An ecological dungeon 3: Spirits and Unliving
As with any eco system, there is a pattern of life and death. Unfortunately when there is death, there is often trapped emotions, suffering, and other things that 'complicate' the process of transition. Add to this mix the presence of magic and gods and the chances of complications multiply. These complications are known to the mortals as Ghosts, Spectres, and various forms of material Undead.
While ecology is based upon the cycle of life and death, it normally focuses upon life and the material. That leaves out a serious component of the equasion, the non material - the spirital, emotional, and magical. This is what this scroll is about, those other elements of the dungeon ecology system.
Death releases the spirit. Normally this spirit or soul either disperses, is drawn to a deity (or other powerful spirit), or is drawn to a point of reincarnation. However, the presence of magic, pain, strong emotions, and 'dark spirits' can interrupt that natural flow of spirit. Thus adding to the danger of the dungeon.
In addition, the remains, are often just not part of the ecology... cycling back into the process of life as food. The remains of death often become mechanisms of death as well.
This is the process of the scroll, to include ideas about the spiritual, magical, and undead side of the dungeon ecology.
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The Inmaterial aka The Ectomorphs
A dungeon is often a place of pain and shattered dreams. (Well the body is shattered first, the quest for thee dream destroyed in the same process). This can make for the unquiet dead.
The ghosts of adventurers lost will often waunder the halls of a dungeon. They are not at rest for a variety of reasons, incompleted quests usually. They waunder the halls, often unable to effect the world. There presence adds to the ambiance of the place (dark, gloomy, cold, confused). Some will aid those adventurers who will complete their quests, while others hate those 'heroes' who will succeed where they failed. This aid might simply be luck (or unluck), but more powerful spirits might give other aids that are within their powers.
The pain of death often disconnects a spirit from its normal path. These painful deaths often create spectres, poltergists, and other non material haunts. Many of these ectomorphs do not even know they are dead. In their half state, they simply see the living as a new kind of monster ('They are different from me, thus they are the enemy')
Either way, the inmaterial are usually disconnected from the reality of their situation. They refuse to see they are dead. They refuse to give up on their quest. They irrationally hate those who are living and succeeding, where they failed. Some can reasoned with, but others simply must be forced beyond.
Clerical prayers (spells) will help to remove these unquiet spirits - sending them along their way to their next existance. Some of these prayers are 'common magic' or things that anyone who believes in the deity (lay person, acololyte or priest) can perform. However, the more powerful the spirit, the more clerical power required to remove it.
The Walking Dead
Zombies and Skeletons are often used to 'stock' a dungeon. Death by any of these creatures often is 'viral', causing the dead to rise as a zombie or eventual skeleton. The body is no longer part of the physical food chain, except as a mechanism for additional death (causing food for the carrion here). These creatures normally attack intelligent being, but some will just attack anything that appears to be 'alive'. It depends if the walking dead were created naturally (through hate and evil and spiritual bindings) or made (by some necromantic or religious cursing).
The spirit is free to pass while the body is animated. Only a few spirits will care what happens to their human carcass when they move on.
It is not all death and magic. There are molds and worms that are symbiotic with the various undeads. They are the living part of the undead cycle.
This is another form of Viral Undead. Victims of these creatures become minions of the creature. Their souls are bound into their forms... the vampiric ectomorph nesting in it... while manipulating the body. These creatures are bound to strike the living. Though they are not part of dungeons proper, dungeon like spaces are often used as lairs for such creatures.
These creatures can be 'destroyed' or 'blessed' driving the vampiric ectomoph back to the negative existance. This usually releases the spirit, but sometimes the vampiric spirit holds on to it for power.
Demons and Dark Spirits
Let us face it, most dungeons are not 'nice places'. Dark Forces pool in hidden places, away from the prying eyes and The Light. What is more hidden than a dungeon?
Demons were often summoned by those who created the dungeon. They were used as sentinels and minion of the creator. (Though, some use them as builders as well.) These demons have specific goals they were charged with when summoned. Now, because they are demons, they probably have their own goals... the main one being trying to work around the charged orders.
Now free floating Demons, those that just waundered to the material realm and made the dungeon their home. These just want to create mischief and to defend their 'home'.
Now once demons are involved, the course of ones's soul - once seperated from the body - comes into question. They might 'snack' upon those they kill or injure in the dungeon. More clerical prayers might be required to ensure the proper movement of souls after death.
Demons are normally must be delt with materially or with magical abilities... to discorporate the demons from the material plane. Demons are often removable (or controllable) by clerical prayers.
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? Responses (6)-7
More to come folks. If you want to add to this, feel free.
A nice scroll in the making. I am sure you will get around it, but do not forget ghouls, that are very likely to enter the food chain as predators of a dungeon - if there are no tasty humanoids, why wouldn't they take a bite of the animals, too? Depending on the type of ghouls, they may even be changed from eating non-standard prey.
It's good to find new stuff as well-crafted as this to vote on.
An interesting idea.
More to come? What do you have planned?
Nothing. Manfred did part 1 and 2. As for this, not much more to add. I hit the major categories, the rest is details beyond scope.
Another quality submission by Moonhunter