Xorus (prime)/Scholarship/Forbidden Knowledge and the Black Arts: Volume III - The Unliving and Unnatural (essay)

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: Forbidden Knowledge and the Black Arts: Volume III - The Unliving and Unnatural

Author: Xorus

Please note the disclaimer at the bottom of this page on how to use this unofficial document. There is a highlight key for emphasizing references as 100% made up and not canon.

This is a three volume work:

Forbidden Knowledge and the Black Arts

Through my long years of study and field work as an occult archaeologist, I have had much occasion to treat with the dangerous factions and malign forces of this world. There are many black arts and traditions of forbidden knowledge that are ill-known in the more civilized realms of this continent. What follows here is a brief survey in three volumes. It establishes the ways of dark magic in their historical provenance and ancestral propensities, attempting to set these matters into a modicrum of order. It is the bias of this work to frame the evolution of dark sorcery in thaumaturgical and rationalist terms. There may be points which are most reflective of my own opinion, and its iconoclasm will find ways of displeasing even the Faendryl.

The indigenous cultures and dark cults of the lawless regions of Jontara, who engage in what we will call the "black arts," would not characterize their own practices in this way. For this I will defer to ethnographers and religious historians. In this compendium the unifying focus is necromancy in a very broad sense. Various categories and conventions are introduced to make a semblance of coherence from these sinister traditions. It is written with some bias toward more recent history, in its illustrations, to aid in relevancy and practical context.

Lord Xorus Kul'shin
Vice Chancellor Emeritus
Hazalred Thaumaturgical Insitute
30 Koaratos, 5122 Modern Era

Volume III: The Unliving and Unnatural

Occult grimoires from dim and sundry ages make all sorts of hierarchies and schemas for spirits and the unliving. There is no single way to classify all the various kinds of undeath. These might be ordered in accord with their purported masters, or their provenance or mortal ancestry, or their relations to the living whether of victims or affiliated tribes. They might instead be categorized by the way they come into being, or the exact nature of their undeath, or the way they must be conjured or controlled. Others might classify them by whether and how the souls are released. They may also be classified by their shared physical or magical qualities, such as whether they are possessed of demonic power, or corrupted with extraplanar essences.

There are many kinds of undead that are in some limited sense "extinct," unless one way or another they are brought back. Others are so rare or even unique, or sometimes ancient, that much of them is not understood. There are highly uncommon situations, as well, such as if a ghost were cursed to its physical remains, but those became another kind of undead. The convention we use here is to instead focus on the more familiar undead and loosely categorize them. This is unavoidably a mixture of the ways they come into being and their characteristic behavior.

VIII. Behavioral Classification

Of the methodologies we will use for ordering the undead, one is in the spirit of the traditions of Western esotericism dating back into the Age of Chaos, while the other follows the more sorcerous traditions of the Elves. Whether we speak of the grimoires of witch covens or scholastic occultists, the first is loosely an empirical understanding of undeath, influenced by the mannish animist religions in its pragmatism with the spirit world. The emphasis is on outward manifestations, behaviors, and "phenomena" in general. This is in contrast to the approach of Faendryl necromancers. This theoretical rationalist view emphasizes the causes of undeath, owing in no small part to the regional historical differences on the praxis of necromancy.

Obviously, this is only a coarse-grained caricature of the regions of Elanith, and with finer detail it is more heterogeneous. The Erudites of Fash'lo'nae in Nydds and the Watchers of the Eternal Eye in Ta'Illistim have natural sympathies for the Faendryl. Similarly, wasteland cultists are intimately familiar with witchcraft, more interested in pathos and aesthetics. While the behavioral classification of the undead often reflects the conditions of their creation, its more primary concern is with knowing the hazards of undeath encountered in the wild.

VIII.A Characteristics of Undeath

Undeath is the inevitable debasement of the once living. Souls of the dead most often are pantomimes of what they did in life, only dimly aware of their actual condition or not at all. They become shadows of their former selves; not necessarily unintelligent, but demented and suffering forms of madness. They are often trapped in the throes of intense emotions or other states, and otherwise become prone to base instincts. The corruption of their soul and life forces leads them to seek the destruction of the living. The way it manifests varies with the undead.

The undead will not necessarily "actively" haunt. Often they become dormant for very long amounts of time, until something happens that disturbs them and "wakes them up." It is the way of tree spirits to be idle until trespassed with something that is not a plant. The Citadel of the Kingdom of Elanith was disturbed with the handling of a book on their "Searing Light" spell. And so on.

(1) Vestiges

Those undead which reflect the identities they held in life manifest in a few ways. Most often they have a single-minded pursuit of what was once most important to them. Spectral fishermen will haunt their docks, skeletal soldiers will wander abandoned battlefields. Haunted places may have whole retinues of undead stuck in their roles. Among the most extreme examples are the haunted castles, such as the Kingdoms of Reim and Elanith, and ghost ships filled with ethereal pirates. The horizon of their awareness is limited to the narrow roles and thematics which define them. They have no instinct for wandering outside those limits. This is speculated to be a perversion of the special role "unfinished purpose" has in the cycles of Life and Death, where Lorminstra will only return souls with incompleted missions. The corruption of undeath bends this toward malice, and they will kill the living for whatever motivates them.

This decay is gradual and not necessarily seen in the recently undead. Liches will remain "human" in their personalities in the early years. By no means normal and certainly macabre. But it is not surprising that the Arch-Lich Tseleth of the Sand Snakes and Barnom Slim of Lich's Landing still have dark senses humor. In the end they will become inhuman. But while a ghost might simply continue its old ways, oblivious to its death, the curse of undeath will twist and warp it. Instead of a pure imitation, the undead become warped, grotesque exaggerations.

What often happens is the undead are inverted, behaving in a way that is somehow the very opposite of their life roles, especially their virtues replaced with the opposing vices. Celibates become seducers, ascetics become gluttons, masochists become painless. Those who shunned vanity will have beautiful glamors, which then rot and disfigure into hideous visages. They lose their original identity, attuning to their situation, or corrupt with the influence of their surroundings. Those who suffered traumatic deaths are most often dominated by that trauma, and constantly re-live it, becoming blind to anything except profound suffering. Those who were intentionally fashioned into other kinds of undead may have their identities buried in it.

(2) Pathos

Suffering of the undead is taken for granted by theologies of mercy. Though the emphasis is often on the "inner suffering" of the soul. Their tormented expressions are taken as justified by harsher dogmas, courting no sympathy for their wickedness. There are those who would slay the undead even if they seemed peaceful and happy. It would be assumed these were the false and evil deceptions of something far more sinister, or that the poor helpless souls within were imprisoned, regardless of outward appearances. But there is not only a single way this suffering manifests. Some of the undead appear to be in an endless state of excruciating pain. Whether physical or in some way emotional or spiritual. Torment may be either manic or depressive.

Other undead have deranged glee, and will experience ecstasy, especially in depraved ways of pain and mutilation. There are still others whose demeanors are wantonly sadistic and cruel. It is quite common for the undead to enjoy masochism, even screaming in pleasure as their limbs are ripped off. Others are terribly lonely, wishing the living to join them in death. With the corruption of their soul and life forces, they often magically inflict pathos in their victims. This ranges from terror, pain, disgust, despair, pity, rage, sorrow, even lust or trust.

(3) Madness

Though the more powerful undead often are intelligent, retaining such things as memory and identity and self-awareness, the soul will eventually fail to sustain their personality in death. There are even some theologians who argue the "soul" of the undead has departed or was destroyed, that it is instead only the corrupted sentience of spirit and vestiges of memory remaining. Thus the undead will succumb to dementia, mostly forgetting themselves, outside of more singular traits. They will become fixated in some way, suffering from monomania. To the extent they will speak with the living, they are obsessed in narrow ways, unable to be reasoned with from their delusions. It is perhaps not a coincidence that old lunatic asylums are often haunted. These were places of intense suffering and confinement, similar to prisons, which are often haunted as well. Undead may have innate powers of "mind" such as telepathy and telekinesis.

It is important to understand that the higher undead are not mindless. They have minds that are broken and shattered in madness. This may ultimately degrade into an obsession, and a lack of awareness of themselves or their condition. The curses of such undead are often ended not with holy weapons, or magic, but by resolving the grievance or trauma which keeps them bound. This is perhaps a subset of fulfilling their unfinished purpose in the world. But with the undead there is often an emotional theme in this which is rooted in their personality from living.

(4) Darkness

Most often the undead prefer the night, even loathing or evading the sun. This is in part because the pure light, which is an aspect of holy power, is intensely found in the spirit realm. When this light is summoned by spiritualists, it is absolutely searing, burning the flesh as plasma and inflicting blindness. It will blind the undead, which often have no eyes. The undead "see" by sensing life forces, and holy light takes away the contrast. Ironically, it is the non-corporeal undead that more often have eyes, even nothing but eyes which unnaturally glow. The corporeal undead will have had their eyes long since sunken and rotted away, though occasionally they will be lit, just as the immaterial may be rotted corpses out of phase with this world. It is the convention of most theories of cosmology to not treat "light" and "darkness" as elements. This is largely because the light is strongly associated with the spiritual planes.

In some sense the light of the spirit realm is mirror opposite to the sorcerous element of darkness. That is, darkness as a substance of the essence, which absorbs or suppresses the light. Not to be confused with mere lack of illumination. Darkness elementals will ball into spheres to minimize their exposure to light. Brightness will paralyze and eventually kill them. Many of the undead are "tainted" with pure darkness. Thus, the undead often manifest either of darkness, or eerie white light. Often there will be shadowy blurring or distortions, or there will be strange illusions, such as draining the color around them. Certain colors of light are most often seen, especially the eyes, which will glow red, green, or more rarely yellow or violet.

(5) Cursed

The curse of undeath is spoken of metaphorically by laymen as the ill-fated imprisonment of an immortal soul. But there is nothing figurative about it. They are literally cursed. The soul is often "tainted" with dark energy, or has been corrupted so that it is bound to matter. This matter is cursed as well. The clothing and possessions worn by the undead, if these are "real" rather than manifestations, and even their weapons will often be cursed. Such might inflict cursed effects on the living. Or they might become highly fragile, crumbling and disintegrating entirely. Without the undead form to which they were bound, their constitutive essences often become highly unstable, making them rapidly decay away out of existence entirely. The matter which makes up the physical form of the "true undead," perhaps the very condition that defines them, is "cursed" in the sorcerous sense of the fundamental corruption of their being.

In effect, what this means is that the physical body of the undead is highly resistant to non-magical damages, especially vulnerable to "holy" or sanctified powers and weapons. Curses cause the corrupt matter to resist change, thus the curse of undeath makes the undead difficult to destroy. While it might appear they are being broken and disfigured, the undead will eventually reconstitute themselves, unless their physical form is "inanimated." But even this is misleading. If the souls are bound to matter other than this form, they may manifest again in new forms later. The curse of undeath is a dark mirror of the holy magics of lifekeeping and preservation. Undead corpses may be rotting, but ironically, their flesh is often preserved indefinitely.

VIII.B Thematic Behaviors

Spirits will, in general, flatten out into personifications of thematics. With the undead these are dark, twisted themes, giving rise to behavior and powers. While these by their nature are non-exclusive categories, they often reflect underlying differences in the kinds of undeath. Most often the undead continue in some debased facsimile of their life roles, which is addressed in the previous section. But there are other categories of thematic behavior which are sometimes useful. The convention here is inspired by witch hunter manuals and occult grimoires.

This is by no means an exhaustive accounting of all the kinds of undeath. It is mostly focused on those of the "true undead," among what we call "the unlife," which are corrupted or tainted with unholy power. In the Age of Chaos in the West, extraplanar undead were often interpreted as demons, and liches were mostly thought of in terms of thoroughly destroying cursed items along with whole haunted places.

(1) The Possessed

Shaman religions are often fostered in places where there is great concern for spirit possession. Haunted realms, whether desecrated graveyards or tainted wastelands, tend to trap and build up wayward spirits. Which pose the hazard of possessing the vacated corpses of others. This is seen in the southern wastelands with wraiths, and the Sea of Fire, where Bir Mahallah has a Luukosian history, as well as having been an ancient bridge for the Shadows. Possessed undead (or living) contain spirits that are sometimes not cursed to the body and may be exorcised.

Possessed Undead of Note


Zombies are an inconsistently used word and most often refers to some indigenous practice for making the departed rise again after death. This is often seen with corpses that have had their mouths sewn shut with salts, which are used by some sorcerers for reanimating the dead. They are mindless rotting corpses. But when "truly" undead, they became possessed after burial. The wider family of "zombie-like" undead may come into undeath other ways. In burial cultures it is the hallmark of "zombies" to break their way up out of the dirt of profaned graveyards.


Dybbuks are malicious spirits that will possess unwarded victims often out of jealousy. There are dybbuks in Bonespear Tower of Vornavis, instead possessing artificial flesh constructs. The constructs are more specifically flesh amalgams, made from mismatched compositions of body sections and stretched skin, rather than heterogeneous chimeras such as the shrickhen. There are also the "soul golems" of the Temple of Luukos in Teras Isle. These are statues of glaes with soulstone eyes, which then become possessed by wind wraiths, which animate them as golems.

Night mares:

In the Lysierian Hills is the haunted land of Silver Valley, with an interplanar instability to a parallel world, now known as the Shadow Valley. Silver Valley was famed thousands of years ago for its wild horses. While many of these were fey "water horse" spirits, others were actual equines. Night mares are believed to be the corpses of those horses, possessed by servants of the "wyrm" demon that slumbered under the valley. Ironically, these seek vengeance on those who harmed the horse in life. Though they are often suspected of being demonically possessed. This is not to be confused with nightmare steeds. Incarnations of evil from more infernal planes, nightmare steeds only appear to be horses. They are malevolent astrals, similar to unicorns.

(2) The Hungry

While far from an exclusive category, some undead stand out as wishing to devour the living, rather than seeking to kill them out of envy or hatred. Loosely speaking, there are three kinds of hunger, which are most often favored to the exclusion of the others. These may be called the blood eaters (or vampirism), flesh eaters (or cannibalism), and the soul eaters of spirit. It is the tendency of flesh eaters to be mindless corpses, while soul eaters are more often tainted or higher undead.

Vampiric undead are most always physical rather than non-corporeal, or else are mostly material in their manifestation. Vampires in the true and pure sense of the word have been extremely rare historically, but it is known they may be made with the aid of strigoi blood. They are thought to have originated in the exiled Faendryl, struggling with their own mortality and the scorch in the Age of Chaos.

Vampiric Undead of Note


In the Yegharren Plains to the east of the Illistim holdings, there is moorland with muddy wetland terrain. This was a scorched battleground twenty thousands of years ago in the Undead War. Human followers of Despana built a barrow mound there, making gruesome artwork from the bones of the mass slaughter, until they were driven off by the Elves. The desecration to the land from their perversions was far more lasting. Baesrukha is perhaps a dead metaphor in ancient Elven, but it is now little more than a word. They are wraithlike creatures which incarnate themselves out of spirit, which causes them to be surrounded by tendrils of ectoplasm. In this they are deficient in blood, and will siphon the dead with their tendrils. This may be the manner in which they are created, a dark legacy of the proliferation methods of Despana. The dead are drained, and if transformed, remain to drain dead man's blood from others. They are intelligent and seek out "candidates" to make more of their kind to turn back the darkness.

Black Blood Trees:

There was a blight in the forests of Darkstone Bay in the year 5113, left behind by Barnom Slim the Lich King, who was at that time a pawn of Althedeus. There were murky black pools born of chaos and blood, the Shadows, which were cured by Therendil. A Marluvian priest with glistening black tendrils on his head. He used blood sacrifices of naturalists and their companions, and fed the black pools wicked prisoners. Therendil claimed this would heal the land. It was later discovered he was a Disciple of the Shadows. Therendil provided seeds cursed with dark magic, which sprouted into black trees, feeding on the blood of others. This was to provide blood fruit to Mayor Walkar Wellington of Wehnimer's Landing, who was turning into an abomination with his flesh falling away. Walkar had been cursed with demonic armor given him by Elithain Cross. Walkar was hungering for flesh, and this blood satiated his hunger. This would corrupt Walkar further and spread the "shadows." They collect the recently dead in sacs to feed on them. Their blood channeled the shadows to Melgorehn's Reach, forming a gateway, to allow Althedeus into this world. Works of demonic necromancy, they exist in the Deadfall Forest, and form a central maw. They grow in the Bleaklands having been planted before the desolation of Talador.

Blood Beasts:

Blood beasts are among the most vile creations of undeath that have ever existed, and were said to have had an even stronger thirst for blood than vampires. They were made with prolonged, brutal necromantic rituals, with extreme torture and mutilation. The victim was flayed and bled relentlessly. The rituals are lost to the Age of Chaos. It was thought to involve the "dark empathy" of witchcraft. They would be kept barely alive with infusions of the blood of others. Blood beasts were humanoid corpses, utterly drenched in blood, with a profound need to bleed others. Wounds would increase in severity and stream toward them, and they would compel lesser undead to follow them, thus helping make slashes in their victims. They are now thought to be extinct. The last were destroyed by the Order of Voln in 5095. These were an exotic variant of the Dark Path theocracy that burned others by flinging their caustic blood.

Bloody Halfling Cannibal:

Long ago the halfling settlers who founded Cold River were traveling across the Long Snow, and resorted to cannibalism on the journey before discovering shelter. Unfortunately, this was only a matter of miles from the Hinterwilds, and so they suffer a generational guilt. There is some kind of cultural or inborn curse, which occasionally causes them to leave into the Boreal Forest, becoming bloody halfling cannibals. This is an example of transformation into feralness, in some respects not unlike certain gnomes. With the corrupting presence of the demi-lich Zeban, who was vampiric and induced blood thirst and decay in his hosts, this curse was exacerbated and accelerated. The Hinterwilds are rampant with blood thirsty halfling cannibals.

Wizardwaste Changelings:

Nearly six hundred years ago the former Kannalan city of Toullaire was destroyed in a magical accident of the Arcanum. The surrounding region was transformed into a cursed wasteland known as the Wizardwaste, or "Ba'Lathon," meaning "Land in Pain" in the elder Kannalan tongue. Wasteland creatures are often warped, but living, mutants that cannot survive outside it. Wounds and rot, and illnesses, plague those merely exposed to the Wizardwaste. The corruption may be related to an ancient artifact now known as the Talon of Toullaire. One of the obscure phenomena of the Wizardwaste are the presence of doppelgangers. These will replace the dead and possess their memories. The Hall of Mages in the Swale have discerned that the imitators have the identity and personality of their victim. They wander around unaware of their death, or that they are the monsters who killed them. They discover they are unable to eat ordinary food any longer, and their hunger increases, until they kill others to drink their blood. Whether these are undead or demonic is not known. Some Magisters believe they are corrupt fey "changeling" spirits.

Cannibal Undead of Note


When the undead arise from the cursed spirits of animals and more barbaric races, which often in life feasted on the flesh of men and elves or other humanoids, they will continue to have this hunger for flesh or blood in undeath. This is less the peculiarity of a special condition, as with other kinds of hunger undead, than it is the continuation of bestial life roles.

Commonly-seen threats: ghost wolf, skeletal ice troll, phantasma, shrickhen


Ghouls are disease ridden humanoid corpses that are mindless outside of their instinct to eat flesh. They most often inhabit places with dead bodies, such as graveyards, especially swamps. They are among the rotting corpses that submerge themselves in muck and slumber until disturbed by the living. They will obey more powerful, intelligent ghouls, known as ghoul masters.

Commonly-seen threats: lesser ghoul, greater ghoul, ghoul master


Wights are a kind of bipedal corporeal undead that most often wander through places of the dead looking to feast on corpses. Barrows often are haunted with tomb wights, for example, which tend to have once been nobility. Wights are usually wielders of magic, and "arch wights" will often cook their meals. They are known for sadistically sinking their claws into corpses to feel and hear the impaling of flesh. Wights have also been known to drain spirit with their claws, and may summon other kinds of undead to assist them in killing the still living.

Commonly-seen threats: tomb wight, arch wight, wood wight, bog wight, lesser moor wight, greater moor wight


Like the more special kinds of rotting corpse undead, zombies may be thought of as a generic category of flesh eaters, who were somehow the consequence of necromancy. Zombies will bite and claw by instinct, often inflicting diseases. Killing the living and eating the recently dead is born of mindless, base animal instinct, whatever kind of life they were before death. The behavior of "zombies" may be divided into sub-types. Some are lurkers who abruptly rise, some are shamblers. The most dangerous are infectious, or else bloody, fast, and full of rage.

Commonly-seen threats: zombie, zombie rolton, rotting corpse, frozen corpse, shambling lurk, bloody halfling cannibal

Soul Eater Undead of Note

Murky Soul Siphons:

Instability within the Eye of the Drake threatened to expand the Rift in the year 5109. Ultimately Master Hierophant Haukragg of the Cleric Guild of Icemule Trace had to be rescued from its depths. This revealed a region or wound, now known as the Scatter, with more powerful exiles of this world and extraplanar intruders. Among these is a grotesque humanoid with scythe-bladed bone arms, a trait sometimes seen in the unnatural mutants of underground fighting pits, as well as a face consisting of nothing but a gaping black void. The maw of these creatures is full of concentric rings of teeth, which does not resolve from the shadows until they are about to strike on their prey. What it "siphons" is not blood, but the spirit of the living.

The origins of these monsters is not understood. They may have been made by Vvrael warlocks with demonic necromancy in the Southron Wastes, brought with them in their exile into the Rift in the Age of Chaos, and then became extraplanar undead through attunement. Others suspect they were mutilated transmogrifications of life by the Vvrael within the Rift. That they were made as vessels for feeding souls to its collective sentience of anti-mana. Most believe they were one of the primordial abominations of undeath born of the Ur-Daemon from the Age of Darkness.


Vereri are a special kind of vampiric lamia that arise from foul corruption of convents of Oleani. Not entirely corporeal and hungering, the vereri is a glamor of beauty, or a grotesque parody of it. Glowing eyes are their hallmark. They are unmistakable as living women. Lustful in demeanor, they are mocking and cruel, inflicting emotive assaults and driven by feral rage. Suffering from an inversion of life roles, they are seducers who lure others to feed on their souls, as well as their blood after death. They are as delusional as they are murderous.

Commonly-seen threats: nedum vereri, magna vereri


Wraiths are souls of the dead which straddle the boundary between the physical and spiritual realms. While they are mostly invisible or formed of mists, or occasionally with pure essences such as darkness or the elements, they will have wicked claws that are quite solid. Wraiths most often began as a living humanoid that was transformed with dark magic, whether corruption from their own practices or injury with a cursed weapon. Their physical bodies have mostly "faded away," but twisted into having fangs and claws. Wraiths may shift in and out of this plane of existence, with inconsistent degrees of physical incarnation. They most always manifest with glowing eyes, but little else in the way of distinct features. Wraiths are known for psionic powers, including telekinesis, luring or possession. They are insatiable "life leechers" who will feed on the souls of more physical beings. Deaths in this fashion often cause wraithdom.

Commonly-seen threats: wraith, mist wraith, bog wraith, troll wraith, vourkha, ice wraith, wind wraith, ghostly warrior

(3) Thralls

There are many kinds of undead that are subservient to other forces of darkness, whether more powerful undead, or the demonic and necromancers with the various methods. More powerful undead will sometimes summon weaker ones as servants, or have such servants as an entourage, instinctive nucleation that poses the hazard of condensing into hordes. Mindless undead most often have an instinct to blindly follow and obey more powerful forces of pure darkness. Necromancers have historically made more powerful, intelligent breeds of undead to lead their lesser kinds.

This power is thus not necessarily limited to the instinct of the mindless undead. It is kindred to the powers of undeath that overcome the will of living victims. Though the undead which in some sense are inherently thralls are mostly corpses, more spectral kinds of undead may obey an imposed spiritual hierarchy, especially the more mindless they become over the ages.

Thrall Undead of Note


Ghouls are putrescent corpses that may be counted among the mindless undead. But they have distinct features from rotting corpses in general. Ghouls are transformed by having been infected by other ghouls. While they have elongated fangs for feasting on corpses, this disease is spread by clawing victims with their nails. Older ghouls become more powerful in comparison to the cohort of their progeny. However, there is a special kind of ghoul that was created for the Undead War, known as the ghoul master. Ghoul masters are intelligent and ghouls obey them. Ghasts may be regarded as a more powerful cousin of the ghouls, but instead have their origins in vampire masters.

Commonly-seen threats: lesser ghoul, greater ghoul, ghoul master

Rotting Corpses:

More powerful undead may be corpses of rotting flesh, but such undead are usually intelligent, retaining some aspects of mind and most often magic. The more mindless corpses risen from the sentient (but not sapient) spirits of the land, or made with souls with necromancy without the preservation of mind, will be nothing but base instinct. Among these instincts is obeying more powerful undead than themselves. While they are individually clumsy, and often lacking skill in battle, even the weakest undead slaughter the greatest knights with overwhelming numbers.

Commonly-seen threats: zombie, rotting corpse, lesser mummy


Skeletal undead tend to come from excarnation practices rather than burial. Though it is not impossible for a highly decayed body to become bound with the cursed soul of another later, the corporeal undead usually do not turn into skeletons, rotting away until they have no flesh left. Undeath tends to preserve rotten flesh because the flesh itself is cursed. Occasionally, the curse is "only bone deep," so to speak. Skeletal soldiers and warhorses sometimes occur from the dead who cannot move on from the violence and trauma of the battlefield. Something similar happens with more shamanistic races, such as skeletal giants and trolls, which had left the dead exposed in "sky burials" so their flesh was eaten away by wild animals and vultures.

These are often more powerful undead, as their integrity is kept, moving under their own power through sorcerous bonds. Instead of becoming immobile and eventually buried. More mindless are the ordinary skeletons. Skeletons were made in such a way as to move purely through magic, as they lack muscles and working tendons. They are things of malice, but mindless. Works of overt and intentional necromancy, such skeletons are made to obey masters. Skeletal lords with intelligence and martial talent were made in the Undead War to command them in great numbers.

Commonly-seen threats: skeleton, ice skeleton, skeletal lord

(4) Ensnarers

There are those undead that attempt to ensnare their victims, so that one way or another the living will be unable to resist them. This is most often seen in those that feed on the living, perhaps most infamously the almost mythical vampires. While the intelligent ones may use glamors and magical assaults on the will, the mindless are more prone to physically grappling their victims. This might be as simple as a spectral miner conjuring limbs from the earth. It is not to be confused with undead that are themselves snares. Otherworldly beings of darkness such as Vvrael witches and incubi are seducers as well.

Enthraller Undead of Note

Monastic Lich:

Most liches are fallen sorcerers or dark priests, but much more rarely, there are monks who come across forbidden books with the secrets of lichdom. Monastic liches are exceptionally rare creatures of darkness. They will occasionally summon more astral beings, such as malevolent corruptions of the ki-lin, to assist them when they are isolated. Born of more mentalist roots, the monastic lich is known for the dark sorcery of amnesia, inflicting it on those around it. For as forgotten as their monastery has become, they will ensure it is kept forgotten. Those with the taint of darkness on their own souls are often compelled by the will of these liches. There is an empathic tug which stays their hand against the lich. Which is often fatal.


Vourkha are wraiths of the black moor between the Illistim and more ancient Faendryl holdings. They pass through a gateway in the Yegharren highlands, which now appears dormant, but may be a liminal space into a netherworld. Haunted from the Undead War many thousands of years ago, the vourkha seek to show the living the horrors they witnessed, compelling others to follow them. They have telepathic power and overcome the will of their victims using their names. In a way they are as the more psychopomp undead, luring souls to their afterlives. But as with other "revelator" forces of darkness, such as the Vvrael witches, what they seek to show are realms of horror beyond the imagination.

Grappler Undead of Note

Fetid Corpses:

In the miasmal forest near Maelstrom Bay, in the County of Torre, as well as the moors of the vourkha and baesrukha in the elvenlands of the East, there are a particular kind of corporeal undead known as the moor wights. These are wights which have become attuned to the natural forces of that wetland terrain. Among their powers is the ability summon other undead. The haunted bogs of these lands are filled with fetid corpses. When rousted by the moor wights, these will suddenly emerge from the muck, trying to grapple the living and sink them into the bog. While these are not the only kind of undead that behave in this way in swamps, such as isolated ghouls or the collectives of the dead marshes, they are coordinated as thralls of the wights.

Seducer Undead of Note


Sirens are fey spirits of the seas who manifest as fusion hybrids, often mermaids or perhaps birds with the heads of women. The latter is sometimes said to only be legend, as the webbing on their appendages is mistaken for wings. As with the corrupted fey in general, there is ambiguity in calling them living or undead, as they are spirits of nature itself. Sirens are thought to arise from sea nymphs, which are seductresses, but become violent when traumatized. This is most often from some desecration of the source of the power from which they manifest. More powerful than sea nymphs, the siren song is able to weaken the will of its victims, which are usually sailors. Sirens are thought to be twisted inversions of sea nymphs, which are servants of Niima, who seeks out shipwrecked sailors to rescue and often seduce them. Sirens might also be counted among the forces of undeath that inflict their powers through their voices.

Commonly-seen threats: sea nymph, siren


Vereri are corrupted priestesses of Oleani who are now wraithlike lamia, found in haunted abbeys that have been perverted with darkness. Often interpreted as fallen to Ivas in some way, the vereri are seductresses, who murder and feed upon the souls and blood of the living. In the year 5087, the Temple of Hope to the northeast of Icemule Trace was corrupted with a relic, the Tablet of Death. Several of the lamia were restored to the living in 5120. With the Merciful Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in the Temple of Love, on Sentoph of the Dragonsclaw Mountains, this is less clear. There are various stories of what befell them. Sentoph is often thought to have been cursed by a dark force that resides in a castle in the mountains to the west.

Regardless, the vereri are among the undead that are twisted inversions of what they were in life, seeking the seduction of others to feed on them. Vereri have an array of dark empathic powers, with the ability to acquire the true names of their victims from their minds. They are soothers who invoke fear. Their seductions are assaults on the will, weakening resistance in the seduced. They are shrouded in glamors, but are truly hideous and disfigured. More powerful vereri are grotesque in spite of it, but will be horrified if their illusion breaks.

Commonly-seen threats: nedum vereri, magna vereri

(5) The Fixated

Often the undead will be preoccupied with their peculiar roles in undeath. But this may be broad and their victims, for whatever reason, are no one in particular. However, there are other undead which are more particular, becoming obsessed with seeking or guarding individual targets. In the more mindless undead, the latter is often the vestiges of territorial instincts, but in the higher undead might manifest as xenophobia or holding the ground against sieges. When it is in the pursuit of something lost, they will seek it endlessly, with much violence. There are also undead who become stuck on the emotional attachments they had in life, which may lead to those who survived them becoming haunted by an increasingly more disturbed spirit.

Pursuer Undead of Note

Dark Assassin:

Known by various names across cultures, such as "mortal hunters" and "night blades," these restless spirits of dead assassins now linger in some kind of shadowy limbo or underworld. It is rumored this is in some way related to spirit realms of Onar, who in northwestern myth dwells in the living rock below the banshee Kingdom of Anwyn. Whichever netherworld the dark assassins hail from, they are non-corporeal, and will only form when conjured with offerings. Tales of witchcraft speak of ritualistic consummations which result in birthing dark spirits. These will seek out the blood of their assigned targets, diminishing the soul of those who called them into being. Whether that is the truth or a myth from the Age of Chaos, dark assassins are used as enforcers by shadowy cabals, sending them to silence loose tongues or slay rivals and betrayers. Assassin spirits will often cloak themselves in invisibility, even mocking and taunting from the shadows, only revealing themselves in rapid strikes. They will relentlessly hunt down the name given them, even passing through solid walls, until either they or their victim is dead.


Most ghosts will haunt particular locations, usually a place where they died. There is a special kind of ghost that is bound to a profaned place, often a haunted house, where they will try to torment the living into leaving. These restless souls of the dead may not have decayed enough into spiritual corruption to become true undead. Often they are immaterial and not yet able to manifest as apparitions. Known as poltergeists, they will instead engage in petty vandalism, and harass the unwanted with telekinetic disruptions. More powerful poltergeists may manifest visual illusions, such as bleeding walls, or make their victims hallucinate or descend into madness. This is more likely to happen when there are many spirits increasing the cursed power of the haunted realm. However, when the poltergeist has become an unholy cursed soul, they become fixated on trespassers. They bind to the unfortunate intruder and haunt them instead. Though sometimes a powerful poltergeist may possess, more often their victims are driven to madness, murdering those close to them and committing suicide. Their souls growing the haunted house.


Seekers are an unusual kind of skeletal undead that may have been cursed with the dark power of the Vvrael. In the 4400s the Turamzzyrian imperial army struggled with giantmen "barbarians" in the province of Highmount, until an ill-fated shaman prophecy led Krulgon the Bear to crushing defeat at the Battle of Wefter's Vale. The barbarians were eventually pushed back, and the once burned fortress of Kragsfell was rebuilt at the mouth of Lost Souls Pass. In the subsequent century adventurers passing through Kragsfell learned the legends of Koargard, the mountain dwelling of the God-King Koar, passed down through oral stories of the giantmen from the Wsalamir Arctic Clan. Elves in turn held ancient legends of a powerful artifact at the top of the world known as the Eye of the Drake. Seekers were those who traveled into the arctic wilds in search of the Eye. But the storms around Mount Aenatumgana were fierce and magical, and it was not until 5098 that the storms abated, allowing the doors of the Drake's Shrine to be unsealed with the Stones of Virtue. Those not Chosen who sought "the Eye" met their doom. Strangely, though seekers are skeletons bound by unfinished purpose, their eyes have grown over with flesh. In this way they are incapable of seeing the Eye, or finding their way into the Rift.

Guardian Undead of Note

Bone Golems:

Though not necessarily powerful, bone golems are rare artifices, as most necromancers are not proficient enough with bone to make them. Made by more talented workers of bone, such as bone shamans and liches, statues of bone are constructed and then possessed with a cursed soul. Bone golems are more intelligent than most golems, and will instinctively assault the living. They are made to guard treasures and the dwellings of necromancers. According to legend, Bandur Etrevion made them from the bodies of the dead on the battlefield, using them to perform the heavy labor in constructing the burial mound of his warlord brother Kestrel. Those golems guarded the crypt of his necropolis, until the last of them were destroyed in 5092. The most ambitious bone golem ever constructed is the skeletal tower of the dwarven necromancer Bonespear. Over a hundred feet tall, the tower is possessed with a powerful Demon Lord, serving as its body.


Broadly speaking, sometimes the spirits of nature or those of plants will become undead, and lash back at the living who intrude upon their domain. These might be plants or mosses and fungus, as well as huge floating spores, and even writhing vines with a parasitic hunger for blood or flesh. Much as some undead will become attuned to the elements, such as ice wraiths and skeletal ice trolls, there are those who attune to the "nature" of their environments. These include wights that become adapted to bogs, moors, or the woods with what grows on them. Wicked creatures of darkness, in turn, will corrupt the nature around them and blight the lands.

Commonly-seen threats: tree spirit, warped tree spirit, darkwoode, wood wight, bog wight, dark frosty plant, writhing frost-glazed vine


Much as a poltergeist begins by guarding a haunted place, and shifts to instead haunting an individual, the sacristan spirit begins with an endless search of sacred objects it once guarded in life. These are long-destroyed artifacts, or at best forever lost. Thus, the sacristan spirit keeps searching within some unholy domain, such as the dark forest of Lunule Weald to the southeast of Ta'Vaalor. Undead of unfinished purpose, the sacristan spirit will kill any who trespass, as it must protect its lost relics. They become guardians of where they search.


Fallen soldiers are among the more common origins of accidental undeath, having been slain in wars in traumatic violence with much suffering and surrounding death. While many of these are wanderers of ancient battlefields, there are others who are bound to more specific places. These will often be the ruins of fortresses or encampments. Such undead arise more narrowly from sacrificing their lives in final last stands. They become trapped in this unfinished purpose, holding a position against those who would siege it, incapable of believing it has fallen. Death knights are often fallen bodyguards, powerful servants of dark forces.

Commonly-seen threats: death dirge, ghostly warrior, spectral warrior, decaying Citadel guardsman, putrefied Citadel herald, ethereal knight, death knight

(6) Restless Spirits

When the soul does not depart from this plane of existence after death, or transits back and forth, it may linger in this world and be summoned by spirit callers. Whether these spirits are "undead" is often a question for religion. In a practical sense they are undead when the spirit has corrupted to the point of being "unholy" and manifesting without being conjured. These "restless spirits" keep acting in spite of their death. The Tehir speak of "jealous spirits" who must be bartered with, while others are vengeful spirits who wish to bring others into death for specific reasons.

They are often dominated by singular emotional affects, or else some small number within the bounds of their obsession. These range from envy to loneliness, blind rage or agony, hatred and depression. Those who died in highly traumatic ways, or were intensely tormented upon death, often have had their identities overwhelmed with intense suffering or excruciating pain.


Dark apparitions are a form of restless spirit that is thematically manifested of fear. While the cursed souls of the undead are capable of forcing fear in others through spirit corruption, dark apparitions are perpetually taking on horrific forms to provoke fear in others. While many restless spirits manifest in forms resembling their living souls, apparitions are nothing but an endless series of visions of mutilations and disgusting monstrous disfigurements. Apparitions are thought to arise from deaths of pure terror, and are sometimes considered Sheruvian.


Ghosts are spirits of the dead that continue on, often in imitation of their life roles, unaware of (or at least not remembering) their own deaths. Ghosts will naturally arise where there are departed souls who, for whatever reason, remain in this world instead of drifting fully into the spirit realms and the Ebon Gate. They are often bound to some sort of focus, which tends to be animate or inanimate matter, but could be unfinished purpose in the world. Ghosts are not necessarily considered undead, unless their souls have corrupted and made them unholy.

Commonly-seen threats: ghost, ghost wolf, barghest, ghostly mara, phantasma, phantom, gaunt spectral servant


Shades are essentially ghosts which have been tainted with some amount of pure darkness. They are non-corporeal manifestations of their living selves, but only translucent outlines, and so are called "shades" as they are shadows. They are perhaps dimly related to "shadow" undead, such as darken, and other transformed beings or spirits by extraplanar sources of darkness.

Commonly-seen threats: lesser shade, lesser frost shade, wolfshade, warrior shade, spectral shade, lost soul


Spectres are inconsistent usage that sometimes refers to shades, and other times only as an adjective, referring to non-corporeal entities indiscriminately as "spectral." However, spectres in the proper sense are emotive thematics, much as apparitions. Spectres are creatures of hatred for the living, tainted with darkness, often resembling or cohabitating with wraiths. This is not a coincidence. Spectres will manifest in a wraithlike form, with glowing eyes and claws, but instead began as dead spirits. They become shaped by the same forces as the wraiths.

Commonly-seen threats: spectre, bog spectre, luminous spectre, spectral monk

(7) Psychopomps

In the folklore of the westerlands there were a number of powers or spirits who were regarded as death omens. They would foretell the doom of the living with their presence, or with their mournful songs or wailing. These were often fey spirits in some fashion. In myths they might act as psychopomps, guiding souls to the spirit realms. Much as the angels of Gosaena. In the shaman religions it is often the shaman who acts as the psychopomp. Elsewhere it may be mysterious hooded figures, such as the Death religions, and the boatmen of the Kingdom of Reim.


Few of the undead in history are as storied as the banshees. Banshees are more of a haunted state of existence than a specific kind of undeath. Most originally, there were the fey spirits of nature which were corrupted by the darkness, descending back into the Age of Darkness. Those spirits of the mounds, the Tor in Rhoska-Tor, were known as banshees. These manifest in the form of keening, wailing women who prophecy doom with their laments. In the folk religions they would be associated with families, portending on revealing the deaths of relatives. In more modern myth the mourning sisters of Chesylcha were the "Three Banshees Sukari," who according to Faendryl legend guided the three war ships that made it to the harbor of Ta'Ashrim.

However, the forces which shape the fey into "the bainsidhe" will also shape souls of the dead, and so there are other banshees who arise from bardesses and sorceresses. It is a wraithlike transformation curse where women may ultimately turn into banshees. Harith was a Mularosian psionic who was harrowed from the Pale, after her death in the second Griffin Sword War, through a necromantic ritual led by the Luukosian high priest Morvule. When she returned to this world, she was a banshee, who could no longer feel pain. Other banshees arise from haunted lands.

Commonly-seen threats: banshee, bainsidhe, moaning spirit, dark assassin, flickering mist-wreathed banshee


In the middle ground between the banshees and the sirens, there are the plaintive and mournful songs of the dirges, so named for their haunting of cemeteries and the resemblance to funerary songs. This is another wraithlike state of being with varying degrees of corporeality. Their songs will either tend to immobilize their victims, whether through calm or fear, or make them flee in terror. Dirges are known for lulling the living and leading them to their deaths, whether that be through drowning or walking them off cliffs like pied pipers. In the folk religions the dirges were minstrels who would bring the dead to the Otherworld.

There are sometimes dirges on old battlefields, inverted as blind fury, when one side was hopelessly slaughtered. Of more subtle interest in this way are the dirges of the black moor in the Yegharren highlands, as these are present with other battle haunted wraiths and undead war hounds called barghests, which themselves were omens of death in folk myth. But the dirges are only heard there as they do not fully manifest.

Commonly-seen threats: death dirge, troll wraith, ghostly mara

Black Dog:

In the folklore of underworlds, whether of fey mounds or caverns or even crossroads, there is a kind of malevolent spirit known as the black dog. These will hunt down those who are meant to no longer be living, and bring them to the dark places of the dead. They are omens of death, similar to barghests, and often associated with major demons. Not to be confused with more natural undead, such as the ghost wolves or even wolfshades, "black dogs" are malevolent creatures of darkness. They will guard the entrances to places of unspeakable evil. Night hounds are a special kind of zephyr hound, elemental manifestations with "dragon breath." Except night hounds are made of darkness. Waern are incarnated, but they float above the ground, and feed upon the soul.

Commonly-seen threats: night hound, waern, vapor hellhound


In the far north in the Hinterwilds, there is a giant race known as the gigas. In the Pits of the Dead in Angargreft there many gigas risen with corruption from the blood of Zerroth. He had appeared to be a Grot'Karesh giantman, but was originally a warlord and chieftain of the gigas. He was set into a smaller shape to serve V'tull. Among the fallen gigas, there are some who are "called" upon and risen with wings, whose duty it is protect the buried dead. Thus, the disir are psychopomps, but risen dead. Those of the Fjallarhaart are corrupted into aggression with a much more ancient darkness. Though these disir are akin to angelic powers, they guard the undead gigas, and are themselves put to the blade in the mission of the Order of Voln.

(8) Shifters

Most of the undead become more or less stagnant, cursed into their ever unchanging forms. But there are other forms of undeath that are more amorphous, or become stuck in shifting states or endless cycles. These are non-corporeal undead which were never bound into a single form, or corporeal undead, which rotate through glamors or become stuck in alternating or new forms.

Amorphous Undead of Note

Those of the non-corporeal undead which have no fixed form, but which are not trapped in any sort of obvious cycle, might be called the amorphous. These are most often malevolent forces of evil, associated with major demons or dark gods. Some may shift into humanoid forms. They tend to have eyes and grotesque fluidity, moving around or through themselves in unnatural ways. If they are not themselves considered extraplanar undead, other than their non-corporeality, they are often related to extraplanar forces of darkness and may have otherworldly origins.

Commonly-seen threats: eidolon, vishmiir, naisirc, darken, wind wraith, seething pestilent vision

Cycling Undead of Note


Not all undead are hideous to the eyes. Though they are of corpse flesh, or immaterial, they may have enchanted beauty. Vereri will use their glamors to seduce the living, though these may crack. They will inflict terror by revealing their true visages. But there are undead for which this cycle is involuntary. They will appear to be sublimely beautiful at first. Then their faces will crack and peel away, revealing rot and decay, with their flesh molting and falling off. They regenerate and lose their flesh in an endless loop, a perversion of the cycle of life and death, and a futile struggle to regain their lost beauty. These undead are remarkable for seeking to rip off the flesh of the living so that they may replace their own cursed flesh.

Commonly-seen threats: nonomino, niirsha


There are other cycling undead which were never glamors of beauty. Instead of vanity, there are others who are fixations of terror, or pain and suffering. Dark apparitions will only appear as horrific, shifting visions of violence and death. Lost souls are in constant agony as their flesh melts off them until they are nothing but skeletons and hateful eyes, only to reform in reverse order, and then begin deteriorating over and over again. There are milder forms of this, just as there are with glamors. Some undead appear to keep losing hair or bits of flesh.

Commonly-seen threats: dark apparition, lost soul, warped tree spirit, gaunt spectral servant

Shapeshifter Undead of Note


Alas, pity the poor pooka, the most sullen and sorrowful of all creatures. Pookas are shapeshifting fey spirits who may take on many forms. Most famously, those that are cursed with undeath will manifest as horses burdened with heavy chains, and these chains are cursed. When the "wyrm" of Shadow Valley manifested in 5096, clerics of Wehnimer's Landing removed the curse from the chains of several ghostly pookas. Once freed, these pookas transformed into shadow steeds and morphed together into a giant shadow steed, which flew up and burst through the ground. There was then a stampede of shadow steeds circling the valley, with a vortex ripping open in the center, and shadow mares storming out in thunder and lightning. The stampede flew up into the sky and struck down the demon of drought and chthonic slumber, severing its tail and making it bleed out with black liquid. This was the return of the shadow steeds, and the wyrm fled back into the ground.


There are some undead who shift into another form and then become stuck in that new manifestation. With curses that are triggered by external forces, such as the moon cycles or tides, the creature will suddenly shift from one form into the other. They may shift back when the outside conditions return. These include were-beasts who transform into forest creatures, or coastal humanoids who transform into sea creatures such as seals. Such things are often deemed cursed, but not necessarily undead. There also various kinds of "doppelgangers" which take on the form or even identity of something else, even to the extent of not knowing that it is only an imitation. This is an unusual form of "life role" monomania in undeath, as they become what they know of others.

Commonly-seen threats: werebear, gaunt feral selkie, doppelgangers

IX. Ontological Classification

The occult traditions of the Elves that were antecedent of the modern synthesis, as practiced by the Faendryl, were concerned with the inherent nature of forces and entities. It was thought that the proper way to understand undeath was through its causes and intrinsic properties. This would lend itself to reversal; from theory to praxis, and observation to experiment. In the West there were also occultists who approached the powers of darkness more in this fashion. They would seek out more ancient institutions, such as the Order of Lorekeepers or the Library of Biblia, which were less exclusively Elven. Through them the black arts of witch cults and Luukosians, and so on, would spread in the Age of Chaos to orders seeking to oppose darkness. These works are inherently controversial, and often are forbidden or banned books. They are most often weird and rare texts, held in private collections by wealthy and dangerous eccentrics.

Among these include the "Book of Ebon Flame" from the Blackfire Society, the Laurentiu Manuscripts, the "Vertiginous Codex of Baleful Esotericism," the apocryphal and pseudonymous Hazalred Fragments, certain purported counterfeits of the Book of Tormtor, the wasteland ethnographies of Khardum, and many others, to say nothing of relics such as Ur-Daemon artifacts. The seminal work on occult hierarchy in the Western milieu in the late Age of Chaos was, of course, "Servants of the Shadow: Power through Thralldom" by Bandur Etrevion. This became difficult to find following his banishment from Ornath and the blacklisting of his work by the Lorekeepers. Such eldritch tomes often must be read in incomplete abridgements with flawed translations.


Our work will be loosely inclusive of this more occult tradition, rather than exclusive to the orthodoxy of necromancy as formulated by the Faendryl. In this way we might include a broader range of the unliving, not being limited by biases toward what is directly conjured or made with necromancy. It will draw its inspiration from the literature of eldritch tomes and what may be regarded as field records of what is now practiced in the wilds. As such, our approach is more historical, which in itself is heterodox. We will not hew to the traditional prejudices on the categories of undeath. Instead we focus on whatever is relevant of the demonic, malevolent forces, and aberrant modes of transmogrification or hybridity which are not narrowly undead. In this we will define more nuanced categories of unliving, holding they are superior to more orthodox conventions. We suffer no illusions this will be endorsed by the Order of Voln.

Empirical traditions distinguish the undead by certain conditions such as their vile aura or reaction to holy power. They treat the undead as a dichotomy of "corporeal" and "non-corporeal." In the more ontological perspective this is facile, as corporeality is a spectrum. Some incarnated undead are truly spirits, while others are corpses, made out of phase with this plane of existence. Sorcery may force the non-corporeal undead into total physical manifestation, just as the undead may fall out of phase, or even be thrown out of it with sorcerous backlash.

One of the other objections to the methods of empirical typology is metaphysical inconstancy. With the shifting of cosmic forces or bleedthrough, the properties in this world change, which may alter the behavior of magical phenomena. For much of history the undead which are tainted with elemental darkness were immune to cold, and more vulnerable to fire, such that burning was the traditional way to ensure more lasting damage to their cursed forms. The impact of the Elemental Confluence from its merger into the local veil of this world is thought to be knocking us "off axis" in some very abstract sense. This has shifted the relationship of darkness with the elements of heat and cold, and now only elementally corrupted undead behave this way. Yet another objection to classifying by "what works," such as reaction to holy powers, is that it treats fiends of shadow or darkness as "undead" and yet excludes other forms of unliving.

IX.A Conventions of Undeath

In the late Age of Chaos, the holy priests of the more mortal races would rank the power of the undead, characterizing them by the magnitude of their evil. This was to some extent a spill over of the influence of occult theologians in the West, who wished to understand the spirit realm and its powers in terms of hierarchies. It would follow most naturally from this that the forces of darkness had their own kinds of hierarchy. In this way there were conventions of calling monsters either "lesser" and "greater," which descended from the older bestiaries of the Elves in the Second Age, who had spoken of lesser and greater demons. It was in some sense natural to classify the undead in terms of the demonic which often were the cause of them.

The historical usage of these terms is inconsistent and with muddled etymology. Originally, "lesser demons" referred to the demonic who were on the scale of power of the lieutenants of the Undead, and so such undead came to be known as "undead of the lesser demonic." These were not necessarily that powerful, in the absolute sense, as the vast bulk of Despana's horde were not formidable individually, and most of the Faendryl at Maelshyve were not experienced in demonic summoning. The greater demons were those that were dangerous threats and singularly very powerful.

The greater demonic would refer to such fiends as vathors and oculoths. Thus the "undead of the greater demonic" extended up to liches of similar scales. This was a practical consideration of repelling magic for turning the undead, which in those days were holy powers balanced off unholy powers. Weak repulsions would do nothing to the more powerful undead or demons. There was then the issue of inconsistent conventions. The Faendryl would come to refer to "minor" and "major" summonings, which were scaled by the power of what could actually be summoned. It would be suicide to summon the most powerful and dangerous demonic, and so "major demons" would refer to fiends like vathors, rather than the Ur-Daemon or eldritch horrors. "One does not summon Marlu," as they say. This led to a muddle in the Modern Age where "lesser demons" swept from imps to vathors, while "major demons" meant vathors or world ending threats beyond the veil.

This ambiguity in turn contaminated more purely theological concerns. Instead of "dragons" there are now "Great Drakes," and lesser ones, "Great Spirits" and "Lesser Spirits." But it may be that we speak of the "Great Spirit Voln," who is classified as a "Lesser Spirit or Other Immortal," while spiritual magic calls upon the "lesser spirits" of their surroundings. To put this all more plainly, there were "Greater Gods" and "Lesser Gods" in occult schema. The "Arkati" were instead associated with the moons, those gods who supposedly once served the Drakes.

The Drakes are most historically controversial. In what might be called the "atheist" view, they were the most powerful of the dragon breeds, and the Arkati were never actually servants of them. The spirits were at most influenced and shaped by dragons, who happened to be the most powerful of the living. In the theistic view the Drakes are some sort of ascended dragon, incomprehensibly more powerful than ordinary dragons, which survive when the Drakes do not. Within this there are several distinct views, such as the "great chain of being" stasis and the "ascended from mortality" churn, imagining Arkati as a race or spirit servants to dragons. Occultists split the difference and interpret the "Drakes," so called, as Great Spirits of a higher order than those that we call Arkati. These merely took on draconic manifestations, much as the Arkati do with humanoids. In this they point to Koar, who manifests in dragon forms, perhaps once shaped by dragon influences. Whether he is truly the last of the Great Drakes or an Arkati bleeds into semantics.

Some of the Arkati were considered lesser gods, such as Voaris and Niima, while greater gods such as Marlu and Koar might not be Arkati at all. Ascended demigods or other immortals are not considered "Arkati," and would not be no matter their power. This is mixed with theological and ideological dogmas of the Arkati being in some sense a race with progeny, and the immortals as ascended from demigods or offspring of Arkati. The uncertainties on the historical origins of gods are too deep and corrupted with myth and legend to be taken seriously with ontology. But we may dispense with the muddle by scaling otherworldly or "pure" beings of essence with analogous echelons. In this way we will speak of all "the gods" as "Great Spirits" regardless of their origin, and not presume to scale the relative powers of the highest echelon. This hierarchy is pure convention. Its highest end extends "beyond the Pale," reaching into infinite light and darkness.

The Echelons

Thus, for our purposes we will establish a hybrid convention, mirroring the elemental classification scheme of Feras and Ril-Galad. In this way we might speak of "echelons" up to the Great Spirits, Great Elementals, and Great Demons, or any other category of outer beings. In turn this will be used to scale the power of the undead. Though with the undead, these in general are shifted by one or more echelons, relative to their masters. By this convention "undead of the minor demonic" refers to what in the Second Age were "undead of the lesser demonic."

Loosely speaking, the undead become more rare in this world the higher they are in echelon, but the more difficult they become to permanently destroy. It is not at all obvious that fiends of the third echelon or higher can be cleansed of their corruption. They are deeply transformed with darkness and may actually host multiple souls or be bound to malevolent powers.

Echelon 0: Mindless Undead

The weakest of the undead are almost always mindless, with the exception of recently departed but haunted souls. These are often kinds of undead that originated accidentally, such as with traumatic deaths or burial in desecrated lands, but without that cause imputing significant power. Most ordinary rotting corpses are mindless. Reanimated corpses of the recently dead are anomalous. They wield the powers that body had in life, thus spanning a wide range of power. Undead hordes conjured with necromantic artifacts vary in power but are usually mindless.

Known threats: Lesser Shade, Phantom, Ghost, Skeleton, Lesser Ghoul, Lesser Mummy

Echelon 1: Undead of the Minor Demonic

First echelon undead are usually cursed souls which have vestiges of mind and memory of martial skills or spells. They often come into existence in specific ways, and have characteristic behaviors. Some were made by powerful necromancers to serve special purposes, or to act as the leaders of their kind of undead. They tend to haunt obvious places such as graveyards.

Known threats: Death Dirge, Arch Wight, Ghoul Master, Skeletal Lord, Monastic Lich

Echelon 2: Undead of the Lesser Demonic

Second echelon undead are more rare than the lesser kinds. They will most always be bound to haunted realms, and tend to be "tainted" rather than merely cursed. It is generally believed the undead of the second echelon may be "released" from undeath. Perhaps even cleansed by holy power. But this may be very difficult, or impossible, without substantial divine intervention.

Known threats: Eidolon, Banshee, Warped Tree Spirit, Vaespilon, Death Knight, Vampire, Lich

Echelon 3: Undead of the Greater Demonic

Third echelon undead are very rare in this world. They originate in tremendous forces of darkness, such as dark gods and terrible demons. These are made through high and demonic necromancy, and most often are extraplanar, having been created in more infernal realms or banished over the aeons. Those of the Age of Darkness were mostly slain or exiled by the Lords of Liabo. It is speculated by some religious apologists that Voln himself is fighting such higher powers of undeath, leaving what we call the lower echelons of undeath to his more worldly followers.

Known threats: Dark Reaver, Major Vruul, Chimera, Snares, Greater Lich, Paragons

Echelon 4: Undead of the Major Demonic

Fourth echelon undead are almost invariably conduits or manifestations of unholy power from dark gods or extraplanar sources. Much as the third echelon undead, they often blur whether they are undead at all, or more rightly considered demonic or somehow ascended with darkness. The notion of a "cursed soul" that may be cleansed has little meaning with these abominations. The undead of this echelon may be tremendous powers in their own infernal realms, mostly exiled from this world, where they rule over and shape demi-planes of aberrations and demonic servants.

Known threats: Vishmiir, Miscere'Golab, Behemoths, The Bleak, Urnon Golem, Arch-Lich, Felstorm

IX.B Necromancy and Undeath

Necromancers who make the undead most often do so through immediate spellcraft. Such "standard undead" are what might be called the rote necromancy of undeath. This is the broad definition of undeath, which includes the wide set of unliving but animate matter. The most straight forward way is reanimating corpses, which is perhaps unseemly, but not unholy or cursed. There is no manipulation of the soul. Those who make the "true undead" may conjure existing cursed spirits, or force a spirit into a body, and then curse it so that it is forever trapped in it.

These are comparatively crude forms of undeath, which in general are mindless, with the exception of the summoned. Necromancers might also seize control of the undead they come across. But the approach of using immediate spellcraft to make the undead is limited. Soulcrafting is flow magic of necromancy, involving experimentation and many failures, more art than theory.


By far the most common form of undeath is the reanimation of hollow corpses by necromancers. When the soul has vacated its body, there is only emptiness, where there had once been essence of soul. In this space may be fit other souls, other entities, or other kinds of essences. The least of the undead, animates are not "truly undead." They are little different from golems. The necromancer will make the corpse into a puppet by infusing some of their own essence, or perhaps make it into a flesh golem, imparting a servitor spirit to turn it into an automaton. The latter are more durable and free the necromancer from managing the animate directly. They may issue commands to be obeyed, without oversight, allowing them to make more animates. Those of the dead who are merely reanimated, without souls, are inherently mindless and creatures of pure instinct. They have little sense of self-preservation, and no form of self-awareness.

Animates are not cursed. Neither in body, nor soul. They may be rejuvenated with sacrifices of animus, or other such means, but otherwise they are transient and will tend to fall apart. The artificial analog of the animus is unstable, and necromancers must keep siphoning the animus of living sacrifices, or else the imparted animating essences in the corpse will dissipate. The reanimated will have the strengths and magical talents of what lingering memory remains. They can be made more powerful. Often infused with the elements, animates can be exploded.

Without the soul the reanimated dead will have a base instinct to attack those around them. But they will be entirely under the control of the necromancer. Their life force is not negative, and so they do not thirst for spirit, having no special animus (so to speak) against the living. This will instead manifest as a generalized hostility against most anything animated. In the event that the soul has not yet departed, the necromancer can possess the dead in this way, commanding them to obey like a marionette. But with much more limited capacities. Such acts of reanimation are immediate and direct spells of necromancy. There will be practical limits on how many of the reanimated dead a given necromancer can simultaneously wield directly. It is for this reason that necromancers prefer to impart more durable serving spirits into the dead. But such spirits may eventually become "true undead" with entropic decay or soul taint.

Conjured Undead Corpses

One step removed from reanimated automatons, or flesh golems, is when the necromancer creates the "true undead" through direct spellcraft. This will involve imparting a spirit into a vessel and cursing it, so that when it is risen, the corrupted or tainted spirit is imprisoned within it. Black shamans might instead conjure a cursed soul and make it possess a physical body. Or they may place the dead in tainted or desecrated places, allowing the corpses to become undead passively, and then seizing control over them. Much as an artificer might overpower golems. It is only when the undead are created that these are issues. Necromancers might instead summon special kinds of undead, which already exist, whether from this world or the netherworlds. This is more difficult as such undead are more willful, more resistant to deviating from idiosyncratic obsessions, and may be bound to haunted realms or masters which are pulling them back.

Those more "standard" undead, though true undead, will be mindless and somewhat limited. It is a much more involved process to attempt to preserve mind and identity in undeath. Ordinarily this kind of undeath is relatively weak. But its power might be augmented by the necromancer. Especially if the necromancer is using powerful artifacts to summon and curse the spirits. The undead that are made this way will most always be "released" if destroyed. But if the body remains, and the damages to it were not holy, it might be used to host another corrupt soul. Though this may become more difficult. It is the preference of necromancers of the "true undead" to have creations which require no "upkeep." Which may be commanded and abandoned, rather than managed, with their endless attention.

There is a trade off between numbers and power. Weaker undead may be mastered in greater numbers with, loosely speaking, the same amount of effort or energy for control. The more powerful and willful the undead are individually, the more difficult it is to control them in multiplicity. This is especially so if they have affinities for each other. In this sense the undead are much like demons. It is possible for a necromancer to have their truly undead minions seized from them by more powerful necromancers or forces of darkness. Much as a demon summoner may lose their imps. Undead hordes will have to be leveraged through various methods. This is not to deny that a powerful lich may make the dead rise around them without much effort. But even they will turn to hierarchical control and great artifacts if they wish to wield vast hordes. Necromancers will suffuse themselves with dark essences to shroud their life force from the undead. In this way they will be perceived as more powerful forces of darkness to the more mindless undead, which would otherwise have the instinct to turn on their master if not overtly willed. While this might make the "thrall" kinds of undead instinctively obey, not all necromancers corrupt themselves in this way, and often their risen are instead bound to fetishes and totems.

(1) Skeletons

Two broad categories of the standard "true" undead may be defined. The first of these are skeletal undead, which mostly come from excarnation rituals. The flesh is ridden one way or another first. When there is a soul inside the skeleton, which will usually still have a rotting brain, the soul is cursed to the bones. In this way the skeletons are animated through the power of sorcery, and will be able to act, in spite of lacking muscles and sinew for moving the bones. Their physical structure is held together by magic, and will reassemble if merely broken.

Skeletons are mostly mindless undead, unless more advanced necromancy was performed. They are hateful and filled with malice, but will be lost without a master. They will instinctively obey more powerful undead and forces of darkness than themselves. More special kinds of skeletal undead may have begun as rotting corpses if their curse was strong enough and only in the bones.

(2) Zombies

There is much inconsistency in the use of the word "zombie." Though ritual practices of reanimation might have been used, truly undead zombies rise with cursed souls in them. There are two kinds of zombies in this way. The first is caused by a necromancer with a spell, or some effect such as from a weapon or artifact, so that the soul becomes cursed upon death. Such "zombies" have the souls that came with the body. The other kind of zombie is possessed by a spirit after the original soul has left, and this spirit is trapped within cursed flesh and corrupts.

Zombies are mostly mindless undead, unless more advanced necromancy was performed. They tend to inflict diseases and more special kinds might spread transformation curses. They will obey more powerful undead and forces of darkness than themselves. Zombies have an instinctive tendency to herd, and they hunger for flesh, even though they cannot eat in a meaningful way.


Necromancers do not make non-corporeal undead with immediate and direct casting of spells. They may conjure spirits and corrupt them with dark sorcery, capture ghosts with necrotic energy, or imprison souls in accursed objects. Working upon the spirit directly is soulcraft. It may be performed on the souls bound within the corporeal undead, or it may be done to those trapped in inanimate totems. The manipulation of souls with life forces and other essences is inherently sorcery and profoundly corruptive. It is violating in a way "lifeweaving" with holy power is not. Though the Dark Gods have powers of making elevated life, including altering the forms of living flesh, it is unheard of for Light Gods to engage in the black arts of soulcrafting. It is important to understand the necromancy of life forces and souls is very different from the cursing and manipulation of flesh. They are descended from unrelated historical traditions.

The violence to the soul in the acts of soulcrafting will damage it such that undeath is virtually inevitable. There is little about soulcrafting that would be characterized as rote magic. It is more the will of dark forces and necromancers in trying to forge the soul into more specific forms of undeath. This is more art than theory, with only limited understanding. It might instead be used to rip the soul apart, and move the soul shards into other hosts. There are some kinds of undead who are "accidentally" soulcrafted, having come into existence from having their souls eaten. Often by other undead causing spirit death.

Lichdom involves rituals of transformation where this violence is mostly self-inflicted on the soul of the necromancer. They are attempting to retain their mind, identity, and memories in corporeal undeath. These are extremely dangerous rites and most often end in the obliteration of the soul. Failures might survive as spectres, depending on the ritual. Wraiths may be the result of indirect soulcrafting, where a shattered soul makes the corpse drift into partial non-corporeality. Most powerful forms of intentional undeath originate in some form of soulcraft. There are forces of darkness in the infernal realms or outer valences blurring the distinction of undeath and the demonic. Extraplanar abominations are fashioned from mutilated souls. The way that cursed souls manifest in undeath, and their properties, are shaped within their situations. These are made through trial and error, more acts of discovery than invention.

IX.C Natural Undead

There are some forms of undeath that are natural to this world, which have perhaps always existed, since the dawn of life itself. This is inevitable as there are ways for the soul to become corrupted through "natural" accidents, which will result in a cursed spirit that is twisted into wickedness. Whether these spirits are considered "undead" is a theological question. Those that are corrupted enough to be unholy, even though they are not tainted with dark essences, may be considered among the true undead. Here we are not speaking of corrupted nature spirits.

Souls will not inevitably decay into wickedness. These tendencies happen under special conditions, shaped by environmental influences and essence disruption. Aside from the more religious interpretations of the matter, ghosts are more likely to happen in places with a great deal of necrotic energy. Charnel grounds are traditionally limited in use from learned taboos.

Entropic Decay

Spirits that linger in this world are not inherently malicious. Ghosts are often harmless, going about their business. They may not even manifest and remain in the background. Shamans and spirit callers, or a "medium" of divination, will conjure them or even be briefly possessed. But the surrounding world influences the spirits. They may become jealous or affected by the emotions of others. However it happens, the integrity of the spirit may decay, making its essence more chaotic. This is a darkening which tends toward malice, possibly becoming cursed.

When spirits become cursed through entropic decay, they tend to be forced into manifesting. They will often appear to be only barely bound to this plane of existence, flickering in and out of it. They will take on some obsessive focus, instead of their past lives fading into oblivion. They tend to become stuck in places of death, wherever there is much necrotic energy.

Known threats: ghost

Traumatic Death

While the souls of the departed that stay in this world will tend to linger where they died, others become bound to the causes of their deaths. Those who died in highly traumatic ways will more often become cursed, the intense emotive experiences impacting and corrupting the spirit. Undeath of this kind will tend to make undead which have their identities overwhelmed by the trauma of what happened to them. This will usually, but not always, be the suffering of their death. This kind of undeath is sometimes intentionally caused with very cruel rituals. Ancient battlefields are often haunted by undead soldiers who had violent deaths. Those driven to suicide sometimes manifest as revenants, which otherwise come from brutalization by others.

It has often been the case that a malicious haunter was once executed in a given place, such as a headless horseman, and will mete out its vengeance by executing the living in the very same ways. There have been superstitious prohibitions, not without some reason, against cruel and unusual punishments out of fear of karmic retribution. But imprisonment makes its own haunted.

Phantoms come into being through profound hopelessness. This may also come in the form of hopeless despair in extremely painful deaths. Drowning, suffocation, freezing. Firephantoms are the most familiar, which are created when people were burned to death. This will happen from house or forest fires, or dark priests throwing sacrificial victims into volcanoes, and being burned at the stake. Immolation is used by the Church of Koar to purify the souls of sinners and heretics. But it was often outlawed by western kingdoms in earlier ages for this very reason.

Known threats: phantom, firephantom, dark apparition, revenant, death dirge, blood beast, wind wraith

Sorcerous Backlash

Often curses happen as an accident of magical backlash, such as a failed attempt at enchanting weapons or armor. When these accidents happen to animate matter, they may result in the curse of undeath. The ways this can happen are as varied as the forms of magic. The most obvious way is when those engaging in the dark arts of necromancy lose their control and cause a backlash of tainted power. The Citadel of the Kingdom of Elanith is thought to have been cursed in this way, while attempting to conjure swordsmen to fight in their last battle. The Kingdom of Reim in contrast was a castle that had been floating, and all of the magic users were working together, trying to use their combined magic off the dome of the city to pull it to the ground.

Unfortunately, the mixture of incompatible forms of magical power, even unintentionally, is in itself low sorcery. This caused a powerful sorcerous backlash. The whole kingdom was cursed in an unliving state, caught between the material and ethereal planes. Undeath from backlashes may also happen while attempting to wield a great deal of power, especially Arcane power, or the wild instabilities of mana storms and the collapse of major portals. Accidental undeath from magic, in general, is when spirits become corrupted from the chaotic impact on essences.

Known threats: The Citadel, Reim, Thingul Manor

Restless Spirits

Whether souls will stay in this world or drift all the way into spirit realms is somewhat a mystery of theology. There is unquestionably a tendency for souls to be swept by currents of the essence into the spiritual planes. However, these are "near planes," bleeding into this world. The Ebon Gate is impenetrable to the living, but souls of the dead must first reach it. In the Second Age the Elves took this more or less as obvious, as did the folk religions, and more animist traditions engage in ancestor veneration. There were psychopomp rituals for helping the souls of the dead to travel where they must, or keep them supported in their afterlife, as these were not matters that could be taken for granted. With the spread of dark necromancy in the Age of Chaos, most especially by Luukosians, this became a theological dilemma for worshippers of Liabo. It was speculated that lingering souls are restless with unfinished purpose.

In this belief there is some more cosmic power of Fate, which is a confound in the Balance of Life and Death. The theology of Lorminstran religions in the late Age of Chaos had decided that Lorminstra is bound, or perhaps chooses, to only allow the return of souls with unfulfilled fates. These are traditionally characterized as unfinished purpose or untimely deaths. It was a corollary of this dogma that such spirits may not reach the Ebon Gate. Restless spirits will then become haunted, bound to this world, until the conditions for releasing them are met. This was Fate asserting itself, if the souls were not saved with resurrection. There are even Nepsonian theologians of Voln who justify this as Balance. Indeed. The doctrine of mercy and the release of the enslaved is a conceit of modern theologians, where Voln himself has historically refused to answer theological questions. Only indirectly a servant of Lorminstra, Voln may be read instead as an enforcer of Fate. Nor was this dogma of Fate without rivals.

There were also dark theologies of Gosaena in this period, which rejected the Balance entirely. They held the restless are "the reaped" who await "when Death will die" and "Gosaena is All." Throughout the Age of Chaos, the Luukosian sects were largely consolidated by the high priest Morvule, forming the Order of Luukos with its Ivory, Ebon, and Emerald Paths. In their rhetoric Luukos is "Death Himself," and they will return the dead to "correct Fate's flaws." They regard the Balance as a triumvirate of Lies and Undeath which are ultimately united in Death.

Irrespective of the truth of Death theologies, there are undead that are rightly considered restless spirits. This may result from improper burial, or unfinished business, or something that was going wrong at the time of death. Vengeful spirits will seek retribution for slights or injustices in life. There are theorists who believe this is what The Huntress was originally. In this view she was a vengeful spirit that was somehow augmented to the scale of a lesser god. There is controversy among historians of iconography regarding her and scythes. According to a late Kannalan view, she reaped a king, with a weapon of commoners. Others have argued it was a syncretism of "the reaped," from the Age of Chaos, with the sickle symbol of Gosaena cults. In this view the Huntress is an enforcer of Fate, the counterpart to Voln in the domain of Life, her regicide origins being the quintessential example of when resurrection is not allowed.

There is even a case for Voln himself being a vengeful spirit, in some sense the very personification of unfinished purpose, vanquisher of the perversions of Fate brooded over by Koar. This is, of course, inconsistent with the mercy theology of the Order of Voln, but more consistent with Voln as "the Destroyer" with his "undying hatred of the undead." Those who adhere to this image will believe Voln's mandate is about soul destruction and Luukosian violations of Fate, rejecting the "enslavement-release" dogma as the giantman-human politics of 800 years ago.

The thaumaturgical theory for this view is that Voln is a mirror of the undead, suffering an intense hatred of the unliving, thus obsessed with seeking and destroying negative life forces. The most cynical variation of this theory holds the Order of Voln is vampirically leeching energy by "releasing" undead. That this is what "favor" is, the source of their holy powers. This is perhaps speaking more to excessive affections for irony.

Vengeful behavior may develop over time, but it is "restlessness" that is more fundamental. Sacristans will endlessly pursue long lost or destroyed holy relics to protect them, and dark assassins will relentlessly hunt down and kill whomever they were summoned from their limbo to slay. Poltergeists may sulk in a particular place, but will be irate if others trespass. The forms of restlessness vary greatly. Such souls will more readily be corrupted into undead. They will remain bound in undeath until they achieve "rest" or clarity of self-awareness. This may involve performing actions, making amends for them, fulfilling unfinished tasks. This was recently seen in 5103 with the ghost of the archmage Lirou's assistant, who himself had been turned into a statue, while she suffered a gruesome death to v'reen morphs. It is familiar to places hosting Ebon's Gate festivals, such as the village of Velathae or the haunted Caligos Isle. The graverobbed may become restless in some situations. The town undertaker of Wehnimer's Landing in 5096, Serenity, fell due to his jewelry stealing operation out of the Etrevion crypt.

Known threats: dark assassin, poltergeist, sacristan spirit, seeker

IX.D Artificial Beings

Artificial beings are enchanted vessels giving physical form to powers of animation. They are unnatural in origin and have no inherent soul. They are either possessed of a temporary spirit of some kind, which may even be demonic or elemental, or some of their creator's essence is animating it. Soul assaulting weapons or powers, in general, will not work on them. Most such beings have limited intelligence, but will obey simple commands. They are loyal to their master, which is usually the creator, and may try to avenge the master's death or blindly follow the last orders. Talented artificers may seize control of other's creations. Golems are among the most common artifices, essentially moving statues, consisting of a single material. Occasionally "golem" is misused to loosely refer to more complicated automatons.

Constructs are made of more complex mechanisms than golems. Consisting of myriad parts, they come in many forms. Elementals of lower echelons are often artificial, with limited sentience, so elemental power is often used for animation. When a cursed spirit is the animating power of an artificial being, even if the body is inorganic it is said to be undead. There are perverse mutilations of flesh, such as "flesh golems" and amalgams, but there are much more advanced forms of unliving abominations. Simulacra are such beings, often grown in pools or vats.


The most exotic and masterful artificial beings are either fashioned from the essence itself, such as the Wyverns or perhaps even the Arkati, or else mutations of life from unimaginably complex methods or higher magic of lifeweaving. Most necromancy is not so high. The closest analog of "artificial life" are what might be called "simulacra" of some intended design. The simulacra are most often ancient, associated with major demons and blood magic. Many kinds are known (or hoped) to be extinct. Others are more primitive, the homunculi of blood mages.


Long ago in the Age of Darkness, horrible beasts were made from dismembered priests, sacrificed as the servants of a Dark Queen. Consecrated in a foul black fluid poured from ceramic urns, their tortured and mutilated bodies would commune with Marlu, who would speak cosmic horrors through them. The precise manner of their creation is lost to pre-history, or might only be known by depraved cultists in wastelands. But the vruul are thought to be grown in tall stone jars from black ichor. This is rumored to be the ooze of caustic blobs from some other dimension, so mixed with blood of the dark priests, as well as extraplanar mosses or fungus. This foul necrolytic fluid might transform the submerged corpses in an oily black pool sealed in masonry. But it might instead be that these consecrating rituals were only for waking the vruul. These were made many aeons ago, through forbidden knowledge, until they were found by dark priests.

The vruul will slumber for millennia in this vile fluid, sustaining themselves by feeding on its nutrients. When they burst through the lids of their stone jars, they are black as midnight, with membranous black wings. Often mistaken for demons, these leathery gargoyles are unliving abominations, more artificial life than undead. Marlu is said to plunder ancient crypts seeking these monsters, as well as others of his own kind. In the heterodox traditions where Marlu is imagined as "born of death" from this Dark Queen, his idols resemble the vruul, rather than having barbed or fanged tentacles.

More powerful vruul are capable of flight, and will bear away victims in their bloody claws. Vruul abhor the light of day and often have anti-magical powers through some infernal symbiosis with darkness elementals. They have supreme vision in utter darkness, with their eerie glowing green eyes, and they smell blood from very great distances. There are also lesser vruul which have narrow wings too small for flight, who do not use their long prehensile tails as barbed stings. It is theorized that these were made less expertly in a later age by cultists, or were perhaps awoken prematurely, before the completion of their transformation. Vruul without flight will move by loping, and most often wield battle axes. Necromancers sometimes possess them as vessels, or conduits for astral projection into the outer planes. Vruul have innate contact to the unbridled cosmic horror of the valences and are sometimes known as "dread seers." Whatever their true origins, they are believed to have been reconnaissance in the Age of Darkness, revealing others for malevolent powers. What little is known of this comes solely from the hideous frescoes of dark shrines and temples, obscure and eldritch places of terror and madness. Survivals of those dim, forgotten epochs, which were better left unknown by man and elvenkind.

Everblood Golems

In the Southron Wastes there is a primitive cousin of the massive shadowy oculoth, which Faendryl scholars call the enormous ebon-swirled primals. While these are known to exist in other valences, there is a population of them in the wastelands, for reasons lost to time and unknown to history. Where the venom of the oculoth induces mind shattering horror, the primals have been somehow time warped. Their venom blood causes extremely rapid aging, until their prey crumbles to dust in mere seconds. Thus named "epoch toxin," or more commonly by the portmanteau "epochxin," it may be deeply related to black arts which rapidly transfer life out of victims into necromancers. This is perhaps the manner in which that horrible kind of demon feeds.

While epochxin has at times been used as a highly lethal poison, and indeed has only been cured once in history, it now has various derivatives through exotic alchemy and blood magic. Among these have included genocidal plagues such as the "black blood blight" and the "blue suffer" poisons. It was the basis of the witch Raznel's immortality and her transformation of Talador into the Bleaklands. One of these variants was named "Ever-blood" by the blood mage Grishom Stone of Mestanir. It is nearly identical to epochxin, except in its relation to flesh.

Instead of rapid acceleration through time, where the time frozen epochxin is in the veins and "out of sync" with the rest of the body, the flesh of the Everblooded is fixed into its state from the moment it was cursed. Known also as the "troll curse," it was first seen in a giantman known as Drangell, an assassin of the Ivory Thorns who Raznel transformed into a troll with a yellow mist. This was released from a bone talisman and must have been made using primal blood. Drangell retained this immortality even after he was restored to his giantman form. It is now speculated by some scholars that trolls may have originated in ancient teratology by warlocks or some other dark power with demonic blood magic. Regardless, the Everblooded are very nearly immortal, healing all wounds and returning to life when killed. The speed of this recovery is slowed by draining their blood. If the curse is too deeply rooted, its cure will be fatal.

"Ever-blood golems" instead are simulacra, a special kind of blood golem, made by Grishom Stone after giving himself the Everblood. They have been witnessed emerging from pools of blood. These replicas are usually of Stone himself. He is able to control and speak through them. Everblood exploits an imprint of "blood memory," and reforms the body in the condition it ought to have been in intrinsically, thus not preserving injuries. Golems do not themselves have Everblood. While they begin as mindless vessels covered in slimy black residue, often transported in crates, when left awake they develop their own personas. Much is not known in how they work. It is thought they are soulless, only the heads of a hydra. Their apparent self-awareness born of their blood bond to their savant master. Though Stone styles himself as the creator of life, the clones he makes using Everblood are travesties. He is widely condemned as a madman.


Doppelgangers are more of a category of unliving than particular kinds of undead. They are simulacra of the living which may possess the memory and identity of the deceased. Often these are not "undead" in the narrow sense at all, and result from various forms of incorporeal power becoming manifest and physically incarnated. Among these include fey changeling spirits, who most notoriously are known for kidnapping children, such as the Ilvari of the Red Forest or perhaps even the replicants of the Wizardwaste. These are modestly similar in principle to the spirit incarnation and transmogrification experiments of Sage Uthex Kathiasas, where souls would undergo a dark analog of reincarnation by first traversing immaterially into other dimensions. It is not so much that this corrupted reincarnation of the self would be a duplicate, which it need not be, but the potential for the self to be incarnated within other selves entirely.

The work of Uthex was a sorcerous analog of the dream world practice of forming tulpas. These are occult manifestations formed from the mind, often ritually with groups of hierophants or savants, which physically incarnates and becomes possessed by a soul or other spirit. Interestingly, when Solhaven was reconstructed from the memory of its residents after the cataclysm of 5109, the Provost who had been assassinated with Luukosian deathwort returned. This was not truly Paidreg Venquinor, but a kind of tulpa, made from the memories others had of him.

There are also the manifestations that may arise in dream worlds, or the projections of selves (including that of others) from the memories of "paragons" in their demon blood time warped demi-planes. Walkar Wellington appeared, for example, to have returned from the dead in 5119. But it was only an incarnated manifestation from his sister Abygail, who had been made into a paragon in the Bleaklands. There are other versions of selves in parallel dimensions, or historical timelines, and "evil twins" are sometimes formed from holy power exorcising taint from souls. There may also be "mirror world" wraiths, which is to say reflections in literal mirrors, which act as gateways to inverted spirit realms. Nor are these doppelgangers to be confused with predecessor spirits, such as vardogers, which perform advanced actions of anticipation. There are also shapeshifters, shrouds of deception, and illusions made using victim blood.

Mockeries may be made with incomplete transformations of blood magic, but true soul clones such as the Ever-blood golems are perfect replicas. These have the potential to possess memory and may act as hosts of transference for their masters. There are also extraplanar or demonic methods of doppelganger formation. The most familiar to recent history are the v'reen morphs, who would become replicants, and consumed their victims. These were brought into this world by accident when the elven mage Lirou was attempting to make Mandis crystal. They disdained the forms of the undead, but may have caused undead invasions. This is not including travesties which only have the faces of their victims. Otherwise we might include imps and necleriines.


Homunculi are one of the most familiar perversions of blood magic. Alchemists or blood mages grow a "familiar" in a vessel using their own blood. This may take on some more fiendish look, depending on the method, or becomes some stunted and malformed "twin" of its creator. The homunculus will invariably be small, no bigger than the gnomes. While they are not "undead" in the traditional sense, homunculi are travesties, and they are widely reviled. Unfortunately deformed infants with birth defects have often led to the deaths of mothers accused of witchcraft. It is a kind of abomination that was first invented in the Second Age by esotericists, who were studying "preformation" and "recapitulation" to prove theories of microcosm and macrocosm.

It was thought that blood had its own memory and could make the whole again from the part. While blood magic is amorphous and spills over into other magical arts, the making of homunculi is usually deemed necromancy. Occultists of that age would experiment with blood, or other humors, attempting to simulate wombs in other vessels. These would sometimes be canopic jars. Other times they were rotting matter, such as hollowed gourds, or putrefied wombs cut out of dissected horses. The pursuit of homunculi was one of artificial life rather than undeath.

Nevertheless, these abominations are without soul, unless imbued with one by their creator. They are more often bound to the will of their creator through the blood bond. These were the early predecessors of more advanced forms of transmogrification rituals. Adulterants in the process of transformation would be used to fashion the homunculus into more monstrous forms. In time this would spread to the more southern traditions, which began including demon blood and that of other extraplanar beings. In the event the process is aborted, the homunculi (or "blood golems" in general) will be imperfectly formed, and these deformed grotesqueries of life are sometimes known as "mockeries." This notion of "birthing" makes the vessel into an artificial womb with pseudo-amniotic fluids. But in later ages the blood mages would come to instead use cocoons, and foul metamorphosis, where abominations are made out of living children.



It is rumored that the prior of the Brotherhood of the Sacred Fury was once asked, "What would you do if beset by the most unslakable force of destruction to ever exist?" To which the monk replied, "Pray to Lorminstra to return V'tull his immortal soul. For in death alone he will not escape the Reaver." Known as the dark reavers, these horrors of demonic necromancy are almost impossible to destroy, and will relentlessly slay any who get in their way. These are an extremely rare kind of undead that are made by demonic cults. They will be tasked to silently guard highly valued relics, sometimes fatally mistaken for statues in dark temples. But more infamously they will be tasked to seek and destroy, and will hunt down their target forever. There is no safe haven from a reaver. They will seek out their object in any land, in any world, across time itself. They will find a way to destroy their victim, no matter how high or powerful.

Highly intelligent, reavers are known to be made by imprisoning very powerful forms of undead, usually liches with or without phylacteries. Summoners will then bring forth a very powerful demon, and force it into the undead, so that it is involuntarily demonically possessed. Somehow controlled in a similar fashion to a golem, it will relentlessly pursue whatever it has been tasked. It will bash its way through stone walls, walk along the bottom of bodies of water, and slaughter whole villages demanding information. It will never stop or rest in its quest.

Reavers will most often be encased in full plated armor, often of unholy or anti-magical metals. They wear horned helms and wield huge gruesome battle axes. Their power is from beyond the veil. Between their magical immunities, and their inability to be kept dead, reavers most often can only be stopped with divine intervention. In the year 5094 a reaver was released from a box near a tower in what locals of Wehnimer's Landing call Danjirland, apparently devised by certain dark priests and a notorious sorcerer of that region, who suffered amnesia and was known for mutating thraks and possessed a wandering magical labyrinth. This is not to be confused with the warlock Melgorehn, who instead had a wandering tower. When unleashed this reaver sent a ball of fire up at the moon Liabo in blasphemous defiance of those gods. It attempted to break its way through the veil into Oblivion, seeking to destroy the soul of a dead king. Lorminstra herself had to intervene, consecrating a special blade for slaying it. This was only possible after its power from the demonic planes was severed and a gap was opened under its helm.

There was another instance a few years later in 5097, in a nearby Elven settlement, survivors from the Red Forest. The Vvrael sent a much weaker reaver, which was endlessly pursuing a baby Faendryl sorcerer, Daephron Illian. Supposedly his life force was bound to a puzzle box which had been opened. This caused him to rapidly age from childhood until death. While his story and perhaps identity was dubious, in various respects, this "black knight" had to be slayed repeatedly. It was more of a corrupted servant of the Vvrael, something like a Vvrael destroyer, thus powered with its anti-mana.

Soul Golems

In the volcanic isle of Teras near the dwarven town of Kharam Dzu, at the bottom of the cliff known as Lover's Leap, there is a Temple of Luukos carved above the fiery pit and bowels of the island. Wind wraiths rise screaming from the steam vents of this "Gullet of Luukos," with man sized holes in stone grates for hurling sacrifices into the lava flows below. The wraiths are part of a wind tunnel leading into the inferno, a symbolic representation of the Maw of Luukos. Its entrance is a huge stone likeness representing his serpent avatar. The wind wraiths feed upon the soul, empowering themselves, while weakening their victims. They are invulnerable to physical means of assault, and fundamentally, are actually a form of banshee. But what is most intriguing about these Luukosian undead is that they are possession spirits. When flying into the huge glaes statues of the temple, they become something else entirely: Soul golems.

Soul golems are truly "glaes golems." But unlike the "mein golems" of Estrion, they are not prone to exploding upon death. They are also undead, and deeply unholy. Soul golems are so unholy that only holy magic harms them. They are immune to elemental magic, sorcery or curses, and all manners of magical attack. Wind wraiths enter through the eyes of the statues, which are made from soulstones. Where the wind wraiths will drain the spirit of their victims, the "soul golems" act upon dead bodies, removing the "lifekeep" that preserves the soul from departing.

They are made from glaes statues that are sculptured with reptilian heads, in imitation of another avatar of Luukos, in his guise as the serpent god. They are otherwise humanoid in shape, eight feet tall, and four feet wide in the shoulders. Within their chest the wind wraith appears as a white mist, as if frozen solid in glass, but pulsing with a sickly glow. The soulstone eyes flare with a brilliant viridian light. It is said that the soul golems are as psychopomps for the bloody sacrifices to Luukos. Those who die in such a temple are beyond the reach of Lorminstra, doomed to have their souls devoured by Luukos. They are exquisite masterworks of necromancy and one of the few undead in this world truly and rightly called "Luukosian."


In Vornavis there is a tower made from bones that is named for the dwarven necromancer Bonespear. While some of these bones are from animals, and may have been harvested from graveyards, it is known that the construction workers were killed and made part of the tower itself. The tower was built by a cabal of necromancers, which then turned into something of a demonic cult, the former students of Bonespear now fanatical servants of a terrible Demon Lord. It was designed to be a kind of conduit for power, reaching across the veil, where this demonic power was the possessor of forbidden knowledge of necromancy. It is thought one of its servants, a huge misshapen green demon, was imprisoned in an oubliette with a lever for realigning the tower.

What happened precisely is not known. There was a disagreement between Bonespear and a human mage associate, and a summoning circle was made on the roof. There was a great concentration of power in the tower, a few days after Lornon's Eve in the year 5098, when the top of the tower exploded in flames. It was sculpted of bones in the shape of a massive skull. Bonespear then established a powerful anti-magical barrier, and banished the servant, which flew off screaming into the countryside. Bonespear abandoned his own body to struggle with the Demon Lord.

The Demon Lord now haunts and possesses the very structure of that tower, which would become its enormous body if it were freed from the barrier. Bonespear would appear as a spectre, asking for assistance, attempting to imprison the power of the demonic master in a huge misshapen sword. Whether this was for the good of Elanthia, or to allow Bonespear to possess the tower as his own gigantic body with the demon's power, is a subject of much disagreement. Those of the more cynical view believe the intent was to patchwork flesh on the skeletal frame of the tower, and then the dwarven necromancer would stride through the lands as a colossus. In support of this theory are the dybbuks. These are piecework monstrosities of mismatched sections, combined into an undead construct. But this is only the vessel. Dybbuks are possession spirits that take over the bodies of others to finish some goal. They are traditionally warded off with writing above doorways, or on door jambs, which invokes a master for repelling them. Instead the doorway of Bonespear Tower bears homage to the Demon Lord who "reigns supreme in this tower."

Urnon Golems

In what was perhaps each generation, dating back thousands of years, there was some chosen minion of the Shadows. This primordial demon is said to have been formed from the fear and chaos of the Ur-Daemon War. There are primeval artifacts in the Sea of Fire which bear Ithzir symbols, much older than their summoning by the Faendryl, from this time of interplanar instability. It is now thought that the Ithzir world was invaded in the Age of Darkness by the "Father of the Black Heavens," which is Grak'na'Den in their language, or "Vozhib ot Gir Mu Teur" to the Tehir. The first known attempt by the "Maw of the Void," more commonly known as Althedeus, to enter this world was in the Heart of the Wyrdeep. It was the height of the Age of Chaos and it is not well recorded. In the Modern Age its followers were known as the Disciples of the Shadows, which were more ordinarily found among the demonic cultists of the Southron Wastes.

But over a decade ago, a Faendryl sorcerer in contact with Althedeus raised the bloody Erythro Isle in the far north, off the frigid shore of the isle of Glaoveln. He was executed by his lover, Aralyte Halanori, the Palestra Blade who would later try to unravel Althedeus. It was there on the Blood Island that a shipwrecked Grishom Stone, a human from Mestanir and summoner of the Arcane Eyes, was rescued and revived by the Shadows. Grishom Stone became the chosen minion of Althedeus, manipulated into fashioning a "perfect host" to withstand its chaotic power.

To this end, Grishom Stone acquired tremendous amounts of the exotic metal urnon, which is a shapeshifting and perhaps sentient metal of elemental chaos. It was his quest to make a powerful golem out of urnon, an extraordinarily difficult task, given the nature of the metal. Erythro Island was demonic, with its own monstrosities, and powered Grishom Stone. With a ritual dagger he had sacrificed hundreds of women, storing their souls inside its blade. Along with that of Madelyne Cross, the daughter of Elithain Cross. When Stone was turned into stone by Elithain Cross in 5112 with a scepter from the Den of Ash, Cross double-crossed those assisting him, stabbing the dagger into one of the urnon golems which transferred the souls into the golem. The urnon golem shifted to the form of Madelyne. It was later possessed by Elithain himself in 5114, when she killed him, the final step in Althedeus' entry attempt under Melgorehn's Reach.

While "ordinary" urnon golems are powerful, such as Stone's urnon-eyed golems of 5111, urnon has tremendously greater capacities. When powered with the sacrifice of hundreds or thousands of souls, they may be greatly augmented, easily becoming "undead" of the third or even fourth echelons. Elithain Cross held perhaps the power of an Arch-Lich at the time of his destruction. It is powerful enough a vessel to hold the profound darkness and chaos of a great demonic power such as Althedeus without breaking down. In this way urnon golems may be used as avatars. It was only feasible to destroy this "urnon avatar" at the time because it was tremendously weakened while the mortally wounded Althedeus attempted to transfer into it from the Shadow Realm. It is speculated that urnon golems are inherently sentient and insulated from "true undeath," as they are constructs of elemental chaos, which absorbs the chaotic "corruption" that curses stable matter. It is remarkable as a matter of necromancy that the first urnon golem, a woman named Mirayam, collapsed under the chaos of the metal upon self-awareness of her true nature.

Soul Hosts

While the urnon golems were an especially advanced creation of blood magic, more generally it is possible to host a self-aware soul in a construct. It will be intelligent and have its own personality, and will quite likely not have the "past life" memory of its spirit. These will require a soul with a higher consciousness. The matter of the construct is arbitrary. It may be stone, as with gargoyles. Such a soul host is not necessarily thought of as undead, though it is unquestionably unliving. Without the bindings of a cursed soul, these enchanted constructs will inevitably be impermanent. The extent to which they will survive before breaking down will vary. Though intelligent servants may sound appealing, this comes with major drawbacks.

Constructs with sapiency will be loyal to their creators, even to the point of idolizing or worshipping them. When they come to understand their experimental nature, or their impermanence, they are prone to turning on their creator. It is very difficult and perhaps not, in general, possible to fix the degradation that will lead to their failure and collapse. Such constructs may be expected to murder their creator in a most gruesome fashion. This is what happened in one prominent recent case of gargoyles on Four Winds Isle made by an inexperienced master.

It is the folly of those who seek to make "artificial life" to pursue this path through making soul hosts of flesh constructs. This may even be as basic as attempting to enchant a soul into a body, which without soulcrafting, will be "born" with infantile intellect and have to learn a new personality and identity. Their body will not be living, and their personalities will in the end twist toward darker themes such as spite and malice, with intense loathing for their arrogant creators. They will wish to have normal lives, which is impossible, where their creator will be unable to help. Though feeling they should be immortal, they are haunted by their failing bodies. They will hunt their creator as a monster, as they too are hunted as monsters.



Flesh golems are traditionally made from a single piece of flesh, stretched and stitched over a frame of bones for support. In practice this is impractical, and the flesh may come from more than one race, while a "true" flesh golem would instead be a solid mass of flesh. As with golems in general, the term "flesh golem" is often misused. It might be applied to other kinds of amalgam, or chimeras, or even some kinds of simulacra. Amalgams are the more general category of piecing together the flesh from multiple bodies into a single construct. These will mostly be pieces from bodies of like kind. Much as flesh golems are not necessarily undead, the same may be said of amalgams. Some amalgams may even rightly be called living abominations.

Amalgamation is a region of overlap between the necromancy of undeath and the black arts of teratology. Grafting flesh or organs into the same living being, sewing or fusing them together with blood magic, even some kinds of snares may be conceived of as amalgamated without death. The witch Raznel did such a thing when making the mad assassin Vinswith, whereas she bound her two victims Stiletto and Abygail Wellington together into a joint paragon. Nor is this the only recent example of demonic necromancy of amalgamation in just the northwest of Elanith.

There was one particularly interesting instance ten years earlier of soul shards being taken by Tseleth, who was then only human, which suffered in flames conceiving themselves as wholes. These were later fused together with Luukosian soulcrafting and bound within an amalgam construct, now known as Athamael, which was made from various undead and demonic body parts such as a vathor claw for a hand. This amalgam is intelligent with its own self-awareness, and nearly indestructible from violence, self-reanimating when wounded or struck down. This is undoubtedly a product of how closely related its construction was to that of lichdom through soul shards. Souls are often used in pieces for living amalgams, evading the difficulties of whole souls. It is relatively common for amalgam undead to be difficult to keep dead or mortally wound. Their nature gives them a strong tendency to reassemble their flesh and emit noxious substances.

When the erstwhile Lich King, Barnom Slim, was returned to this world by his zealous acolyte Vlashara, he was reborn in an unusual simulacra amalgam as his host. This was made from the dead by a gnome known as Callid, who made vicious reapers that would disassemble victims for body parts, and was obsessed with reconstructing his dead family as piecework monstrosities. Beady-eyed and feral, the reapers were small hunched grey things swarming in hordes, with oversized mouths of chittering teeth, and their bodies were covered in tiny teeth and sharp claws. Raznel is said to have experimented in her relative youth, following a series of miscarriages, with mixing the arts of homunculi and amalgam crafting to "birth" undead abominations as babies.

Known threats: flesh golem, dybbuk, grisly corpse hulk, patchwork flesh monstrosity


Chimera are much like amalgams in that they are composite abominations emerging from varied traditions of the black arts. Warlocks of the southern wastelands would attempt to fashion the monstrous races as living hybrids made with vivisection and grafting or fusing unlike kinds together. There were also transformation curses and blood magic methods born of the simulacra traditions. Such horrors as the manticores arose from mockeries which attempted to achieve what Imaera had with fusion races such as the centaurs. This overlaps heavily with experiments for making unnatural hybrids of the living and the demonic. In the War of Shadows it is said Elithain Cross used the blood of his supporters to make demonic chimera on the Crown of Koar. Their blood was spilled into a bone nest. This formed enormous monsters with panther bodies, black wings like a wyvern, and three heads, resembling lions, hisskra, and some kind of demon.

Such chimerical beasts of blood magic, unnatural offspring of the living, are perhaps more rightly considered demons. Yet they are also unquestionably demonic necromancy. More mundane are those of more traditional necromancy. Chimera of this kind are more or less amalgams, except made of parts from unlike kinds. Where a flesh golem might be made by stitching together what is skinned from humans and krolvin, something like a shrickhen will instead be made from amputating the limbs from varied races and mounting the central torso with the head of a cyclops.

There are rotting chimera in Torre which have legs from varied races grafted into a huge jaguar carcass, along with an enormous humanoid arm jutting from its shoulder blades. These are pale imitations of manticores when they are grafted with scorpion tails of such scales. Others instead have the abdomens of mammoth arachnids for hind-quarters. What is intriguing about chimera is the latent memory of its bodies and their conflicting self-awareness. These chimera in particular have vestiges of humanoid mind, and like those of Raznel, will call for their fathers. Its parts will not be in harmony, clawing at itself or hitting its own head. Much like vereri with insufficient glamors, they will be horrified and upset with their own appearances.

Known threats: rotting chimera, shrickhen


The Miscere'Golab was a tremendous construct of soulcrafting and high necromancy that was fashioned with the power of the four high priests of Dark Alliance. It was made with the brutalized sacrifice of living recruits from within their armies, who suffered immensely traumatic deaths, and then their flesh and souls were gathered with the power of shrines by the Luukosian high priest Morvule. The form of the construct and its mind were fashioned from scouring the nightmares of thousands, and it was blood bound to the body and fury of the V'tull berserker Zerroth. It was the way of the high priests to bind Zerroth to powerful constructs, such as their Black Temple, and two decades later the blood from his unconscious body tainted the Hinterwilds.

The Miscere'Golab was mountainous in size and was birthed near the eastern edge of the DragonSpine. Its head was enormous with boulder-sized teeth and three eyes. It flew with six bat-like wings from a vaguely humanoid torso, but its lower body was instead a mass of tentacles. When it reached the surrounding armies of Ta'Illistim, they were swept up and incorporated into it. Whole villages were wiped out with its tentacles or sprays of acidic rain. Unfortunately for the Dark Alliance, its binding orbs were destroyed, and holy daggers stabbed into its heart.

Thus, the Miscere'Golab was a very short-lived construct of the Dark Gods, with thousands of undead forming upon it. It was destroyed as an airship delivered Ulstram and his followers to the head of the beast, who broke the creature's defenses with its orbs, and made their way into its heart chamber. Zerroth himself was piloting the beast and was bound to it when it died. This was a tremendous blow to Zerroth, as well as the Mularosian high priest Eryael, who took weeks to recover and only pulled back with the power of Draezir and Morvule. With its demise Zerroth had his arms transmogrified into burnt basalt, with cracks of liquid flame, which gave him powers that he would later use to conjure up massive amounts of flames. The Miscere'Golab was a drastic attempt to break through the war of attrition, forcing the holder of the Griffin Sword piece in Ta'Illistim to surface, or be surfaced with the destruction of the city.

IX.E Snares

Many are the undead who try to ensnare their victims, whether by physically grabbing or grappling them, or violating their will with charms or vile auras. There are also the haunted places which trap souls from departing to other planes, often bringing about a high density of spirits or manifestations of ghosts. These may be corrupted by malign powers, whether the taint of demonic power, or the domination of dark gods. There were many such ghosts on Caligos Isle, before it was sunk by Charl, under the oppressive hatred and indigo mists of Ghezresh.

With the exception of Caligos Isle, whose residents had their minds corrupted and souls trapped by Ghezresh, these are not what would be called "snares." Snares are places that fatally trap others, luring them inside, and then incorporating them in body or soul. They tend to be third echelon forms of undeath, made up of numerous souls, or composite horrors with many bodies. It might be that an especially powerful "leech," such as a soul or mind eater, may become an entire snare incorporating its victims. There are also prison planes rightly called snares.

Spheres of Oppression

More singular malevolent presences may form snares as well. Bone Isle off the Southron Wastes is a raised atoll haunted by Kyr'orvrad, who was apparently a drowned volcano god, then buried in dead coral and took to hoarding skeletal matter. It is the way of such entities to form cults around themselves, which try to capture and sacrifice the living to their would be god. Ghezresh was perhaps of this type, in his quest to bring himself above the limits of local godhood, having begun as either an elemental spirit or perhaps Great Elemental before encroaching on the domain of Luukos. It is intriguing to contrast the island gods of Ghezresh and Kyr'orvrad, as they seem to have begun as fiery beings trapped under the water, and those islands both became the graveyards of ill-fated Ashrim refugees.

Sorcerous hybridity in reattuning the focus of their powers may have oriented them to undeath. They became powers immanent in their isles, and acquired spheres of influence as local gods. In this way their own auras would become transformative or wills upon those spending prolonged periods of time on their islands. Those within their reach were manipulated or else compelled into collecting materials of relevance to those gods. In this fashion those gods who have no respect for the autonomy of mortals may thus act as snares writ large of the fourth echelon.

It is often the tendency of prolonged and large scale "snares" to drive those within their range into madness. Cults which form around such willful malevolences become deranged. There is nothing special about local gods in this respect. In a way they dilute the intensity of the snare by making it so broad. The more concentrated the power is into a confined space, the more dominating the will of the malevolent entity becomes over those approaching it. This might occur from some powerful demonic entity or creation, or the lingering power of a dead god, or it may be some kind of ancient primordial undead. Malevolent from the corruption of its essence, the snare is akin to the vile auras of such beings, but luring them in as thralls or food. It is a remarkable reflection on their culture, and the southern wastes, that Dhe'nar horror stories often focus upon snares. Even goddesses such as Oleani have been portrayed this way.

Dead Lights

One particular kind of higher echelon snare is a phenomenon that has sometimes been called the "dead lights." These are a corruptive form of extraplanar power which manifests in colored lights, which will tend to overwhelm the soul and dominate them. Staring into the eldritch lights directly may kill the witness or plunge them into madness. The sentient power will attempt to feed on the negative emotions of its victims and lure them closer to devour their life essences. Such entities may take a number of forms, or even manifest as illusions in the mind. In the Broken Land this power is part of the quasi-sphere artifact, which is used to control the conjured monstrosities, and suppresses telepathy and other such powers in its vicinity. There is such a phenomenon at the roots of the Blighted Forest, and in a sense, the dead lights are the demonic perversion of fey power.

The most common forms are moorlands or other haunted realms with sinister, sentient "will-o'-the-wisp" mists or fogs, which drain the living and bear with them the powers of undeath. "The Bleak" is such a blighting force in the Darkstone Bay region, which rots away the flesh in devouring all the living within it, with profound powers of undeath and demonic possession. Shadow Valley is another such haunted snare, with highly caustic self-aware rivers of black ooze, which are made of the demonic blood of the "wyrm." Closely related to this are the "dead marshes," which are related to swamp undead such as fetid corpses and ghouls. Collectives of the dead float, luring and drowning those who look.

Dark Forests

Closely related to the dead lights and immanent local gods, the semi-sentient fey power of regions may be corrupted, possibly from traumatic violence or debasement but usually from the taint of demonic powers. Most familiar are the dark forests, which are haunted with direbeasts, tree spirits and violent plants. When the forests are haunted with darkness in the most literal sense, such as the Wraithenmist, one may expect unnatural coldness and substantive shadows. It is speculated by theorists of the arcane and theologians alike that the gods, which is to say Great Spirits, may become either more or less powerful over thousands of years. Those who became weaker are sometimes considered the almost unconscious spiritual power of natural places. Emergent from these collective sentiences of mana, whatever their origin, are more individual fey spirits which incarnate in minor analogs of avatars.

Dark forests are exceptionally dangerous, irrespective of such threats as direbeasts. The Red Forest and the Wyrdeep are both haunted realms with malevolent fey, such as manic sprites or sadistic pixie tricksters. These are often "changelings" which kidnap children and try to replace them. The dark forests will try to keep those who trespass within them. Trees or other such plantlife may close paths, spontaneously form barriers or mazes, or shroud it all in disorienting mists. Parasitic vines will ensnare and feed upon the living as if they were shrikes. The Blighted Forest in the Illistim holdings may one day fall fully into this state, but for now the Maaghara remains to hold the corruption.

Blood Trees:

There was a particular and highly unusual form of "dark forest" snare in recent history that originated instead in demonic blood magic. The Lich King had caused a blight in the Darkstone Bay region in 5112, while he was under the influence of Althedeus, which had murky black pools that were corrupted with chaos and shadows. These were cured by a purportedly Marluvian priest named Therendil. He used the blood of rangers and their nature companions, as well as sacrificing almost a dozen wicked prisoners. But he would later introduce seeds for black blood trees, which would feed on the blood or souls of the dead, and would magically ensnare and draw the dead toward themselves. For every black blood tree cut down, two would grow in its place.

This necromantic blood siphoning was helping power the ritual under Melgorehn's Reach for opening the gateway to allow Althedeus into this world. It was later possible to cut these down, and their nexus was severed. Harrower Ersix Severus of the Extrachthonic Cartographer's Guild moved this shadowy blood maw through a portal, which naturally anchored itself to the Shadow Realm, and out the other side into the Deadfall Forest in the Upper Trollfang. This was sealed with a barrier by Wyrdeep druids, though Grishom Stone later broke in using their blood.

Black blood trees are wild inside this barrier, where the maw still exists, and continues to evolve into some other form. Grishom Stone has since taken up residence in the Deadfall and is using the Star of Khar'ta, now refashioned as the Bloodstar, for "harvesting" the blood of willing sacrifices. There are also black blood trees growing in the Bleaklands, having once been planted in Talador, and there is also a domesticated variety. The trees will not only bring the dead to themselves, they will pull the bodies into the ground. These corpses are suspended in sacs by the carnivorous and soul eating trees. While these are extraplanar and arguably demonic, their powers are also necromantic, and they are formidable snares and feed on the living. It is also possible for them to encase the barely living in their roots or branches. This was seen with the leader of those Wyrdeep druids, whose elven blood was useful in the Deadfall.

Flesh Merged

With roots in the blood magic methods of flesh amalgamation, there are vast composite monstrosities, walls and caverns made out of blood and flesh. These are manifest in the Shadow Realm of Althedeus. Though one hesitates to call such a place "natural." It was prominent in the demonic Erythro Island, which might also be called equal parts living and undead, whose core was a beating heart. Walls would bear glowing crimson veins, and transport blood for the unnatural "life" of it. It is remarkable that veins were used to siphon blood from Grishom Stone in order to exploit his seer powers. This was at one time with an obsidian scrying pool by the Shadows, another time by Elithain Cross and Nysorm of the Arcane Eyes, and yet another time by Stone's blood cult.

With respect to the second case, Grishom Stone was unable to be killed (or kept in stone) because of his Everblood, so he was strung up with leeching veins under Winter's Manor in Brisker's Cove. These were attached to a wall of flesh and hundreds of silver crystal scrying eyes. The witch Raznel would also bleed the paragons in this fashion, suspending their cocoons this way and filled with the black ichor of demon blood. With the blood cult, Stone had his cocoons in the Brass Tower of Wehnimer's Landing, which had walls of flesh and its own scrying pool.

Among these the last is the most illustrative of the point. Such walls of flesh are made from fusing many sacrificial victims together. There are even caverns in the Shadow Realm where the faces of the merged will be visible with their eyes darting around toward unseen horrors. With the Brass Tower the walls of flesh would spontaneously merge into the faces of people whom had blood given to Grishom Stone in the past. Those trapped within would beg for release, or else plead against destroying them, and otherwise were suffering from madness. This was a remarkable case as the Brass Tower formed its own heart, much in the fashion of Erythro Island, and had the glistening black root networks of the black blood trees. Blood flowed up the walls and even encased the tower in a hardened shell. The walls of flesh and oily black roots withered and turned to ash with the destruction of the heart. But many of those inside were Stone's clones.

Though the clones have a degree of personality of their own, the pulsing and beating could slow to a halt, and they would all be taken control of with the attention of Stone himself. Those of the flesh wall were more of a collective entity, speaking together with their voices in unison. Remarkably, these would include even those whom only had blood samples taken, some amount of their body and voice reconstituted from what inheres in the blood itself. Whether or not these are unliving in the narrow sense, the flesh merged are snares of the higher echelons. It is dubious to distinguish this kind of undeath from the demonic. Necleriines were "birthed" out of bloody stones, for example, when the tower was under siege and releasing floating cocoons.


In the second Griffin Sword War there was an elven sorcerer who was apprehended for breeding a form of undead known as the Overseers. This was allegedly an innovation of Morvule's that was taught to the sorcerer, who was a recluse and local outcast residing in a tower near Ta'Vaalor. Overseers are slime-like creatures that grow and anchor themselves inside caverns. In this they resemble the hostile fungal entities of the South. The Overseers have an alien, collective intelligence, trained by their creator. Their purpose is to attract the living so they become trapped within, and then are converted along with any other existing dead matter into undead constructs, which are nearly mindless and directed to acquire more sophisticated living.

The Overseers will slowly grow, until they are quickly coming to dominate their surroundings with undead, which serve as their guardians. There is usually significant protection from higher life forms by the time the undead are capable of acquiring them. When the surroundings are exhausted of organic matter, the Overseer will convert the simplest undead into a new Overseer. It will imbue some of its own imprisoned souls, and those of its minions, into the form of the new Overseer. This is moved by the undead to spread the Overseers ever farther like a tumor.

Haunted Houses

Though not necessarily "houses," these are a special kind of haunted realm, whether or not they are tainted. Haunted houses may form more or less by accident, usually in residences with a history of violent death. Ghosts in such places will tend toward trauma and twisting into violence themselves. While the poltergeists will normally seek to harass and drive away the living, wishing the haunted place for themselves, those that corrupt to the point of undeath may attach to the living trespassers and get them killed. But more rarely, these undead spirits will go through an inversion, where they will instead seek the living. Malevolent clusters of poltergeists may turn a haunted house into a snare, luring in the living to imprison their souls.

This will increase the power of the haunted house, and the depth of its corruption, which will then tend to twist its spirits into more wickedness. This may become powerful enough to be considered undeath of the third echelon. Though this may happen more or less by accident, it will more likely have underlying causes. The haunted house will have been built on top of a more ancient burial or charnel ground, or some other desecrated or profaned land. It might also be tainted with dark power, or the demonic, from "hellgates" or swallowing by a "hellmouth."


The foul Breath of Luukos as it is called, the Felstorm is a special kind of mana storm, instead a force of undeath and mass slaughter. While there is an anchored Felstorm outside the dark temple of Luukos on Teras Isle, such storms invariably destroy and slaughter all within their paths. These supernatural hurricanes are filled with non-corporeal undead, especially the wind wraiths and dark apparitions, but also darkness elementals of various powers. The storms are centered on massive essence concentrations, which arguably is the direct power of Luukos. The Felstorm is a fourth echelon force of undeath, which is somehow formed with the power of a Dark God. It is powerful enough to endanger other gods, who will not directly intervene on it.

In the year 5112 there was an incident of a gnomish Luukosian hermit named Grevisth, who summoned an apparition of Luukos in the Citadel of River's Rest, offering him sacrifices of souls of heroes who had been tricked into trying to rescue a young girl. Lorminstra struck down this apparition in hoarfrost. Which was too late, or perhaps inciting, as the Felstorm then formed off on the horizon. The undead become more powerful as a Felstorm approaches, and as it draws near, its clouds may be summoned overhead so that wraiths and other "abominations" will rain down from the skies.

Though such things cannot be known absolutely for certain, some regard this mass of essence as an avatar of Luukos. Others dispute this, calling it some kind of "demi-avatar," noting it was guarded by a serpentine apparation. Instead a non-corporeal manifestation or projection of Luukos' head. Regardless, the Felstorm forms around this concentrated power, much as more mundane energy maelstroms do when sorcerers swirl dark energy around themselves. Essence storms are thought to be dangerous to the Arkati, and so their avatars should avoid them, much as Sheru is said to have withdrawn from Darkstone Castle in the backlash of 5095. In fact, Niima herself was trapped in Maelstrom Bay, because of the approaching Felstorm. Charl threatened that the mortals must find a way to help his daughter or they would face his wrath. The mass of essence was ultimately destroyed with magical shards taken from the souls trapped within the Felstorm.

There was an artifact known as the Heart of Jaston that was recovered from slaying Raukturga, one of the liches of the Horned Cabal, who was hiding in his lair in the Gattrof Mountains. The artifact was then sought by the parasitic Collectors from the Southron Wastes, and was stolen by Barnom Slim, who traded it to Grevisth and began his path toward lichdom. When the Heart was taken from Grevisth, it was ultimately used to freeze the Felstorm in stasis, its clouds solidifying into a sludge of seawater, debris, and souls. Felstorms manifest in distinct sections, known as the Black Winds and Emerald Winds. It is said Aeia's influence was what allowed heroes to move through it. The Eye of the Felstorm was destroyed before it broke the stasis imposed by the Heart of Jaston.

IX.F Transformation Curses

Undeath is often thought of as the fate of unfortunate souls after death. However, necromancy often does not wait for death, instead bringing the living. There are ways that the living will be transformed into various kinds of undeath, finishing in their death or even seamlessly transitioning into it. Necromancers and powerful dark forces may "mark" their victims with curses, or bind them in ways that end in thralldom. There are curses that will transform the flesh into that of monstrosities, as well as disease curses which spread undeath as a contagion.

More broadly, the necromancer is one who debases the sanctity of kinds, and will make unlike things into things. Those who fashion amalgams and graft together flesh do so extrinsically. But those who inflict transformations will pervert their works from the inside out. There are even transmogrifying forms of soulcraft that will warp entities to the core of their being.

The Marked

Transformation curses are often inflicted directly on their victims, who might be called "marked" with the evil of some necromantic power. Such a curse is burned into the soul or body, and deepens as more time unfolds. This may be a bond with some malevolent force that gradually subjugates the marked into thralldom, or breaks down its internal barriers to the point where the soul may be ripped out, with its body wracked and broken with invisible forces. Similar bonds are made through blood magic. But the mark may instead be used to alter the physical form, or it may lead to possession or madness. Sometimes it is manifest as a literal symbol, which may be burned into the flesh, or hallucinated or otherwise inescapably present in the mind.

In some cases, such as the Curse of Luukos, the body fails until undeath. In other cases the flesh may be rotting away in places, or be missing, such as a living person having a hand of corpseflesh. This is sometimes seen in those marked by liches. The Lichborn of Barnom Slim, or "Disciples of the Lich", are quasi-living abominations of shadow. The Star of Khar'ta was once used by Grishom Stone to spread the Lichborn curse from one Aelotoi to another as a balance of blood magic. Liches themselves will often transform into lichdom through marks and rituals.

Unholy Relics

Curses of this kind may also be inflicted by artifacts, magical items of darkness, and powerful unholy relics. In the War of Shadows it was sometimes done as augments by Elithain Cross. In the case of the Mayor of Wehnimer's Landing, Walkar Wellington, there was cursed armor that made the flesh fall away and turned him into a cannibalistic abomination. The krolvin warlord of Glaoveln of that time, Kragnack, instead was given a gauntlet which gave him necromantic and demonic summoning powers. It had transformed his arm into a tentacle. It was said that the Queen of Anwyn was transformed into a "demon" by an ancient Vvrael scroll, which possessed great power of anti-mana, which also made a bard named Norandar obsessed and changed the way he looked. It would drive those who possessed it to madness, and bequeathed them great powers. It would kill those who tried to merely scry its secrets. Terate was himself transformed with those scrolls.

Powerful relics may have a will and malevolence of their own, becoming the master of those who wield them. This is especially so with worn items that have demons imbedded in them. The Soul Harvester talisman of the once northern Kannalan kingdom of Ziristal would dominate the bearer, promising eternal life at the price of two years for each soul stolen by vile mists. Nor can we overlook Ur-Daemon artifacts, which often are dead and undying pieces of their bodies. One of the Eyes of Ith'can was rejuvenated with the black blood of the Ur-Daemon caged below Teras Isle and used to make a powerful gateway to the Shadow Realm. The Eye of Goseth instead corrupted the Luukosian Sanctum of Scales. There was also the Shroud that twisted the Red Dreamer, as that is also known as "the skin." The Mandis crystals were dreadful artifacts of the Dark Ones, fed with the blood of mortals, and Baron Hochstib was corrupted from infusing them into himself with rituals of mass slaughter.

Disease Curses

Contagious curses are thought to have originated in blood magic, and the dark witchcraft of the southern wastes in the Second Age. These were perhaps the more ordinary transformation curses of witches, such as turning princes into frogs, except mutated so that the cursed may spread their curse to others. Instead of the princess curing her love by kissing the frog, it would disfigure her with warts. Her hands and feet would web, her throat inflating as a pouch. In the end she would become a frog as well. The most familiar of these "fates worse than death" are the "were-beasts," which will assault others, with those surviving their bites often becoming that kind of were-beast themselves. Werebears still exist in the northwest of Elanith.

By the end of the Second Age, Despana and her minions had adapted this dark art of cursed contagion, making various kinds of undead that spread diseases. Sometimes these would be unhealing, rotting wounds, or partly spiritual afflictions, such as the Red Rot which was airborne and slaughtered many of the dwarves of Kalaza. Other times the wounded in infirmaries would rise as zombies. Ghouls would multiply by clawing with their fetid nails. Disease curses usually become less contagious over time, but the ill become more contagious relative to their cohort.


Ghouls are hierarchical undead which were bred to be environmental hazards. They will slumber in the muck and mud, becoming dormant until disturbed. Though they will now most often be found in swamps, they were made to blend into the dead of battlefields. When the Vaalorian soldiers would go to retrieve their fallen, some of the piled corpses were actually eating the others, and would suddenly lash out. When "freshly" cursed the ghouls were highly contagious, often transmitting their rot to those clawed with their nails. This would curse the victims, who would become ill, their bodies gradually failing. Their minds become lost to mindlessness and cannibalism, and their teeth transform into fangs. By the time the body dies, it is the undead.

Ghouls become stronger and more contagious with age, but they are never intelligent, unless they were specially made by necromancers. Such "ghoul masters" are still more contagious. They are thought to have first existed in the hordes of Despana, where they would use carrion crows as familiars to survey battlefields, and move weaker ghouls into the battlefield dead. Though ghouls are not terribly dangerous in terms of martial skill, their disease is such that being so much as scratched by them can be fatal. They are highly dangerous to melee soldiers.

However, when ghouls transmit their disease curse to others, it is weaker in the next generation. It might even become less contagious in the same ghouls if they survive long enough. Long lineages of ghouldom will eventually reach the point where ghoul scratches are barely contagious at all. This makes the ghouls even more dangerous in a way. Since ghouls are clumsy and weak individually, their threat is easily misunderstood. Those who have experienced ghouls before will be caught off guard when confronted with a new lineage that is highly contagious. In this way the Vaalor were surprised by the sudden danger of the lesser ghouls. It was deadly to be within arms reach of them. But they would appear suddenly, or else in very great numbers.

Shambling Lurks:

While Despana had made use of vast hordes of disease ridden undead, making them dangerous through sheer numbers, they were often relatively weak individually. This was part of the reason why the Elves had been lulled into false complacency. Shambling lurks lack this subtlety. Lurks are a kind of Luukosian zombie initially made with a transformation curse on the recently dead. Green-tinged light suffuses the flesh, imbuing incredible heat, but then utter coldness on the soul. The flesh sloughs away like serpentskin and the corpse rises shambling.

The eyes are then flickering with viridian firelight, and the body undergoes rigor mortis. These are not preserved against decay, and though true undead, tend to be transient. The soul will be released if struck down. They are roughly as powerful as their creators, and most often their victims. But they are as clumsy and poorly defensive as the rest of the mindless undead.

What is special about the shambling lurk is that its transformation curse makes it contagious through the spread of bodily fluids. They will infect others with their bites. Their stomachs will also bulge and distend, following up through their chests, and then vomiting acid on their victims. There will be a feeling of both heat and coldness around the wound. Within around only ten minutes of being wounded in these ways, the body will suddenly die and become the undead. Though the victim will still have their conscious awareness, they have no power over their bodies, and will assail all those around them. The Luukosians of the Sanctum of Scales have an antidote for the living. But, fortunately for the "lurked," their souls are not cursed.


Vampiric bloodthirst is a quality sometimes found in corporeal or living undead, including the more material wraithlike undead such as lamia and baesrukha. This often involves enthralling or seducing behaviors such as charming, glamors, and compelling the will. Those who have been corrupted by Amasalen are known for vampirism. However, when one speaks of the "vampire" as a singular kind of undeath rather than a kind of behavior, what is usually meant is a highly rare form of preservation where the sapient mind is kept with the glamor of eternal youth. Though we might classify it with the preservative undead, vampires are things of transformation and blood. Far from the skeletal horror of the lich, such creatures are nearly mistaken for living immortals. They are intelligent and will seem to have the identity and mind of the mortal they replaced.

Vampires in this sense are thought to have first arisen out of Faendryl in the Age of Chaos from the blood magic of disease curses. Vampires are almost mythical in their rarity, and legends often originate them in Amasalen himself. Most recently, the vampiric demi-lich Zeban had returned with the aid of Amasalen and used the Tablet of Death of the gigas, making various transformation undead in the pursuit of the perfect host body. Within the transformed undead of this period were bloodthirsty strigoi, unliving "survivors" of Zeban's own wanton feeding, risen from the half-krolvin holdfast of the Crawling Shore. Strigoi are not self-healing as the trolls, nor sorcerously so as the Tenthsworn occultists of Zeban. But their cursed blood in its unrefined condition allows them to unnaturally act as though not critically injured.

Conjurers of the Marquis Barlan Kane worked to enchant this strigoi blood, and were able to use it to transform Barlan into a vampire, along with his human aristocrats of Moonsedge Manor. The ancestors of Moonsedge built Briarmoon Cove, before the climate was frozen, and may have aided in forging the Griffin Sword. Vampires are thought to control who they "turn" using their own blood, which has gained the occult power to restore their physical injuries. Vampire blood in this sense is much like a weaker form of the Everblood. They are hierarchical undead which control others through various powers of the mind, including creatures of the night, and have wraithlike powers of transforming into mists. They may also turn into a swarm of bats. This makes it difficult to land fatal blows, and they are unnaturally strong. Most folk myths of their vulnerabilities are wrong, but vampires do have an aversion to sunlight.

The guards of the Marquis instead became infernal death knights of the headless horseman kind, accompanied by a powerful variant of the skeletal warhorse known as a smouldering dreadsteed. Commoners were not so fortunate to be ascended with the most refined strigoi blood. Nevertheless, they are self-healing as the vampire, however bestial and mindless. They were instead transformed into a foul kind of undeath known as ghasts, slouching corpses that are only passingly humanoid and vaguely resemble noseless kangaroos with claw-like nails, which in some respects may be regarded as a more powerful cousin of the ghouls.


There are transformations that are little more than transitions, or merely some superficial shift from one form into another form. However, there are far more grotesque horrors of undeath, more severe and profound debasements. Transmogrification is when a "transformation" is utterly unnatural. It is a violation of the core of one's very being. Known as "high necromancy," it is when necromancers "play god," transmuting the fundamental kinds of existence. It inherently blurs the distinction between necromancy, teratology, and the blood magic of demons.

These abominations are more often characterized as "demonic" than undead, and often involve transgressing the boundaries between beings of other worlds. The "release" of cursed souls will likely have no meaning with the transmogrified. Transforming them "back" would involve similarly deep wracking of inherent essence, which would itself be corruptive of dark sorcery. Much as The Huntress and Voln may be interpreted as vengeful spirits of Fate, in the domains of Life and Death, Arachne may be regarded as a jealous spirit and goddess of transmogrification.


Though it has yet to be widely understood, one of the most profound horrors of the Bleaklands was not the wasteland itself, nor even the mass deaths of the desolation of Talador. It was that the dead have never left. Some such as the Blameless crusaders became more conventional undead. But the Bleaklands have many monstrosities, transformed from the dead. The souls of the dead are known to be trapped inside them, whether or not they are undead in the narrow sense. These may even be kinds of beings that seem highly alien to this world or humanoid life. The most powerful of these are the Behemoths, enormous floating black blobs of teeth and limbs, which were bound to the witch Raznel. The very soil of the Bleaklands is said to be blood.

This was ascertained by a famed alchemist from Estoria, Praxopius Fortney, who adapted it into a deadly contagious poison. The Bleaklands is known to have corrupted those within in varied ways. One of the strongest proofs of this are incidents that have happened with bleakwalkers. These are essentially a kind of darkness elemental, similar to the voidwalkers of the Shadow Realm. But these have been found to possess the living. It was discovered that one such bleakwalker, once a worker of the Honey Mine brothel, had fused herself inside a former knight.

This bleakwalker was siphoned out of Thadston Andrews, formerly a Hendoran knight of the Order of Llaestal's Guard, and transferred into the bleakstone statue which had unleashed the blight that calls itself the Bleak. Though it is now suppressed, this blight is thought to itself be a transformation curse, which would eventually spread the Bleaklands. Those within its range may be afflicted with waste illnesses or the leprosy of the witch Raznel. Regardless, the bleakwalkers are shadow entities that would be extraplanar, were they not attuned to this world. In this way the transmogrification of the souls in the Bleaklands is high necromancy. The Shadow Realm is bleeding into the Bleaklands, which is ripping open with hellgate rifts, and those within are transformed to its dark power.


Extraplanar beings are sometimes known for making more of themselves out of the flesh of those from this world. Though this is more a matter of demonology, it is perhaps related to how they are incarnated in this existence, and so requiring more matter of like kind. Glistening cerebralites are the most familiar to fortune hunters. The demonic are known for having the capacity to hybridize with the living, whether hosted within them or yielding foul offspring. The Scourge beyond the Demonwall is made up of demons as well as demonic hybrids. There are some kinds of demons, such as necleriines, that are made from the dead of this world. Though this is usually the necromancy of vathors, necleriines have also been made by blood mages.

In turn the use of demon blood or body parts, or that of other extraplanar beings, is useful for transmogrifying the living. This is the province of blood magic and simulacra, where the mix is adulterated with otherworldly substances. With simulacra one might grow horrors from the exotic humors, and indeed, this was probably the origin of many of the now extinct kinds. These abominations are unliving, or perversions of life, but they are often not "undead" narrowly speaking. Nevertheless, they are debasements of the living, necromancy in the broad sense.

The higher echelon undeath of the Age of Darkness are thought to have been "offspring" or otherwise hybridized and perverted with the black blood of the Ur-Daemon. With the exception of the abominations made by the Dark Gods. These were destroyed or exiled into infernal planes. More modernly, hybrids are transformed out of children by blood mages, using cocoons. Grishom Stone made winged blood red fiends of them in 5111, who hatched from floating cocoons, from which one could hear the ghostly wailing of children. He helped the Ithzir make hybrids of children in 5116, which floated up in cocoons next to Melgorehn's Reach, hatching and then arcing energy to each other to open an unstable portal to the Ithzir world of Kol Tar'sken. The only surviving orphan of the Ithzir-human hybrids, a cambion named Rodnay, psychically devoured the rest of his brood. He still grows in psionic power and was last known to be "evolving" in a new cocoon.

The "Foggy Valley" of Vornavis is among the most familiar haunts where scourgemages and warlocks engaged in hybridization experiments. This is in the Cairnfang region of the north, which is part of a heritage of dark sorcerous forces. The most famous of these hybrids are the "vesperti," named for Augustin Vespertinae, an Illistim scholar and devotee of Fash'lo'nae. He crossed elves and bats with dark empathy, making them highly able to pass through veils. They are highly anti-magical. Other hybrids in the valley have included pra'eda, shan, and even centaurs.

Known threats: abyssal dreadlord, tendriled blood red fiend, gloom beast, three-headed twisted painbringer, paragons

Flesh Horrors:

Flesh horrors are analogous to amalgams, except merged, rather than patched together. They are more individual and usually weaker than flesh merged snares. Though these are fundamentally similar forms of unliving. There is no reason the flesh horrors cannot be made into a hive, ensnaring others and incorporating their flesh to make more of themselves. The horrors are made as transmogrifications of sacrificed flesh and blood, ritually transformed in containment vessels, such as the glowing emerald spheres used by Luukosians for processes of metamorphosis. The cocoons of blood mages such as Grishom Stone, when destroyed, may obliterate in many small pieces of flesh as well. These might have been flesh horrors with incompleted transformations.

One full example was performed by a Luukosian in River's Rest in the year 5112, a gnome known as Grevisth, who sacrificed to Luukos who in turn formed a Felstorm directed toward Maelstrom Bay. The Heart of Jaston was an artifact that was sought to stop the Felstorm. Grevisth at one point made massive flesh horrors out of jungle trolls, and made himself nearly indestructible in this same way. Oddly enough, song was a source of weakness for this transmogrified form, until the Heart of Jaston was dislodged from his armor by a Voln champion named Vordilian.

Fundamentally, the necromancer is not only mixing separate bits of flesh together, they are fusing it together with blended properties. This is a debasement at the deepest level. Trolls are often used by necromancers for their regeneration powers, often relatively innocuously, such as the crimson salt crystals used for the reanimated dead. But in the context of metamorphic necromancy, which is closely related to hybridization, the appeal of trolls is rapid self-regeneration. The ideal is to make one's creations, or oneself, relatively invincible. This will involve admixtures of exotic substances. In the case of Grevisth and the troll horrors, they were made with the use of eelskin oil, which unsurprisingly is highly illegal in the Empire. It is remarkable that eelskin oil is useful in this way. There is quite probably a deep relationship in this for Ghezresh's peculiar reorientation into an eel god with a focus on undeath.


Wendigos are things of the arctic, long in history with the Wsalamir giantmen clan. More interesting are those of the Hinterwilds, which are transmogrified out of the living undead. They begin as stunted halfling bloodspeakers, among the surviving followers of the demi-lich Zeban. They have broken and misshapen bodies, with twisted limbs and forked tongues. They are covered with ritualistic burn scars, which may act as marks for their accursed condition. What is important is these cannibals will eat the heart of the newly dead and transmogrify into wendigos.

They will then suddenly grow to be several heads taller than a giantman, stretching into an atrocity of exposed bone and raw tissues, and bloodstained antlers sprout from its skull. The wendigos will retain their forked tongues. The abrupt metamorphosis has origins in taint and transformation curses, though mutants of the Hinterwilds may be considered aberrations.

Wendigos in this sense are perhaps totally unrelated to those of the Wsalamir. This speaks more to the inconsistency of words, especially when there are encounters with foreign languages. Importantly, the wendigo is not undead in the conventional sense of the word, it is in some sense still living. But these are not merely the passive living undead, they are transformations, such as we see with the werebears. Thus, they are cursed, and utterly savage. They are also mutants of the halflings, rather than the gigas, who are ancestrally related to the giants. Gigas developed a religion with emphasis on V'tull. But the more degenerate races of giants are shamanistic, and will most often be corrupted, usually with some form of elemental essence.

Soul Incarnation:

In the late Age of Chaos there were terrible wars in the West between forces of darkness and those trying to establish civilization. There were in recent centuries a minority of heroes who were treated leniently by Death, even to the point of having their bodies reincarnated from their souls. While Luukos is known to be able to bring souls back from his Maw as undead, it was only Lorminstra who could reincarnate souls to the living. It was only she who could fashion "animus" in the dead. Other gods would only delay its degradation or "raise" dying bodies.

Sage Uthex Kathiasas of the Order of Lorekeepers was researching how to master the power of self-resurrection. In this way those slain in battle against the darkness could rise, without the risk of everlasting death or the need for "true resurrection." Uthex was able to find some success within the limited domain of holy powers, though this was lost until the year 5107.

While those who call themselves "priests" or other such terms may worship any number of forces, and wield magic channeled from the spirits of nature, those who would be called "clerics" or "paladins" are spiritually attuned to a single god which is the source of their spells. Within this domain and that spiritual confound, Uthex was able to innovate self-raising. This was of interest to his old associate Bandur Etrevion, whom Uthex was unaware was truly a dark mage and necromancer. Bandur was an occultist who had written profound works on the hierarchies of the malevolent powers, with the insight he had gained from serving them. He convinced Uthex to pursue an avenue of research seeking to master the power of reincarnation using arcane methods.

To this end Uthex was secured access to a gateway in northwest Elanith to a parallel dimension with an ancient dome that absorbed and concentrated power. His work was toward giving "power a physical form," fashioning incarnated entities out of pure spirit. This was intended to be an Arcane approach to the esoteric practice of forming tulpas from the mind in group rituals. The key was to transport the soul out of this dimension, and then bring it back, forcing it to reincarnate by the constraints of this reality. Lorminstra would do this with the Ebon Gate. The difference with the miracles of Lorminstra, in theory, was that Oblivion was one of the higher planes of existence. The Ebon Gate is utterly inaccessible, except to souls of the dead.

What Uthex had hoped to do was use parallel material worlds of Elanthia to this end, so that the soul would be reincarnated as a living body with its own memory and identity. But the powers he was working with were deeply corruptive, and his work was twisted into more perilous and dangerous forms under the subtle influence of cultists of the Dark Path. In the occult theories of Bandur, each soul is only an instance of a more fundamental cosmic archetype, thus instantiated in past and future lives as well as other forms of life and other existences entirely. It was their desire to master the power of transmogrifying souls into that of the demonic, and other extraplanar beings, as well as to immediately apprehend the higher cosmic horror. This was influenced by the monist schools of thought in Faendryl sorcery in the Age of Chaos, which held there was a more fundamental cosmic power and inherent essences may be converted. The Dark Path was a theocracy of Gosaena, but it was a deeply heterodox religion, calling her a dead Queen. This is a theological muddle of Eorgina and Marlu, or even Arachne and The Huntress.

The Dark Path believed such incarnations could be transmogrified of arbitrary power. It was their desire to "ascend" into godhood, making grotesque avatars of their physical bodies. Legends had held that ascension comes from being imbued with divine substances. But there were non-corporeal undead which held power, in spite of shifting partly out of this world. Occultists were of the belief that one could "ascend" into a purely spiritual form, but retain power and identity, becoming incarnated again as tulpas through esoteric meditation. But in practice conjured astral beings have their own minds, or become shaped by the thoughts and memories of those making them, which meant the rare instances of tulpas had sapience unrelated to their soul.

In other words, tulpas were more like an advanced golem, fashioned by the mind. They were imitations of what they sought to simulate and not true reincarnations of the soul. It was hoped that with arcane methods the soul would retain its own memory and identity. The works of Uthex were profound corruptions, souls transmogrified into unlike kinds of existences. His research was mostly destroyed by his fellow Sages. But the immortalized cultists of the Broken Land still exist, now working with the Sheruvian Order to unlock this potential of nightmares.

IX.G Taint and Desecration of Life

Desecration occurs when the lands or matter of places have their essence corrupted. While this can happen "naturally" in rare situations with a great concentration of death, it is far more likely quasi-natural, the result of sorcerous backlashes and powerful magical accidents. However, these have sometimes been made intentionally, even on huge scales. Tainted lands come into being from corruption with dark essences, the substance of more chaotic and infernal realms, whether directly through such phenomena as rifts or indirectly from demons and the undead. The Bleaklands were made with demon blood and genocide, the Pits of the Dead in the Hinterwilds were further corrupted with the blood of Zerroth due to the demi-lich Zeban, and so on.

Much as great concentrations of darkness may corrupt the land, this land may in turn corrupt the living with darkness. Exposure to the chthonic essences of the demonic and the tainted undead may inflict a kind of metaphysical radiation poisoning. Similar to transformation curses, such exposures will twist the living, passively corrupting the nature of animate matter. The fey spirits of nature may be twisted and corrupted this way, causing various forms of undeath, whether "true" undead of unholy power or maliciously "magical" corruptions of wildlife.

Corrupted Nature Spirits

One of the oldest forms of the true unlife in this world are corrupted nature spirits. In the Age of Darkness the spiritual forces of nature were profoundly tainted by the presence or even their overt debasement by the Ur-Daemon. The Dark Ones twisted the forms of life into undeath, unliving aberrations, and depraved or grotesque mutants. The Lords of Liabo later destroyed or exiled most of these off world, where some survive now amongst the extraplanar undead. Imaera healed the lands that she could, with the aid of fey spirits, where the taint was less severe. Lands were cursed by dark powers in later ages. These range from the Wraithenmist, to more severe instabilities like the Red Forest, all the way up to the Wizardwaste and Bleaklands.

Violence or debasement to the focus of fey power may make them unhinged and dangerous. This may be as innocuous as droughts destroying rivers, or flows of lava burning down forests. But the taint of demonic power will twist their spiritual essence into malevolence. These are sometimes considered undead if they are cursed such that they are "unholy" versus holy powers. The fey will often be corrupted with elemental essence, such as fire sprites or zephyr hounds, or call upon elemental powers when attacking. But that is beyond the scope of the present work.

(1) Fey Spirits

Most pure of the incarnated spirits of nature, the fey are much the same kind of thing as the Arkati. They are often servants of the various Lords of Liabo, especially Imaera, or Charl and Niima. Some speculate that the fey originated in Arkati which became less powerful over time and attuned to more local regions. In this understanding there is a more or less unconscious god with semi-sentient power bound to a place, similar to the Maaghara but no longer manifesting as a singular identity. But out of this power emerges more minor spiritual beings, which incarnate with their own thematic identities. Similar to the avatars of deities.

The fey are influenced and shaped by their surroundings, and so they tend to resemble sylvan elves. In those places of desecration or taint or profound trauma to the focus of their power, they become twisted and violent, much like the other corrupt spirits of undeath. They will be hostile to intruders and trespassers, or inversely, seek to abduct or ensnare the living within their domains or near plane Otherworlds. Fey are often blamed for misfortunes, where they are prevalent, and not without good reason.

Nevertheless, the fey are not inherently malicious, and highly wary of corruption. Those of the Wyrdeep have exhibited the power to sense the restlessness in spirits, their unresolved conflicts or unfinished purposes, which are the misdirections leading the way to undeath. They will not allow its poison in their domains. While it is custom for the Baron of Bourth to be buried in the Wyrdeep, the foliage itself pulling the casket into the earth, the forest will reject the body if its spirits sense deep irresolution or more serious impurities. This very nearly happened with the late Baron Spensor Caulfield in 5122 Modern Era. It was the intervention of his daughter, in spite of his own state of death, which resolved the matter between them. These are mysterious forces of Life and Death, and the ways of the spirit realms. The power of the faeriekind is not to be underestimated.


In the northwest of Elanith, there is forest adjacent to the Silver Veil of the sylvankind, which was isolated from the rest of the world over two thousand years ago. In the western reaches of this warding barrier, there is a place now known as the Red Forest. This is partly from the slaughter of Elven settlers and partly from the red staining of the trees. The Red Forest was unstably shifting in and out of this existence during a rare lunar alignment, until it permanently split into coexistent locations on opposite sides of the continent, due to complications of extraplanar energy caused by the Elemental Confluence.

There is a great deal of black ichor in the Red Forest, which is often found in demonically tainted realms of the fey, related in a way to the ectoplasm that forms on some of the incarnated spirits. In the Red Forest in particular, the malicious fey spirits are known as the Ilvari, who appeared as fey changeling kidnappers. They were mistaken for lost or abandoned children. The sprites are empathic and suffer from mania, while the pixies are violent tricksters who are often invisible. The Ilvari were never "alive" in the narrow sense, but they are corrupted spirits.


Unlike the twisted forest spirits such as the Ilvari, the various kinds of nymphs are water spirits. Sea nymphs are found by the oceans, while the naiads are fresh water nymphs. Ordinarily the nymphs are flirtatious and enjoy seducing the living of flesh and blood. They will appear as slim, sylvan women, but with webbed appendages. When there has been some disruption or darkness to their environs, however, they become dangerous threats. Closely related to sirens, they will charm others with their songs, so they may stab their unsuspecting victims.

Freshwater fey are especially prevalent in the northwest, such as the Lysierian Hills and the fallen Kingdom of Anwyn. They also have various kinds of "black dogs," such as the hellhounds of Anwyn or night hounds, which are underworld guardians or psychopomps of the Wild Hunt. Bainsidhes and moaning spirits are also there, fey of the mounds, the oldest kind of banshees.

Water Horses:

Water spirits do not always take on humanoid forms. Shapeshifters such as the pookas may mimic many of the smaller animals. Strangely common, however, are the water horses. These are known by many names, such as nixies and kelpies and each-nuisge, with the general commonality of being lake monsters who try to drown those who ride them. (This is not to be confused with transformation cursed humanoids, such as selkies who shapeshift into seals.) Though Silver Valley in northern Jontara was famed for its wild horses, many of these were fey spirits, and there were folk legends of the horses keeping a powerful demonic entity from another world imprisoned under the valley.

There was truth in this as the shadow demon, which manifests as a fanged wyrm with wings, was unleashed by accident from a mining operation led by a sorcerer known as Muylari. Muylari was able to push the whole valley out of this reality with a tremendous burst of power, and some stolen secret knowledge of what are now known as the Chronomages. Shadow Valley was cursed with darkness and undeath, the lands turning to dust. Though still tainted and corrupted with darkness, these fey spirits were freed in 5096, stampeding the wyrm as shadow steeds.

(2) Flora and Fauna

Realms of the corrupted fey will have transformative effects on the flora and fauna within them. Most familiar are the direbeasts, especially direwolves and direbears. The Wyrdeep is infamously haunted with such monsters in its darkest regions. While these beasts are among the living, they will grow large deposits of bone across their backs and necks, with grotesquely oversized teeth and conspicuously red eyes. They exude mist or tendrils of smoke from their nostrils, much like nightmare steeds, which are not horses but infernal incarnations. Sage Uthex Kathiasas is known to have experimented with making dire lizards and beetles.

There are also plants which will become animated with higher sentience and lash out violently. This will range from parasitic vines, such as dirge-vaon or dreamvines, to more truly undead plants such as those of the abandoned farm of an elven settler family outside Icemule Trace. Malicious plants or fungi are unnatural, whether explosive spores, or chest bursting moulis. Such corrupt things will, in turn, corrupt their surroundings.


Tree spirits are nature spirits of the forest, or perhaps in some cases the spirits of felled trees, cursed with darkness and augmented with fey power. There is a related form of undeath that is incarnate, rather than non-corporeal. Darkwoodes began as tree spirits that were given, or at least "took on" or "possessed" in their worldly transmigration, the physical form of trees to guard sacred groves. When this mission has ended in failure, most often from rituals of desecration by dark priests, such spirits are traumatized or even intentionally tainted. They become bound to the rotting forms of twisted and warped trees.

In the shadow of Sentoph there is a desecrated grove of darkwoodes known as the Dead Trees. There are small stone altars in front of each tree, which were ritually sacrificed in distinct ways. One would be impaled with nails, or bark stripped, or burned, or deprived of water, or sun, or blighted, or infested, or root strangled. The guardian was hollowed out from the top.


Witches in the West often seek isolation in the wild woods, especially the dark forests or places with a history of death. Witchcraft by the peculiarity of its history often involves the use of poisonous plants and corrupting more natural forces. One recent example in 5104 was a coven known as the Sisters of Blight. These crones summoned creatures known as treants, which were corruptions of tree herders. Twisted treants may be considered a wider category of such debasements, so for our purposes we more narrowly mean this particular kind, which had no other more special term. They scattered spores throughout Elanith, infecting local plant and animal life. These were often malevolent plants, such as tumbleweeds and creepers.

Most interestingly, the treants planted strange green growths, which grew into vile blobs. These would "emit waves of pure evil energy" inflicting terror, according to accounts, and caused others to spontaneously bleed. This is remarkably similar to the plant pod that guarded the metallic steam powered dragon skyship of the warlock Melgorehn, in the northwest of Elanith in the early 5090s, which would lash out at intruders and had an aura of hate and was later planted at Terror's Stump. Regardless, the treants were purified, under the guidance of Imaera.


Treekin are wholly animated tree creatures, a variation of the corrupted treants, which are vaguely analogous to humanoids. They will have two arm-shaped branches, as well as thick leg-shaped roots, with lambent yellow eyes. They are only eight to twelve feet tall. As with the malevolently animated by fey power in general, the treekin are often regarded as "magical," rather than undead as they are not unholy. But they are not fundamentally different in origin from other twisted plants which are regarded as undead. They are still "alive," but warped and corrupted, as with other aberrant mutants. In this respect they are like the dhu goleras or moulis of the Blighted Forest, which has some marked resemblances with the Red Forest.

These are among "the evil" that corrupts the heart of the Blighted Forest, which is the tree tower of the Maaghara, who resists it and most surely is its local goddess. The Maaghara is afflicted with this corruption, forming what is known as a "loathly lady" manifestation, much as Lorminstra had when struggling with the Vvrael. Thus, the perversion of that "nature" power shapes the realm similarly, blighting the surrounding forest.

Treekin are the haunted guardians of the innermost depths of the Red Forest, which is the heart of the forest, or else beyond which the forest is impenetrable any further. They dwell among the slaughtered trees of the deep woods, at the center of which is a huge wasteland, full of broken trees and hollow stumps that reaches for miles. The Red Forest may have been corrupted as a consequence of the dark sorcerer Myrdanian in his siege of Yuriqen. Though his tower is said to have been to the south rather than the west. The barrier sealing off the Red Forest would briefly fail during rare lunar alignments, until it fully collapsed in the year 5116. This was speculated by Lord Brieson Cassle of the Hall of Mages to have been a complication of the Elemental Confluence. Shortly after, a nearby ancient obelisk of the Chronomages reactivated, which may or may not be coincidental.


In the Gyldemar Forest between the Illistim and ancestral Faendryl holdings, the spiritual forces of nature have been corrupted with dark magic, such that there are wood sprites which are similar to the Ilvari in some respects. These may only be injured with magic or magical weapons. The living creatures of this forest are similarly mutated. But as with other aberrations in general, those which are not unholy or tainted with demonic power, these wildlife are often considered "magical" rather than corrupt. They are not "cursed," but dangerous and violent, and transformed by magical forces. There was apparently a great fiery explosion some years ago in the region. Whether natural or unnaturally unleashed. The road builders of the abandoned settlement in Gyldemar, remarkably, had worked around what must have been a pre-existing boulder of obsidian thrusting out of the ground.

Nearby are a strange mannish shaman race called the trali, who occupy a ransacked Elven manor known as Calelith Villa. Gyldemar and its well were corrupted and the now malicious forest things drove off elven rangers. Among these include mutant yeti or howler monkeys known as faeroth, the bendith which are moss covered like the nature attuned undead, and even what must be an unnatural hybrid of boars and bears known as the tusked ursian. One such beast is the single horned vor'taz, which is also immune to non-magical assaults. The vor'taz are "magical" and attuned to natural forces. These creatures are malignant, and often expel vile green ichor, similar to the dhu goleras of the Blighted Forest. It is a symptom of their corruption, analogous to ectoplasm, or the black ichor found in the wells of such places.


Aberrations are closely related to other unnatural transformations of the living in the black arts. These are debased and twisted perversions of life, which have been transformed because of high exposure to metaphysical corruption or taint by chthonic essences. Growths of plants in desecrated lands are often aberrant, or even maliciously animated. There have been many such mutants and creatures in the southern wastelands, owing to its deep history with the demonic, which dates all the way back into the Age of Darkness before recorded history. These have also been made on purpose with dark experiments. Aberrations exist in the grey area of teratology where the dark arts of necromancy and demonology overlap in things not considered dead.

Among the most familiar are the experiments by Faendryl sorcerers during the Undead War. So-called "festering taints" are horrifically deformed things of necromancy, disease ridden with rotting flesh and scabs and boils, but nevertheless living with malicious intelligence. These were created to study the plagues of Despana, and their leprosy was adapted by Raznel. "Twisted beings" were instead the Faendryl attempt to study the living amalgamations of the warlocks of the southern wastelands. But these were both intentional, and left behind to be symbolic.

More "natural" are the mutants of the haunted wastelands, such as the withering army of the Chaos Lord Tyrgh, or the wasp-hawks of the Wizardwaste. The latter have stunted vestigial wings, and will slay such wildlife as hairless mutant boars with too many tusks, only to unhinge their jaws like a snake and extend a thin proboscis to crack into its skull to feed on the brain matter. There are also draconic aberrations in the far northern Hinterwilds, which holds a variety of corrupting forces, but remarkably has squamous reptilian mutants made of what were once gigas. Gigas are adaptive to influences, much as their dim giant cousins. These mutants tend to the hatching of huge undansormr worms, which are one of two draconic factions in Angargreft. There are other gigas in Angargreft that are flayed disciples of the demi-lich Zeban, while others became disir sickles of Gosaena, so the whole region is plunged in perpetual conflict.

Extraplanar undead such as the murky soul siphons most likely began as exiled aberrations from the Ur-Daemon War. These more highly corrupt things of darkness are unholy and often treated as undead. Mutants are bred for fighting pits or other more foul purposes. They may be subjected to intentional exposure to the energies of other valences to instill exotic powers. By its very nature, the aberrant are ill-defined, having transgressed between kinds. They are closely related to the transmogrified, which we tend to use to refer to more abrupt transforms.

Living Undead

Festering taints are perhaps the most obvious and blatant examples of the living undead. More broadly, there are those of the living who are deeply corrupted, or unfinished in their process of transformation to some form of undeath. Such might include the Lichborn of Barnom Slim, or incompletely transformed liches, or those slowly dying from ghoul rot. Some kinds of living and breathing soul vessels, such as the paragons or certain kinds of wraiths, are only gradually corrupted into their quasi-living or unliving states. There are even extraplanar "possessors" of hosts which will take over living bodies and twist them into feeding upon others. There were reports of such a substance, labeled "rha'sha'tor," out of the Dhe'nar jungles in the 4760s. It is often the case that the living become dependent on their corruption, such as those twisted by the Wizardwaste, who will degrade and become sick and die if they wander outside of it.

So-called "living undead" are not necessarily rotting. They are living beings who are transformed with tainted powers. This might include "leeches" such as those in the Southron Wastes, whether ancient Dark Elven "soul eaters," or the parasitic humanoid Collectors. Dark shamblers are thought to be twisted from demonic possession. Mezics are what have become of the students of Bonespear, the warped cultists of the Demon Lord of Bonespear Tower. Most familiar are perhaps the Vvrael cultists, who are so corrupted they are anti-magical, and often possess corrosive black blood.

Fetish masters from the southern wastes had also found their way into the Rift over the millennia. Others who became lost in its circles would go mad, transforming into raving lunatics, who are able to split themselves in half as duplicates. Religious zealots of dark powers are often twisted. These range from the emaciated hierophants and hunchback dogmatists of Temple Wyneb, to the cannibals of the Sheruvian monastery in the Broken Land. Among the more interesting examples are the heretics of the Sanctum of Scales in the Sea of Fire. One of the disciples of the Arch-Lich Tseleth, Azradim the Death-Priest, corrupted this Luukosian temple in 5116 with an Ur-Daemon relic called the Eye of Goseth. They also once possessed the Book of Ur, one of the more notorious eldritch tomes and a work of pure and unalloyed horror, which was taken from its attempted theft for the Luukosian Order. The pale scaled shapers and deathsworn fanatics of the Sanctum are living, but twisted, with distorted proportions and glowing eyes or emaciated bodies. The sentinel warrior monks of the temple are also lithe and similarly tainted.

It is one of the symptoms of corruption to become pale, often physically weaker, with increased capacities for magic. Bulging or discolored eyes are common, along with failing health. The affected will be transformed by the exact nature of the energies polluting them. Skin tones may instead become darker, or grey, or patchy, or green tinged, and so on, varying by situation. It may be very gradual, such as "the scorch." Though some Dark Elves have dark skin, others became very pale. There is no mistaking Elves and Dark Elves who have the same complexion.

Darkness affects the living by making them haunted, often coming to look hollowed out or like walking death. There is no shortage of accounts of dark mages who go mad with exposure to the powers or warped realities beyond the veil. The Faendryl have long built thaumaturgical asylums precisely for this reason. Among the more mortal races, this corruption happens much more quickly, driving them toward cruelty and malicious intent. Witches often become grotesque hags, shadows of their former selves. Disciples of the Shadows will become pale or grey as well, but will tend to have yellow eyes, marked with red or black veins. Tales tell of black shamans with mouths replaced with maws of shadowy tentacles. Tainted life often dies in undeath.

Fallen Angels

The vast majority of the undead in this world are corruptions of life forces. There is an intriguing variation of this when it is instead an angelic being which is tainted or corrupted with broken divine power. In theory this may happen in the most literal way, if one were to make undead of Gosaena's angel reapers. More grounded in what is concretely existing, this may happen with the corruption of very powerful psychopomps, the souls of the dead who were risen by gods and called upon to guard or guide the dead. In this we must make an explicit distinction from the fey spirits of nature which behave as psychopomps. What is necessary for this category is a degree of holy transcendence from divine intervention by one of the higher Great Spirits.

This is known to exist in the fallen gigas settlements of Angargreft and Fjallarhaart, which is a runic language with obvious philological roots in the proto-Kannalan of the West. Valravns are huge ravens with hollow eyes, which pull on souls, and sear doom visions of impending death into the mind. They have a scintillating golden light that flickers in these hollows. These otherworldly birds are deeply tainted with pure darkness, with supernal cold and an ability to transmute themselves into dark essence, what in this work is called a darkness elemental.

What is particularly interesting is that missionaries of the Order of Voln, who ordinarily will say they witness a soft white glow when releasing souls of the undead, will instead witness something quite different with valravn. There is a deafening silence, instead of a childlike weeping, followed by a burst of searing light. This is blinding white light and apparently the pure light of the spirit realm. With them are angelic powers known as disir, who are shining winged gigas, women risen from death to guard the dead. Though they manifest in solid, physical form, they are truly incarnated spirits. Ectoplasm may be witnessed with them, which is blood red, for those guarding the Pits of the Dead. Disir are not regarded as undead. It was they who smited the demilich Zeban. But those of Fjallarhaart are treated as undead by Voln. While they hold divine power, they are themselves unholy, corrupted by an ancient evil from long ago.

This fallen sybil was a thing of Fate, locked away with three keys, and disir suffer fury if they get too close. But it was not until the blood of Zerroth woke their dead that they guarded the undead. This is a complication, as Zerroth was a berserker. His blood itself taints and corrupts toward furiousness. There are multiple corrupting influences in the Hinterwilds. With the disir there is a role of serving Gosaena. There is some value in speaking of them as a particular kind of angel. Disir of the Pits of the Dead would then be called "fallen angels."

Those disir are similar to valravn in their "holy unholiness." When these fallen angels are struck down, there is a blinding light that explodes from their eyes and mouth, and their wings unfurl in throes of agony. This light is so intense it will sear her shadow into the ground. Golden light rises from their lifeless flesh and their bodies sublimate in mist. But Voln monks will witness something strange. As the radiance dims around the body, the shadow stretches long, and there is unsettling silence. Sound comes rushing back as the stirring of great wings. There is no "releasing" the Disir. The theological implications are fascinating. They are much like Voln, but effectively heretics, earning his wrath for guarding the unquiet dead.

IX.H Preservatives

There are those of the living who seek out undeath, holding it as the promise of everlasting existence in this world. What they most often desire is to escape Oblivion. This state of near total unawareness and unconsciousness is the natural condition of departed souls. Those who would preserve their minds and identities in death will try to do so by transforming their bodies into eternal forms. This evolved from the recognition that cursed flesh and bone may slowly mend itself, combined with the insight that spirits sometimes get stuck on cursed items.

There have been many rituals and methods devised over the millennia for achieving lichdom. These are usually transformations over extended periods. Failures may result in destroying their soul, which might annihilate them, or leave them as wraiths or spectres. There are perhaps countless long forgotten methods of preservation. These are only a few of the known kinds.


In the Southron Wastes there are prehistorical ruins of desert religions, where high priests or rulers would be mummified after death. What has survived of this practice in the early occult grimoires, and wandering scholars of the Elven Empire, suggests there were cultures which believed the afterlife was a form of underworld. There were gateways below ground which led to the realm of the dead, and the souls might pass back and forth through liminal spaces. Cults would exist to support these mummies, keeping them fed with offerings to continue their journey. The cavern temples below the wasteland were megalithic, elaborate rock-cut tombs carved with hieroglyphs. While horrific in what they depict, these appear to be nothing more than ideograms. The myths of the wasteland tribes hold that such underworld tombs are cursed. Those who trespass them are said to be eaten by the walls, turned into statues, or become lost in other worlds.

It would have sometimes happened that possessing spirits would inhabit mummies, causing them to become reanimated, even temporarily should the infernal spirit depart from its vessel later. When the warlocks of the southern wastelands began dealing in mummies, they would remove the organs from the dead bodies and store them in canopic jars. It was discovered at some point in the Second Age that the souls of the dead would sometimes become stuck on these jars. There was some capacity of the mummies to restore themselves to their preserved states. In this way the earliest rituals of lichdom are thought to have involved vivisection, cutting out and removing one's own organs and storing them in jars. Such liches have gaping holes in their chests.

Soul Fragments

There were times when the soul was destroyed --- that is, having been ripped and torn apart, rather than utterly annihilated --- where this corruption would curse the soul to the now dead body. This was seen in the wraiths of the Southron Wastes. It was discovered that by manipulating the "shards" of the soul, powerful necromancers could keep these undead corporeal. In this way it was possible to keep a physical foundation for sustaining mind, allowing the formation of another kind of lich from shattered souls. The fallen prophet of Lorminstra whose bond to the Griffin Sword caused it to become tainted, Morfell Destrieder, had his soul blasted into pieces when Morvule and Ulstram clashed with the sword's power and it explosively shattered.

This was almost the end of the Dark Alliance in its quest to corrupt the sword. But Morvule used this ancient form of necromancy and his own power to manipulate Morfell into lichdom. Still others use soul fragments in other ways. Necromancers might rip parts of their souls out and place them inside others. These living vessels would be possessed, but only unconsciously. The necromancer would then keep his soul bound to this world through the tethers of these soul fragments. The hosts corrupt into darkness, becoming wraiths, now with a "proto-lich" master.

Should the "lich" be slain, what is left of its soul will remain through its bonds to those wraiths, unless they too were slain. The lich may then survive as a demi-lich until it is able to possess another body. Wraiths are thought to become non-corporeal from their broken souls slowly pulling them into the spirit realms. The extent to which this discorporation happens varies. In some wraithlike undead, it is possible to smell their rotting stench, even though they appear to be spectres. Soul fragments are also used to compel the will of others, and may be found in more powerful constructs. Such shards may retain their sense of identity and conceive of themselves as the whole soul. But these are corrupted, and often tortured by necromancers. The Council of Ten were phylactery liches, Luukos and Amasalen in bent, some surviving as demi-liches. But they would possess the living with part of their essence and feed on the spirit.


By the time of the Undead War, these methods of the black arts had blended, so that souls were kept whole rather than broken. Notwithstanding the violence to their souls. Necromancers would transfer their souls into a cursed jar or other vessel, so that even if their body were destroyed, their soul would not be released. These cursed objects would keep their souls bound to their bodies and aid in restoring damages. It is not truly the case undead are inherently destroyed when slain unless they have this kind of fetish. Liches are restored much more rapidly, thus making their survival conspicuous. In turn the soul vessel was a liability, as the object becomes the confound of their power. These vessels were known as phylacteries. Instead of preserving the organs from their bodies, or bones if the method involved ossuaries, the phylactery was worn by the lich and contained a vellum with dark rites of necromancy. This was born of the traditions of dark religions in the South.

Liches of this kind were banished into the interplanar rift in the implosion of Maelshyve. When they are slain their phylactery is drawn toward their bodies and restores them. This will not end until the phylactery is destroyed. It is a myth that the destruction of a phylactery guarantees the destruction of its lich. They may survive in a weakened state if their body was not slain, or their power discorporates, possibly held together until such time it may possess another vessel. Zeban and Prangar of the Council of Ten and Barnom Slim survived without their phylacteries, though weakened and attenuated, and were returned with some assistance. These are all matters of convention. Some use the phylactery as the very definition of a lich.

Such a fallen state is at least partly a consequence of the dependency itself. That is, liches of this kind caused their own dependency, by adopting a confound. They become weaker than they would have been without it, because they lost the focus of their attunement. Regardless, it is possible for a lich who survives the destruction of their phylactery to construct a new one, though this may be quite difficult. The ritual for imparting the soul and cursing it into the vessel is generally done when the aspirant is still living. As such, the thanatological methods for making a new one may not be equivalent, such as other black arts for soulcrafting in the undead. It is possible to restore a phylactery after its destruction under some conditions.

There is a great deal of variation in the forms and powers of the soul vessels of liches. These are not necessarily the traditional worn jars that simply need to be smashed. In the case of Barnom Slim, who had powers of undeath gifted by way of Luukos, his transformation into lichdom was not initiated until he was bound to a massive black obelisk. This was in an ancient chamber of obsidian, with powerful runes, associated instead with the demon Althedeus. There was then a phylactery object made of white gem, but it is the whole chamber which matters. When his phylactery was destroyed, the shadows consumed Barnom Slim, bringing his power and essence to the Shadow Realm. One of his disciples, an Adjudicator of the Hall of Mages named Vlashandra, brought him back in a flesh amalgam using a depraved fertility ritual from the Southron Wastes. It was thought he would be forever banished without his phylactery. But it was restored, somewhat, in a blood magic ritual a few years earlier. Liches take great pains to hide these anchors.

Death Shrouded

The power of the lich is not always stored in an inanimate vessel such as a phylactery. Though the lich is someone who sought to retain their mind and identity in their own body, this may involve keeping the soul within themselves as the vessel. There are thus other kinds of liches who will instead shroud their tainted soul, or perhaps their vestiges of spirit and mind, much as necromancers might mask their life forces with darkness when they are still living. This "death shroud" of darkness or sorcerous power forms insulating layers for keeping the soul from being able to depart or the lichly form inanimated. In this way there is a trade off in the amount of power the lich is able to project onto others or their surroundings. They become more vulnerable to destruction the more they extend their power from themselves. It is difficult to know if such a lich has been irrevocably destroyed, as their power may linger in the netherworlds. Though they become mere shadows of themselves, and perhaps unable to rise again.

It was in this way the lich Vindicto was forever slain in the year 5118. It is more or less how and why liches survive the destruction of their phylacteries as demi-liches. Those who have had their bodies destroyed will need a new vessel for their undead power and consciousness. Some such as Zeban and Prangar possessed the living. Barnom Slim has a special corpse vessel. The lich is more freed to extend itself if it has some form of phylactery, which acts as a confound for augmenting its thanatological powers. But this will make the lich more vulnerable to being forever slain if it relies too heavily on the phylactery.

There are some who would reject this characterization, holding that with the destruction of the phylactery, the surviving form of the undead that was not slain is no longer a "lich." They become some wraithlike thing without their anchor, requiring the aid of something else to return. For our purposes this is splitting hairs, and we will treat it as a "no true Reiver" statement. With all such terminology, there is an ordinary usage of words, and there are technical usages. The technical ones are only conventions, so these meanings in general are inconsistent.

Necromancers may make a death shroud of themselves using their own worldly power. However, the most powerful liches will generally have their power originating in some great source, whether imparted initially or as a continuing channel by a higher power. These are sometimes known as Arch-Liches. They are often "blessed" by Luukos, such as when Morvule returned Tseleth by flying down into the Maw of Luukos, and may be exceedingly powerful in terms of wielding magic or brute strength. Others might be powered by some major demon. Were one to seek to slay an Arch-Lich, it would take far more than the destruction of a phylactery, for no such artifice is needed. The Arch-Lich would first need to have its power severed from its unholy benefactor. But unlike with the solitary dark reavers, this may involve bringing gods into conflict. It is for this reason that the usual answer to an Arch-Lich is banishment from this world rather than execution.

Soul Runes

Among the races and tribes who equate the Age of Chaos with the Undead War, first and foremost are the sylvan elves, who focus on clashing with Dharthiir's hordes in the centuries leading up to the Surge. The sylvankind regard it this way as they were largely isolated after the fall of Despana. Those giantmen who banded together in the Southron Wastes, following the madness and vampiric bloodlust afflicting them from the Battle of Maelshyve, instead came to believe the Undead War was only the first Age of Chaos. The wastes are chaotic by the normal standards of civilization, and so only a cataclysmic war may qualify as the next Age of Chaos. This Grot'karesh Hammer Clan merged their older animism with the reincarnation myths of the South.

To the giants of Kilanirij, the past is what will happen again in the future, and so they record the past to foretell the coming doom. They were convinced by the demonic cultists and tribes of the wastes that Despana would one day return in her next incarnation. Though they would come to get on well enough with the Faendryl, who had been charged with guarding over Maelshyve by the other Elves, they kept some wary distance from Maelshyve itself. Kilanirij is a fortress city that was constructed on the side of Asharikan Mountain with Maelshyve on the horizon.

With such proximity to Rhoska-Tor, the walls of Kilanirij were covered in protective runes which glow a faint dark blue at night, strengthening the walls and warding the city. In this way they inter their dead in tombs within the city, preventing the wasteland spirits from possessing their corpses. Each decade in their Festival of the Dead, they will lock themselves in such tombs, communing with ancestral spirits who return from the other planes. Quite often going mad with the revelation. Regardless, the Saramar runes of the Grot'karesh were never popular with other giantmen clans, who prefer pictographs and tribal tattoos. There are instead magical arts of empowering such tattoos to enhance the giantmen to make them more fiercesome warriors.

This practice would come to be performed with the Saramar runes as well. However, instead of tribal tattoos which might be ripped away with the flesh or the dark necromancy of the wasteland threats, the Grot'karesh made their own innovation. They would use their spiritual magic to burn the runes of warding into their bones, instead of branding or scarring their flesh. This was a method that was later adopted by witch hunters, most often human, in the Age of Chaos to the north in the westerlands. They would attempt to ward themselves against evil and corruption.

This was a dangerous method for various reasons, not least of which because of its close relationship to necromancy. There were black shamans and warlocks who would learn how to curse the enruned bones of others, which though hard, would become extraordinarily difficult to reverse from the violent reaction against holy power. Such was then warped into an intentional way of making oneself into a skeletal kind of lich. Inspired by the soulcrafting of Luukosians, there were then warlocks who would seek out the use of other kinds of runes, using glyphs found with the demonic or upon relics of the Ur-Daemon. They would burn these runes or glyphs into the soul with mawfire, allowing them to retain tremendous power as disembodied souls. For it is the state of the living, and even the dead, to have their power bound in their flesh and blood. Souls which become separated from their forms are barely able to interact with the world.

There were the "dread seers" in particular who would use the powers of sorcery to read the runes essentially embedded in the fabric of the veil. They would mark souls with it to bind them to the corresponding realms beyond the veil, causing transformations and soul taint, but forming channels of power from those infernal realms and their demonic masters. In this way it was possible for the departed souls to wield even more power than they did while living. They would possess others to concentrate it, their soul runes manifesting as wards when assaulted.


Occasionally a lich will survive its phylactery, even its demise, in some non-corporeal form as a demi-lich. There is a philosophical question of whether this should be considered another kind or state of "lichdom," or instead is more rightly conceived as a relatively advanced form of "wraithdom." However, there are those who seek "ascension" in undeath, attempting to become demi-liches intentionally. These methods often involve soul runes, or possibly artifacts such as spheres of expensive materials, in addition to the phylactery. The ideal end result is for a lich to be freed from its physical body entirely, while retaining its dark powers as an intangible force, or which possesses other hosts like avatars if it wishes to concentrate itself.

In this way they seek to remove the limits on the power they may wield with their body, or be that much closer to indestructibility in a similar sense as the virtual immortality of gods. They might even have a phylactery and act as an "anchored" wraith, the body having transited into some netherworld, and the vessel binding their essence keeping them in this world. Such a lich would be expected to thirst for spirit to sustain itself. The Council of Ten were more or less of this nature, and indeed, what Thurfel truly sought was ascension by Amasalen.

This is closely related to the ambiguity of what "ascension" means in religion and theology. Becoming a non-corporeal being in death is rather banal and it implies no significant power. In turn, there are those with nothing but physical bodies who will augment their power considerably, with the use of artifacts and great energies. Reckless mages are not called "ascended." It is a canard of the Arkati dogmas that the gods themselves are mortal. There is no historical proof of this, just as the "proof" of ascension by mortals is highly dubious, nothing more than legends of demi-gods and divine intervention. There are only theories of how ascension might work, or how divine essence might be drained. There is reason to believe the "death" of a god only means that it is fallen, becoming incapable of manifesting, but that its unconscious or semi-sentient power remains. Though such spirit might, in theory, be devoured by others.

This is not to be confused with non-corporeal beings, such as Ghezresh, working toward expanding their powers. Meanwhile there are genuinely non-corporeal great powers, such as Althedeus, which have instead sought to achieve the exact opposite: physical bodies to exist in this world. Indeed. Avatars exist to concentrate the power of deities. There is not more power in merely being non-corporeal. What "ascension" does do is remove the limits of any given physical incarnation, such as a body of flesh and blood, and grant a form of virtual indestructibility.

In turn the destruction of an avatar is not at all synonymous with slaying the god. Though it is speculated this fallen state may happen if too much of the focus of power was bound in the avatar. The focus of power for a local god is in some central place, like the great tree of Maaghara, or even a mountain such as with Kyr'orvrad. It would take godlike power to displace such a focus.

As with so-called "dead gods," such as when Meyno was unconscious in her shrine, slaying a demi-lich does not really "kill" it. They only fall into deep unconsciousness. The power remains, and may one day be awakened. The phylactery is what acts as the direct analog of the locus of godhood, and its presence may limit the physical range of the lich. Demi-liches may become much less bound in this way. It is very dubious if there has ever been an actual, historically proven "ascension" by mortals to "godhood," much less a "self-ascension." But demi-liches are very real, quite powerful, and they are highly dangerous. Immensely holy powers may be needed to make them into mere shadows of themselves. Or else powerful methods of dark absolution must be used against them, attempting to destroy the very core of their existence, perhaps breaking their soul runes or destroying the artifacts which had bound the power from their bodies. Much as with wraiths, the demi-lich should be expected to be vampiric in some way, and will corrupt the bodies of its hosts. Zeban was of the Amasalen kind, and thus had a thirst for blood.


One of the most horrifying innovations of demonic necromancy in recent centuries was the invention of "the paragons." The witch Raznel began her life as the human Naimorai Kestrel, daughter of Grand Magister Dennet Kestrel of the Hall of Mages. The Grand Magister had sought and acquired the Talon of Toullaire, once called the Crescent, an ancient siphon stone that had absorbed elemental power and then chaos from the Wizardwaste. Exposure to the Talon corrupted the members of his family. It inflicted waste illness on his wife and chaotically augmented his children with those powers. His son Cyph would self-immolate as a fire elemental, causing accidental deaths, including cursing two young girls as firephantoms. Naimorai's latent powers were instead necromantic. Touching others would blister their skin, or inflict crippling unhealable curses, or turn them inside out. In time she was able to afflict others with the leprous illness of festering taints.

Naimorai was further corrupted to the shadows and was taught blood magic, witchcraft, demon summoning and other black arts by dangerous figures in the region of Darkstone Bay. This had been arranged by her father, who had sought the aid of sorcerous experts to help her control her powers, so that she would not be a danger to others. But her teachers went far beyond this charge and taught her everything she would need to know to become Raznel. By the end of the year, in 5117, she was lost in time. An anomaly below Melgorehn's Reach trapped her in old Toullaire. This was truly a temporal causality loop, which led to her own creation. Naimorai would come to use her foreknowledge to ensure the wicked and devastating crimes of the witch Raznel.

With the early Arcanum in 4473, she held out the promise of her future knowledge, knowing full well the Arcanum would doom the region in the next century. Naimorai involved herself with the royal assassinations of 4480, having known who would die when, preserving the conditions of her own history. The Arcanum then engaged in dangerous experiments with blood infused weaponry. Her necromantic curse progressed as time went on, and was causing her body to rot and collapse away. She was exiled from Toullaire after tampering with the Crescent with her husband.

Increasingly driven into cruelty and madness, she turned to what she had been taught to restore herself. Most important were the methods of demonic cultists of the Southron Wastes, which is where the venom blood known as "epochxin" originates. The witch Raznel had caused Lady Larsya, daughter of Baron Spensor Caulfield of Bourth, to be poisoned with epochxin in 5116. Naimorai had studied this in her youth, as well as how Larsya had been stabilized into a time frozen condition. Now older, Naimorai adapted this demon blood magic to intentionally re-create what had been done to Larsya, and those so poisoned would become fixed in a single moment. Naimorai would mix her own cursed blood into these "paragons" with mediating vermin methods of witchcraft and black shamanism. She used a former Arcanum member to help her. Her husband Peter had been made un-fixed in time by the Crescent within the range of about six and a half centuries.

Using her knowledge of the past, they abducted high profile figures who had gone missing or were presumed assassinated, spread across Turamzzyrian history. The victims' blood was drained with veins into walls of flesh, and suspended in metamorphic cocoons. Not coincidentally methods of the Arcane Eyes from the War of Shadows. Once their transformations were complete, the paragons would become stuck in a moment of time, forming a deluded mental demi-plane around themselves. Paragons are undeath of the third echelon. They are almost as demi-gods within their limited domains, hiding their cocoons from being attacked, and otherwise only releasing as restless spirits. In this fashion she anchored herself across time in quasi-living epochxin analogs of phylacteries, but which in another sense were like the tethers of soul fragments. Naimorai was bound to her paragons across time, including those not created yet, perhaps because the venom is time frozen. These had to be found with Chronomage assistance. Having thus become the witch Raznel, Naimorai destroyed Talador, turning it into the time warped Bleaklands.

It is thought in the end Raznel would have become anchored, to everyone whom she had taken blood from over the years, making the rest of the living into paragon supports for herself. It is the power of paragons to project manifestations of mind within these temporal dominions. Raznel nearly achieved a lich-like form of godhood, "birthing" herself as the world paragon. But her own cocoon was destroyed in a moment of weakness, during the transition following the destruction of her old paragons. Without their support her blood was unable to sustain immortality.

Soul Transference

Though only Lorminstra is known to have the power of fashioning "animus" in the living, there have long been those who have attempted to cheat Death. There are Luukosians who have acquired the power to transfer their souls into new hosts, essentially possessing the bodies of the living. This will suffer the limits of possession, unless the native soul is ripped out. But if that soul is removed, it is necessary to make an artificial animus, which will be unstable and eventually corrupting. Such souls will become undead. There are demonic cults in the wastes that will instead bind their souls to some infernal realm, where they linger in a shattered state, until they may be "reincarnated" by imbedding the soul shards into young children.

Whether this will transfer a significant amount of memory, or the children are brainwashed with indoctrination, is a matter of significant ambiguity. But such cultists will claim to be the present incarnations of their theological roles. There are also black shamans who will attempt to graft the mind into other bodies. One such black shaman, Quinshon, the Tehir blood father of the witch Raznel, attempted this on her other family members. Cyph Kestrel's mind unraveled, essentially from the instability of animus, having been transferred into a dead body.

This was also attempted by grafting the mind of her mother Reannah into a living host, whose soul would remain in the body but whose mind would be drowned under it. But this attempt failed. Perhaps from being interrupted, or perhaps from its intrinsic complications. Fragments of Reannah's mind remained in the host. These manipulations and convolutions speak to the complexity of the relationship of mind and soul in living matter. Others have attempted more simplified approaches with transferring souls into constructs or golems. But such purely magical confines of the spirit are impermanent, or else become cursed, with the soul subject to entropic decay. Higher intelligence and self-awareness generally involves the necromancy of soulcrafting.


There are some among the "living undead" who sought a "third way" between Death and Undeath. These were people who were enamored with the promise of lichdom, but sought to keep their lives as well as immortality. It may begin in more innocuous or less ambitious ways. Cruel matrons may try to steal the youth of their servants by bleeding them. Souls might be ripped away with a harvesting relic, whole lives exchanged for slight extensions of mortality. But these methods often do not provide much resistance to destruction. Then the thirst grows. They will need to bathe in pools of blood, harvest many souls, sacrifice more of the living to preserve themselves or their works. They become dependent on leeching whatever it is they are stealing.

Liches were often those who dismissed this as a path of futility, though there are some who are themselves prolific siphons of spirit. What the necromancers who try to cling to life will not have, with the various dark arts of life stealing, is the relative indestructibility of lichdom. The "living undead" are still fundamentally mortals. There are, of course, those who try to make invincibility. This might come from blood transfer from flesh merged walls, or using troll blood or parts, such as with the Luukosian Grevisth in 5112. The Everblood cursed are almost immortal, in theory, though its long-term effects are unknown. One of the more interesting kinds of "leech" are the parasitic Collectors of the Southron Wastes. These are humanoids of ill-understood provenance, their history perhaps quite old, if not lost to the Age of Chaos.

What is known of them is that they began as mortals who wished eternal existence, possibly even lichdom, and who learned "forbidden magic" which helped them toward this end. There are many dark traditions in the Southron Wastes they might have been drawn towards. What they had learned how to do was siphon the power from artifacts and relics, much as do dark alchemists and the practitioners of anti-magic, such as the Vvrael cultists in the wastelands. Much as the Vvrael will feed on "mana" in this way, as do Ithzir or aberrations such as the sha'rom lizards, they are not content with wielding magic with extracted power. The essence they pull from these artifacts is used to slightly extend their own longevity. They become utterly dependent on it. The Collectors are a dangerous threat. Though rarely seen outside of the Southron Wastes, unless powerful artifacts are known to be found. They were recently fought off in 5112 in River's Rest after the Heart of Jaston was recovered in the Gattrof Mountains. It was taken from the remains of Raukturga, one of the Horned Cabal liches, who was petrified by Magister Remuliad.

Lich Qyn'arj

Legends from the Age of Darkness are highly inconsistent on most subjects of interest to theology. Most legends are much later embellishments by storytellers. Often called histories, these are not historical. They were most always twisted with contemporary ideologies of the day as well. Concerning the "Matter" and ancestral elvenkind, some hold the Drakes tolerated the elven civilization for the Arkati, who had such crafts as the fabled artisans and sculptors of Li'aerion. Others hold the Drakes tolerated no civilization other than their own, and the elves of this time were illiterate nomads, with nothing more than temporary shelters under the forest canopy. There are those who argue the dragons were beasts and not a civilization at all.

Amidst this dispute over the historical dragonkind is the legend of the qyn'arj. It is the speculation of some iconoclast historiographers, such as in the Watchers of the Eternal Eye, that the Ur-Daemon would make unliving beasts of darkness from the dead dragons. The Drakes would then have to fight and slay their own, from the limited perspective of the more mortal races. In turn the unliving dragons would terrorize and slaughter the elves, which could contribute to very conflicted views of the Drakes. There were only oral traditions for tens of millennia.

In support of this is the existence of a very rare winged serpent, the lich qyn'arj, which is a creature of darkness that only appears at night. There are many lesser kinds of the draconic. Not only Wyverns, but more primitive beasts, such as basilisks and cave worms. Among these are huge winged serpents, such as the zmiulan of Kraet and the northern wyrms, as well as smaller fell beasts. There is a kind of small winged lizard in various colors, with rapid gossamer wings, which in legend have acted as the holy messengers of Koar. Within this extended family of winged reptilians were the "qyn'arj," which are massive and possess brightly colored wings. These are speculated to have been corrupted with primal darkness and undeath by the Ur-Daemon, though there are other theories which attribute them to Luukos.

Legends speak of these winged serpents flying under the forest canopy at night, slaughtering the elves in their hidden makeshift settlements. There are only fragments of written records for such oral traditions from the founding period, which were then narrativized in the early Chronicles. Such fragments will speak of "winged death" and "rot," along with the word "Draekeche" for darkness. It was surmised that these were the unliving of the almost mythical qyn'arj, which are now thought to be extinct. Lich qyn'arj were rumored to mostly survive in Rhoska-Tor, thus the killing fields of the Ur-Daemon.

In the reign of Unsenis Ignaas Faendryl the valence of Lorae'tyr was discovered and studied by Basilica sorcerers for several centuries. For safety reasons that were never truly believable, supposedly over its well known time fluctuating properties, travel there was suddenly and abruptly outlawed by the Patriarch. It is widely believed this ban was for political reasons. There is a race of serpents with humanoid faces, known as the abyran, who worship some unknown god. There have long been rumors trespassing sorcerers angered their serpent god, which turned them into the abyran, and Faendryl are unknowingly summoning their own transmogrified cousins. This conspiracy theory holds that it is permitted to summon them as punishment for having violated Shieltine's Ward. There was a group of Basilican sorcerers led by Shieltine Huranya Faendryl, which was tasked with forming an interplanar ward, to make travel to Lorae'tyr more difficult and monitor it for travelers from this world. In this they would study the legends of the Eye of the Drake, which was said to make powerful wards between this world and many others.

Unfortunately, the Undead War disrupted this work and the Patriarch died shortly before the Exile, so Shieltine's Ward was finished in Rhoska-Tor. The confluence of these factors had led this group of sorcerers to summon lich qyn'arj to Ta'Faendryl, now known as Old Ta'Faendryl, to haunt the ruins of their city within the barrier that would be erected. These were meant to symbolize law and justice, divine rule, and all such ideals associated with Koar, falling into darkness and undeath. As they would have without the Faendryl at the Battle of Maelshyve. In the "great chain of being" worldview of monarchical stewards, House Faendryl had fashioned itself as Koar, the balance of the Great Houses and guardian against otherwordly threats.

While this is a storied and rather prosaic history, the lich qyn'arj are fascinating from the perspective of necromancy. Most of the surviving forces of undeath in this world from the Age of Darkness are corrupted nature spirits, or undead in the wastelands which were formed by accident from soul destruction by the Ur-Daemon. Qyn'arj are instead considered liches. They are skeletal beasts with preserved and warped intelligence, such as it is, though it is highly degraded after many thousands of years. They are quite possibly the very oldest form of lich that still exists. Notwithstanding any others that might have been banished by the Lords of Liabo. Lich qyn'arj were thus transformed, in theory, by the Ur-Daemon amongst other undead dragons.

The Flawless

In the Luukosian Order there are liches, such as the Arch-Lich Tseleth, who as one might imagine are skeletal corpses. The most powerful of the Luukosians often have emerald flames as eyes, or even with actual emerald colored eyes with slitted pupils. With the liches you might expect to see charred skin, blackened bone, or even viridian flames beneath exposed ribcages. But the most highly favored Luukosians are gifted with forms of immortality for which there are no words. These are fully sapient forms of undeath that in a sense are beyond lichdom itself. It is partly for this reason that some will limit the meaning of "lich" to the technical criterion of a phylactery. There are forms of higher preservation that are "better" than liches.

While the "highest" of high priests, Morvule Thinevael, is a true immortal with a scaled and reptilian appearance, nominally he is only head of the priesthood in their Emerald Path. This is the unifying path of Death. The Ivory Path of lies is headed by the high priest Craelle, who involves himself in subversive machinations within the Turamzzyrian Empire. The Ebon Path is the aspect of Undeath. Maelyrria Aviexus, the Mother of Shadow, is its high priest. While she appears to be youthful, her ivory skin is bloodless, and her eyes are spheres of emerald fire.

Needless to say, the methods of Luukos himself in fashioning and blessing his high priests are less than well known, and so there is little to say for them. The prevalence of emerald flames is not merely aesthetic or symbolic, or at the very least, should be regarded as highly likely to be substantive in the fire itself. These flames are almost certainly mawfire --- one of the sorcerous elements, our term of art for the pure essences of the lower near planes --- which in this case is the Maw of Luukos. The Maw of Luukos will breach into this plane of existence, as do other planes, in temporary or artificial nexus points. The souls of the dead marked by Luukos pass through these hellgates. Mawfire will burn with intense heat. But only when it comes into contact with souls or living matter. Within the conventions of this work, these undead made with mawfire are inherently a form of demonic necromancy, as well as high necromancy.

IX.I Undeath by the Undead

There are undead who come into existence from their own hatred and malice in life, and so in a sense are among the natural undead, like the traumatized and restless spirits. But there are others who become undead because of their encounters with these undead. This might come from the vile corruption of soul taint, such as from high exposures to the undead, or the tainted wastelands or otherwise haunted realms. Other times it is from the destruction of the soul, so-called "spirit death," or otherwise being drained of life essences by the undead.

In a way these are more individual or weaker analogs of the snares. There might even be "nests" of first or second echelon undead. Hungering undead are most likely to cause the existence of more of their own kind, or making and subjugating thralls to themselves. They might also summon other undead to themselves, up to some limit, possibly from corrupted local spirits.


Wights are creatures of malice that almost always haunt the places they were upon their undeath. They are among the more intelligent rotting corpse undead, known for eating the corpses of the recently dead. Wights will develop vicious claws which they enjoy sinking into flesh, and will usually have some red glow in their eyes. While they do not inflict transformation curses, they may drain life forces with their claws, and may make more of themselves in this fashion. They are more known for summoning zombies as thralls, as well as non-corporeal spectres.

Wights might also come into existence from the vile corruption of darkness, if they were highly tainted through the black arts before their deaths. This is one of the possible fates of the "living undead," whose souls end up not departing from their corrupted bodies upon death. Wights are sadistic and enjoy inflicting horror, so the horrified sometimes invert into wights. Most familiar in this way are moor wights.


Wraiths will in general have been caused by soul destruction. Wraiths or wraithlike undead may be somewhat powerful, and even intelligent, as their fragmented soul condition is related to some kinds of lichdom. Wraiths are pulled into relative non-corporeality by the currents toward the spirit realms. However, they are most often creatures of darkness, and will be drawn into more negative realms. It is thought that the wraiths eventually shift out of this plane of existence entirely. Thus, they may be summoned from netherworlds, and make more of themselves.

Wraiths might come into existence from a practitioner of the black arts having parts of their soul ripped away from them. This might be from being fed upon by unholy benefactors, or from using their own souls in rituals and dark rites. Failed attempts at lichdom may end as wraiths, or the closely related phenomenon of spectres. They both have claws and glowing eyes.

IX.J Extraplanar Undeath

Extraplanar undeath is perhaps the most complex and nebulous subject in the dark arts of necromancy. Entities from the more infernal planes of this existence may or may not be considered "demons," or they may be spirit servants fashioned of darkness and more corrupt essences in chaotic dimensions. Incubus is such a demon, often servants of Ivas. Darkness elementals will seem to be inherently alien to the spirit, and yet there have been souls transmogrified into them. Occultists of more sinister traditions say such distinctions are ultimately specious.

There have been extraplanar undead since at least the time of the Ur-Daemon War, and almost certainly a long time before it. Whenever a cursed soul would end up in another dimension, and became attuned to it, we would have to call it extraplanar. Undeath formed in other worlds by the powers unleashed in that war, and the exiled abominations following it, would as well.

The Demonic:

Works concerning the classification of the demonic, whether of the infernal planes of this existence or the outer valences, constitute a highly speculative and vast literature. Those of our existence, or spectrum of planes, are thought by occultists to manifest in thematic roles shaped by cosmic forces. These may be discordant harmonies of such notions as Fate, or even fallen demigods, higher beings or outer horrors who become exiled into the infernal realms. What was traditionally meant by "the demonic" were malevolent beings of primal darkness. Outer valences complicate this notion considerably, and demonology is far beyond the scope of this work. But the extraplanar undead are most often made by the demonic from essences of our existence.

Firstly, the extraplanar beings which must be constituted by the laws of this world are often incarnated, which often leads to their reproduction through our own animate matter. Such will only be deemed "undead" if they are sufficiently unholy. There are demons which do this as well, and necleriines are things of necromancy. Exiled abominations of this world and the "fauna" of other worlds, often highly alien or grotesque, may have their "souls" cursed with unholy power. Familiar "outsiders" regarded as undead include naisirc, n'ecare, and seraceris.


Through the tension between the ordinary use of language, and what is narrowly meant by experts in technical definitions, the same words will have figurative or even divergent usages. With the demonic there is a basic issue of a word which arises out of cultural fear of malevolent forces, but the Faendryl summoners especially redefine it into just another kind of fauna. Much the same problem exists with words like "sorcery," "witchcraft," and even "black elven wizardry." Fiend is still another ambiguous term, signifying wickedness. For our purposes there is value in making the "pure evil" entities their own category. In this we will navigate around the obfuscation and sophistry of the Faendryl convention of neutralizing the word "demon."

Fiends will include the range of extraplanar beings, whether undead or demonic or infernal astrals or something else, which are malevolent and born of the darkness. These are the chthonic powers as well as applicable extrachthonic entities. Fiends may also refer to such forces who have become trapped and attuned within this world, such that they are no longer "extraplanar" in attunement, and include such things as abominations and hybrids. It includes the "infernal undead" and excludes innocuous or merely alien extraplanar beings and eldritch horrors.

Dark Godlings:

In the infernal realms there are demigodal powers constituted of sorcerous essences, analogous to the Great Spirits of higher planes. These are sometimes known as "demon gods" or similar terminology. Much as there are Demon Lords who rule over whole planes or valences, with their undead and demonic legions, there are fundamentally non-corporeal "spirits" who only incarnate as avatars. These become attuned to their dominions, essentially as local gods. Except the locality is some horrific netherworld which is shaped to their will and dark imagination.

There are wasteland cults who worship such gods, whose names are mostly unfamiliar in this world. The highest echelon manifestations of undeath may lord over such realms, as well, and even the most powerful of banished liches. Wraiths and the shadows of slain liches, and other such powers, often are pulled into the netherworlds upon losing their purchase on this world.

The Vishmiir:

The Vishmiir are a very ancient kind of extraplanar undead that feed off the thoughts and soul of the living. Their origin is not entirely understood. They were most likely formed from the massacre of elven souls by the Ur-Daemon in the Age of Darkness. There is some reason to suspect from ancient relics that they may have been made through ritual worshippers of Marlu. While they had been banished to the Void, they have sometimes been able to return. The Vismiir were known to have been struggled against by the Elven Empire, who banished them with the legendary chalice and crystal of Faelyna. Their most recent return was following the especially dark Lornon's Eve of 5102. Though this incident was apparently under the observation of Fash'lo'nae, and many suspect he had unleashed them as an experiment. This only deepens the suspicions of their having Marluvian roots in Lornon. Now they slumber once more, sealed in the Void.

The Vishmiir are extraordinarily powerful and thrive in the cold darkness. They were able to manifest in this world as singular shadow entities which resembled eidolon. These would span a vast range of powers. They are essentially non-corporeal undead which are ordinarily forced entirely off the material world. They manifest when the barriers weaken and there is no sun. It was difficult for them to reach their power through deep, solid matter, namely the interior of the mountain ranges. The Vishmiir are truly a collective, and fundamentally non-localized.

They summoned armies of undead thralls, becoming more powerful with night, or the continent plunging into darkness. These undead were powered with the primal darkness, and remained after the Vishmiir were banished. Their "true name" in the ancient tongue is vismi'irkha. Saying the debased name would summon their focused attention, without constraints, risking much violence to one's head. The Vishmiir would speak broadly in the minds of the masses. This was felt as an oozing oil or thick rancid slime. They are always listening, when they can make it into this world. Intelligent and sadistic, they seek to cleanse this world of the living. They regard the living as unworthy of their higher knowledge and understanding. They have no central source, but instead are everywhere, without a focal point. In this respect they are like the immanent power of corrupted fey or the Bleak. One of the highest echelons of undead. Slaying any given Vishmiir is essentially meaningless. They feed on the life forces of those around them, much as great vampiric wraiths. They were banished again with a powerful ritual of Life.

The Vvrael:

The Vvrael is a collective sentience of anti-mana, not undead, but not considered "demonic" in the conventional sense. The Vvrael is the corrupting and tainted power of anti-mana, but it is also self-aware, making others appendages of itself. Corrupted servants of it may have individual personalities, possibly even having periods of normality. But they will be bent or warped toward malice and even possessed. In the end the thralls of the Vvrael are puppets, or the heads of a hydra, as the Vvrael itself is anti-mana and a single collective intelligence. There have been Vvrael cultists in the southern wastelands for many thousands of years. These were once corrupted witches and warlocks of this world who would find their way into the Rift.

The Vvrael is an infernal power that is writhing its way through the rift between planes of existence and for now is mostly sealed within it. The Eye of the Drake shattered in 5098 and the Rift threatened to expand and consume the world. The Vvrael hungers for souls, pulling them into the rift. It has the power to speak broadly from beyond the veil. Its inherent darkness and soul destruction results in many undead. The Vvrael is not a discrete entity. It will only be encountered through its minions, or manifesting as tendrils of anti-mana and black voids.

The Primordials:

The primordials are a class of dark godling formed from the powers unleashed in the cataclysmic war between the Drakes and Ur-Daemon. Much as the Arkati are rumored in legend to be born of the power and emotive experiences of the Drakes, it was such forces as their fear and madness in chaos which forged the primordials. The most familiar of these in recent years is Althedeus, also known as the Shadows, which formed in a dimension known as the Shadow Realm. This is a grotesque reality of blood, flesh, bone, warped trees, red hazes and black ichor. The Shadows would fashion all manners of shadowy creatures to serve it, whether undead or darkness elementals, astral spiders or the demonic such as oculoths. These perversions were extraplanar and very ancient.

The Shadow Realm is a deeply tainted and corrupted dimension, and Althedeus was considered a demon, manifesting as a dark apparition. It is thought to have first impacted this world in what is now the Sea of Fire, though this would have been in the Age of Darkness. The forces of undeath from this period would have been largely cleansed along with those of the Ur-Daemon.

Those who spend very long stretches of time in this realm can be expected to be transmogrified. The Palestra Blade Aralyte was last known to be bound there as a "lady in the lake" kind of creature, analogous to fey spirits of consecrating pools, except there she is a shadow of herself who emerges from a pool of blood. The destruction of Althedeus has left a tremendous power vacuum or imbalance in this realm. In time some other force will move in and assume its mantle, or some sort of demonic incursion or valencial bleedthrough may occur.


The Ithzir are an extraplanar race of world conquerors, purely nomadic with no known home world. They reside in some unknown number of near material valences known as the Scattered Worlds. They are remarkable in terms of necromancy, for though they are neither demons nor undead, they are fundamentally beings of reincarnation through purely artificial methods. The Ithzir feed upon the flows of mana, depleting their host worlds, which causes the growth of huge crystal formations. They claim their spirits travel to the lost valence of Kol Granoth upon their death. The Ithzir wander from world to world, exhausting its resources, evading their "Father of the Black Heavens." The Ithzir of Kol Tar'sken were told of the demise of Grak'na'Den in 5116.

There were supposedly twelve Ithzir demigods, known as the "Pristine," though two were lost to the demon Althedeus. They believe those two Pristine exist in a relic called the Emerald Sun, which is thought to be the Star of Khar'ta. They claim that when their souls return to Kol Granoth, the surviving Pristine prepare their minds for reincarnation in new bodies. The Ithzir are powerful psionics. Though they are from other valences, these are similar to our own, made of the elements. They may be best regarded as astral beings, perhaps even akin to tulpas.

One of the more abject servants or pawns of Grishom Stone, a former museum curator by the name of Glethad, was sent to the Ithzir world of Kol Tar'sken to study their ways. Apparently, the Ithzir designate "Elders" as sacrificial honors, placing them in crystal sarcophagi. Their bodies and minds are drained away over time, so that their essence is transferred, used to create body vessels for the reborn spirits of other Ithzir. They refer to this as "Death makes Life." This is remarkable in many ways in its similarity to the "spirit born of death" mantra in the Broken Land. There are vast crystal formations around the mana draining dome artifact, which has unknown ancient provenance, but was used by Uthex for his unnatural reincarnations. It is noteworthy that Ithzir "Grafters" engage in elemental transmogrification of beings from other valences. Their "kyrwug" are highly similar to the firecats parallel from the Broken Land.


Abominations are unnatural offspring of the demonic and dark godlings, but may include undeath born of the debased and perverted power of dead gods. Among these may include aberrations of extraplanar origin, or which were made in this world and banished. Due to their nature in birthing from extraplanar adulterants, such as demon blood, some simulacra such as the vruul may be considered to be abominations. While the abominations are often considered "demonic," and may not even be dead, these are often unholy and unliving monstrosities made from mortal flesh. The Faendryl ideal is to identify extraplanar beings by their world of origin. But the truth of the matter is that this is often unknowable, not least of which because of foul hybridization.

The word "abomination" is often used inconsistently, and may sometimes refer instead to the products of transformation curses, or aberrations which are especially grotesque and "unnatural." Abominations are rarely seen in this plane of existence. But they are things born of the matter of this existence, rather than that of the outer valences. They are distinct from the things created in our world which are corrupted with sorcerous elements, most commonly darkness, but sometimes others such as chaos or balefire. They are the extraplanar transmogrified.

Eldritch Horrors:

In the Void beyond this existence, amongst the "outer planes" or "sorcerous valences," there are horrors that are not even malevolent. They are so highly alien to our existence that they are inherently dangerous. While these are not "undead" in any normal sense of the word, they may highly defy our cycles of Life and Death. However, if manifested in this world they will be of corruptive essences, as well as whatever exotic and alien matter or energy they bring with them from the outer realms. Eldritch horrors are violations of the laws of nature, as they are in this world, and merely looking upon them may shatter one's sanity. They are outside the axis of our existence and cosmic forces, and perhaps even outside of time in some fashion.

These are the subject of much interest by secret societies of occultists. While there are summoners among the Faendryl who will seek out and catalog what might be called outer beings of the first and second echelon, it would most generally require groups of summoners to bring forth something of a higher echelon. This would be as foolish as it is stupid and dangerous. When the Faendryl summon in groups it is for military purposes, fielding many of the demonic which can actually be managed, rather than more tremendous powers which would be difficult to banish.

For all the cachet of summoning research, this is akin to bug collecting. Major powers are studied by harrowers, such as the Extrachthonic Cartographer's Guild. They are discovered in the other worlds and made known so they may be avoided. However, occultists regard these as sources of forbidden knowledge and insight into the full unbridled cosmic horror, the higher reality however conceived. There are what might be called "near" valences, which are worlds not very unlike this one, with beings such as the Ithzir that may be regarded as extraplanar races. But there are perhaps infinite other worlds, which are maddening, and far too dangerous to be explored. Such eldritch horrors may make their own abominations that may only be called unliving.

It is unclear just how "outside" the Ur-Daemon were in the absolute sense. Though they were highly unholy. Some were huge floating squids. Ith'can resembled an enormous oculoth and its many eyes held the power to open gateways, which is to say tearing open rifts in the veil, which allowed more of the demonic to access our world. The Beast of Teras Isle is not unlike a colossal vathor, with an acid-slavering snout or proboscis. The elven myth of Orslathain held that its wings were so vast that it threatened to black out the sun forever, and so the sun was imagined as plunged into the boiling sea, making the sunstones. Demonic cultists of the wastes often believe our demonic archetypes were born as abomination hybrids in this existence from the Great Old Ones. It is the practice of occultists to seek relics from the Age of Darkness, hoping to find primordial mysteries, imagining the world is far older and weirder than any of us know.

OOC Disclaimers

Author's Note

This is the first draft of a document that would have been proposed years ago if the Wordsmiths program were still running or player submissions were solicited on general subject matters. For this reason it reaches further than I normally would into embellishment. It is actually meant to be three documents in separate but interrelated volumes. With Wordsmiths having not been available, it was written in a form that would still be useful as a player character essay. Because it is so very long and systematic, I am belaboring this point for other players: Please do not try to treat, or cite, its contents as official lore!

Ordinarily I would treat that as obvious and not needing saying, but in this case I want to give that special emphasis, because it inter-threads so many things that have only tacit or implicit lore. Parts of it might not even survive QC, or might need to be re-written or further developed, if it were sent through that process. This document is not necessarily static. I might amend it with updated versions to try to stay consistent with future developments.

You can use it for your own RP and in-character perspective. Official documentation on theory of magic and cosmology and NPC black arts at this level of thoroughness is unlikely to ever be written. It is written from the character author's theory-laden and sometimes contrary perspective, so it is biased, and potentially wrong or disputable on points. There are some points that are wholly made up, since it was intended to eventually be a Wordsmiths document. These tend to be highlighted. It is historiographic, not historical. In other words it is interpretation and characterization of history, something like narrative categories which may be disputed as academic fictions. Much is interpretation to synthesize many strands of lore, which are embellishments and extrapolations, or attempts at reconciling inconsistencies and ambiguities. These are not necessarily correct, and may get contradicted later.

There is an attempt to be approximately consistent (especially magic theory) with both DragonRealms and all time points of GemStone from 1989 through 2022, including the magic documentation on the play.net website that remains from Rolemaster Spell Law and everything related to the death mechanics, and trying to make a single coherent framework that works for both game mechanic and storyline premises. It de-emphasizes Luukos in favor of the many-sources-of-undeath in the Order of Voln messaging, along with de-emphasizing the most unrealistic aspects of the "Overview of Elanthian Magic" document. It interprets the death mechanics (including the Graveyard and Broken Land stories) from an IC perspective, but this aspect is especially vulnerable to future disruption, such as from Ebon's Gate festival storylines.

It is written in a purely IC form of postulated conventions or theory, and abstracted historical or cultural tendencies, to give a narrativized layer of insulation of generalization to minimize inventing specific concrete details whole cloth. (For example, it mostly avoids inventing specific NPCs, cultures, religious orders, place names, and so on.) This means other PCs and NPCs may have different conventions and organization schemes, and may characterize the history and various other things differently. This way if things develop inconsistent with it, it just reduces its applicability and explanatory power. Future developments in GemStone may require significant revising or re-writing parts of it, especially if basic premises made in it become especially inconsistent with new documents. Because of this potential, it has version numbers.

Legal Disclaimer

Simutronics has my permission to use or adapt this work into a canonical version in the future without my involvement if I am no longer present. It was originally intended for Wordsmiths, which presently is still defunct. If I am still present, I may be able to provide extensive footnotes offering line-by-line justifications, explanations, and cross-references. It was written to be highly internally consistent, so changing parts of it may create conflicts.

Highlight Key

Full footnotes of explanations would make this unreadable and more than twice as long. I am using highlights to emphasize when things are especially fabricated.

  • Bold highlights are totally made up "facts" and not canon at all. These are mostly made up quotes or book titles, or hard statements about geography or history. (This is not implying non-bold text has zero invention in it. I do not bold things that are the author's views or theorizing.)
  • Italic highlights are relatively strong embellishments or inferences to synthesize and make sense of disparate elements of the world setting. (This is not implying non-italic text has zero assumption or embellishment in it. For readability I mostly italicize the initial premise, not what follows from it.)
  • Bold italics or obvious section title highlights do not mean anything. (Whole sections are only highly made up if there is seemingly nothing established about it.)
  • The unhighlighted text is the IC author's biased view or interpretations, using his framework and conventions. It may be flawed or incomplete in various ways, or have more minor embellishments.

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