Carceri ~ The Dead Walk Away
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”
Undeath: Life continuing post-mortis, by ways of either magic or divine gift.
There are many forms of undeath, from skeletons to arch-liches, but according to the worshipers of Neroth and Beltine there are two different types of undeath: the Donat (Gifted) and the Manes (Cursed). Ancient elves have also been known to enter into a state of undeath called Undying, which supersedes any external magical or divine influence, in which the inherent magic flowing through their ancient forms sustains their consciousness after organ failure and theoretical brain death. On the whole, undeath is viewed as a condition similar to how other societies view lycanthropy, but more respected Neroth and Beltine hold sway over undeath in their portfolios.
The majority of the Carceri undead live in one of two necropoli: Sinespiramen and Underhill. These two subterranean complexes are predominantly light-less, with few if any permanent human residents.
Races and undeath in depth
Dwarves are incredibly rare undead, but not impossible recipients of the Gift. Their strong familial ties can lead to long standing family heads petitioning for the Gift to continue holding the tiller. However, more commonly the few undead amongst the dwarves happen from mishap and curse, ghouls victims rising to join the Formor ranks.
Elves typically choose if they will pursue a duty which would extend beyond death and voluntarily go through the processes of becoming undead. These elves usually appear in the role of champions, guardians, and protectors, no matter what the source of their unlife.
Members of the Undying fall outside the dichotomy of the Gifted and the Formor according to the Skull & Cauldron, and few members of the general populous even know of their existence. It is possible that the Undying process is a magical part of certain elves lifestyle, but so far no correlation has been found.
Gnomes are not typically found amongst the undead, as most gnomes live until they are killed by misadventure or they become bored of living. Thus if you do find the extremely rare gnomish undead, the result is more than likely the progeny of a Formor.
Humans are most populous amongst the living, thus they are also most populous amongst the undead, both Gifted and Formor. the inherent specism of humans also effects their Formor in their choice of victims, ex-human Formor typically wish to prey on their own kind.
Orcs are the third most likely race to be found amongst the undead, but are vastly outnumbered by either the elves and the humans. Orc tribes in the deserts of Carceri have their own views on undeath and specifically zombification as a punishment, but half-orcs raised in the more metropolitan areas have a shared view of the Gift with the elves and the humans around them.
Undead have senses sufficient to reveal their worlds to them, and in some cases, these senses are even enhanced. Their eyes are not hindered by darkness, despite their previous proclivities and disadvantages concerning the lack of illumination. The mystical energy that animates undead extends to the organs of taste, smell, and hearing, but if these organs are lost to mishap, their senses are similarly reduced. Undead maintain a phantom, blunted sense of touch, more mechanical than biological.
With rare exceptions, undead have little or no metabolism to speak of. Undead are essentially animated by negative energy, though this animation is sometimes dependent upon the undead’s ability to feed. Still, while biology plays little part in the existence of these creatures, the undead do have some similarities to living beings.
Some undead exist for centuries without interacting with any living beings, while others seem to require, or at least crave with an unstoppable passion, the flesh, energy, or life force of the still living. However, even undead that do not need to eat may have a preferred morsel.
On the whole however, the Undead are holding onto their existence by a tenuous string. Other than magical means, Undead have no way to restore their vitality and repair wounds. This could be an extension of the lack of a need for sleep. Spellcasting undead require a time of mental refreshment in order to clear their minds before preparing spells, but this stems more from strain of controlling magic, rather than a need for rest.
Some of the more “campy” undead tend to use the epithet “breathers” to refer to the living.
Ex: (On a successful linguistics roll) “Near as you can tell, not being fluent in Necril, the two words were something like ‘present participial form of consummate: as in marriage’ and ‘group of sentients who still derive oxygen through inhalation.’”