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I'm searching for resources on the creation of undead and on undead in general, as I want to develop a new realm for my homebrew setting in which necromancy and magical-alchemical research on undead, diseases, death, decay, ghosts, etc. is the main cultural aspect. These necromancers would create undead monsters by magical devices, alchemical potions, dark rituals, simply stitching several corpses together, or conjuring demons to animate the corpses (which would be in different states of decay). (As an example of my inspirations, take a look at the Scourge / Undead faction of World of Warcraft.)

So far I've found some references in Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead by WotC. But I'm not limited to D&D—I only need the fluff, not really the rules.

My question then is: Do you know any other material on this topic? Which books can you recommend?

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Have a look at Nethermancers in Earthdawn as well. –  Sardathrion Oct 13 '11 at 8:53
I like "Open Grave" for inspiration. –  F. Randall Farmer Oct 13 '11 at 22:15

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I would suggest the book Undead by AEG games. It was printed for 3.0 DnD and while it does have crunchy-rules bits for DnD in there, it also has a lot about creating "ecologies" around undead. This would be how they come into being and how long they last afterwards (some rot away and some don't).

Sardathrion gave some really good options, I would also suggest looking at the mummification process of Egypt. They also have some really interesting myths about death and rebirth that can give you all kinds of ideas for undead/living dead. A good book for this would be: Egyptian Mythology A to Z. This text is simple to use and form a spring board into more specific research.

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Got the AEG Undead book cheaply at the local rpg dealers rummage table. Looks great! Thanks! –  Martin Oct 14 '11 at 7:54

In real life, one society that may help you is Haitian Voodoo -- particularly the bokors sound like your necromancers. Wade Davis's The Serpent And The Rainbow is a must read. You will even learn how to make zombie powder.

The film of the same name, while a good horror story, is not that accurate.

On a side note, look at legends of ghost around the world. There are many that are good, strange, and would make wonderful additions: Yurei, Draugr, Jiang Shi, Fext ... Of course, different book of the dead (Egyptian, Tibetan, to name just two) are a good read.

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Kids, don't try to make zombie powder at home. –  Sardathrion Oct 12 '11 at 12:17
These answer is also nice, thank you! –  Martin Oct 14 '11 at 7:54

Have you looked into Libris Mortis: the Book of the Undead. It's a D&D book, but I don't run D&D myself. I use it as a resource/fluff guide book.

Anther resource is Dragon Tavern. It is actually a simple, solo rpg online. There is a class in there for "good" necromancers, I guess you would call them. It lists equipment for them, starting with "old grave clothes" and a bone flute, and goes on up from there. Granted, you would have to play the game for a bit to see the various equipment, but I find their wide variety inspiring myself.

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I'll try to get my hands on this. Thanks! –  Martin Oct 14 '11 at 7:54

You could draw from the Lord of the Rings mythology for the undead.

Most notably from the list are the wraiths (with much more detail under Ringwraith). Wraiths are whispy, ethereal beings. They straddle this world and the spectral world. (Bilbo Baggins was on his way to becoming one when he complained of feeling "thin and stretched.") Basically, very long exposure to an evil power ruins their bodies and minds. Since, at least in the Tolkien lore, wraiths are slaves to a higher power, they might make great low or mid-level baddies.

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