Undead are what happen when profane magic is invoked, black spells are cast, when a corpse is buried in un-sanctified soil, when a cursed person is not beheaded before burial, and a million other reasons. Most of these reasons are probably wrong, but at least some of them are true, and when these natural laws are defied, the Undead claw their way forth, ready to do battle with the living. Sometimes this occurs naturally, either because of a terribly wicked soul or because the location where the person died is so terribly profane that it naturally produces and attracts Undead. But most of the time, Undead do not form naturally. For a law to be broken, there must be a lawbreaker. Thus, if you find an Undead, odds are you will find a Necromancer.
Necromancers are a disease, a blight on almost every society. They are permanent members of the underclass in any society advanced enough to have Wizards, working in the shadows and hiding from the light of discovery. Necromancers are not always evil, but the work they engage in means they are often pushed in that direction, forced to commit crimes to survive. Almost every Lawful Society Around Here has outlawed their school of magic entirely, and many less consistent societies still criminalize illegally possessing humanoid corpses, grave-robbing, desecrating graves, and etc, so Necromancers are often drawn into criminality through not only the act itself, but the means to achieve it. Additionally, while some Chaotic people do not mind Necromancy, most still consider it bad news, as Chaos suffers from a near-constant image problem in most places, and associating with Necromancers is just bad news anyway.
And of course, some Necromancers are allied with the Dark Powers, of course, meaning that in some places, the reputation of Necromancers is even worse then normal, and it's not like it was good to start out with. Every society has folktales about body-stealing Necromancers garbed all in black with a skull helm, attended to by rotting corpses and leering skeletons. This is the reason many Necromancers are fastidious about their appearance, going to all efforts not just to hide their usually illicit magic but also to always be clean, presentable, and well-groomed. Of course, some Necromancers do lurk in crypts, make candles out of corpse fat, and talk to disembodied skulls, because sometimes, stereotypes exist for a reason.
But most Necromancers don't care about such ridiculous theatrics. They just want to study and learn, and many otherwise upstanding Mages have accidentally stumbled into Necromancy through research. Some turn back at once, but others press forward, the possibilities of this forbidden school to tempting to resist. And the power of Necromancy is not to be underestimated. To master death is to rule over life, and to steal the life from others you can enhance your own. And surely a bunch of dusty old bones going missing is nothing to be concerned about, after all?
Thus begins a voyage of discovery down into the depths of the Pit. But while Necromancer do know many things, like all Wizards, they are also wrong about a great deal more.
For example, most Necromancers divide Undead into "intelligent" and "unintelligent" Undead. Unintelligent Undead like skeletons are said to be no smarter then a grasshopper, and incapable of feeling any emotion. However, this is not true. Unlike corpses, which are dry and perfunctory in their speech, Skeletons are intelligent and most of the time, keenly aware of their own enslavement. For this reason, unbound Skeletons will usually attack and kill anyone who looks Wizard-like, in the hopes that they will be able to avoid being bound by a Magic-User. But since Skeletons cannot talk, they cannot actually tell the Necromancer this, and the strictures placed on them prevent them from cleverly interpreting the orders given to them in the vein of jerkish genie, instead forcing literalism on them. But if a Speak with Dead spell is cast in their presence and a Magic-User reveals they can understand the Skeletons, the Skeletons will immediately begin talking to them. If this is the Magic-User who enslaved them, they will degrade them, cursing the Necromancer's family, friends and person, making blasphemous oaths and begging to be released, or lying and saying they will spare the Necromancer if released. If the Magic-User is not the one who enslaved them, they will make similar promises that they might even keep, or beg for death.
But you should not pity them. Undead are not to be trusted. Furthermore, they are not be taken lightly. Even the ones with a former connection to mortals is suspect, as they did choose to abandon their humanity in pursuit of dark power. And while some Undead are open to bargaining, most are not. Most only have one goal, to cease their existence. To an Undead, just to exist within their rotting vessels is painful, and every sensation is a negative one. They feel nothing but sadness, anger, jealousy and hatred. Thus, all Undead either seek to die, or in some cases, to take bloody revenge on the whole world through indiscriminate slaughter and violence. This is why Unbound Undead rampage around, destroying everything in their path and attacking anything that lives. They are not trying to gain an advantage or an objective, they just want you to put them out of their misery, but they are unable to do it themselves.
These are the short-lived type of Undead. They are nothing but rotting shells, cages of bone and machines of meat, a puppet with a soul yet no control of its own actions, a being that knows nothing but suffering. These ones struggle and bleed, and usually do not last long. Once they have stained their bones red with blood, they either wait for a brave hero to come and strike them down or they merely wait for the sun to rise and burn them to dust.
But some persist. These Unbound Undead find some reason to continue existing, and live on, warping and growing stranger with the eons.
All Undead are of the same nature. They all share the same basic set-up. As such, for the varieties below, use the statblock below.
Base Undead Statblock
HD varies AC 12 Atk As Weapon
Mor 12 Saves: 7 or less is a success
Undead: Undead do not feel pain or get tired. They are immune to poison and disease. They do not need to eat, sleep or breathe. Any spell that says "Undead" in its title or description is talking about something like this.
Sunlight Vulnerability: Undead take 1d6 radiant damage for every round they spend in sunlight.
Already Dead: Unless decapitated, cut to pieces, burnt to ashes by sunlight or reduced to zero HP by a magical attack or weapon, the Undead has an X-in-6 chance of their body knitting itself back together and recovering from the damage they took, where X is equal to the number of HD they have.
- Never retreat
- Never surrender
- Never fear, for nothing could be worse than this
When you're walking around late and night and you encounter a walking corpse on an isolate street, there are only two real possibilities. Either A, the city is cursed enough to begin producing Undead naturally, in which case you should probably move, or B, some foolish Necromancer gave his Undead shore leave, in which case you should probably move anyway, as a Necromancer coming to down is a sure sign property values are about to crash.
by DepartedproConcrete Blondes
These are people who died somewhere in the city and refused to accept it. They deny their own deaths, covering up their pallid complexions with make-up and masking their wounds with wardrobe choices. They wander the streets late at night, hassling strangers, committing crimes and causing trouble. They are not noticeable as Undead from a distance, and you might not even learn this fact until one of them shrugs off an injury that should have killed them. The Concrete Blonde takes indiscriminate revenge on his city and the people who allowed him(or her) to die, whether directly or indirectly. For example, a person who committed suicide because of his psychopathic boss might go after his boss, but also those who work for that corporation, or any of his former bosses' subordinates. Additionally, while out for revenge, Concrete Blondes do not choose targets exclusively based on this factor. They also sometimes target the rich and the beautiful. Female Concrete Blondes are notorious for targeting beautiful women, and sometimes for cutting out their victim's Fallopian tubes. But that is a bit extreme as examples go, and most are merely content with giving these women unsightly scars or throwing acid in their faces.
Number Encountered: 1d6+2
Weapon: Knife 1d6
Acid Flask: At least one member of the group will have a flask of acid that, if combat starts, they will throw at either the most beautiful person or the most dangerous person. This acid flask does 1d6 acid damage on a hit, +1d6 damage a round until you take an action to wash it off. Also, there is a 2-in-6 chance this blinds you.
Packing Heat: At least one member of a group will have a gun (Pistol 1d8, (firearm rules here)). He or she will only use the gun if the Blondes are in danger of losing. Of course, if the group is okay with losing, he might just pull out the gun and use it to
- Target the hot ones
- Bully those who look weak
- Humiliate and scar people, but don't kill unless you have to or really want to
Neon Angels want one thing, and one thing only. To be beautiful. They want to be so pretty, so removed from human standards that people worship them. They may have been beautiful once, or maybe they were always ugly, even before the incident that took their life. The incident is always bad. Getting hit head on by a semi-truck and utterly flattened, getting impaled by a falling piece of pipe, half-falling into a wood chipper, all these are potential sources of a Neon Angel. Irregardless of how they died, a few days later their corpse will grow ragged, naked wings and they'll vanish into the shadows of the city, to start a new life.
Neon Angels have the power to steal beauty with a touch, causing the person they touch to become uglier as they grow in beauty. This is all they usually need to take, turning their foes into ugly saps then returning to their favorite past time of posting lewd selfies on Instagram or being attended to by their sycophants. They attract small pseudo-cults around themselves, groups of worshipers who attend to them, bathing and perfuming them, massaging them, helping them try on outfits and jewelry, and complimenting them. These beauty cultists usually won't fight, but they might get in the way unintentionally. This would sadden the Neon Angel, as it doesn't actually want to hurt people. It just wants to be pretty and be complimented.
However, the beauty never lasts. Like a drug high, in time, their stolen beauty withers, leaving them a destroyed, mangled corpse once more. Thus, the quest for another beautiful person begins anew.
Neon Angels are generally too narcissistic to be a real danger, unless you do one of three things. First, if you threaten their position as a beautiful, beloved person they will fight. Secondly, if you mock them and claim they are not beautiful, they will fight. And thirdly, if you threaten to reveal to their beauty cultists who or what they truly are, they will show no mercy.
Number Encountered: 1
Weapon: Fist 1 blunt damage
Beauty Thief: Anyone who the Neon Angel touches takes 1d6 EGO damage and becomes much less attractive, while the Neon Angel grows more beautiful. This damage is permanent, but only makes you uglier. However, if the Neon Angel is not at full health and wishes to hurt you, it can on a touch, also cause you to take 1d8 damage and it regenerates a HD.
2D Girl: Neon Angels as a full action, can transform themselves into 2D images and stick themselves to a flat surface. They can then move across that surface at incredible speed (acting as if Initiative 17) but can only affect objects that are touching themselves. They can transform and move in the same turn, and transforming back is a free action.
- Ask to be complimented (if beautiful)
- Hide from people (if ugly)
- Steal beauty and flee
Burying corpses is the preferred way of disposing of corpses Around Here. For some, these are simple affairs involving an open pit, though the more preferred method is placing the corpse in a box and nailing it shut. The reason for this is simple. If the coffin isn't sealed, whatever you put in it might not stay in.
Even after a soul departs from the body, a spark of life still remains in it. This is the rock soul, the one responsible for maintaining bodily integrity and resisting the base atomic forces acting on the body. This is the part of the soul that you talk to when you use Speak with Dead on a corpse. But sometimes, this primitive soul encounters the soul of a Fungus. Or rather, the soul of a Fungi. You see, Fungi have souls similar to trees. Ancient, slow-moving creatures. Only instead of being tied into one vessel, Fungi have large collective souls that can span acres and thousands of miles of roots. These giant Fungal Overminds are intelligent, but not in the way that a Human is. The Fungal Overmind can calculate the fastest route to a new location, or where to feed resources, but it knows nothing of how humans act, or how even to operate a human body.
As such, Spore Carriers are stumbling, foolish creatures, barely smarter then a dog but with no sense of fear or self-preservation. Spore Carriers are dumb, but they don't need to be smart. They are created with one purpose in mind, to spread the seeds of the Fungus by spraying them over passing creatures, or to beat some of those creatures to death and bury them in a shady spot, so the Fungus can feed on their decaying corpses.
Number Encountered: 1d10
Weapon: Fist 1d4
Death Burst: Upon Death, the Spore Carriers explode, releasing a cloud of spores. Roll on Sub-Table A to see what those Spores are.
- Target one person exclusively
- If a comrade dies, hide in the cloud they produced
- Pull people into the cloud of spores
But sometimes, stumbling around a foreign land is not a good idea. You need a native guide, someone who knows the ropes. Someone who you can trust to make the wise decisions you no doubt would, if you were there. That was the case the Worm Kings made to the Fungal Overmind when their soul found itself nose to root with it in the spirit world. And the Fungal Overmind clearly agreed, or at least thought agreeing was better then chattering with a creature so fast it would be like a human attempting to debate political theory with a mayfly.
Worm Kings are a bit like Spore Carriers, except instead of being dumber then a sack of hammers, they are fully intelligent and capable of clever tactics. They command the Spore Carriers like expendable drones, guiding them into battle and using them as scouts. The Spore Carriers always obey without question, obedient to the chosen of the Fungal Overmind as they are. The Worm Kings are generally quite arrogant and competitive, and always think themselves the smartest person in the room. They are not stupid, instead being just smart enough to fall for some clever trick.
Number Encountered: 1, with 1d10 Spore Carrier attendants
Weapon: Fist 1d4
Spore Spray: Worm Kings can spray a cloud of spores in a 30' cone. Roll on Sub-Table A to see what type of spores they have.
- Use the Spore Carriers as shields
- Use the Spore Clouds as shields and to cover escape routes
- Retreat if you might die
What kind of Spores are these?
1- Rage Spores. All who inhale these spores must save. On a failed save, the affected must spend the next 1d10 rounds attacking something. They can choose whatever targets they choose, but must attack something. The affected will automatically prioritize the living over the dead or the incapacitated.
2- Drowsiness Spores. All who inhale these spores must save. On a failed save, the affected take 1d6 Wisdom damage. They take 1d6 Wisdom damage for each additional round they spend in the cloud. If this Wisdom damage ever equals or exceeds someones' Wisdom score, they fall asleep. They get a new save to wake up if someone takes a round yelling at them, slapping them, etc. The Wisdom damage taken by these spores lasts until the affected can get some sleep.
3- Humor Spores. All who inhale these spores must save. On a failed save, the affected start laughing. This laughter is uncontrollable, giving them -1 to do anything while they keep doing it. This penalty increases by 1 for each round they spend in the cloud, to a maximum of -4.
4- Distress Spores. These spores do not affect the players in a directly harmful way. Instead, they are a warning to other fungal creatures and Earthly Dead that these are foes. Until the players go and wash themselves and their equipment, double their chances of random encounters.
5- Fire spores. These spores stick to everything, and are incredibly flammable. Until the players wash themselves and their equipment, they take +1d6 fire damage, or +1 damage per die.
6- Glass Spores. These spores do 1d6 damage when inhaled. Additionally, they do 1d6 additional damage per round spent in the cloud.
7- Madness Spores. Anyone who enters this cloud must save or take 1d6 Intelligence damage. Those who fail their saves take an additional 1d6 Intelligence damage for every round spent in the cloud. If this Int damage ever equals or exceeds your Intelligence score, you become stark raving mad. But since this is a shared madness, all the affected will have it. I would recommend something that either seems reasonable, or something totally out of left field. For example, have the affected all switch character sheets and then shuffle the names around.
8- Fear Spores. Anyone who enters this cloud must save vs fear. Those who fail their save take 1d6 Charisma damage. For every round spent in the cloud, they take an additional 1d6 Cha damage if they failed their save. If this ever equals or exceeds their Charisma score, the affected will flee, in the safest and most expedient way possible.
9- Hallucination Spores. These spores contain the natural equivalent of LSD. All those who inhale the spores start having wild hallucinations, no save. And that doesn't sound hard, so try shooting straight while you're tripping out. 5% chance of a bad trip.
10- Death Spores. Any who inhale these spores must save. On a failure, the affected take 1d6 Con damage as the spores weaken them and shred their insides. They take an additional 1d6 Con damage per round spent in the cloud. If this damage ever equals or exceeds your Constitution score, you immediately drop to zero HP and start dying.
The Oceanic Undead
The ocean is a cold and dangerous place, antithetical to humans and most intelligent species, full of dead gods, lost civilization and stranger things. Old Father Storm is her husband, and rides across her waves, stirring her up with his winds and helping her send disrespectful sailors down to speak with her in person. But not all who get dragged into her parlor fail to ever surface. For the ocean is female, and like all females, she can bear children. The worst fate any sailor can face is thus not to drown, but to die and be reborn in the cold womb of the ocean.
The Sodden Men
These are poor fools taken down with the ship, trapped in their cabins as water slowly flooded in. They beat on the walls or struggled through flooding corridors, but to no avail. They were stuck fast. Then they drowned, and as water filled their lungs, the ocean laid claim to their soul forever. They still can't accept it.
The Sodden are in denial. They will approach you above water, usually on a beach or in a small air pocket, and claim to still be alive. They will be dripping wet, and seemingly nearly dead from hypothermia. They will plead ignorance and ask for help. They will seem to be innocent victims. In truth, they are not victims and their flesh has been cold for years. They will follow you at a distance, then when you look most vulnerable, they will seize you and drag you back to the water, where they will proceed to try and drown you. As they force your head beneath the water, you will start to age. They will do this until you wither and finally, your aged body cannot resist and you will drown. The Sodden will then apologize, and bury your corpse.
They want to become human again, to live. They are not dead, they refuse to believe it. If they believed it, they would be like the Drowned. They fear and loathe the Drowned. They are very good at denying, any evidence, unless iron-clad, such as pointing out how they don't breathe or have a heart beat will be ignored or rationalized away. They lie easily and smoothly. Pointing out holes in their lies will only bring about more lies. It's very difficult to catch them contradicting themselves. If you press them on this, they'll probably just cry.
Number Encountered: 1d12
Weapon: Improvised 1d4
Drowning Pool: If a Sodden Man tries to drown you, for every round your head is under water, you age 1d6 years.
Whale Killer Karate: Sodden Men can fight in the water as if it was air.
- Follow along
- Pretend to be victims
- Then grab one person and drag them off to drown them
The Drowned are the Sodden who have accepted the truth. Their otherwise normal forms began to decay, but it doesn't affect the Drowned. These are nothing more than vessels, weak and frail. The power of mother Ocean is all they need. The Drowned regard their Sodden cousins as hopeless children in denial. The Drowned have abandoned all hope of returning to their humanity. Instead they laze about, playing games and swatting those who come and try and kill them. They are very dangerous, but perilously unmotivated. They don't care about anything, and are content to do nothing but distract themselves and have pointless conversations with those who pass by.
They are cold but not cruel. You're nothing to them, just another self-important meat puppet. Maybe they'll ignore you, or maybe they'll drown you. Either way, it'd be more entertaining them another round of poker.
Number Encountered: 1d4
Weapon: Spear 1d6
Ocean's Time: If one of the Drowned touches you, you feel like your drowning, and act as if you were for as long as they maintain contact with you. This also causes you to age 1d6 years per round contact is maintained, including 1d6 on first touch. The Drowned who is aging you also regains an amount of HP equal to the number of years you've aged.
Whale Killer Karate: The Drowned can fight in the water as if it was air.
- Drown one person to prove a point
- Don't care about anything
- Ignore those who don't want to fight
The Burning Dead
Now if you're anything like me, seeing all these Undead probably has you very worried. So you decide to fall back on Mankind's old ally in these circumstances, Fire. Fire purifies, after all. When a house is haunted, you could bother exorcising and ritually purifying it, or you could just burn it down. That might get rid of the ghost for good. But if you burn an Undead or a corpse, just make sure you finish the job. Because if you don't, they will.
When a Necromancer or a Wizard needs some disposable help, some impish little devils without all the blood and contracts, here is what they must do. First, take a live animal. Secondly, start a fire. Make sure the fire is big enough to git the animal. For a bonfire, use a pig. For a brazier, a weasel will suffice. Then, after reciting the correct words, hurl the animal into the flames and let it burn. Make sure it dies. Then, once the animal is dead, the fire will waver, and a small group of Flammeous Lads will emerge forth. They're small, grinning creatures, their flesh cracked and charred like a hot dog that fell down through the slots in a grille and landed on the charcoal. They chuckle and screech, but do not speak without external magical aids. They have short attention spans but devilish creativity, and if given a task of sufficient maliciousness, they can prove surprisingly effective.
However, one warning. Flammeous Lads are best only used for short term assignments, as they have one major weakness. Their lives are bound to the fire they originally leaped out of. If it is extinguished, they die, staggering around and wheezing from burned throats, before collapsing onto the ground.
Number Encountered: 4*HD of the original animal sacrificed.
Weapon: Fists 1d4 +1d6 fire
Light Emitting: Flammeous Lads emit Bright Light in a thirty foot radius, and ruin the night vision of anyone fighting them.
Fire Sustained: If the fire they spawned from is extinguished, they die.
Immunity to Fire damage
- Strike fast, strike hard, then retreat.
- Take out the strongest first.
- Protect the Fire at all costs.
- Kill! Kill! Kill!
Anger is not a bad thing. At certain times, Anger can be necessary or even useful. But if you allow anger to fester and stew, it can seep into your bones, a malignant corruption, like a rotting frame holding up an otherwise stable structure. This is how rage develops. And over time, it only grows stronger. In some cases, such feelings become so strong they can even outlast the person who first felt them.
This is the Embersson, an Undead composed of burning fire and soul-blackening rage. They are screaming, walking funeral pyres, hurling balls of fire from their fists and strangling with their twisted, charred hands. They are powerful and relentless, devouring cloth and wood and flesh in their relentless pursuit of mindless vengeance.
Number Encountered: 1
Weapon: Fireball(+2) 2d6/2d6 , save for half
Burning Body: Emberssons are constantly on fire, and anyone who touches them takes 1d6 fire damage.
Flame Door: Emberssons can dive through an open flame and pass through it, then emerge from another open flame. This works on any flame from a lit candle or bigger.
Immunity to Fire Damage.
Fear of Water: Emberssons take damage from water as if it was acid, will flee from it, and will not get within 30' of water if they can help it.
The Frozen Dead
So burying them doesn't work, drowning doesn't work, and even burning them doesn't kill them? Well forget this stupid nonsense, I'm going to the distant, freezing reaches of the world. Well, if you think that will keep you safe, I have some bad news for you. Even the Arctic wastes are no stranger to the cold hands of the dead.
The Frostbiters are suffering, sorrowful creatures. Through accident, malice or catastrophe, they were left in the middle of the cold desert, to struggle on alone. However, most cannot survive the harsh conditions there, and they were no exception. They froze, their flesh stiffening. Frostbiters are cold, to both the touch and to themselves. They constantly shiver, and no amount of fire will help them. There is only one thing that warms their cold, frozen skin. That thing, to their utter shame, is the hot blood of man.
Most Frostbiters are aware of this fact. It usually brings them deep shame, at least for those who can remember what it was like to be alive. Others have fewer reservations, however, and gleefully pursue man, to kill him and drink his hot blood, to soothe the constant, throbbing agony in their frozen muscles and stiffened skin. But even these ones feel bad after what they blood has cooled and the familiar ache returns.
Number Encountered: 1d6
Weapon: Fist 1d4 + 1d4 cold
Cold-Blooded: Those who take any cold damage from a Frostbiter get -1 to do anything that requires delicate movements (including attacking) until they get a chance to warm up. If they take fire damage, this can reduce the penalty by 1 per damage dice.
Fear of Fire: Frostbiters fear fire, and take +1 damage from it per damage dice. They must check morale if they see fire as if they could know fear.
- use hit and run tactics
- Follow the enemy for hours
- Never let them rest
One cannot survive this world a child. We were all children once, but one cannot remain a child forever. Life is too unpredictable, and too dangerous. To survive, you must abandon the innocence of childhood for the grit of adulthood. But even this is not enough. For while an adult is suited to do battle against children, a mere adult stands no chance against a monster. The only way to survive is to become a monster yourself.
Warmth was a lie. So is mercy and compassion. Love is the greatest lie of all. The only truths are these: that violence is the way of the world, and that the world is cold. Oh, so cold.
Winter Wights are the feral savagery of the freezing wastes made manifest. They are skeletal, twisted beings covered in armor of translucent ice, long claws of the same exrtending from their fingertips. Their heads are bare skulls, crowned with eerie flames and their faces adorned with grim smiles. They are here to teach you how cold this world really is, and why you should have never left the warmth of your home. Some days it is just not worth it to get out of bed. In the opinion of a Winter Wight, it was never worth it, not if you were going to wake up a mere man. There are only two options. Remain a weak fool and be devoured by those who didn't, or dehumanize yourself and face the bloodshed.
Number Encountered: 1 or 2 (or 3, if your players are really strong)
Weapon: Claws(+3) 1d6/1d6 + 1d4 cold
Cold-Blooded: Those who take any cold damage from a Frostbiter get -1 to do anything that requires delicate movements (including attacking) until they get a chance to warm up. If they take fire damage, this can reduce the penalty by 1 per damage dice.
Arctic Wail: Usable only once every 1d4 rounds. As a full action, the Winter Wight can blast a cone of freezing air from their mouth. This affects everyone within a 30' cone and does 3d6 damage, save for half.
Ice Armor: Winter Wights wear armor made of ice. This armor has 2 HD and makes them immune to Sharp (piercing and slashing) damage. This armor must be destroyed before you can damage their bodies.
Vulnerable to Fire: Winter Wights take +1 damage per dice from fire.
- Use Arctic Wail
- Attack the most wounded person
- Flee once they are dead or mortally wounded
- Repeat as necessary
Now, finally, these are the Undead that I will not be statting up. Each one of these is not something to build a single battle around, but a whole adventure, or maybe even an Arc. As such, I'm not prepared to make statblocks for them here. Instead, I will merely detail some of their powers and how they came about.
First, let me say this. Ghosts are not to be included idly in a story. You don't use Ghosts to pad out encounters, each one should be unique. They should all be named, and all have a reason for their actions. But don't consider this a burden. Instead, this is a gift. Ghosts are story-telling and encounter all wrapped up in one. They can tell the players a lot merely by showing. Because of this, I'm surprised how often Ghosts do not get used. They are villain and victim, tragedy and terror all in one, if you run them right. But I won't waste your time, you know what Ghosts are.
Invisible: Ghosts can turn invisible at will, but if they attack someone or try to affect an object, they turn back to being visible.
Spirit Body: Ghosts can only affect objects that have a spiritual nature, (a soul, life-force, chi, or infused with magic). They cannot touch purely physical objects (a door, a pencil, a corpse), or be hurt by them.
Return by Death: Ghosts are bound to a particular person, object, or location. This is their vessel. As long as their vessel is still intact, even if destroyed, they will return to life the next night. The one exception to this is immolation by sunlight.
Firstly, take everything that Skerples and Arnold K have written on the subject of Ghouls. Mix well, and season liberally.
Ghouls are those who eat the consecrated dead. They break into churchyards and charnel houses to feast on their flesh. Then slowly, over time, they begin to transform into Ghouls. A Ghoul possesses urbane charm and dry wit when not hungry, and when hungry they become ravenous monsters. Their touch causes first pain, then numbness, then death. But this is a minor death. If the Ghoul is weak, your body will recover and you will return to life within a few moments. If the Ghoul is strong, on the other hand, you won't ever wake up.
Hungry: Ghouls are always hungry. They need to eat to continue their cognitive processes. If a Ghoul goes without food for too long, they degenerate into savage predators. You should determine before hand if this Ghoul is feral or full. But if you're not sure, each Ghoul has a 2-in-6 chance of having eaten recently.
Invisible to Undeath: The Undead cannot see or sense Ghouls. They might know something is there, but they cannot see them directly. This allows Ghouls to walk among the dead with relative impunity, grazing as they see fit.
Death Touch: Every time a Ghoul touches you, along with the normal damage, you also take 1d6 CON damage. If this CON damage ever equals or exceeds your CON score, you die. However, you are then entitled to a CHA save. If you succeed, then you wake back up and return to life.
Only those who have never met a Wendigo would confuse them with a Ghoul. While ghouls are feral hunger and urbane sophistication, Wendigos never change. They are always vicious and spiteful, hungry and hateful. Wendigos hate everyone, and assume this is a sentiment that the rest of the world shares with them. They were bad people before they became Wendigos, and transforming into an monster was for them merely the final step in a long process of evolution for them.
You become a Wendigo by killing humans and dining on their flesh. To eat your own kind, even out of desperation, is always a wicked act, a perversion of the natural order. This inversion of nature causes life to fold in upon itself, the soul hardening and transforming into some sort of freakish, grotesque parody of itself. Wendigos hate you, either because they were born to hate, or because they know what they have done, and know they deserve nothing but hate. If you do not hate them, they will dislike you even more. They don't deserve your love, they only need your hate. However, your fear shall be sufficient.
Starvation Damage: A Wendigos' attacks do normal damage as per their statblock, but they also cause the person hit to begin to starve. On a hit, the person struck gets -1 to do anything. This penalty stacks with each hit. The penalties last until the struck person can eat a ration.
Most Undead kill because they are so twisted by hatred or sadness they cannot help but rebel against the world. Ghouls kill because they are hungry. Ghosts kill because they are trapped in one single moment, usually one that is hideous and violent. Necurats, they are a different story. Necurats kill because they love to. They kill because they get a thrill from it. Sin is great fun, that's why people do it. Even the Wendigo is not as loathsome as they, for Wendigos are usually pushed into their cannibalism through desperation. The change for them is natural but inevitable, a poisoning of their souls as their bodies twist and morph into something less than human.
Necurats, on the other hand, are an attempt by wicked mortals to escape final justice and death. To become a Necurat is a slow process, taken very gradually, but intentionally. For just as with saints, one must endure many trials and tribulations to become a true monster.
The first step is easy; cease obeying any rules you personally disagree with. For some, this can mean become corrupt, for others, it can mean becoming a lawless thug who assaults anyone who disagrees with their choices. The second is slightly harder, and is occasionally optional. The person wishing to become a Necurat must kill one of their own kin, usually a spouse, parent or child. The closer the person was to them, the stronger they can become. This act of violence, this breaking of the most sacred bonds, it will wound the person. They will begin indulging themselves- consuming more and more darkness, in an attempt to heal their fragile, human heart. But nothing will work. If they do not repent, if they never give in to their conscience, then their path is set from that moment forward. In time, they will receive exactly what the have desired since the moment their crime truly became apparent to them- death.
To kill one of your kin, one of your own family, it is an unforgivable crime, a rebellion against love and life itself. When you do it, love will flee from you, and in time, so will life. When life leaves you, all you will have left is death. The person, if not killed in pursuit of their quest, will one day drop dead on the spot, until the next sunset. Then, as Night comes, they will rise from the grave, having become what they endeavored to become- ageless, powerful, and free.
Thus is born the Filthy Souls, the Saint's Sanction, the Stepsons of Death, the Necurat.
Dead at Dawn: Unless in an area that receives no sunlight, Necurats collapse at dawn only to return to life at sunset. During the time they are dead, their corpse is not affected by sunlight.
Energy Drain: Necurats have a hollow in their souls. As an action, they may make a touch attack. On a hit, the target takes 1d6 WIS, CHA, or EGO* damage, with no save permitted. If this damage ever equals or exceeds the target's WIS, CHA or EGO score, it affects them as below:
- If someone's CHA score is reduced to 0, they cannot decide their own actions, and must take suggestions from others.
- If someone's WIS score is reduced to 0, they cannot rely on instinct. It's as if everything in their body has suddenly been put on manual control. They get -4 to anything they are not thinking about, and cannot rely on muscle memory. Also, everything counts as a task, such as standing, breathing, digestion, and blinking.
- If someone's EGO score is reduced to 0, they cannot communicate with others.
*I use EGO, referring to one's social skills, instead of Intelligence, because of the reasoning here. If you use INT, see below.
- If someone's INT score is reduced to 0, they lose all higher functions and start acting like a human who grew up in the woods.
Blackguard was originally a titled used to refer to certain martial Minions of the Dark Powers, Knights who adorned their armor in black paint and symbols of hateful Gods that made your head ache and your eyes run, feared warriors who carved apart those unfortunate enough to cross their path. However, in more recent times, Blackguard has become a more general term, used to refer to any sort of heavily armed, highly dangerous wicked warrior. As such, most "Blackguards" do not serve the Dark Powers in any way, and are merely using their skills to achieve their own desires, no matter how many people they harm along the way.
Paladin, likewise, was originally a title used only for the holiest of holy warriors, those seemingly blessed by uncounted Gods, warriors of peace and truth possessing saintly grace and divine power. However, it is a recent fashion to start referring to any sort of holy warrior, regardless of his actual power or station as a Paladin. And while this has proved a useful propaganda tactic, it also has the unfortunate implication of making commoners unusually trusting of heavily armed strangers on white stallions.
But despite how the Paladin and the Blackguard are often depicted, the white and the black crashing together, the real world often defies these simple dichotomies. A "Blackguard" could be an actual wicked monster, or they could be a freedom-fighter or a reformer, labeled a Blackguard by a society and system that hates them. A "Paladin" might be a saint in the making, or they could be a murderer given a pardon and a job by a Temple. The line between the two is often blurry, and in some places, virtually non-existent. But most distressing of all, this line is sometimes crossed.
There are stories of Paladins who, upon experiencing a monumental tragedy, turned to darkness and shed their white cloaks, allowing themselves to be consumed by hatred and violence. There are stories of how a white cloak becomes so stained with blood it turns black, just like the dried blood splattered across the Paladin's armor. These souls, so corrupted by violence and darkness, turn their weapons upon the world they once protected, seeking to destroy everything. Sometimes they succeed in this task, but much more commonly, they are killed in the process.
But this is not the end. That would be much too simple. Sometimes, so wronged were these souls that even death cannot hold them back. The fallen one returns to life as a Death Knight, to take their revenge on the world.
Class Levels: All Death Knights are 1d6+2 level Fighting Men.
Spellcaster: All Death Knights are level 1d4+1 level Magic-Users, and have 5 spellcasting dice and up to five spells prepared. They do not roll for chaos or corruption, and their spellcasting dice only burn out on a "6".
Parry: Once per round, a Death Knight Ides can reduce any succesful attack's damage against himself by his weapon damage. This only works on things he could use his weapon against.
Black Dominion: At the start of each combat, all must save vs fear or be affected by the Death Knight's incomprehensibly black soul. Those who fail their save take 1d6 WIS damage a round. If this WIS damage ever equals or exceeds their full WIS score, they will flee, and gain the Conviction, "I will never challenge that Death Knight ever again." Those who succeed their save are unaffected, but must save again if the Death Knight does something particularly impressive, kills a compaion, or does more than "10" damage to them in a single attack.