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This is partly a Skyrim-inspired question, but also relevant to a story I'm trying to flesh out.

In this world, magic and necromancy are perhaps not commonplace, but certainly not unheard of. Walking dead such as zombies, wights, and skeletons are reasonably common - if you leave a corpse to stew long enough, sooner or later it will become possessed by stray necromantic energy and then rise again as a mindless zombie.

The people of the world don't understand why this happens, yet they know that it happens. Presumably their forefathers knew the same.

These risen zombies are slow and shambling; they're not especially dangerous, yet they're still a threat in mobs. Also, there's always a risk of more dangerous variants of risen. Any corpse is effectively a ticking time bomb as to when it might return.

The question is: why would society in this world continue to take that risk? Why bury and entomb their dead at all, when they know there's a chance they might dig themselves back up?

Surely a much safer way would be simply to burn all their dead, or even hack the deceased bodies apart if burning is too difficult. Bury the corpses in pieces, even, so that any zombie then becomes a useless pile of limbs. And yet, these people continue to preserve whole bodies in graves and tombs, despite being aware of the risk posed.

What would motivate them to build vast catacombs of dead, similar (but not restricted to) the ones found in Skyrim?

(Note: 'to make it exciting for future adventurers' is not a valid answer.)

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    $\begingroup$ Same reason Victorian people buried their dead in cages in fear of rising dead. You have all your dead in one, closed place. Same reason you keep poison in bottle. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Feb 10 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ @SZCZERZOKŁY I thought the reason for the cages was opposite - to protect the definitely dead from people who would steal the body or rob it of the valuables. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Feb 10 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ @VLAZ Because in our world zombies don't exist. In world where they are the cage make perfect sense. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Feb 10 at 15:27
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    $\begingroup$ burning a human body requires a tremendous amount of fuel, there is a reason early cultures used only for the most important people. Also dismemberment was a common solution in the real world in places that feared the living dead. a torso with no arms or legs is not much of a threat. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 10 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ It may be worth pointing out that in Skyrim the canonical reason why it's so trivial for the player to get into the tombs with the dragon claws is not because it's some grand puzzle that we masterfully defeat - it's because the draugr crypts were built primarily to keep the undead trapped within. $\endgroup$ – Scoots Feb 11 at 15:06

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The alternatives are worse

Burning the corpse brings back the dead as a incorporeal wraith (that is also pissed that you desecrated the body.) Dismemberment causes something similar, except the various body parts fuses and animates with surrounding objects creating a terrifying abomination. Etc. The least dangerous route is to respectfully entomb the dead, undisturbed as possible, somewhere that they aren't likely to cause trouble.

(This is a bit of an "out there" solution, but it's a interesting problem and I wanted to avoid the obvious "religion" solution since religions will almost certainly adapt to prohibit whole burials... unless the alternatives are worse.)

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    $\begingroup$ this is a really creative answer. May adapt it for my DnD campaign. $\endgroup$ – meaninglessname Feb 11 at 1:05
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    $\begingroup$ Don’t even ask what happens with organ donors... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Feb 11 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ Burial underground means they tunnel and pop up in random places. Tombs mean they exit and are contained in a (well-fenced) cemetery. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 11 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ Also necessary to say that the heavier and harder-to-move-from-inside the headstone is the more """respect"""" you are paying the dead. $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Feb 12 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM also tombs are made out of stone and if you can afford a properly heavy headstone they should keep quiet for a looong time $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Feb 12 at 11:00
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Why bury and entomb their dead at all, when they know there's a chance they might dig themselves back up?

You already gave the answer in your premise:

if you leave a corpse to stew long enough, sooner or later it will become possessed by stray necromantic energy and then rise again as a mindless zombie.

You don't leave the corpse around but perform the proper burial ceremonies and it stays dead.

At least that's what the common belief would be. How do I know this? Because that's a large part of the reason we in the real world have burial practices and ceremonies. The old beliefs are roughly to appease the spirit and prevent the spirit or body from causing trouble. Yes, we don't have undead in the real world but our forefathers believed in them. While that doesn't make the undead real, it makes the practice grounded in reality.

Sort of common burial ceremonies that are seen around the world, even in different cultures include:

  • washing and/or treating the body in order to purify it
  • enclosing the body in something to prevent it being disturbed, so it stays there.
    • in Christian belief, the body is buried in a cemetery where the ground has been consecrated, which (among other properties) helps the body stay there.
  • honouring the soul of the dead in some fashion, to make sure it's appeased
  • burial grounds often feature an iron fence. Not to keep things out but more to keep them in, as iron is usually ascribed properties to do with preventing supernatural access.

So, we already practice preventative burial. How did they know it worked? Good old confirmation bias - "We did all the correct rituals for aunt Alice and she was fine. But we had problems after uncle Bob died. We must have messed up somewhere - why else would some bad luck befall us?"

If people in your world don't know better, I don't see a reason for them not to do the same - practice burial rites and hope that staves off necromancy. Sometimes it would (seem to) work with aunt Alice, other times it wouldn't - somebody didn't honour uncle Bob correctly. Must be that, right?

It's important to note that while in the real world funeral rites and ceremonies about the dead don't really help the dead with anything, they do have a very big positive influence on the living. In many respects, it's important for the living to feel better after loss, hence cultural ceremonies do tend to address our own needs and sometimes use the dead as an excuse to do that. It can get complex quickly but to keep it somewhat simple grieving the lost can be difficult. It's important but moving on is also important. Helping the dead helps us in the end.

Perhaps it wasn't uncle Bob who visited us...it was our own loss and internal pain that we projected onto the world in order to make sense of it and try to deal with.

This is a very important aspect as it plays a big part in how funeral ceremonies are constructed. I really can't do the subject justice, since there are so many different practices around the world and address so many different types of support for the living. Still, just some examples include the fact that mourning and honouring the dead tends to be a group activity to lend aid to people feeling loss. Feasts and other celebrations to do with the dead tend to remind us that life still goes on and it's good. Again, many cultures have many variations that will address many aspects of these and more.

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    $\begingroup$ Might be worth pointing out that burial rites are not only superstition. They also have an important psychological effect. They are social rituals which provide closure to the grieving people and gives them something to do to not make them feel helpless in the face of death. Tha way they help the survivors to heal the emotional trauma of losing a loved one. This function should not be underestimated when comming up with burial rites for a fictional society. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Feb 11 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Philipp hmm, I was considering adding that but decided to focus on the "preventing problems with the dead" aspect. But you're absolutely correct the rites serve dual purpose. Or perhaps singular, depending on how you look at them. They are there to comfort the living. The aspect of dealing with the dead comes partly because if the living feel good, they will not attribute mishaps to the departed. I think I'll include that in the answer, you're right - it's an important aspect. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Feb 11 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ And even apart from the grief: proper disposal of dead bodies (e.g. not tipping them down the town well) prevents disease, something that was both very real and very misunderstood in ancient times. $\endgroup$ – Borgh Feb 12 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Note that cemeteries being consecrated ground is not a Christian belief, it is part of Protestant mythology (apocrypha if you want a nicer term for it), adapted for fictional works like Highlander and Buffy. $\endgroup$ – GreySage Feb 13 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ It is very naive to think "old beliefs are roughly to appease the spirit and prevent the spirit or body from causing trouble" and that's why they buried the bodies. That's why you get a priest of some kind do a ceremony. You bury or burn to avoid disease. People buried (and still do) cows and other dead animals too. $\endgroup$ – akostadinov Feb 13 at 18:07
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The undead that come back can still earn glory for their clan.

Protecting the riches of their clan is a prestigious position that can earn glory and honor beyond the grave. If you sneak in the front door, you are greeted with the hordes of zombies entombed there.

They retain some remembrance of the members of their clan and will ignore them. would-be-thieves however have to contend with the undead.

(Besides, everyone who is part of the clan knows about all the back entrances straight to the vault that skips the undead)

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    $\begingroup$ Plus if the clan is under threat, zombies make excellent shock troops. Go get them from the tomb and turn them loose on your enemies! $\endgroup$ – Willk Feb 11 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea of keeping your honored dead as a potential last line of defense. A good reason both to keep them in one piece, and to make sure they're appeased with a nice tomb and other obeisances. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Feb 11 at 9:23
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    $\begingroup$ Now I’m imagining the immortal Princess Zelda calling on generations of undead Links to defend the nation against a horde of zombie Ganons. Her army is lead by The Last Living Link. The eldest is a Neanderthal called The Missing Link. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 11 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM, Next question: Why does my undead army of past heroes turn feral in presence of pottery? $\endgroup$ – Drag and Drop Feb 12 at 7:54
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Perhaps they don't think it's that big a problem.

As opposed to Skyrim, in modern day society people don't go grave robbing as often as you expect. When a tomb is full and gets sealed/abandoned, from what you describe it will take quite a while for the zombies to manifest. If tombs are well built, it won't be easy for them to get out. Depending on how motivated your zombies are to bother anyone (in Skyrim they just linger more or less), they might just stay there and nobody will find out for hundreds of years. By which time the zombies will have rotted away, life or no life.

Same with graves, if they are dug deep enough, zombies won't be able to easily get out (TV lies to you), so they might just lay in their graves "Alive" not doing anything.

As for the rest of the reasons, the same things as today apply, mostly religion and tradition.

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    $\begingroup$ What, you don't remember when the zombies overran Whiterun in the First Era? Oh right, that's because it never happened. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Feb 11 at 1:42
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Hordes of zombies are easier to deal with than lone liches

There's a certain power threshold that the Necromantic Energy must reach before it is able to raise a corpse*. After that, it becomes a linear increase in power as the Undead accumulates more energy.

It is thus preferable to spread this energy out amongst as many bodies as possible so that you have a mob of weak shamblers (which any respectable town guard can handle), rather than a single, very powerful, highly intelligent undead that you need to contract some very expensive heroes to deal with.

Further more people have done research into the source of this necromantic energy, and how to best reduce its affects. Placing graveyards in naturally safe areas and then placing anti-necromantic barriers (be they of magical, holy or natural) around them. Thanks to surface area to volume ratios, large graveyards are more efficient.

*If you feel this is too gimmicky, then think about it this way: A tiny amount of energy might make a corpse twitch a bit. A bit more, and it's able to thrash its limbs but without much coordination, like the average human newborn. With a bit more energy, it is now finally able to crawl and can be considered an actual threat. Assuming it's able to get out of its coffin anyway.

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    $\begingroup$ This is really clever. +1 $\endgroup$ – Daniel B Feb 10 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ To extend on this explanation a bit: necromantic energy levels across an area are of a given level that does not typically change - It will collect and pool in corpses, therefore spreading it over many corpses and dilute the energy. Compare sunlight falling on a planet vs the issues you'll have if you concentrate it on a small area... $\endgroup$ – TheLuckless Feb 12 at 19:12
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Divine resurrection

They might become zombies, but that's a new problem. What's more important is that once in a while the gods wander round and resurrect the dead (at least they used to). So if your dearly departed was still healthy (apart from that sword wound) you want him otherwise intact for the gods to be able to bring him back. If you've burned the body that can't happen and you're accepting the loss is permanent.

Anyway, the tombs are sealed, they can't get out... can they?...

(Also you can't corpse run back from the graveyard if you've been cremated)

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The zombies are territorial, and grumpy wakers.

If you observe the proper rituals, burn the sacred herbs, and tread carefully, the dead will stay asleep, and you can pass unharmed.

But go in hot, shooting fireballs all willy nilly, or clanking around in a suit of armor, and they will get up and try to snooze you.

Once the disturbance has been dealt with, the undead yawn, go back to their sarcophagi, and go back to sleep. And soon enough there's one more sleeper in the tomb.

If it's wholly possible to appease the dead via rituals and behavior, it suddenly becomes a nice prospect to be able to go see old ma or pa every now and then, just slumbering away in the catacomb. Definitely preferable to the hassle of building funeral pyres or chopping up dead family members.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent answer. $\endgroup$ – Daniel B Feb 10 at 23:26
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You could just look to old Egyptian mummies for why.

Religion dictates the body, and anything they are buried with comes with them in the afterlife. In that case, it's rather silly to burn someones body, since they will now not have an afterlife at all.

This would probably be an even more common belief, when the dead sometimes comes back and starts killing people (after all, they must have unfinished business, suffered a wrongdoing etc.)

So catacombs with coffins made so the dead can't get out, and there's no problem... most of the time.

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  • $\begingroup$ But they wouldn't have an afterlife anyways, after they come back as a zombie and have to beheaded. Religion is all good in theory, but surely after the first few undead outbreaks people would have revised their approach? $\endgroup$ – user69867 Feb 10 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ If they sometimes comes back, they must have been somewhere in the meantime aka the afterlife. You now have "proof" of an afterlife. Not scientific proof, but then skyrim can hardly be called scientific :) Rational behavior is all good in theory, but human history says otherwise. After all the number of witches burned because of sickness or droughts are scary. $\endgroup$ – Michael Mortensen Feb 10 at 14:25
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Per the Elder Scrolls lore, Skyrim Nords travel to Sovngarde (home of the gods) after death.

The noblest of their warrirors are granted entry to the Hall of Valor, an analogue for the viking 'Valhalla.'

So, you can simply explain away the lack of cremation by claiming that if you burn the dead, their spirit is not eligible for entry into the Hall of Valor.

I could find no reference in existing lore that supports or contradicts this claim, but many earth cultures had specific beliefs regarding treatment of a corpse and the effects it would have on their prospects in the afterlife - so this seems like a thematically appropriate assertion.

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    $\begingroup$ Your answer has shown-up in the low-quality answer queue for "it's length and content". That's just an automatic process because the answer's short. Given the context of the question (Skyrim) and the particular mythology involved: +1 (From review). $\endgroup$ – BLT-Bub Feb 11 at 1:59
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    $\begingroup$ @BLT-Bub Thanks - I actually typed up a bunch more, but ended up deleting it because it felt extraneous and/or replicated what other answers were already saying. Should I consider padding it? $\endgroup$ – Iron Gremlin Feb 11 at 2:04
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    $\begingroup$ Personally, I'm happy as-is. Fleshing out an answer like this would keep the automated processes happy, and provide more context for anyone reading your answer. Perhaps you could touch on the dismemberment idea and why it might be not in-favor with the culture? $\endgroup$ – BLT-Bub Feb 11 at 2:13
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    $\begingroup$ I would add Wikipedia links for your terms... the answer isn’t useful to anyone not already familiar with Norse mythology and a brief sentence here mentioning what Valhalla was/is ... every kid who comes to our site has to have a first exposure. :-) $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 11 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ "Because the gods said so." is an especially valid answer in a fantasy world, where those gods actually exist... $\endgroup$ – mlk Feb 13 at 13:06
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Burying a body is the easiest and cheapest way to get rid of it, and it's usually enough.

I don't know if you've ever had to get rid of a body, but it's not easy. Alternative methods to burying and their disadvantages:

  • Burning: Humans are mostly water and to burn a freshly-dead human till nothing is left (not even bones) takes a lot of fire. Your average campfire just isn't going to cut it. To completely burn the body to ash, you need lots of fuel, a space big enough to burn it in, and enough time to do so. For a peasant farming family, gathering enough wood to burn a body could get quite expensive and city-folk would need large spaces to burn their dead or organize large communal corpse-burnings outside of city limits or in large squares.
  • Cremation: Similar to fire, except more expensive. Building an oven that gets hot enough to burn people to ash, fueling it, and operating it isn't something that small farming villages or poor city-dwellers can afford.
  • Acid: Well, it is fantasy so maybe pits of acid are just available but enough corpses will eventually dilute the acid to the point that you need new acid. Probably even more expensive than burning or cremation.
  • Dismemberment: A simple way to prevent zombies would be able to chop the corpses to bits before they're buried however this is quite gruesome. In the "generic low-fantasy setting", most peasants bury their own dead and having to take the axe to uncle Smith's limbs would be hard on an already grieving family.

For most people, a simple burial is enough. Unskilled labor (digging a hole) is something that anyone can do and costs basically nothing. Also, even if the body does become a zombie, that doesn't mean it automatically starts walking about. If the hole is deep enough, it's basically impossible for a zombie to dig itself out, especially since it's pretty stupid.

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    $\begingroup$ Is "fed to pigs" not an option for some reason? $\endgroup$ – Sean Feb 11 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ If chopping Uncle Smith into pieces is a required part of the ritual to free his soul to the afterlife and prevent some necromancer or evil spirit from corrupting the body, of course the grieving family members will do it. Dismemberment was part of funerary rights in ancient Great Britain and Ireland. Some accounts of Tibetan sky burials have the bodies disassembled before the vultures arrive. There's evidence of similar rituals in South America, and so on around the world. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Feb 11 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Sean similar to dismemberment, it's quite gruesome. Also, you need a lot of hungry pigs, not just three or four to make the body go away in a reasonable amount of time. Even then, some bones (skull, femur) might not disappear. Finally, eating an animal that's eaten humans or feeding an animal human flesh approaches cannibalism, which is a big no-no for most religions and cultures. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Feb 11 at 10:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Sean "Fed to vultures" is traditional for much of Tibet, and for Zoroastrians. This has been a major problem for Zoroastrians over the last 50 years or so, because there has been a massive drop in vulture populations (most likely due to the use of pesticides which weaken eggshells), and bodies simply aren't getting eaten quickly enough. The funeral towers which previously were pretty smell-free are now not pleasant places to be around. $\endgroup$ – Graham Feb 11 at 11:22
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To protect the tombs

Well, ask a Skyrim question, get a Skyrim answer. The dead are literally expected to get back up again, and protect the tombs from those who would loot and desecrate them. Note that they mostly stay inside the tombs. They don't go outside and ravage the countryside (much). When you go into those tombs seeking treasure and glory, you're the invader, the draugr were put there specifically to protect their family riches from disrespectful adventurers like yourself. Have some respect for the dead, they're only doing their jobs, and here you come along and try to rob the place...

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If you bury the dead in the ground and they come back to life not as loving friends and relatives but as blood thirsty dangerous zombies, how do they get out of the ground? Apparently the zombies can break out of their coffins (if any) and dig their way up out of the Earth, indicating that they might be significantly stronger than humans as well as not needing to breathe.

If you bury the dead in tombs and they come back to life not as loving friends and relatives but as blood thirsty dangerous zombies, how do they get out of their tombs?

Wouldn't the lid of a stone tomb be very heavy? It is possible that even a zombie much stronger than a human would be unable to lift the stone lid of a tomb.

If dead people coming back to life was not a blessing but a curse because they attacked living people, living people would kept trying different methods to contain those dangerous zombies until they found methods that worked.

So they would try wrapping bodies in burial cloths and tying them up. And maybe making burial cloths out of very heavy and strong canvas and sewing it up with strong thread.

And maybe they would try wrapping up the dead in strong chains and locking the chains together with padlocks.

And maybe they would try burying the dead in strong wooden coffins and nailing and screwing the lids down tightly.

And maybe they would try burying the dead in strong metal coffins and welding the lids tight to the rest of the coffins.

And maybe they would try burying the dead in coffins and wrapping strong chains around the coffins and locking the chains with locks.

And maybe they would try burying the dead in stone sarcophagi with slots underneath to wrap strong metal chains around, hoping the undead would be kept inside by the sheer weight of the stone lid, and by the strength of the mortar used to attach the lid to the sarcophagi, and by the strength of the locks and chains around the sarcophagi.

And maybe they would try burying the dead in stone mausoleums and shutting and locking the windows and doors and then closing up the window and door frames with stones and mortar.

Or maybe they would try putting a dead person in a series of strong coffins one inside the other inside a stone sarcophagus inside a stone mausoleum, all shut,locked and bricked up with stones and mortar.

So it seems likely that the living would experiment with ways to keep the dead shut up in their tombs forever if there was a problem with attacks by the living dead.

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  • $\begingroup$ Control and check. Do a weekly mausoleum / zombie round. The ones that wake up are put to rest again. Not to hard with stone coffins build for that purpose. When all flesh is gone, put the bones in a just fitting strong box. Or grind up the bones. $\endgroup$ – Flummox - don't be evil SE Feb 12 at 16:10
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The most logical reason would be (religious) traditions, for example of they believe that burning the deceased would give themselves or the deceased a one way ticket to hell(or non-existence) they would be more inclined to not burn them (Even if they know the risk).

Another would be to wanting them to come back as a form of security. In Skyrim, the only things protecting these often sacred places are the undead wandering around.

Lastly it could be a new phenomena, that it only recently started happening and so they started burning the corpses but the ones buried in the 100's of years before are still buried.

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Properly maintained and controlled zombies are an important economic resource. The local undertaker is a friendly necromancer, and for a modest fee he takes all the zombies out every year to help with the harvest.

Evil necromancers are seen as corrupt practitioners of an otherwise respectable profession.

People don't fear the existence of zombies, they only fear that their zombies will be stolen by an unlicensed necromancer or allowed to roam free without a necromancer keeping them under control.

They really hate liches, though. When the dead control the dead, who harvests grain for the living?

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Because Zombies are relatively easy for humans to deal with, and "oglops" (or whatever) are not.

Oglops can sense zombies turning, as they are prey to them, and so avoid anywhere near catacombs/graveyards.

Oglops devastate crops, spread diseases, contaminate water wells, and multiply like rabbits. They're hard to catch and impossible to contain, so the best thing to do for cities to work is to just keep a catacomb nearby with a few guards on watch to deal with any zombies that arise.

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To allow low level players to level up

In the web comic Order of the Stick, the gods created goblinkind in order to allow for low-level clerics to gain XP without exposing themselves to much danger. It may be that in your world, the gods imbue corpses with life so that young heroes can have some practice before moving on to more dangerous things like dragons, basilisks and capitalism.

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It's a recent development.

All crypts are less than a few hundred years old because the fad of whole burial came about then because a noble had reasons™ to build a crypt. Then after a century of being lying in a cave the bones started getting animated and the crypts were ordered to be sealed and they reverted to the previous burial method.

Prior to that and again afterwards the accepted burial method didn't create zombies.

This can also explain why most of the traps still work. The crypts just aren't that old yet.

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Speak with the dead

Most towns and villages have at least one Shaman who can cast speak with dead. So often we wish we could ask our passed on loved ones important questions like, "Where did you bury the treasure?", "What's your recipe for Lambas Bread, I just can't get it to hold together?", "Which of us did you love more?" or whatever ever super important, entirely not frivolous question you might have.

If you bury them in dirt you'd have to dig them up. If you destroy them, well, there's nothing left to ask questions of. And folks usually get grumpy about decapitation/dismemberment and become recalcitrant about answering postmortem questions if their remains have been mistreated or aren't in a sufficiently posh resting place.

So you make tombs, that can be locked from the outside. Need to ask great-grampa how to make that special kind of steel at the forge? No problem.

Also, rest assured, there's almost no chance at all that forcing the dead back into their bodies to ask trivial questions is in ANY way related to them reanimating as shambling corpses. Nope none at all. Just keep messing with forces you don't understand. It'll be fine.

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They didn't know

The accumulation of necromantic energy is a fairly recent phenomenon, going back only a hundred years or so. Before that it was perfectly safe to bury your dead, so people did.

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If only some dead turn into zombies, then perhaps the culture is opposed to burning their dead for the reason that some cultures oppose condoms while still knowing that condoms can prevent unwanted pregnancy and disease. Maybe they see zombiefication as something that happens only to criminals or bad people - not something likely to happen to members of their own family.

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They're not catacombs, they're prisons for undead.

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Occasionally, instead of resurrecting as a mindless zombie, the departed resurrect as themselves. Fully functional, alive, normal, no Pet Sematary type effects; just themselves.

This means that the unpleasant aspects of zombies rising are something the society is willing to deal with, in order to allow the "lottery winners" (favored by the gods, or what have you) to rise again.

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They believe god called them back for a second life? Maybe they believe they have two lives one for themselves and one of the gods that could be a positive or a negative life depending on how they structured and worshiped (or didn't) in their mortal life.

If there is a timeframe for their revival as 90 yrs or longer then humans can dream up whatever they desire their idea is to strive to be raised up by the good god if they are a good person to do just things they know they have no input god commands and they obey without fail. Other cultures could divide the body up because they don't have such notions of a self life & a godly life they just see zombies and go, "No thanks."

Other cultures could strand them on cliff faces so when they arise they fall into the ocean and get locked into under current pools that keep them imprisoned into the depths.

If it's not godly calling that your culture is keen on maybe it's ancestor worship during the lives of the remaining family members one or several members keep the corpse feeding it, speaking to it, and maybe even dressing it they do this to not inter it until the last family member dies or the family is ready to accpt the transformation process (but this is considering you have one corpse for a duration of time)

Treating the dead this way prolongs the inevitable transformation they believe if care was sufficient they will rise with less harm for humans or none at all. If the care was poor or nonexistent they will arise aggressive to hyper aggressive.

They believe the family member is simply resting off their mortal life and will reawaken for their temper phase basically the person is mad their earthly life ended so they go through a rage before dying and accepting it in battle or from time. The family know the chances for refinding the arisen family member for second burial is low so treating them well for a duration then burying them is meant to be that mortal grieving and acceptance for them to move on in their after life as they know no matter how calm they are upon return they just simply aren't the family member who died.

Humans may feel this is all godly or out of their control but in reality it could be all humans have a symbiotic creature in them that feeds off their remains with exposure to X conditions underground so select caves or marshes or what have you actually restore less hostile zombies while others are highly aggressive allowing you to cover several zombie types in media so you have shibito, classic zombie, hyper zombie, tame/pet zombie, Skyrim war zombie, ect but do you have smart zombie? Like I-Zombie?

You can also have conditions where the rising never occurs because the area like a marsh bog or whatnot seals the reason why the corpse returns anyhow this rare area may hold the key but once you raise the dead for study they will swiftly transform maybe into hyper zombies having been suppressed from turning prior.

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