Hi Bryan,
I think it is more a matter of semantics than anything else.
Technically speaking, undead can refer to any type of living dead
creature be it a vampire, zombie, skeleton,  or ghost.  Some authors,
particularly those in the RPG genre, tend to make some sort of
distinction between undead and living dead. However, depending on
religion, culture, and where the mythology began you can find some
major differences in the description of the same kind of mythical
For example, in Entombed a Kobold is some sort of humanoid creature
that can subdivide etc. However, while this type of Kobold is popular
in Dungeons and Dragons type adventures it is completely unlike the
original historical description of a Kobold. For historians, like me,
a Kobold is a small mischievous type of creature, kind of like an elf,
that was popular in Germanic folklore.  Completely different from what
people think kobolds are today.
The same kind of confusing twist applies to this subject of the undead
and living dead.  A skeleton is generally regarded as a dull witted
undead creature controlled by a necromancer or spell caster. However,
there are plenty of skeleton creatures in mythology where it is a
cruel and an intelligent creature of the undead.
For example, the Grim Reaper is always shown as a skeleton dressed in
black robes who comes to claim the souls of the dead, and also rides a
pale horse.  The Grim Reaper is considered to be dead, but also alive
and intelligent. If that isn’t confusing I don’t know what is.
As for Zombies again this depends on which legend you hold to be true
for your story. In Voodoo zombies are creatures where the body dies,
but its spirit is alive and under the control of the person who
enslaved the zombie.  They are not completely mindless creatures, but
they are under the direct control of a master.
In modern horror films and games zombies are completely different.
They tend to be mindless creatures with no will of their own but to
kill and feed on the living.  The may or may not have a master. In
movies like Night of the Living Dead they hunt for humans in hordes,
moaning, and are not very intelligent monsters.  Again, not at all
like what the original stories and mythology says about them.
So what is the difference between living dead and undead? Beats me. I
think the two terms are pretty much one and the same.

On 5/10/10, Bryan Peterson <bpeterson2...@cableone.net> wrote:
> Sorry for the off-topic question but what's the real difference between a
> creature that's just dead one that's undead. Zombies I've heard would be
> considered undead but I've heard skeletons and ghosts aren't.
> He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the holy grail in the castle
> of aaaaggh.

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