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Background: My world, Alendyias, is more than a little interesting. As the Fracture in Reality grows and expands, it takes apart and reforms worlds inside itself, and over the ages, this has formed one big world: Alendyias. Living things are often mutated at least a little by this trip through chaos itself, creating things like goblins and giant spiders, and these are called monsters.

When these monsters are slain, though, there is a burst of light and chaotic (magical) energy, and when that clears, what remains are the monster's Drops: objects formed or altered by the combination of the monster's fading life force and the magical energy inside them.

The former are usually body parts; pelts, claws, horns, and the like. However, the latter can be any junk inside or on the monster; a good example would be the personal belongings (clothes, money, jewelry, perhaps even weaponry) of a Catfish Monster's victims. Somehow, upon its death, its accumulated life force and magical energy not only recreates but enchants these items, leaving behind valuable loot.

Good so far, yes? However, what if a monster ate something before it died? An intact body, or even a skeleton, inside a monster could quite feasibly be turned into an undead monstrosity upon their consumer's death. So my question is: How Can Dead Monsters Not Spawn Undead?

EDIT: Monsters are not in the habit of swallowing prey whole and not digesting it; rather, spawning undead happens when a monster is killed before it can really digest swallowed prey, and its lifeforce subsequently reanimates its victims. Also, digesting bone is relatively unusual and difficult to do; so skeletons should not be unheard of without some sort of natural undead prevention method-which is exactly what my question is asking for.

As always, I appreciate input and feedback, and if you decide you need to down- pr close-vote, please give me an explanation so I can do better in the future. Thank you all!

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  • $\begingroup$ Are monsters in the habit of swallowing prey whole and then not digesting it? What do they do with it then? Normally job one of the digestive system is to break larger structures (bones, muscle groups) apart to get at the valuable chemistry inside. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Feb 1 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Cadence, I just edited; what do you think? $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 1 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ Can monsters be used to enchant items by force-feeding them items? Do projectile weapons become enhanced with each kill? Vlad the Impaler might do very well, and could afford to pay high prices for captured monsters. $\endgroup$ – Dave X Feb 14 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ @DaveX, yes, that is possible. Granted, the magic would be weaker as it would be spread out among the items; there's a hard cap on how much items can be affected and still have the maximum possible enchantment level. As for projectile weapons, things like bullets and arrows would be enhanced with each kill, but not the weapon firing them. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 15 at 18:22
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It's not all bad news

It sounds like you've assembled a clever story explanation for loot tables.

Plenty of games have loot tables that include bad news. Dungeon-crawlers have Mimics, creatures that look like treasure chests but are carnivorous. Hardcore roguelikes, such as rogue, have cursed items. So, finding an undead animal inside a corpse, albeit uncommon, is entirely possible. It's a critical failure. Sometimes that's how things go. Surprises are the spice of adventure.

But also consider that an undead monster is not the only possible result of enchanting a corpse:

  • Imagine finding a pre-made spirit totem shaped like a mouse inside a dead fox. Perhaps it gives the bearer the ability to communicate with forest mice.
  • Perhaps you find an enchanted rabbit's foot inside a dead wolf. Finally, a turn of good luck!
  • An owl skull might give the holder night vision.
  • An undigested turkey might contain a wishbone that has some real punch, if only you think to dig it out.

With a little imagination, almost any undigested corpse can probably be re-interpreted as not the whole output but just the key ingredient in some kind of wildlife-based talisman, a boon with a flavorful twist. And if desired, they can be ushered off-stage as quickly as needed by supposing that the enchantment dies when the remains would have decomposed or when the animal's soul finally departs, or something like that.

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    $\begingroup$ What an insightful answer! Yes, I'm definitely going to use parts of this. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 2 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ "Parts?" wink $\endgroup$ – Tom Feb 2 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, pun not intended (though it is funny though =) ) $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 2 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ I like this a lot. Ways other than the monstrous and blighted to have energy beyond death. I am imagining entities that "doth suffer a sea change, into something rich and strange." $\endgroup$ – Willk Feb 2 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ I mean, animate bones don't have any real way to do anything? $\endgroup$ – Writer-of-stories May 27 at 16:57
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The King's law in these parts is to...

  1. Cremate any monster that you killed (or found dead). I know that's a lot of work, and that you want to be an adventurer instead of spending days as a woodcutter (especially during the rainy season). But the Law is the Law; the penalty for non-compliance is severe, and the reward for turning in absconders is surprisingly high...so don't brag about it at the tavern. If you don't like it, go seek adventure in some other realm.

  2. After the ashes have cooled, they must be sifted, and all remaining solids (including treasure, recovered weapons, body parts, etc) must be hauled to a magistrate. I know that's also a lot of drudge work, and that you want to be an adventurer instead of a carter. But we have these laws for a reason.

  3. The magistrate will have an independent mage or wizard test the remaining objects for enchantment, and will attempt to break any evil enchantment. After that, the safe goods are returned to the adventurer. Finally you can sell them!

  4. The ENTIRE adventurer's party will present themselves for testing by the magistrate's independent mage or wizard, in case they were affected by any enchanted goods during disposing of the monster or sifting the debris. Any who fail to show up go onto the magistrate's Wanted list.

    Don't bother lying about who was in your party, or withholding any goods -- everybody discovers, to their chagrin, that truth-telling is one of the first spells she will use on each of you.

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    $\begingroup$ Good grief; maybe I should just let undead happen! So much work would go into this, and I believe it'd be rather hard to enforce these rules. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 1 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps not too hard to enforce: "Greetings, my good adventurer. I'm the local magistrate, this is my good friend the mage. This village is seeing a much higher number of undead than usual, so we are asking all guests of this inn a few questions. You don't mind a truth-telling spell, do you?" $\endgroup$ – user535733 Feb 2 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, though part of me still thinks there must be a better way to avoid the creation of undead.... $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 2 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure there is. This is merely one approach. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Feb 2 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not saying this isn't a good approach, by any mean; every approach would have its strengths and weaknesses. This one's weaknesses are A) it would likely destroy valuable Drops and B) it's rather labor-intensive. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Feb 2 at 0:11
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Holy

All adventuring parties are required to have a registered paladin/cleric/sage as a party member, or they must purchase holy acid from the guild or church.

When a monster is killed, if a corpse/skeleton/etc. is dropped, either the party member with the gift of holy magic blesses the corpse, or the party sprinkles it with the holy acid. Either way, the holy power sinks into the corpse and prevents it from becoming undead.

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