02. The Runelands
Postmortality: On Undeath • Stygia & the Underworld
While the term 'Deadlander' is both a cultural distinction as well as a specific heritage in the Runelands, this article refers specifically to the post-mortal denizens of the Overworld's Deadlands, and the inhabitants of the Underworld. Also, before anyone sues me over this, yes.. it's largely from White Wolf's Exalted and 4th edition D&D, with a few of my own touches for flavour.
Without repeating overly, unlike the Overworld, the Underworld represents a single kingdom, ostensibly ruled by the Dual Monarchy (The King in Yellow and the Raven Queen) and overseen by the provincial Deathlords, with the help of their Deathknights. While cultural differences between municipalities exist, it is safe to apply these attributes to all Deadlander characters, whatever part of the Underworld you may be in.
While it might seem a bit odd to start an entry about the Dead with living beings, the Ascending Order of Perfected Undeath (colloquially, The Grim Faith) starts at the bottom, with those who have yet to die. The Grim Faith treats the living much as the living treat children, although physical maturity doesn't ameliorate this one bit. As is explained in greater depth on the Underworld page, the living want for nothing in the Deadlands. There's a reason for this.
While alive, food, shelter, education, and entertainment are all provided for the living free of cost, to exploit or ignore as they will. Undead society takes free will very seriously, and no postmortal Deadlander would dream of interfering with a mortal's chosen path.
Because there is an understanding that one's duty to one's society begins at the moment of their death. With the meritocratic nature of the postmortal society, one's station after their demise is directly related to the accomplishments of their life. While it is entirely possible, not remotely illegal, and rather easy to waste one's mortal existence with sex and drugs and rock n' roll and still rise to one's purpose after life, that purpose is going to be far less grandiose than someone who has spent their living days applying themselves to becoming a better citizen in their postmortal career. Zombies need to eat, after all, and sometimes the only thing someone's good for after they die is feeding them. As lunch.
Because of the ancestor-worship nature of The Faith, every Deadlander is indoctrinated in the proper forms of respect and obeisance for ancestors and groomed for undeath from the moment of their birth. Those with the means usually hire astrologers to consult the Orrery and the Constellations, and apply their knowledge to determine the optimal moment for an individual's Resurrection often to the minute. As a result, many Deadlanders discover at an early age that not only are they going to die, but (barring disaster) when. In a parallel to mortal coming of age customs, many Deadlands families make an affair of this; in a ceremony called Resurrection, an individual's entire family attends to see them ritually prepared and killed, then re-animated in a state best suited for their continuing purpose in eternity. This can get gory.
Living Deadlanders therefore are more or less typical members of any of the normal Heritages you care to provide, but with a necessarily fatalistic outlook.