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Fishyninja
2017-02-04, 12:43 PM
I present a question to you oh illustrious members of the playground?

My Wood Elf Monk, is a priest of Kelemvor and feels it is his need to bury many of the enemies and NPC's who pass during the campaign.

I am looking for ideas for funerary/burial rites and traditions for the races and faiths of 5e to add into my notes for RP reasons. I have already noted how each member of the party including myself would like to be buried.

So I have an idea for Dwarves:

I feel generally the main servce would involve somebr singing, songs from the homeland and such with accounts of their achievements and how that would link to their ancestors. The burial would be in silent. Ideall in a stone tomb, but if that is not available then a cairn of stones to be built up on the burial site.

After the initial burial a retreat to an inn or suitable location for songs, laughs and drink.

In another burial I placed a Nothic next to it's treasure trove placed a circle of stones around it and then placed a coin in it's mouth and on it's eye.

So as I said I would like your guys ideas not jsut for dwarves but for all the races/monsters of 5E.

EDIT: THIS NEEDS TO BE MOVED TO THE 5E SUB FORUM. MY APOLOGIES

WbtE
2017-02-05, 02:10 AM
You could take a lead from pagan Scandinavia and make funerals into multi-day re-enactments of significant events from the life of the deceased. (Perhaps a good option for elves?)

JeenLeen
2017-02-15, 10:53 AM
You may want to consider the impact of spells that can create undead on funeral rites. I would think many races, if not prohibited due to ability to safely make fires or strong social/religious taboos, would cremate their dead. Indeed, traditional anti-undead gods like Pelor would likely recommend cremation (fire, heat, sun) vs. burial in the ground (weak to undead-creation).
I think cremation would be standard for most humans.

I am mixed with elves. If they live in trees, then burial space would be hard (since airborne) or abundant (since they don't use the ground in general). Also, fire is potentially dangerous in a forest, so funeral pyres could be frowned upon.

I do see dwarves as doing burial more than other races, due to the emphasis on clan and stone. Being interred in stone sounds good. For very wealthy and/or nobles/royal, I could see a rite involving casting Flesh to Stone or something else to petrify the corpse. In addition to being more timeless (akin to mundane mummification), it is not a corpse that can be turned undead.
This could be emulated by the lower class by covering the body with a thin layer of rock dust, thereby giving a look of petrification and symbolic of unity with the stone and clan's burial grounds.

Mark Hall
2017-02-15, 11:12 AM
EDIT: THIS NEEDS TO BE MOVED TO THE 5E SUB FORUM. MY APOLOGIES

The Mod Wonder: FWIW, I don't think it does; it's not really a mechanical question. I don't know a lot of 5e and can still come up with good answers, since it's all cultural information. Shoot me a PM if you want me to move it.

That said, I think gnomes would go towards simple burial, perhaps with a tree over the corpse/ash pile.

I like the idea that orcs use ritual consumption of the dead. I don't see goblins or hobgoblins doing much for the dead... they may do something to reduce the chance of disease (i.e. throwing them all in a single place, out of the way), but they wouldn't necessarily bother with tombs and such.

JeenLeen
2017-02-15, 11:41 AM
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I like the idea that orcs use ritual consumption of the dead. .

This sounds really cool. I could see as a natural development from the scarcity of food orcs are generally portrayed as living with (since, in most settings, they live in or were forced to some wasteland like area). It could also fit the warrior mentality in the sense of eating the fallen gives you their strength. This equates to honoring the dead by acknowledging their strength in the act of consuming them. If you want a tribal feel, this is the orc's way of living on with the tribe, strengthening them for future fights.

In an interesting twist, this could make orcs feared as 'cannibals' who try to eat humans and elves, but in actuality orcs generally wouldn't eat most enemies, since they are undeserving of the honor.

I could envision a long-lasting war between orcs and humans ending, with mutual respect on both sides. The orc chieftain respected the human general who was slain before the war ended, and is invited to the funeral. When he goes up to pay last respects, aghast at how little honor the general is being shown, he takes a bite out of the corpse. The war resumes out of the social outrage, with the orcs feeling the humans as dishonorable dogs who don't recognize their own, and the humans horrified at the orcs' desecration.

cobaltstarfire
2017-02-15, 12:47 PM
Races like the Lizardfolk and Kobolds probably don't have much in the ways of burial rites.

They have both been described as viewing dead bodies as nothing but empty shells, if they did anything it would either be to give the body back to nature, or to consume it, since meat is meat. (Druidic non-monstrous societies may also be like this, there are human cultures which view a dead body is nothing but a shell to be left to be taken by the elements and wildlife)

Especially within the context of 5e if you want to stay with the fluff given in the books. Lizardfolk really do see dead bodies, even of their own kind, as just meat.

Personal belongings are then scattered to members of the community that want/need those items, I can't remember if this was described in any books. But it would work for both Kobolds and Lizardfolk who usually have to scrape out a living and be resourceful.


I would hope at least some of the races get to treat death as a celebration more than a somber occasion. I mean, D&D is a world there is a knowable afterlife that is desirable (dependent on alignment I suppose), where information can flow in both directions.

redwizard007
2017-02-15, 01:01 PM
Look to real world examples.

In my world, dwarves must be buried under stone or a cairn, or their souls could be whisked away to the wrong afterlife.

Elves place their dead on wooden scaffolding to be consumed by birds.

Orcs leave their dead where they fall. The scavengers carry the souls of the worthy to the afterlife and **** out the rest.

Malimar
2017-02-15, 01:04 PM
One of my favorite funeral rites comes from Star Trek, where when a klingon dies, his companions yell and shout and make lots of noise to warn the afterlife that a mighty klingon warrior is coming to pillage their loot. I stole this concept for followers of the god of destruction in my setting; works well for orcs or hobgoblins.

Beneath
2017-02-15, 02:53 PM
Burial rites are deeply tied to beliefs about the afterlife, and also to an extent the role of the dead in the community for the living (like, letting one's survivors get closure; also sanitation, as has been mentioned).

In D&D, any religion capable of fielding 9th-level clerics (in 3e and 5e at least; I'd have to check what level in older editions) is capable of getting empirical facts about the afterlife through spells like Commune and Plane Shift, so if their folk beliefs diverge too much from the empirical truth that would be because the clergy is lying to them.

The body itself doesn't have a role in the afterlife at all, and whether you get to the afterlife seems only loosely connected to proper performance of burial rites (occasionally you get a ghost who's pissed off if their body's mistreated, but otherwise you get the same afterlife if you're sent off in all pomp and circumstance as if you're left where you fell). In fact, the body left behind is arguably a weakness of the soul, since depending on your version of D&D canon making someone into undead interferes with their afterlife even if it's mindless undead, nevermind a wight or wraith or something.

Anything that acts to preserve the remains makes little sense in this case, unless it somehow also protects them from being made undead (petrification, as mentioned above, is good in this case and something I hadn't thought of), or you're saving the body to raise or ressurect it. Grave goods make little sense as well since you can't take them with you (which is unfortunate, since D&D needs grave goods to be a thing to justify tombs. I guess that's why all the tombs with loot in them are full of undead; they aren't bothered about taking their stuff with them since they aren't leaving).

Cremation is likely, as are things that accelerate decomposition (especially for agricultural deities). Cannibalism is good, esp. for orcs. If some magic that's not in the books is added that makes dead bodies in an area a focus for something positive for the people there (maybe a ritual to get advice from the dead in a graveyard?) then burial becomes more likely. Otherwise, as it is, the body is an anchor tying the spirit to the mortal world in a way that is far easier to use for harm, both to the dead person in question and to any living people around, than for good, so to that end most funerary practices will probably focus on destroying the body in some way or otherwise making it unsuitable for necromancy.

Funerary rites performed by the deceased's enemies would likely be about showing respect to a fallen enemy and ensuring that they don't come back to haunt you (literally, but possibly also figuratively), more than anything else; this does mean assuring the soul safe passage to the afterlife unless you're binding it to something to prevent ressurection. Remember that if they have survivors they may want the corpse returned rather than disposed of promptly

oudeis
2017-02-15, 04:22 PM
Beneath's post reminds me of an argument I had with a friend regarding undead and burial rites. Long story short, I felt that the presence and power of The Gods in most settings- especially the WotC defaults- would trump mortal necromancy, period. The dead would stay dead. Anyone buried in hallowed ground or a devout follower of [insert deity name here] would be off-limits- in every meaning of the word- for arcane reanimation. Obviously, followers of evil gods might not be bound or care about this, but wizards and sorcerors would be forced to look outside of settled areas for raw material.

Lord Torath
2017-02-15, 04:25 PM
Or desecrate the Hallowed Ground. Ritual sacrifice, or other rituals could be used to "unhallow" the burial ground.

Beneath
2017-02-15, 09:11 PM
Beneath's post reminds me of an argument I had with a friend regarding undead and burial rites. Long story short, I felt that the presence and power of The Gods in most settings- especially the WotC defaults- would trump mortal necromancy, period. The dead would stay dead. Anyone buried in hallowed ground or a devout follower of [insert deity name here] would be off-limits- in every meaning of the word- for arcane reanimation. Obviously, followers of evil gods might not be bound or care about this, but wizards and sorcerors would be forced to look outside of settled areas for raw material.

That's certainly a way of doing it, though it swings the undead army necromancer even more toward being a cleric since they can have their god push through that and a wizard can't.

Burial would probably be less common than it is in the real world, though; a lot of the reason why it's common IRL is because of beliefs that the body is important to the afterlife (take ancient Egypt for instance; also certain forms of Christianity believe that the body should be kept intact in preparation for bodily resurrection at the second coming, or something; I don't know much theology and it's off-topic for this forum anyway). Since D&D religions can empirically verify that bodies are not important to the afterlife, there'd be a lot less importance on preserving bodies. Still some; some people might want to be able to visit a dead loved one's grave.

Areas that have a lot of space and very few necromancers might favor graves, for that reason, while areas that have very recently fought off undead would have cremation or other means of destruction being more common, or even mandatory.

One possible excuse for grave goods, too, would be a tomb where someone is kept pending a ressurection spell; you'd want to have enough there that they're ready to do whatever they need to do when the spell is cast, but you can wait on the spell for years or decades if you don't have the resources to cast it immediately. Though these tombs wouldn't be final resting places and would be more temporary affairs.

All of this changes, of course, if you change the afterlife from what's established as D&D standard or as Forgotten Realms canon (not the same thing, but close enough). If you make bodies important, then you can swing funerary customs around completely.