A group that wished to be 'ever-living' instead was cursed with 'never-dying'. Thier flesh rotted and fell fromthier bones but still they lived on. Now as skeletons they continue thier quest to remove thier curse. As skeletons they differ in that they do not need controlled or summoned. They are fully fledged NPCs with drives or ideas of thier own. Stabbing and slashing weapons would not affect them.
A character who is undergoing changes of personality (like buying off mental disadvantages - flaws - or changing alignment) might confront personifications of aspects of his personality in dreams: a griffon representing the courage he needs to face a terrible foe, or a satyr standing for the lecherousness a warrior must overcome to be admitted to an order of knights who must uphold vows of chastity.