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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Elven Undead

Jonathon suggested some woodland-themed elven undead on the post about non-human undead. One kills people to fertilize an unholy grove, the other is a spirit that animates plants. I was kind of thinking "forest theme", too, only I was going to go with something anti-forest; my elven undead would destroy things elves love, in much the same way that my dwarven undead destroy underground environments.

For elven corporeal undead, I propose: grove ravagers. Withered-looking elf corpses with ogre strength. They head towards the nearest woodland when they rise from the grave and begin tearing trees out of the ground, roots and all; they can use an uprooted tree as an enormous maul, doing at least 1+2 damage (more if you aren't using 1d6 for all weapons.)

For the non-corporeal elven undead: blight spirits. They cause plant life to wither within a circle 10 yards across per hit die. If an area is blighted by several spirits, they pool their hit dice to determine the size of the area. They attack intruders, draining life as a wraith; any elves slain by a blight spirit becomes a half-strength blight spirit that infects the same area.

Of course, as porphyre77 noted, the AD&D banshee is supposed to be a particular kind of elven spirit. You could certainly mix it up, perhaps having two tables of random elven undead to decide how an elf slain by a wight or wraith will rise to haunt the living.


  1. Hmm! I can see where you're going there - I was thinking along lines that paralleled human undead haunting human graveyards, but I like the train of thought you're on!

    So... halflings, then. Maybe I'm leaning too Tolkien here, but halfling undead feel like they almost demand a house-and-home theme, as that seems more central to the halfling concept than a terrain or environment.

    So on the incoporeal end I'd think you'd want something along classic poltergeist lines. They'd claim a structure as their own, attempt to drive anyone who moved in away, and drain the life out of anyone foolish enough to try to sleep in their house.

    If I'm going to set up the spirit undead to attack the physical home, I can use the embodied undead to attack the spiritual home. For corporeal halfling 'wights', their hatred is channeled towards the family bonds they can no longer share. They are dedicated loners who lurk on the edges of a community and strike primarily at people with strong attachments in order to destroy the happiness of a household. They'd be withered but not immediately recognizable as undead and be geared mechanically towards stalking and surprise assault.

    I'm enjoying the process thinking about these, even if the resulting idea doesn't wind up being the way that you (or I, for that matter) go. Thanks for kicking this concept out there!

    1. That's better than my first thought, which was a food theme, with corporeal undead halflings devouring or spoiling all your food. i do think that, just as Tolkien's elves and dwarves are de-mythologized a bit, hobbits are de-mythologized brownies.

  2. Banshee can be also dwarvish, at least in Dark Sun (dwarves become banshees if they haven't fullfilled their quest).

    In the recent Eberron setting, there are good corporeal elven undead called Deathless (they are elven ancestors kept alive by elves worshipping them, a sort of egyptian death cult).