Dragon's Eye View: Undead

Undead.


They are dead . . . kinda. Right? If I ask you what a zombie looks like, you can give me a pretty descriptive visual. If I ask you about a mummy . . . same kind of thing. Even if I ask you to tell me what a ghost looks like, I can usually follow along with the description.


Dragon's Eye View: Undead

Discuss this article here. 

All around helpful simian

What's funny is the links to the images are dead.
What's funny is the links to the images are dead.


This happened with the Goblinoids as well, if memory serves.
Hopefully they'll be risen soon. 
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
Uh, shouldn't they all look the same so that you don't know if you are facing a harmless ghost, a dangerous spectre, and a deadly wraith?
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Yup, last Wednesday. Seems to be a pattern forming. Though rather appropriate for incorporeal undead.
Uh, shouldn't they all look the same so that you don't know if you are facing a harmless ghost, a dangerous spectre, and a deadly wraith?


At that point you might as well just bundle them into one monster and call it "incorporeal undead". 
Seriously?!  No pics again? Do you think it would be too much to ask for you guys to get your acts together?

Kalex the Omen 
Dungeonmaster Extraordinaire

Uh, shouldn't they all look the same so that you don't know if you are facing a harmless ghost, a dangerous specter, and a deadly wraith?


At that point you might as well just bundle them into one monster and call it "incorporeal undead". 



What? One is harmless, another is dangerous, and the last is deadly. Can you imagine the player's characters entering a building full of ghosts going about their lives unaware of the characters, and then one of them turning and attacking the players?

Its just like asking how you distinguish a mimic from a treasure chest. Why would you want to do that?Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.

My comments from the article page are below.  I referenced two scary movies...it's definitely October!...:

The wraiths have too much story, even though he barely gave them any. I see them as dark, vaguely discernible spirits (like the image from Scream but more indistinct) that shriek in rage and torment, though perhaps you can barely hear it until their cold claws tear into you and the sound explodes in your ears. They drive fear into adventurers because they are so difficult to hit and they attack from all angles. (In contrast I'd say shadows have much more individuality, intellect, and a more clearly delineated, humanoid shape...just like someone or something's shadow come to life.)


I like highbulp's comment that a specter might be mistaken for a ghost at first. I'm thinking sorta M. Night Shyamalan, but the surprise comes when you upset them and they attack or entrap you! Otherwise ghosts and specters sound good.


Regarding players distinguishing monsters, I agree each monster should be distinctive but I don't think exact traits need to be mandated in all cases at all times or it gets way too metagamey. I'm not sure where the author's boundary is for this.

Dragon's Eye View has nothing to see again it appears. The descriptors Jon used to differentiate Undeads among themselves seems okay to me between Ghosts, Wraiths and Specters.

I reserve further comments for when the article is fully deployed.
Welcome to a new number of the Necropolitan magazine! (Libris Mortis is for old fogey). 

Ghosts are spirits of dead sentient creatures...not necesarially evil, and sometimes they can give steps to PCs (for example saying who was his killer ).

Wraiths and spectres and almost synonimes for me. Stats and powers can be different but the background is almost identical.

I wish give other new crazy idea. It may you don´t like but the suggestion must be told to help to create better ideas.

what if wraiths are created by vampires and necromancers? Why? Because wraith´s corpus can be used like food or maná by vampires or necromancer. What is worse became a infected ghoul who eats humans? Be a enslaved soul by necromantic power.

Let´s imagine a vampire´s mausoleum full of "brides". They aren´t really vampires but incorrupt bodys...The vampire can drain their brides´ corpus. Why? Because vampires clans hate each other and killing humans isn´t too discret. Those wraiths are used like "blood farms". 

Those wraiths can (temporarily) look living humanoids, but they aren´t reanimated bodies but solidified ectoplasm, like the necromantic equivalent of psionic astral contruct, only almost a ilusion). And some wraith could try be no-evil...but they are hungry and they need incarnum/ki.


Spectres are the dark side, the Mr. Hyde of soul. The spectre is the part of sould with a out of control "Id" (hidden wishs and impulses) without super-ego (ethical consciencie), the shadow of soul, the worst part of subconscious. They aren´t really spirits of dead people but only "fragments". They can be created involuntarily by bad karma (by a haunted house, a battle field...). The true soul could be resting happyly in the Heavy but hi spectre be a ectoplasmatic evil "clone" created spontaneosly like a waste by necromantic "pollution". 



 

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

You can see pictures now.

I like the wraith, and almost the specter (or is she a banshee?). It is a good picture but the color.. sooner or later somebody is going to do a joke about Twinky Twinky or a sim who ate Jelly bean or was eaten alive by flyes or by starvation.. 

I like the idea wraiths are spirits with free will but slaves by necromantic magic. They aren´t necessarily evil but they are too hungry and/or furious.  Wraiths should have got some power to have got corporeal body (al least temporality to cheat a potential victim).

Spectres could like uncorporeal vampires, spirits controlled or dominated by dark passions. They could be necromantic contrutcs created by "supernatural pollution" of tainted magic on zone with very bad karma by violent actions in the past. PCs could find some ghost is fighting againt their shadow or dark reflex, a spectre. 

---- 

If class levels can be added to humanoid monsters like template...could a necromancer class be created to be used by sentient undeads?

Other option is some undead monster are so similar because are the same nature but with some different "bloodline", like the guilds of "Wraith: the Olvidion".  

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

I agree that color, facial expressions and body posture can make a long way to help differentiate Ghosts, Specters and Wraiths.

I like the Wraits they look evily tormented :P
Ghosts are like the newcomer or innesperencied, usually the weakest incorporeal undeads/deathless.



Wraiths have got some tricks in the pocket. They are tormented sould because not being in the Heaven is enough suffering, the feel a great spiritual void and loneliness (or they can´t live together with other wraiths) (. They can have learnt change apperencie, and their look could be like (softer version) splatterpunk cenobites from Hellraiser saga, or like some bizarre creatures from Silent Hill videogames. Some females wraiths can wear moth-gothic dress because they are the "brides" of a vampire who drains their corpus/ki/incarnum. Their body are incorruptes within their sarcophagus but their souls are prisioner like Indian blood farms (it isn´t a urban legend, journalist Scott Cagney investigated it and he published a book "the red market" about it). 

Wraiths aren´t stupy and can use strategy or dissuasion (but they aren´t ruled by a necromancer).   It may only they guard some place or relic/keepsake. They are incorporeal but they could create a ectoplasmatic leg to kick-ass PCs. 



Spectres are like incorporeal version of Romero´s ghouls. Too furious and irrational (or adicts to violence) to try diplomacy. It may they don´t rebember their past lives (only their most hated enemies). They are almost-vampires, but aren´t really sentient creatures but only "contructs" my tainted mystic forces. They could the cover, the way to hide there is a lying vampire, they would collect the life force, the vitae, the energy to be used for vampire. And what is doing the vampire for the sleeping? He could be in the spirit realm, ruling a kingdom of ghosts and captured petitioners  like a tyrant. (Imagine a superstitious peasant who live avoiding undead menace but when dies his soul doesn´t go to Heaven but he wake up in the land of ghost where he will be a slave for centuries. Isn´t it horrible?). They aren´t spirits of dead people but incorporeal twited evil clone of people who died. 



Some special (optional) attacks (like spells from a dread necromancer list) could be added like template. It would help DMs to surprise PCs.



About power to create spawn...my suggestion is the spawns are temporal. Let´s imagine two goblins who are exploring a hidden necropolis. A wraith appears and kills one of them. The energy drained would be used like psionic power points to create astral construct. The wraith can use the spawn like a summoned creature, with time limit. Later the spawn dissappears but can appear again if the original wraith can "summon" it because he has recovered their power. 

----

The living wall is one of the most terrorific D&D creatures, but finding the right value of XPs isn´t too easy. Some absorbed creatures lose all powers about movement, or the living wall be destroyed by catapults.  

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

Uh, shouldn't they all look the same so that you don't know if you are facing a harmless ghost, a dangerous specter, and a deadly wraith?


At that point you might as well just bundle them into one monster and call it "incorporeal undead". 



What? One is harmless, another is dangerous, and the last is deadly. Can you imagine the player's characters entering a building full of ghosts going about their lives unaware of the characters, and then one of them turning and attacking the players?

Its just like asking how you distinguish a mimic from a treasure chest. Why would you want to do that?


Yeah but if they all look the same there's no point in statting them all up. Just treat them like NPCs, some are helpful, indifferent, insane, or hostile. Now, if they have visible differences then they should have different stat blocks.

The difference between a chest and a mimic is that the mimic screams when you shoot it.
Uh, shouldn't they all look the same so that you don't know if you are facing a harmless ghost, a dangerous specter, and a deadly wraith?


At that point you might as well just bundle them into one monster and call it "incorporeal undead". 



What? One is harmless, another is dangerous, and the last is deadly. Can you imagine the player's characters entering a building full of ghosts going about their lives unaware of the characters, and then one of them turning and attacking the players?

Its just like asking how you distinguish a mimic from a treasure chest. Why would you want to do that?


Yeah but if they all look the same there's no point in statting them all up. Just treat them like NPCs, some are helpful, indifferent, insane, or hostile. Now, if they have visible differences then they should have different stat blocks.

The difference between a chest and a mimic is that the mimic screams when you shoot it.



So the difference between a ghost and a specter could be that it attacks you when you shoot it...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Funny i use ghost, spirits, wraiths and specter in my games in a more "realistic way", it's not something the party can "fight" against. But the spirits can't hurt directly to the party too.
Uh, shouldn't they all look the same so that you don't know if you are facing a harmless ghost, a dangerous specter, and a deadly wraith?


At that point you might as well just bundle them into one monster and call it "incorporeal undead". 



What? One is harmless, another is dangerous, and the last is deadly. Can you imagine the player's characters entering a building full of ghosts going about their lives unaware of the characters, and then one of them turning and attacking the players?

Its just like asking how you distinguish a mimic from a treasure chest. Why would you want to do that?


Yeah but if they all look the same there's no point in statting them all up. Just treat them like NPCs, some are helpful, indifferent, insane, or hostile. Now, if they have visible differences then they should have different stat blocks.

The difference between a chest and a mimic is that the mimic screams when you shoot it.



So the difference between a ghost and a specter could be that it attacks you when you shoot it...


Yes. A ghost would just get annoyed.
They're different sorts of beings, so there's no particular reason for them to all look the same. Unless the point of a monster is that it looks like something harmless, I don't see why it would, and I don't think that an important trope about dangerous incorporeal undead is that they look like harmless ones. That's not how they're typically presented.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Funny i use ghost, spirits, wraiths and specter in my games in a more "realistic way", it's not something the party can "fight" against. But the spirits can't hurt directly to the party too.


For me a ghost is the worlds memory of a person... and not usually harmful though some will manipulate and influence the living in relatively mundane ways and do some damage in that fashion. They feature more in a detective style story.

I visualize wraiths/spectres as carrying a token which they are bound to ... they are to a lesser extent disrupted by strong life forces so a heroic fighter can target the token and perhaps literally use that ultra high con and hp of his as part of the attack. 

 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

We are talking about incorporeal undead, aren´t we?

Let´s suposse the spirit realm, the sheol, the underworld, the afterlife kindgom is canon, and it is demiplane withing Astral Plane....and ..(OK, we aren´t going to plagiarize Wraith: the Olvidion because it wouldn´t be good).

The ghosts are the ordinary inhabitant (by any reason they can´t go to Heaven or Hell yet). The wraiths would be the equivalent to vampires (because they can drain energy) and the spectres the ghouls/zombies or like evil twisted ectoplasmatic clones. Their appearances can be too similar but their auras are too different. 

---

Other question:

Let´s suposse some (incorporeal) undead spirits can animate corpses, like the spell summon undead level I. How would the XPs reward? I suggest killing a corporeal form must be like defeat a skeleton or a zombie, and terminate ultimately the incorporeal (by destroying its original corpse or fetters, links with material plane) should be rewarded like neutralizing a magic trap with spell summon creature.

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

I like the artwork for the wraith. It's much better than the 4e wraith artwork (no offense). The ghost and specter artwork, on the other hand, looks a bit too surrealstic, with their glowing blues and purples. I think a mostly-transparent, slightly luminescent spirit would be much better.
As for the difference between ghosts and specters, I feel that there should definitely be a visual distinction between the two, but it shoukd be minor, such that someone unused to dealing with undead may mistake a specter for a harmless ghost until it's too late. Maybe if the specter seemed  slightly degenerate, with a somewhat unsettling color in place of the ghost's blue glow.
Now, on the matter of the story behind the ethereal undead (and this should probably be in a separate thread), I think of ghosts as beings that have died yet remain too strongly attached to this world to move on. They can influence material objects somewhat, but they likely need mortal aid to finally move on. Specters are essentially ghosts whose spiritual ties are centered on sorrow, anger, vengeance, etc. They let the negative energy of these emotions warp them into something far worse than harmless ghosts, and they often attack those who distur. Them, even if only by trespassing on the specter's grounds. So, kind of like Wholes and Hollows from Bleach. Wraiths, on the other hand, are a little more than restless spirits. These are souls that have been torn from death by a necromancer and twisted into some terrible servant. These shadowy beings feed on the life force of those still breathing, and when they kill, the sou. Of their victims rise again as new wraiths. These wraiths, though, may not be under the control of the necromancer, and likely run rampant over the nearby land. 
This is a D&D lemure




This is a D&D mane.

 

In the classic mythology Lemures were evil spirits of dead people, and the manes were (no-evil) spirits of deceseaded loved ones. 

I think these creatues could have got a link with ghouls (ghoul is the arabic word that means "demon"). How? the zombie-like possesed. I suposse you haven´t seen the Spanish horror movie "REC 3: Genesis" but... what if corpses of evil dead people could be reanimated by necromancy and be possessed by lemures and manes? They would be undead creatures, no extraplanar outsiders.  

 
Fiend of posseion, prestige class from Fiend Folio (3rd Ed).
 
What do you thing? Dead corpses reanimated and possessed by infernal outsiders.  

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

I have often wished for descriptive box text right in the MM. So if I need a wandering monster for whatever reason I can flip to its page and read the description directly to the players. It would save me some thought processing time at the table, which is usually why I pull up a wandering mob, just to buy a few minutes to think something else over.


 I like the approach they are taking with the undead, I’ve always felt it was distracting to the story to say “there’s 5 specter’s in the crypt, without sound they begin moving toward you.”


Much better to say something like “The crypt door opens and dim light from your torches reveals several menacing figures floating above the once sanctified ground. Your eyes have trouble focusing on them, their edges seem to flow off into the ethereal. They wear ancient plate armor and wield swords that look real enough. They are now closer to you, what do you think you can do?”


The latter is tough to do consistently, and maybe not even desirable to do all the time. But it does change the game a bit, in a good way I think. And any help the DM can get from the very excellent writers in the home office is most welcome.

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