Because of this the culture believes in a death walk for those that are getting near natural death, whether it be from oldness or some kind of terminal sickness. They are to leave the home and go through the Death Gate into the Sullen woods where they spend the last days of their life. Once they pass through Death Gate they are never allowed to return. But having a death gate in your own backyard may create more problems then it solves.
The Northern Kingdom has a tradition that takes the pollution that natural death leaves wherever it dies very seriously. They believe that the natural death in the home pollutes that home and makes it unlivable. They have no choice but to move away from that home. Murders and accidents don't cause the pollution because they are sudden and unexpected. Natural death comes slowly and is believed to be a disease and so the final hours causes it to saturate the house.
Because of this the culture believes in a death walk for those that are getting near natural death, whether it be from oldness or some kind of terminal sickness. They are to leave the home and go through the Death Gate into the Sullen woods where they spend the last days of their life. Once they pass through Death Gate they are never allowed to return. Sullen Woods are huge and the gate is simply that, a large stone gate that acts as the 'official' entrance in the ritual. A type of funeral procession in scale to the importance of the walker is usually arranged.
1) The ritual is taken so seriously the kingdom believes that their entire capitol city will be polluted if the king dies there. The current king is very old and his capacity has quickly decreased proven by his bloody cough. He is very stubborn and refuses to believe that he is dying. If he dies naturally in the castle then they will have to move the capitol that is very well established. He is too well loved for them to kill him or lie and say he was killed. The pollution would happen and they believe in it to strongly to do anything other then tell the truth if it truly was an accident.
a)Need to convince the King that he needs to talk the walk through the Death Gate for the good of the kingdom.
b)Hired to actually assassinate him by some lesser nobleman in the city that sees the necessity for it.
c)Hired to create a public 'accident' so there is no question on how he died to the people that may be too knowledgeable about past deaths and would riot if there was an assassination. Or possible there is a rivalry for his throne where an assassination would cause a civil war.
2)Departed relatives start coming home from the through the Death Gate.
a)Zombies raised by some necromancer with ideas of taking over the capitol.
b)In Sullen Woods they have found a sort of fountain of healing that can heal/cure any affliction that happens. Protected and can only be found by those that are truly mortally wounded/diseased/whatever. Players hired to find it and finally do when they are almost killed by whatever there is in the woods.
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? Responses (12)-13
A twist :
The players traveled through a portal to the 'sullen woods' & after a long time of meeting nothing but diseased old people they come upon a pathway leading to the 'death gate' & after passing through they find themself in the capitol of the northen kingdom.
How will they local act when they see someone come out of the portal? will they be considered gods? heretics? undead (hey that's what the players would think if it was the other way around)? what if they find a sick kid, cure him (with magic) & bring him back?
'I'm feeling better, I think I will get up for a walk'
'No. You will be stone cold dead in a moment'.
Imagine what happens when you get the pox (or awful disease of the moment) and get the 'long walk' to the Death Gate. You lie about in the forest (where there is some transient community there) for a few days. Then a few weeks. Then you realize most of your symptoms are gone. What do you do?
These people would probably built hostels and mini-villages inside the woods. They and their descendents would be in the business of dealing with the dying and burying them. Perhaps they are considered 'angels' of some sort by the people outside. It would be an entire caste of people.
Some might leave. Perhaps the culture has a social role for these people. Not a zombie in a magikal sense, but something similar. They are not undead or just dead by any strech of the imagination, but they are not dead. There are probably gettos or quarters for NotDead in large cities, for those that should be dead but are not.
These people could live in polluted areas without fear, being dead themselves. Perhaps they offer a service of driving out the pollution, of castrigating or purifying an area. The NotDead could have a very lucritive 'living'.
Perhaps foreigners are hired as 'speakers to the dead'. No normal person would dare speak to one NotDead, risking pollution.
Perhaps there is a profession DeadHunters, who hunt down and control the NotDead. They are bounty hunters/ police/ and paladins of sorts all rolled into one. They could control the NotDead ghettos and make sure that NotDead stay inthe polluted areas.
Reminds me in some ways of the 'Untouchables', the lowest caste in India.
The Untouchables do the dirty jobs dealing with the death, blood, and similar unclean things. While this are usually the harder jobs, they can become successfull, and even rich to a degree. Which of course angers most people around. It was for some reason they were born into this caste, the lowest. So, if you get higher then you should, someone will find the time to stamp you down.
Apply this to the NotDead.
A post which deserves to be brought to people's attention.
Absolutely. I agree with Iain here. This is a perfect setting for many conflicts of interest. With undead/unclean aspect to the do we kill the Kihng by pushing him off a balcony and cry calling it an accident? Or will us killing him bring about the plague and desease we are so afraid of?
Perfect for someone try to take over the city/ kingdom. Murder the king and produce some kind of removable plague in the area. Those who live there wil ltake it as a sign and leave, which then the real perpetrators will just walk in through the gates and claim what is now theirs.
You can't be accused of invading a city that is deserted.
What if the PCs got diagnosed with some 'deadly' disease, and got shoved through the Death Gate?
This is pretty neat!
I wonder why I didn't vote on this before.
This a very good idea, something that add flavor and points of discussion to a story or game.
2002 man that is old, in some cultures post of this age is considered a man, next year this post could get a learner's permit
Moonhunter's comment was the first thought I had though.