Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Are Undead Inherently Evil?

You see your undead granny and you know she would never hurt you, she just wants a kissy for granny.

So I like being fluid with ALignment for monsters. Evil aligned things in statblocks are just the typical ones that humans on the frontier meet at present. Hey maybe they are th most marginalised and desperate or perhaps they really are jerks. The typical members of a type might vary in culture, religion, experience and might surprise you. 

So most beast and living creatures are neutral interested in food and sex and babies and territory and more.

Alien planar beings and gods operate under classical alignment as strictly as they can which means fighting opposite aligned things and possibly each other for not agreeing on what their alignment should do. Alignment was made by gods its not really for the best interest of mortal life. They are about starting fights not preventing them. When you argue about the alignment that's the benefit, not the obstacle.

Undead Alignments
So yes undead made by evil priests and necromancers are probably constructs fueled by hungry anti-life darkness from beyond. But the undead might just protect their own tombs, or their descendants, or lawbreakers or other motives. Maybe they just want justice?

This could create many problems like a state building a road but some chaotic or neutral undead don't agree and sabotage the road. Priests might not always fight undead they might seek to negotiate with them or bribe them to go away. That undead eating people turn out to only ate bad rich people and gave their money to charity. Some undead might be lonely or want love or poetry or some nice trees or the graveyard cleaned up. If all our other monsters can be any alignment why not undead. Possibly an undead believes they are one alignment but the evil nature of their unlife makes them do terrible things then justify it. Possibly you could argue with such an undead and make it leave people alone or crave self-destruction.

Also I have this feature on my undead turning
-Good turn or destroy the undead
-evil command or enslave the undead
-neutral hold or make an undead return to their proper resting place

d10 Undead Alignments
1 Chaotic Evil - random sadism and violence for power and pleasure
2 Lawful Evil - seeking domination through ordered hierarchy and fear
3 Pure Evil - anti-life, death and destruction for its own sake
4 Pure Law - civilisation, discipline and order forever
5 Pure Chaos - freedom, madness, laughter 
6 Pure Good - serve life and help those in need
7 Chaotic Good - rebels against tyrants and powerful
8 Lawful Good - preserve life and the benevolent hierarchy
9 Balance - maintain cosmic harmony between law and chaos
10 Nuetral - defends interests of immediate self and own kind 

1 Chaotic Evil
Random sadism and violence for power and pleasure
These undead hate the living and long to snuff them out to join them
Many just want to eat living humans and torment them
More sophisticated ones have more elaborate torments for whole kindgoms
There doesn't have to be an endgame other than the end of everything
These are most often animated by evil spells made to corrupt the world
They engage in random acts of destruction to end the world
They are easily distracted by easier victims or oportunities
Some may be allied to demons or even be corpses animated by demons

2 Lawful Evil
Seeking domination through ordered hierarchy and fear
These undead seek to dominate the living by fear and force
Often for some higher power seeking to enslave or enthral for eternity
Some spirits just want justice or revenge no matter who dies in the way
Some might hunt grave robbers or corpse mutilators or certain sinners
Common sort usually obey masters will or programmed orders
Smarter ones are the masters and make servants to obey them
Bringing about a never-ending age of darkness in the ultimate goal
These will have a definite purpose and goals or contracts
Systematic and methodical in efforts to gain power
Some may be allied to devils or even be corpses animated by devils

3 Pure Evil
Anti-life, death and destruction to spread terror and suffering
These undead mean to persecute and torment all lesser beings
They are indifferent to own harm and pain so they inflict suffering on others
Often bide their time, ambush, use proxies or hostages for attack
Would rather curse, maim and scare victims than let them off easily with death
May use bait or hostages to lure more victims and maximise suffering
Improvises new plans and easily tepted by opportunity for more pain
Allied to evil daemons and negative spirits

4 Pure Law
Civilisation, discipline and order forever
Undead only care about law and may hunt the wicked or seek just revenge
Undead may be guardians or defenders of a necropolis or hunt defilers of graves
Direct and relentless in pursuit of enemies
May capture or kill enemies depending on the seriousness fo the crime
Locals may recognise and will avoid or aid or see as righteous
Won't allow anyone to stop their justified pursuit 
May warn or scare away any who get in way of targets
It May be constrained by an area of sacred ground
Only breach rules of the dead when other rules enable them
Allied to Arkon's of law

5 Pure Chaos
Freedom, madness, laughter 
Spread disorder, disrupt civility, no masters, no laws, no slaves
Will use fear and abilities to disrupt travel, communications, trade, government
More likely to skirmish than fight to destruction, raid and flee standard
Fight in an undisciplined manner, charge as an irregular mob, then usually break up and run
May attack infrastructure like buildings, bridges, roads, signs, graveyards
Mostly wander erratically causing problems, ranting, act on strange whims
Smarter ones may preach esoteric anarchy of undeath and ultimate freedom
Abuse mortals who deny chaos and eternal novelty and pleasures of undeath
Death cant tell me what to do and human law can't stop me from eating who I want
Robbing tombs of other dead to make own grave nicer
Allied to chaos daemons and chaos spirits

6 Pure Good
Serve life and help those in need
Cannot rest until the suffering of others ends
Have an important purpose with lives to save 
Fight evil and enemies of life otherwise shun violence or harming others
Prefer to scare or capture enemies into surrender and confess than die
May arise to help a holy place or town or clan then return to rest
Prefer to minimise the suffering of others
Scare foes away if possible for own good
Requires some evil to arise and act like protect descendants
Won't arise without some reason or great menace
Allied with benevolent spirits against evil

7 Chaotic Good 
Freedom, rebellion and fight tyranny
Rebels against tyrants and powerful evil and injustice
May arise if tyrants show excesses of law and evil
May arise to attack forces of hell 
May sometimes go for a walk just to check up on things
May arise to defend common folk from authority
May steal from rich or provide for the needy
May haunt areas to keep away the wicked from occupying
May shelter renegades from the pursuit by enemies
Might fall in love or desire the company of others
appreciate a party of a festival honouring them and leaving them treats
May desire a pretty thing owned by rulers

8 Lawful Good
Preserve life and the benevolent hierarchy
May arise to defend the good and just state or village
Arise against evil attempting to rob or defile the resting dead
Will haunt places defiled by evil to help curb influences of evil
May arise to punish an injustice while minimising harm to others
Protect graveyards from defilers and robbers and worse
May haunt wicked who killed them and try to make them face fair justice
May arise to punish a false leader only pretending to be good or lawful
Hate institutions mocking law and goodness like a cruel prison full of inocents

9 Balance 
Maintain cosmic harmony between law and chaos
May arise if law or chaos out of balance and will try to aid the underdog
May arise if too much law and chaos and will seek to remove both
May arise if area overcome with invaders, bandits or chaos warbands
May arise if area overcome with petty pointless officiousness
Aid or support agents of the cosmic balance
Maybe angered by extremists of any kind threatening the local balance
Don't want to be disturbed happy resting as dead should

10 Neutral
Defends interests of immediate self and own kind 
May arise to aid descendants or legacy left behind
May want to return stolen grave goods or protect own clan graves
May protect locals from harm or changes they don't like
May ignore the plight of strangers or troubles don't affect them
May seek more grave goods by theft or extortion or robbing enemy graves
Might just hang around graveyard socialising with other dead
Mostly shun the living unless bribed or have important plea and are kin
See intruders in grave areas as fair game to rob and punish
Might be hungry and just eat you without malice


  1. My preliminary B/X hack has varying things which Clerics can Turn. I tried to divide it into soul and bodily evil. This created a weird quadrifecta of evil soul-evil body (which I grouped under aberrations), evil soul-good body (corrupted, but otherwise normal bodies, possibly undead), good soul-evil body (a creature few would really fight. Or are these undead?) and finally good soul-good body (basically angels.)

    I struggled to seperate good soul-evil body and evil soul-good body. Does the latter pertain to corrupted individuals, or do undead have corrupted souls? Or is the already dead body now corrupted, with a soul forced into the will of a necromancer? Or are both categories different types of undead?

    A weird difficulty of mine; any ideas and/or answers?

    1. Egypt and tibet have lots of different parts of soul and elaborate physiology. This lets different parts of soul get effected differently and engage different entities so your on a well trod track.

      They could be undead but different

      ghouls in MM are occupied by a type of evil being and in lots of versions vampires are too (buffy) so there are body souls a spirit souls and more. Look into Ba and Ka in egypt, there is interesting mummy speculation in iron crown egypt book for rolemaster - its awesome you can play a vampiric mummy who must suck breath-soul from other to keep looking human



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