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Shandyr's Tomb: A place to meet with fellow Necromancers to discuss anything related to Undead.

ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
edited December 2012 in Off-Topic
UPDATE:

This thread was originally created as "At what point of decay does a zombie become a skeleton?".
This question has been discussed thoroughly now but I feel there is need for a general place
for talking about our beloved Undead cohabitants.

So this thread is open now to any discussion concerning Undead.

UPDATE END


At what point of decay does a zombie become a skeleton?
This question has been raised in another topic and I would like to discuss it here.

We have two opinions so far:

@Shandyr, unless maybe we imagine them as the kind of horror movie skellies who still have pieces of muscle, organ, and flesh dangling from those bones, as well as intact, horribly unlidded eyes staring from the skull sockets. Mwah,hah,hah,hah. (Flash of lightning and clap of thunder..)

@belgarathmth is calling that skeletons while I would call the following skeletons:

I imagine skeletons as they are shown as the BG sprites, very clean skeletons - whereas when you take a skeleton and put some remains of the body on it, some loose flesh and organs and stuff like that you will get a zombie.

On the other hand when a zombie gets very old and all of its organs and flesh and so on have been completly decayed and only the bones are left then it has become a skeleton.

What is your opinion on that?

We'd especially like @Mortianna's opinion on this. And @LadyRhian's.

Check out the Undead Bestiary below!

Post edited by Shandyr on
BelgarathMTHlunarMoomintrollJuliusBorisov
«1345

Comments

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,399
    LOL

    "Go for the eyes, Boo, go for the eyes!" I've seen a lot of representations of skellies that had the classic, bleached, bare-boned look except for the eyes. Maybe that's the crossover point?

    I remember that Icewind Dale had nice spooky glowing eyesockets on its skellie sprites.

    How about it, everybody? What is the great divide between skellie and zombie?

  • ChowChow Member Posts: 1,192
    I think it's when the flesh no longer slows the creature down, it doesn't moan and groan, and most importantly, it doesn't smell.

    BelgarathMTHMortianna
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,399
    edited December 2012
    What about that brain-eating thing zombies do? Doesn't the fact that they get hungry and want to eat more flesh mean that they're trying to preserve their own flesh, somehow? Which, I suppose, gives them a tie-in to the ubiquitous, ever-popular vamps. Since zomboids are increasing their power by eating brains, which contain blood, shouldn't they get just as strong as the vamps, who do pretty much the same by becoming undead and then drinking blood?

    What exactly makes all these power-differentials among the undead? They're all just animated dead bodies, after all. @Mortianna, we could really use your expertise, here.

    EDIT: Oh, and where exactly do the mummies fit into all this? Different means to an end, maybe? Having your dead body wrapped, imbalmed, and enchanted gives you a leg up on your average, run-of-the-mill zomboid or skellie? And the vamps got started by a necro god, and then choose for themselves whom to gift with the vamp Turning?

  • AlexDeLargeAlexDeLarge Member Posts: 273
    I thought skeletons were mage/cleric constructs - animate dead aka bones brought to life by magic, whereas zombies are a result of some disease. I think once the brain matter of zombies completely decay, they don't become sentient skeletons but rather crumble to dust.

    BelgarathMTHShandyrSily
  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    edited December 2012
    @belgarathm

    Aww belgar, mentioning mummies. That's drifting me back to the good old HOMM2 series :)

    And do you remember that funny sound vampires made in that game?

    Are there any mummies in the BG series? I can't remember.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,399
    @Shandyr, LOL. "Bleauuugh", is about as close as I can transliterate that hilarious HOMM2 vamp sound! ROFLMAO!

    Lessee, yes, mummies, and spellcasting mummy priests make regular appearances in SoA. I don't think we have them in BG1, though. Both them and the vamps would mop the floor with 1-8 level characters.

    On the discussion: Now, liches, I get. If you were an all-powerful mage who wanted to overcome mortality and live forever, of course you'd choose lich for your undead type. That's the only type that's stronger than a vamp.

    Unless, of course, you're either a female, gay, or metrosexual undead wannabe who just can't abide the thought of looking like that, forever! Ewwww. For those of us who want to be sexy, powerful, immortal, and undead, vampire form is a no-brainer.

  • EleassarEleassar Member Posts: 11
    I would like to remind you all of PS:T where the nameless one can have a memory of hiding something inside a portal inside a zombie. By the time you actually play yourself and are at the mortuary the Zombie has already turned into a skeleton. While this doesn't give us any indication of time it (somewhat) confirms that zombies live on as skeletons.

    BelgarathMTH
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,388
    edited December 2012
    According to PnP, the state of the corpse you casted 'animate dead' resulted in either a zombie or skeleton. For a relatively fresh corpse, it was a zombie. A corpse in the advanced stage of decomposition loses its fleshy parts, organs and flesh decay, rot and fall apart, until only skeleton remains. From wikipedia, on decomposition: (the page has some nice pictures too!)

    'All that remains of the cadaver at this stage is dry skin, cartilage, and bones,[3] which will become dry and bleached if exposed to the elements.[6] If all soft tissue is removed from the cadaver, it is referred to as completely skeletonized, but if only portions of the bones are exposed, it is referred to as partially skeletonised.'

    So I guess a completely skeletonised corpse can not be brought back as a zombie, obviously, it becomes a skeleton when animate dead is cast.

    Heh, combining real-world knowledge with fantasy spell-casting..cos even spells had to make some sort of sense within themselves. Or you can just say 'hey, it's magic!'

    On that note, according to PnP, very freshly dead corpses could be brought back by a high level caster as 'juju zombies' which are an elite type of zombie. They still look quite dead, ie:marble skin, all those veins, glassy eyes, etc. but they are not putrid and rotten much. They even had some of the basic knowledge and skill of their former lives, depending on how long their brains stayed 'truly dead', though they were still brainless servants to the caster. An alternate way of creating juju zombies was killing a living victim with the notorious Finger of Death spell. Victims strucked down with Finger of Death went through some changes and could be brought back as juju zombies with a ceremony.

    BelgarathMTH
  • PantalionPantalion Member Posts: 2,137
    Generally, when the creature's muscles are doing the moving, it's a zombie.

    When there's no muscle tissue left to do the job, it's a skeleton.

    If it's in-between, or has different parts at different stages of decomposition, it tends to go with zombie unless there's a comparatively tiny amount of flesh remaining, for example, a single limb.

    In all cases, turn undead.

    BelgarathMTH
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,399
    Sorry for this double post, but, since @Shandyr mentioned Homm2, I just couldn't resist posting this delightful musical composition with its castle animation, from the Homm2 necromancer's castle. For those who never played it, it was a strategy fantasy army game, where this castle type produced a powerful necromancer spellcaster hero, and his/her army of faithful skellies, zombies, mummies, vampires, liches, and undead bone/ghost dragons.

    Ha, this is almost making me want to play an old Homm2 map as a necromancer, just because!



    Also, maybe we could just make this thread a home for discussing undead, although it might need to be eventually moved to Off-Topic, if enough people start having fun having a nerd-discussion about this stuff.

    lunarFredjo
  • Aron_TimesAron_Times Member Posts: 18
    I don't have the books with me right now, but in D&D 3.5 and D&D 4e, the necromantic magic that animates undead keeps them from further decomposition, but does not reverse any decomposition that has already occured.

    Trvia: There are three types of undead in D&D based on their level of intelligence. Mindless, Soulless (IIRC, don't have Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead with me), and Intelligent. Mindless undead are skeletons and zombies that are for all intents and purposes, automatons. They cannot think for themselves, and can only follow basic commands from their controller. When said controller is gone, they default to their basic programmed behavior. Soulless undead are wraiths, spectres, shadows, ghosts, ghouls, ghasts, etc. who have some of their mortal intelligence but are now mostly driven by their undead instincts due to their lack of a soul. Basically, they can think for themselves to some degree, but when a warm and delicious human comes their way, they can't help but on nom nom on the poor sap. And finally, intelligent undead such as vampires and liches and mummies retain all of their mortal intelligence as well as their soul. While vampires still thirst for blood, they can go about feeding themselves without leaving a trail of corpses in their wake like the abovementioned soulless undead.

    If you're a World of Darkness player, Soulless undead are basically Morality 0 undead, while intelligent undead can be anywhere from Morality 1 to 7 (normal human) to even higher.

    ShandyrBelgarathMTHFredjoMedullaOblongata
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,388
    Skeletons have no eyes in PnP, though they 'see' living things, obviously, for they can attack. But how do they see the world? Not in a sense we know as 'see'ing, I think, they rather detect life force and/or movement and respond.

    From 'A Guide to Undead':

    ''Can a skeleton pick out the one green bottle from four in a row? No.

    Could it be commanded to pick up a mace instead of a sword? Yes.

    Could it thread a needle? No, due to inability to see the hole in the needle as well as the complexity of the task as a whole.

    Could it wait till Sir Gilbert enters the room and only attack him? I'd say no, too complex, even if this skeleton 'knew' Sir Gilbert in life. Detection of life force tells can not pick out a spesific individual by name or description.''

    You say nerdy discussion about undead? Ooh, I am all in! Where was my 'Complete Necromancers Guide'? :D

    BelgarathMTHSily
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,399
    @Shandyr, ROFLMAO! The fact that you just went out and found all those animations to post, so that we would have some empirical data to refer to in our discussion, just floors me!

    I think I could fall in love with a person who would do that. (Just kidding - but internet hugs, nevertheless. You are awesome.)

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    Have some patience, belgar. The bestiary is not complete yet :P

    I've just found the mummies. Will be updated soon.

    *and a cold smelly zombie hug for you* °__°

    BelgarathMTH
  • lDanielHolmlDanielHolm Member Posts: 225
    Once a corpse becomes either a zombie or a skeleton, it remains that way indefinitely. A zombie doesn't really decompose more than it already is (though it stays at that level of decomposition, so it still looks and smells rotten if it was so to begin with). It can even be healed to return to its full HP, which must be the originally raised state.

    As for what they become when raised... well, I'd say that depends on the method of animation, and the wishes of the caster. I imagine if he wants to, he can always make a corpse into a skeleton (and if nothing else, he can just flay the corpse...), but he cannot make just skeletal remains into a zombie.

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263

    but he cannot make just skeletal remains into a zombie.

    Why? He would have just to add what the skeleton lacks in comparison to a zombie would he not?

  • lDanielHolmlDanielHolm Member Posts: 225
    Shandyr said:

    but he cannot make just skeletal remains into a zombie.

    Why? He would have just to add what the skeleton lacks in comparison to a zombie would he not?
    I'm... not sure how he would do that. If just the bones remain, how would he add the flesh and muscles necessary for a zombie?

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    @lDanielHolm

    Well uhm... from a different corpse...

    which... he could animate as a zombie in the first place I know...

    But maybe the bones of the skeletons are better than those of the corpse.

    I mean... I imagine some necromancer right now who would seek to improve his minions, would he not?

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,399
    @Shandyr and @IDanielHolm, I would guess that a savvy necromancer might choose which bodies to animate as skellies, and which to animate as zomboids, according to the advantages/disadvantages of each, in order to form a well-balanced army.

    I know that skellies have very high resistance to all damage, but very low hit points and so-so armor class. But they also have much faster movement rate than zomboids, and zomboids move like undead snails.

    So, do zomboids have higher hit points, higher AC, and higher Thac0 as a counterbalance?

    I know that in the Homm2 necromancer army, that skellies were first tier but awesome, since the necromancer could use his/her skills to raise enormous numbers of them, while the zomboids were second tier, but took resources to make, and were widely considered a useless troop that the necromancer just had to learn how to make and get over, in order to get the stronger third tier mummies. The skellies of the necromancer army were considered to be the best first tier troop in the game.

    If that trope holds in BG as well as it does in other games and fictional outlets, then skellies rock, and zomboids are just an unfortunate accident of learning necromancy - they are the byproducts of amateurish, student efforts at "the art."

  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,388
    Shandyr said:

    @lDanielHolm

    Well uhm... from a different corpse...

    which... he could animate as a zombie in the first place I know...

    But maybe the bones of the skeletons are better than those of the corpse.

    I mean... I imagine some necromancer right now who would seek to improve his minions, would he not?

    There are spells to improve undead minions. 'Transmute bone to steel' comes to my mind. It created steel skeletons which the necromancer could animate later. The new steel skeletons were quite tough.

    I don't recall any spell that, umm, fleshes out a skeleton so it can be animated as a zombie. Either it is not very practical or necromancers have no trouble finding fresh or only partially decomposed bodies to work with.

    Shandyr
  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    lunar said:

    fleshes out a skeleton so it can be animated as a zombie.

    Literally xD

    Hilarious haha xD

    lunar
  • DinoDino Member Posts: 290
    Id say these classifications/labels are merely products of the UI and thus arent of any consequence in a 'real' sense. That said, Im not an expert of the science of the Forgotten Realms and might be wrong, but I always saw undead as dead objects animated by means of arcane science.

  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,388
    Dino said:

    Id say these classifications/labels are merely products of the UI and thus arent of any consequence in a 'real' sense. That said, Im not an expert of the science of the Forgotten Realms and might be wrong, but I always saw undead as dead objects animated by means of arcane science.

    It is true about lowly skeletons and zombies, but if you delve into higher tier undead, even lowly ghoul is not simply an animated object. Ghouls and ghasts have their limited intelligence, for instance. Wights, wraiths, spectres, ghosts, phantoms, haunts, mummies, banshees, vampires, liches, they all have different and unique aspects and personality in PnP.

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    Yeah think of Korax the Ghoul :/

    lunar
  • lDanielHolmlDanielHolm Member Posts: 225
    Shandyr said:

    @lDanielHolm

    Well uhm... from a different corpse...

    which... he could animate as a zombie in the first place I know...

    But maybe the bones of the skeletons are better than those of the corpse.

    I mean... I imagine some necromancer right now who would seek to improve his minions, would he not?

    Yes, well... I still see it as problematic. Flesh and muscles are normally attached to the bones, which strikes me as rather important for a zombie. I don't know how you'd stick flesh to a new skeleton.

    @belgarathmth: Skeletons move faster and take less damage from piercing and slashing weapons. Zombies move slower but are stronger and tougher (because they still have muscles) and take less damage from bludgeoning weapons.

    lunarSily
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,388
    edited December 2012
    Also that ghoul chief in the pit of faithless quest of BG2 comes to mind. They were even trying to act civilised. If memory serves, there is a ghoul city in PST too, I've played the game very briefly and they were interesting too. Cannibalistic, and ghoulish, yes. We derive 'ghoulish' and 'ghastly' words from their sick and vile practises afterall. :D

  • ShandyrShandyr Member Posts: 8,263
    So what happens if a skeleton puts on the ring "The Iron Thorn" ?

    BelgarathMTH
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,388
    edited December 2012

    @Shandyr and @IDanielHolm, I would guess that a savvy necromancer might choose which bodies to animate as skellies, and which to animate as zomboids, according to the advantages/disadvantages of each, in order to form a well-balanced army.

    I know that skellies have very high resistance to all damage, but very low hit points and so-so armor class. But they also have much faster movement rate than zomboids, and zomboids move like undead snails.

    So, do zomboids have higher hit points, higher AC, and higher Thac0 as a counterbalance?

    I know that in the Homm2 necromancer army, that skellies were first tier but awesome, since the necromancer could use his/her skills to raise enormous numbers of them, while the zomboids were second tier, but took resources to make, and were widely considered a useless troop that the necromancer just had to learn how to make and get over, in order to get the stronger third tier mummies. The skellies of the necromancer army were considered to be the best first tier troop in the game.

    If that trope holds in BG as well as it does in other games and fictional outlets, then skellies rock, and zomboids are just an unfortunate accident of learning necromancy - they are the byproducts of amateurish, student efforts at "the art."

    Interesting thought. In BG, certainly skeletons are way tougher than zombies. Skeletons are faster, they use weapons, even deadly ranged weapons like bows, and are so hard to kill unless you have a lot of type B weapons. Arrows, ranged attacks, sword thrusts are not very effective against them. Zombies, on the other hand, are slow so you can kite them, and kill them with ranged weapons with ease.
    Shandyr said:

    So what happens if a skeleton puts on the ring "The Iron Thorn" ?

    I would rule that such an item would have no effect on a skeleton, or any other undead for that matter. In the game engine it would probably work as intended but that would be ridiculous.

    Why would a necromancer work hard to make a skeleton a fleshy corpse so he can animate it as a zombie? He can just procure a fresh corpse. Only if the skeleton belongs to an unique individual that you really want to animate as a zombie, it makes little sense. Umm, IIRC in Complete Necromancers, there was a necromancer queen named Kezarabeth who employed juju zombies dressed in towels as her private masseurs in her boudouir. She went great lengths to make them look like as fresh and alive as possible, like using only the freshest, most handsome corpses. But don't they have rather..cold hands? Maybe she liked it that way. Icky much? :-D

    BelgarathMTH
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