Eiridia, and by extension Summerfort, does not focus on the undead. They’re just not a big part of the original concept; in fact, it was only in the last couple years that I finally broke down and added the possibility of such creatures to the game world. When that happened, though, I started asking myself some “what if” questions. From there, the undead menace has become something that, while not integral to the setting, certainly adds to the coherent whole. More after the jump.
There are a number of magic users in Eiridia that make use of blood magic – drawing energy from the death or pain of another sentient being. One such mage lives in Summerfort, though she is very stealthy about her practices and is by all appearances a completely normal part of the city. In addition to her tendency to pull life energy from people to feed her magic, she has experimented with returning it to the lifeless and inanimate. While this conjurer is skilled at hiding herself, she’s not as good at hiding her creations, and every so often one of them will escape out into the city and cause havoc.
Creating an undead thing in Eiridia requires three main components – a dead vessel, a large amount of life energy stolen from another being, and a living creature’s spirit. The last can be anything from a squirrel up to a sentient being, but it absolutely must be alive until the moment the ritual calls for its gory death. With the essence of thought thus transferred to the vessel, and infused with the power of death energy, the undead monstrosity can rise.
Unlike in other settings, undead creatures in Eiridia have complete free will. They are not under control of their creator by default. Depending on what living thing gave it thought, it may not be sentient, but it will obey its own desires and plans. Their bodies no longer decay, though they are usually extremely pale and bear the marks of whatever killed the original vessel. Vessels can be comprised of multiple creatures grafted together; once the ritual is complete, the vessel’s state becomes the new creature’s default state from which it derives notions like “injured” and “healthy.” So, if it had three arms at creation, that’s what it always expects to have, all things being normal.
Memories from the creature giving the undead thought are fleeting and vague, though they aren’t completely erased. It’s possible that a powerful sentient mind will endure even through the ritual, but the effects that would have on the poor man’s mental state can be nothing but extremely detrimental.
As mentioned before, there is only one practitioner of this necromantic sorcery in Summerfort. More about her will be revealed in future Summerfort books, but one of her creations has made its way into the dungeon that A Darkness at Summerfort focuses on. Will your players be able to unravel the mystery surrounding it? We’ll see.