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The undead don't often occur naturally, not even in most fantasy worlds. Living skeletal warriors are usually the result of a necromancer's foul magical practices. Dark energies channeled by the caster knit the bones of the long-dead back together and put that spark to whatever dark whim. In short, they are a result of necromantic magic, dark energies funneled into an empty carcass that create a functioning servant of death.
Long dead soldiers appear as you'd expect. They are shambling skeletons covered in rotting armor, usually clasping a worn, spiky club or a blunt, steel sword.
The risen undead usually have no will of their own. They usually function solely as a servant of whatever dark magician conjured them. So depending on the skill of the caster, they can be disciplined and orderly or shambling, clumsy horrors. They are renown for they're bitter contempt for anything living -both they're greatest envy and a horrible reminder of they're current aimless state.
The undead have no fear, no remorse, no pity; they know no pain and never require rest. That is why they make the best foot soldiers, they take commands and kill without questions. However, they cannot act on they're own without a master to command them and they are horrendously slow. Also it is said that the undead can only function under cover of night.