constructs, undead, and similar

After the close read of D@W: Campaigns I just did, I was left wondering about a few things in relation to creatures such as Undead and Constructs, or any similar non-living troops. In particular, there are no differences under the rules for strategic movement or supply for these types of troops who need neither food nor rest. Any chance we can see something to address this?

I thought there was a mention that they had no supply cost, except for ghouls and vampires, who need ‘food’.

Constructs and “hungerless troops” are mentioned. I specifically called out the question of ghouls and vampires in my edit. Ghouls are mentioned under carnivorous troops, but they are undead…so what does that mean? They obviously don’t die if they don’t eat. As for vampires, they’re not mentioned anywhere in the Campaigns book. Moreover, there’s no mention of them needing to ‘eat’ in ACKS, in spite of express discussion of several other needs (sleep, coffin, grave soil, etc.). Maybe I’m overthinking it in terms of Supply and they’re all just hungerless, but Movement is still an issue. Undead (and Constructs) certainly don’t need to rest 3 days out of every 7, but they also don’t need rest during a 24 hour period. What does this do to their Strategic Movement?

The reason ghouls and vampires are singled out is that in ACKS’ default cosmogony they are the only types of undead that must feed. I don’t explain this anywhere except in the unpublished Auran Empire setting, but for those who are interested…

Undeath can be thought of as a blight, corruption, impurity, or taint of the Logos. Undeath blocks the natural process of reincarnation from occurring. Either or both the body (form) and soul can be tainted with undeath, and the taint can be spread from tainted creature to creature.

When the body of a living creature becomes tainted by undeath, the soul within is trapped in the impure body upon its death. Ghouls, mummies, and vampires have tainted bodies. Tainted bodies are no longer truly alive and in the absence of magic or physical means of preservation, they rot. Ghouls magically maintain their bodies by feeding on the flesh of the living, vampires by feeding on their blood. Mummies do not feed, so great care is made to physically preserve the body before undeath.

When the soul of a living creature becomes tainted by undeath, the condition of the body is less important; the soul itself is unable to enter the cycle of reincarnation. Wights, wraiths, spectres, and vampires all have tainted souls. Undead with tainted souls are greatly feared, for their chilling touch spreads the corruption of their soul. Once tainted, an affected creature is greatly weakened, as the tainted portion of its soul works against the pure potion that remains

Very cool. I really like the way you’ve rationalized (for lack of a better term) many of D&D’s tropes, and I’m definitely looking forward to the Auran Empire Campaign setting (cause I don’t have enough campaign settings! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ). However, this doesn’t address the movement issue in D@W, which struck me as being of some consequence in the strategic game…

I don’t think Undead and Constructs should necessarily have a strategic movement advantage. I’d envision an army of skeletons and zombies on the march as being more akin to a cattle drive than [pick your favorite historical example of a fast moving army]. Of course, campaigns/Judges may differ.

It’s not about being fast. They’re going to move at the slowest movement rate of all the units (probably the zombies). But they will never, ever, have to stop marching. Ever. Day and night. 7 out of every 7 days. Whereas others must rest for 3 of those.

I wasn’t commenting on speed, but on “command and control”. Continuing the cattle drive analogy, strays must be rounded up and moved along in the correct direction, and if any of the “cowboys” are living, they must rest.

CharlesDM - …and if any of the “cowboys” are living, they must rest.

Sure. And if none of them are? That’s awfully unlikely with Constructs, but Undead? Du rigeur!

I think you are right that undead would have certain strategic advantages that the rules overlook. However, they would also have strategic disadvantages that the rules overlook.


  1. Skeletons and zombies are mindless. It is hard enough to get an army of soldiers who can actually think for themselves to go where they are supposed to. Skeletons and zombies would need to be “herded” (as pointed out above) and this suggests a slower average movement rate.

  2. Think about shoes. In every army, maintaining footgear for soldiers has been essential. It’s so important that a large part of military discipline is devoted to footwear maintenance (shoe shining and inspections). Zombies are dead, rotting humans who don’t heal. In the absence of shoes, their feet will be chewed up quickly. Yes, they can ignore pain. But they still can’t walk fast if they’re walking on stumps. Who is providing the shoes? Who is inspecting the zombies to make sure that they haven’t mindlessly destroyed parts of their bodies on the march? It’s not incorporeal or mindless undead.

  3. Same goes for weapons. Skeletons fight with such implements. Swords need to be sharpened. Shields need to be repaired. Arrows need to be replenished. Who is doing this? It’s not incorporeal or mindless undead.

  4. Who is controlling the undead? If it’s humans, those humans will themselves need rest. And control of undead (through turning) is not permanent. There need to be strategic pauses to re-control them by whichever clerics are doing it. Who is tracking the paperwork for which undead were controlled when? What happens if some slip?

Because of the above, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that most armies that include a portion of undead troops, with primarily human clerics controlling them, and humans supplying them, will therefore strategically maneuver more-or-less like a human army.

A purely undead army, controlled by a lich, with undead commanders and lieutenants, supplied by undead, would surely be able to ignore the penalties for moving without Rest and Recuperation, but would need special rules to deal with attrition, mindlessness, and other problems.