Where the traveller goes, a cold wind blows,
There is something in his eyes, something in his hands,
You can almost smell his revenge,
And whoever he is after, it will be disaster,
This man is gonna take him to the very end;
Well the landlord he trembled, staring at a face he'd seen somewhere before,
"You laid him in the ground,"
Suddenly remembered a killing, yes a murder many years before,
"t'was you that shot him down,"
(from) The Traveller Chris De Burgh
Whilst both are ambulatory rotting corpses, the zombie is usually slow, mindless and/or under someone's control. The Revenant by contrast, traditionally retains a great deal of its old dexterity and intellect and is free willed, having returned from death to achieve some significant purpose - normally revenge.
Depending on the revenant's personality, it may actually be fairly safe to have around for people that don't remind it of whoever it seeks to revenge itself on, but on the other hand the sort of powers likely to allow a corpse to re-animate and seek revenge may be amused by the idea of it not being particularly discriminating - or may drive the dead man to exact disproportionate punishment on them for some unrelated offence.
Traditionally a revenant will lie down and die again once its purpose is fulfilled so unless one is very attached to the target of its revenge, handing them over to it may be the quickest method of laying one to rest. Of course this may not work, or the revenant may have an excessive number of targets, or one or more of the targets may not deserve their fate (or at least cannot be spared for it). In this case, revenants usually have all of the usual undead resistances and may be generally supernaturally resilient - some may decay normally, or be otherwise time limited, others may not. Generally chopping them to pieces works as well as it does for anything else, but some have the capability to continue animating severed body parts or to skip into any handy corpse meaning that they take a lot more killing and/or magic to get rid of.
The Crow is probably one of the more famous media revenants, some of the Hollywood slasher villains may have similar roots but less discrimination.
Game and Story Use
- PC cops may find that the "vigilante" that they are hunting has a worrying similarity to a murder victim they logged a couple of weeks back.
- Morally dubious PCs may find themselves hunted by one of these - hell, even heroic PCs may attract one if their enemies cling to life hard enough.
- A PC could even be one - good campaign fodder for a one-on-one game.
- Even better if the PC doesn't know it at first and thinks they were left for dead and recovered…
- Someone the PCs need alive may be hunted by a revenant.
- Likewise The Atoner could find himself hunted by one.
- Or a genuine villain could take extreme steps either to rid himself of one or coerce someone else to dispose of it for him.
- Those that are not obviously rotten may be even more dangerous.
- These could allow you some fantasy equivalent of a Terminator scenario.