Far too many undead are used without any regard to what they once were. While most corpses are generally indistinct - the variety of life extinguished and mocked by death - some hints and markings of the individual may still remain. In other cases, the cause of their demise may be readily apparent even in their decayed status. All told, here are 30 distinctive walking corpses.
Thanks to AG, Manfred and especially Scrasamax for the help on this one.
A generator for this list can be found here
1. The Lovers - Perhaps the victims of mutual suicide - the outcome of too many star-crossed love affairs, these two are inseparable even in death. They keep together regardless of outside controls, perhaps even holding decaying hands, and enter fierce, berserk rage should either of the pair become seriously damaged or destroyed. Optionally, they emit an aura of Pathos that might overcome nearby mortals with emotion.
2.) The Careless Ostler - Though horses are one of the most useful of man's animal servants, they are also quite dangerous, as this fellow found out. He is distinguished by his terribly disfigured face where a powerful hoof-strike caught him. In addition, his head hangs limp, neck shattered by the force of the blow. In battle he will seek to attack horses in preference to anything else, even against orders.
3.) The John Henry -This fellow met his end with his hammer in his hands. And even with death his labour did not cease. A huge, imposing man in life, his walking corpse still shows his size and power. In his rotted hands he bears a massive sledgehammer he still swings with crushing force and tireless energy. Should constructs be present, these would be this fellow's preferred target of violence.
4. The Apprentice - This poor wretch was downsized not in the boardroom, but in the laboratory. An unauthorized attempt to create a philosopher's stone ended in the inadvertent creation of a different result - a new form of explosive. The poor academic sports barely any flesh on his chest and face, blackened bones protruding from the roasted flesh and charred robes.
5. The Boramir - One can bravely face death, but eventually even the greatest warrior will fall given enough foeman. This one was not the greatest but still did not pass on alone. A large figure, with tattered and rusted armor, he appears more as a pincushion with near a score of arrows protruding from all over. Given the option, any opponents bearing bows will feel the greatest of this dead warriors wrath.
6.) The Witch - Sometimes the pacts of Witches allow them to defy death. Other times they are not so lucky. This one was able to call down some help from her infernal masters, but the terrible storm they brought down came too late to save her. Now she hobbles along on foreshortened, charred stumps - the fire that the villagers built only consumed her to her knees before the downpour doused the flames.
7. Mans Best Friend - Some friendships last forever. In this case the bond between man and dog was indeed inseparable. This walking dead is accompanied by a small, skeletal dog. The dog and man will vigorously defend each other. Outside of battle, the skeletal dog will stay a few feet from it's master's bony ankles.
8.) The Fisherman - Death at sea is unfortunately common, and is not pretty. After being sent overboard in a storm, this one washed ashore a little before the denizens of the deep finished their work. This unlovely corpse is terribly bloated and bears a myriad of small wounds - the bites of fish, the picking of crabs and the pecking of seabirds. A large, battered paddle is carried and his hatred is especially hot for those who do not sail the seas.
9.) The Unlucky Son - Legends are best left as legends, for attempting to reenact them is foolhardy. In this case, attempting to replicate the crossbowman of legend demonstrated that although the trajectory of a crossbow bolt is quite flat, it is not completely flat, and that at the range this fellow was standing, it drops a few inches. Now this corpse sprouts a single crossbow bolt imbedded square in the center of its forehead. Of course it will attack crossbowmen above all.
10.) The Bishop - Sometimes death can be rather unsubtle. In the case of this fellow, it is immediately obvious. Bisected in some horrible accident or inhuman murder, this corpse does not walk but instead drags itself along by its arms. The trunk ends a few inches below the ribcage - all lower long gone.
Perhaps this one was retrieved from The Grinder before all was lost.
11.) Roadkill - Even before the invention of the car, roads were not the safest of places. A wood carriage might weight less then a car, and move much slower, but being run over by one is still rather deadly. This battered corpse clearly shows signs of being run down - dirty wagon-wheel marks across a collapsed chest, broken ribs protruding from its leather tunic. Being so damaged, it move awkwardly about, possibly held together with rope or other odds and ends.
12.) Stretch - This poor fool made the mistake of insulting the wrong noble, and thus met his end through torture. This corpse has difficulty moving along - both arms and legs are terribly dislocated and wrists and ankles flop around at odd angles.
13.) The Ham - Victimized by some cannibalistic group(such as The Rephatians or perhaps The Volgotoi, this corpse was actually smoked in preparation for consumption. Somehow spared that fate, the corpse was animated and now exudes a spell disturbingly like bacon...
14.) Schrapnel - This once sturdy warrior stepped too close to an Iron Hedgehog or perhaps an exploding Iron Spike Golem. In any case, the cause of death is clear, as the corpse sprouts nearly a dozen iron spikes embedded deep in it's flesh. Occasionally in battle it will draw one out and throw it, and it never seems to run out...
15.) The Pacifist - In life, this one was an avowed pacifist, but following his passing, his necromantic controller had other ideas. All the while he attacks the PCs, he will blubber 'I'm Sorry!' and 'Please forgive me.' in a sickening, liquid voice. Should no flesh remain, its bony jaws will simply clatter incessantly.
16.) Stung - This person tried to obtain the valuable eggs from a hive of Crystal Hornets and was attacked en masse. He did not go alone, having torched the Hive even as he died of the dozens of stings. Now, as he staggers about, he is still surrounded by a swarm of mad, undead Crystal Hornets who continually sting him and any who come close. The corpse still feels their sting, but takes no further damage.
17.) Dissolution - This unfortunate fell into a vat of lye and drowned. He was drawn from the liquid before being skeletonized, but has lost a great deal. Exposed rancid muscle and yellow fat distinguish this shambling corpse.
18.) Shackled - Appearing like Marley from A Christmas Carol, this corpse is festooned with chains and shackles. Unable to surprise anything with ears, and slower then most, it is not much of a threat unless one is immobile. It will batter anything living in range with its Â‘finery'.
19.) The Painted Lady - This one was a prostitute in life and still bears the clothing and makeup of that line of business. Strangled by a john, she will target males over females even when ordered otherwise.
20.) The Cadaver - Once a convicted criminal, this fellow was turned over for dissection by the local Leech's College. However, as a Â‘prank', someone animated it, and partway through the operation it sprung up, and in so doing, created the next member of our cast...
21.) Heart Attack Victim - a fat man with a receding hairline, his face is stern and twisted in agony, his hands grope and claw at the chest's of his victims, he knows his heart failed him and now in death he would have another one...
22.) The Victim of Consumption - IE cancer, this female corpse shuffles along, not really knowing why she went from the prime of her life to corpse in a matter of weeks. The healers could do nothing to halt the illness that slew her as surely as an arrow. Her midsection is distended with malignant tumors that have continued to grow even after death.
23.) The Stroke Victim - This zombie lurches more lurch-y than most zombies, one side of it's body doesn't function right, leaving this zombie near the back of the pack.
24.) The Broken Victim - Her coachman tried to rein the team of horses back in, but in their wild dash he fell from the carriage, and his customer was found dead along with the horses in the ravine where the broken pieces finally stopped rolling. Her limbs are mangled and broken and she screams through what is left of her throat...where is her coachman, she has a meeting to attend...everyone is waiting
25.) The Suicide Case - this zombie's flesh is bloated and very definitely the wrong color, and a foul smelling substance oozes from it's pores. This fellow employed a toxic potion to end his existence and now his shambling corpse drips with the poisonous agent that killed him.
26.) The Fallen Victim - This young man was a climber in his heart, but not so much in his grip. One day he plummeted to his grisly death. Now his rather distorted corpse crawls alone like a macabre worm, hunger and hatred driving the sack of shattered bones
27.) The Arrow Shot Victim - like the Boromir, the arrow shot victim was slain by an arrow, except that death somehow eluded it's perception and this zombie retains some notion that it is still alive, even as it gnaws at the limb of a still screaming victim.
28.) The Charbroiled Victim - This zombie leaves a trail of ash and caramelized flesh in it's wake. burned to death, the charbroiled zombie is naked, withered and black, it's teeth bright against it's charcoal flesh.
29.) The Executed - This undead will probably fashion a full helmet, nailed down to his upper body. A few strong hits will show why: his head isn't attached to the neck, and can be lost; the owner fails to die after its removal. The convict will attack judges and law enforcement officers with a fury, too bad he often mistakes others for them.
30.)The Vain - This undead was terribly vain in life, proud of its dashing good looks. Even in death it is vain, trying desperately to put that patch of skin back on, and to stuff those intestines back inside. It cannot bear that others are prettier than it and attack desperately clawing and gouging eyes. It even smells good.
For the Plus, this is now a scroll per suggestion from Manfred, so others can add suitably distinctive shamblers..
The Self-Aggrandizing Pompous Fool - This used to be a person who could not get over the grandness of the self. While subconsciously recognizing talent in others, the ego of this person twisted it and turned it into something negative which he would derisively use against others. In death this person feels like the true master, and will question and comment upon any order given by its superior. If speech is denied, it will shake its head, use its hands to gesture that the order is hopeless or even roll its eyes. When attacking with its fellow walking dead, it will wave them forward, apparently giving orders while trying to seem important.
The Disgustingly Obese - This undead used to be a rich merchant, obsessed with the pleasures of taste. At the end of his life he was so fat he nearly could not walk. In death this thing blubbers forth, still not over the hunger it had in life. It needs food, and that adventurer looks pretty tasty.
The Haters - This used to be a couple that quarreled and fought so much, they could not end it, even in death. This unlikely duo will never leave each other, and will object to being split apart, trying to get back to the other to slap, insult and berate. Their manner of attack is likewise, and they tend to spit and curse and claw and punch their victims with murderous intensity.
The Citadelians - This rather large group of walking dead mumbles incomprehensibly amongst themselves. Quite mysterious to outsiders, they seem to be sharing some common obsession, which seems like some object made of thin air to the observer. Sometimes these strange undead even fall on their knees, worshipping this invisible object. The only words that can be distinguished from the mumbling is "Mathoooom", which is sometimes repeated like a mantra.
The Traitor - whether he was an actual traitor, a genuinely free-spirited person, or deeply hated the necromancer, this undead is not under the complete control of its master, and will attempt to turn on him. How quickly will that happen, and in what way (a direct attack vs. becoming an inside man for some adventurers), depends on the undead in question. Necromancers beware.
The Slipshod Revenant - This shambling undead was brought into his present state by a necromancer in a great hurry. Thrown together without attention to detail, his maimed body is crippled by missing and damaged parts. As he stumbles along, he clutches an arm that fell off soon after his animation.
Aware of his damaged condition, this undead feels a vague sense of sympathy for others as mangled as he. He is likely to freeze up if ordered to attack severely wounded foes or finish off cripples. As uninjured foes can easily outdistance him, he is not much use in a fight.
The Thin Man - This unfortunate was accidentally buried under a pile of debris, but was unearthed later and animated. The crushing weight of the stone that buried him has left its mark: The poor creature's remains are distorted and squashed flat, being only 4" thick. His flat body can fit through surprisingly narrow spaces.
Too cold - This poor man expired by freezing to death. Horrible as it was, he did not rise on its own. After he was 'employed', he still suffers from the post-thanatic stress syndrome, and behaves much like a Shambler (particularly obsessed with gathering enough warm clothing). Should he become free, he might devolve to one.
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? Responses (24)
Okay, Scrasamax, AG And Manfred are supposed to be showing as contributers, but it is not working!
You have to put a comma between each member's user ID number, otherwise it wont work. Fixed it for you Val. This looks nice.
Funny, cause I tried just you and just Manfred, etc, and still could not get it to work.
Only problem with so many contributors is it cuts the field for voters :)
Personally, I would give co-autorship only to people, that had a significant impact on a submission, not just offered a few ideas (but of course should they be mentioned among credits). One out of thirty doesn't do it.
So you can drop me from that list. A hat tip is enough to make me feel all fuzzy inside. :D
You can drop me too! I am not trying to be an XP leech. Got enough of it as it is. I was just trying to help. ;)
Nah, it is quite possible to vote. I just offered one, so I don't feel that partial ;)
A nice 30. Some made me smile.
A vote shall not be denied to this rather intense collection. I particularly like the idea, that some undead can end up disobeying their master, when pursuing a special interest... mostly hate. That idea alone brings more colour to the dusty shuffling crowd, and contains a good dose of examples.
The undead given personalities. Fantastic.
Cool 30! (an excellent idea) and some of them are laugh out loud funny
We want more 30s of this kind!
From the comments, it appears we could have a 30 Walking dead II in a reasonable period of time.
OR you could turn this into a scroll, and keep the ideas in one place. Naming a submission with "Like that other sub, but II." is not particularly exciting, in my opinion.
Great idea Manfred!
Is this in the 30 codex?
If you are speaking about The 30 Codex, it gathers actual NPCs. ("Each member is part of a group or organization or professional archetype.")
So it depends really on how you see these walking corpses. :)
I think we should add it to the 30s as it does show a bunch of personalities for an NPC horde.
I am not that enamoured by the set, as it needs to be reserved for Zombies that have much more personality than normally expressed as Zombies. Thus I don't see the point for some of these.
That said, it is an interesting list that is really complete. I don't have to like it to deem it useful.
I would say perhaps the normal expression of zombies is at fault then. :)
I'm sure some Quest submissions could come from here.
Wow, this is 5 years old already...
This is a great resource, it is almost 30 zombie back stories, I wish I had this years ago.
Heh, nifty concept. Not something I am likely to use anytime soon, but this would be a great resource for survival-horror or other undead-centered games.
Commented on for the Comment Challenge
I never voted in this? Fixing that now!
I'll go with exactly what axle said plus add that it makes me want to customize every single, stinking, shambling corpse in my campaign world from now on.