Death in a Dungeon, Keeping the Dead Quiet

I just read over at Campaign Mastery about death in RPGs, they brought up a cool idea for a game hook where monks are gathering the dead in town, paying for the bodies, and then screening which ones may have interesting stories, and then casting speak with dead on them. If the body had a story that involved someone who doesn’t want the news broadcasted out the rest of the world or their rivals, like some rich merchant, or a noble; people with money. People caught by the monks would have to pay to keep things quite.

First off, too cool, and in my game world/home game, I have the perfect group of “monks” to do this kind of stuff, my Yolians. My Yol preists are perfect for this sort of thing, they are greedy and subversive, trained to market their religion to the wealthy only to eventually gain the parishioners wealth in the end. I could see a group of Yol priests doing what the people over at Campaign Mastery described, as way to actually generate leads for their church and improve their status.

My question is how do you stop this from happening in a world where people can cast a spell to find out the nitty gritty of someones undoing? In my home game, I know it is hard to cast speak with dead in Jelling since there is a problem with the dead rising shortly after their last breath to walk the island as undead. Since you don’t have long to get to the recently dead, the yolians have setup something like a neighborhood watch in the cities of Jelling, along with 24hour offices where people can bring them news of the ill and the murdered, kind of like an emergency room, but the people are paid to bring them to the bodies. Not a whole lot of people know this about the yolians various plots, because good at keeping their many money generating ventures secret. But, if you know a spell exists that can rat you out, after you’ve just killed someone, how do you foil the divination? In Jelling the dead become undead within 72hours, or when the GM deems the time is right for an undead to appear, elsewhere they are open game for Yol priests and just about anyone else.

In the many incarnations of speak with dead over the years, becoming undead breaks the speak with dead spell. Removing the head? Locate object might defeat that. Destroying the body; that works, but takes time, or super powerful spells could do it. I know the dead get a saving throw against speak with dead that can slow down the divination process (it’s a necromacy spell BTW), but it is not a sure thing.

Could there be a magic item? Say a coin, that you put in the mouth of the victim to increase the probability that the spell fails? Or maybe two coins for the eyes? What would the price be, and who would sell it, or make it?
Seriously, how to you stop guys like these from getting all the info on you?

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About shent_lodge

Shent_lodge, AKA Jon, started this website, in 2000, initially as a player's guide to his home game. He has run through, and run for, hundreds of players of the Dungeons and Dragons game since 1980. These days he plays, or runs games using the WORST RPG rules set.


  1. greentiger says:

    I like something along the lines of enchanted coins over the eyes to keep the dead silent or something like that. I’m sure if the monks are targeting the privileged, the privileged are well aware they are a target and will pay handsomely to prevent their secrets from getting out after their death.

    This could add a wrinkle because someone would be required to put the enchanted coins on the eyes or in the mouth or whatever. Is the name of the person tasked with this a secret? Would the monks go as far to bribe this person or even take them out? How far would they go to figure out who it is?

  2. I see it as an awesome game hook. It would turn a simple murder into a task for the murderer, “shit where did I put those coins?” And it would also make it fun for the investigators “those coins have a magic quality about them, and we can’t decipher who killed the guy, because speak with dead will not work…” We think the coins are a clue… and the adventure starts…

  3. The best answer to the question would be a clerical spell, essentially the reverse of Speak With The Dead – call it “Silence The Dead”. Cast that on a corpse and it nullifies Speak With The Dead. Of course, you might need to increase the duration of the effect metamagically or with an improved form of the spell.

  4. @Mike Cool idea with the Silence the Dead spell it could be used against ghosts too maybe.