View Full Version : Discussion of Interesting Undead Encounters (not necessarily fighting)

Mr. Mask
2015-11-06, 01:10 AM
I was wondering about having some interesting encounters with undead creatures. Not necessarily combat encounters, but some mystery or job or lore related to the dead which would be interesting to have.

As an example, I was thinking of having an original undead creature, a vengeful spirit that reanimates due to some horrible crime committed against someone they loved in life (probably a grand daughter). This could cause some confusion for the adventurers charged to investigate the matter of undead activity, as the undertaker helps them to check the recently dead and prime candidates, but none of them show signs of reanimation. However, I'm not sure what kind of appearance or powers such a revenant would have.

Another idea was the party being hired by the dead, unwittingly. Though I still haven't enough details of the nature of the ghosts or the job to flesh that out.

2015-11-06, 01:57 AM
A PC's friend goes missing right before his wedding. The PC was supposed to be the best man/matron of honour.
The friend's betrothed begs the PCs to find out what happened. Turns out he's a vampire now, voluntarily, and wants to leave the old life behind. What now?

Needless to say, the vampires as a group have a series of evil plans in the offing.

Sredni Vashtar
2015-11-06, 09:00 PM
I've always liked the implication in the Dawn of the Dead that the undead just habitually do what they did in life. Stumbling across a congregation of skeletons in a ruined church would be frightening, especially if not all of the skeletons are undead and they don't all animate at the same time. Obviously, this only works for the mindless undead most of the time, but could work for some free-willed, intelligent undead too. Imagine a Lich that is unable to experience personal growth due to being stuck as the same power-hungry, ruthless son of a behir as he was when his mortal life ended.

2015-11-06, 10:45 PM
Consider a group of intelligent, flesh-eating undead (let's go with ghouls as a example) secretly allied with a neutral religion with a death focus. In a particular area prone to general evil phenomena, say, a border area next to a known evil nation or a wasteland or someplace generally nasty, priests of the death religion may attempt to remove any chances of the bodies of the dead from rising or being affected by necromancy by handing them over to the ghouls for consumption. Burying the bodies could leave them open to being risen from the grave, and even total immolation of the bodies could still leave materials and the right 'spiritual atmosphere' for necromancers and such to do their dirty work, by using the ashes to call up a soul or something similar.

Giving the bodies to the ghouls does not effect the spirits of the dead in the slightest, and leaves little for a necromancer to work with, allowing the ghouls to dispose of them could prove to be quite efficient, freeing up more priests to combat the threats themselves; in addition, a loyal pack of ghouls provides the priests allies that may not be immediately vulnerable to the various threats that make those dead bodies in the first place.

Mr. Mask
2015-11-07, 12:11 AM
Coalhoda: Someone you know becoming undead is an interesting concept. I guess the main part would be setting up the NPC.

Stavrost: Hmm, I can imagine a blacksmith shop people rarely go to unless in dire need, because the ghost who used to work there has returned to work and will make magical things for you--just be careful not to mention they're a ghost.

Pokonic: This is a neat idea, and I was thinking of something similar.

One idea I had was you could make something of an interesting adventure if there were rumoured sightings of undead in a town. And the adventurers are hired to help with investigating and dealing with it. Their job would largely entail guarding the undertaker as he checks the burial sites and bodies for signs of being disturbed, or improper burial rights. If a site is suspicious enough, they might decide to have him dig it up and check, finding anything from places that have been grave robbed, to things possibly creepier (someone buried alive, for instance).

2015-11-07, 05:58 AM
Cliche ones:

A normal looking village in the day time is revealed to be populated by zombies at night.

A mercenary group cursed with immortality must be convinced to join the right side in a important battle.

The wight of a king has been murdering adventurers, looking for his stolen crown.

At the bottom of a flooded valley, those who perished continue to farm the riverbed.

A good king is cursed to take the form of a vampire every night.

An ineffectual king is tormented every night by his more competent ancestors.

A wraith may be the only available source of knowledge that can save the land.

An host of ghost children pursue the war veterans who failed to protect them.

An invading army from across the mountains threatens the kingdom and only an alliance with the ghoul king of a local pass can stop them.

A half-celestial operates an asylum for insane (eg still have a moral compass) vampires. Are the locals just prejudiced or is one of the inmates the cause of a series of local illnesses?

2015-11-07, 09:41 AM
First, create a crime mystery story which would be very hard or impossible to solve using material means.

Second, find an undead creature (or other supernatural creature) with a motif and abilities which would suit the situation and allow it to give strategic information to those who want to solve the mystery.

Whole session's worth of gaming can then result from the players' characters either trying to pursue the clue given by the supernatural entity, or trying to stop others from pursuing the clue, depending on whether the characters are the solvers of the problem, the victims of the problem, or the cause of the problem.

Bonus points if one of the PCs is the guity party, and the others don't know it, and are trying to solve the case.

Basically, watch Crimson Peak and then copy-paste the underlying structure to adventure after adventure. :smallwink::smalltongue:

Sredni Vashtar
2015-11-07, 06:52 PM
Stavrost: Hmm, I can imagine a blacksmith shop people rarely go to unless in dire need, because the ghost who used to work there has returned to work and will make magical things for you--just be careful not to mention they're a ghost.

I like it!

2015-11-08, 12:58 AM
Coalhoda: Someone you know becoming undead is an interesting concept. I guess the main part would be setting up the NPC.

Yeah, it definitely has to be someone that at least one of the players (not PCs) cares about.
That can be hard to judge, because when you're the GM you often have a very different opinion of various NPCs compared to your players :)

Mr. Mask
2015-11-08, 08:35 AM
To add another idea, the PCs are in a war against the zombies. One day, they encounter a squad of their own men flying their banner, and supposedly approach. When they get close, they start to see the clumsy march isn't the sign of worn soldiers, but worn corpses. By this point the PCs have likely gotten close, and the zombies stand at attention. The officer comes forward, and salutes. "Sssi-hir... readdy for dyuty si-hir." The zombie band will take whatever orders they're given, but may slowly become more and more beast-like as they lose the ability to comprehend their surroundings.

More depressingly, some of the zombies talk about what they'll do when the war is over, and try to regale the adventurers with tales of all their successes against the undead.

2015-11-10, 02:16 AM
There was an old dnd story, where the DM rolled a single zombie for a random encounter, but rolled "friendly" for its disposition. I'm still not sure if this was actually kosher by that edition's rules. Nonetheless, over time the zombie kept following the party and kept its distance, but at times helped the party in fights before shambling back off again. It was kind of an enigmatic thing, but there are a number of directions that one could take with it.

Mr. Mask
2015-11-10, 04:41 AM
Reminds me of Baldur's Gate, where a friendly ghoul offers to join you just before basilisks appear (it's immune to being turned to stone).

2015-11-10, 07:33 AM
watched an anime recently called overlord. it's premise is one that's popping up a lot recently, the "stuck in the gameworld as my character" one, but it has a twist:

the protagonist's character in the game is a lich.

This has led to several times where he himself notes that he should be feeling something... As a former human, he knows he should feel sorry or happy or aroused, but as an undead he just doesn't so he tries to fake it. it's an interesting concept at the very least.

I would say bringing this concept on a not super ultra mega being might be a tad more interesting, where something like a newly turned ghoul or vampire is trying to fit in with society under his old identity or a new one while hiding his affliction out of fear of being adventurer'd but nothing feels right.