Excerpts 10/01/2004


Libris Mortis: The Book of Undead



Almost every culture on the planet has its own legends of restless spirits, blood-drinking fiends, and the animate corpses of beloved relatives coming back to haunt their unsuspecting relations. Libris Mortis collects many of those bits of folklore, literature, and pop culture and presents them in formats appropriate for D&D. Within these covers the DM can find new horrors to include in his game, ideas for how to incorporate the undead in his campaign world, tips and tricks for running undead encounters, and a range of sample undead and undead encounters to drop right into his game. Players will find optimal tactics for battling the undead, new tools for the fight -- including equipment, magic items, spells, feats, and prestige classes -- and even some guidelines for playing an undead creature as a player character. So whether you like your undead pustulent and hungry for brains or aristocratic and thirsty for blood, you won't go wrong with this book. A word to the wise, though: you might want to leave the lights on while you read.

Libris Mortis: New Monster Classes and Templates

Monster Classes

Some of the races described in this chapter use the monster class rules detailed in Savage Species. You don't necessarily need that book to use these classes. Monster classes work just like other classes, with the following exceptions:

  • When using monster classes to create a character, you can ignore level adjustment. This is replaced by the character's monster class level. (The level adjustment is, in effect, built into the monster class's level progression.)

  • The only way to take a level of a monster class is to be that monster. A feral gargun cannot multiclass as a stonechild, nor can a human fighter multiclass to take levels as an astral deva. She must begin taking levels in the monster class at 1st level.

  • Monster classes do not grant the character skill points or Hit Dice at every level, nor do they grant a feat every three levels. When a level grants skill points, a Hit Die, or a feat, it is noted on the class advancement chart. After creature completes all levels in its monster class, it gains feats normally according to its Hit Die, as shown on Table 3-2: Experience and Level-Dependent Benefits on page 22 of the Player's Handbook.

  • A monster character using a monster class cannot multiclass until she completes the full progression in her monster class. This rule keeps characters from gaining the benefits of a monster's type and then quickly switching to a standard class. A monster class does not impose an experience penalty for multiclassing just as other classes do.

Monster Class Descriptions

The monster class descriptions are structured much like the classes from the Player's Handbook, with the following changes.

Hit Dice: Unlike a traditional class, a monster class doesn't necessarily grant an additional Hit Die with each new level. This is because the creature's level adjustment is "built into" the level progression, and thus some levels don't grant new Hit Dice. Remember to use the character's actual HD, not his character level, when subjected to a spell or similar ability whose effect depends on HD. For instance, a 5th-level mummy/4th-level fighter subjected to a holy word spell is treated as a 7-HD creature, since he has 3 HD from his mummy levels and 4 HD from his fighter levels.

Skill Points and Feats: Monster classes grant skill points with each new HD, but not necessarily with each new level. The tables with the undead monster classes in this chapter indicate the levels at which the character gains skill points as it advances in its monster class. Similarly, undead do no gain feats once every three character levels; check each monster class for specifics.

Special: At various levels, a character progressing in a monster class receives ability score increases. The table for that class shows how much to change the ability score at that level. For instance, the ghoul gains +2 Str at 2nd, 6th, and 8th level. That means you should increase the Dexterity score by +2 at 2nd level, +2 at 6th level, and +2 at 8th level (for a total of 6 points higher than the base value at 1st level).

Some monster classes also grant natural armor bonuses. The table for such a class gives the total natural armor bonus the creature has at that level. Do not add these bonuses together, as is done for ability score increases. These natural armor bonuses stack with natural armor bonuses granted by the creature's base race.

Sample Monster Class: Wight

The wight is an undead creature given semblance of life through sheer violence and hatred. It is spiteful and cruel, seeking only to destroy all living creatures. Even those rare few that overcome their pure hatred of all living things remain jealous of such creatures.

Adventures: Wights prefer lurking in places that reek with death, though some leave such lairs to seek out additional victims. Those less murderous might seek adventure as a way of righting the scales for the evil they have done in the past, or as vengeance against the evil powers that put them in this form.

Characteristics: Wights are strong of will and personality. Though hateful and violent, they are much more disciplined than other undead creatures that share these tendencies, such as mohrgs. They are naturally stealthy, making them good scouts or assassins.

Alignment: Wights are traditionally lawful evil, though this restriction can be relaxed in a campaign that features undead player characters. Even so, most wights lean strongly toward evil. Good-aligned wights are exceedingly rare, and even neutral wights are rare.

Religion: Like other intelligent undead, wights rarely come into voluntary association with religions of any kind.

Background: Some wights are cursed to walk the earth because of their violent and horrid lives, but a good many are merely the victims of other wights, themselves spawned from violence. Wights spawned by other wights are more likely to have alignments differing from the traditional lawful evil.

Races: Wights are most often former humans or members of evil humanoid races (such as hobgoblins or orcs). Some particularly vile dwarves become wights, but other races only rarely are so cursed. Of course, any humanoid can become a wight through the actions of another wight.

Other Undead Classes: Wights get along well with mummies, since these sorts of undead share a level of discipline. They respect the cunning of ghouls, and the mohrg's all-consuming hatred of living things but in general find both of those creatures too savage. They see vampire spawn as embarrassing poseurs, trying far too hard to pass themselves off as living beings.

Role: The wight is a competent combatant, though their strengths lie in stealth and patience. A wight can make an excellent group leader, assuming the others in the group can put up with its cold, festering hatred.

Racial Traits

Starting Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Dex, Con --. Wights are agile and sneaky. As an undead creature, a wight does not have a Constitution score.

Undead: Immune to mind-affecting spells and abilities, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and disease. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage. When a wight is reduced to 0 hit points, it is immediately destroyed. A destroyed wight can be reanimated with a limited wish, wish, or miracle spell (the first spell causes the wight to lose a level, the latter two do not). A resurrection or true resurrection spell can bring a wight back to life as a creature (no longer undead) with a character class appropriate to the wight's life (the former spell causes the ex- wight to lose a level, the latter one does not).

Speed: Wight land speed is the same as that of the base race.

Darkvision: Wights can see in the dark out to 60 feet.

+8 racial bonus on Move Silently checks. Wights are especially good at moving quietly in pursuit of their prey.

Automatic Languages: Common. Once humanoids themselves, wights remember the language of their own former existence.

Favored Class: Wight. The best multiclassing choice for a wight is rogue.

Class Skills

The wight's class skills (and the key ability for each skills) are Hide (Dex), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), and Spot (Wis). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.

Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Hit Die: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the wight monster class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Wights are proficient with all simple weapons, but not with armor or shields.

Slam: A wight has a slam attack that is a natural weapon dealing the indicated damage plus 1-1/2 times its Strength bonus.

Create Spawn (Su): Any humanoid slain by a wight becomes a wight in 1d4 rounds. Spawn are under the command of the wight that created them and remain enslaved until its death. They do not possess any of the abilities they had in life.

Energy Drain (Su): Living creatures hit by an 8th-level wight's slam attack gain one negative level. The Fortitude save to remove this negative level is DC 10 + 1/2 wight's HD from class levels + wight's Cha modifier). For each such negative level bestowed, the wight gains 5 temporary hit points.

Table 2-7: The Wight

Level HitDice Base
Attack

Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
SkillPoints Special
1st 1d12 +0 +0 +0 +2 4 + Int mod x 4 Feat, slam 1d4
2nd 1d12 +0 +0 +0 +2 -- +1 natural armor
3rd 2d12 +1 +0 +0 +3 4 + Int mod +2 Cha
4th 2d12 +1 +0 +0 +3 -- +2 natural armor
5th 3d12 +1 +1 +1 +3 4 + Int mod Feat, +2 Wis
6th 3d12 +1 +1 +1 +3 -- +3 natural armor
7th 4d12 +2 +1 +1 +4 4 + Int mod +2 Str
8th 4d12 +2 +1 +1 +4 -- +4 natural armor, +2 Cha, energy drain, create spawn

Hooded Pupil (Template)

Hooded pupils are humanoids who were lured by the promises of necromancy, envious of the power the necromancer wields and unending existence the vampire enjoys, but yet are not ready to relinquish life.

Hooded pupils usually are found serving an "apprenticeship" with a more powerful intelligent undead. The undead master sometimes has need for living servants to advance its ends in societies of the living. On the other hand, the living pupil sees firsthand what it means to fully embrace the darkness.

Hooded pupils are usually only created when a powerful undead bequeaths a secret of necromancy to one who accepts its truth. As testament to their apprenticeship, hooded pupils are most often dressed in some sort of ominous hooded mantle.

Sample Hooded Pupil

Hooded Pupil Ettin

This example uses an ettin as the base creature.

Hooded Pupil Ettin
Large Giant
Hit Dice: 10d8+20 (65 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 30 ft. in hide armor (6 squares); base speed 40 ft.
Armor Class: 20 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +9 natural, +3 hide armor), touch 8, flat-footed 20
Base Attack/Grapple: +7/+17
Attack: Morningstar +13 melee (2d6+8) or javelin +5 ranged (1d8+6)
Full Attack: 2 morningstars +13/+8 melee (2d6+8) or 2 javelins +6 ranged (1d8+8)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Clutch of Orcus, drink blood
Special Qualities: Low-light vision, resistance to cold 5, spider climb, superior two-weapon fighting
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +4, Will +6
Abilities: Str 25, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 12, Cha 13
Skills: Hide -6, Listen +13, Move Silently -2, Search +1, Spot +13
Feats: Alertness, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack
Environment: Cold hills
Organization: Solitary, gang (2-4), troupe (1-2 plus 1-2 brown bears), band (3-5 plus 1-2 brown bears), or colony (3-5 plus 1-2 brown bears and 7-12 orcs or 9-16 goblins)
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Usually chaotic evil
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: +9

A smell like an open grave heralds this hulking figure. Draped in ominous black folds, its features are lost beneath a night-dark hood wide enough to hide more than a single head.

Combat

The ettin hooded pupil relishes its heightened abilities in combat, usually beginning any conflict with its clutch of Orcus ability. Once threats are dealt with, it attempts to drink the blood of any smaller enemy it can grapple.

Clutch of Orcus (Sp): Once per day a hooded pupil can use the spell clutch of Orcus (see the new spell in Chapter 4). Caster level is 10th. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Drink Blood (Su): Once per day, a hooded pupil ettin can suck blood from a living victim who has damage that is yet unhealed (the hooded pupil ettin doesn't have exceptionally sharp teeth, so it must sip from wounds). It does so by making a successful grapple check. Against a pinned or helpless foe, it drinks blood, dealing 2 points of Constitution damage.

Spider Climb (Su): The hooded pupil ettin can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell.

Superior Two-Weapon Fighting (Ex): A hooded pupil ettin fights with a morningstar or javelin in each hand. Because each of its two heads controls an arm, the ettin does not take a penalty on attack or damage rolls for attacking with two weapons.

Skills: An ettin's two heads give it a +2 racial bonus on Listen, Spot, and Search checks. As a hooded pupil, the creature also gains an additional +2 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot checks. (These bonuses are already calculated into the statistics above.)

Creating A Hooded Pupil

Hooded pupil is an acquired template that can be added to any corporeal giant or humanoid (referred to hereafter as the base creature). It does not change the creature's type to undead.

A hooded pupil uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Armor Class: The outermost layers of the hooded pupil's skin thickens into an all-encompassing yellow callus, granting the base creature an improvement of +2 to its natural armor bonus.

Special Attacks: A hooded pupil retains all the base creature's special attacks and gains those described below.

Clutch of Orcus (Sp): Once per day a hooded pupil can use the spell clutch of Orcus (see the new spell in Chapter 4). Caster level is 10th. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Drink Blood (Su): Once per day a hooded pupil can suck blood from a living victim who has damage that is yet unhealed (the hooded pupil doesn't have exceptionally sharp teeth, unless the base creature has a bite attack, so it must sip from wounds). It does so by making a successful grapple check (it usually prefers to use this ability on foes that are already helpless). Against a pinned or helpless foe, it drinks blood, dealing 2 points of Constitution damage.

Special Qualities: A hooded pupil retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains those described below.

Resistance toCold (Ex): Hooded pupils gain resistance to cold 5.

Spider Climb (Su): Hooded pupils can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell.

Abilities: A hooded pupil gains a taste of unholy strength and mental vigor. Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +2, Wis +2, Cha +2.

Skills: Hooded pupils have a +2 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot checks.

Feats: Hooded pupils gain Alertness, Improved Initiative, and Lightning Reflexes, assuming the base creature meets the prerequisites and it doesn't already have these feats.

Environment: Any, usually same as base creature.

Challenge Rating: +1.

Alignment: Always evil (any).

Level Adjustment: Same as the base creature +4.

Revived Fossil (Template)

Revived Fossil Megaraptor

Revived fossils are the remains of animals or monsters that were preserved in a petrified state. Fossils are found encased in stone or other geological deposits, but revived fossils are the freed and animated remains of the dead. They are mindless automatons that obey the orders of their evil masters.

A revived fossil does only what it is ordered to do. It can draw no conclusions of its own and takes no initiative. Because of this limitation, its instructions must always be simple, such as "Kill anyone who walks down this road." A revived fossil attacks until destroyed, for that is what it was created to do.

Revived Fossils cannot be created with the animate dead spell, but instead are created through custom necromantic rituals that vary depending on the fossil to be revived.

Sample Revived Fossil

This example uses a megaraptor as the base creature.

Revived Fossil Megaraptor
Huge Undead (Augmented Animal)
Hit Dice: 8d12+40 (118 hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 60 ft. (12 squares)
Armor Class: 27 (-2 size, +1 Dex, +18 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 26
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+17
Attack: Talons +7 melee (2d10+5)|
Full Attack: Talons +7 melee (2d10+5) and 2 foreclaws +2 melee (1d4+2) and bite +2 melee (2d6+2)
Space/Reach: 15 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: --
Special Qualities: Bonus hit points, damage reduction 10/adamantine, darkvision 60 ft., immunity to cold, undead traits
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +4
Abilities: Str 21, Dex 13, Con -- , Int -- , Wis 10, Cha 1
Skills: --
Feats: Combat Reflexes
Environment: Warm forests
Organization: Solitary, pair, or pack (3-6)
Challenge Rating: 10
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: 9-16 HD (Huge); 17-24 HD (Gargantuan)
Level Adjustment: --

A creature of petrified bones, still partially imprisoned in stone, the prehistoric creature lumbers forward.

Combat

A revived fossil megaraptor uses its talons and foreclaws to shred prey.

Creating A Revived Fossil

Revived fossil is an acquired template that can be added to any corporeal creature (other than an undead) that has a skeletal system (referred to hereafter as the base creature).

A revived fossil has all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Size and Type: The creature's type changes to undead. It retains any subtype except for alignment subtypes (such as good) and subtypes that indicate kind (such as goblinoid or reptilian). It also gains the augmented subtype.

Hit Dice: Drop any Hit Dice gained from experience and raise remaining Hit Dice to d12s.

Speed: Winged revived fossils can't use their wings to fly. If the base creature flew magically, so can the revived fossil.

Armor Class: Natural armor bonus changes to a number based on the revived fossil's size:

Size Bonus
Diminutive or Fine +6
Small +9
Medium +12
Large +15
Huge +18
Gargantuan +24
Colossal +30

Attacks: A revived fossil retains all the natural weapons, manufactured weapon attacks, and weapon proficiencies of the base creature, except for attacks that can't work without flesh (such as a mind flayer's tentacle attacks). A creature with hands gains one claw attack per hand; the revived fossil can strike with each of its claw attacks at its full attack bonus. A revived fossil's base attack bonus is equal to 1/2 its Hit Dice.

Damage: Natural and manufactured weapons deal damage normally. A claw attack deals damage depending on the revived fossil's size. (If the base creature already had claw or talon attacks, use whichever damage is better.)

Size Damage
Diminutive or Fine 1d3
Tiny 1d4
Small 1d8
Medium 2d6
Large 2d8
Huge 2d10
Gargantuan 2d12
Colossal 2d20

Special Attacks: A revived fossil retains none of the base creature's special attacks.

Special Qualities: A revived fossil loses most special qualities of the base creature, though it retains any extraordinary special qualities that improve its melee or ranged attacks. A revived fossil also gains the following special qualities.

Bonus Hit Points: Because its body is a mass of stone, a revived fossil is hard to destroy. It gains bonus hit points based on size, as shown on the following table:

Size Bonus
Hit Points
Diminutive, Fine, Tiny --
Small 10
Medium 20
Large 30
Huge 40
Gargantuan 60
Colossal 80

Damage Reduction 10/Adamantine: Revived fossils are similar to animate stone statues.

Immunity to Cold (Ex): Revived fossils are not affected by cold.

Saves: Base save bonuses are Fort +1/3 HD, Ref +1/3 HD, and Will +1/2 HD + 2.

Abilities: A revived fossil's Dexterity decreases by 2, it has no Constitution or Intelligence score, its Wisdom changes to 10, and its Charisma changes to 1.

Skills: A revived fossil has no skills.

Feats: A revived fossil loses all feats of the base creature but gains Combat Reflexes.

Environment: Any, usually same as base creature.

Organization: Any.

Challenge Rating: Depends on Hit Dice, as follows:

Hit Dice Challenge Rating
1/2 1/3
1 1
2-3 2
4-5 3
6-7 4
8-9 5
10-11 6
12-14 7
15-17 8
18-20 9

Treasure: None.

Alignment: Always neutral evil.

Advancement: As base creature (or -- if the base creature advances by character class).

Level Adjustment: -- .

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