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5 Things to Do in Faerun When You’re Undead

Written by Janna - Published on February 4, 2009

Janna discovered D&D at the age of 16, and she's been rolling the dice for 16 years. (You do the math.) She is fond of intelligent villains, drow society, and campaigns that explore the Dark Side.

Nicholas recently wrote a great review of the Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide. Dreamed into existence by Ed Greenwood in 1967, the first Forgotten Realms game product was released twenty years later. Since then, the Realms and their popular subcontinent of Faerun have become famous for locations like Icewind Dale, Baldur’s Gate, Myth Drannor, and Neverwinter. The campaign setting has spawned roughly 100 novels, making Faerun a rich and vibrant land which has evolved through the works of many talented individuals.

There are two universal truths about Faerun: First, there’s something waiting to kill you around every corner – ESPECIALLY if you go underground. And second, there are almost as many things waiting to raise you from the dead and put you to work.

It’s the latter fact that inspired this article, a handy guide for those who find themselves undead and unemployed in Faerun. Immortality doesn’t have to be boring, or even very long; you’ll run afoul of something sooner or later, so enjoy it while it lasts! Here are some things you should definitely do before death comes calling… again.

Cultists will do stuff for you – like
errands, chores, and sacrifices.
Art by Poelzig

Be Worshipped by Mad Cultists

Faerun is home to the Cult of the Dragon, a shady group of zealots who really like dragons. A lot. So much, in fact, that they frequently convince dragons to become dracoliches, and even perform the rituals that seal the deal.

Why do they want a whole bunch of undead dragons running around? Because the cult believes that dragons are the rightful rulers of the world. Immortal undead dragons, or Sacred Ones, are worshipped as gods.

Widely considered a threat, the Cult of the Dragon has been in existence for over half a millennium – and with so many power-hungry dragons in Faerun, it probably won’t go out of business anytime soon.

Join the Dread Legions of Thay

Thay is a legendary bastion of the undead; every conceivable type can be found there. The necromancers of Thay are the best in all the Realms. Their undeads are sturdier, tougher, and more intelligent than their competition.

That’s a good thing, because Thay is ruled by a 400-year-old lich named Szass Tam. He has legions of followers, and his standards are pretty darn high. If you’re a humanoid, you can become a dread warrior in Tam’s evil army. (Just don’t forget to write home occasionally.)

He’s yawning because he’s bored.
Art by Jynxart

Become a Plaguechanged Ghoul

When the goddess of magic was assassinated, a magical backlash ravaged the lands. Parts of the surface world collapsed into the Underdark, and certain areas were subjected to the Spellplague. While most creatures caught in the initial blast were simply dissolved, some… lived – if you can call it that.

If you’re the adventurous sort, find a place where the Spellplague has lingered. If you touch it, you will be horribly changed forever. Sure, you might end up a mile-wide blob of gelatinous goo, but you might get lucky and become a plaguechanged ghoul.

The perks make it worthwhile. You’ll be fed and housed by the Order of the Blue Flame; you’ll get a blue-glowing mouth on your stomach that makes a groovy Gut Maw attack; and Orcus himself might take an interest in you someday. This job has potential.

Join the Zhentarim

The Black Network of the Zhentarim is an evil uber-power in Forgotten Realms. They are ruthless mercenaries, a malicious cabal of powerful wizards, intelligent monsters, and priests of the mad god Cyric. And they’re always looking for a few good vampires.

While the Zhentarim will ally themselves with any foul creatures that can further their goals, they’ve been known to fill their top positions with vampires and vampire lords. Their constant power-struggles are bound to be more interesting than just sitting in a rotting keep all night, draining maidens of their lifeblood and grooming your hellhounds.

Avoid Kelemvor and His Clergy

The undead have many opportunities in Faerun. They also have some fierce opposition: Kelemvor, the God of the Dead. He’s deeply enraged by the very existence of the undead, and his priests will go stone-cold crazy on you if you look like you just crawled out of a grave. Do yourself a favor and stay away from them at all costs.

Have you had wacky undead adventures in Forgotten Realms? Let’s hear about them in the comments section!

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Written by Janna

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Janna discovered D&D at the age of 16, and she's been rolling the dice for 16 years. (You do the math.) She is fond of intelligent villains, drow society, and campaigns that explore the Dark Side.



8 Responses to “5 Things to Do in Faerun When You’re Undead”
  1. Johnn Four says:

    In a 1st edition game I was DMing two friends in the Realms. They were fighting a group of mercenaries who were tracking them down and the PCs were getting whacked and desperate. Chuck gobbled down a potion of healing, leaving him with two unmarked potions left. Next round he got whacked again. On his turn, desperate, he quaffed an unmarked potion, which ended up being a potion of growth. On the potion miscibility table he rolled “double effect” so he became HUGE.

    Next round same thing. This time, down to less than 10 HP, Chuck’s last unmarked potion was a potion of polymorph – skeleton. His miscibility roll was “permanent.” So, the world now had a raging, giant skeleton! He found it hard to get seating at restaurants until he quested for reversals.

  2. Wimwick says:

    Ah the undead. As a DM they have always been my enemy of choice for the sheer look of terror that crosses the faces of my players when they realize what they are up against. I ran them through Expedition to Castle Ravenloft a year ago, as their characters died they created newer, tougher, undead slaying PCs and it still wasn’t enough.

    If I was to have my choice from the options above I think I’d roll the dice and go for a Plaguechanged Ghoul.

  3. Mike The Merciless says:

    Too bad Undead are no longer to be feared. No Level Loss, no dread. All fluff. Sad.

  4. kaeosdad says:

    Oooh the undead are my favorite. Great overview of the undead in the forgotten realms. I’m working on an undead adventure and this might come in handy.

  5. Yax says:

    The level drain was harsh – but players fear it more than character death. Unless resurrection comes with a level drain penalty of course.

  6. Janna says:

    @ Wimwick: I concur. There’s just something about the Gut Maw attack that makes it all worthwhile.

    @ Mike the Merciless: Oh, I dunno. There are still some pretty scary undeads running around, even without the level drain.

    @ kaeosdad: I’m glad you found some inspiration here. :) Good luck with the adventure!

  7. dodofren says:

    @Yax: You only get some penalties to your rolls until you reach your 3rd milestone.
    Though level drain was harsh it was a driving force for always having a scroll or restoration handy.

    Ah, I remember a game i played at. 6 PC’s. 1 Wiz, 1 Pal, 4 Clerics… Enemy – all undead. Fun game :)

  8. B'omarr Punk says:

    Recently I ran a 3.5 game during the Year of Rogue Dragons, where the Cult of the Dragon was capitalizing on dragons’ fear that they’ll go mad to convince the drakes to become dracoliches, making them immune to the sickness of the Dragon Rage. A neutral necromancer in our party had a nasty secret he kept from the other players: nightly he was performing arcane experiments on corpses (and quickly slipping to the chaotic evil side of the alignment matrix).

    The heroes find an opportunity to upset a white drake’s ascension to dracolichdom, and siezes it. In the antechambers the elder white’s spawn (a younger dragon) meets them to kill them. The madness has taken control of it, however, and the heroes are able to slay it. That night, the mage performs the long awaited dark ritual, and raises the beast from the dead, without the other heroes’ knowledge (it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.) Armed with such an ally at their command, the (appropriately sickened and reluctant) heroes used the skeleton to ‘fight fire with fire’.

    Chaos ensued. The cultists didn’t know whether to worship or fight the lesser one when it rampaged through their ranks in the Hall of Ascension. The PCs prevailed: the drought was destroyed and the white dragon insulted that the Cult couldn’t keep this from happening and nixed his lichy little plans.

    Of course, the necro and the favored soul of Torm ‘had a little talk’…which resulted in one of their deaths… :D

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