The thing that kills me (pun not intended) is that I had a great answer to this question a couple days ago. I’ve wondered for a long time why it is that clerics, priests, paladins, or other “holy men” are so fired up to eliminate undead for their deities in roleplaying games. No one else gets nearly as worked up about eradicating monsters as these guys, and it’s almost always the undead. Why?

I think my answer from the other day had something to do with zombies and vampires and some vague connection to politics. It bugs me that modern mainstream media provide regular and consistent examples of religion (depicted as belief) versus science (depicted as reason), completely ignoring that religion is the source of science, and therefore reason. Belief is just as important to science as reason is to religion.

But I digress. Trying to reconstruct the original thought brought me to the idea of holy men (representing reason) fighting the evils of undeath, which represent the loss of individual freedom and choice. Going by the conversion analogy, it’s the good guys out-proselytizing the bad guys. Undead are just another designated villain for the characters to beat up for experience levels and treasure.

But then, I wonder. D&D, and most roleplaying games by extension (because they’re based on D&D, whether they’re open or conscious of that fact or not) see death as a failure, and undeath as a way of “cheating the system.” Perhaps the eradication of undead is seen as a kind of ridiculous, “cheaters never prosper,” karmic justice?

You know what? From the beginning of this, I thought I had an answer, and by the end, I found I was unsatisfied with the conclusions I arrived at. Maybe it’s because I’m missing the key elements of the argument I had before, or whatever particular brainwave I had are gone. Maybe it’s time to go a level deeper. What’s the real question I’m trying to ask, and why is it important?