A horrible bag, a thing of blood and long dried gore covered burlap, hangs from a rusted iron peg. The bag itself is not horribly large, a bit smaller than a traveler’s backpack, there is something both familiar and horrific about the shape suggested under it’s rough surface. The aged fabric is dry, the end fibers crumbling against rough hands as the mouth of the bag is opened.
Inside the grim container is a single skeleton, the skull sitting atop twine bound ribs and limb bones. The eye sockets glare hollow into the eyes of the poor soul unfortunate enough to open the terrible, crumbling sack.
Not every corpse and skeleton that falls into the hands of a necromancer ends up as a soldier in his undead host. Some skeletons are deemed unworthy, perhaps their limbs are damaged, or are missing vital parts. The most common cause of skeletons and corpses being discarded by necromancers is the simple fact that a child zombie or child sized skeleton is not a very capable physical warrior.
The sack hits the ground with a brittle and dry clatter, the bag releasing a puff of age decayed dust. The skull lands upright, the eyes still facing the unfortunate who opened the sack and first gazed in. A mounting a nameless dread fills the unfortunate soul…
To create a terrible terrible bag, a necromancer places a ceremonially prepared skeleton, or rarely a child’s preserved corpse, into a burlap sack. A malevolent spirit is then bound to the corpse as the sack is closed with a special knot using a seven braid rope. Once done, this trap can be left anywhere and lasts until the bag is opened. A bag can hang long past the time when a mundane burlap container would have long mouldered to nothing, perserved by the unwholesome magics that enchant it.
Sourbeard, scourge of the Flantzbad Goblins, Slayer of Grintleborz the God-Boar, shook in fear. The thing had been following him, never letting up, never relenting. His ax availed him naught against it and for not the first time he regretted opening the sack and scattering the bones when they turned out to not be treasure. He heard the soft laughter, the cold laughter of the dead, and his heart lurched. It was coming again and the only thing he could think to do was run…
Once the sack is opened, the malicious spirit within the corpse begins to haunt the unfortunate soul that opened the bag and triggered the trap. Once a target has been selected, the spirit, while metaphysically bound to the bones, beings to haunt the victim as an incorporeal ghost. This mostly includes creating minor illusions and ghost sounds that play on the victim’s fears. Once the victim has become suitably paranoid, the spirit of the bones begins it’s real work, leaving poisonous vermin for the victim to find, causing nightmares, and leaving blood stains on them and their possessions in a campaign of psychological terror.
Sourbeard shuddered as the thing entered the chamber, he burned with shame over the gutless sound of his own whimpering. It had finally come for him, a half sized skeleton barely as tall as his chin, but for all the world bigger than any dragon or troll. There was nowhere left to run, he was alone, and it had won. Tears filled his eyes as the black sockets met his glassy own, the bones of the thing’s fingers were so small, so delicate. He convulsed as the bones wrapped around his neck and strangled him. He flailed at the thing but it’s bony face was leering and impassive at the same time. He shuddered and was dead.
Once a bag trap has run it’s course, the bound spirit is released from it’s servitude and flees back to the formless realm of darkness from which it was summoned. There are several ways to deal with such bag traps, the most effective being not opening every single thing that is found in a dungeon. The second is that a competent necromancer should be able to recognize a bag trap for being some sort of necromantic vessel. A competent necromancer can set off the trap and use the skull of the child in question to summon the malevolent spirit and in a contest of wills, banish it and disable the trap.
Wilkes, most recently from Aastolan, examined the sack as it hung from it’s peg. To his sorcerous sight, the container reminded him of a butterfly’s chrysalis held up in front of the sun. though hazy and halfway opaque, he could make out a form writhing inside the vessel. It was a spiritual trap of some sort. He cut down the sack and opened it. Sure as death, he smelt the black magic as much as felt it’s cold grasp. Grabbing out the skull, his left thumb derisively jammed into the eyesocket he summoned the ghost of the bones. The thing wailed as his will forced it into the torchlight. ‘Little servant, you will tell me the name of the necromancer who placed you in this vessel. If you resist, I will destroy you. Submit and I will allow you to return hence the abyss from which you came…
Necromancers like to be left alone, and while nefarious death traps work well, when people go missing, their friends and family tend to come look for them. This gets messy when adventuresome types get involved and then minions get slain, contingencies are resorted to and evil plans are set back years or more. Now when a would be dungeoneer returns pale faced from a venture, and within a few days is either barking mad or found dead, fewer search parties are sent out. Whatever it was that got so-and-so got them, maybe it served him right for upsetting the dead, messing around in their graves and such.
They key is that the victim will have moved on some time before the spirit begins it’s torment so that in many cases, the victims never knew what was after them until they saw the diminutive skeleton standing over their hiding place.