View Full Version : How would an undead society feel like?

2018-02-10, 03:17 PM
So imagine a place where all the races dumped their undead and build a wall around it, called the dead lands and hoped the undead monstrosities would just eat themselves.

What if instead of that they thrived and developed? What would the society feel like?

Their dreams, politics, desires, dramas, problems, classes, angst, art, music and all that be like?

Notes: all forms of undead you cna think of live there, none of them are mindless even the skeletons and zombies.


2018-02-10, 03:31 PM
Where did the undead come from? Do they have the personalities/memories of the people they were before they died? Alternatively, were they created from nothingness as slaves/workers?

If they have their memories, they might try to continue their old lives, as much as possible, out of habit, or desire to perfect their crafts, or simply as hobbyists, drifting from one interest to the next throughout the millenia. Think about the way elves are commonly portrayed - long lives, mastering trades or dabbling in every art and skill, aloof, regarding others as beneath them. They might look down on the living, scurrying around as if time had any meaning at all.

If they were created from nothing, it might be very different. With no need for food, drink, or shelter, they might make bizarre purposes for themselves. A skeleton might want to know how many blades of grass there are, so it starts counting them. Why would it stop? Would a zombie that has no concept of pain, or fear, or death have any instinct for self-preservation? Any sense of "self" at all?

Is there anything that the undead want or need regularly? A source of magic to keep them moving? Or are they literal perpetual motion machines?

Could they choose to sell their labor to the living? Would they want to expand their territory and population by undeadifying the living?

Edit: Another thing to think about would be: why would they choose to do anything at all? If they feel no pain, never get hungry, or thirsty, or need to go to the bathroom, why wouldn't they simply take naps all day? And by all day, I mean "for hundreds of thousands of years". They could spend their time thinking, or dreaming, or talking to each other without the need to breathe or work.

2018-02-10, 03:58 PM
Let's just say that when you die there is a % of chance of you coming back as a type of undead.

and the usual thing for vampires, Lichs, ghosts and all that jaaz.

Or are they literal perpetual motion machines?
Edit: Another thing to think about would be: why would they choose to do anything at all? If they feel no pain, never get hungry, or thirsty, or need to go to the bathroom, why wouldn't they simply take naps all day? And by all day, I mean "for hundreds of thousands of years". They could spend their time thinking, or dreaming, or talking to each other without the need to breathe or work.

Perpetual motion machines powered by negative energy.

Why? Just to vez the humans that baned them? Or something? i dunno what's a good reason to build a society anyway?

2018-02-10, 04:21 PM
The vampires and other undead are why they have imports and exports. Vampires in particular can't just stand around, they need blood like humans need food. As such, it's probably vampires driving the industry.

Incorporeal undead...I'm not even sure what they're doing there...

2018-02-10, 04:52 PM
Undead are parasitic creatures.
What happen if you take a pile of fleas and dump them into a field?

They all die.

The vampires all die from starvation. The zombies and skeletons do nothing. The liches all escape. The ghost dwell on their past mistakes like a bunch of losers. The poltergeists throw tantrums like idiots. The mummies do nothing, or maybe they escape (I've never understood exactly what trope mummies are supposed to fill other than "trap undead whops don't raid")

2018-02-10, 04:58 PM
I could see the spellcasting undead taking control of the weaker ones, and forming them into personal armies.

So, the zombies and skeletons wouldn't be doing nothing for very long - liches, spellcasting vampires, spellcasting mummies, would all be commanding them.

In Warhammer, both vampires and mummies rise to the top - in Nehekara, the Tomb Kings are the mummy rulers, with lich subordinates and skeleton soldiers. And in Sylvania, it's the vampires at the top.

In D&D, vampires can't "die again" from starvation - but they can end up crazy or immobile.

2018-02-10, 06:37 PM
Many undead might require some sort of substance that requires them to have contact with the outside world; some are controlled by the fears and drives they had as a member of the living, while others require actual nurishment provided by members of the living, such as vampires and ghouls. Those that don't, like lichs and similar types of undead, might look down on those that must do so.

Most undead will likely try and find a way to busy themselves; the more cerebral might form colleges/centers of learning and debate (what's a better way for a student to study under one of the old masters than to study under one of them?) while more martially inclined individuals would want to pursue improving themselves. You're average intelligent member of the undead would probably enjoy producing crafts, watching well-practiced undead performers sing and preform, or simply enjoy a night at the local tavern.

Also, it's best to consider how this all fits in with religion; is the average member of the society intent on eventually reaching the afterlife, or is the society the end result of a big negative energy leak that's caused a few thousand people to become undead? Is there any group of priests or advisors that exist to help newcomers 'transition' from the living to the undead? Can living relatives visit? What about children, when they're pretty much the same age as their parents after a few centuries of eternal unlife? Is there a 'immigration' policy for members of the living, or even a place for them? If you want to be slightly silly, you could make it a bog-standard for members of the society to try and put on airs of the whole situation being pretty great, greeting humans with a enthusiasm closer to that displayed in The Nightmare Before Christmas than the normal bog-standard undead-tainted city.

2018-02-10, 08:35 PM
"Walled off area where all the undead get dumped" and "undead are just like their old selves, only they keep on moving while not requiring any resources" becomes a lot harder to justify. Zombie Ted may not smell nice and may draw scavengers, but that's not worth exiling him from the kingdom entirely over. Skeleton Jane gets to combine her accumulated years of wisdom with a lack of frailties of flesh, and her only downside is that it's hard to match fashion when she's so skinny.

Most stories about undead have them be something very deeply wrong about them. Undead as robots (whether or not the original consciousness still drives the body) will buck those intuitions, simply because you'll have people having positive interactions with dead bodies. Is your goal here to have a kingdom of sentient perpetual motion people, or Halloween Town? This will require some assumptions, it wouldn't hurt to know what ultimate goal to make those assumptions towards.

Darth Ultron
2018-02-10, 08:38 PM
The vast majority of undead will go insane or otherwise suffer lots of mental disorders. Just the fact that they are still ''around'', but not ''alive'', but can never, ever live a ''normal'' life is bad enough. Even just the simple things like they can't eat. And worse that they can't, say, go to a bar and have a good time. And worst of all that they lose all their loved ones and everything they care about.

With the endless time undead have, they would quickly loose memories.

What art and music there would be would be a lot about Loss.

Fable Wright
2018-02-10, 09:26 PM
So, let's put together what we have here, hm?

1. A society of people without biological limitations.

So you have an entire society of people who cannot die of old age or overwork, and may or may not feel exposure or be able to experience emotion or anything save gross sensation. There was an anime, Log Horizon, that started out with this premise. The people couldn't die. They couldn't enjoy the taste of food. They didn't feel exhaustion from physical labor, they just... existed, without anything to do. This changed when some of the few people with the drive to keep exploring the world happened upon the secret of making food that let people taste again.

This kickstarted the boom of development in the world, where other people eventually discovered the secret and started inventing more and more things to bring joy back into life. So, first off, I'd say that the first thing this society needs is a core thing that a skeleton or ghost truly enjoys, that creates an economy and reason to exist.

2. A society utterly reliant on illegal imports.

As mentioned upthread, vampires need blood to live. Alhoons need brains. Ghouls need flesh. Some undead just have cravings—wights crave level draining, allips crave sanity, and so on. So some people are going to traffic humans across the wall in body-bags reserved for undead, and the undead will have something, be it gold or grown food or magic items, that they trade in return.

However, demand is always going to outpace supply, and you have some undead uniquely suited for human trafficking—vampires can turn into mist to evade capture, have superhuman abilities, and need some of the most nutrition from humans. I can imagine them as heavily involved in the upper tiers of, for lack of a better term, undead cartels that raid human lands for people to drain.

This can go down two routes. The first route is that this is mundane human trafficking turned up to 11, with captives being drained of their sanity, blood, and life force all to the brink of death, and then finally killed off for a ghoul to feed on. The other route is that the captives are treated not-terribly, with quite a lot of money and/or labor being spent on the food to continue feeding these people for as long as possible. Given that there's a high chance that the killed individuals can rise again as ghosts with no drives save an unrelenting need for revenge, there's a strong incentive to make captivity as not-miserable as possible.

3. Inherent and dramatic differences in individual power.

Person A dies and becomes a Nightcrawler that's a challenge for extremely powerful adventuring parties. Person B dies and becomes a Necrotic Cyst.

One of these can squish the other like a pus sac, and the other can't do anything about it, possibly even en mas. This will inherently lead to social stratification, and possibly specializations based upon roles. This was briefly touched upon with vampire cartels—they're inherently powerful, can back up their numbers with an army raised from outside, and need to be out there more. Essentially, the mercantile caste.

Liches, with their massive arcane powers and complete lack of need for external sustenance, likely live closer to the center. They have a unique resource (massive arcane powers) that others want—and anything they want in return, they can probably get. They are also some of the most self-motivated undead (having attained great arcane power before dying and likely pursuing the chance), and include some of the most religious individuals (with possible divine casting). They're most likely at the top of the caste structure—almost as durable as ghosts, their powers desired everywhere, and nothing to dangle over them to get them to dance to your whim.

Ghouls and wights, with their need for flesh/craving for lifeforce, their anti-living abilities, and their inability to come back after they are killed, are likely the core of the warrior caste, accompanying merchants on their excursions and given good treatment given that they are actively putting their entire existence on the line for the sake of the civilians. They might not be the strongest, as an odd quirk of D&D-style undeath, but they are stronger than the average worker. Nightcrawlers and other similarly powerful non-respawning undead likely make up the elites of this caste. Powerful respawning warrior undead like Deathknights and some Vampires are the (likely feared more than any other) vanguards.

Then you have the Laborer caste, the skeletons and zombies who have enough functionality to actually create the things that other castes like/maintain the continued existence of humans that are being fed on, who... well, are peasants in a new skin. They may gain adventurer levels and change castes, perhaps, but they have the fewest innate advantages. Still better than the Untouchables (skin kites, necrotic cysts, and so on) that can't actually pursue crafts or entertainment due to their lack of appendages. They... got the raw end of the stick, and do the menial jobs that even the people who do menial jobs don't want. I can't imagine what they are or how miserable those people will be.

4. People enter the city far faster than people can end.

Let's face it. Throw enough bodies in one place, and they'll be crawling over one another. Eventually there will be so many incorporeal undead that the air is just a mass of walking tormented souls. Some of them, clearly, need to die to make room for everyone else—which poses an interesting and terrible situation indeed where the newest undead are the ones most likely to get knocked off. The survivors of any kind of elmination event hold clear advantages, and have been around long enough to have skills that other dead value. Whether they're purging their numbers by sending warriors at people or by setting up some form of gladiatorial combat, there's definitely some means of keeping their numbers under control.

Putting this all together

You get a very Aztec-like society. Social castes; constant ritualized and formulaic wars for prisoners and limiting population; god-kings and high priests; a constant drive for very lethal entertainment. New entries, without anything of value to their name and needs for what society can provide, are likely entrants into these blood games (non-bloody games? Blood-is-the-reward games?) given that it's the fastest way to make some coin if you survive—and what, exactly, are you losing if you don't?

The aristocracy is likely even more bloody, as respawning undead need to put a lot of effort into culling competition and limiting their own numbers if they're going to make any headway. You might not have tropical heat, a jungle, and stepped pyramids, but... well, you've got all the factors that would point a civilization in a very Aztec direction.

2018-02-10, 11:04 PM
Zombie Ted may not smell nice and may draw scavengers, but that's not worth exiling him from the kingdom entirely over. Skeleton Jane gets to combine her accumulated years of wisdom with a lack of frailties of flesh, and her only downside is that it's hard to match fashion when she's so skinny

Hate and bigotry never makes sense darling.

2018-02-10, 11:44 PM
Maybe the whole society would gain the goal of curing death through science. Many of the "species" of undead still have functioning brains and nervous systems. Is there any reason they couldn't work on cloning replacement organs (from their own tissue!) or even using stem cells + magic to restore a "dead" body to life?

Can a vampire get a bone marrow transplant so that it can be its own blood source?
Can a zombie's body be induced to heal?
Can a skeleton regrow a body? Be polymorphed?

2018-02-11, 04:01 AM
Initially, there wouldn't actually be any need for a society. Basic undeath basically strips away everything that would generate any wants, needs or desires (no need for food, shelter and clothing, no fear from predators, for example).

But very soon the problem would start with the "feeders" and "breeders". A good chunk of undead are parasitic and can only really function when embedded in a living society. Undead that create spawns are a different problem in a walled-off area. Not dying is a sure way for overpopulation and will get worse when he outside world keeps throwing in their unwanted undead.

At that point, either someone finds a way how to "farm human cattle", something that would set in motion a far-ranging change and need for a society, from infrastructure to industry, stuff like ownership and the need to have laws in the first place, and so on, or the "feeders" would die out and nothing would happen.

The other point is overpopulation, even more so with the "human cattle" scenario. You'd need to sustain the humans that in turn sustain the "feeders". That leads to an odd situation, as both "feeders" and "breeders" can turn "cattle" into "people", quickening the overpopulation problem, so basically a very harsh and control-based society would develop to deal with it, with the only sentence being resurrected to "cattle" status.

So, overall I'm getting the feeling that undead types that are normally considered to be powerful, like Vampires, would actually make up the bottom rung of such a society because it´s such a hassle to sustain them, while the normally more boring types can go on forever without any special needs.

As a side note, the undead condition and walled-in living will make for a "reverse city". The most sensible way to build would be straight down and going deep under ground.

2018-02-11, 08:19 AM
Let's throw some native barbarians, heretical alchemists and Easterlings willing to help the undead get revenge on the races.

Let's say the alliance of races dumped the undead in the barbaric lands and build a wall trying to kill two birds with one stone, hoping the udnead the "barbarians" would just kill eachother.

They can donate blood through alchemical means witout the risk of becoming vampires.


Let's say the dead lands consist of the 38,39,40 regions. It's not a small space.

Let's also say powerful magic spells in the wall won't allow the undead, even the vmapires and the lich to leave.

2018-02-11, 11:15 AM
Let's say the dead lands consist of the 38,39,40 regions. It's not a small space.

Ha, I thought you said the deadlands were made of 383,940 regions. That's a bit more than a small space

Mark Hall
2018-02-12, 11:55 AM
In Planescape: Torment, you encounter just such a society, the Dead Nations. Three kinds of undead are there. Skeletons are functionally humans of the society... relatively normal, with normally functioning brains and bodies. They talk normally, have many of the same concerns, etc. Zombies, the Rotting Herd, are slower, both physically and mentally, with massive speech impediments. There's a rare genius among them, able to function more normally, but they're still limited by their cage of flesh.

Lastly, there are the ghouls, those who feed on the dead (but not the undead). Violent, driven by passions and hunger, they're more fractious than either of the others.

2018-02-13, 06:11 PM
Actually, I recall a 2E Campaign setting called Requiem, set in Ravenloft. Il Aluk became Necropolis. And it was about the only campaign that allowed Undead PCs.

2018-02-13, 08:27 PM
Weak undead can be controlled directly by more powerful sentient undead. If I was a Vampire or Lich cast over the border, the first thing I'd be doing is to set about collecting up as many of the little undead as I can could control in order to establish myself as power in the new state-to-be and ensure my protection against others doing the same. In PF/D&D, greater personal magical power and greater number of troops controllable are directly correlated. Lesser vampires and liches would pledge themselves to greater ones as free servants for protection and to combine their forces against rivals of similar status, since they can't hope to compete against the more powerful ones' spellcasting and armies.

There'd be a period of internal turmoil as the strong asserted themselves and warred for power, until eventually, a deathless queen/king established herself as the most powerful and destroyed/mindslaved her rivals.

At this point, the outside world is watching and probably going "Oh ****. We ****** up." They've probably created the mightiest military force a fantasy world has ever seen, with a really good reason to go to war: undead require the living for sustenance. Such an legion would have near limitless logistical capacity, troops beyond the count of any mortal realm [and reinforced greater with every battle fought], unwavering morale and discipline, and near perfect coordination. The only breakdowns would be it's commanders trying to outdo each other for their liege's favor. The living could mount a preemptive attack, but that would serve to hasten the unification of the undead and reinforce their armies. The hammer of the dread monarch's wrath would soon fall upon the world of the living.

The wall created to keep the undead in would be the first to fall, and then the mortal realms nearest the undead kingdom. The powers that be among the living would have to unify to contain the expansion, and at some point the undead would overextend themselves and be pushed back to a stable border. At that point, things would settle down, with neither side truly able to dislodge the other.

The border would be a conflict region for some time though, as regular raids would be mounted over the border to bring across the living for sustenance until a large-enough self-sustaining population of native slaves was created. While the lesser and mid-level vassals would be the ones staging the raids, tribute would without a doubt be tithed up to the monarch and her immediate vassals, as each wouldn't be physically capable of challenging her/his liege and withholding their rightful due would quickly find themselves stripped of their holdings and possibly destroyed or mindslaved by their liege's forces and her other vassals'. While vassals would compete with each other, it can't get too out of hand, because troublemakers in a lord's court spell trouble for her, and causing trouble for your liege is a quick way to have your properties seized and redistributed and possibly be destroyed or mindslaved.

In addition, the captured lands, inhabited still by the living, would be highly prized fiefs to award to particularly loyal vassals to the undying crown [and to, of course, be revoked at will]. It wouldn't necessarily be hell on earth for the living, since their undead overlords have good reason to protect them and treat them well, but it wouldn't be pleasant, since they're also cattle/slaves. Skilled or enterprising members of the living would certainly find themselves ways into the courts and retinues of their masters, but they'd still be slaves; just skilled, valuable, and well-treated ones.

Understandably, the world of the living would be hesitant to exile additional undead, as a minimum-grade vampire could maintain from ten to hundreds of troops and higher level ones could have gargantuan personal armies with assets to spare. And while low level undead would probably prefer to remain local and prey upon small villages than become a cog in the dread monarch's machine and a playing piece for higher level undead, higher level undead might consider immigration. Without a doubt immigration would be encouraged, since every vassal represents a significant boost of power over a lord's peers, and opportunity to get more favor from a lord's liege.

With everything stabilized and settled down, I'm sure scientific research would be a pretty popular past time for the sentient upper classes: undead are uniquely suited for the pursuit and powerful and ambitious lords would certainly not overlook its benefits. Industrial activity would probably flourish, since a massive supply of labor that can work in incredibly hazardous conditions without pay or complaining coupled with the promise of riches would encourage such investment. The skilled living slaves and safe-but-weak vassals would probably produce art, literature, and music for their lieges. Civil engineering projects, like highways and aqueducts and railroads, would probably be slow in early development but pick up fairly rapidly, though they'd be of a highly utilitarian and carefully planned nature.

Of course, the world of the living would have problems with this. The undying kingdom would be economically and politically shunned by the rest of the world. Tariffs against their products would be high to protect domestic industry in the world of the living, and making military alliances with them would risk turning the rest of the living world against you without real promise of protection. The living would dispatch bands of adventurer-heroes [whom they can plausibly deny connections to] to make assassination attempts against the undead, and internal security would be high to guard against such terrorist attacks.

2018-02-13, 09:40 PM
There's multiple officially published examples you can draw from. Greyhawk has Nocturnus, and there are undead enclaves on Sigil; Golarion has Geb; and I believe there were Planescape and Ravenloft examples mentioned above as well.

2018-02-13, 09:47 PM
And if you're willing to look at unofficial settings, Kobold Press's Midgard has a subterranean Ghoul Empire directly below a Vampire Principality.

2018-02-15, 09:00 AM
Ok so this I got so far, I want to know what you guys think about:

Skeletons: With their perpetual motion machines characteristics they are the “backbone” of the deadlands (Hehehe puns), they suffered a lot of psychological damage in the process of turning, imagine you mourning your loved one only for him to get up and rip off his own flesh in front of you and all the funeral guests, deep down they feel the same, the only difference is that they are powered by negative energy, but negative energy is associated with evil so all your loved ones are scared of you and act as if you are a parasite posing as their family member. Some avoid you, some shun you, some outright hate you, then you get banned to a faraway land unable to come back.

The lack of flesh caused some clear and obvious angst...


But after some melancholic years of despair and depression soon the skeleton population awake for a new golden era, they started to relaise they haven't lost anything they only transcendent their petty and shallow flesh desires to something deeper and more profound.

Akin to a blind person getting more toned and in contact with their other senses soon the skeletons realized that their minds were as good as before if not sharper and quicker.

Without mortal constrains such as food, sleep and bodyfucntions the recently formed skeleton society was able to dedicate themselves fully to a cause and as long as they had a cause they were truly living, perhaps a deeper life than a so called non-undead person, by fully embracing their undeath they were able to truly live.

Their society is an intellectual and artistic one, their negative powered minds and senses allowed then to think, plan and adjust to any need.

They researched all forms of scientific, philosophical and ethical dilemmas, they had an eternity to train and develop their craftsmanship skills. Sometimes the lead engineer would be the same doing the heavy work in the constructions of their palaces and gardens, with no need for sleep or food the pleasure of working is what keep them going.

Without the body to experience worthy pleasure such as food, drink, sex, coffee, perfumes and other physical sensations they turned to the arts.

Painting, sculpture, glassworks and in special music. All forms of art were trained, mastered and perfected.

Acting as both the brain and ironically the muscle of the deadlands the skeletons are an important, happy and content part of the dealand’s society, making in a way the world of dead more alive than the world of the living.

2018-02-15, 10:42 AM
Why are the skeletons sapient at all? If they're going to be the backbone of the labor economy, it'd be better if they're mindless like D&D ones.

Amon Winterfall
2018-02-15, 12:05 PM
If the generation of undead is truly random, you may well guys out of the Epic Level Handbook in play. I would definitely recommend that Necrovale skew heavily towards low level (like the rest of the game.)

Skeletons and Zombies are unintelligent undead; they're competitive or better against fictionalized robots, and the backbone of Necrovale is essentially endless nearly-free labor.

Ghouls, Wights, Allips, Wraiths, ie the "Hungry Dead" are quite plausibly unable to restrain or control their desires. The rest of Necrovale is likely to have an ongoing problem trying to keep them from attacking the desperately needed traders, and it's possible that Necrovale simply extincts these sorts; alternatively, Necrovale may have some kind of mutually tolerated agreement that satisifies demand.

Vampires simply leave; if they don't, they're in the high end of the Hungry Dead and clearly not in power. They're clearly more capable than most of the Hungry Caste, but they have the same problems.

Above the Hungry Caste is the Agent Caste - the truly free-willed undead that lack these cravings. Mummies, Ghosts and Death Knights may be the mainstay of this tier; Necropolitans by the numbers dominate it if they're in the campaign, and Liches rule this Caste. Agents are the backbone of Necrovale and given their control over trade and their ability to function without inputs, they're what makes Necrovale a society. They make magic items, trade relationships, and have the great advantage that they have intrinsic reason to psychotically attack people.

Leading Necrovale is some kind of Super Caste - This is the Epic Level Handbook monsters, but it could also be a Lich, Greater Mummy or Ghost template that landed on a power monster, an undead that gained divine rank, or even a Planar figure (The King of Ghouls). There may not be a Super Caste, but if there is one, they're the complete leaders of Necrovale. A Worm that Walks, Hunefer, Demilich may have tough competition from others, but not from other Castes.

2018-02-15, 07:16 PM
Why are the skeletons sapient at all?

So that they can get over the angst of losing their flesh and learn enjoy other things in life? I don't know, I thought it would make a compelling story.

Fable Wright
2018-02-17, 04:32 PM
Let's say the alliance of races dumped the undead in the barbaric lands and build a wall trying to kill two birds with one stone, hoping the udnead the "barbarians" would just kill eachother.

This is what will happen, yes.

I hate to bring real-world statistics into imagination, but going by world population estimates...

Let's assume that 1 in 10 people who die become undead.

Let's assume, further, that 1 in 10 of those undead ever actually make it into the wall.

Judging by the number of births and deaths between 1200 AD and 1650 AD, within 450 years, 12.3 billion people will have died. This means 123 million undead added to this area, not counting the barbarians. That is nearly 1/4th of the entire world population in one place.

Let's assume 1/3rd of those are undead who need living sustenance from outside. That's 40 million people along that wall. Let's be generous, and assume that one person being fed on can sustain three undead for a week before dying, and being fed to the ghouls. So four undead fed per person per week.

You'd need 10 million people per week to feed to the undead at the wall. That is, roughly, 2% of the world population per week.

So let's assume that only the most powerful feeders, who have access to the indigenous barbarian tribes as food sources, are going to survive. This roughly cuts down the population figures by 32%.

So you have around 80 million undead who do not need food or water, do not die of old age. This is 16% of the entire living world's population.

Fortunately (for now), you've got an area the size of Antarctica to keep them contained. Let's be reasonable and chalk it up to the size of South America, give you some breathing room (heh). You've got 1/5th the entire population of South America on the continent right now, which... is actually fairly sustainable right now. Less so in the future, but for now, you've got enough space that undead are not crawling over each other.

So right now you've got mostly urban ecosystems for undead that are centers of trade and music, because skeletons apparently have literally nothing better to do. I would recommend looking at the movie Coco at this point, actually, as a representation of the kind of population density and sophistication you might have, given the powers of liches, worms that walk, nightcrawlers, and some vampires feeding the manufacturing and engineering requirements of a modern infrastructure. It would look surreal and otherworldly from the perspective of someone new coming in... at least until they realized that they needed to eat, and that there were starving refugees that would dearly like for them to become permanent residents. It's the easiest job in the world—get food and water in exchange for the undead taking some off the top for themselves and feel free to explore yourself in the city of wonders.

...You know, assuming that you feel well enough.

This is about as idealistic a city as you can get—in another few hundred years, you're going to start getting severe overcrowding. This will be remembered as the golden age of the undead society, so you can make it count, at least.

If a total of 10% of all dead people enter the city, it's... not a pretty picture.

Kaptin Keen
2018-02-17, 05:09 PM
China Mieville has a place in his ... um ... New Crobuzon saga called High Cromlech.

Ruled by undead, with humans as (obviously) treasured slaves or laborers. Vampires are (again, obviously) weak in this undead ecosystem, because ... blood is a ressource, and if it's not yours, you get to starve. So you'd better own some humans if you don't want to go hungry. The ruling class appear to be liches - who conveniently don't need sustenance.

Vampires, begging blood in the streets. I love that picture.

I always imagine undead societies to be very, very well kept. It's always mysterious to me why an undead overlord would chose to live in a tumbledown ruin - when he (m/f) has an endless supply of free, and tireless, labor at hand.

So pristine streets, well kept gardens, buildings and plazas in perfect repair, every outward sign of opulent wealth - and the utter silence of death, hanging everywhere, the subtlest of reminders that nothing breathes here. Nothing even moves, unless prompted to do so. And at night, of course, skeletal workers toil everywhere, crawling over roads and buildings to keep things sparkly.

Except if it's vampires, in which case the maintainance would take place in the daytime.

Honest Tiefling
2018-02-17, 05:31 PM
I dunno why, but I imagine the Skeletons and other non-attractive undead spurning the Vampires for being 'Fleshies'. Oh, there she goes again to seduce the living. What a perversion of the nature of undeath! Probably wants to be living, too! Well, suck it! You're dead like the rest of us and you better learn to like it!

2018-02-17, 05:39 PM
I dunno why, but I imagine the Skeletons and other non-attractive undead spurning the Vampires for being 'Fleshies'. Oh, there she goes again to seduce the living. What a perversion of the nature of undeath! Probably wants to be living, too! Well, suck it! You're dead like the rest of us and you better learn to like it!

I love it! ^o^

This is the kind of stuff I'm talking about, the little details of an undead society.

Honest Tiefling
2018-02-17, 05:55 PM
You...You liked my stupid idea? Well, either you do, or that was sarcasm. Either way, here's more:

Have you seen pictures of those skeletons found in the catacombs under Rome? Skeletons aren't going to wear clothes, and probably can't feel pain. Why not get yourself gilded? Or heck, put some adamantine on there alongside some gems.
Depending on your system, Undead might be able to see in the dark. Install some lanterns to see if you can't lure some breathing adventurers into one place. You know, like a bug zapper.
Do undead have a sense of smell? If not, get some noxious vapors to fumigate the place to get rid of pesky adventurers.
What do you do with the stuff coming off of zombies? That might or might not annoy other undead, but it might make for a good adventurer-deterrent. In fact, if you (un)live long enough in a rotting shell, sometimes people will go insane. Shuffle your unproductive members who are bonkers into some sort of undead-rotting moat. That should cut down on unwanted house calls.
People might not need houses, as you don't need to eat, sleep or store food. But I imagine they'd get mighty bored, so what would undead do for entertainment? Perhaps they recount famous deeds, or try to nudge descendants in the right direction (Rorik, did you have to join me in undeath BEFORE you had kids!?!), or just spy on the living via scrying.
Do the undead have a religion? I imagine they wouldn't quite fit in to the standard DnD religion, so maybe they are making their own.

2018-02-25, 06:53 PM
Ok so this is the new group:


With such an influx of people, religious people are bound to show up, feelling betrayed by their gods who cursed them to such miserable existence most of the zombies started to despair and lose hope.


After a while they came to peace with their situation and started administrating the religious affairs of the dead lands.


Although still followers and clerics of their old deities, in special to the new arrivals, they have created their own faith called "The rot", since the negative energy in their body makes their flesh rot, no matter how many times it's regenerated or how flesh their body was when they died they decided to stop fighting the rot and embrace it, rotting is not a curse it's a blessing, it's transcending their old lives, the natural state of things, which all must come to is rot and they have been blessed with a continued existence in the true form of all things.


As undead they are faster, stronger, able to heal hounds, regenerate limbs and have no need for food or sleep.

"All that is living turns to rot, the beauty of decay, the perfection of death, the end that comes to all, all that is born lives only to die and rot in the end, and in death the chosen ones shaw rise and serve the rot as the new masters and heirs of humanity." they preach, their religion offers salvation to all undead, and conversely curses all things living.


They are more than willing to spread the rot among the living, salvation comes in the form of a undead existence and when the wall does fall, since nothing lasts forever, they shall be waiting, prepared, with a millennia of training in their hands, the righteous divine hammer of the rot shall strike their foes and the world will achieve it’s true form, an everlasting realm of eternal decay.

2018-02-25, 07:33 PM
This thread is amazing. :smallbiggrin: