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Undead taxonomy

hong

WotC's bitch
Having got the Worlds & Monsters book (which reinforces my belief that it's a good time to be WotC's bitch), I was just wondering how the 1e6 different undead species might be categorised.

Body only: skeleton, zombie

Body + animus: wight, ghoul <-- no soul = no superego = kill, kill, kill

Body + soul: vampire, lich, death knight <-- no animus = no bodily desires, only the memory thereof = lots of mechanical, joyless sex with your undead bloodsucking groupies

Animus only: shadow, wraith, spectre

Animus + soul: ?? (maybe ancestor spirits/deathless)

Soul only: ghost
 

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Fallen Seraph

First Post
That sounds good to me, I also imagine a just "Soul" to have a lot of possession/inanimate object possession.

So a Soul enters a person but is slightly warped by the animus.

A Soul enters a house/item it appears to act out on its own free will. Animus could probably do this too (but it be more random and chaotic).

Perhaps a Animus + Soul be more along the lines of a poltergeist, the Soul uses the Animus to physical touch/interact with the world like how the animus gave movement and vitality but in this instance gives it the ability to be active in the real-world.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
A poltergeist sounds more like a special case of a ghost to me. Basically the ghost possesses a physical object instead of a person.
 

Fallen Seraph

First Post
Ehh, I never really pictured poltergeists to be ones the inhabit objects. I have always imagined them to be the ones that have gained enough power (in this case animus) to actually physically effect the world. So say a comb goes flying across the room, the poltergeist didn't possess the comb it actually flung it across the room.

This way too, a poltergeist is more dangerous since it can actually physically push and pull living creatures.

So really it is a matter of personal view/opinion and who knows what WoTC be :p
 

Incenjucar

Adventurer
:\

I don't think Souls can be undead on their own. You need an animus to do any acting in the living world.

All undead should have animus. Corporeal ones will have bodies, and, how shall we say, 'unliving' undead will have souls.

But the animus is always there, otherwise you just have an ineffectual spirit.

I would assume a ghost to be animus+soul.. poltergeist may just be a very powerful animus.
 

DreamChaser

First Post
Corporeal Undead

zombie / skeleton = body + weak animus
wight / ghoul = body + strong animus
lich / vampire / mummy = body + strong animus + soul

Incorporeal Undead

shadow = weak animus
wraith / specter = strong animus
ghost = strong animus + soul

Animus is the link between the physical world / body and the soul. I don't think one can have just a body or just a soul and still have a creature able to interact with the physical world.

DC
 

hong

WotC's bitch
Well, W&M does say that necrotic energy can do all kinds of wacky things. Maybe even substitute for missing parts of the triumvirate body/animus/soul.
 

Incenjucar

Adventurer
hong said:
Well, W&M does say that necrotic energy can do all kinds of wacky things. Maybe even substitute for missing parts of the triumvirate body/animus/soul.

If it could make up for the animus then it would make the animus a wasted concept.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
Incenjucar said:
If it could make up for the animus then it would make the animus a wasted concept.
Er, why? The point of this thread (well, one of the points) is to see how you could split up the various undead types according to what is or isn't present. Remove the animus, and the categorisation changes completely.
 

Incenjucar

Adventurer
The body is what makes something solid.

The animus is what makes something active and mobile in the world.

The soul is what makes something able to grow as an individual.


No body? No big whup, the animus can still act.

No soul? No big whup, a souless creature can still kill you even if it never gets any better at doing so.

No animus? Nothing happens. At best, you have a corpse with a completely harmless soul floating over it.
 

Fallen Seraph

First Post
Perhaps though a soul could hitch a ride on another animus. Hmm... I wonder if animus is within non-living items, perhaps items that are special/used alot had some animus "rubbed off".
 

Incenjucar

Adventurer
I imagine artificial animus or "stolen" animus is possible. Have to have a way to animate objects without making them all "undead statues."
 

hong

WotC's bitch
Incenjucar said:
No animus? Nothing happens. At best, you have a corpse with a completely harmless soul floating over it.

No. No animus means nothing happens _absent outside intervention_. If outside intervention is allowed -- eg wacky rituals to animate death knights, create vampires or liches or whatnot -- then anything goes. It all depends on what you consider these rituals should be allowed to do, and what necrotic energy is capable of.
 

Incenjucar

Adventurer
Something purely necrotic-powered wouldn't be undead, it would just be necrotic. More or less the equivalent of a negative energy elemental. :\

That said, you could certainly have an undead creature with those elements from different sources.

The soul of a good paladin tied to the animus of a murderer in the body of a dragon skeleton, or something.

But the soul shouldn't be able to act without access to an animus, or else the animus is redundant, and all you need is some random form of energy.
 


Fallen Seraph

First Post
YAY! Clockwork Zombie, they are such fun.

For Halloween this year I was one :) Had a clockwork gear bursting out of my chest, copper support beams crisscrossing my arms, various small gears across my cheeks, and my clothing all covered in blood :)
 

nem z

First Post
Incenjucar said:
No body? No big whup, the animus can still act.

No soul? No big whup, a souless creature can still kill you even if it never gets any better at doing so.

No animus? Nothing happens. At best, you have a corpse with a completely harmless soul floating over it.

I can definately see a vampire as a creature with body and soul but no animus, hence the need to sustain itself artificially by borrowing some from it's victims and the obsessive need to seek out ways to prompt memories of past emotions, the closest it can come to feeling anything.

A ghost as an actual enemy creature to fight or otherwise interact with should require both an animus and soul, I agree.

I would argue that a soul with neither body nor animus should still be possible, though not as a typical creature per say. Consider the 'spiritual echo' style of a haunting, in which an undead seems to retrace it's final moments (or some other significant event) over and over again, often too caught up in it's own memories to acknowledge changes in the surroundings or the presence of others. Just because this type of undead doesn't actually -do- anything doesn't mean it's harmless, however. Such an encounter could quite likely involve various damaging or psychological aura effects, compulsive enchantments to force observers to play along, and even illusionary effects strong enough to pull observers into the scene as the undead experiences it or cause psychosomatic injuries.

So, my taxonomy would be as follows:

BSA = corporeal intelligent emotional undead (Living Being)
~~~~~~~~~~
BS = corporeal intelligent hollow undead (Vampire)
BA = corporeal mindless emotional undead (Zombie)
AS = incorporeal intelligent emotional undead (Ghost)
A = incorporeal mindless emotional undead (Shadow)
S = incorporeal intelligent hollow undead (Presence)
~~~~~~~~~~
B = corporeal mindless hollow dead (Corpse)
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Something purely necrotic-powered wouldn't be undead, it would just be necrotic. More or less the equivalent of a negative energy elemental.

Some undead *are* more or less equivalent for a negative energy elemental. ;)

But the soul shouldn't be able to act without access to an animus, or else the animus is redundant, and all you need is some random form of energy.

That doesn't make the animus redundant. It makes it one kind of energy (positive energy, perhaps?). Different kinds of energy could entirely change what a creature is.
 

Crashy75

First Post
Hmmm,
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
an·i·mus /ˈænəməs/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[an-uh-muhs] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun
1. strong dislike or enmity; hostile attitude; animosity.
2. purpose; intention; animating spirit.
3. (in the psychology of C. G. Jung) the masculine principle, esp. as present in women (contrasted with anima).

American Heritage Dictionary -(ān'ə-məs) Pronunciation Key
n.
An attitude that informs one's actions; disposition.
A feeling of animosity; ill will. See Synonyms at enmity.
In Jungian psychology, the masculine inner personality as present in women.


I'm not an English major so I could be wrong here but it really looks like a zombie, for example, may or may not have animus depending on the specific definition one uses and how you fluff your zombies. I could see the zombie having the italicized definition of animus very easily. They are often described as being hostile to living beings. This definition of a zombie’s attitude towards the living seems to fit the bolded definition in a limited, or as another put it, ‘weak’ way. If zombies are described as hostile to the living (in that they, on some level, desire the destruction of living beings), then it would seem that they have an animus using either definition. If they are somehow either antagonistic without desire, perhaps like a robot that is programmed to kill (another popular zombie description) then they certainly don't fit the italicized definition. They may fit the bolded definition depending on how one interprets the 'programming'. Personally, I don't see a zombie having purpose, intention, an animating spirit (that would be necrotic energy imo), an attitude that informs one's actions or a disposition. But even that is suspect as one could say that the programming gives the zombie purpose or intention. I think an argument could also be made that the animus and soul are mutually inclusive but that is a topic of it’s own. I think that the first step here would be to define explicitly what is meant by the soul and animus (or if you want to use such loaded terms in lieu of simpler ones like “desire” and “free-willed”) as well as how these categories relate to the undead in question.
 

In an old thread, which I forgot to tag, there was a similar discussion. What I ended up with after participating in that thread is:

Body = physical form, represented by Str and Dex. Manifested critters use thier Wis and Int in the place of the missing stats.

Life Force = animus, represented by Con. Unnatural life force is represented by a lack of Con.. and often has a set of conditional reponses, as in skeletons.

Mind = intelligence and memory, represented by INT. This is the portion of the critter that 'speak with dead' interacts with.

Soul = supernatual portion, represented by Wis, XP, and alignment. Loss of a Soul reduced the Wis to 1, changed alignment to TN, and the critter cannot earn XP.

character = B + L + M + S
Construct = B + L + S(*)
Mindless Undead = B + L + S(**)
Intelligent Undead = B +L (**) + M + S (*#)

(* Constructs and Animated Objects use partially formed Elemental souls. The result is a neutral alignment and incapability to gain XP.)
(**either positive or negative dependant on how it is created. The magical alteration corrupts the Body and traps the Soul, meaning that Raise Dead and similar spells will not work and the Soul cannot continue its journey. The enforced inactivity will eventually wither away the Souls earned XP. As long as the Mind and Soul are not transformed, Resurrection or Reincarnation still work, but only after the unnatural Life Force has been destroyed.)
(*# Due to the corruption of the Life Force, the Soul transforms, becoming single natured similar to an Outsider. The Mind also is transformed in such a way that it cannot be recovered, not even by True Reincarnation.)

The remaining Stat, CHR, is a combination of the Mind and Soul. Loss of the Mind makes CHR rather pointless, but a character can still interact without a Soul. One additional penalty to the loss of a soul is that your CHR is considered to be a ‘10’ for the purposes of interaction with others. Some animating magic fills in the blank when Mind or Soul is missing or not fully formed by installing an artificial CHR of 1


I prefer this interpretation as it ties the fluff to crunch. A demon's deal to take your soul *means* something.
YMMV
 

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