There are several types of Undead found in and about Velitrium, this deals with the best known kinds and relates the 'common knowledge' and beliefs related to them.
Skeletons & Zombies
These are by far the most common. The animated Undead servants of Necromancers and Dark Lore Priests, they are used as soldiers, slaves and guardians in a wide variety of applications. Though not truly intelligent, zombies and skeletons do have memories and retain some skills from life.
Skeletons and Zombies are created using the same enchantments. Zombies are their strongest and most decay resistant if animated within three days of death, one of the reasons for Velitar funeral customs. The three day time limit is significant in another way as well. Both Mitraen and Druidic Theology believe that the soul remains attached to the corpse for three days and if a body is animated into a zombie before the soul departs, then the soul will be bound to the earthly manifestation until the Zombie is destroyed. Even if a body is animated as a zombie or skeleton after the three day period, it is felt that it places an onus on the soul that cannot be released as long as the corpse remains defiled. Mitraens feel that it keeps the soul from lending its strength to Mitra during the Final Conflict that will inevitably be fought between Mitra and Blar. It is because of this that the Priests of the Dark Lore relish having fresh Mitraen corpses to work with! Druidic theology, which believes in reincarnation, holds that the animation of a corpse inhibits the soul's movement along the cycles of life and death.
A zombie created from a fresh corpse will be stronger (+1 ST) recalls more of it's life skills (+1 to Weapon Skills) and will not slough off rotting flesh as time progresses.
A zombie animated from a corpse more than three days old is still an effective servant and warrior, but as the years progress the flesh will slowly decay and drop away, leaving behind the bones underneath. This is one way to make a skeleton.
A zombie does not need a completely intact corpse to be animated, but the head must be in place and with over 50% of the brain matter remaining. Broken or missing limbs may be splinted or replaced with prosthetics (stumps, blades, hooks etc) or simply ignored. Missing or broken legs will reduce a zombies mobility and speed though.
Skeletons are made in one of two ways, either by the decay of a zombie or from an already skeletized corpse. Skeletons animated from bones do not need the body to be completely intact, much like zombies their missing limbs can be replaced or augmented. As with a zombie, the skull must be attached and more than 50% intact. A skeleton must be homogeneous in composistion. This means that all its bones most come from the same corpse. If the Necromancer is provided with a jumble of multiple remains, it is neccessary to sort the remains into their original composistions and lay the bones out in their approxmate posistions. The bones do not need to be attached or articulated, the energy of the spell will take care of that.
Once destroyed a zombie or skeleton cannot be reanimated again
Ghosts & Spirits
The hauntings of these creatures are well known throughout the Kingdom. Generally associated with tragedy and unfinished business, there has been much tragedy in Velitrium's history. Generally ghosts and spirits are limited geographicly or temporally in the scope of their hauntings. Though most ghosts and spirits are harmless and little more than a nuisance, it is wise to have a care when venturing into haunted places. Some ghosts and spirits are malevolent and possess strange, arcane abilities that they will inflict on the unwary and disrespectful... Oft times the spirits are insane from centuries of solitude and obsession with their ancient grief, there is no reliable way to predict the spirits attitude or actions. Also, what is believed to be a mere ghost or spirit, may in fact be a Wraith.
Ravenous, free willed undead creatures that crave human flesh (though they will eat virtually any living creature they can catch!) Such Ghouls should not be confused with the 'Human Ghouls' who make their living stealing fresh corpses for necromancers and renegade alchemists. Though illegal and reprehensible, the penalty is death, they don't hold a candle to the Undead variety.
Undead Ghouls are hunched, slavering creatures that have been twisted into a charicature of their original appearance. Their canine teeth have grown, their finger and toe nails have lengthened, thickened and turned into veritable claws. They are usually filthy, covered with dirt, blood, gobbets of rotting flesh and reek of decay and death.
Ghouls cannot be said to be intelligent, though they are incredibly cunning and endlessly patient and persistent when on the hunt. But they can be tricked and baffled by simple ruses.
There is believed to be several ways to 'make a ghoul' and their are conflicting opinions amongst experts as to which are correct. It is possible that they are all true!
Cannibalism: It is believed that anyone who engages in cannibalism can, or will, return from death as an undead ghoul. There is debate about the validity of this theory since it is known that the Cults of the Dark Lore practice ritual cannibalism and that most Dark Lore Followers do not become Ghouls after death. On the other hand, there is said to be an obscure Dark Lore Cult called the 'Cult of Ghouls' so the issue remains undecided.
Related to this is the belief that Human Ghouls often become Undead Ghouls after death.
Being Injured by One: It is widely held that if one is bitten or clawed by a Ghoul, he or she is infected or cursed or somehow destined to become a Ghoul after death. The Church of Mitra has ceremonies to 'cleanse' the Faithful of this horror, though the Druids do not. Some claim that this is a confusion with Lycanthropy and does not apply to Ghouls unless you are actually killed by one...
Being Killed: It seems pretty certain that if one is killed by a Ghoul, but not devoured, then he or she WILL become a Ghoul. The evidence is quite strong in this matter.
Cursed: Certain ancient legends relate tales of wierd artifacts that turned the unwary into Ghouls. Some experts feel that this may actually be the origin of the first Ghouls. There is no record of this happening at anytime in the last half dozen centuries or so.
Several things are known about Ghouls:
They will tunnel into a grave yard to feed on the fresh corpses, though they are repelled by consecrated earth.
The bite of a Ghoul, if left untreated, will fester and rot, eventually causing death. Claw scratches often times become infected, though not to the degree that a bite does.
Sunlight is painful to Ghouls.
Silvered weapons are the only weapons that will actually kill a Ghoul.
Ghouls do not like the touch or taste of pure salt. Because of this a grave is liberally sprinkled with salt prior to and after placing the body in it.
Ghouls crave the brains of sentient creatures above all other things.
Ghouls can be repelled by a Priest of Mitra, if his or her Faith is strong enough, and it is said that they are burned, as by acid, if splashed with Holy Water.
Wights are the ancient Undead guardians of Jhensari Tombs and Barrows. No one is sure how they were created, though evidence indicated that the subjects were volunteers.
Wights vary in their abilities and limitations. Some are exceedingly powerful, with apparant spell like powers. Others use physical weapons in a role more like that of a zombie, though they appear more intelligent and free willed then a zombie.
Wights do not leave that which they have been assigned to guard. While in their Tomb or Barrow they cannot be affected by a Cleric of Mitra.
A free willed spirit said to have been produced by or generated from the death of, a Jhensari Shaman. They are dreaded by the Jhensari as much as the Velitar and are fortunately rare. Though they are often associated with places, they do not seem to be geographicly restricted. Nor or they bound by the limitations of a material body, being able to pass through walls seemingly at will. Their powers seem to vary, but all have some level of spell casting and all seem very intelligent, malicious and evil.
The most horrific of all the Undead. The most feared and dreaded of all those possessed with unlife. The myths and legends surrounding these creatures make it difficult to determine truth from fiction. They are said to feed on human blood and to sleep in their graves through the hours of sunlight, though the oldest and most powerful of their kind can venture outside during a cloudy day. They are said to change shape into wolves and bats. That they can transform their bodies so as to pass through a slit as narrow as a knife blade. That they can summon and control the lesser creatures, rats, serpants, vermin of all types. That their bite transforms the victim into a vampire and slave of their creator...
The Church has a long history of battling these creatures, though they are fortunately rare in Velitrium. One of the Dark Lore Cults is devoted to Vampirism and it's spread and the leader of that cult in Khun Dhagra is said to be Androvar of the Black Tower.
The weaknesses of Vampires are also subject of legend... Sunlight, silver, garlic, running water, wooden stakes, holy symbols, holy water... All are reputedly effective.
The accuracy of these legends are a matter of debate and the creatures are rare enough that there is little opportunity for practical research.
Another conjuration of a Necromancer, they are limited in the time that they may exist in this world, but they are exceedingly dangerous during that period.