Undead

Corruptions of our art must not be allowed to torment the living
— The Fourth Tenant of Baradrad
 
There is no relentless and pervasive a threat to Tairos' existence than that of the Undead. The current danger presented by the dead was born out of the desperation of The Grand Concordance of Tairos during the final years of the Fang Crusade however, they owe their true origin to the ancient and insidious The Empire of Skyrir
 
The very concept of undeath was alien to Tairos in those halcyon days before Skyrir. The Leylines funneled only the most pure and uncorruptable mana into the land. The Dragons also took it upon themselves to cull any source of magic that could potentially challenge their dominance over the Tairos and that included any aberrant flow of unclean mana. The protection inadvertently offered by their jealous, protective and violent nature prevented the rise of necromancy and undeath for countless centuries but like all things in Tairos they too would fall. The ambitions of one of their own would lead a gold dragon named Azuras on a pogrom against his race. He created the Empire of Skyrir and used it to enslave or exterminate anything that stood between him and the realization of his grand work. Yet, even the so-called Golden God himself was not immune to betrayal. His Empire turned against him, toppled his rule and shattered his divine realm. The weapon they used was both new and terrible... Necromancy. And though their rebellion against Azuras would ultimately cost Skyrir its existence as well, though their legacy would live on in the form of the Undead.
 
Yet, that lore is known only to a scattered few historians, immortals and visitors from the past. All the common folk of Tairos know of the undead is the horror that shambles about in the wilderness between cities. They believe the Plague of Undeath that began centuries earlier was the fault of the Baradradi. They know this curse can take many forms as well.
 
To the people of Ghal Pelor, Homestead and the rest of the east it is the zombies that seem to move about like herds; following the so-called... Bride. A zombie of some kind that seems to act as a lure that the rest of her kind swarm about. Where she goes the living become food for the dead. They've also seen the scuttling packs of ravenous ghouls growing larger and rallying under the command of a man named Theodore Cross. The army of Ghal Pelor along with the help of both the Grand Order of the Lion and the adventuring party from The Seward Estate are believed to have put an end to Cross and his Ghoul legion at The Siege of Beldon even still there are reports of the flesh-eaters gathering in the dark once more.
 
In the north the people of Frostmere and Ghal Ankhar struggle against the self-proclaimed aristocracy of the undead, the vampires. Their many bloodlines originated from the opening days of the Plague of Undead, specifically with Prince Vadin Sorolwyn and other afflicted nobles from Melanthris. However, dozens of other bloodlines born from Frostermite, Stormlander and Dwarven stock have developed as well. These lords of the night now work relentlessly to to transform the kingdoms of the north into little more that stockyards for the cattle they will feed upon.
 
In the west undead have become rare. The elven legions of Melanthris scour them from the land as quickly as they can be spotted and those wander into Serpent Lands fall prey to other, darker threats. Yet, there is one threat that endures. In the many scattered ruins and lost townships common to this region tortured souls linger, fester and grow ever more resentful of the living. These haunted places are best left to the slow entropy of nature to deal with yet still there are those that think the reward outweighs the risk.
 
In the scorched lands of the south the dead do not roam about like wayward predators, instead they kneel to their old masters. The ruined city of Skyrir still stands to this day and its Parliament of Ghosts hold a mockery of their court to this day. Their hateful, seething urges propel the mindless legions at their beck and call to march out against the living. Those excursions can take the form of almost orderly war if the Parliament happens to be lucid enough at the time. If not, these attacks take the form of predatory swarms of the dead rushing to overwhelm the enemies of their enemy.
 
Though the form and method may vary, the threat they represent is all the same. There is no known corner of Tairos that the hungry dead do not haunt.

Basic Information

Anatomy

The undead, in most cases, retain the anatomy of their original species; ravaged by the grave as it may be. Some specimens display more drastic changes like that of the vampire and mohrg.

Genetics and Reproduction

Undead reproducing via sexual intercourse is almost unheard of. Sex serve as the contagion point but that is not a true reproduction so much as a spreading of an infection. However, there are some fantastical stories involving certain undead such as powerful spectres, vampires and revenents that have actually sired children through sexual intercourse. It is also believed that the perfect resurrection promised by Skyriran entombment would allow its recipients to procreate as well.

Growth Rate & Stages

New undead are often the result of attacks and passed on infections from other members of the species on those they've fed upon. Some undead require more lengthy and intricate methods such as the vampires' sharing of blood or the entombment process that often results in mummies. The stages of transformation vary as broadly as the types of undead themselves. Zombies are often born from either those who died while being fed upon or those that survive such encounters only to slowly transform over the course of several painful days. Those sired by vampires endure a painful night where their physical functions cease and necrotic biology arises. Ghosts, spectres and other spirits rise quickly but their "transformation" is less physical and more a result of mental degradation.

Ecology and Habitats

Undead dwell wherever their food sources are close and plentiful. This is typically in the places where they existed while alive. More intelligent undead will often seek out solitary lairs where they can remain undisturbed. Yet, others may prefer to masquerade among the living, unwilling to give up the life they once had.

Dietary Needs and Habits

The feeding habits of the undead vary from type to type and each of them having different dietary requirements. The most common ones are flesh, blood and living energy. Other types that appear to not need to feed in fact get their energy from the sites they haunt, sources of necromantic/death energies or the psyche of living mortals.

Biological Cycle

While many would assume the undead have no true biological cycles this is far from the case. Their cycles however are often more closely tied with their feeding habits than things like seasonal changes. Typically the older an undead individual the more expressed and potent their form and abilities will be. Most scholars believe this has to do with the negative energy that fuels their existence and potency that energy takes on as the years pass.
 
Most undead display similar behaviors as they get further and further away from the time of their last feeding. Irritability, bursts of aggression mixed with long periods of lethargy, weakening of their inherent abilities, diminished mental capacity, physical deterioration, general malaise/depression and susceptibility to give in to urges

Additional Information

Social Structure

Varies from type to type. Most undead are either mindless or solitary creatures who have no social structure. Those of a more intelligent stock tend to have unique structures that revolve around power, bloodlines, age or station in life.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

There are some fringe individuals that believe certain body parts of the undead can be used in rituals, alchemical recipes and medicines. Vampire blood, pieces of mummies and trinkets belonging to ghosts are commonly sought after.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

All undead exhibit some form of Dark Vision or other similar sense as the organic eyes of their original body either do not suit their new way of life or have decayed entirely.

Civilization and Culture

Major Organizations

The Parliament of Ghosts

Vampire Bloodlines

Skyriran Royalty
Genetic Descendants
Origin/Ancestry
Related Myths


Cover image: The Hungry Dead by Steve Bellshaw

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