- This article is about the living dead in general. For the playable race of undead, see Undead (playable) or Forsaken. For the Lich King's faction, see Scourge.
The undead are mortals trapped between life and death and animated by necromantic magic. The term refers to all creatures or entities that function normally despite having terminated life functions. Most commonly known as zombies or ghosts, undead beings are typically mindless, bloodthirsty fiends hostile toward any living thing that comes across their path.
The undead have appeared all throughout Azeroth, most commonly in nature as revenants or wraiths. They were used as a combat tool during the First War when the necrolytes of the Horde animated skeletal warriors to fight against the humans. During the Second War, the essence of those necrolytes was used to power the Horde's death knights. Later, the studies of the necrolytes developed into necromancy, the form of magic used heavily in the Third War when the Cult of the Damned spread the plague across Lordaeron.
In modern times, "undead" refers primarily to either the Scourge or the Forsaken, since nearly half of the human race has become undead. According to the lore in most sources, the Forsaken share all the characteristics of standard undead. However, Forsaken player characters and NPCs are for most intents and purposes considered to be "humanoids" in World of Warcraft due to gameplay reasons and do not share all the characteristics of other undead.
Nature of undeath
The CM Nyorloth supplied information on the nature of undeath on February 9th, 2012 on the European Story Forums, stating:
Aside from their affliction, undead also suffer from an addiction to terrible vices that the Lich King instilled in them in order to produce vile and inhumane monstrosities. Death knights for example, possess an addiction to inflict pain. If death knights do not regularly inflict agony upon another creature, they begin to suffer wracking pains that could drive them into a mindless, blood-seeking hysteria. Zombies and Forsaken have a hungering for living flesh and darkfallen have an addiction to consuming blood. It is assumed that all undead have some sort of tormenting addiction to coincide with their undeath.
Generally, most enslaved undead are tormented and restless by their subjugation. Some welcome it if it grants them the benefits of eternal life. Many undead who are sentient enough to understand their circumstances appear emotionally stoic yet passive if not melancholy. The most known emotions that the undead seem to emote are remorse, pity, or rage. Record of undead emoting positive emotions are rare, though there are reports, however, that some Forsaken have slowly experienced a sharpening of their dulled senses of touch, smell, etc., as well as an increase in the flashes of positive emotions that have otherwise become so rare since their fall into undeath, when influenced by the Holy Light. The drawback however, is that they also become disgusted with themselves and are likely to increase attempts at their own self-destruction; for regaining these senses would force the undead to smell their own rotting flesh, taste the decay in their mouths and throats, and even feel the maggots burrowing within their bodies. Some of those that freed themselves from the Lich King's grasp are tormented by memories of the unspeakable horrors that they had committed as mindless Scourge agents and are driven into madness or consumed by regret; whereas others embrace their new condition and may go on to indulge in their vile vices.
Characteristics in World of Warcraft
This section concerns content exclusive to World of Warcraft.
- Cannot be skinned, except for certain undead animals that would otherwise be classified as beasts (i.e.: bears, boars, wolves, etc).
- Generally are unaffected by mind affecting spells, like , sleep or mind control, however, priests can use to temporarily imprison monsters and paladins can use which works just like a fearing spell. This does not apply to player characters of the undead race, which are technically classified as humanoid, for purposes of game-balance.
- Can be tracked by Hunters.
- Death Knights under the effect of are considered undead.
- Death Coil (death knight ability) can heal them, assuming they are of friendly allegiance to the death knight.
Types of undead
- Crawling Claw
- Crypt fiend
- death knight First generation
- death knight Second generation
- Dark Rider
- Mad scientist
- Plague eruptor
Incorporeal undead are ghosts and spirits of the dead.
- Ghost (Captain)
- Spectral gryphon
- Spirit healer
Skeletal undead are skeletons animated by magic.
- Bone golem
- Bone wraith
- Lich (female only)
- Skeletal Animal
- Skeletal Dragons
|The Not-Living||Galakrond||A group of undead proto-dragons created after being cannibalized by Galakrond. They served as his main army against the other proto-dragons, and they were the first undead threat that Azeroth ever faced. The not-living were ultimately destroyed during the future Aspects' final battle against Galakrond.||Northrend||Destroyed|
|The Scourge||The Lich King||Originally created by the Kil'jaeden to help usher the Burning Legion into Azeroth, it went rogue after the Battle of Mount Hyjal and waged a war to destroy all life on Azeroth.||Icecrown Citadel||Inactive|
|The Forsaken||Sylvanas Windrunner||A breakaway group from the Scourge formed after they retook the Capital City of Lordaeron, they swore revenge against the Lich King and joined the Horde in an alliance of convenience.||Undercity||Active|
|Cult of the Damned||Darkmaster Gandling||A cult that seeks to obtain immorality through undeath. They served the Scourge while Arthas Menethil was the Lich King, and since his demise have struggled to hold their claims in the Plaguelands from encroaching Alliance, Horde, and Argent Crusade forces.||Scholomance||Active|
|Rotbrain Undead||Marcus Redpath||A breakaway group from the Forsaken, raised by the val'kyr and united by their refusal to join Forsaken society. The group was ultimately destroyed in its infancy by Forsaken adventurers.||Rotbrain Encampment||Disbanded|
|The Risen||Balnazzar||Created by Balnazzar by kiling Scarlet Crusaders and raising them into undeath with the intention of using them to take conquer the Plaguelands for the Burning Legion. Ultimately they were stopped when adventurers killed their demonic leader.||Scarlet Bastion||Disbanded|
- Tears are not possible for an undead.
- For game balance, the Forsaken are registered as humanoids because, in a PvP setting, they would be massacred with , , , and , but they would also be immune to other CC such as and . Forsaken were classified as undead in Beta, but it proved to be too problematic with PvP balance. Many Forsaken NPCs are also considered humanoid.