It depends upon the system.

In it's strictist sense, if I remember my voodu, a zombi is literally a walking corpse, ie, a being with a spirit stil wandering around the earth, who also happens to be dead. Apparently zombies could be very powerful prietst and magicians, ---- particularly because their bodies were dead, even though there minds and spirits were stil okay.

Recently though, --- probably in the trend started by the Richard matheson novel I am legend (generally creddited as the first zombi appocalypse novel, filmed as night of the living dead), the term zombi means literally an animated corpse with little to know spirit or will power of it's own, only usually a desire for hunge, indeed often zombies are forced to someone else's will or command.

ghosts, vampires and various other undead beings are held to possess a will of their own, ---- hence the difference.

of course, these aren't hard and fast rules. skeletons can be one thing or the other, ---- the aztech death god Miktanticutli (appologies for miss spelling), was depicted as a walking skeleton, though of course in fiction skeletons are also often the slaves of others (look at entombed).

Then, just to confuse things further, the original I am legend book didn't feature zombies, but vampires! though this was changed in the night of the living dead film, and the vampires in the book are certainly more like the classic zombi than count dracular.

I suppose the distinctions is that "undead" is just a wandering carcus which really has no volition to act on it's own accept perhaps hunger, where as living dead refers to something which acts alive even though it was dead, ---- though once again, this can be up to the whim of the author.

I suppose ultimately it's just that death is mysterious, corpses are disgusting, and thus they make good subjects for stories.

Beware the grue!


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