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Undead were once-living creatures that had been animated by spiritual or supernatural forces.[1] Some deities employed undead as divine servants; for example, the dwarven god Dumathoin used undead dwarves as divine messengers.[2]

Undead were extremely resilient to a number of effects and substances that were extremely harmful to the living. They were immune to all mind-affecting effects, poison,[3] sleep effects,[4] paralysis, stunning, disease, and death effects. In addition, it was not possible to drain their life force in any manner.[citation needed]

Once an area is infested with undead, it becomes a gathering place for the foul things.

Origins[]

Undead. They got back up and started fighting again—this time, against the rest of us... They fell, they died, they got back up.

There were six basic ways a living creature could become undead:

Purposeful personal reanimation
A living creature could willingly undergo the transformation to undeath. In most cases, the creature possessed a disposition towards evil, but this was not always the case. More common reasons included fear of dying of old age, fear of dying from a grievous wound, and a thirst for power.[7]
Minions
An intelligent creature might create undead servants as a means to their own ends. These mindless minions were created by malevolent spellcasters to serve as guards or otherwise carry out their bidding.[8]
Atrocity calls to unlife
Sometimes, a living creature committed an evil and heinous act that transformed them into an undead creature. The intensity and specificity of the required act was somewhat random and not entirely uncommon.[9]
Unfinished business
An intelligent creature died or was killed with an important deed left incomplete. In a similar manner to atrocities, the specifications surrounding undeath achieved in this manner were often left up to chance.[10]
Dark forces
Malign forces created undead beings seemingly at random. This had the potential to befall any creature, at any location and seemingly at any time.[11] In Cormyr, it was thought that wandering evil spirits would take over corpses and use them to slay and scare the living.[12]
Death by wounds caused by another undead
Many forms of undead creatures inflicted their undeath upon others when striking them with a mortal wound. Perhaps most famously, this occurred in the case of vampires and their bite.[13]

Appendix[]

Further Reading[]

AD&D 1e[]

AD&D 2e[]

3e[]

3.5e[]

References[]

  1. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 7. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. Sean K. Reynolds (2002-05-04). Deity Do's and Don'ts (Zipped PDF). Web Enhancement for Faiths and Pantheons. Wizards of the Coast. p. 11. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2018-09-08.
  3. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786965614.
  4. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  5. Interplay (December 1997). Designed by Chris Avellone, Robert Hanz. Descent to Undermountain. Interplay.
  6. R.A. Salvatore (July 2010). The Ghost King. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 181. ISBN 978-0-7869-5499-5.
  7. Ed Greenwood et al. (1989). Lords of Darkness. (TSR, Inc), p. 73. ISBN 0-88038-622-3.
  8. Ed Greenwood et al. (1989). Lords of Darkness. (TSR, Inc), p. 8. ISBN 0-88038-622-3.
  9. Ed Greenwood et al. (1989). Lords of Darkness. (TSR, Inc), p. 19. ISBN 0-88038-622-3.
  10. Ed Greenwood et al. (1989). Lords of Darkness. (TSR, Inc), p. 57. ISBN 0-88038-622-3.
  11. Ed Greenwood et al. (1989). Lords of Darkness. (TSR, Inc), pp. 1–2. ISBN 0-88038-622-3.
  12. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 37, pp. 243, 245. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  13. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 297. ISBN 978-0786965614.
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