Approximately 1 out of 100 corpses will rise up as an undead zombie, if left unattended. The prevalence of Undead is due to the will of the mysterious god Hadragor The Defiler. The Curse of Hadragor, as it is known, seems to have started at the fall of the Thearchy, due to Hadragor’s desires to blur the boundary between the living and dead.
It takes between 1 hour and 7 days for a corpse to rise. The Curse affects animals as well as sapient beings. Civilized folk consider rising as a zombie to be an abomination, and so civilized burial practices are largely based on the principle of making the dead stay dead (see Funereal Rites, below). However, in wilderness and uncivilized areas, undead people and animals are a fairly common sight.
In general, the Undead are only slighly more dangerous than their living counterparts. They tend to follow the routines they had in life, albeit very badly. An undead farmer will still attempt to farm, but will end up just destroying crops. An undead banker would rise at dawn and go to the counting house, but have no ability to count. An undead cow will still graze, but is as likely to try to graze the bottom of a lake as an open field. However, any attempt to divert the creature from its routine will cause it to attack its interloper, and the undead creature will fight until it is put down, or until that interloper is dead. Thus, most people will give a wide berth to any undead they encounter: live and let … unlive.
On the other hand, If a creature was dangerous in life — a tiger, or a murderer, for example — it will be more dangerous in death. It will be stronger, more aggressive, and completely implacable.
Priests of Hadragor and Angkidu can both control the Undead. Ankiduan clerics uses this ability to keep society safe, while Hadragorites use it to terrorize the living.
Hadragor’s Curse is a big enough problem, that most societies fund a class of warrior whose sole job it is to rid the world of the unquiet dead. These warriors, known as Dead Reckoners, can be salaried or paid by bounty. In either case, they range over the domain of their employer in search of the Dead to kill. A Reckoner can be a Holy Warrior (usually a worshiper of Angkidu, Altabrax, or Molmet), or a simple mercenary.
In wilderness areas, Dead Reckoners are often the fiercest fighters, as they will have to terminate undead predators, bandits, and even Hadraghaunts (see below).
In areas where funereal rites are followed promptly (such as Xantos), the city will keep a Reckoner on retainer, to deal with beggar corpses or people who died in their sleep. Most city Dead Reckoners are more akin to a dog catcher or an exterminator than a special forces operative.
For reasons known only to Hadragor himself, upon their death, about 1 out of 10,000 sapient beings (so, 1 in 100 non-animal undead), become a terrifying undead horror known as a Hadraghaunt. A Hadraghaunt seems to have the sole purpose of making more corpses. These terrifying beasts are known to exhibit a number of powers including bizarre magical weapons, making the dead rise almost immediately, absorbing enormous amounts of damage, and growing in size.