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Basic Information

A corpse, or cadaver, is the deceased body of an animal that was alive at one time. This can also be extended to plants, but is more often in referral to animals - more specifically, to humans; a dead animal is often referred to as a carcass instead. Just exactly when the moment of death occurs and what definition of death you use is not exact, or universally agreed upon, but once dead, the body becomes a corpse.

Once you have a corpse on your hands, you can expect it to break down, decompose, and finally putrefy. During each of these "phases" the body will go through a variety of disgusting and ugly processes, ultimately returning to the earth - provided it is allowed to. Usually all that water in the body will aid in returning the body the earth by seeping in, but in desert climates, mummification processes, or freezing temperatures the body may not get that far. There are many legal and illegal ways to engage in the disposal of human corpses while animal corpses are less of a touchy subject in legal circles.

Every human culture has rituals associated with corpses - and some are much happier to have them around than others. Almost all draw a distinction between human corpses and animal carcasses at a variety of levels - indeed one that didn't would be an interesting fantasy culture.

See Also

Adipocere - a by-product of corpse decay.



Game and Story Use

  • Once your players have a corpse, they may need to dispose of it. How will they get rid of the evidence?
  • Someone could be stealing corpses that all reached the putrefaction point - why?
  • Perhaps the player group could be all corpses, reanimated in one way or another. Good for a one-shot at least!
  • One way or the other, this is a pretty typical start to an adventure … how many there are at the end, and who they used to be, depends on the style of play and the level of sucess.
    • Again, good for a one shot - the PCs find themselves with a corpse and no memory of how they obtained it. Hilarity ensues as they try and dispose of it. Once they're done, they get a phone call from the person they were meant to be bringing the corpse to…
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