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.

Oh, and I added one other rule: No undead creature can can enter a mortal’s home unless is succeeds on a WIS save or is invited in by someone with the authority to do so.

Hungry Ghost:
In Lair: 40%
Dungeon Enc: Throng (1d8)/Haunt (2d6)
Wilderness Enc: Horde (2d6)/Lair (2d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90′(30′)
AC: 0
HD: 1*
Attacks: 1 touch
Damage: 1d4 + starvation
Save: F1
Morale: +2
TT: A
XP: 13
To most observers, hungry ghosts look like tiny wisps of green flame floating about 3′ above the ground. Their true form, visible to those using detect evil, and to anyone else for 1 turn after they have inflicted damage, is that of a transparent, gray victim of starvation, horribly emaciated, but with a grotesquely swollen belly within which floats a tiny wisp of green flame. Hungry ghosts are undead creatures, and as such are immune to poison and disease, and to sleep, charm, and hold effects. Hungry ghosts are incorporeal; they cannot interact with physical objects unless those objects also have a spiritual presence (living plants, animals, and other creatures; magic items; and magical effects all have a spiritual presence). This allows the ghost to move through solid objects, unless those “objects” are alive, and renders them immune to non-magical weapons, which pass right through them. Magical weapons will harm a hungry ghost normally, as will the natural attacks of creatures of 5 or more HD. The icy touch of a hungry ghost drains life (modeled by losing hit points as normal). Hungry ghosts always target victims who have not yet been drained in preference to anyone they have already touched. Anyone who survives the touch of a hungry ghost is starving, as if he had gone 2 days without food. Anyone slain by a hungry ghost will rise as a hungry ghost in 3 days unless his corpse is blessed by a Lawful spellcaster and then cremated or Lawfully interred. Hungry ghosts are affected by turning as if they were skeletons.

Ghoul:
in Lair: 20%
Dungeon Enc: Pack (1d6)/Lair (2d8)
Wilderness Enc: Horde (2d8)/Lair (2d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120′(40′)
AC: 3
HD: 2*
Attacks: 1 claws & bite [yeah, my ghouls have only one attack. Maybe this nerfs them, but it saves me a lot of dice rolling]
Damage: 1d6 + paralysis
Save: F2
Morale: +1
TT: D
XP: 29
Ghouls look like gaunt, yellow-skinned, mostly hairless, bestial humanoids with clawed fingers and toes, and a mouth full of sharp fangs. They walk upright, but run on all fours. They eat human flesh and bones because they crave it, not because they need to do so to survive. Though they don’t necessarily look it, ghouls are undead creatures, and as such are immune to poison and disease, and to sleep, charm, and hold effects. A humanoid creature no larger than an ogre who is struck by a ghoul must succeed on a CON save or be paralyzed for 2d4 turns, overcome by revulsion and nausea and rendered too weak to act. Any cure wounds spell will remove the paralysis. Ghouls usually try to paralyze all members of a group, then eat them alive at their leisure. A human or demi-human who is killed by a ghoul arises as a ghoul in 3 days unless his corpse is cremated, Lawfully interred, or devoured by ghouls. A creature who is injured but not killed by ghouls has a 25% chance of contracting the ghoul plague (checked for once after the battle is over). If infected, the victim is bedridden for 1d6 days and then makes a CON save. If the save is successful, then the character is bedridden for another 2 weeks, but the disease does not prove fatal. If the save fails, then the character dies and arises as a ghoul as described above. The spell cure disease will cure this infection.

Wight:
In Lair: 70%
Dungeon Enc: Throng (1d6)/Barrow (1d8)
Wilderness Enc: Horde (1d8)/Barrow (1d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90′(30′)
AC: 4
HD: 3**
Attacks: 1 touch
Damage: Drain 1d6 STR
Save: F3
Morale: +4/-4
TT: H
XP: 80
Wights are the withered undead corpses of humans or demi-humans. They typically have dusty, gray skin and visible bones, and are clothed in dusty gray burial garments. As undead creatures, wights are immune to poison and disease, and to sleep, charm, and hold effects. They are also immune to normal weapons, but vulnerable to silver and magical weapons. Wights are terribly weak [STR 3(-3)], but their merest touch drains the strength (1d6 STR) from any living creature. The wight can always choose to reduce the amount of strength drained by his touch. STR drained in this manner returns at a rate of 1 point per day. Creatures reduced to 1 or 2 STR become too weak to move or take any action, and many wights like to keep victims in this helpless state to “experiment” on them. If the victim is reduced to 0 STR, it dies, and, if it was a human or demi-human, arises as a wight in 3 days unless his corpse is cremated or Lawfully interred. Wights are consummate bullies; they are fearless (morale +4) when they believe they are invulnerable to their enemies’ attacks, and cowardly (morale -4) when confronted with an enemy that can actually harm them.

Wraith:
In Lair: 25%
Dungeon Enc: Throng (1d4)/Haunt (1d6)
Wilderness Enc: Horde (1d6)/Haunt(1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120′(40′); Fly 240′(80′)
AC: 6
HD: 4**
Attacks: 1 touch
Damage: 1d6 necrotic + age 2d6 years
Save: F4
Morale: +4, or 0 in bright light or sunlight
TT: H
XP: 190
Wraiths are malevolent ghosts that appear as humans with their faces hidden in darkness under black hooded robes or cloaks, with only their glowing red eyes visible beneath. Other than that, their appearance varies wildly, from vague shadowy figures to armored warriors. Their appearance doesn’t affect their combat abilities in any way, however. Wraiths are incorporeal; they cannot interact with physical objects unless those objects also have a spiritual presence (living plants, animals, and other creatures; magic items; and magical effects all have a spiritual presence). This allows the wraith to move through solid objects, unless those “objects” are alive, and renders them immune to non-magical weapons, which pass right through them. Magical weapons will harm a wraith normally, as will the natural attacks of creatures of 5 or more HD. As undead creatures, wraiths are immune to poison and disease, and to sleep, charm, and hold effects. Wraiths despise light, and their morale is reduced to 0 in bright light, such as sunlight or a continual light spell. The wraith’s touch (or strikes with any spectral weapons it manifests) inflict 1d6 points of damage and ages the victim 2d6 years. If this ages the victim to death, then he will rise as a wraith in 3 days unless his corpse is blessed by a Lawful spellcaster and then cremated or Lawfully interred. The new wraith will be the slave of the wraith that killed it until its creator is destroyed. If the aging does not kill the victim, it can be reversed with a remove curse spell, but doing so forces the victim to roll on the Tampering With Mortality table, which might result in the victim’s death. Ritual magic can reverse the aging without side effects.

Crypt Thing:
In Lair: 100%
Dungeon Enc: -/Crypt (1 crypt thing plus 4d6 zombies)
Wilderness Enc: n/a
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 0′(0′)
AC: 6
HD: 5*
Attacks: 1 Vanish
Damage: WIS save or teleport to location of crypt thing’s choosing within the dungeon.
Save: M5
Morale: +3
TT: I
XP: 350
A crypt thing looks like a human skeleton in a hooded robe sitting on a throne. The crypt thing is unable to leave its throne of its own volition, though it can (and must) crawl slowly back into its seat if forcibly removed. It is clever and malicious and uses its limited powers to the best of its ability to make things miserable for anyone who stumbles across it.

A crypt thing is undead, and therefore immune to poison and disease, and to sleep, charm, and hold effects. It is also immune to normal weapons, but vulnerable to silver and magical weapons. A crypt thing has no natural physical attacks, though it can brawl or wrestle if it has to. Crypt things can command mindless undead that they encounter, and usually keep a horde of zombie bodyguards hidden nearby. The crypt thing’s main attack is the spell-like ability to make a target vanish. Each round, the creature can target one victim within 30′ with this ability. The victim must make a WIS save or be teleported to a nearby location of the crypt thing’s choosing (anywhere on the current dungeon level or on the level above or below). Most crypt things prefer to teleport their victims to places that are difficult to escape from, preferring to make them suffer rather than killing them quickly by dropping them in a pit or chasm. Sometimes the crypt thing will tell the victim’s companions that the victim has been disintegrated, and then demand treasure from them if they wish to avoid the same fate. Other times, it will tell them that the victim has been transported to a cell deeper within the dungeon, and then give them directions that take them somewhere far from where their companion is trapped.

Crypt things are affected by turning as if they were mummies. When turned, or when they fail a morale check, crypt things cower on their thrones and beg for their miserable existences. A turned crypt thing cannot lie.

Deadlock:
In Lair: 50%
Dungeon Enc: Entourage (1 Deadlock and 3d4 skeletons) /Sanctum (1 Deadlock and 3d10 skeletons)
Wilderness Enc: Horde (1 Deadlock and 3d10 skeletons) /Sanctum (1 Deadlock and 3d10 skeletons)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90′(30′)
AC: 4
HD: 5***
Attacks: 1 necrotic touch or 1 necrotic bolt or 1 spell
Damage: 1d6 or 1d6 or as spell
Save: M5
Morale: +3
TT: Special
XP: 650
Deadlocks are the withered undead corpses of magicians who died in sinkholes of evil and retained their spellcasting abilities when they arose as undead creatures. They typically have dusty, gray skin and visible bones, and are clothed in the tattered remains of whatever they were wearing when they died. As undead creatures, deadlocks are immune to poison and disease, and to sleep, charm, and hold effects. They are also immune to normal weapons, but vulnerable to silver and magical weapons. A deadlock’s touch floods the victim with necrotic energy which causes the flesh of a living creature to rot. The creature can also emit a bolt of necrotic energy with a range of 60′ which inflicts similar damage if the deadlock succeeds on a ranged attack throw. Anyone killed by one of a deadlock’s necrotic attacks arises as a skeleton under the control of the deadlock in 3 days unless his corpse is cremated or Lawfully interred. Deadlocks can command undead as a chaotic cleric of a level equal to their HD, and are never found without a retinue of skeletons. Finally, they can cast arcane spells as a mage of a level equal to their HD. Deadlocks are insane, obsessive creatures that rarely have any interests beyond studying necromancy. They will usually ignore anyone who doesn’t have something the creature needs to further its research, but they dislike being interrupted and will casually murder anyone who does so. Note that these stats represent a typical deadlock; higher-level deadlocks do exist. A deadlock’s treasure is determined as if it was an NPC mage of a level equal to its HD. Deadlocks are affected by turning as if they were mummies.

Tomb Guardian:
In Lair: 20% in dungeon, 100% in wilderness
Dungeon Enc: Throng (1d4)/Tomb (1d12)
Wilderness Enc: -/Tomb (1d12)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60′(20′)
AC: 6
HD: 5+1*
Attacks: 1 unarmed strike
Damage: 2d4+3 plus Mummy’s Curse
Save: F5
Morale: +4
TT: Nx2
XP: 460
A mummy is a corpse that has been preserved using embalming techniques developed during the Age of the Heroic Kingdoms. A tomb guardian is a mummy that has arisen as an undead creature because the altar in its tomb was desecrated, causing the tomb to become a sinkhole of evil (this is why no one practices mummification anymore). However, many adventurers insist on referring to tomb guardians as mummies, much to the consternation of sages devoted to archaeology.

Tomb guardians appear as withered, shambling corpses wrapped in long strips of ancient linen. Tomb guardians aren’t mindless, but they are usually much less intelligent than they were in life (assume a shift that reduces their INT adjustment by 1: smart [13-15 (+1)] to average [9-12 (+0)], average to dim [6-8 (-1)]). Tomb guardians are agoraphobic; they will not voluntarily leave the tomb complex in which they were interred and will return there as soon as they are able if they are forcibly removed. Hence, while groups of tomb guardians may patrol anywhere within the dungeon where they were buried, a wilderness encounter with tomb guardians always finds them in their lair.

As undead creatures, tomb guardians are immune to poison and disease, and to sleep, charm, and hold effects. Fire attacks do full damage to tomb guardians, but attacks with magical weapons or with spells (or spell-like abilities) that are not fire-based inflict only half damage. Tomb guardians are immune to all other forms of damage.

Tomb guardians are so horrifying that anyone who sees them must make a WIS save or be paralyzed with fear until the tomb guardian attacks or until they can no longer see the tomb guardian. However, tomb guardians are also slow, and suffer a -1 penalty on initiative.

Tomb guardians are supernaturally strong: They have a +3 STR bonus, do double damage dice with weapon attacks and unarmed strikes, inflict lethal damage with unarmed strikes and can safely make unarmed strikes against a target wearing metal armor, and have a +28 bonus to force open doors. When wrestling, their opponents suffer a -4 penalty on STR saves to resist or escape. A tomb guardian’s encumbrance limits are 18/20/23/33.

Anyone touched by a tomb guardian is afflicted with the Mummy’s Curse. A person afflicted with the Mummy’s Curse is unable to receive the benefits of any magical healing and heals naturally at 10% of the normal rate. This affliction may be removed by the remove curse spell.

Spectre:
In Lair: 20%
Dungeon Enc: Throng (1d4)/Haunt (1d8)
Wilderness Enc: Horde (1d8)/Haunt (1d8)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 150′(50′), Fly 300′(100′)
AC: 7
HD: 6*
Attacks: None
Damage: None
Save: F6
Morale: +3
TT: M
XP: 570
A spectre is a powerful, malevolent ghost that appears as a semi-transparent, colorless (or greenish) image of itself in life. It’s form often shows evidence of a violent death. Spectres are angry, hateful things that exist only to cause fear in the living. They have little interest in anyone who is not afraid of them.

Spectres are incorporeal; they cannot interact with physical objects unless those objects also have a spiritual presence (living plants, animals, and other creatures; magic items; and magical effects all have a spiritual presence). This allows the spectre to move through solid objects, unless those “objects” are alive, and renders them immune to non-magical weapons, which pass right through them. Magical weapons will harm a spectre normally, as will the natural attacks of creatures of 5 or more HD. As undead creatures, spectres are immune to poison and disease, and to sleep, charm, and hold effects.

A spectre attacks with its fearsome presence, which it can employ at will. When it uses this ability, everyone within 10′ of the spectre must make a WIS save. Anyone who succeeds is forever immune to fear caused by that spectre. Those who fail must flee from the spectre for 2 turns. If they are unable to flee from the spectre, they must succeed on a CON save or die of fright; if this CON save is successful, the victim runs past (or through) the spectre, if possible, and the chase continues. If this is not possible, the victim shrugs off the effect and is thereafter immune to that spectre’s fearsome presence. The spectre typically uses its fearsome presence on a group, then chases one of those who flees. The spectre uses its speed and ability to pass through walls to appear in front of the victim wherever it runs, separating them from their party, then cornering them in a dead end or at the edge of a precipice. When the first victim finally succumbs, is heads off in search of one of the others, killing off the group one by one until everyone is either dead or no longer vulnerable to the spectre’s fearsome presence. Anyone who is scared to death by a spectre will rise as a spectre in 3 days unless his corpse is blessed by a Lawful spellcaster and then cremated or Lawfully interred. The new spectre will be the slave of the spectre that killed it until its creator is destroyed.

A spectre can also command undead as a Chaotic cleric of its hit dice. Spiteful spectres will sometimes take command of lesser undead and send them to attack mortals who proved resistant to their fearsome presence.

Vampire:
In Lair: 25%
Dungeon Enc: Coterie (1d4)/Sanctum (1d6)
Wilderness Enc: Coven (1d6)/Sanctum(1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120′(40′) or 180′(60′) as wolf; Fly 180′(60′) as bat or mist
AC: 7, regardless of form
HD: 7****, 8****, or 9****
Attacks: 1 weapon, 1 unarmed strike, 1 grab, or 1 drink blood; 1 bite as wolf or bat
Weapon Damage: [Double Weapon Damage Dice] +3
Unarmed Strike Damage: 2d4+3
Wolf Bite Damage: 2d6
Bat Bite Damage: 2 hp
Save: F7, F8, or F9
Morale: +3
TT: Q
XP: 1,840; 2,600; or 3,100
Vampires are undead; immune to poison and disease; immune to sleep, charm, and hold effects; take half damage from cold and electricity; are immune to non-magical weapons; and regenerate 3hp at the beginning of each of their turns.

Vampires are supernaturally strong: They have a +3 STR bonus, do double damage dice with weapon attacks and unarmed strikes, inflict lethal damage with unarmed strikes and can safely make unarmed strikes against a target wearing metal armor, and have a +28 bonus to force open doors. When wrestling, their opponents suffer a -4 penalty on STR saves to resist or escape. A vampire’s encumbrance limits are 18/20/23/33.

A vampire can drink blood from a willing victim or one it has grabbed in a wrestling hold. Drinking blood from a victim grabbed in a wrestling hold during combat uses up the vampire’s attack. On each round in which vampire drinks its blood, the victim is energy drained of one level or HD. A victim drained of all its levels of HD in this manner dies and rises as an undead creature 3 days later if its body is not cremated or decapitated and Lawfully interred. If some of the vampire’s blood is poured into the mouth of the victim’s corpse, then the victim rises as a vampire. Otherwise, it rises as a ghoul. In either case, the creature is the slave of the vampire that killed it until that vampire is destroyed or releases the creature from service.

Vampires can cast charm person at will by gazing into a victim’s eyes. Victims suffer a -2 penalty on WIS saves made to resist this effect.

Vampires can assume gaseous form or shape change into a wolf or bat at will.

Vampires can summon 1d10 4HD bat or rat swarms when underground or 3d6 wolves or 2d4 dire wolves when above ground. The summoned creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds.

Vampires will draw back from a lawful holy symbol, a mirror, or garlic if they are presented with confidence. Garlic causes a vampire to cringe for 1d4 rounds, and a holy symbol or mirror will cause a vampire to take a position in which the item does not impede his or her progress or attack. A vampire casts no reflection in a mirror (but somehow has no problems grooming itself). A lawful holy symbol will affect a vampire, and holy water will damage it, no matter what its religion or alignment was in life.

A vampire must spend the daylight hours unconscious in a coffin or similar sanctum. This is true even if the vampire is underground. If the vampire tries to avoid returning to its sanctum, it must make a WIS save at the beginning of each turn. If it fails, it assumes gaseous form and returns directly to its sanctum against its will.

Reducing a vampire to zero hit points or less does not destroy the creature; it merely forces the vampire into its gaseous form. The gaseous vampire will reform with full hit points after resting in its coffin for 8 hours. Even if all its coffins are broken, the vampire will not be destroyed, though it will not able to reform until a minion builds a new coffin for it.

There are only a few means by which a vampire may be truly destroyed. First, vampires may be killed in 1 turn by immersion in running water. Second, if caught in sunlight, a vampire will be completely turned to dust unless it succeeds in a CON saving throw each round it suffers exposure. Most commonly, a stake through the heart, coupled with decapitation, will destroy a vampire. If a vampire is staked without decapitation, he will appear to die, but he will be able to revive if the stake is removed. Finally, if the vampire goes a whole month without slumbering on dirt taken from its own grave, or a whole month without drinking human or demi-human blood, then the vampire must succeed on a WIS save each dawn until it fulfills the missed requirement, or the magic that sustains it fades, and the vampire truly dies. Time spent staked but not decapitated does not count against this limit.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: