Elite Opponents
Variant Unicorns
Creature Incarnations
By Robert Wiese

As we close out the year, we take a look at one of the archetypal good creatures of the D&D game, the unicorn. Whether they can be ridden only by human and elven females of pure heart or not, they are always seen as symbols of good. But, as with all creatures, other variants exist in far reaches of the campaign world or on other planes. Given the existence of black unicorns, it is clear that not all unicorns must be good. So, here are some unicorns that show a different take on this iconic creature.

Making unicorns evil is not as easy as it might seem at first glance. The half-fiend template is not applicable to unicorns because it requires the base creature to be nongood. If you are using only the Monster Manual, your only choice is to use the half-dragon template with an evil dragon variety. However, since when have we been limited to the Monster Manual in Creature Incarnations? Given that unicorns are magical beasts, they can take on a wide variety of templates. And if you look hard enough, you can find templates to make your unicorns less good, and therefore interesting as foes (or enigmas) for your heroic player characters.

d20 Modern: Apocalypse Demon Unicorn

The apocalypse demon template comes from d20 Apocalypse. It is about the only way to apply a demonic template to a unicorn without breaking the rules. If you want this creature in your D&D game, change the Defense to Armor Class, remove the Mas, AP, and Rep entries, and add back the detect evil and greater teleport abilities that unicorns have in a fantasy world.

An apocalypse demon unicorn is a terrible-looking creature with glowing red eyes that burn with hate and great wings on its back that have talons at the joints. The creature's body is a dull reddish color, and its horn is bright red with white swirls and a nasty-looking black tip. Apocalypse demons live to fight and destroy, and apocalypse demon unicorns are no different. This creature always enters a melee with enthusiasm and fights until its foes are dead. It lacks the teleporting ability of a fantasy unicorn, but it also is not tied to any particular forest and can be found anywhere in the post-apocalyptic world causing havoc (or in the modern world acting as a harbinger of an apocalypse).

Apocalypse Demon Unicorn CR 7
Large outsider
Init +6; Senses darkvision 300 ft., low-light vision, scent; Listen +16, Spot +16
Languages Abyssal

Defense 21, touch 15, flat-footed 15
(-1 size, +6 Dex, +6 natural)
hp 54 (4 HD); DR 10/silver or magic; Mas 25
Immune poison, charm and compulsion effects, electricity
Resist cold 10, sonic/concussion 10
Fort +11, Ref +10, Will +8
Action Points 0

Speed 60 ft. (12 squares), fly 120 ft. (good)
Melee horn +15 (1d8+12) and
2 hooves +7 (1d4+1)
Fighting Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +4; Grp +17
Spell-Like Abilities:
3/day--cure light wounds (DC 21, CL 5th)
1/day--cure moderate wounds (DC 22, CL 5th), neutralize poison (DC 24, CL 8th)

Abilities Str 28, Dex 23, Con 25, Int 10, Wis 25, Cha 30
AL chaos, evil; Rep +0
SQ wild empathy
Feats Alertness, Skill Focus (Survival)
Skills Balance +8, Diplomacy +12, Intimidate +17, Jump +30, Listen +16, Move Silently +17, Sense Motive +14, Spot +16, Survival +17 (+20 within own forest), Tumble +15

Wild Empathy (Ex): A unicorn can improve the attitude of an animal. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person with a +20 modifier. The typical domestic animal has a starting attitude of indifferent, while wild animals are usually unfriendly. To use wild empathy, the unicorn and the animal must be able to study each other, which means that they must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time. A unicorn can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2, but it takes a -4 penalty on the check.

Monstrous Vampire Unicorn

The monstrous vampire template from Ghostwalk opens up the options for making vampires out of a number of other creatures. It is basically the vampire template, but it can be applied to animals, dragons, magical beasts, fey, vermin, giants, and aberrations. You can just imagine the possibilities.

A monstrous vampire unicorn can either look just about the same as a normal unicorn, though with red glowing eyes and longer teeth, or it can be gray-black or black with the same glowing red eyes and longer teeth. Instead of having a noble bearing, it has a sardonic and proud bearing.

This creature creates some interesting images for the mind. Just picture a unicorn using spider climb to ascend a cliff or castle wall. It also has an interesting set of conflicting abilities. It is evil and undead, yet has a constant magic circle against evil.

Monstrous Vampire Unicorn CR 5
CE Large undead
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Listen +20, Spot +20
Languages Common, Sylvan

AC 26, touch 14, flat-footed 21; +2 deflection bonus against evil creatures; Dodge
(-1 size, +5 Dex, +12 natural)
hp 26 (4 HD); fast healing 5; DR 10/silver and magic
Immune undead immunities
Resist cold 10, electricity 10; turn resistance +4
Fort +9, Ref +11, Will +7

Speed 60 ft. (12 squares)
Melee horn +14 (1d8+11) and
2 hooves +6 (1d4+4) or
slam +11 (1d8+8) and
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +4; Grp +16
Atk Options Combat Reflexes
Special Actions blood drain, children of the night, create spawn, dominate, energy drain
Spell-Like Abilities:
At will -- detect evil (free action)
3/day -- cure light wounds (DC 17, CL 5th)
1/day -- cure moderate wounds (DC 18, CL 5th), greater teleport (within own forest only), neutralize poison (DC 20, CL 8th)

Abilities Str 26, Dex 21, Con --, Int 12, Wis 23, Cha 28
SQ alternate form, cannot heal self, gaseous form, magic circle against evil, spider climb, wild empathy
Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes[B], Dodge[B], Improved Initiative[B], Lightning Reflexes[B], Skill Focus (Survival)
Skills Bluff +17, Hide +9, Jump +24, Listen +20, Move Silently +15, Search +9, Sense Motive +14, Spot +20, Survival +9 (+12 within own forest)

Blood Drain (Ex)A monstrous vampire can suck blood from a living victim with its fangs by making a successful grapple check. If it pins the foe, it drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution drain each round the pin is maintained. On each such successful attack, the monstrous vampire gains 5 temporary hit points.

Children of the Night (Su)Monstrous vampires command the lesser creatures of the world and once per day can call forth 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or a pack of 3d6 wolves as a standard action. These creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds and serve the monstrous vampire for up to 1 hour.

Create Spawn (Su)A humanoid or monstrous humanoid slain by a monstrous vampire's energy drain rises as a vampire spawn 1d4 days after burial. If the monstrous vampire instead drains the victim's Constitution to 0 or lower, the victim returns as a spawn if it had 4 or less HD and was a humanoid or monstrous humanoid, and as a monstrous vampire if it had 5 or more HD and was an aberration, animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, or vermin. In either case, the new monstrous vampire or vampire spawn is under the command of the monstrous vampire that created it and remains enslaved until its master's destruction. At any given time a monstrous vampire may have enslaved spawn totaling no more than twice its own Hit Dice; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit are created as free-willed monstrous vampires or vampire spawn. A monstrous vampire that is enslaved may create and enslave spawn of its own, so a master monstrous vampire can control a number of lesser monstrous vampires in this fashion. A monstrous vampire may voluntarily free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, a monstrous vampire or vampire spawn cannot be enslaved again.

Dominate (Su)A monstrous vampire can crush an opponent's will just by looking onto his or her eyes. This is similar to a gaze attack, except that the monstrous vampire must use a standard action, and those merely looking at it are not affected. Anyone the monstrous vampire targets must succeed on a Will save (DC 21) or fall instantly under the monstrous vampire's influence as though by a dominate person spell (caster level 12th). The ability has a range of 30 feet.

Energy Drain (Su)Living creatures hit by a monstrous vampire's slam attack (or any other natural weapon the monstrous vampire might possess) gain two negative levels. For each negative level bestowed, the monstrous vampire gains 5 temporary hit points. A monstrous vampire can use its energy drain ability once per round.

Magic Circle against Evil (Su) This ability continuously duplicates the effect of the spell. A unicorn cannot suppress this ability.

Wild Empathy (Ex) A unicorn can improve the attitude of an animal. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person with a +19 modifier. The typical domestic animal has a starting attitude of indifferent, while wild animals are usually unfriendly. To use wild empathy, the unicorn and the animal must be able to study each other, which means that they must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time. A unicorn can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2, but it takes a -4 penalty on the check.

Alternate Form (Su)A monstrous vampire can assume the shape of a bat, dire bat, wolf, or dire wolf as a standard action. While in its alternate form, the monstrous vampire loses its natural slam attack and dominate ability, but it gains the natural weapons and extraordinary special attacks of its new form. It can remain in that form until it assumes another or until the next sunrise.

Gaseous Form (Su) As a standard action, a monstrous vampire can assume gaseous form at will as the spell (caster level 5th), but it can remain gaseous indefinitely and has a fly speed of 20 feet with perfect maneuverability.

Spider Climb (Ex) A monstrous vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell.

Two-Headed Dark Unicorn

The dark template comes from Tome of Magic, and it is basically an easier version of the shadow template from Manual of the Planes and other sources. The multiheaded template (one of my favorites) comes from Savage Species. Unfortunately you cannot apply the chimeric template to a unicorn, or I would have. Maybe that can be saved for April, and Creatures That Cannot Be II.

This unicorn variant is a dull purple color, as if it were brighter purple but had been left out in the sun too long and had faded into almost a gray. When it runs it looks more like a purplish blur. Each of its two heads has a horn, and each breathes a jet of cold. If you want to make the variant look more interesting, you can have the breath weapon come from the horn rather than the creature's mouth. This doesn't change the way the breath weapon works at all, but it looks very much different than the player characters might expect and highlights the horn as an important part of the creature.

Even though it cannot hide very well, it uses its hide in plain sight ability frequently, either to escape notice or to ambush a foe. Typically it begins a combat by using its breath weapons on as many foes as it can catch in an overlapped effect (so 6d6 to a few foes). Then it moves to melee attacks and cures itself when needed (since it can use its spell-like abilities with the horns of either head).

Two-Headed Dark Cryo-Unicorn CR 6
CN Large magical beast (extraplanar, cold)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 90 ft., superior low-light vision, scent; Listen +13, Spot +13
Languages Common, Sylvan

AC 19, touch 12, flat-footed 16; +2 deflection bonus against evil creatures
(-1 size, +3 Dex, +7 natural)
hp 69 (6 HD)
Immune cold, poison, charm, compulsion
Resist cold 10, electricity 10; turn resistance +4
Fort +11, Ref +7, Will +6
Weakness fire

Speed 70 ft. (17 squares)
Melee 2 horns +13 (1d8+8) and
2 hooves +10 (1d4+2)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Base Atk +6; Grp +15
Atk Options Combat Reflexes
Special Actions breath weapon
Spell-Like Abilities:
At will -- detect evil (free action)
3/day -- cure light wounds (DC 16, CL 5th)
1/day -- cure moderate wounds (DC 17, CL 5th), greater teleport (within own forest only), neutralize poison (DC 19, CL 8th)

Abilities Str 20, Dex 17, Con 23, Int 10, Wis 21, Cha 24
SQ hide in plain sight, magic circle against evil, wild empathy
Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes[B], Improved Initiative[B], Multiattack, Skill Focus (Hide), Skill Focus (Survival)
Skills Hide +12, Jump +23, Listen +13, Move Silently +13, Search +2, Spot +13, Survival +8

Breath Weapon (Su) 10-ft. high by 10-ft. wide by 20 ft. long, once every 1d4 rounds, 3d6 cold, Reflex DC 17 half; all heads breathe every 1d4 rounds in the same round.

Magic Circle against Evil (Su) This ability continuously duplicates the effect of the spell. A unicorn cannot suppress this ability.

Wild Empathy (Ex): A unicorn can improve the attitude of an animal. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person with a +19 modifier. The typical domestic animal has a starting attitude of indifferent, while wild animals are usually unfriendly. To use wild empathy, the unicorn and the animal must be able to study each other, which means that they must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time. A unicorn can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2, but it takes a -4 penalty on the check.

Hide in Plain Sight (Ex) A dark unicorn can use the hide skill even when being observed (except in areas of natural daylight, the area of a daylight spell, or a similar condition).

About the Author

Robert Wiese entered the gaming hobby through the Boy Scouts and progressed from green recruit to head of the most powerful gaming fan organization in the world. He served as head of the RPGA Network for almost seven years, overseeing the creation of the Living Greyhawk and Living Force campaigns, among other achievements. Eventually, he returned to private life in Reno, Nevada, where he spends as much time as possible with his wife, new son Owen, and many pets.

He is still involved in writing, organizing conventions, and playing, and he models proteins for the Biochemistry Department of the University of Nevada, Reno.


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