The name derives from the Mausoleon - the fantastically ornate tomb built for Mausolos, the Persian Satrap of Ephesus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Classical World), but now applies to any such structure.
Such creations are commonly found in cemeteries in many parts of the world, and may even appear in the grounds of some stately homes - they are generally smaller affairs built for a single interment or a couple, but some contain an entire extended family and public mausoleums may contain hundreds of burials. Occasionally a mausoleum may contain (or be serviced by) an ossuary so that the burial slots can be re-used after a decent interval and the previous occupants stored elsewhere. Mausoleae are particularly popular where the local water table is high and undergound burials are apt to float (and/or foul the groundwater).
The Taj Mahal is another excellent example of an epic mausoleum.
Game and Story Use
- The family mausoleum is an essential feature of any gothic stately home.
- Also a staple of H. P. Lovecraft stories - often serving as a lair for the mysterious undead wizard ancestor, a ghoul buffet or a deviant number of burials (either too many, bespeaking hidden corruption in the bloodline and relatives whose very existence was covered up, or too few, implying at the very least an unnatural longevity).
- Thus, those who pry may discover odd things like deformed bones, excessive numbers of infant bones and coffins full of rocks…
- Public mausoleums make ideal ghoul buffets and vampire lairs, not to mention a barracks for lesser undead (assuming the ghouls haven't eaten them).
- They also make a fairly secure storage vault in any culture where dead people are not commonly stolen. Even with a leased slot, you're probably looking at something that won't be disturbed for a century - ideal for a time traveller to cache things in.
- The fantastic kind can also make a good palace for a lich.