Report on the Nature of the Undead
by
Wanderer

    I suppose I should start out by saying that I didn’t really want this assignment.  I had just come off of first a back-holiday on one of the random Prime worlds and finished off a rather thorough narrative of the Maggottonian ‘war’ against the Si’Var, if ‘war’ can be defined as “genocide just for the hell of it”.  I didn’t particularly feel like tackling one of the fundamentals of the multiverse.  I felt like going back to the Prime and trying on some more shoes at Macy’s.  My superiors, unfortunately, frowned upon that particular plan, and instead tried to gently coerce me to do their bidding by offering me an investigative report into the mating cycles of Carrion Crawlers across six planes of existence.

     So, under threat of having to watch untold hours of slimy insectoids getting jiggy with it, I present this exhaustively-researched report on the fundamentals of undead creatures throughout the multiverse.

     To begin with, what are the undead?  Having just recently returned from a Prime world that seems to regularly fill itself up to its eyebrows with the undead, my superiors have judged that I am ‘uniquely qualified’ to write this report.  I personally maintain that they are simply too lazy to do it themselves.  But I digress.  The undead are, quite simply, the antithesis to life.  They are once-living creatures animated by spiritual or supernatural forces.  You can find them on just about any world in the universe if you look hard enough, although why you would want to is another question unto itself.  They can come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and forms, and are, as a general rule, as diverse as living creatures themselves are.  To catalog them all would eat into the next hundred years of my life, which I can probably find something better to do with.  However, the reason for this report is that undead throughout the universe do share some notable commonalties, ones that anybody attempting to either fight them or run away from them should be aware of.  This report should come in especially handy to the group known as the Slayers back on the world where I spent my last siesta, known as CWAL Prime to the bunch I fell in with (although I got the impression that it wasn’t unanimous amongst the six billion inhabitants).

     The matter is slightly more complicated than black and white, although one is tempted to categorize undead in just that fashion.  I’m going to have to break the report down into several sections, both to clarify the information and to thoroughly confuse anybody who isn’t going to take the time to actually read through my work.
 
 
 

Fundamentals of Undead Existence
or
Where Do Those Damn Zombies Come From, Anyway?

    Looking back, the title might be slightly misleading.  The zombies technically come from out of their plain pine boxes buried in inadequate graves four feet under so that they can eat the brains of their former loved ones.  What is meant by the title is how exactly they are re-animated, and by what forces.

     First, a little lesson in cosmology for all the Clueless out there on the Prime worlds.  Yes, the universe - or the multiverse, I suppose I should say - does extend beyond your little redneck hovel of a planet.  The Republicans back on CWAL Prime should be particularly shocked to learn this.  There are, doubtless, volumes upon volumes upon volumes in this thrice-damned library already detailing just about every aspect of the multiverse that you can think of, and a good many that you probably can’t.  The multiverse is a big place, and most scholars agree that it’s reasonably important.  I won’t bother to go into the details about the multiverse as a whole, since that has been done far too often to justify my getting paid for it again.

     The multiverse is essentially broken down into Planes of reality, be they Inner, Outer, Prime, or those icky moist ones in between.  There are ‘universal’ forces that help to shape and mold reality of these Planes.  This is pertinent to the topic because there are two of these universal forces that help to mold the fundamentals of existence for both living creatures and the undead.  These are the Energy Planes, or, as they are more appropriately called, the Positive and Negative Energy Planes.
 These two Planes create the known bipolar universe.  The names aren’t particularly scientific, because for the most part they defy secular science.  They have more similarities than differences, despite the fact that physically these two Planes are total polar opposites of one another.

     What’s their function, you ask?  Quite simply, they create life.

     How exactly does one define life?  That’s a question for the philosophers and not for us mere minimum-wage bookkeepers, but I’ll tell you this: it goes beyond the mere idea of a ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ that the religious tycoons are always talking about.  Trust me, I know.  I’ve had my spirit tossed about from body to body several times during the course of my existence.  What creates life is something entirely different.  It requires energy, a spark that keeps our metabolic functions in gear.  That energy is what we call ‘positive energy’, or ‘life energy’, for lack of better terms.  It’s hard to really define beyond the fact that it is found in all living creatures.  We call it ‘positive’ because, as a general rule, it has positive effects upon living creatures.  It keeps us from being simply mundane inanimate objects for one thing.  For another, exposure to positive energy can heal and purify the body of a living creature, while it will equally harm an undead creature that has been exposed to it.  When manifested physically, it appears as a white, luminous energy. And no, before you ask, it has absolutely nothing to do with mitichlorines.  I don’t know where they got that idea, but some dark deity somewhere is having a good laugh over it.

     While it’s tempting to see positive energy as a ‘neutral’ element, neither good nor evil, the fact is that it simply isn’t.  Positive energy creates life.  Life is inherently good and pure, even though there are definitely cases of digression.  Thus, positive energy is most often use to meet the ends of the forces of Good, and is frequently turned against the forces of evil, which are, more often than not, out to destroy life.  So when you think of positive energy, think of Goodness.  That’s all there is to it.

     So welcome to the Positive Energy Plane.  Energy has to come from somewhere, and this is the place where all life energy originates.  Trust me, though, this is not the place where you want to plan a vacation.  You’d figure that being the source of all the positive energy in the multiverse, that it would be one of the gentler of the Planes.  This is actually a rather common delusion for inexperienced Planar travelers who want to heal their wounds or find a fountain of youth or something, and figure that going to the Positive Energy Plane will bathe them in gentle, rejuvenating waves of energy.  What makes the place deadly is that too much energy is just as dangerous as too little.

     I’ve never actually been there (and don’t ever intend to go, either), but from what I’m told, there’s very little reason to go to this Plane.  It’s simply an infinite expanse of energy, a brilliant burn of white light.  If you really care about your life little enough to go there, invest in a sturdy blindfold if you value your eyes.  Not that it really matters, since there’s nothing to see.  Besides, it isn’t the glare that’s the problem.  It’s the sheer intensity of the place that makes it dangerous.  Travel there without protection and you’ll be lit up like a Roman Candle from the abundance of power that can be found here.  I’ve also heard that traveling through it is something akin to swimming through a sea of electricity.

     All right, at this point I’ve totally digressed from the original assignment.  Simply let it be known that all life energy, that which empowers living creatures, originates from the Positive Energy Plane.  Where there is a positive, however, there is always a negative, which brings us to the more pertinent part of this narrative.

     The Positive Energy Plane creates life.  The Negative Energy Plane creates unlife.  Negative energy is what powers the undead, in a similar way to how positive energy powers living creatures.  When manifested physically, it appears as a black, crackling energy, darker than death itself.  Negative energy is best defined as being the exact opposite of positive energy.  It can ‘heal’ undead creatures, while exposure to it can prove damaging and even fatal to the living.

     To give context to it, I’ll briefly describe the Negative Energy Plane itself.  Again, think exact opposites.  While the Positive Energy Plane is filled with burning, radiant energy, the Negative Energy Plane creates darkness.  Not just any darkness, though.  There are reasons why this place has been nicknamed the Plane of Death.  It is a blackness greater than can be created or conjured, that sucks the spirit from the marrow of your bones.  Some say that continuous exposure to this Plane will destroy your very soul.

     Just as life is inherently pure and tied to the forces of Good, negative energy and the unlife that it creates is inherently evil.  This is why you don’t see vampires or zombies peddling ice cream.  The undead are frequently created out of the corpses of dead living creatures, with negative energy binding their spirits back to their bodies and sustaining them so as to negate the need for a metabolic system.  Once more, the dualism is seen.  Life, life functions, positive energy.  Unlife, dead matter, negative energy.  Again, the universe seems to make some sense.

     Which of these forces, the positive or the negative, is stronger is a determination often left to perspective.  Some see negative energy as being stronger because the undead in general have various advantages over living creatures (as detailed in the next section), and are also, again in general, stronger and more powerful.  Others see positive energy as being stronger because the undead usually have to feed upon the living to survive, denoting some kind of dependency.  From my totally impartial, enlightened perspective, I think that it’s safe to say that the two are evenly matched.  The universe does make some sense, afte
 
 
 

Minions of Darkness
or
What The Hell Is Trying To Drink My Blood?

All right, we’ve established the basics of exactly what the undead are.  There are, however, a lot of different kinds of undead.  Almost all of them share some basic traits - aside from the negative energy that powers them - and many more have unique abilities or qualities that deserve mention.  As such, I shall attempt to draw up the major categories of undead creatures currently roaming about the multiverse.

General

    Immunities - Due to the fact that the undead no longer have any trace of ‘normal’ living metabolic functions, all undead creatures are immune to conventional poisons and disease.  Undead creatures that have minds (some of them, such as zombies or skeletons, simply carry out orders) are also somehow shielded from mind-influencing drugs and magic.  Such things can only be used on the living.  Basically, anything that could possibly effect the vital systems of a living thing is utterly useless against the undead.  Common sense, people.

    Feeding - almost all forms of undead have to feed upon the living to survive for extended periods of time.  The exceptions seem to be animated skeletons, which are usually mindless thralls in the first place, and ghosts (not to be confused with wraiths of specters, which do require feeding).  This ‘feeding’ can be literal, such as in the cases of vampires consuming the blood of humans and zombies lusting after a carcass to munch upon.  It can also be metaphysical, such as a Wraith or a Specter feeding directly upon the life energy of a living creature in order to survive.  Speculations as to exactly why they require this abound.  I simply don’t care enough to investigate in-depth, so we’ll leave it a mystery for now.

   Regeneration - this is a queer trait.  Any significant damage that an undead creature sustains (short of death) will eventually heal itself.  This includes regenerating limbs and appendages.  However, any wounds that were inflicted prior to the subject becoming undead are never healed.  For example, if a man had a scar on his face before he was Turned into a vampire, that scar would be there for as long as he lived, a constant reminder of his old life.  This is why cripples make poor undead minions.
 
 

Lesser Undead

Animated Skeletons

     One of your most basic kinds of undead, animated skeletons are categorized based upon a lack of a mind, not based upon a state of decomposition.  They are your typical necromancer’s most basic cannon fodder, mindless automatons that obey the orders of their masters.  Although they are charged with negative energy, they have no ‘spirit’ per se.  They are seldom clad in anything more than the rotting remnants of what they were wearing when they died, and pinpoints of red light smolder in their empty eye sockets.  Animated skeletons can be given basic orders, but since they have no mind, take no initiative of their own.  They’re great fun to taunt.  The name is deceiving, since they can be in any state of decomposition, really.  The magical technique used to raise these little toys does not occur naturally.  If you encounter them, you can be certain that there’s some greater power nearby to be reckoned with.

Zombies

     A step up from animated skeletons in that they can occur naturally and are not entirely mindless.  Just mostly.  A zombie’s train of thought generally doesn’t extend too far beyond “find living, kill living, eat living”.  Aside from this distinction, they are generally identical to animated skeletons.  Rotting, decayed flesh, rank odor of death, all of that cheerful stuff.  Generally not too hard for all of you evil-bashers out there to dispose of, unless you come across some of the really big ones on the Outer Planes.  Then you would be best advised to run.  Fast.  They don’t have any particularly unusual qualities, aside from the general.

Vampires

    Vampires are probably the best-known form of undead, and rightly so.  They frequently are the most populous of the undead creatures on many worlds.  Where they originally came from on most worlds has been lost to myth and legend.  On CWAL Prime, for example, vampires are believed to have spawned from Cain, one of the earliest humans who did something to really piss off one of their higher deities.  The result: vampirism.  Vampires are extremely hardy, cunning, and generally malicious.  Their most prominent feature is a pair of fangs in their mouth.  With these fangs they “feed” off of the blood of regular humans.  This often requires the death of the victim, so one can speculate as to whether or not they are feeding off of the blood or of the life energy that throbs through them.  Most of the vampires I interviewed just shrugged and tried to attack me.  Most of those same vampires are now charred husks on the streets of their respective worlds.  But I digress.  Vampires also have the capability of ‘Turning’ their victims…making them into vampires.  Those who have been Turned look just as they did in life, only with slightly hardened, feral features that are vaguely predatory.

    Long life - it’s unknown whether vampires are truly immortal (as they claim…frequently and at great length, trust me) or just extremely long-lived.  One could surmise that with the negative energy taking the place of metabolic functions, they could potentially ‘live’ forever.  Or un-live.  Whatever.  There are no records anywhere of a vampire dying of natural causes, unless one can count a silver stake through the kidneys as being natural.  They also have a plethora of little intrinsic quirks and supernatural traits that are worthy of mention.

    Charm - most vampires enjoy the high life, much like I do.  If you’re going to be around for hundreds upon hundreds of years, you might as well learn to live comfortably, right?  Many of them assume the form of nobility, and almost all of the truly intelligent ones embrace finery and decadence.  They also have the supernatural ability to influence the minds of living creatures to some degree, as subtly as causing the one in question to feel at ease around them.  Some kind of mental domination.  It doesn’t always work, mind you, but they figure it’s always worth a shot in luring prey.

    Physical abilities - the laws of physics don’t apply to vampires very well.  I’ve seen them scale sheer cliffs, walk on walls, and dance a little jig on the ceiling when they damn well feel like it.  They can move at speeds that human beings can scarcely imagine, dodging arrows and even bullets sometimes.  They are substantially stronger as well, lifting many times their weight with ease, and can stand considerable punishment before throwing in the towel, so to speak.  All of these traits make them significant predators on the streets of major cities.

   Weaknesses - naturally, a predator this strong needs to be kept in check itself.  Vampires, by their nature, have strong allergic reactions to garlic and silver.  Garlic will simply repel them.  Silver, if ingested or introduced to their system in any way, acts like a poison to them.  Sustained contact with silver will kill them.  Vampires also do not react well to direct sunlight, to say the least, and exposure to such will also result in their deaths.  Don’t ask about sunscreen; I really don’t know.  I couldn’t convince any of the ones I ran into to try it out.  Anyway, a stake through the heart will, as the old legends say, put a vampire out of action permanently.  Generally any sharp object will do, though.  Stakes just happen to be traditional.  There is also the option of beheading them, which will destroy a vampire instantly (although, to be fair, beheading just about any corporeal creature is likely to destroy it instantly).  Finally, one of the most popular outstanding myths involves using a holy symbol (such as a crucifix) to ward off a vampire.  Well, a holy symbol on its own isn’t going to do much, but the legends go that a holy symbol combined with intense, pure faith can turn into a powerful weapon against a vampire.  While this may seem slightly silly, one can speculate that ‘intense, pure faith’ is more likely to result in a deity’s direct intervention in any given situation.  The strength of conviction and faith may be sufficient to channel a large amount of positive energy through the holy symbol, making it extremely dangerous for vampires (or any undead creature) to approach.

    Myths - as with any beings of ‘supernatural’ origin, a number of persistent myths involving vampires have developed over the years.  One of the most popular ones being whether or not vampires can actually fly.  The answer is no, not as a natural ability.  They can bend the laws of physics, but only to a certain point.  However, it should also be noted that there have been a number of elder vampires who have taken to dabbling in arcane magic, which they may be able to use to fly.  The same goes with the myth of their being able to assume the form of lesser vermin, such as rats or bats.  While this is not an inherent vampire ability, the more powerful spellcasters amongst them would likely be able to polymorph themselves with ease.

ghosts

    These ones are always sad.  Ghosts are the spectral remnants of intelligent beings who, for some obscure reason, can’t rest easily in their graves.  What distinguishes ghosts from some of the other categories of undead is the part about unfinished business.  Formed by negative energy and a restless spirit, they will continue to haunt the place of their deaths until whatever it is that they’re after is resolved.  It’s usually something fairly significant, something that would have been a considerable burden upon the person in life.  This is why it’s good to keep a clean conscience.  A ghost will almost always resemble its corporeal shape in life, although whether or not this is a good thing is for the beholder to decide.  Some will look angelic, sweet, and pure as they slowly wander through the hallways of their resting place.  Others obviously bear the physical marks of a torturous death.  Although there is often a correlation between moral alignment in life and a ghost’s appearance, sometimes it can be deceiving.  As always, assumptions are dangerous.  Some ghosts simply go about their business without any regard for the living, while other, more malevolent spirits loathe all who draw breath and will try to attack and destroy anyone they encounter.
 Incorporeal - ghosts exist partially in the ‘real’ world and partially on the Ethereal Plane.  This allows them to move with total freedom, floating through the air, walking across water, and even moving through solid objects and people.  It also makes them stubbornly hard to destroy.  Most physical weapons and attacks do laughably little to a ghost, who isn’t really there.  I’ve heard accounts of silver weapons being able to wound or kill them, but it can vary radically according to the ghost and the situation.  When attacking one, though, try not to make it too mad if you aren’t certain that you can destroy it quickly.  They can fight back.

    Frightful Moan - while not really an ‘attack’, it seems that ghosts possess a way to channel small amounts of negative energy through their ‘voices’.  It isn’t enough to hurt living beings, but it’s certainly enough to frighten most of them off.  Seeing a ghost can be scary enough for most of the weak-minded Primes.  Hearing its wail is likely to send all but the most stubborn off in tears.

    Corrupting Touch - since they’re incorporeal, ghosts have a hard time returning physical attacks.  They can, however, appear to do so.  Again, by channeling negative energy through their form, they can inflict physical damage upon a living creature with their very ‘touch’.  It isn’t that significant.  I’ve never heard of a case of someone being killed by a simple ghost.  But people have come away terrified beyond rational thought and with scratches or battle scars to prove their stories.

    Telekinesis - ghosts can’t touch anything in a physical fashion, but they can use telekinesis to get their point across.  Ever had a fancy banquet interrupted by tables (or guests) suddenly going flying around the room as though in a maelstrom?  I have, several times, and in each of those occurrences that happened outside of CWAL Prime (don’t ask) there was a ghost involved.
 Rejuvenation - here’s the really funny part.  You can’t kill a ghost.  You can slay vampires, turn ghouls and even destroy wraiths.  But ghosts simply won’t die.  While it’s possible to ‘slay’ one of them in battle, the damn thing will return if it’s unfinished business is still…unfinished.  It usually takes about a week, but no matter what you do (and I’ve seen people try some truly desperate things) the ghost will come back, the exact same as before.  The only way to put them in their graves once and for all is to find out why they keep coming back in the first place, and to help them correct whatever is wrong with their ‘lives’.

   Rejuvenation - here’s the really funny part.  You can’t kill a ghost.  You can slay vampires, turn ghouls and even destroy wraiths.  But ghosts simply won’t die.  While it’s possible to ‘slay’ one of them in battle, the damn thing will return if it’s unfinished business is still…unfinished.  It usually takes about a week, but no matter what you do (and I’ve seen people try some truly desperate things) the ghost will come back, the exact same as before.  The only way to put them in their graves once and for all is to find out why they keep coming back in the first place, and to help them correct whatever is wrong with their ‘lives’.

Wraiths

    Here is where some of the fine lines start to develop.  Wraiths, unlike ghosts, are always malevolent entities.  Born out of evil and darkness, wraiths despise all living things.  One could say that they almost embody negative energy, in a sense.  Although they are vaguely humanoid in shape, wraiths are composed of almost complete darkness.  They are utterly featureless except for glowing red pinpoints of eyes.  I’m not entirely certain what has to have happened to a person in life for them to become one of these hate-filled aberrations, but it probably isn’t very nice.  Wraiths can occur in nature, although more commonly they are conjured by some sort of higher power.  Liches in particular are very fond of summoning these beings.

    Incorporeal- like ghosts, wraiths exist only partially in this world.  However, while ghosts can be unpredictable in their weaknesses, wraiths are not.  Silver weapons (such as a stake crafted out of silver) will affect them as though they were corporeal creatures, without exceptions.

   Energy Drain - wraiths need to feed upon the positive energy of living things in order to survive.  By ‘touching’ a corporeal being with its essence, the wraith can slowly drain their energy for its own sustenance. It feeds off of a being’s strength, gradually weakening and eventually killing them if the contact is prolonged.  More often than not wraiths will gorge themselves on weak prey.

  Unnatural Aura - these things are seriously creepy, and animals can sense it.  Both wild and domesticated animals can sense the presence of a wraith at a distance of 50 feet.  I suspect this is because of the powerful negative energies that drive them…their mere presence can become just short of palpable to the senses.  Animals that sense a wraith won’t willingly approach it, and more often than not will panic and attempt to get clear as quickly as possible.  Although it can be sensed by just about any living being, animals have particular sensitivity to it.

  Create Spawn - there is a good chance that any living creature that has been slain by a wraith will return within a few days as a zombie or, worse, another wraith.

   Weaknesses - as mentioned before, silver has a dire affect upon wraiths, as it can strike them normally for some reason.  Nobody is entirely certain of why this is, but many an undead-hunter has been thankful for it.  Also, wraiths can only move about at night.  They are totally powerless when caught in natural sunlight (although it won’t destroy them) and will attempt to flee from it.
 

Greater Undead

Specter (Plague-Sever)

    I include the title Plague Sever because that was the general title of Specters encountered on CWAL Prime until the past few centuries.  I have a feeling that the people back there will obtain more use from all of this than my superiors shall, so I’ll leave it in for reference.  Specters are truly terrifying creatures, quite similar to wraiths in some regards, but even more deadly and capable of inflicting much more damage.  The chill of death hangs in the air wherever they pass, and they are driven by a sheer hatred for the living.  Some people might fool you into believing that they aren’t inherently bad, but only become that way.  Don’t listen to them.  Specters (and particularly the Plague Sever Specters of CWAL Prime) hate life and exist in self-centered malevolence.  When seen (which is rare, see below), they appear as shriveled, misshapen ethereal skeletons surrounded by an intangible mist.  Although they often lurk at night, Specters are equally effective even when exposed to direct daylight.  Something of this depravity cannot be summoned…Specters can only be created in nature, and are most often the supernatural remnants of the victim of some unspeakable atrocity.

   Incorporeal - like ghosts and wraiths, Specters are incorporeal.  However, they exist even more on the Ethereal Plane than their lesser undead counterparts do.  This ensures that they are almost totally invisible in most visible spectrums.  A brief glance can be caught here and there, but for the most part they are invisible stalkers, making them incredibly deadly.  They also have no known weaknesses as far as physical weapons are concerned, and even offensively-channeled positive energy, such as in a Holy Bolt, are strangely ineffective.  It should also be noted that while they can essentially “float” in any direction, including up and down, Specters cannot move that much faster than the average man can run.

    Chattering - one good way to know whether or not a Specter is around is the chattering sound that it emits.  Although it can be repressed, the Specter doesn’t do so very often, and as it moves about the chattering sound of teeth clicking on bone accompanies it.  This is made all the more terrifying by the fact that, like a ghost’s frightful moan, the chattering is imbued with a small amount of negative energy.  The effects on living things is…distracting, to say the least.

    Unnatural Aura - again, much like the wraith, the Specter carries about an unnatural aura of dread and fear.  It is far stronger than that of the wraith, though, and can alert animals to its presence over a hundred feet away.  Humans, when closer, often feel an icy touch and chills dancing up and down their spine.

     Life Drain - wraiths need to feed upon the positive energy of living things in order to survive.  By ‘touching’ a living creature with an outstretched hand, it can freeze the poor sap, long enough to drain the positive energy right out of his marrow, leaving him dead and cold.  It should also be noted that the results of a Specter draining positive energy out of a Slayer are significantly different, but I’ll get to that later.

     Seeking - the Specter is capable of hunting down prey with particularly strong life essences (generally measured in the amount of positive energy a living being has within it) over vast distances.  This means that it can specifically target beings such as spellcasters or Slayers, who register extremely high on its ‘priority target’ list, and follow them just about anywhere on the globe that they can run to.

     Energy Store - if a Specter consumes more positive energy than it needs, it can supernaturally ‘store’ some of the life energy that it has stolen, for later use.  This allows the Specter to sustain itself even in areas where prey is scarce, allowing it to roam even farther than it would otherwise be able to.  Other uses for this stored life energy have been found, particularly on CWAL Prime, where magically-able vampires were once known to ‘steal’ this stored energy from a Specter and use it to conceal their presence from those who were sensitive to negative energy.  Again, the Slayers spring to mind.

     Hibernation - this is the energy storing ability taken to the extreme.  Some of the Specters have known to go into a state of hibernation, waiting decades, if not centuries, before re-emerging to prey upon the living yet again.  Why exactly they do this is unknown.  The entity known as the Plague Sever Specter on CWAL Prime, for example, went into hibernation during the early years after the Slayers appeared.  It ‘slept’ for centuries before finally re-awakening not very long ago, having outlasted all of its less-sleepy kin.
 

Lich

     These undead beings are unique for several reasons.  They are, almost without exception, insanely powerful.  Liches are undead spellcasters, those who have amassed enough magical power during their lifetimes to extend their limited mortality through undeath.  If you want to play it by the book, you can consider liches to be scheming and, most will say, completely insane.  They hunger after even greater power, long-forgotten knowledge, and the most terrible of arcane secrets.  Since they are no longer bound by the limits of life and positive energy, their plans and visions are frequently far-reaching, sometimes spanning centuries in duration.  Physically, liches are repulsive.  Their bodies have long since yielded to necrosis and decomposition, and they now serve as mere shells to further the ends of the powerful essence within.  Behind the withered flesh and horribly visible bones, one can see characteristic bright pinpoints of red light burning in the empty eye sockets.  Liches, much like vampires, adore decadence and splendor.  Even the least of these creatures was a powerful being in life, and as such they have a tendency to drape themselves in grand clothing and surround themselves with finery.  Liches too require positive energy to feed off of, although the amount required is strangely small.

 Spellcasting - this is what defines a lich.  They wield terrible powers, often necromantic in nature, although there is no firm rule.  The arcane energies that they could manipulate in life haven’t changed a shred since they died and executed their own return, so they are still incredibly potent spellcasters.  Some whisper that the negative energy flowing through them makes them all the more dangerous in these regards…

 Fear Aura - forget the measly unnatural auras of the wraith and Specter.  When a lich is about, you are afraid.  This extends out to roughly 60 feet in every direction surrounding a lich, causing lesser beings and most mortals to wet their pants and run screaming in totally irrational fear without the lich even having to do anything.

 Energy drain - much like the wraith, the lich can slowly devour the positive energy found within a living creature to sustain itself.

 Phylactery - part of the process of becoming a lich is the creation of a phylactery in which to contain its life force.  The presence of this small construct, carefully guarded by any lich with half a decomposed brain, is likely what accounts for the minimal positive energy requirements.  Unless the phylactery is located and destroyed, and lich that is ‘slain’ will return, even stronger and considerably pissed off, within a week.  The phylactery itself can vary in make.  Many liches like to keep them plain, simple, and unassuming so that they can tuck them away unnoticed just about anywhere.  The really irritating, cocky, arrogant liches will make their phylactery out of really flashy jewelry and wear them in plain sight.  At any rate, I’ve never known a lich to create a phylactery that doesn’t have just about every sort of magical protection imaginable, so even if somebody does find it, it’s damn hard to destroy, especially before the lich returns.  A typical phylactery is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment on which magical phrases have been transcribed.
 
 
 

Minions of Darkness Slayers and the Undead
or
 I'm Getting Paid by the Hour and Fell Like Writing an Addendum

    We’ve spoken about the undead themselves at length, so now you should have a reasonably good idea of which ones are insanely dangerous, which ones bite, and which ones you can safely put in a petting zoo.  However, I feel that it would only be right to include a brief addendum talking about another supernatural phenomenon directly related to the undead: the Slayers.  Slayers are divinely-blessed beings (usually humans, but not always) who have dedicated themselves to the destruction of evil in general and undead in specific.  The fact that they have appeared on two separate worlds - Khanduras and CWAL Prime - is justification for my going on about them, so there.

     According to my sources, Slayers are agents of a deity they call the Divinity.  Avatars of a sort, if you will.  When in the presence of the undead (usually up to about 100 feet) they experience a strong, painful sensation that multiplies their strength, dexterity, and constitution several times over, making them at least as physically powerful as most undead creatures.  This phenomenon - clearly the handiwork of some do-gooder deity - is known as the Rush.

     Although there is definitely a divine basis for this Rush, what brings it on is, again, based upon these universal fundamentals that we’ve been talking about.  The Rush is triggered by the presence of the undead, per se.  It is, rather, triggered by the presence of negative energy within the area.  This divine purity within all of the Slayers thus responds to any creature with a significant amount of negative energy in them by manifesting this Rush capability.  It’s fascinating, really, and worthy of some more in-depth study.

     One can speculate that Slayers contain a significantly higher charge of life energy than any normal human would.  This makes sense, since some of them can freely manifest positive energy into tactile telekinetic bolts (known popularly as ‘Holy Bolts’ throughout the Planes).  What the trigger mechanism for the Rush is, however, is still unknown, although again, in all probability it has something to do with a manifestation of positive energy.

     These traits can work to a Slayer’s benefit, but they can also cause them harm.  For example, a Slayer is fairly immune to the energy draining capabilities of undead beings such as wraiths and liches.  Whether this is an actual immunity or simply a fact that trying to suck the normal positive energy out of a Slayer is like trying to empty a bucket of water with an eyedropper is not known, either.  However, it is known that Specters - and more specifically the Plague Sever - which can consume enormous amounts of positive energy in a single sitting, have proven that even a Slayer’s life energy has its limits.  The extended touch of a Specter can drain a Slayer of most of his positive energy, thus rendering him as mortal as any other man.  This renders the Rush inoperable in such ‘drained’ Slayers.  The ones on CWAL Prime are still searching for a way to combat this new menace.

 New developments - I suppose I should also mention the fact that one Slayer (of my personal acquaintance, as a matter of fact) who lost most of his life energy and Rush to the Plague Sever Specter has found a way to get it back.  By entering into some sort of silly pact with a dark lord, the Slayer known as GAVAL has been given a ‘new’ Rush, one that has been apparently tainted with evil.  I feel like being picky and stepping in to clarify this.  The reason that it’s ‘tainted’ is the fact that the dark lord (Duskeye or something like that) has magically altered GAVAL so that the supernatural ‘mechanism’ that triggers his Rush is no longer powered by positive energy, but instead negative energy.  It will no longer cause him to Rush automatically in the presence of the undead, since it itself is crafted out of the same material that allows undead to stumble about on their merry way.  However, this GAVAL fellow can now summon his Rush at will instead.  It will grant him the same supernatural speed and strength as before, but he’s in for more than a mild shock the next time he tries to cast ‘Holy Bolt’.  It’s also interesting to note that this new, corrupted Rush increases in strength every time he uses it (gradually increased feed of negative energy).  One can theorize that eventually it will reach the point where GAVAL himself will be able to Rush his fellow Slayers…
 


 Religion.CWAL.net
 
 

 Slayer Website
 

 CWAL.net