Lifeforms of the Ring Realms

The Undead

© Will Greenway 2000

General Classifications Humanoids Mutations Magical Species Aberrations
The Undead Non-corporeal Symbiotic/Parasitic Constructs Synthetically Created

The Undead

Where magic reigns, the undead are sure to exist in one form or another. There are many creatures presumed to be undead but aren't. Vampires are a good example. The predominance of vampires in the realms are actually living creatures. There have been, as Gabriella Sarn Ariok notes to Wren in Savant's Blood, exceptions to that rule. Gabriella, being a marquee vampire, should know.

What are undead? They are animate life forms constructed of largely non-living tissue. In some cases, they are servitor creations animated by the magic of a wizard or priest. In most cases, however, undead are the "remnants" of an entity that has passed but remains linked to the mortal plane either through force of will, curse or geas. Some undead, such a liches, are living creatures who have recreated themselves in undead form.

Created Undead

Created undead are typically the weakest. They are the created (summoned) minions of creature of magical power. They have no intellect or will, and react based on specific instructions given to them. Skeletons and lesser zombies are examples of such creatures. More powerful forms of undead sometimes create and employ them for their own ends.


Ghouls are commonly mistaken as being undead. Grisly as these carrion are, they are not members of the living dead, they only feast on the flesh of corpses. Their often festering and rotted appearance is what makes observers mistake these ghastly creatures for a member of the non-living. The origin of ghouls varies. Some are creatures cursed for the crime of being cannibals. Some are living sentinels set to guard tombs who have gone insane; yet others are magical and technical experiments gone awry.


Shadows are the weakest form of self-willed undead. They are the ephemeral spirits of evil entities who crossed the veil but remain magically linked to a particular location. Usually, this is a place that has some particular significance for the creature in its former life; a tomb, a crypt, a battlefield... or any other place an entity might have died or have been interred. Shadows feed on the lifeforce of living and greedily sap that energy until that creature expires. Like other weak undead they cannot venture far from their "haunt" and alert creatures can usually escape before being slain. Creatures slain by a shadow themselves become shadows.


Wights or sometimes "barrow-wights" are what are called "remnants"--creatures which become undead though some magical curse or circumstance prior to their physical death. Usually, they are the spirits of powerfully motivated individuals who refused to cross the veil into death. These creatures inhabit or "haunt" the area near the place they were originally interred. As such, they have no ability to go more than a short distance from the burial location to which they are "magically" bound. These creatures can persist for centuries, usually until some condition is met. These conditions are quite commonly depicted in lore. The acquittal of a crime the person was accused of in life that resulted in the person's death is an example. Wights are physical in nature and can be destroyed given sufficient physical power.

Will'o'wisps, wraiths, spectres, banshees, and ghosts

(to be continued...)