Undead are abominations. All of the world was created by the gods, and they did not create undead. They should not exist, yet they do. So how do they come about? There are three major ways, and a slew of minor ways, for them to be created.
- Raised. Necromancy is a different to divine magic (Clerics and Paladins) and arcane magic (Wizards and the like) as the other two are to each other. Clerics have no power of their own and are only a vessel for their god to work through. Wizards tap into and bend the fabric of reality to suit their needs. Necromancers manipulate life energies themselves to fulfill their desires.
- Cursed. Sometimes undead are created when someone has done something so wrong that the gods (working on their own or through a person who has suffered directly at the hands of this evildoer) deny them even the peace of death. Their state of undeath is a punishment and they exist in a state of continual suffering.
- Restless. When a person has suffered so tragically and emotionally that their spirit refuses to leave the world. They may be here until they finish some task, get revenge for certain wronging, or are so wild with emotion that they simply persist.
So what is the difference between living creatures and undead? A living person exists in two parallel planes of existence at the same time; namely, the material world and the spirit world. Between these two worlds is the ethereal plane. Imagine two magnets on either side of a pane of glass. As the magnet moves on the top side (the material side), the magnet on the bottom side (the spiritual side) also moves. The glass between these magnets is the ethereal plane, which serves as a buffer zone. The properties of these planes are very different. The material plane is energy positive, the spirit world is energy negative, and the ethereal plane is energy neutral. A bridge between spiritual and material worlds will create an energy flow in one direction: Material > ethereal > spirit.
This next part gets a little complicated because the language we use (English) doesn’t have words for the concepts we wish to express, so I’m going to create some new language around these ideas.
- Anima: A source of existance. Typical creatures have two anima, their life force and their spiritual force.
- Life/Matrial force: From the material plane. Traditional bodily life and health. Life force and material force are interchangeable terms, although the preferred nomenclature is that life force is from the material plane. Sometimes “life” is too loose of a word, and in those situations material force should be used.
- Spiritual force: From the spirit plane. Traditional spirit / mind / soul.
- Bound: Anima that originates in one plane is said to be bound to that plane. The body of a living person may, through magic, be moved to the ethereal plane, but that body is still bound to the material plane. It takes incredible effort to move anima from one plane to another, and if not properly done, the animal will return to the plan to which it is bound, often with disasterous consequences. Analogy: A rock is bound to the earth. With incredible effort it can leave the earth and be tossed into the sky, but if something is not keeping it in the sky, it will fall back to earth with all of the energy that it left the earth. If you take care to put a rock on an airplane, you can make it leave the earth safely and return safely, but should something happen to the plane, the rock is in danger.
- Projection: An aspect of one plane that exists in another.
What are undead?
Living creatures have two anima that exist on two different planes - life force on the material world and the spirit force on the spiritual plane. It is possible for one anima (99% of the time this is the physical body / life force) to leave the plane it is bound to and project into another plane. Creatures visiting the ethereal plan are a prime example of this. Undead have a single anima made up of a mix of both spiritual and life force. This anima is bound to the plane in which is was created, but can be projected to others depending on the type of undead.
As we discussed before, spiritual energy is strongly negative and material energy is strongly positive. Typically when the two meet, they cancel each other out and are destroyed. Necromancy is the art of binding these energies together in stable ways, similar to an electron orbiting a proton. Restless spirits happen when a creatures animas are unequal, and so instead of canceling each other out the greater animal finds itself in an impossible state of existence. Cursed undead have animas that are about to meet and cancel, but are held held apart. They are not in a stable state like necromantic undead, and exist in a perpetual state of “almost there”. They can feel their anima close together and about to cancel and it brings them agony. Its like having an itch you cannot scratch, a sneeze that won’t come, stomach gas that won’t be burped, or an unfinished orgasm, but on a full body/soul level, affecting every part of your existence, at all time, very strongly.
Undead can be classified by three major factors: The way in which they were created, the form in which they take, and the agency they possess. Each of these three classifications has three (major) options. We have already touched on the methods of creation: Restless, Cursed, and Raised. The form an undead takes is dependent on its physical body: Zombies have flesh, skeletons are bone, and ghosts have no physical form. When used in this way, these terms should be taken at their broadest meaning that mummies and vampires are zombies because they are both fleshy undead. Ideally new language will be created to supplant these terms. Lastly we have agency, which is either mindless, bound, or free. Mindless undead have no will of their own, nor or they controlled by another. They exist. With no purpose, desire, goal, sentience, or will. Free undead have some notion of self and the ability to make decisions. They may even have personalities and desires. Bound undead (not to be confused with which plane a creature is bound to) are either free or mindless, but their anima is controlled and manipulated by another creature.
- Decomposition: Zombie, Skeleton, Ghost
- Creation: Restless, Raised, Cursed
- Agency: Mindless, Bound, Free