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After much experimenting, I thought I might share some guidance with others as to how to get an ideal corpse and, by extension, an ideal grave.
Other Graveyard Keeper Guides:
- Graveyard Keeper World Map
- Graveyard Keeper Fishing Guide
- Graveyard Keeper Tips for Beginners
- Graveyard Keeper Advanced Starting Tips and Tricks
1) Understanding corpse symbols
These symbols pictured on any corpse when placed on the autopsy table or in a grave represent the base rating of the grave itself, and these can be altered with appropriate care of the corpse. These symbols include:
White skulls: This is the basic symbol for corpse quality. You want as many of these as possible. The reason is that the quality of the grave cannot exceed the number of white skulls. Even if you have a gravestone and grave fence that are top-notch, a corpse with nothing but a single white skull would only allow a grave to have a rating of +1.
Red skulls: These can be thought of as “corrupted” white skulls. Each of these contributes a -1 rating to the corpse (and grave). These are taken into account before any white skulls, so a single red skull will always subtract from any bonuses, regardless of the number of white skulls and quality of grave dressings.
Green “sick” faces: These appear over time as the corpse degrades and act the same as red skulls. Once these appear, however, there is nothing that you can do about it.
2) Be quick about it!
The integrity of the corpse (percentage) degrades over time, starting the moment the donkey rings the delivery bell. If it falls to 90% or below, it will add a green “sick” face to the corpse. Allowing the corpse to continue to degrade may result in more “sick” faces. If you cannot get around to your autopsy right away, putting the body on a pallet will keep it from degrading. If a body may need significant processing, it may be a good idea to put your body on a pallet and go to sleep until your energy is back up to full. However, each pallet also increases your body cap, which also increases the rate at which the donkey delivers new corpses.
3) Using the river to dump failed bodies
At this point in time, there is no apparent consequence for dumping a body in the river. If you have a corpse that is going to have a significant negative effect on your graveyard (or, at least, can’t give much of a positive effect), then go ahead and chuck it in the river. Just make sure that you take any parts from it that you want first. The river is also a way to dispose of bodies once your graveyard is full.
4) Managing corpse delivery frequency
The donkey will continue to deliver corpses as long as the number of corpses in the morgue is not full. Exhumed bodies do not contribute to this, so the donkey will still come while you are working on a body that you have exhumed. He comes pretty frequently, and building pallets in the morgue will only increase this number, so be prepared for that if you are already feeling overwhelmed.
You can also stop the donkey from coming by putting a corpse in a grave and not burying it! The corpse will stop decaying, but will count as still in-progress, meaning that the donkey will not come with another one until you close that grave. Naturally, if your body cap is higher than 1, then you will have to do this with an appropriate number of graves. If you want the benefits of a pallet without the increased intake, then have one interred (but not buried) corpse, and you can still manage others one at a time.
5) Understanding autopsies
The autopsy is the main mechanism by which you can change the skull rating of a corpse. To get the most out of your autopsies, you need to understand that each part that you can remove has a different effect on the skull rating. This can help you to plan out your autopsy strategy. These effects are as follows:
-Blood and fat will each remove one red skull and add one white skull when they are removed. Every corpse you autopsy should have blood and fat removed. It will always add the white skull, even if there is no red skull to remove.
-Skulls will add one skull (yes, yes, I know) to the total skull rating when removed. This will always start out as a red skull, though, so you need to have a method in place to deal with it.
-Skin will convert a white skull to a red skull when removed. You don’t want to do this unless you plan on dumping the body.
-Bones and flesh will decrease the total number of skulls on your meter when removed, starting with white skulls. Sometimes you can remove one of these without changing the number of skulls, but you can inadvertently lower your meter for a corpse that you are wanting to prepare for burial if you remove any of these.
-Hearts, brains, and intestines are a gamble. These will remove 2 skulls from the meter, but it is possible for hearts, brains, and intestines to remove white OR red skulls from the meter when removed. There are three possible results from removing one of these: remove 2 white, remove 1 red and 1 white, or remove 2 red. The result of removing the heart, brain, or intestines seems to be determined on generation of the corpse, so SAVE before cutting into your corpse! If you don’t get a good result, you can load your game and try removing a different part. With three parts and three possible results, there is one part assigned at random to each result, meaning that you can always get the desired result from removing something else.
Note: There is a sort of fourth result to removing these parts when your corpse is low on its skull meter. It may occasionally result in removing one red skull and converting another one to white. However, this does not normally happen with an intact corpse. If you get this result, then chances are that you have already messed things up.
6) Cutting strategy for best results
Make a strategy for yourself before you start cutting. There are some corpses where you can’t guarantee perfection, but you can maximize your chances for success. Remember that if you mess up, or if the skull meter is too short for your liking, you can always dump it in the river. The autopsy sequence is different depending on the number of red skulls on the meter. Here are some sample strategies:
- 1 red skull: Remove blood and fat. This will increase your meter by 1 skull without any red skulls.
- 2 red skulls: Remove blood and fat. This will convert your red skulls so that you have the same number of skulls you started with, but all are now white.
- 3 red skulls: Remove the heart first. This has the possibility of removing all three at the cost of a shorter meter, but may also just leave you with one red skull and a shorter meter. Remember to save first, and you can try again with the brain or intestines. Then remove the blood and fat. The net effect is that the meter is shortened by one, but all skulls are white.
Use the embalming table for an added edge. This is currently present in the game, but note that the items “acid” and “alkali” cannot be obtained (to my knowledge) without save editing. However, once you have unlocked alchemy by talking to Clotho, you can eventually unlock embalming on the tech tree.
There are two embalming solutions currently present: a yellow solution, made from 1x acid, 12x water, and 1x glass cones, and a blue solution, made from 1x alkali, 12x water, and 1x glass cones. The yellow solution removes 1 red skull and 1 white skull from the corpse meter, and the blue solution adds 1 red skull and 1 white skull to the corpse meter. Each of these may be used only once on a corpse. The blue solution is useful, but only for corpses with 2 red skulls. As an example of what I mean, let’s consider a corpse with 2 red skulls out of 6 total skulls (the best I have currently seen in-game):
- Remove brain/heart/intestines: 4 white skulls
- Blue solution: 1 red skull, 6 total skulls
- Remove blood and fat: 7 white skulls
Notice how embalming allowed you to get a corpse meter of all white skulls that is longer than it started by one skull? This is only the case if it started with 1 or 2 red skulls, since you need to make sure you can account for the red skull you have now added. If there are 3 red skulls, then you can still use the blue solution to keep the meter as long as possible when you remove the brain/heart/intestines, but if you also remove the skull, then you won’t be able to compensate for the extra red skull.
8) How bodies contribute to grave ratings
An open grave has a base rating of -2. This changes to the corpse rating when there is a body put in it. A properly-managed corpse will produce a grave with a rating of zero when buried. Each grave dressing will then add to the grave rating, but keep in mind that this cannot exceed the number of skulls on the corpse’s meter. A first-tier stone gravestone comes at a cost of only 1 stone and gives a +2 rating. A first-tier stone fence costs 2 stone and gives a further +2 rating.
Since wooden grave markers require nails, this actually makes them less than ideal. Wooden fences give only a +1 bonus. Higher-tier markers can give a greater bonus, but require significant technological advancement. Your basic grave should consist of a corpse with at least 4 white skulls (and no red skulls or green faces), a stone gravestone, and a stone fence. This will give you a grave with a +4 rating. As an added note, if there is a corpse with a particularly long meter or that is particularly fresh, it appears that it may give an additional +1 to this.
Don’t be afraid to exhume bodies when needed. This costs more than you make with the burial certificate, but it allows you to fix any botched autopsies (sometimes via dumping in the river) and the starting graves, which apparently were not autopsied whatsoever.
9) Expanding your graveyard
Expand your graveyard. This isn’t an immediate need, but if you want to get your graveyard rating to truly soar, you will need more space. Have you noticed the sign on the west side of the graveyard? First, read the sign. This will tell you that the inquisitor is the one who closed it off. You have to read it for your character to have that knowledge. Second, go talk to the inquisitor about it. If your favor is high enough, he will give you a sort of deed or certificate that will open up the other half of the graveyard. All you really have to do to get his favor to that threshold is to give him firewood, so just plan on taking the 20 firewood with you the second time you visit the inquisitor.
If you follow these guidelines, your graveyard rating can very quickly skyrocket. It may seem at first like the requirements to upgrade your church take some work, but I was able to get a graveyard rating of over 400 in alpha. At a theoretical maximum of +8 per grave, the maximum grave rating that could be generated would be 704. It may seem daunting, but it is definitely achievable with some planning.