Undead Horrors of the Crusader Kingdoms

It seems like every D&D blog eventually has a post on the author’s opinion on energy drain/level drain. Since the last session featured a variety of undead creatures, I might as well tackle the subject now.

I don’t mind energy drain, but having the majority of undead creatures have energy drain as their shtick is boring. Wights? 3HD + energy drain. Wraiths? 4HD + energy drain. Spectres? 6HD + energy drain. Vampires? You get the idea.

Now, undead are by far my favorite monsters, and I simply cannot abide them being boring. So, I limit energy drain to vampires only. I also make vampires have to suck your blood to energy drain you. Because that’s what vampires do – suck blood. Vampires that magically drain your life essence, such as those found in D&D and Skyrim? They might as well sparkle.

With energy drain mostly off the table, I put some effort into making each of the common types of undead have their own personality. I also made some new ones and dusted off some less common ones from older editions. The results are below, in Bridge to Cynidicea’s trademark brain-scrambling-wall-of-text format.

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Session 4: In Which an Expedition to the Isle of Death Yields Actual Treasure

Thursday, 18th day of the Month of the Elephant, 734

Following their escape from the dungeons of the Temple of Zargon, the surviving members of the party find themselves hiding in an abandoned building not far from the Temple. Aisha, Spinello, Thjolstoff, and the henchmen Odgrim and Simbra-Nar are naked and armed with only what they were able to scavenge from the zargonians – mostly spears in dubious condition. Mercedes and her sister Eva are with them, and are still clothed and equipped, but Peg-Legged Dunstan is unaccounted for. He is presumably laying bricks somewhere, unaware that zargonian patrols are scouring the city in search of his master.

Mercedes switches masks to disguise herself as a typical Cynidicean and heads out onto the streets. She intends to find Dunstan, then take him with her to the Tower of Madarua to beg for clothes for her companions. Unfortunately, she arrives just in time to see a zargonian patrol arrest their one-legged henchman. Fortunately, her disguise fools the zargonians, who pay no attention to her. She decides there are too many of them to attempt a rescue on her own, so she continues to the tower. Once there, she is unable to explain that she needs clothes, as she does not speak the local language.

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