Magic Coffins

I was watching Religion and Ethics Newsweekly tonight, where they had a story on funerals in Ghana. One of the most amazing things about the funerary customs there is the idea of “fantasy coffins”. These are actual coffins, intended for real use, that are, well, fantastic. They’re shaped as animals, sneakers, fish, airplanes, vegetables, or just about anything you can imagine, in order to exemplify the life of the, er, occupant.

I thought this was a terrific idea (and if I wasn’t going to be cryonically preserved, I would be putting in an order for a USS Enterprise-shaped coffin right now), and could possibly serve as inspiration for a game. Imagine skulking through a dank and dismal dungeon only to find a crypt with one of these babies (or, perhaps, one shaped like a dragon, or a basilisk, or whatever– that might urge even the bravest adventurers to caution).

There could be a market for steel-lined coffins (with +1 enchantment, perhaps?) for graveyards plagued by ghouls and burrowing giant rats. One could imagine magic coffins intended to either prevent the occupant from becoming one of the undead. Perhaps one is fitted with vials of holy water triggered to douse the occupant in the event of any untoward movement. Or, on the flip side, a villainous necromancer could be in the business of supplying coffins that would actually be guaranteed to do so! There’s an unexpected bonus for a bereaved family who takes the body of their loved one to the funeral parlor:

“I’m so happy you chose our half-couch, hinged-panel, Slumberon™ casket. And for no extra charge, it will bring your loved one back to a horrific state of un-life as a wight on the next new moon, guaranteed! Oh, wait, did I say that last part out loud?”

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Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

2 thoughts on “Magic Coffins

  1. These came up in an episode of QI. Alan Davies: "I want to be buried in a pair of Oxfords. A pair, mind."

    In the same episode, they discussed a Seattle-based company that provide 'live coffin cams'. Imagine the antechamber to a catacombs… in the middle of the room, a crystal ball on a pedestal, showing a succession of decaying faces… and some vacant coffins.

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