I've been looking around a bit but I haven't found the answer. I'm curious as to whether buried corpses decay normally.

Does a roof over the grave impact the decay, or do they decay as normal corpses?

If I build a freezer around dirt graves or sarcophagi, will it keep them fresh? That way I could dig them up if things get bad, or if I really need a new cowboy hat!


In graves and sarcophagi, corpses all decay at the same rate no matter what the exterior conditions are. This means that corpses will start to rot after a short amount of time, then will slowly rot away into skeletons (takes over a year), then eventually disappear. If you want to keep corpses (people or animals) fresh, which as stated in @n_palum s answer, is the only way to get meat off them is to keep them fresh, which turns to rotting after roughly a few days in game, or to refrigerate them in sub zero temperatures (sub 32 in Fahrenheit I think).

It is worth noting that unless your colonists have the cannibal trait, they get a serious mood de-buff (don't know how much atm, cant check, will edit) when eating anything that is or contains human meat. If you do have cannibals, store corpses in a freezer and make sure other colonists don't see or eat the corpse. Apparel (clothes) that has been worn for any amount of time by a corpse also gets the dead mans apparel tag, which also applies serious mood de-buffs, so I don't recommend using graves as storage for clothes either.

  • Thanks for your answer! Regarding the first paragraph, is this from general game experience, did you test it manually, or is there another source you found (discussion/game code)?
    – Samthere
    Apr 26 '17 at 13:14
  • @Samthere Im just a bit late, but it's from general experience and testing. However, since then things may have changed as the game version progressed.
    – Joseph M
    Dec 17 '18 at 12:15

I don't think burying corpses changes the decay rate as the sole purpose of graves are to provide joy to other colonists and prevent the -150 to their mood for seeing dead bodies. Your other options to graves/sarcophagi is to burn the bodies, or butcher them. (Note you cannot butcher rotting corpses).

While it doesn't seem like anyone has tested this, I imagine you could put human corpses in a freezer to delay their decay process. However, they likely have to go straight in and not in a grave within the freezer. As seen here, you can store animal corpses in a freezer to allow them to last longer, but they will eventually rot away regardless. It doesn't seem there is any way to basically cryo-freeze a corpse to keep it around as long as you want.

As for the roof part, the only thing that'll really prevent is rain from getting onto the graves, which would help a fire spread over them in a lightning storm. Which is a suggested way to remove corpses.

  • I'll have to do some science later!
    – Samthere
    Mar 27 '17 at 9:45
  • I haven't set up a specific test, but I was redesigning a base and removed some graves that had been dug for the first raiders. The map is tropical, and rarely drops below 20°C. After more than two years in the ground, the bones were still there, and a couple of them still had their deteriorating clothes on. I'm not sure how long corpses in the open take to decay, but I would have thought they'd have rotted by then.
    – Samthere
    Apr 13 '17 at 13:21
  • If you find any more or new concrete information you are more than welcome to edit the answer and add it on
    – n_plum
    Apr 13 '17 at 13:32

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