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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Zombie to Vampire Undead Ranks

The first group of ranks of the undead I'm going to tackle is the corporeal undead, which runs from Zombie to Vampire Lord.

Sort of. Animated zombies are mindless automatons, Neutral in alignment. Ghouls, etc., are Chaotic, so these must be Chaos Zombies, with some kind of intellect lurking in their unnaturally mobile flesh. They have the same features as animated undead, but they can think, which makes them dangerous. They are created by wights or other level-draining corporeal undead, or possibly also by a failed Animate Dead spell, as in Clark Ashton Smith's "The Dead Will Cuckold You".

Zombies look like rotting corpses, with hunks of flesh missing, but their flesh slowly repairs as they grow stronger. Ghouls are covered with tainted green flesh and a few spots of mold, but aren't missing any chunks of flesh; wights are pallid and unhealthy-looking. After the 4 HD level, corporeal undead look like pale, ordinary mortals.

Powers, weaknesses and other features of higher-ranked undead emerge from the earlier, weaker forms.
Vulnerability to Sunlight
Starts at the 1 HD (Zombie) level as a morale effect (-1 on all attack rolls, Move reduced to 3; GM-controlled undead flee if morale breaks.)
Becomes paralysis at 4 HD level
7 HD +: killed by sunlight
Fearful Grip/Gaze
Starts at the 2 HD (Ghoul) level as a paralyzing touch (Elves and Heroes are immune, and they can break the grip of fear by shaking or slapping a victim.)
At 4 HD, turns into a gaze attack that acts as Hold Person, rooting victims of 4 HD or less to the spot where they're standing.
At 7 HD +, turns into Charm Person, although a vampire could certainly opt to merely frighten with their gaze instead of charm.
Immunity to Mundane Weapons
Starts at the 3 HD (Wight) level as an immunity to normal missiles; both magical and silver arrows will still do standard damage, as will ordinary melee weapons.
At 5 HD, silver weapons (melee or ranged) do half damage, and mundane weapons do no damage.
At 7 HD +, only magic weapons are effective (and unless the vampire is staked, immersed in running water, or exposed to sunlight, death is temporary.)
Level Drain
Starts at the 3 HD (Wight) level as 1 level drained per hit.
At 7 HD +, drains 2 levels per hit.
Summoning Aid
Of the undead in Book 2, only vampires summon other creatures (rats, bats, and wolves)
I've added an ability to summon rats (only 5d6, not as many as a vampire) to the new corporeal undead.
Of the undead in Book 2, only vampires regenerate.
The new Unhallowed (proto-vampire) monster can also regenerate, but at only 1 hp/round.
Vulnerability to Garlic, Mirrors and Crosses
Vampires can be turned by the cross, a sprig of garlic, or a mirror, even if presented by someone who isn't a cleric.
I've added this to the Unhallowed, as well as making them cast no shadow or reflection.
Vampire Lords get one additional power: a daily free 5th level cleric spell. This is in addition to any clerical or magic-user ability they may have retained in life. Also, because they ought to be just a little more fearsome, Vampire Lords can use their Charm Person on undead that aren't mindless. Unless a player is running an undead character, this won't have much direct effect, but it does mean that Vampire Lord lairs will have many other undead in residence, as servants to their lord.
The random spell list for a Vampire Lord's extra power:
  1. Dispel Good
  2. Finger of Death
  3. Feeblemind
  4. Quest
  5. Insect Plague
  6. Animate Dead
The table below summarizes this as "Cumulative Features" that corporeal undead gain as they increase in rank.

Corporeal Undead Progression Track
HDUndead RankCumulative Features
1Zombiefear the sun (-1 attack, Move 3)
2->Ghoulparalyze victims with fear (elves or heroes counteract)
3->Wightdrain 1 level/hit, immune: normal missles (unless silver)
4Tomb Dwellerparalyzed by sunlight, gaze = Hold Person, call 5d6 rats
5-6Unhallowedregenerate 1 hp/round, turned by cross/garlic, silver = half damage, immune: other mundane weapons
7-9Vampireregenerate 3 hp/round, drain 2 levels/hit, Charm Person gaze, killed by sunlight, other vampire details
10+Vampire Lord+ one daily 5th level reversed Cleric spell, Charm affects undead

Some notes:
  • The arrow next to Ghoul indicates that it can become a Ghast instead of a Wight, in which case it never develops the special powers of Wights, Tomb Dwellers, Unhallowed, or Vampires, although they can still grow stronger and will still develop the weaknesses of those other undead.
  • Likewise, the arrow next to Wight indicates that, if it chooses to allow its flesh to rot away, it becomes an incorporeal Wraith instead. In that case, it follows that track instead of the corporeal track.
I'll have some specific write-ups of the behavior of Tomb Dwellers and Unhallowed later.

1 comment:

  1. these are great - skeleton too - and attempt to fill in some blanks - i did one like this for humanoids and was gonna do on quadrupeds - undead well covered by you sir!