Building the Gulf of False Hope, Part 7: Field Funerals, The Sacred Undead, and Liches

While writing yesterdays post, I felt that A) the overview of the types of Dead in the Gulf was enough to stand on its own and B) the section on Liches was almost enough to stand on its own.  That being the case, I’m throwing in a few other sections in with this one to round it out.  You’ll probably want to have read yesterday’s post first.

First we have the rules for giving your buddies a proper funeral, then we have descriptions of the two sub-types of the Cursed Dead, the Sacred Undead and the Lich.

So Your Comrade Just Kicked the Bucket…

(Note, in this section I use “comrade” to mean “fellow adventurer, hireling, or other person who might view you as responsible for getting them killed and has no one else to put on a funeral for them”, you don’t necessarily have to like them, in fact, if you didn’t get along it might be an even BETTER idea to make sure you put them to rest)

Adventuring in the Gulf can be dangerous, and sometimes not everyone makes it out alive. While not every dead adventurer returns to haunt their comrades who left them to die, many Adventurers choose to give their buddies the proper last rites, just to be on the safe side. To perform last rites (and allow your fallen comrade to join the ranks of sanctified dead), you need to respectfully dispose of the body and give them a funeral. These tests can be made either in the adventure phase or Camp. The funeral ritual will not stop your comrade from rising as an undead as part of a monster’s special ability, but incinerating their corpse might, and burying might bury them so deep the thing can’t get out.

To dispose of the body, you either need to bury them or cremate them.

  • To Bury the body, you must bring them to some soft earth and make an Ob 2 laborer test (ob 1 for digging, +1 evil GM factor for digging deep enough the animals can’t get at them)
  • To Cremate the Body, you must make an Ob 3 Survivalist test to gather up enough wood. The GM should give you some bonus dice or additional factors depending on the weather and terrain. The fire should be above ground or in an area where the smoke has somewhere to go.

To give your fiend a proper funeral, it is an ob 3 theologian test, failure might prevent your comrade from moving on to the next world! Each person present may tell a story about the deceased to grant the (impromptu) priest a bonus die (counts as supplies when determining dice rolled for beginners luck).

Alternatively, you can pay a ob6 resources check in any town with a temple or shine to get the local priest to cremate and bless the body for you, its up to you to get the body back.  If you have hauled the corpse back to town, friends and mentors of your comrade in the same town will help with this expense, while Families will pay for it.  Involving these people and shoving a share/all of the bill on them is a great way to earn yourself an Enemy who blames you for their loved one’s death, however.

Hauling the Body

Assuming your comrade didn’t conveniently drop dead in a good spot to burn or bury them (or right outside the gates of town), the living will have to drag them out of there themselves. For the purposes of these rules a “corpse” assumes you have removed their backpack, satchel, quivers, metal armor, and anything in their hands, if you have not, you may be required to test/have additional factors in your test.

You can drag a corpse of your race or smaller with two hands (Humans/Elves > Dwarves > Halflings), dragging a larger corpse requires a laborer test with an ob equal to the difference in size. Lifting a corpse over obstacles might require a test or additional hands, GM’s discretion, you can generally stick them on top of an animal or funeral pyre with no test, however.

A mystic Porter can carry a corpse using 8 slots of inventory for a human or elf (7 for a dwarf, 6 for a halfling), a pack animal can carry a corpse either as a Rider or as the same number of slots of inventory as the mystic porter, use whichever is more space efficient, but you’ll likely need some rope to tie them in place either way.

Burial in Absentia

You may provide a funeral for your comrade without their body, typically burning or burying a small personal item in their place. A funeral without the body counts as an additional factor in the Theologian test. Not having a personal item is another additional factor. This should also only be done when the body was unrecoverable, due to being destroyed, eaten, or too dangerous to get to, if the GM rules that you just left your fiend’s body where it was because you didn’t want to drop your stuff (or the Player’s annoyed about it), that can be a cue for another evil GM factor. The Shrine charges the same price for a Burial in Absentia as they do a traditional cremation (a more difficult ritual but they don’t have to actually burn any body), but will not perform one without a personal item. Lastly, while performing the funeral rites properly in such a manner will lay your comrade’s spirit to rest, the body is not sanctified in any manner from being brought back as an undead by a Necromancer who DOES recover the body.

Mass Graves

If you are unfortunate enough to be laying more than one comrade to rest, increase the obstacles of all tests (including paying the shrine if you choose to go that route) by one for a party of adventurers. You need a personal item for each comrade whose body you lack if you wish to avoid the additional factor.


The Sacred Undead

Contrary to most of the Cursed Dead, the Sacred Undead is not undead because of some vile act committed.  On the contrary, the Sacred Undead is too pure, too noble of purpose.  A Sacred Undead is not merely a spirit with unfinished business, no matter how noble, such spirits fall under the Vengeful Dead category.  Sacred Undead instead are those who, having lived a noble life in service of the divine will they serve, choose to continue to serve instead of passing on to the next world.  Their charge and duty comes not from any lingering regrets, but instead a divine edict from the will that they serve.

They are considered Cursed Dead, because to exist in such a way, to exist in such a state, no longer alive, no regrets to bind you, to resist the call of the next world, and to maintain your sense of purpose, self, and nobility, is agony for a soul. It is a terrible curse, a terrible burden to bear.  Yet it is one that those who still exist in such a way bear willingly.  A Sacred Undead can not be turned by any who serve the same divine will as they do, can not be permanently destroyed, and are exceedingly difficult to banish.  They pass on to the next world when they lose their will to remain, ideally after fulfilling their purpose or finding a worthy successor.  Still, the burden on the soul is great, and some merely disappear when they can no longer endure it.

The Lich

Nearly every Lich (and their kin) would disagree about being cursed.  Such a categorization is merely a slander perpetuated by the ignorant, fearful, and jealous.  Liches differ from the standard Cursed Dead because rather than some higher entity, Liches did it to themselves.  The ritual to become a Lich is intimate and complicated, and no one can be forced to complete it, to tear out ones soul is not something that can be done with any hesitation, and even those willing but hesitant have found that their hesitation merely instead resulted in their deaths.  Thus, no matter what a Lich may tell you, they chose to become a Lich.  They believed that magical power gave them the right to violate the natural order of things and do this to themselves.  To become a Lich is an act of arrogance, of KNOWING that you will do better than all those who tried before you.  Of course being a Lich is not a curse, I would not done such a thing to myself if it was a curse!

While that arrogance is their sin, not all Liches did so for ignoble ends.  Many have undertaken the ancient rituals with the most noble of ends.  A reason why they must stop the hands of time and continue whatever great work they were undertaking.  Such Liches can even succeed, perhaps they only needed another decade, and thus, whatever good they hoped to achieve can be overseen by the next generation.  A truly good lich destroys themselves then and there.  They rarely do.

To be a Lich, you must remove your soul, store it away, hide it in a special jar, yet, in order to do anything, your mind must remain with your body.  At first, it will seem like nothing has changed.  You have your memories, your personality, even some semblance of emotion.  You even still care for the things you cared for before.  And yet… You’ve changed.  It happens slowly, those things that you cared for last no where near as long as you do, and you find yourself no longer caring about anything new.  By the time you realize, you no longer even care that you don’t.  Why should you?  You have important work to do!  You can’t get half-way through a project without thinking of the next one!  Each of them so important, each of them justifying any number of sacrifices.

It is so easy to justify going just a bit further with each new experiment, your work is so important after all.  Far more important that some suffering of some time-bound creatures.  And each time you go a bit further, their pleas mean nothing to you.  Their cries of pain, their begging for mercy, their asking for their mother, their spouse, their child, all meaningless. They will not accomplish anything greater in their shot little lives than their contribution to your great work!

…And that’s just for Liches who start with the best of intentions.  All Liches become evil, because all Liches lose the ability to feel true empathy.  They can be quite clever, and they can UNDERSTAND what another being is feeling, but their time separated from their soul costs them (among other things) their ability to be moved by it.  A Lich may, for a while, keep a mental model in their head of what a “good person” would do, and they may act on it.  Yet there is no reward for them if they do so, no warm fuzzies to motivate them to keep at it, and without a compelling self-interest reason to do so, they end up deciding not to bother.

The same arrogance that lead them to become a Lich consumes them, only they and their goals matter, and they will do anything to see them through to the end no matter who they have to crush.  The Lich becomes an unrecognizable monster, while their soul suffers trapped inside a tiny box.  That is why Liches are cursed.

But I am sure for you it’ll be different, right?


Current PaDC score: 19/31

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