tree huggers". That would be the Druids.

Then blame "over-regulation". That would be the Paladins.

When in doubt, just blame the "other" people.

The ones with pointy ears will work in a pinch.

That zombie might be a mindless existential threat, but at least it's a red-blooded human mindless existential threat!

Not like one of those tree-hugging "metrosexual" elves.

Or one of those covetous gold-hoarding Jew-- dwarves-- Dwarves. Gold-hoarding Dwarves. (Yeah, that's what I meant. Dwarves. Totally not Jews. At all.)

And those haflings, willing to work for half the pay and comin' in and... takin' our jahbs!

Repeat that narrative often enough, throw some patriotic music behind it, and it will be taken as the truth. Particularly if the narrative is presented to a kingdom populated largely by gullible "morans".

Works like gangbusters for conservative Republicans and FOX news... so it should work just fine for some necromancers.

The kingdom will be embracing the undead faster than you can say "fair and balanced".

2015-07-26, 05:36 PM
Point to the wars, the barbarian hordes, the bandits and plagues and whatever else that turned man, woman and child into corpses in the first place. That's your real evil.
Plagues are a good one, I think. Especially if they can be attached to some sort of creature which you can fight. Building up an army and attacking the plaguebearers is just asking for a bunch of martyrs, which you really don't raise more than once at a time. But an army of skeletons? They'll be immune to the plague and can directly combat the beasts that is carrying it. They can also be raised en masse from the bodies of those killed by the plague, lending a bit of retribution to a necromancer's propaganda.

Depending on how the plague works and how exactly undead bodies function, they might even still be acceptable in society afterwards. (If they need to be quarantines or are carriers after, then it just means they are destroyed or kept in exiled areas when not in use - given how cheap undead can be made, that's not a large problem.)