The Risen are the undead minions of the Elder Dragon Zhaitan. They consist mostly of the humans of Orr and corsairs, but have many of the species of Tyria within their ranks as well. In the height of Zhaitan's reign, the Risen had spread from the Ring of Fire islands to the northern Elonian border in the Crystal Desert, to the east and west shores of the Sea of Sorrows.
Most of the Risen army are nigh-mindless berserkers, possessing only a fraction of the dragon's willpower. They are often directed by more powerful creatures, such as the many dragon champions of Zhaitan, who act with much more self-will, determination and strategy. Aside from (and sometimes including) Zhaitan's champions, there are specialized Risen, ranging from undercover scouts to abomination-constructing Risen Surgeons. As Zhaitan plundered the Ruins of Orr when it woke, its most powerful servants are the former kings and sorcerers of Orr, as well as the high priests and priestesses of the Six Human Gods. Zhaitan's ranks also include colossal undead species such as the unknown type of undead dragons of which the best known are Blightghast the Plaguebringer and Tequatl the Sunless, and even a reanimated corpse of a Great Giant but their origins are not explained.
Those who die fighting Risen are almost always transformed instantaneously, with their appearance immediately changed into rotting flesh and gray skin as they seek death upon their former allies. The Risen also bring in bodies found, which need to be saturated in Zhaitan's corrupting energies.
For the first twenty-some years after the rising of Orr, the risen forces had remained an enigma to Tyrians, only existing as rumors of Dead Ships in the southern Sea of Sorrows. Their presence had first been confirmed in 1229 AE when a Risen armada had attacked and butchered Port Stalwart. Despite the realization of their existence, many believed the Risen to not be a true threat with the exception of Cobiah Marriner and Lion's Arch. Risen forces continued to be an uncommon event in the Sea of Sorrows, only marking three major invasions since - one in 1256 AE on Lion's Arch, one on Port Noble in which it got wiped out, and the latest being in 1325 AE again on Lion's Arch.
Along with these naval invasions and patrols, Risen forces had been invading along the eastern coast of the Sea of Sorrows, along Bloodtide Coast, and in recent years, the Tarnished Coast as well. Since Claw Island's construction, only few pockets of Risen managed to reach the northern shores of the Sea of Sorrows, having to fight between Claw Island and the Dominion of Winds' walls.
In 1325 AE, following the second risen invasion on Lion's Arch and the fall of Claw Island, the Orders united to form the Pact and began an invasion of Orr, leading to the eventual fall of Zhaitan. Since then, the Risen numbers have been reported to have dwindled, leaving the Sea of Sorrows' islands such as Southsun Cove free of Risen. Since then, the Risen forces have been seen to become hunched over, and those closest to Orr becoming larger. In 1326 AE, Tequatl the Sunless became stronger due to absorbing some of the fallen Zhaitan's power, and continues to lead Risen forces against nearby inhabitants.
Even in 1330 AE, Risen still remained a threat though noticeable changes have been observed in the risen over the years, such as some not being outright hostile to all non-risen. While the Pact continued to fight risen forces across Orr, in certain places groups of adventurers and scholars have been working on Orrian reclamation efforts, led by Dagonet. These individuals took to calling them "Unchained", in reference to their lack of an enslaving master, and have discovered that ley-line magic was effective in destroying Risen, and even performed experiments to remove the dragon corruption without killing their hosts. Stronger varieties of risen, such as the Unchained Kingpins, could bestow limited intelligence and command their fellows against the living.
- Risen enemies can drop any of the eight Fine crafting materials, the tier dropped depending on their level.