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Undeath artwork

For some, death is only the beginning. These undead push aside the dirt and slowly climb from their dark graves as flesh peels from their bones. Their tortured souls materialize and hover in the air, as if a cold, blue flame suddenly ignited. They awake on the tables of cruel necromancers and feel an unnatural hunger twist their stomachs. Undead wander the land with a single-minded purpose, incessantly searching to fulfill some dark desire. What is it that ripped you back from the blissful rest of afterlife? Was it unfinished business? Dark magic? An eternal hunger for human flesh? Whatever drives you, the living shall have no respite. Death has come for them.

Examples of Undeath characters include:


Dead Nerves

(Undeath | Combat)

  • Gain the defense "Dead Nerves ☐". Mark it when you suffer a Bad Tale that an undead creature could ignore. If that Bad Tale gave you a condition, completely ignore all negative effects associated with that condition
  • Descriptions
  • ignoring a fatal wound
  • unnatural resilience
  • undead anatomy
  • your rotten organs
  • Examples
  • your guts spilling out
  • carry around your decapitated head
  • ignore a sword through your heart
  • Death Throes

    (Undeath | Combat)

  • Collaborate on something powerful that happens when you die
  • Descriptions
  • your soul exploding
  • uttering a final curse
  • completing your most powerful spell
  • finding vengeance
  • Examples
    What Happens
  • explode in necrotic energy
  • take your attacker with you
  • return as a ghost
  • curse someone
  • Death Watch

    (Undeath | Combat)

  • Whenever you or one of your closest allies would die, they instead hold onto life for several minutes or hours, depending on the severity of their injuries. During this time, they can be healed as normal to potentially avoid death. Also, the GM must answer honestly whenever you ask how close a creature is to death
  • Descriptions
  • hiding them from death
  • altering their anatomy
  • extending their life with necromancy
  • Drain Soul

    (Undeath | Combat)

  • You can take a defying or recently dead creature's soul. Write it on your character sheet (max 5). Others can't interact with the soul (such as to resurrect it or communicate with it) without your consent. Also, you can forever obliterate the soul to temporarily gain some of its power. Collaborate on what it entails
  • Descriptions
  • soul strands rising to your clenched fist
  • capturing its spirit in a gem
  • devouring its essence
  • Examples
  • increase one of your stats
  • bolster to do what it did well
  • gain a temporary CharacterTrait
  • summon its spirit
  • Plaguebearer

    (Undeath | Combat)

  • Collaborate on a disease that you carry, and how it spreads. You are immune to it
  • Descriptions
  • pallid skin
  • sunken eyes
  • pus-filled boils on your skin
  • black blood
  • skin covered in a sheen of sweat
  • Examples
  • virus
  • bacteria
  • worm parasites
  • fungal mushroom spores
  • dark curse
  • the seed of a corrupted plant
  • Symptoms
  • vomit and nausea
  • painful boils
  • extreme fever
  • necrosis
  • coughing
  • weakness
  • eventual death
  • Transmitted by
  • skin-to-skin contact
  • damaging someone
  • bodily fluids
  • drawing a rune on their skin
  • Reanimate

    (Undeath | Combat)

  • Collaborate on a death condition and how quickly you reanimate. If you die and your death condition isn't met, you return to life
  • Descriptions
  • crawling out of a shallow grave
  • coalescing from death
  • pulling yourself out of the spirit realm
  • Examples
    Death Condition
  • staked in the heart
  • decapitated
  • killed when your phylactery is destroyed
  • poisoned
  • Touch of Death

    (Undeath | Combat)

  • You can kill a creature that isn't significantly more powerful than you. Collaborate on how this CharacterTrait works
  • Descriptions
  • ripping apart their soul
  • turning their blood to acid
  • decapitating them
  • withering their flesh
  • Examples
    How it Works
  • lose a fraction of your soul to fuel the spell
  • they haunt you afterward
  • you anger death itself
  • Bloodseeker

    (Undeath | Exploration)

  • You can hear far heartbeats with perfect accuracy. While focusing on someone, you can sense and understand every part of their physiology as if you'd dissected them and carefully studied every body part
  • Descriptions
  • hearing blood course through their veins
  • noticing subtle changes in their physiology
  • Examples
  • smell disease
  • hear a nervous heartbeat
  • feel the warmth of arousal
  • see pregnancy
  • taste their fear
  • Despoiler

    (Undeath | Exploration)

  • You can cause far plants and objects to wither and decay
  • Descriptions
  • withering plants to dry husks
  • rusting metal
  • spoiling food and water
  • warping wood
  • cracking stone
  • Eternal Hunger

    (Undeath | Exploration)

  • You no longer need to eat or drink. Collaborate on 1 new need that you must fulfill at least once a week or starve. When you excessively indulge in this need, you heal as if you received 1 day of bed rest and medical attention, and you're bolstered to do anything
  • Descriptions
  • cold skin
  • no pulse
  • you don't bleed when you're cut
  • obsessive desire
  • growling stomach
  • Examples
    New Needs
  • drink blood
  • eat nightmares
  • consume souls
  • feast on fear
  • absorb magic
  • devour nightmares
  • Haunt

    (Undeath | Exploration)

  • You can awaken the terrain. It becomes sentient and gains XP equal to half your total XP, which it can spend however it wants. Collaborate on its personality. Its disposition toward you significantly improves
  • Descriptions
  • spilling your blood into the earth
  • binding a spirit to the land
  • corrupting the area
  • enchanting it
  • Examples
    Terrain Actions
  • open and close doors
  • attract or repel creatures
  • alter its geography
  • a ship sails itself
  • Pierce the Veil

    (Undeath | Exploration)

  • You can see the spirit world. Collaborate on what that entails
  • Descriptions
  • looking through ghost eyes
  • shifting your soul
  • your eyes going black
  • seeing dead people
  • Examples
  • see recently dead spirits
  • murderers appear to have blood-stained hands
  • see where a death occurred
  • Unlife and Unlimb

    (Undeath | Exploration)

  • You can attach and reattach your body parts. You control your detached body parts and sense the world through them. You can instantly heal some conditions (such as an amputated arm) in this way
  • Descriptions
  • watching through an eyeball
  • crawling with a hand
  • pulling your guts back inside yourself
  • Wraith

    (Undeath | Exploration)

  • You can become ethereal or return to your normal form. Ethereal things pass through non-ethereal things like a ghost, and vice versa
  • Descriptions
  • taking a ghostly form
  • crossing dimensions
  • turning to mist
  • becoming a living shadow
  • Aura of Death

    (Undeath | Interaction)

  • You can give all far creatures the overwhelming desire to leave the area
  • Descriptions
  • whispering dark words
  • creating a sudden chill
  • giving people an unsettling feeling in their guy
  • Banshee's Wail

    (Undeath | Interaction)

  • You can emit an incredibly loud sound. Far creatures gain the condition "Deaf" until the ringing stops. The sound also shatters glass and shakes structures
  • Descriptions
  • screaming the cries of the dead
  • wailing in agony
  • speaking with death's otherworldly voice
  • Braaaiins

    (Undeath | Interaction)

  • You can gain some of dead creature's knowledge and memories
  • Descriptions
  • eating its brains
  • consuming its soul
  • enslaving it in the afterlife
  • absorbing its brain waves
  • Charon's Toll

    (Undeath | Interaction)

  • You can sacrifice 1 treasure to negate 1 Bad Tale
  • Descriptions
  • buying coins to pay death's toll
  • turning treasure into ash
  • giving coins to a shadowy hand
  • Medium

    (Undeath | Interaction)

  • You can speak to the dead. You must have access to part of a creature's body, or something that was important to it in life
  • Descriptions
  • opening a door to the afterlife
  • tugging at a soul strand
  • sending your voice into the grave world
  • Possess

    (Undeath | Interaction)

  • You can vanish and take control of a corpse or vulnerable creature. Use its stats and traits instead of your own, but you retain this CharacterTrait. If the body you're possessing has more XP than you, gain a condition you can't remove until you end the possession. Your host can attempt to rebel against your possession
  • Descriptions
  • overpowering its soul
  • becoming a spirit and moving inside of it
  • infecting its thoughts
  • Revenant

    (Undeath | Interaction)

  • You can return a dead creature to life. Give them a quest. They remain alive as long as they treat that quest as their foremost goal in life. Collaborate on what happens after they complete
  • Descriptions
  • giving them a second chance
  • letting them tie up loose ends
  • ripping them out of the afterlife
  • Examples
    After the Quest
  • they can do as they please
  • they can pursue 1 quest of their own choosing before they die

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    Physical contact and adjacent spaces


    Several steps, or 3 spaces


    A room, or 5 spaces


    A building, or 10 spaces

    Very Far

    Several buildings, or 20+ spaces



    Players can spend their bolsters to increase a related roll. The GM can spend bolsters to make a PC decrease a related roll. Unspent bolsters eventually expire.

    Refer to Chapter 2 of the rules for more about increasing/decreasing rolls


    Traits that tell you to collaborate are intentionally vague and ambiguous. Work with the GM to create a balanced and thematically appropriate effect. Collaborations should be an ongoing process. For example, you may discover that an effect is too strong or weak after a few sessions, so you and the GM should rebalance the effect


    A condition is anything that temporarily affects your capabilities or status.

    Refer to Chapter 3 of the rules for more about conditions


    Defenses make you more resilient during Challenges. Defenses grant one or more boxes, which function the same as Challenge Number boxes. However, defenses have unique requirements that allow you to mark them only in specific situations


    A minion is a creature that serves another creature through a contract.

    Refer to Chapter 7 of the rules for more about minions


    A shrine is a divine conduit that allows a specific deity or set of deities to affect the mortal world.

    Refer to the Faith theme of the rules for more about shrines

    Temporary Item Trait

    A temporary item trait is any item trait that you did not spend XP to acquire. Temporary item traits come from a variety of source: magic items, potions, spells, etc. They're free and don't affect the XP cost of buying other item traits. You can't upgrade temporary item traits

    Temporary Trait

    A temporary trait is any that you did not spend XP to acquire. Temporary traits come from a variety of source: magic items, potions, spells, etc. They're free and don't affect the XP cost of buying other traits. You can't upgrade temporary traits


    Worldbuilding a collaborative process wherin the players and the GM work together to create something about the game world. One person is in charge of the worldbuilding event, and the other players support that player.

    Refer to Chapter 6 of the rules for more about world building


    A zone is an area of effect. If a trait affects a zone, collaborate on logically fitting zones that you can create with that trait, and write them into your trait. Example zones:
    Blast: An explosion that affects one space and adjacent spaces. Blast attacks can be melee or ranged.
    Cone: A 90° cone that extends out to a Close distance. Cone attacks are considered to be melee.
    Line: This is a line of spaces that extends out to a Far distance. Line attacks are considered to be ranged.


    Tavern Tales Toolkit 0.0.1-alpha-5

    Based on the Kickstarter 1.0.1 version of Tavern Tales with minor modifications


    • Metamagic has been renamed Augment and moved from Arcane traits into General traits
    Tavern Tales, the Tavern Tales logo, and any other associated artwork were orginally © 2014-2017 by Dabney Bailey, and has since been released under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license


    Tavern Tales KS 1.0.1 on Fandom Tavern Tales Discord