They walk and walk and walk again, seeking vengeance for the dead. Of all the beings under the Watcher's eye, they are the ones all should fear. Anger one, and their quest goes resumes.
Sometimes, a Thydian dies with unfinished business, and the soul turns restless. But most restless souls are put to ease at seeing how the ones they cared for are doing after their death or haunt an area as a ghostly figure. A handful are not, and of all those handfuls in a great while, one might have a cause driving them to pursue their task.
The Watcher may be willing to allow some individuals to return to the Living World, but those returns have a time limit and consequences. There are few exceptions - but for every exception, the consequences are more dire.
Gjenganger are amost the most dangerous of the exceptions. Most have to endure tasks the other Undead would not before being allowed to return - trials ensuring the would-be Gjenganger had a conviction to their self-consuming cause and the strength to bring their obsession into fruition. In most cases, a Gjenganger is hunting down a target for revenge, leading to the alternative name of "Vengeance Hunter" while their target is described as being "walked after."
While the more benign undead who guard graves may leave bruises as a warning, Gjenganger may pinch their targets to gain a way to warn the living to avoid interfering between the seeker and the mark. Interlopers or the hunted ones have been found dead, covered in deadman's pinches or otherwise killed.
As a blessing or a reminder, Order of the Dead's Rest clerics are uncertain, but these obsessive Undead have the ability to tell if an individual is soon to die, though not the method nor the exact time.
Several who have the ability to speak with wild animals have said wildlife tends to avoid these walkers. It has been speculated the undead and Gjenganger in particular are subjected to the harsher trials of Nature for persisting after their deaths.
Even the wolf or bear's fur will stand on end in warning of a nearby relentless predator they have no way to compete against.
Not all who return are strong enough to resist falling to the base corruption of power - many Gjenganger have had to be cut down to protect the innocent, though the battles are rarely easy feats.
One vengeance hunter, Elidhe Deadblade, had put down another of her kind for losing their way, protecting a small town.
My time here is just as limited as any Undead's - none of it is my own.
As Undead walk returned with the Watcher's permission, they are on borrowed time gifted by the god. Gjenganger, however, are not on divinely borrowed time, so to complete their task they must take the years, months, or days they need from other beings. The Deadman's Pinch is a means where an undead would take a small segment of time from the pinched individual and may add it to their own or return the time.
An individual who is dying may give their remaining time to a Gjenganger, or other mortals may also give time, but the process must be done under the eyes of the Watcher's cleric to ensure the gift is freely given.
Most hunters take the time from plant life or animals before eating. The only ones who take indescriminately are those who lost their way and forgot their purpose, often targetting those who were closest to them in life - assuming any still lived.
Deceptive Strength and Liveliness
With frail visages more often described as parchment-skin, barely more than bones, many would-be slayers have met their own body-mangling ends at unarmed undead hands.
The semi-famous Deadblade has been known to walk nonstop in the dead of a Thydian Winter when travel on the roads was halted, carrying a travel pack better suited to a mule.
Most are obsessive over some form of justice-seeking revenge, often related to the cause of their death.
"Sometimes, if you're out at night for a patrol, you'll see him. An old man, bent over by time and his labors as he stood. I saw him - once - and when I met his eyes, those eyes, the rest of him was gaunt, drained of color, and rotting; but those eyes were as clear and piercing as my commander's. I froze in my patrol. He looked me over and then he chuckled and told me to go about my business, it wasn't my time just yet, and wouldn't be so long as I followed the laws I enforced.Content warning - Violence against Abuser
"I heard he was once one of us, but was murdered when he was trying to stop one. I'm not sure the murderer was ever found."
"That man - the way he died was not peaceful. He was covered in bruises when he was found dead by his kids."
"Those poor kids, but they're better off now - they finally stopped waking up with dreams about him finding them outside of the house."
"Do you think what they said was true? That their older sibling would come in the night to warn him against what he was doing?"
"It didn't help much - they were being beat worse in his last days."
"Maybe she was returned?"
"Gjenganger? I thought he was disturbing graves, not being walked after."
"Maybe she will rest as well."
"Or keep walking to find others like him. Watcher keep its eyes on her and call her back before she becomes the worst of the Walkers."
One Who Walks After
CD10 StatblocksIf Formerly Human
A Vengeance Hunter tracking a traitor from beyond even the grave.
The undead among Thydians are usually beings who came back for a purpose or reason. Should they lose their sense of self, they become pitiful beings who need to be found and put back to rest.
M H Biscup
Oooh, I'll bet these lead to some great story opportunities. I love your included quotes and such, they really bring the concept alive! Or undead, as it were.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
My Hero Cycle challenge entry is one, and she's a character roaming my setting as my players are off doing their own thing. There aren't many of this kind of undead because they have the potential to be beyond the levels of danger most mortals can deal with, and the Watcher has to be convinced the cause is worth the risk. I tend to use quotes when I want to convey the impression of ideas I can't quite describe exactly the way I want to with words explicitly, and I feel they help readers have a better insight. My players may not know of the original lore or what the specific lore is to their characters, but I have snippets to let them overhear and collect for themselves.
Ah, the famous gengångare. It's fascinating seeing someone not-norse trying to write about norse myth and twisting it into fantasy. I'm greatly enjoying this!
blast I did typo out the å. I'm glad this was enjoyable, I was trying to balance out several sources that couldn't agree if they were like a rotting corpse roaming around or an incoporeal spirit floating and haunting to terrorize their targets. This particular species is likely among the most dangerous, if not the most dangerous of the undead in Theydim, because said sources made the originals to be some serious "Do Not Mess With These, You Small, Weak, Mortal" types.
Well, if you haven't already noticed, Norse myth is messy. It's an oral tradition meant to convey a concept or meaning, rather than adhering to strict facts. Which is why things don't always make sense. Like how Freyja and Frígg are sometimes the same person, sometimes not etc.
I think the messy aspect from oral traditions is a part of why Norse myth and lore is so fascinating to me - half the ways I've been reading about how to remove some spell of an upset being is to turn your shirt or something inside out (Or using Christain symbology, buuuut my setting has no reason to use those exact symbols). Actually, I think I carry that into my setting when I have people recounting their stories or "reports say" type phrases. It's a nice way to sort of include a reader or listener to draw their own conclusions.
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
Death by pinching is an interesting concept XD
How else do you explain waking up with those odd bruises? The harder the pinch, the more years are taken off. The article about them is still being worked on, though I swear it has the best placeholder text. "Pinchy pinchy"
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
Oh no, now I'll be frightened of unexplained bruises! D: I love the quotes/prose bits. They really add to the article. And I like how you've taken something and given it your own twist. :)
Bwahahahah, then I have succeeded with the bruises! Quotes and prose is a lot of how I "work around" my in-universe article style because I can use them to provide even more in-universe information while still allowing for my attempts at not having absolute facts. =D