"Properly" Buried... heads ?

Ok, this may seems like a silly situation (in a morbid way, sure) I'm asking about, but please bear with me...

If an assassin takes her victim's head with her (easier and more discreet than dragging a whole body out of a castle :unamused: ...), could she (as promptly as possible) arrange for the victim's head to receive a "proper" (ahem) christian burial, thus preventing potential Me spells on the victim's body ? This might come out at some cloak-and-daggerish Tribunal I'm currently cooking.

Comments, Critiscim (and even curses) welcome. 8)

The priest will ask questions for sure...
But I don't see any reason why this shouldn't be possible. Even burying an empty coffin qualifies as a proper burial.

On the other hand:
If the priest knows whats going on, and he very likely does, and buries the head without trying to get the body, and takes a bribe to remain silent...
Well in that case, as a SG, Id say it's not a proper burial. Demons in the area surely would take interest in what is happening there.

first, thanks for the answer. 8)

Interesting. So, if the priest is even slightly corrupt, or at least "bribable" (sorry), that's not a proper burial... ?
I guess that if the priest doesn't know (yet) what's going on but, yes, take an... "encouragement" for speeding thing up the burial would be proper. I didn't realise that so much depended on the priest virtue, to tell you the truth.

IIRC you do not need a priest at all for a Chistian burial. As long as the intention of the dudes doing the burial is to have it properly done, the burial is valid. However, the described priest is sooooo much in a state of Sin that it is likely that he does not even INTEND the victim to receive a pass to the afterlife. Not "the good one", at least.


Well this is no official ruling of the church. It's just what I suggest to keep the game balanced.

A priest, presented with a head, or enough parts of a body to tell a person i dead, would perform a burial for the poor souls sake. He would need to remain silent if the assassin confessed to him (Storytelling here, I have no idea if this is historically correct).

What if this happens twice? Five times? Ten times?

The priest is bound to perform the burial and remain silent. Does this make him an assassins complice? Can an assassins complice perform a proper burial?
Is it a proper burial if the head is secretly buried? That sounds more like a black mass to me...

This just needs to be ambigous, something an assassin cannot surely rely on. It just makes the story more interesting.
If your assassin just can go "Bury this!" to escape investigations thats just like "We break and enter the castle invisibly, without making sound or leaving traces for the zillionth time in a row" yawn

Pretty sure that's not true. I seem to recall that the parishoners of even false preists receive the spiritual benefits of the sacrements despite their priests failings.

That said, we must also remember the God is Just. He is unlikely to allow you to get away with murder simply because you exploit a sacremental loophole in Magic Theory. While the properly burried head may indeed gain for the body the immunity to magic which you seek, the Divine may find other ways to bring about justice and punish the wrongdoer.

Also, demons who take great interest in a murderer who used the holy sacrements to conceal his crimes in so cynical and vile a manner.

Pretty much, if you go by Church teaching, ever since St. Augustine won his debate with the Donatists back in the 5th century. I seem to recall several of the High Medieval heresies disagreeing with this interpretation though. It's an interesting question what the objective (confirmed by magic) reality in Mythic Europe will be.

I could see the next time the bishop makes rounds and hears from multiple priests about the heads they have buried since the assassin went to a different one each time to try to keep it from seeming usual or repeat.

Then again, the last time my maga broke into a castle without leaving a trace other than some people sleeping on duty, she stole some hair from the pillow and clothing of a duke from his bedroom and then went home to fix the arcane connection for scrying and mentem manipulation.

Many thanks to all for those clarifications, and all the ideas I get from them. :smiley:

I think there is a tension between the rites being performed (correctly, even) and the intent. I think it's a very game-ist way of thinking, to take just the head and bury that and call it proper. It isn't proper as you're burying just part of the corpse. And not for the reason that the body was partly destroyed and you're treating the remains with dignity. No, you're trying to pull a fast one on the Divine. That doesn't seem to work for me, to be honest.

So why not have a thousand little demons doing their best to disrupt the burial process? The communion wine becomes highly intoxicating. The grave keeps collapsing before the body is interred. The priest hears voices and sees dark things just to the side of his vision. He forgets his prayers. The head goes missing. Any number of things could go wrong to disrupt the burial and to prove hell's interest in the protagonist's affairs - they've proven they are willing to affront heaven, so now they're of interest. Of course... one demon in particular may be able to allow the rite to continue unmolested, in return for a favour in kind of course.

Or the burial goes perfectly fine with the desired result because the rites are performed. On the other hand, the assassin has a horde of demons around him for the attention provoked, all with offers that he is not to refuse including telling the people he doesn't want to know about the killing, the identity of the killer. This brings up the issue of do investigators deal with demons to get information that they know.

As a counterpoint, I could believe that the Divine might grant to the poor murdered soul peace and rest (which is, after all, what the "proper" burial ought to do) while at the same time setting in motion events that would thwart the assassin's sinister purpose. At the extreme, I could see the "proper" burial providing the body with immunity to magic and setting the spirit at rest... but anyone who tried to use magic on the body or summon the spirit in the righteous search for justice would instead receive an angelic messenger who would answer their questions.

Or a demonic messsenger that answers their questions in hopes to eventually get them to trust him and get their souls as well as the soul of the assassin.

Maybe it is me but.... Wouldn't it be more nortmal to bury THE BODY and call it "proper"? Only the head without the body is strange to be buried.

ANd I agree. This can work once or twice, but not on a regular basis without heaven stamping you with the "meat for the moral slaughterhouse, proceed to termination" brand.


Or a faerie (or series of faeries) who takes the form of the beheaded body, haunting those responsible for the murder and defiling of the body.


There are two reasons for this, basically.

  1. The grave is where the head is, if a body isdismembered, according to some Catholic Lore. On the day of judgement, when the dead rise, Saint Anddrew is not going to rise up in the half-dozen places where his relics are kept. He's going to rise where his skull is, or was when it become dust.

  2. God makes good the lack, from His mercy. If Vikings killa village worth of people and put their heads in a pile, no, you don't need to do a fleshjigsaw to give everyone a Christian burial.

The murderer is killed someone therefore his soul is damned. Why would demons come to him? They don't have a job here.

The source of such strange effects can be only the Divine. Especially because the murderer wants to exploit the Divine might.

I can imagine a demon whispering in the ear of the PRIEST that this is a perfectly legit way of doing things, and that if the murderer can get away with this, then he desiring the wife of his neighbor is not THAT terrible.

Sin by comparative behaviour.

Demons making sure the killing is done when the assasinated guy was in a state of mortal sin would also be normal. And well, this is like going to the movies for themons: sit down relax with your popcorn and enjoy the show. :mrgreen:


That's certainly another spin on it.

hehe :smiling_imp: