... now with 35% more arrogance!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Undead Level Advancement

Old Geezer posted a story on RPGNet about a vampire PC and his flying undead army encounter another band of vampires and spectres in the sky. The GM of this particular group had newly-minted vampire victims rise as skeletons and "progress" through the standard undead types. And, therefore, when one undead drained an undead opponent, the opponent "regressed" to a previous undead type. (See his post for the humorous consequences.)

Now, some people in that thread objected that this broke their expectations of the way a fantasy world should work. A zombie with rotting flesh shouldn't become incorporeal as it gains level, then become corporeal with intact flesh when it finally becomes a vampire! Honestly, if you're going to use an amusing rule like this, you shouldn't be griping about "realism". But, for their sake, here's an idea: separate "tracks" for corporeal and non-corporeal undead (and a possible third track for mummies.) Actually, skeletons are half a HD, in Monsters & Treasure, not 1 HD as in OG's example. So let's make a skeletal undead track as well!

Undead Progression Tracks
2Ghoul?Coffer Corpse*Shade
3Wight*Bone Wight*Phantom
4*Tomb Dweller*Tomb RemnantWraith
5-6*Unhallowed*Tomb LordSpectre
7-9Vampire*Walking RelicSpectral Lord
10+Vampire LordLich?Ghost

Undead marked with an asterisk are those I plan on writing up. Those marked with a question mark I might modify, but have official write-ups (for AD&D, but they'll work for OD&D as well.) The vampire lord and spectral lord would be just standard vampires and spectres, but with more hit dice and a couple extra powers:
Vampire Lord
Roll once for random reversed 5th level Cleric spell as a daily power
... But replace Commune with Feeblemind and Create Food with Animate Dead
Spectral Lord
Roll once on angry spirit variants table for an addition power


  1. I had a DM go a sdifferent direction, beat an undead critter and a couple rounds later it came back the next rank lower.

  2. Replies
    1. I figure the mummy might be more of a modification of the corporeal undead. Or maybe its own track.

  3. I've read the articles you've posted on this idea, and I absolutely love it! I have been looking for something to tie together the undead in a BECMI / RC campaign and this really speaks to what I have been looking for. I don't suppose you could be encouraged to bundle the entire idea together in a pdf and post it on Pandius?

    1. I don't know what Pandius is, but I'll probably be doing an electronic format of the series at some point, after the new computer is set up so I can do layout.