Gjenganger Species in Judge of Mystics | World Anvil


Magic is a strange beast, etiquette bound but wild. Few know the dangers better than Odin Borson:

Odin rushed down the road to the thud of his walking stick, a-knock, a-clunk to the ground.

Splayed between the hedge and the gravel, a corpse cried out, "Alfather, avenge me!"

"Avenge yourself, I'm busy!"

The conjecture of what Odin ventured to do is a tangle between too much mead, the birth of a child, or disinterest. Yet, Odin's adamance with which he billowed on was enough. The first gjenganger rose and staggered down the way.

Revenant. The corporeal dead. The...
"Ew. Kinda gross isn't it? Corpo-real-dead... like... ghosts?"
— Karisma Calebdottir
... eternally interrupted. How long will you be physically and mentally thirteen, again? Remind me.
"Another 60-ish years. What's that got to do with Gjen-Gjengang... these dudes?"
— Karisma Calebdottir
Nothing, I wanted to ensure my calculations are correct and your current state of immortality is finite. Like the crawl of mortals toward their death.
"Excuse me magic Book dude, but... can you call them the unalived, please?"
— Karisma Calebdottir
Why in the Realms would I make that concession?
"Death is scary and I'm not ready to face it."
— Karisma Calebdottir
Karisma... You are one of a miniscule number, gifted with the luxury of putting death off. The mortals, of whom you share half your being, have but one life unless a few drastic choices are made. Becoming... unalived... is never pleasant, although most seem to, in my research, manage one form or another of peace in the end. Others, like the Gjengangere, do not.
"Only the Gjen-"
— Karisma Calebdottir
Gjengangere are of a vaguely Nordic variety of corporeal ghost, or as some in your popular Midgardian terms dub, poltergeists. They do have another name, one which struck fear into even seasoned warriors across Midgard, Asgard and the Realms. A Gjenganger can, with application of a few mean terrors, become ferocious vampiric Draugr.
"Oh my gosh the guy who pours my italian sodas at Finn's Pub is one step under a vampire!? And Dad lets me sit at the bar with him!?"
— Karisma Calebdottir
Donovan is a gjenganger, yes. Does that frighten you?
"But I never tip him! What do you give Gjengangere as tips? Augh! He's gonna eat me! He's gonna go off the rails when I ask for too much syrup again and eat my face!"
— Karisma Calebdottir
He is not! Oh, I knew you were too young for this one. I knew it. Stop... running in circles and pick me up! Karisma!

Basic Information


Bog standard human, usually with a few strength or perseverance perks.

Genetics and Reproduction

Gjengangere are dead... sorry, unalive.
"Thank you."
— Karisma Calebdottir
Yes, you're welcome. As they are no longer among the living, Gjenganger do not reproduce. To become Gjenganger is a feat of unfinished business. Whether murdered or murderer, suicide or possessing of incomplete tasks, a Gjenganger returns from death via powerful and instinctual magic. The murdered wish for vengeance, the murderers must be brought to justice, those who unalived themselves often lack peace and end up back where they started.

Growth Rate & Stages

Decay is terrible to eventually get out of the carpets, yet if a Gjenganger is actively pursuing their reason for continued being, it generally keeps them in a sort of stasis.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Gjenganger, unlike their more dangerous and violent twin the Draugr, do not require sustenance in the form of food or caloric intake. Work toward their goals, the spiritual and emotional energy of those around them appears to fuel their continued existence.

Take Donovan, the chief bartender at Finnegan's Bluff Public House. He has survived intact and unblemished as Gjenganger since the 1870's, and appears to fuel himself on the energies of disconnection. As if the liminal space in which he inhabits, with its unsettling neutrality and likelihood toward unfulfilled emotions alone is his aqua vitae.  

Biological Cycle

Eventually all Gjengangere decay.


From people pleaser to poltergeist, Gjenganger usually roam Midgard in eerie and dangerous fashion, engaging in short bursts of activity until their tasks are complete and their bodies return to death's embrace. Often violent, confused and upset, Gjenganger start transfixed on their problems, on the experiences which brought them this unlife and denied them their afterlife. The angry and vicious descend into the behaviours of the Draugr. This occurs in a myriad of evidenced ways, most surrounding the dire will to cling to what little presence one has in the living world. For others all it takes is spite. 

Spite, anger, hatred, the mentality of life and death being unfair, of refusing peace turn Gjengangere into the deaying Draugr, while the release of darkness incites a release of decay. 

Peace flows with time and rectification, those whose tasks are all but done usually lose their corporeality, until nothing remains of the attachments to the Middling Plane, and they become ghast. Ghosts, which evaporate like dew in the spring dawn. It is a cathartic and beautiful sight to see a Gjenganger make peace and float off, no longer anchored to their anguish. 

Additional Information

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Attached to the nether-realms of death's chill in a tangential fashion, Gjenganger have the extrasensory perceptions of a medium. They perceive magic in a unique way, as if their state between the veils brings them an ability to see beyond mortality and touch upon the godly domains. Some Gjenganger can develop telekinesis, astral projection, sensory abilities beyond sight, sound, hearing.

What they cannot do is taste, or experience the same tactility as the living. The longer they spend as Gjengangere, the less they sense of the natural world. Even unlife is finite, and that fear alone creates Draugr out of Gjengangere.

Civilization and Culture

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

Solve their issues, or hack away and set them on fire. I suppose those possessing of their own locomotion might choose to run.

Notable Gjengangere

Donovan Shoemaker
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Scientific Name
Runicus Awayicus Fromicus
Until their tasks are done
Conservation Status
While the sentiment is darling, most attempt to rectify why a Gjenganger roams Midgard, or burn them with various sorts of fire.
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Grey, lacking any warmth to the skin and never of much fullness in the hair.
Geographic Distribution
Related Ethnicities
Discovered by


Hah! The only known Gjenganger to be domesticated in a real sense of the term are either part of Odin's Einherjar, a bloke named Alvar and Donovan Shoemaker.

Average Intelligence

Intelligence is directly proportional to two factors: how bright or dim they were in life, and how upset they become in death.

Some, like Donovan, remain articulate and savvy. Others are pathetic moaning horrors.

Facial Features

Slack-jawed, with a hollowness that betrays their unalive status. A bit hard to look at, as if the uncanny valley mattered to the dead, too.

Appears In

Book Cover of a shadow in front of smoke
Green energy surrounding a man chained to brown rocks


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