At the end of the Age of Wonder, when the Black Arc of magic caused catastrophic effects across much of the world, many of the holds of the dwarves were destroyed due to massive earthquakes which split the very mountains they were built within.
The hapless inhabitants within the holds suffered untold casualties, and the dwarvern race has never fully recovered from the thousands of lost lives which occurred.
Those who survived drifted northwards, to Vordaal and surviving holds. Of those who died, there were some which did not rest easy. These are the deadkin.
Deadkin are the lingering spirts of dwarves which still walk the passages and halls of the ruined dwarf holds. They are not undead – not in the usual term (if there is such a thing as ‘usual’ undead). They are ethereal, and so can’t be harmed by physical means. Even magic has limited effects on them. Light magic, which is traditionally used to combat spirits and unnatural creatures, seems to have little effect. The reason for this is possibly due to dwarves not being formed initially from contact with the Black Arc. Heat, however, does seem to at least keep them at bay.
Deadkin appear as the shimmering forms of dwarf commoners, sometimes barely perceptible and at others more clearly formed. Their faces are twisted in agony and loss; they know they are dead.
They can drift through rock and living beings, though the latter should try to avoid this at all costs.
Ancient dwarf holds are rumoured (and indeed, are almost certain) to contain vast treasure vaults, attracting adventurers and explorers who wish to make names and riches for themselves. Most who venture into the holds do not return, and most who do return as jabbering madmen; their minds lost as they came into contact with the deadkin.
Merely seeing a deadkin can have stark effect on one’s mind; their appearance strikes terror into even the hardiest soul. For those who allow themselves to come into physical contact, though, the effects are far worse.
Deadkins emit an aura of searing cold, which is a good indication that one of more of them are near. Coming into contact with one is likely to literally freeze the area of the body touched, which leads to massive shock and more than likely death.
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