Author Topic: Monstrous Roleplaying Resources and Lore  (Read 53194 times)

Heretic

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Monstrous Roleplaying Resources and Lore
« on: December 10, 2006, 06:22:06 AM »
Here is some valuable information for those wanting to play a Monsterous character in the Ravenloft setting.

Please read the following before considering playing a Monster PC in Ravenloft, Prisoners of the Mists:

Essential Readings
- The Role of Monstrous PC's - Why and How
- A guide to playing Monsters
- Applications for a Monstrous PC or AMPC

The Undead
- The Undead
- The Vampire
- Creating Vampires
- Vampire Weaknesses
- Ghoul
- Vampire
- Wight
- The Ancient Dead (Mummy)
- Death Knight
- Dread Revenant
- Vassalich

The Lycanthropes
- Lycanthropes in general
- Lycanthropy as heretidary (True Lycantropes)
- Relations between Lycanthropes
- Wererat
- Werewolf
- Werebear
- Wereboar
- Werecrocodile
- Wereraven
- Wereleopard
- Werejackal

Other Monsters
- Dread Flesh Golem
- Red Widow

Sources: planet ADnD.com, Van Richten guide to the Werebeast, Van Richten guide to the vampire, Van Richten Guide to the Ancient dead, Van Richten Guide to the Lich, Gazeteer I, II, III, IV, V, Ravenloft Campaign Setting, Van Richten's Guide to the Created, Monster Manual, Ravenloft player's handbook, Libris Mortis, d20.Org, Undead, Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium III, Dragon Magazine 300, FoS Forums.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 10:51:06 AM by MAB77 »

Heretic

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Re: Monsterous Roleplaying ressources and Lore.
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2006, 03:21:50 PM »
The Undead

"One touch, one bite - one moment of pain and an eternity of pleasure"

- Katriona Solemntue, Vampire.




The Seekers

How difficult is to seek the undead state and what kind of people wiish to do so? The stereotype of an undead is that of a powerful, innately evil creature whose only goal is to gain enough power to plunge the world into darkness. An interesting impression, but only occasionally accurate. It is certainly not a complete representation of the mortal that once existed before making the choice to become undead.

The fear of death is natural human response. We are frightened of things we cannot understand and throughout our existence as humans, the secrets of death always elude us. When we die, are all the things we have fought for in this life rendered to dust? Are our struggles of any value beyond our immediate existence? These questions have plagued mortal intellect from the day we first gained awareness. The passage into undeath is a means to answer to those questions.

The first type of individual seeking undeath wishes to know and conquer death itself. They are looking for a means to extend their life, to face death and prevail. In many ways, they wish to cheat the cycle and step outside of the realm of nature. By doing so, they manage to escape the end of their lives. For some, this is enough. There are many individuals who live their lives in pain, afraid of death, concerned that when their life ends, so too will all of their works. These people look to undeath as a way to master the world around them. They use it as means to prevent the end of the legacies. The magical power or prowess that is not of concern to them beyond being a means to remain alive.

Another sort of individual who seeks to become undead are the guardians and protectors. In life, they are dedicated and loyal, believing in their mission or their leader above all other things. This leader may be an icon of faith, or a symbol of great power, but to the individual, it is something whose worth is beyond mortal death. When mortal life leaves the body (As direct result of such a ritual), the individual rises again as an undead guardian. In the case of mummies, the individual actually pledges their souls to the defence and protection of this item, icon or place, and by doing so, binds themselves to that goal. A person who pledges his eternal existence to the defence of the Princess's Tomb may become a walking undead guardian of that tomb, fighting against anyone who would dare disturb the sleep of his dead charge. A spectre that has been bound to an artifact remains, in spirit, close to that item. If it is disturbed or used wrongly, the spectre arises to defend its charge.

Some can achieve this undead guardian effect without the courtesy of a magical ritual. When destiny goes awry and someone's fate is stolen from them, their soul may reach beyond mortal limits and refuse to let go of its emotional need. Whether this driving goal is vengeance, duty, love or honor, is it enough to allow the body to rise beyond death and continue to exist in a surreal state of undeath. Unlike mummies and other ritual guardians, however, this form of undead ceased to exist once their purpose is negated or fulfilled. Death knights, revenants and wraiths fall into this category of undead. Their need to become undead was created at the moment of their death. They became undead following a tragic incident that their soul cannot ignore. During life, they did not necessarily seek undeath - they may have shunned it or not known about its existence, but at their dying moment, their souls found reason to cling to this world despite the loss of their lives.

Undead that can create others of their own type are also sought out by those who wish to cheat death, to negotiate for the gift that these undead offer through their dark infection. Vampires, in particular are sought out with such requests. Some of these undead amass a great deal of money and power by choosing the successor of their blood-curse.

Others swear to raise the petitioner into undeath, but then cheat and allow the individual to die while the vampire takes the payment without offering the reward.


The Lost

" I did not chose this path, but if I must follow it, then I shall damn the rest of you as well"

- Bakahr Legacybane, General of the Undead Armies on Tyrrich Plain.


Other individuals do not choose to remain beyond death. Corpses that rise do not always become undead of their own bidding. Occasionally events occur that scar the very fabric of reality, leaving behind a legacy of remorse and despair. Great battles often leave behind warriors, soldiers that do not accept death and continue to march across barren and desolate fields. Even smaller tragedies spawn ghosts and allips (Commonly known as Madness-wraiths) that continue to repeat the actions which lead to their own deaths. Night after night, such undead return to the site of their greatest remorse. There they mechanically go through the motions of their last moments, reliving the moment of their demise time and time again. Such undead are not necessarily evil. Indeed, they may not realize that they are dead at all, so long as their eternal loop is not interrupted. If they are contrained from performing their necessary actions, they go mad and lash out violently until the provocationis gone, at which point, they return to their cycles, as if undisturbed.

Magic that goes horribly awry can create such restless spirits. Trapped by some flux of the ethereal, hte spirit of the newly dead may find itself lost between realms, damned to an eternity as a ghost or spectre. Curses, cast by powerful mages or unleashed through toughtless action, can also condemn the innocent into an eternal unlife. Many powerful artifacts and relics are capable of tearing the soul from the body and destroying the felsh. Some such items can enslave the souls it steals into a legion of undead protectors. Others leave the lost soul on its own, forever cut off from its life but also forbidden the peace of true death.

In some cases, a member of the undead chose them as a legacy. Many of the undead have their own means of procreation through the passing of a taint of their existence. Those undead seek someone to share their immortality. These creatures spend their unlives creating more remnants of their twisted races and war upon each other through those who are an extension of their curse. Wights, ghouls and vampires are the most common of these self-replicating undead. Their choise for servant to pass on their legacy may be made completely without the individual's knowledge. The creature stalks and chooses its prey as predator might do. Once captured, the target is forced to undergo a ritual and become undead (for vampires, this involves the ingestion of blood; for Wights, the ritual commution of flesh). Immediately thereafter, the creator undead then kills the target's mortal flesh in order to force their return to an unholy life.

For such restless spirits, damnation may not be an eternal punishment. Those who do not stain their soul by willingly accepting the curse of the undead can stil seek atonement. For some, this atonement must come through spiritual prowess and the absolution of faith. For others, their goal must be achieved in order to allow such a spirit to give this world release. Undead that remain in this wold because they are trapped whiting a cycle, or becuse they have lost their place in fate can be restored if their quest are accomplished. Unlike those undead that willingly walk into the jaws of eternal damnation, these souls exist in a form of purgatory where their souls are removed from death, but not necessarily removed permanently from the cycle.


The Soul

"The replication of the soul within an undead is not unlike the lizard's illusion of color. Though these blasphemies may seem to be our daughters, sons, and loved ones, they are nothing more than ruined shells, filled with the darkness of evil"

-Hammund's Journal of Purification.


When an undead is created, the person's body and their mind undergo certain physical transformations, but how do we quntify the changes within the sou;? Most religions consider undead to be a blasphemy against life and dark transition of the soul. Undead are twisted beings, their souls condemned by powerful magics and removed from the course of natural life and death.

The philosophy of undeath is simple, but the understanding of the metaphysics is far more complex. When an individual exchanges their life for undeath, the spark of energy that fuels their existence is stamped out and replaced by a darker force, a negative energy that feeds on life and pain. This energy (some term it the negative soul) replicates the original soul of the individual and establishes a continuance of life. Some faiths believe that this soul is not the original soul, but a negative duplicate, while others believe that it is the original soul of the creature now tainted and twisted by the energy of the negative plane. Based on these beliefs, some people that hunt the undead justify their actions as a cleansing of the flesh that has been taken over by an evil spirit or as a cleaning the spirit that is tormented by this evil energy.

If we continue with the ideal that the soul of the individual is destroyed and replaced with a negative replica of that individual's essence then we must also believe that this negative reflection can exist for all of us. Is it the source of Evil? Does it have any connection with the normal every day person? There are those psychopaths that believe a darker force drives their actions, perhaps this negative energy has its own goals and desires. When it comes right down to it, this belief allows us to think that. these horrible creatures are not truly human.

Source: d20: "Undead"
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 10:26:06 AM by MAB77 »

Heretic

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Re: Monsterous Roleplaying ressources and Lore.
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2007, 04:22:55 AM »
The Vampire



The "Necrology" of Vampires

It should come as no surprise that a vampire's metabolism is not like that of a mortal; in fact, strictly speaking, a vampire has no metabolism whatsoever. Although all of the biological systems present in a living mortal are also present in a vampire, most of these systems are changed in function. For example, most vampires do not need to breathe, and can function equally well in an airless crypt or in the vacuum of a void. Provided that immersion in water is not deadly to them, they can function unimpaired on the ocean floor. Vampires do retain the use of their lungs, but only for speech.

Because vampires have no metabolism in the normal sense, metabolic toxins and poisons – ingested, inhaled, or insinuative – have absolutely no effect on the creatures. This is not to say there are not certain substances which, when insinuated into the body of a vampire, cause it serious or even lethal damage. These substances, although they may seem to function like poisons, are more like allergens and are usually specific to individual creatures. For example, I myself have dispatched a vampire that was sensitive to holly, and I have heard that the ash of burned alder wood is lethal to another certain vampire.

Some examples of vampiric allergens are yew leaves, rose petals, salt, rice, silver, mistletoe, and lilies. The digestive tract of a vampire is greatly modified from that of a living mortal. The stomach is frequently reduced in size, often to the size of a man's clenched fist, simply because no vampire needs to ingest large volumes of solid food. There is wide variation among vampires with regard to the ability to eat solid food. Some vampires are unable to eat normal food at all, and any attempt to do so results in immediate regurgitation. Others can eat solid food with no ill effects, although they extract no nourishment from the food, and pass the material through their bodies over a course of hours, as mortals do. In the middle ground, there are some vampires that can eat solid food, but must regurgitate it within a period ranging from minutes to hours. This issue may seem incidental, but it obviously has significant effects on a vampire's behavior, should the creature try to masquerade as a living creature.

The circulatory system of a vampire is little changed. The heart still pumps blood throughout the vessels of the monster's body. There are some differences, however. Because vampires have no need to extract oxygen from the air, their blood absorbs nothing from the lungs. This renders them completely immune to noxious gases that must be breathed to be effective. A vampire might inhale the gas – that is, draw it into its lungs – but the toxic chemicals in the gas would not cross from the lungs to the blood.

The blood of a vampire is also somewhat different from the blood of a mortal. When viewed normally, it has the same rich, red color as a mortal's blood. When it is viewed by transmitted light, such as when a vial of vampire blood is held up to a light source, it has a distinctive golden color. Blood drawn from an undestroyed vampire can manifest a wide variety of powers. In some cases, the blood is highly caustic, causing severe acid-like damage to anyone who touches it. In other cases, the blood bursts explosively into flame when exposed to sunlight. In still other cases, anyone who touches so much as one drop of the blood with bare skin instantly falls under the mental sway of the vampire. It is impossible to predict beforehand what effects the blood of a particular vampire might have, if any. There is one common factor: at the instant a vampire is destroyed, any samples of his blood immediately become completely inert, and frequently become corrupted and rancid within seconds.

The sensory organs of vampires become much more sensitive than those of their living analogues. If they did not already possess the power in life, vampires gain the ability to see in total darkness (i.e., infravision), typically with a range of some 90 feet. Their hearing also becomes much more acute, as does their sense of touch and smell; a vampire is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to surprise.

Because a vampire does not require oxygen and, as is usually the case, must feed only once per day, where does it draw the energy required, for the prodigious feats of which the creature is capable? Many sages disagree, but my own belief is that the creature has an innate link with the Negative Material Plane.     

Whatever the reason, vampires are much more resilient and robust than living creatures. They seem generally immune to exhaustion and to the debilitating effects of pain and exposure, and seem able to shrug off the negative consequences of many magical effects. They are totally immune to the effects of sleep, charm, and hold spells, and to other magical or psionic effects which mimic these spells. They are also totally immune to any magical effect which specifically causes paralysis. It is important to stress the word "specifically." While a vampire would be immune to the paralyzing touch of a ghoul or the dweomer of a wand of paralyzation, it could be affected by a potent enchantment, such as alter reality or wish, that emulated the effect. (Any mage capable of casting such powerful magic would almost certainly choose an effect more significant than paralyzation, of course.) Like many other types of undead creatures, vampires sustain little damage from any effect based on cold or electricity, whether caused by spell, item, breath weapon, or even the elements.

Vampires are totally resistant to several beneficial spells as well. The creatures are completely immune to the effects of priestly curative or healing magic, such as cure light wounds, heal, etc. Because the failure of such spells might well give away the monster's true nature, a vampire masquerading as a mortal will often go to great lengths to avoid exposure to such magic.

A vampire's hair will never turn gray, nor will the creature show any other physical signs of aging unless it already had before death. In general, as long as the creature is well fed and functions according to whatever other restrictions are relevant to its existence, it will never appear any different from the way it did on the day of its mortal death. This does not mean that vampires will flaunt their unchanging appearance, because doing so will certainly attract too much unwanted attention. A vampire that chooses to live within or on the outskirts of the society of men will, in most cases, go to great lengths to masquerade as a normal human or demihuman, pretending to age and even to "die" to remove suspicion.


Vampiric Powers

Vampires are perhaps the most individualistic of undead. What is true for one is an outright – and dangerously misleading – falsehood for another. The differences between individual vampires typically become more pronounced as the creatures advance in age and power: while most fledgling vampires typically show at least some similarities with each other, the differences between the aged Patriarchs are often so great as to make one suspect that they are completely different types of creatures. The following discussions deal with the most common powers and weaknesses of vampires. Many vampire hunters have died – or worse – through over-generalizing such discussions, however. An assumption that any individual vampire has any particular power or weakness is a dangerous assumption, indeed!

Great is the power of the vampire. These undisputed masters of the undead have an abundance of powers from which to choose, giving them an advantage in nearly every combat and noncombat situation. These monsters enjoy significant benefits in nearly every aspect of their being. Their senses, strength, reasoning, and intelligence are all far beyond human norms. In fact, if not for their special vulnerabilities (which I will discuss later), vampires would be nearly unstoppable.

Although all vampires are extremely powerful, there is a moderating effect on the abilities of vampires, and this is time. A newly-created vampire (in the vast majority of cases) is relatively weak when compared to those that have been in existence for decades or centuries. On the other end of the scale, a vampire who has existed for a millenium or more is unimaginably more powerful than a newly-created fledgling.

No one knows exactly why this is so. Some scholars believe this progression to be "an innate characteristic of vampiric nature,” which of course is no answer at all. My personal belief is that all vampires are created with the potential to use all the powers available to a 1.000-year-old individual, but that actually using those powers is something that must be learned. Presumably, the more "advanced" powers require more subtlety to control, or are more taxing on the vampire, or perhaps both. To use these greater powers the vampire must practice the precision required and must build the willpower and mental fortitude needed to wield them.

Age Categories

Like dragons, vampires are divided into age categories. Essentially, as a vampire grows older, its power also grows. The creature gains new abilities that it did not previously have and becomes increasingly less susceptible to past weaknesses. In short, the older the vampire is, the more formidable a foe it becomes.

Happily, I know of only two Patriarch Vampires in existence. Patriarchs are extremely rare, for seldom do vampires survive this long. As will be discussed later, the strain of immortality is frequently too great for them. I see the hand of Providence in this, because to encounter a Patriarch is almost certain to become totally subject to its will.

Each vampire age category has a title associated with it. The titles and related ages are:
Fledgling: 0-99 years
Mature: 100-199 years
Old: 200-299 years
Very Old: 300-399 years
Ancient: 400-499 years
Eminent: 500-999 years
Patriarch: 1000+ years

These titles are more of academic interest than of practical value; one would not normally refer to a vampire by its title. If someone were addressing Strahd, for instance, who falls in the 400-499 category, they would still call him "Lord Strahd," rather than "Ancient Strahd."


Animal form

In addition to the ability to assume gaseous form, a vampire can physically change its form into that of a wolf or a bat. This transformation is always voluntary, unlike that to gaseous form; a vampire cannot be forced to assume animal form. (In other words, a vampire cannot assume an animal form when physically defeated in battle.) The animal form that a vampire assumes will always be slightly larger than the norm, and more menacing. Some experts claim that the animal form of a vampire is always close to the archetype for that creature, the perfect form of the species; others state that the animal form always has the spark of intelligence visible in its eyes. Personally, I believe both statements to say more about the experts than about vampires. A hunter trying to recognize a vampire in animal form should not depend on such subjective measures.

Even behavior is not a foolproof way of determining whether a particular wolf (or bat) is actually a vampire. An animal-form vampire is, of course, completely in control of its own behavior, and hence can act either in ways totally in or out of character for the natural animal. Thus, if it suits the monster's purposes, it can blend undetectably with the normal members of a pack of wolves or bevy of bats. Unless the monster commands otherwise, however, the natural members of such a group will consider the animal form vampire to be the dominant leader of the group, and will treat it as such unless the vampire commands otherwise.

The transition from human to animal form takes one minute (1 round), and during the change, the monster is unable to do anything else. Vampires are generally unable to transform directly from animal to gaseous form, or vice versa, but must change to human form as a transitional step. Thus, changing from animal to gaseous form would take the creature two minutes (2 rounds) – one minute to change from gaseous to human form, then another minute to change from human to animal form. The only exception seems to be when the vampire in animal form suffers massive physical damage. Then and only then the creature seems able, indeed forced, to transform directly from animal to gaseous form.
 
Considering that the transition from human to animal form takes one minute, and that the monster is unusually vulnerable during the transition, why would the fiend choose to change forms at all? The most obvious use for this ability is camouflage, allowing the creature to stalk victims unseen, or to escape detection by those with the temerity to hunt it. There is another major benefit, too. When a wounded vampire changes form, it often seems to totally shake off all damage it has suffered up to that point.


Source: Van Richten's guide to the Vampire
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 10:26:52 AM by MAB77 »

Heretic

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Re: Monsterous Roleplaying ressources and Lore.
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2007, 04:36:16 AM »
Vampires in Ravenloft



Of all the dark and evil things that move about in the mists of Ravenloft, none is more feared than the vampire. These creatures can often move freely about in the world of men and, as such, are all the more dreadful. Their unexpected attacks often target the innocent and helpless, leaving little hope that a victim will survive to lead would-be vampire hunters to the monster. All in all, they are certainly the darkest of the dark. Ravenloft is home to many vampires, some of whom are even lords of their own domains. Strahd Von Zarovich, the master of Barovia, is one such creature. His darkness is so great that many believe the land itself to be tied directly to him. This may or may not be true, but the Vistani and Lord Azalin of Darkon certainly seem to believe it. Other vampire lords, like Duke Gundar of Gundarak, are certainly powerful- but none can compare to the might or the evil that is Strahd’s.

Becoming a Vampire

There are three ways to become a vampire. Each of these paths to darkness has its own unique character, but the end result is always a creature of unsurpassed evil and power.

The first path: generally known as that of deadly desire, is perhaps the most awful. In this case, the individual who is destined to become a vampire actually wishes to cross over and become undead. While it has been said that they must sacrifice their lives to attain this goal, a greater cost is often paid. Those who desire to live eternally and feed on the life essences of their fellow men must give up a portion of their spirits to the dark powers themselves. In this way, they are granted the powers of the undead, but also stripped of the last vestiges of their humanity. In the centuries to come, many find this loss too great to bear and seek out their own destruction.

The second path, that of the curse, is often the most insidious of the three. In this case, the individual is often unaware that he or she is destined to become a thing of the night. The transformation into “unlife” might occur because of a potent curse laid down by someone who has been wronged by the victim. Occasionally, an individual might find that he or she has inherited (or found) a beautiful and alluring magical ring-only to find that it cannot be removed and that the character is slowly . . . changing. There are those who accept this curse and embrace their new existence as a vampire, while others despise the things they have become. In nearly every case, these are the most passionate and “alive” examples of this evil race.

The final, and surely most tragic, path to vampirism is that of the victim. This is the route most commonly taken to vampirism, for it is the way in which those slain by a vampire become vampires themselves. Vampires created in this way almost always detest themselves and the creature that made them what they are. More information on this type of vampire is presented in the next section, which details the relationship of such creatures to their masters. All in all, the victims of other vampires are unhappy in their new lives, for few ever accept their fates happily-and many do not have the strength of character to seek an end to their wretched “unlives.”

Vampire Masters & Slaves

When a vampire decides to create new slaves, it does so by taking their lives in some special way. For most, it is simply the draining of their life energies or the drinking of their blood. Whatever the end result, if the victim dies from the feeding of the beast, he or she rises again as a vampire. At this point, the victim of the attack is enslaved bv the vampire that created it. The newly created monstkr seldom has any fraction of its master’s power and is thus unable to challenge its master’s authority.

Further, the master exerts a powerful form of charm over its subjects that prevents them from acting to destroy it. This does not, however, mean that the vampire’s minions cannot act to undermine the vampire’s plans in minor ways, only that they must do as they are ordered by their lord. Unlike the limitations of a traditional charm, the vampire’s power enables him to order his slaves to destroy their loved ones or act against their own self interest without resistance.


Creating vampires

Traditional Methods

According to most related tales, a vampire can create another simply by killing a mortal either with its life-energy draining power (draining all the character's experience levels) or by exhausting the mortal of his or her blood supply. If the victim's body is not properly destroyed, it arises as a vampire, under the control of the creature who killed it, on the second night following the burial. As an aside, I pose the question: What exactly does it mean when the victim "arises" as a vampire?  When the sun sinks fully below the horizon on the second night after the burial, the victim in the grave "awakens." The occupant of the grave is now a Fledgling vampire with all the characteristics, powers, and weaknesses which accompany that condition. Most vampires remember the instant of their death and the nature of their killer, and understand immediately their new nature. Certainly their new hunger gives them a good idea of what they have become.

They must immediately free themselves from their grave, either by breaking it open from within or by assuming gaseous form and diffusing out. If this is impossible, the vampire will die in about a week unless it can somehow summon minions such as a pack of wolves to dig it out. Once free of its grave, the vampire's first and only priority is to feed. Only after it has fed sufficiently might it remember to conceal the fact that the grave has been opened and is now empty.

There are several nontraditional processes of creating new vampires as well, but these are much less widely known.

Vampiric Saliva

This method is, thankfully, exceptionally rare. The saliva of certain vampires contains various necrological substances. First among these is a slow-acting but highly lethal poison. A single bite from a vampire can inject enough toxin to kill a robust warrior. Unlike most poisons, however, this toxin does not kill the subject for several days. Few people make the connection between the vampire bite and the victim's collapse, hence the body is quite likely to be buried improperly. Meanwhile, within the dead body of the victim, other necrological agents from the vampire's saliva are having their effect. Several nights after the victim's death, he or she comes to consciousness as a vampire.

Vampiric Curses

Some of the monsters also have the dread ability to import vampirism via a curse. With their voice and their gaze they are able to afflict a victim with a terrible wasting disease that drains body strength. After a number of days, the victim dies and then rises as a vampire the night after burial. The only means of saving the victim known to me is to destroy the cursing vampire before the victim finally succumbs. Of course, the body can be destroyed to prevent it from rising, but this is obviously too late to help the victim.

In general, any victim brought to death by any draining effects of a vampire, but not by normal combat or spell damage, is a candidate to become undead.

Vampire Companions

As the years pass, vampires often find that their greatest enemies are not would-be heroes, but time and boredom. The immortality they may once have craved now looks like a bleak and endless chain of suffering that they must wear eternally. To ease their misery, many vampires seek out a special companion. The most commonly encountered form of this is regarded, by those unfamiliar with the depth of the bond to be established, in the same way that they might look upon any normal person taking a wife or husband. In truth, there-is far more to this process. The process of vampiric bonding is as murky as the fog that often shrouds the vampire’s movement. When the vampire decides to take a companion, it generally (although not always) seeks out an individual of the opposite sex that reminds him of someone he loved in life. The vampire repeatedly visits the victim, feeding on him until he is at the point of death. At the last, when all hope seems lost, the vampire draws away the last vestiges of the companion’s life and infuses him with its own energies. The process is both traumatic and passionate, for this mingling of essences is far more intimate than any purely physical act of love. When the bonding is completed, both the vampire and its victim are exhausted and all but helpless for upwards of an hour. At the end of that time, the victim has become a vampire.

While the newly created companion is as much a slave of its master as any vampire spawned from an act of violence, there is something special about it. The companion shares a special metaphysical link with its master. Both can experience the other’s senses at certain times of day or under the influence of certain charms and enchantments. In many cases, this bond is fleeting and exists only briefly, at dawn and dusk for example, while for others it is a continuous exchange that cannot be broken without the death of one or the other. In many cases, a vampire’s companion also has the ability to command its master’s slaves, so long as no action is ordered that would place them in direct confrontation with their creator.

From the point of their bonding on, the two vampires are utterly loyal to each other. While the master might willingly sacrifice its other minions as pawns, it will protect its companion as if it were a king or queen. Likewise, the companion will take no action against its master and will do all that it can to protect him or her from harm. Both will even give up their own lives to save that of their companion. In fact, the bond between the two is so intense that if the master is slain, its companion retains the ability to command its slaves as if he or she were the vampire that had created them.


Physical Effects of Feeding

When a vampire feeds, its body shows various physical signs. Its skin, normally cool and pale, becomes warmer and takes on a healthy, almost ruddy tinge. In addition, the creature's levels of energy and activity seem higher.

In contrast, when a vampire has gone without feeding for a period of time, the reverse effects occur. Its skin becomes colder and paler, sometimes inhumanly so. The creature also becomes more sluggish. (Do not misunderstand this: the monster is still capable of incredible feats of exertion when necessary. The "sluggishness" relates more to its preferred level of activity than to its capabilities. A sluggish vampire is very much like a sluggish shark: to consider either of them to be weak is a dangerous error.) These symptoms become even more pronounced if the creature has been unable to feed sufficiently, as discussed in the following section.

Generally speaking, a "typical" vampire must feed once in any 24-hour period. Not doing so causes the vampire to grow weaker until, with prolonged denial of sustenance, the creature is destroyed.

Kin-Nectar  (FULL VAMPIRE to SPAWN ONLY.)

The majority of vampires can feed only from a willing, charmed, or otherwise immobilized but living victim. Can one of these creatures feed from another vampire? Apparently, yes. The following discussion will concentrate on those creatures that drink blood, because these are the most common. Similar conditions apply for other types of feeders. One vampire can drink the blood of another. In fact, vampiric blood, described by one vampire as "kin-nectar", is a better source of sustenance than the blood of mortals at least in one sense. Vampires need to drink much less kin-nectar than they would mortal blood in order to meet their food requirements. Yet few vampires enjoy drinking kin-nectar, it seems; they vastly prefer the taste of blood, supped from the vessel of a living (demi)human. It may be that there are some vampires that prefer kin-nectar, and perhaps one or two who requires it.

These creatures are in the unenviable position of depending upon other vampires for their survival - not a particularly secure position in which to be. If one vampire drinks the blood of another, the creatures enter into a close relationship: for several (1d3) hours following the feeding, the two creatures' minds are so intimately linked that they can communicate telepathically as easily as by speaking. This telepathy persists regardless of distance or intervening matter as long as both vampires are on the same plane. One vampire cannot "overhear" thoughts not intended as communication, however. In addition, the vampire who drank the blood has a significant level of control over the vampire who provided the blood for as long as the telepathic link exists. The creature who fed can issue orders telepathically and the second creature must obey them, within reason. Most vampires will find this interconnection distasteful and, in the case of the creature who was fed upon, downright dangerous, so the monsters usually shun kin-nectar. Most will only participate in this kind of feeding on either side if they totally trust the other participant (which is very rare) or if they simply have no choice in the matter.

It is nearly impossible for two vampires to feed exclusively from each other for a protracted period of time. They can do it for the short term, but it will become debilitating to both creatures in the long term. Such "mutual" arrangements would be incredibly rare in any case, because both vampires would in turn make themselves vulnerable to the telepathic orders of the other.


The Experience of the Victim

I shake in horror to think about it now. But at the time, as the fiend spoke, I felt its velvet voice thrilling through my body. So seductive were its words that I gladly opened the collar of my coat and bared the skin of my neck, and then stood trembling as I awaited the approach of the dark figure. I gasped aloud with pleasure as its tips touched my flesh, and its hands grasped my shoulders. Then came an instant of pleasure so piercing it was like pain - or pain so sweet it was like pleasure. I could hear the throbbing of my heartbeat in my ears, and also a deep and distant thudding that must have been the beating of the vampire's heart. The drumbeats synchronized until the sounds were one. I cried out from the ecstasy of it...

- From the journal of Alathea Greenbough

How can a vampire charm a victim into submitting to having his or her blood drunk? Surely the very nature of a charm, which cannot force its recipient to put itself in imminent danger, prevents the subject from accepting a command so obviously self-destructive. Then again, the vampiric charm-gaze is not the charm spell. This is one of the most insidious factors in the nature of vampirism. It would seem that there is some deep and dark desire within the psychology of (demi)humans that makes submitting to a vampire's "kiss" somehow attractive. Vampires are often portrayed as creatures with an intense sensual appeal. This, it seems, allows charmed victims to believe that offering their throat to a vampire is not the self-destructive nor even suicidal act that it is.

In addition, some victims who have survived the attentions of a vampire report that the experience was highly pleasurable, much as this may fly in the face of reason. They felt no pain as the beast opened the wound in their flesh, and described the actual sensation of the feeding as one of "voluptuous pleasure". (I find my gorge rises when I consider this, but I have heard it from so many sources that I cannot disregard it.) I have also heard the words used by a vampire while attempting to charm a victim into allowing it to feed. The monster seems to instinctively perceive a desire to submit that lies in the dark recesses of the human mind. It plays upon this desire,
talking about "the gentle joy of surrendering", of "opening oneself". and of "experiencing the unequaled bliss of total sharing". Vampires will often feed from sleeping victims. If the victim is not awakened when the vampire makes the wound, he or she will remember nothing of the experience when they awaken normally. At the very most, the victim will recall that he or she experienced a dream of intense and sensual pleasure.

Notes: Unless the subject of the charm-gaze has some concrete reason to believe that the vampire will kill him or her out of hand, submitting to feeding is not a self-destructive act within the parameters of the charm spell effect. Drained attribute points will typically regenerate at a rate of 1d3 points per day of rest. Hit points drained by a vampire heal at the same rate as normal damage. The effect of having a spell drained is just the same as if the spellcaster attempted to cast the spell, but failed. He or she is free to rememorize the spell the next day.

Source: Van Richten guide to the Vampire. Monstrous compendium 1&2
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 12:39:11 PM by MAB77 »

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Re: Monsterous Roleplaying ressources and Lore.
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2007, 04:53:36 AM »
Vampire Weaknesses



Some of the most common vampiric vulnerabilities are holy symbols, blessed accoutrements, sanctified places, mirrors, garlic, and running water.

One thing that the potential vampire hunter should remember is that not all vampires are  affected by the same things. The discussions below relate to "typical" vampires – which, of course, is an oxymoron; no vampire is "typical." In practice, there is no guarantee that any individual vampire will suffer from any of the above "standard" weaknesses.

This holds particularly true with respect to uniquely powerful vampires, or the heads or progenitors of vampires lines. (A "vampire line" is defined as "all those 'subsidiary' vampires created by the same progenitor vampire, or by vampires who were created by the progenitor, etc." A progenitor is a vampire whose creator has been destroyed, or one who was not created by another vampire, but came into being by some other method.) These creatures tend to be unusual and will commonly possesses strengths and weaknesses altogether different from the "standard" vampire.
           
This same is true for the original set of vampires created personally by a head of a vampire line. These creatures are referred to as the first brood and comprise the progenitor's strongest and best "children." Typically, a first brood will be approximately five-to-ten vampires in size. The first brood will exhibit many of the same qualities as their progenitor but modified in form. For example, if the head of a vampire line were able to shapechange into the form of a fly, his first brood might be able to summon and command swarms of flies. As another example, if the progenitor were held at bay by anyone reading from a holy book, the sound of such readings might cause physical harm to members of the monster's first brood.


Keeping Vampires at bay


Good Holy Symbols

There is no consensus among experts as to exactly why the holy symbols of good aligned faiths hove such an effect on vampires. No one can argue with the fact that this effect exists, however.

The majority of philosophers believe that the symbol itself is not significant; it is the faith of the person holding the symbol that is important.
It should be noted that a holy symbol need not be a traditional one, such as a cross or star, to have power over a vampire. Any symbol of a deity dedicated to the precepts of Goodness will serve the purpose.

Evil Holy Symbols

As with other undead, vampires are sometimes subject to control by priests of evil-aligned faiths. Just as a good-aligned priest can use a holy symbol in an attempt to turn or banish a vampire, so can an evil-aligned priest use his symbol in an attempt to control the vampire. In both cases, the priest's faith and willpower are key issues, and the outcome is never certain.

There is no equivalent of presentment with evil-aligned holy symbols. A vampire is totally unaffected by an evil symbol presented by a layperson or by a priest of insufficient experience.

Turning Versus Presentment

In addition to priestly turning as discussed above, many vampires are also subject to the presentment of a good aligned holy symbol by a layperson or by a priest of insufficient experience to actually turn the creature. It should be noted that presentment of a holy symbol will never drive a vampire away: it will only keep it at bay temporarily. A presented holy symbol in the hands of the most virtuous and pious believer will force a vampire to remain at least five feet away from the character holding the symbol.

Blessed Accoutrements

In addition to holy symbols, there are a number of other religious items that can be used to exert control over the majority of vampires. Although they are usually not as effective as holy symbols, they can be used in a pinch. Some examples of blessed accoutrements are holy wafers, holy water, prayer beads, blessed books or tomes, and robes or clothing. Again, only to keep a Vampire at bay.

Additional Protection

There are three additional items that are useful for keeping vampires at bay. Once again, one must realize that not all vampires will be subject to these items.

Mirrors: It is this fact that likely explains a vampire's negative reaction to mirrors. If a mirror is presented boldly and with conviction to a vampire, the monster will recoil from it. Exactly why is this? It appears that vampires often resent their undead stale, and yearn for the warmth of humanity and feeling of being alive. Mirrors, because they do not reflect the image of vampires, remind the creatures in a most painful manner of their undead state.

Garlic: Garlic also has a strong effect on vampires. The reasons for this are unclear, but some innate quality in the plant causes vampires to cower from it. Some sages believe the reason is simply that vampires find the odor extremely offensive – so offensive, in fact, that a vampire will never approach any significant quantity of garlic, but I find this explanation much too simplistic. Perhaps vampires find garlic to be toxic to their necrological processes, as wolvesbane (actually aconite) is to werewolves. In any case, garlic can be used as a partial protection against the monsters.

Running water: Many legends tell of vampires being kept at bay by running water, and conclude that running water somehow has some warding power over vampires as does garlic and mirrors. If the benefit is great enough, vampires will risk such means of crossing running water, but will always do whatever it takes to minimize the risk. If circumstances allow, however, the fiends will shapechange to bat form and fly across a river. There is one exception: a vampire in gaseous form is strictly prohibited from crossing a body of running water that is more than three feet wide.

Sanctified Places

There are certain structures and locales that can strongly influence or prohibit vampires. These structures and locales can best be described as sanctified places. As a general rule, these locations are rare.

In order for a structure, building or area to be considered a sanctified place and to hold power over a vampire, it must be one of two specific types of establishment.

The first type of safe house from the vampire is one that is expressly owned. An individual or strongly defined group must own the location. If the location is inhabited, it must be inhabited by the owner or by a member of the owning group. The following are examples of locations that meet this criterion:

  • a house, owned by the residents
  • a monastery, owned by the order of priests that dwells within it
  • a graveyard, owned by the priestly order that oversees it

The following locations would not qualify:
  • an inn, because the residents staying in the various rooms do not own them
  • a public area, such as a village green
  • a town’s public graveyard, because the area would generally be "owned" by an elected (and hence ephemeral) town council
  • a trading coster’s warehouse, because the building is owned by a "corporation," which is a legal fiction

Churches, temples, and the like, even when officially owned and operated by amorphous groups such as a town council, qualify because they are symbolically owned by the deity to which the buildings are dedicated.

The second type of place that is offlimits to a vampire is one that is in some way hallowed. In the case of personal homes, they are the retreat or sanctuary of the owner, and are inherently hallowed. Churches and temples are obviously hallowed by their nature. Note that, in this case, the word "hallowed" does not necessarily mean religious or holy: rather, it means “respected or “venerated.” The following list of structures/areas gives a general idea of what might be considered hallowed ground. As with holy symbols, the types of hallowed ground vary with different cultures and religions:

  • house or home
  • church
  • holy burial sites
  • hallowed hunting grounds

In general, even the most powerful priest is unable to sanctify a location that does not have some tradition of sanctity or veneration associated with it. Thus, even a high priest could not buy the title to an abandoned estate- actually the lair of a vampire- and then somehow sanctify it, just to aggravate the vampire if nothing else. Unless the estate had some tradition of sanctity attached to it, the priest would have to establish the building as a temple, attract a body of other priests and a congregation, hold services, etc. Then and only then might the building be considered sanctified. (And if you think the vampire in the catacombs would abide that, then you would not last very long in the Land of Mists.)

Homes

Homes, that is, houses or other spaces where individuals or families have their permanent residence, enforce their own restrictions on a vampire. Homes are not actually sanctified places (except in the most unusual of cases) and so give priests or laypersons no benefits when turning or holding at bay vampires and other undead. They do, however, give those within a unique protection against vampires.

In short, a vampire is completely unable to enter a home unless invited by a resident; the creature is simply unable to physically enter the residence. A few important notes do apply. First of all, to qualify as a "resident" of a home, a person must have been invited to live there indefinitely. This can be the actual homeowner, the spouse, a relative of the owner, a live-in servant, etc. A guest of the owner does not qualify as a resident. Second, the invitation must be overt, stated in words. An implied invitation, such as an open door, is not sufficient. A single invitation to enter a home will allow the vampire to enter that home but once, immediately after the invitation is extended. The sole exception is if the "man of the house": the oldest member of the household offers the invitation. If it is the "man of the house" who formally offers the invitation to a vampire, the creature is thereafter always free to enter that home without further invitation. Third, just because a vampire is unable to actually enter a house, those within are not totally protected from the
creature’s wrath. A vampire has a number of options open to it. For example, it could attempt to charm someone inside the house, or
otherwise convince him or her to officially invite the creature to enter. It could summon minions, who are not forbidden to enter the house. Alternatively, it could burn the house to the ground or otherwise force its potential victims to leave the structure. In short, fleeing to one’s home to escape a vampire offers temporary protection at best.

In the Land of Mists there are a number of exceptions to the above remarks. Strahd von Zarovich is the absolute ruler of Barovia and thereby owns all properties contained in it. This mighty vampire lord can enter any building or structure that he wishes, simply because he "owns" them all.

Graves

Many experts find the statement hard to believe, but it seems that that most vampires, the "lords of the undead," are unable to physically open the grave, crypt, or other final resting place of another who was interred according to the precepts of the religion the person followed in life. (They can obviously open their own resting-place with impunity.) Although surprising on the surface, when viewed symbolically, this makes perfect sense. An interment site is, in one manner of speaking, the only property owned by its inhabitant, for eternity. And, assuming the deceased was interred with the formality and ritual associated with his or her faith while alive, the interment site is thus sanctified, at least to a degree. For these reasons, a “typical” vampire is unable to enter, break open, or otherwise physically disturb an interment site without the express permission of the "inhabitant" (who, obviously, is unable to give it).

This does not prevent a vampire from magically animating the inhabitant of a grave, however, and then having the animated corpse break out of the internment site. This restriction also does not apply to unfortunates who were interred without benefit of clerical rites and rituals: bodies buried in a mass grave, crimipals who were excommunicated, etc.

Destroying a Vampire.



Here's a list of weaknesses shared by all vampires. Additional weaknesses may be assigned to individual vampires based on their Master or the roleplay. Use these mainly as guidelines, rather than as strict rules, but try to respect them as much as possible.

  • Mirror - A vampire will recoil from the sight of a mirror and will do all they can to avoid them; this fear is irrational. They also do not emit a reflection in front of a mirror;
  • Garlic - Whilst not lethal to vampires, garlic is a strong allergen and they are turned off by large quantities of it. They can hardly tolerate the smell.
  • Holy Symbols - For a symbol to be effective, the wielder must present it with conviction and full and devout faith to their religion. A simple follower who is used to giving lip service or a faithful wielding the symbol of another god doesn't count. Holy Symbols keep the vampire at bay, thus at a safe distance. However, they do not stop the vampire from attacking. A vampire held at bay could hurl rocks or arrows, attempt dominating the wielder of the symbol or do anything else he wishes to do so long as he doesn't approach the person. Vampires find it hard to touch, move or otherwise manipulate good-aligned holy symbols.
  • Blessed Accoutrements - Those work similarly to Holy Symbols, but in a weaker form; some examples of blessed accoutrements are holy wafers, holy water, prayer beads, blessed books or tomes, and robes or clothing. They must have been blessed by a priest of the right faith to have any effect.
  • Wooden Stakes - To kill a vampire with a wooden stake, it must be driven through the heart. This is a very hard process, especially if the vampire is conscious. To pierce a vampire's heart, the attacker must have a strenght of 18 and be able to drive the stake through the thicker and denser muscle tissue of the vampire and aim for the heart. If the vampire is conscious, it will likely move and attempt to push the other away, making it nearly impossible as it takes a mallet to drive a stake through. It is also very hard even if the vampire is unconscious as it takes time to drive a stake home. A stake through the heart paralyzes the vampire, but does not destroy it. To destroy it, the head must be subsequently cut off the body, otherwise as soon as the stake is removed, the vampire will come back to "life".
  • Running Water - Vampires immersed in rapidly flowing water (excluding oceans, creeks, slow streams, and the like) for three minutes or more automatically turn to gaseous form and must fly to their coffin. However, it must be immersed to the three quarters, thus including its heart. Vampires can float or swim across running water just like any human, so for a vampire to be trapped for that long, it must be held down under the water for three minutes. After one minute under water, the vampire will suffer damage and after three, it will be destroyed and turned to gaseous form. A vampire under running water cannot assume gaseous form at will however, but can turn in one of its other shapes. It can use its other abilities normally.
  • Sunlight - Exposure to sun light can destroy vampires. Just mere indirect exposure to it causes significant pain and prolonged exposure can mean permanent death. A vampire destroyed by sunlight will turn to dust and be killed forever. A vampire in gaseous form destroyed by sunlight will dissipate into the air to never reform. However, a vampire could stand inside an inn with windows if it wasn't standing in a beam of sunlight. As a general rule of thumb, if the vampire cannot see the sun directly, it is not a direct source of light. Light reflected in mirrors counts as a direct source if the vampire could see the reflection of the sun in it. Under sunlight, vampires have only one thing in mind: finding shelter from it and they will do all they can to do so. Also, under the sunlight, vampires cannot use any of their abilities such as shifting shapes or turning into a gaseous form, all they can do is run for the nearest safe place; it dominates all their thoughts. Vampires can be tricked or forced into sunlight, but it is very rare and hard as they possess great strenght and cunning.

Source: Van Richten guide to the Vampire
« Last Edit: March 20, 2009, 05:55:37 AM by DM Heretic »

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The Wight - ECL 4
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2007, 04:00:38 PM »
The Wight (PC, available upon application if fitting to your PC Here.)

A wight’s appearance is a weird and twisted reflection of the form it had in life. A wight is about the height and weight of a human. This creature ressembles a human corpse. Its wild, franctic eyes burn with malevolence. The leathery desicated flesh is down tight across its bones and the teeth have grown into sharp, jagged needles. From a distance, wights can easily be mistaken for any number of humanoid races. Upon closer examination, however, their true nature becomes apparent. As undead creatures, wights are distant reflections of their former selves, with cruel, burning eyes set in mummified flesh over a twisted skeleton with hands that end in sharp claws.




Feeding vs Wight: The undead drains its victim life force resulting in negative levels.


The wight is an undead  creature given a 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 pleaces that reek with death, though some leave such lairs to seek out additional victims. Those that are less murderous might seek adventure as a way of righting the scales for the evil they have done in the past, or as a vengeance against those 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 naturaly 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 any 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 Hobgoblin 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 mohrgs’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: A wight is a competent combatant, though its 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.

Habitat/Society: Like the other undead that infest the world, wights live in barrow mounds, catacombs, and other sepulchral places. They despise light and places which are vibrant with living things. As a rule, the wight is hateful and evil, seeking to satisfy its hatred of life by killing all those it encounters.

Although wights are often found in small groups, they are actually solitary creatures. Without exception, encounters with multiple wights will be a single leader and a number of lesser creatures which it has created to serve it. In these cases, the leader of the group will be more than willing to sacrifice some or all of its minions to assure its own survival or victory.

Ecology: Like all undead, wights exist on both the Prime Material and Negative Material planes simultaneously. It is this powerful link to the negative world that gives them their fearsome level-draining ability. Further, it is this draining which provides them with sustenance.

As they are not living creatures and have no rightful place in our world, many animals can sense the wight's presence. Dogs will growl or howl with alarm, horses will refuse to enter an area which wights inhabit, and birds and insects will grow silent when the creature passes near them. In addition, their presence will gradually cause the plant life around their lairs to wither and die, marking the region as unclean.

Racial traits: Starting ability score adjustments: +2 dex, con__, Wights are agile and sneaky. As an unded creature, a wight does not have a constitution score.

Speed: A wight speed is the same as that of the base race.

Darkvision: Wights can see in the darak out to 60 feet. +8 bonus on move silently checks. Wights are especially good at moving quietly in pursuit of their prey.

Favoured class: Rogue.

Sources: Libris Mortis,Monster Manual,d20.org, PlanetADnD.com
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 05:21:32 AM by EO »

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Re: Monstrous Roleplaying Resources and Lore
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2007, 09:45:03 PM »
Lycanthropes in general

In the heart of every man hides the soul of the beast.
In this way, we are not so different from the Shapeshifter.


- Speculations, Marth Venn



Tales of the lycanthrope - of the shapeshifter, the beast in man's form - are common to every society, human and demihuman alike. There is a certain universality to the concept, which is understandable. The symbolism is so potent, so immediate: A man becomes the beast, and the beast masquerades as a man. Does this not perfectly encapsulate the duality of human nature? In many accounts, the metamorphosis is beyond the shapeshifter's control, signifying the bestial rage that can wellup within the mildest of souls. And the fear engendered by the presence of the shapeshifter - the suspicion that any stranger or even a friend may turn out to be the beast - is a reflection of the grim truth that no man may truly know what is in his fellow man's heart.

- Rudolph van Richten


A lycanthrope looks like any other members of its kind, though natural lycanthorpes and those who have been afflicted for a long time tend to have or acquire features reminiscent of their animal forms, such as thick shaggy hair, pointed teeth or long strong fingers. In animal form, a lycanthrope resembles a powerful version of the normal animal, but on close inspection its eyes (which often glow red in the dark) sow a faint spark of unnatural intelligence.

Size,Type and aspect

This animal can be any predator, scavenger, or omnivore whose size is within one size category of the base creature’s size (Small, Medium, or Large for a Medium base creature).

Primary aspect: Human form

"This is, of course, the natural and original form of the infected victim. According to many folktales, the same signs by which a true lycanthrope can be identified - the long forefinger, slightly bestial features, etc., - also mark the victim of infection.

Certainly, a few of the infected lycanthropes I have encountered have shown progressive development of bestial features. Yet I am not convinced that this progression was actually a result of the lycanthropy itself. Outside my study of lycanthropes, I have seen the appearance of an individual begin to change as his or her heart darkened through crime or sin. Perhaps that person's actions or desires attracted the attentions of some malign agency, which in turn caused the physical alteration. [...] I cannot embrace the widely held belief that infected lycanthropes will always, in time, display some physical manifestation of their curse. [...] And the disturbing truth is that one cannot directly detect the taint of lycanthropy until the transfiguration is actually triggered.

Fortunately for those who hunt the lycanthrope, other clues sometimes exist, pointing at the fearful truth. Most notably, infected lycanthropes often return to their primary aspect bearing wounds, bruises, or abrasions... which they cannot remember sustaining.

- Rudolph Van Richten


Secondary aspect: Animal form

"If the secondary aspect is an animal [...] Thus, it is larger than average for the animal type and frequently becomes the leader of a pack of tike creature [...]

The important difference between infected and true lycanthropes is that the former (Infected) do not retain their normal mentality when in their secondary aspect. Instead, they take on the personality - if that is the correct word - of a ravening, predatory animal. The beast within comes to the fore, taking control and suppressing all elements of the human character. The new personality incorporates elements of the phenotype's behavior. Thus, wereboars tend to be blindly aggressive, while wererats show more low cunning. In any event, the major elements of the secondary aspect's persona are aggression and hatred. The werebeast will kill anyone or anything it encounters, initially to feed, although it may still attack even if its appetite is totally sated. It has frequently been stated and seems to be true that the preferred victims of an infected lycanthrope in secondary aspect are those individuals closest and most important to the werebeast when he is in human form.

In other words, loved ones are the most likely to be harmed by the beast. This tragedy seems to confirm the old saw that love and hate are closely related emotions. When he returns to his natural form, the werebeast rarely remembers any details of his actions while in his secondary aspect. If he does recall anything at all, it will have a hazy, indistinct, cast to it, much as a nightmare is vaguely recalled upon waking. In fact, many infected lycanthropes believe at least initially that such memories are nightmares. Only when they find that reality matches elements from their dreams might they realize what is happening, and not alt individuals understand (or admit that they understand) even then. Humans have an almost infinite capacity for self-delusion. "

-Rudolph Van Richten


Tertiary aspect: Hybrid Man-Beast

The man-beast has the features of both human and animal forms, creating a horrifying, unnatural blend. The actual details of the man-beast aspect vary from phenotype to phenotype, and even from individual to individual within a single phenotype. Any given individual will always look the same in his or her tertiary aspect, however.

In general, the body's overall form is humanoid, although there may be noticeable differences in musculature, The head closely resembles that of the animal, but with some disturbingly human features. The eyes are typically human in appearance, albeit frequently bloodshot and glaring - malignant intelligence seems to gleam within them. The entire body is usually covered in fur, which is similar in color and texture to that of the natural animal. The pelt is typically thicker.[...]Thus, if the natural animal type is powerful, then the man-beast form based on it will also be powerful, as in the case of werebears for example.

- Rudolph Van Richten


Lycanthropy as an affliction: [infected Lycanthrope, most likely will be the nature of your Monsterous PC]

Not all afflicted lycanthropes involuntarily change shape upon the rise of the full moon. Variant trigger events can include other celestial or atmospheric occurences, such as sunsets, comets or storms; experiencing a particular emotion, such as rage or passion or exposure to a certain place, object or sensation, such as being in a forest, hearing music or seeing blood. The exact trigger event varies with the invididual lycanthrope, but lycanthropes of the same bloodline tend to have identical triggers. The afflicted character must make a Control Shape check (see below) as described in the Monster manual when exposed to the trigger event. Lycanthropy is more insidious in Ravenloft.

When a character contracts lycanthropy through a lycanthrope's bite, no symptoms appear until the first night of the next full moon. On that night, the afflicted character involuntarily assumes animal form and forgets his or her own identity. temporarily becmoing an NPC under the DM's control. The character remains in animal form, assuming the appropriate alignment until the next dawn.

The character's actions during this first episode are dictated by the alignment of its animal form.

Good aligned lycanthropes seek to avoid settlements or travelers and nonnatural environments, seeking out wilderness environs. They may hunt the natural prey of their kind, but avoid attacking good and neutral intelligent creatures.

Evil aligned lycanthropes seek to murder as many intelligent creatures as possible, often killing theirn own family members and friends. They generally seek out places hwere such victims may be found.

Neutral creatures seek remote areas and avoid contact with civiliztion, but might attack travelers or other folk abroad in the wlderness if the travelers are few in number. However, the attack is driven by natural ferocity and hunger not malice. In any case, the character remembers nothing about the entire episode (Or subsequent episodes) unless he suceeds on a DC 15 wisdom check, in which case he becomes aware of his lycanthropic condition.

Note: Ravenloft Player's Handbook source for alignments vs Common type.


Dr. Van Richten's zealotry to rid his world of evil is laudable, but his bias against lycanthropes is colored. He believes that all true werebeasts must ultimately be evil. This is not so in game terms. A werebear in Raventoft may still have chaotic good tendencies, whether it is born in the Demiplane of Dread or is swept there via the mists. The same is true of other lycanthropes. Dr. Van Richten is correct, however, in the assumption that, given time, the dark powers of Raventoft itself may corrupt even a lawful-good werecreature.

Please note: Dr. Van Richten's references to "moral outlook" equate, in game terms, to good and evil alignment; "ethical outlook" equates to the lawful and chaotic alignments.

For infected lycanthropes, memory loss is unidirectional. In other words, a werebeast in human form will not recall what he has done as an animal. However, while the werebeast is in animal form, he will remember virtually everything that he knows in human form, though bloodlust colors his attitudes and sensibilities. This is how an infected werebeast successfully hunts down loved ones and enemies alike; it recalls all pertinent facts about its prey. Such knowledge includes any precautions, tricks, and traps that the prospective target may have mentioned to the marauder while the latter was in human aspect. Further, the ravening beast recalls any precautions that he himself might have taken while in human aspect whether or not the human suspected that his own dark side was a thing to be feared.

Once a character becomes aware of his affliction, he can now voluntarily attempts to change to animal or hybrid form.

Lycanthropy as Maledictive (Van Richten guide to the Werebeast): [Another form of contracting Lycanthropy through a curse, likely way for your PC to contract it]

Extrait from Van Richten guide to the Werebeast; integral.

Maledictive is the term that I have coined to describe those unfortunate victims who suffer from lycanthropy as the result of a curse. While powerful magics such as a wish might also induce lycanthropy, such maleficent enchantments are fortunately very rare. On the other hand, a curse that somehow summons the beast within is not so uncommon that it can be ignored.

In the lands with which I am familiar, maledictive lycanthropy is a very real risk of which all residents and visitors must be aware. While I have heard travelers speak of distant lands where curses generally are not strong enough to cause this affliction, I myself have never visited a place.

Three general forms of curse exist, each of which may result in lycanthropy. These can cause a condition that is indistinguishable from the pathologic form of lycanthropy with one exception: the victim of such a curse may or may not be able to infect others with his contagion.

Self-Inducted Curses

This is an incidence of a dark desire, where an individual lusts for some power or boon, and that lust is acted on in a transport of terrible evil. In effect, this situation is a kind of cry for help, which some mysterious and malign agencies wilt sometimes grant, but always in a way that causes suffering and despair in the long run for the recipient.

I know the details of only one curse of this kind (which is not to say that other cases do not exist, of course). The curse's recipient was a man named Talbot, the servitor of a petty noble in Darkon. Talbot was a soft- spoken, sensitive man who seemed cowed by every circumstance, and particularly by the reactions of others. He appeared incapable of standing up for his own rights; an impotent sort who could not defend himself against the anger of others. If blamed for an act he had not committed, he typically hunched his shoulders, turning in on himself. In other words, he acted as though he were crippled with guilt for acts he had never performed. In contrast, his master Lord Meritu was a verbal and emotional bully. Meritu verbally abused Talbot at every opportunity, and while virtually any other person would eventually have responded with anger, Talbot simply endured the torment. The servitor seemed incapable of expressing the natural anger (and even hatred) that Meritu would certainly engender in another man.

Eventually, a tremendous internal conflict arose between Talbot's self-effacing mien and his unquenched rage, which ultimately led to a tragic conclusion. Rather than facing the author of his misfortune, Meritu himself. Talbot vented his fury upon Meritu's young children. In short, Talbot poisoned these innocents and then ran off to the countryside. Although Talbot never expressed it, his actions were the result of a desire to express his indignant wrath. Apparently some dark agency responded to this unspoken cry for help by turning Talbot into an infected lycanthrope. He became a wererat, in fact, with sunset as the trigger of his transfiguration. Now, every evening when the sun goes down, Talbot is finally able to express the rage within him. Unfortunately, however, he has no control over who becomes the victim on this rage...

Curses of Vengeance

The fact that infected lycanthropes frequently turn on those they love makes this affliction the logical result of a curse of vengeance. Although I have yet to personally encounter such a case, I have heard of almost a dozen Incidents, all of which follow similar lines. An individual kills or seriously harms the loved ones of another, and in a transport of hatred this other cries out for a curse to fall upon the killer. The killer, in a form of divine justice perhaps, is then blighted with lycanthropy. In all of those cases, among the first victims of the new werebeast were his or her loved ones. However, in three rather unusual episodes, the person who brought down the curse eventually fell victim to the werebeast as well: such is the ironic justice of curses.

Mystical Curses

Magics such as a wish spell or the more specific divine curse and ancient curse spells also can inflict lycanthropy. As many spellcasters know, the intent of a wish is frequently perverted in some dire manner. Thus, when a wish causes lycanthropy, it is quite likely that this outcome was not what the caster intended. Neither the divine curse nor the ancient curse spell suffers the same risk of perversion of intent. However, for the curse to take effect, the casting priest's deity must approve it. Only the most malignant deities would countenance the infliction of lycanthropy on anyone.

Characteristics

Most maledictive lycanthropes resemble infected lycanthropes in all particulars. Otherwise, no set of characteristics is typical of the maledictive class; each curse can be unique. For that reason, and because maledictive lycanthropes are comparatively rare.

Changing (Transfiguration)

"The scene that unfolded shocked me into stupefaction. The man had stripped off his shirt and he was changing, undergoing what I now call the transfiguration. As I watched in dumb horror, I saw his bones shift, bend, and lengthen. His skullwarped as though made of clay. His mouth and nose become a bestial snout, and his forehead sloped sharply back above his eyes - eyes that were suddenly bloodshot and glaring. His muscles, too, shifted beneath his skin. The sight would have been enough to nauseate me even without the accompanying sound: a wet, grisly squashing and crunching reminiscent of the noise made by tearing apart raw chicken. His hair, previously shoulder-length, had shortened and become more like a mane or a dog's hackles, traveling along the path of his spine. And a gray pelt had sprung into being, covering his exposed skin.The transition was over in only a heartbeat or two, yet to my fevered mind it seemed much longer. Then the beast stood before me: half man, half animal, with a predator's smile. Saliva dripped from its lips."

- Rudolph Van Richten

"It is important to stress that the actual process of transfiguration is not typically a rending, burning agony for true lycanthropes, but it is often so for the pathologic variety. In fact, many of the true lycanthropes with which I have spoken (before destroying them) have claimed that the experience is one of transcendent ecstacy."

- Rudolph Van Richten

Those witnessing a lycanthrope changing form must make a DC 15 Horror save.* [Roleplay it with "will" - wisdom - if you want]


Curing Lycanthropy

A character afflicted with lycanthropy cannot shake off the curse by eating Belladonna. To cure a character afflicted with lycanthropy, the natural lycathrope that infected the character first must be destroyed. If the character was infected by another afflicted lycanthrope, the natural lycanthrope that infected it must be destryoed and so on. Regarldess, the natural lycanthrope that originally started the bloodline must be dead before the afflicted character can be cured. Once this is accomplished, the spells "atonement, remove disease and remove curse must be cast on the character while he is in animal form. The character must then succeed a DC 20 Will save to break the curse. There is only one chance at cure in Ravenloft. If the character fails tihs Will save, he carries the affliction to his grave.

Spreading Lycanthropy

In Ravenloft, passing on the curse of lycanthropy is not just the province of natural lycanthropes. If a person surives an injury from an afflicted lycanthrope, they, too, might contract lycanthropy just as if they were injured by a natural lycanthrope. Afflicted lycanthropes, however, cannot control their ''Progeny''. The fortitude save to resist lycanthropy increases to DC 18 (Lycanthropy being a more virulent infection in Ranveloft)



Kill or cure?

Unlike many other monsters, lycanthropes present a true dilemma for the hunter. While natural lycanthropes have no possibility of redemption, since their innate tendencies favor evil deeds, afflicted lycanthropes have the possibility of being cured or having their curse removed. While under the effects of their killing lust, afflicted lycanthropes are just as dangerous and deadly as allergen (such as wolfsbane, mistletoe or rowanberries, to name a few) that substance can be used as poision or soporific to subdue the beast for either the capture or the kill. Holy water usually does little to no damage unless it is, itself, an allergen. Lycanthropes cannot be turned or banished by a priest. *Warding Gesture can ''chase'' away a Lycanthrope if it fails the ''fear'' check. (POTM)


Sources: Monster manual, dungeons and dragons 3.5, d20.Org, Ravenloft player's handbook, Van Richten Guide to the Werebeast
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 11:49:49 AM by MAB77 »

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The Wererat - ECL 3
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2007, 09:45:46 PM »
Wererat



Quick and feral, this humanoid is covered with motted brown fur and has a long hairless tail. It carries a rapier in its paw and its face is distinctly ratlike.



A wererat in humanoid form tends to be a thin wiry individual of shorter than average height. The eyes constantly dart around, and the nose and mouth may twitch if he or she is excited. Males often have thing, ragged mustaches. Wererats, also called ratmen, are humans who can transform themselves into three forms -- human, human-sized ratman, and giant rat. They are sly and evil, and usually inhabit tunnel complexes beneath cities.

The ratman form is somewhat shorter than the human form. The head, torso, and tail are identical to those of a rat, but the limbs remain human.

The third form is that of a giant rat 2 feet from nose to rump. This form is identical to that of the giant rat (q.v.). This is the preferred form for travel and spying on potential victims.

Combat: In animal form, wererats avoid combat, preferring to use their dire rat shape for skulling and spying. In hybrid form, a wererat fights witha rapier and light crossbow. Wererats prefer to attack from ambush. A favorite tactic is to assume human shape and lure unsuspecting victims into a trap. This is the only time wererats are voluntarily alone. Victims are then robbed, held for ransom, or eaten.

Ecology: Wererats are parasites. They recognize that they are physically weaker than most species that dominate the surface. They have found and exploited the one niche where they have a chance to dominate, the world beneath the cities. They feed on humans and steal their riches. Humans unknowingly protect the wererats from both surface dwelling creatures and those who might burrow up from far below. Besides, the humans pay for the upkeep of the wererat's sewer realm. Nothing can pass through the sewers and escape their attention. Unfortunately for the wererat, the sewer's stains and smells do not vanish when it assumes human form. This effectively limits wererats to the less savory sections of town as well as reducing the number of humans who might unknowingly mate with a wererat. Solitary wererats are either sole survivors or engaged in mischief. They do not form interpersonal bonds like love or marriage.

Wererats see cities as their hunting grounds. They delight in matching their superior intellects and meager physical skills against the more powerful and numerous humans. But they are no fools; they will not attack unless they are sure they can win. If a battle is going against them, wererats will scatter, transform to rat form, and head for the sanctuary of the sewers. They won't even defend their own lairs. Their attitude is that since they had stolen most of their belongings in the first place, they can always replace them.

Wererats are greedy and collect anything they think might have worth. The resulting trove usually has more junk than treasure, but a thorough search may reveal a wide variety of valuables.

Wererats frequent sleazy taverns, both for the cheap alcohol and to follow drunks into the streets to drag them away for the next day's meal.
 
Psychologically, wererats remind humans that no matter how strongly defended they think they are, monsters can still get in. Mothers describe wererats as bogeymen to scare unruly children.

Alternate form (SU): A wererat can assume a bipedal hybrid form or the form of a dire rat.

Curse of lycanthropy: Any humanoid or giant hit by a wererat's bite attack in animal or hybrid form must succeed on a de 15 fortitude save or contract lycanthropy.

Rat Empathy: Communicate with rats and dire rats and +4 racial bonus on charisma-based checks against rats and dire rats.

Disease (EX): Filth fever; bite, fortitude dc 12, incubation period 1d3 days, damage 1d3 dex and 1d3 con. The save DC is constitution based.

Feats: Wererats gain weapon finesse as bonus feat.

Vulnerabilities: These fell creatures show the greatest variation in their vulnerability. Some are susceptible to silver weapons, others to weapons of cold iron, still others to implements of wood or stone. This variability makes these, perhaps the least powerful of werebeasts, quite difficult to destroy. They show similar variability with regard to chemical susceptibilities. There is no single chemical which can be depended upon to harm any significant proportion of wererats.



Sources: Monster Manual, Ravenloft player's handbook, planet ADnD.com, Van Richten guide to the Werebeast
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 11:52:55 AM by MAB77 »

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The Werewolf - ECL 3
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2007, 08:22:01 PM »
Werewolf



Short, grey fur covers this lean, feral humanoid. It has sharp claws and a woldlike muzzle.



Werewolves are the most feared of the lycanthropes, men who can transform into wolflike beasts. They should not be confused with wolfweres (q.v.) -- wolves who turn into men. Great enmity exists between werewolves and wolfweres.

The human forms of werewolves have no distinguishing traits. The werewolf form is equally varied. Many have a bipedal form that is a hybrid of human and lupine features. These creatures are about 1-foot taller and stronger than their human forms. The bodies are fur-covered and have short tails, wolflike legs, and heads that are combinations in varying degrees of human and lupine features.

A second form of hybrid is more wolflike, and may be mistaken for a large wolf when it runs on all four legs. This hybrid can also walk erect and has humanlike hands.

Another type of werewolf (about 20%) looks exactly like a large wolf about the size of a bear. This creature has no human features, although the eyes may glow red in the dark.

Combat: In their human forms, werewolves attack with a variety of weapons, generally those common to their human identity and class. In the werewolf or wolflike forms, the creature attacks with its fearsome teeth. If the form has hands, the werewolf may grab its prey for a better bite.

In the wolf form, the werewolf can be harmed only by silver or magical weapons of +1 or better. Wounds from other weapons heal too quickly to actually injure the werewolf.

Werewolves attack in packs; packs including females and young drive the adults to hit harder. If the female is attacked, the male fights at +2 to hit and does full damage with each blow. If the young are attacked, the female attacks at +3 to hit and does full damage. Cubs with 60% full growth are -4 to hit, cubs with 70% are -3 to hit, and so on. All cubs inflict 2-5 points of damage.

Habitat/Society: Werewolf packs roam the wilderness in search of human or other prey. True werewolves tend to be nomadic, although infected werewolves often continue to live the life to which they were accustomed. Werewolves retreat to their dens during the winter months or the years when the females are raising the helpless cubs. As humans, werewolves do not build homes, although they may take over existing dwellings, sometimes the home of past victims. Caves and burrows are the dens most commonly used in the wild. These sparsely furnished retreats are used mostly as a sleeping area and a place to store their human possessions. Many werewolf families roam the countryside in wagons, much like gypsies. In fact, this has caused many gypsies to be accused of being werewolves.

Werewolves live in packs, generally related by bloodlines. Werewolf packs of five to eight individuals are single family groups consisting of a male, female, and three to six cubs, six to nine years old. Cubs under six years old are kept in secluded dens and never encountered by hostile humans.
 
When pregnant, the female retreats with her mate and an older female who will act as midwife. In a very secluded area they prepare a special den that will be home for the mother and her cubs for the next six years.

The female gives birth to a litter of 5-10 cubs. The cubs are born in the hybrid form; they resemble fuzzy human babies with wolflike faces. Infant mortality is high; 2-4 cubs of each litter never reach 60% growth. Cubs grow at the same rate as humans for their first five years. By the sixth year they attain 60% of their full growth. At this point they develop the ability to transform into their other forms. Each following year brings an increase of an additional 10% growth. Werewolves are considered mature at age 10.

If a werewolf mates with a woman, the offspring is completely human. The temperament reflects the father; such children are violent, combative, and prone to mental illness. There is a 10% chance each year from the onset of adolescence that such a child will spontaneously transform into a true werewolf.

Ecology: Werewolves are a peculiar hybrid of human and lupine personalities. They are savage killers, yet they are devoted to their close-knit families. Werewolves are hostile toward lycanthropes who oppose them, especially werebears.

Alternate form (SU): A werewolf can asssume a biped hybrid form or the form of a wolf.

Curse of lycanthropy (SU): Any humanoid or giant hit by a werewolf's bite attack in animal or hybrid form must suceed on a DC 15 fortitude save or contract lycanthropy.

Wolf Empathy: Communicate with wolves and dire wolves and +4 racial bonus on Charisma based checks against wolves and dire wolves.

Vulnerabilities: Most, but not all, werewolves are vulnerable to weapons made of silver. Solid silver is not required; even a weapon coated with a thin layer of this metal will usually suffice. In addition, some werewolves are highly susceptible to wolfsbane, also known as aconite, a highly toxic relative of horseradish.



Sources: Monster Manual, Ravenloft player's handbook, planet ADnD.com, Van Richten guide to the Werebeast
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 11:55:53 AM by MAB77 »

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The Werebear ECL - 5
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2007, 08:23:17 PM »
Werebear



The hulky humanoid is covered in shaggy brown fur and has long claws and a bearlike face. It carries a greataxe in one paw.



Werebears are humans who can transform themselves into large brown bears. They are the best known good-aligned lycanthropes*[In Ravenloft they lean towards ''Neutral Evil" as per Players Handbook]. The ursine form most often resembles a brown bear. Some have blond, reddish, black, or ivory fur (the latter is common in frozen regions).

Each time a non-evil lycanthrope hunts and kills a sentient victim, it must save vs. polymorph. If it makes this save, its alignment remains unchanged... this time. If it fails, however, the component of its alignment moves one step toward evil. (For example, a chaotic-good werebear is transported to Ravenloft. Each time it hunts and kills intelligent prey, it must save vs. polymorph. The first time it faiis this save, its alignment permanently changes to chaotic neutral. The second time it fails, its alignment becomes chaotic evil.) This rule applies equally to infected and true lycanthropes.

In human form they are large, stout, well-muscled, and hairy. Their brown hair is thick; males usually wear beards. Some have reddish, blond, ivory, or black hair; this matches the color of the ursine form. They dress in simple cloth and leather garments that are easily removed, repaired, or replaced.

Combat: In human form, the werebear uses available weapons, preferring axes, and knives, since these have practical applications suitable for woodland life. If attacked in daylight, the werebear usually remains human unless death is likely. The shapechange renders the werebear helpless for a round. In ursine form, the werebear attacks with two swiping claws and a bite. If both claws hit, during the next round the werebear can hug for an additional 2-16 points of damage. This subsequent damage continues automatically each round thereafter.

Like those of other lycanthropes, the werebear's defenses function only in the bear form. Weapons used against the werebear must be either silver or magical weapons of +1 or better. Werebears can summon 1-6 brown bears within 2-12 turns, provided such animals are within one mile. Werebears heal at three times the normal human rate and can cure disease in another creature in 1-4 weeks if they so desire.

Habitat/Society: Werebears are normally solitary creatures. As humans, they build cabins far from settled areas, preferably in a deep forest near well-stocked waters. Werebears do not marry although they may have preferred mates they meet on a very irregular basis. Females bear 1-2 children in human form. Such children are very stout and grow quickly. Within eight years they gain adolescence and the ability to change into werebears. Shortly after, the mother drives the children out and seeks a mate to start the cycle anew. The newly independent young are discreetly guided and assisted by older werebears. Despite their apparent isolationism and rugged individualism, werebears have a sense of community. They never attack each other and aid any werebear threatened by another lycanthrope species.

Werebears are closest to forest-dwelling classes like rangers, druids, and wildlife-oriented priests. They rarely enter villages and never enter cities except in dire emergencies or to help other good-aligned people, especially those threatened by evil lycanthropes. Werebears hate wererats and werewolves.

The average werebear claims a territory 1 to 4 square miles in size. Fishing areas are open to all werebears. A werebear feels a close bond to its home region, acting as a game warden to protect its territory and the animals therein from the ravages of intruders.

Werebears do not travel a great deal. Only the rare individual (usually young) can be coaxed into joining a band of adventurers. Werebears may join an adventuring group as guides, provided the money is right and the job is agreeable.

Treasure is usually limited to small, valuable commodities like gold, platinum, gems, and jewelry. Werebears rarely carry any treasure and instead hide it near their homes. They also collect scrolls, potions, and other magical items, often as fees or rewards for past services. Werebears destroy any magical items that specifically affect lycanthropes or bears, since such items might be used against themselves.

Ecology: Werebears are omnivorous, preferring fish, small mammals, and a honey-rich mead. This mead is extremely intoxicating to normal humans. Werebears have few natural enemies. Their closest enemies are the werewolves who share their preferred wilderness regions.

Werebears humanoid form tend to be stout, well-muscled and hairy. Their brown hair is thich and males usually wear beards. They may have reddish, blond, ivory or black hair, matching the color of the ursine form. They dress in simple cloth and leather garments that are easy to remove, repair or replace. In their animal form, werebears are moody and grumpy. They desire onl their own company and seek out evil to slay.

Alternate form (SU); A wearbear can assume the form of a brown bear ora  bear humanoid hybrid.

Bear Empathy (Ex): Communicate with bears and dire bears and +4 racial bonus on charisma based checks against bears and dire bears.
Curse of Lycanthropy SU): ANy humanoid or giant hit by a werebear's bite attack in animal or hybrid formmust succeed on a dc 15 fortitude save or contract lycanthropy.

Vulnerabilities: Most werebears are vulnerable to a cold-forged weapon, provided the weapon is made of the purest iron. The symbolic rationale for this vulnerability seems to be that cold-forging iron requires great physical force, a characteristic that also applies to werebears. In addition, many werebears are susceptible to belladonna, or "deadly nightshade."



Sources: Monster Manual, Ravenloft player's handbook, planet ADnD.com, Van Richten guide to the Werebeast
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 11:55:40 AM by MAB77 »

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Re: Monstrous Roleplaying Resources and Lore
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2007, 08:24:38 PM »
Wereboar: Supported template (Information regarding the application found Here.)



Stocky and powerful, this fierce humanoid is covered in short, stiff fur and has boarlike tusks.



Frequency:  Rare 

Wereboars are humans who are able to transform themselves into a form combining human and boar features. Their tempers are as ugly as their features.

In human form wereboars tend to be stocky, muscular people of average height. Their hair is short and stiff. They dress in simple garments that are easy to remove, repair, or replace.

The boar form stands slightly taller than the human form, but the hunchbacked posture thrusts the head forward. The head is identical to a boar's head, complete with short tusks. The torso's diameter is doubled, the neck shortened, and the feet become hoof-like. Stiff, black hair like wire bristles covers the skin.

Combat: The wereboar combines his hands and tusks for deadly effect. The wereboar seizes a target and pulls it toward his head. He stabs his tusks into the victim, then pulls his victim to one side while swinging his head in the other direction, which tears the wound further. He then tosses the victim aside and attacks someone else. A wereboar will gladly wade into the center of a group of opponents and then fight his way out.
In human form the wereboar attacks with whatever weapon he has. Wereboars prefer bludgeoning or chopping weapons, such as axes and maces, rather than stabbing or missile weapons such as swords, spears, or bows.

In either form the wereboar is immune to damage from nonmagical and nonsilver weapons. Such wounds are little more than scratches that quickly heal.

Habitat/Society: Wereboars are ill-tempered, easily angered, and almost as prone to attack their few friends as they are to attack an enemy. As humans they are rude, crude, and vulgar. However, they are invaluable allies in a fight. A wereboar does not give his friendship easily, but when he does it is a special bond he will not break. The problem is, due to the wereboar's peculiar personality, it is difficult to tell whether he is being friendly or hostile.
 
Wereboars prefer dense woodlands, ideally far from towns and cities. Like werebears, they live in caves or build cabins for their homes. Their homes tend to be ill-kept and slovenly. Wereboars don't repair things, they replace them.

Despite their personalities, wereboars have close-knit families. Females give birth to litters of 1d4+2 offspring. Newborns are very small by human standards but are strong and able to crawl hours after birth. The offspring mature quickly. When they reach adolescence at eight years, they gain the ability to become wereboars themselves. A wereboar father appears to be distant and aloof, but a staunch protector who will attack any foe who threatens his family, no matter how uneven the odds. Females are aggressive when defending their young (+2 bonus to attack roll). Neither males nor females check morale when defending their young.

The diet is a mixture of small game, vegetables, and fungi. Their favorite food is the subterranean fungus called truffles; even in human form they can detect the truffles growing several feet underground. Wereboars aren't very good gardeners. A typical garden is a cleared field strewn with a variety of seeds and bulbs in the hope that something edible will grow. Wereboar cuisine is equally haphazard; it can be summed up as burned meat and stews.

Wereboars avoid normal hogs and boars. They are suspicious of strangers. Wereboars assume everyone is hostile. In human form they may wait for the first attack, but when in boar form they usually (75% chance) chase the intruders away and attack any who defend themselves.

Ecology: Wereboars produce little of value, whether trade goods or services. Their main desire is simply to stay away from everyone else. In the wild, they defend their territories against any intruders. Wereboars fit into orcish society as well as they do into human society, and might sometimes assist or ally themselves with orcish forces. Wereboars can tolerate half-orcs.

Alternate form (SU); A wearboar can assume the form of boar or a  boar-humanoid hybrid.
Bear Empathy (Ex): Communicate with bors and dire boars and +4 racial bonus on charisma based checks against boars and dire boars.

Curse of Lycanthropy SU): Any humanoid or giant hit by a wereboar's gore attack in animal or hybrid formmust succeed on a dc 15 fortitude save or contract lycanthropy.

Ferocity (EX): A wereboar is such a tenacious combatant that is continues to fight without penalty even while disabled or dying.

Vulnerabilities: In general, wereboars are vulnerable to spears made of sharpened oak. The entire spear must be free of any metal or stone reinforcement; a metal spear point renders the weapon ineffective. Natural boars are sylvan creatures, and they are most frequently hunted with spears (thus the expression, "bleeding like a stuck pig"). This seems to be the symbolism for this vulnerability. As for an herbal bane, many wereboars are susceptible to camphor.



Sources: Monster Manual, Ravenloft player's handbook, planet ADnD.com, Van Richten guide to the Werebeast
« Last Edit: September 09, 2016, 03:11:09 AM by Bastellus »

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The Wereraven - ECL 3
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2007, 08:26:59 PM »
Wereraven: Supported template (Information regarding the application found Here.)


Alignment:  Neutral good

Wereravens are a race of wise and good-aligned shapechangers who seem to have migrated to Ravenloft from another realm (probably Greyhawk) centuries ago. While they are no longer found on their plane of origin, they have managed to survive in Ravenloft.

Natural wereravens have three forms, that of a normal human, a huge raven, and a hybrid of the two. Infected wereravens can assume only two of the above forms. While all infected wereravens can take the human form, roughly half are able to turn into hybrids while the others can transform into huge ravens.

The hybrid form of these creatures looks much like that of a werebat. The arms grow long and thin, sprouting feathers and transforming into wings. The mouth hardens and projects into a straight, pecking beak, and the eyes turn jet black. A coat of feathers replaces the normal body hair of the human form.

Combat: Wereravens are deadly opponents in close combat, although they seldom engage in it. Because they can be hit only by silver weapons or those with a +2 or better magical bonus, these creatures do not fear most armed parties.

When in human form, a wereraven retains its natural immunities to certain weapons, but has no real attack of its own. If forced to fight unarmed, it inflicts a mere 1-2 points of damage. For this reason, wereravens in human form often employ weapons, doing damage appropriate to the arms they wield.

In raven form, the wereraven attacks as if it were a common example of that creature. Thus, it inflicts but 1-2 points of damage but has a 1 in 10 chance of scoring an eye peck with each successful attack. Any eye peck will cause the target to lose the use of one eye until a heal or regeneration spell can be cast on the victim. Half-blinded persons (those who have lost 1 eye) suffer a -2 on all attack rolls. A second eye peck results in total blindness until the above cure can be affected.

In hybrid form, the wereraven's arms have grown into wings, making them almost useless in combat. However, the muscles in their mouths/beaks strengthen, giving them a savage bite. Each attack made with the creature's beak inflicts 2d6 points of  damage.

Anyone bitten or pecked by the wereraven has a 2% chance per point of damage inflicted of becoming an infected wereraven. Infected lycanthropes are discussed in the Ravenloft Boxed Set.

Wereravens are strong flyers and often use this ability to their advantage in combat.

Habitat/Society: A wereraven family will be found only at the heart of a dense forest. Here, they live in the hollowed out body of a great tree. Entrance to their lair is possible only from above (if one does not wish to cut or break through the trunk itself). Curiously, the wereravens are able to keep the tree in which they nest from dying even after they have hollowed it out, so it is difficult to distinguish from the normal trees around it.

Wereravens recognize that they are bastions of good in a land dominated by evil. They have managed to survive by avoiding large populations or overt acts of good that would draw the attention of the reigning lords to them. Thus, a wereraven flock will generally have no more than 2-8 adults in it. Of course, such groups have young with them (1-4 per 2 adults), but these are seldom encountered for they remain in a true raven state until they are old enough to fend for themselves. In addition, a typical wereraven lair will draw 10-100 (10d10) common ravens to nest in the trees about it. These wise birds will serve the wereravens, doing their bidding and striving to protect them from harm.

Wereravens are not opposed to helping out the cause of good in Ravenloft, but they do so reluctantly. This is not because they do not wish to do good, but because they fear the wrath of the Dark Powers. It is said that the wereravens have come to the aid of endangered Vistani clans on several occasions and that close ties exist between these two races, but neither will admit this openly.

Ecology: Wereravens are omnivores who prefer to maintain a vegetarian diet. They enjoy berries and nuts, but will eat carrion or kill for fresh meat from time to time in order to maintain good health.

Quote
Special - The story-driven nature of this template as a good-aligned monster presents different challenges from the common monstrous character. This template will only be granted for plot purposes and must have the support of a DM prior to applying. Because the longevity of this template will be tied to an active storyline it may not receive the full term of play and closure should be anticipated at the conclusion of the event series.

Sources: Monster Manual, Ravenloft player's handbook, planet ADnD.com, Van Richten guide to the Werebeast
« Last Edit: May 30, 2021, 05:36:02 PM by DM Vetala »

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Re: Monsterous Roleplaying ressources and Lore.
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2007, 10:16:19 PM »
Relations Between Lycanthropes



Within a Single Phenotype

In general, a lycanthrope's outlook toward others of the same phenotype will depend on its ethical view of the world. Thus, some werebeasts will be solitary, while others will be more social. Most, perhaps, will fall somewhere in the middle. Let us examine, for example, creatures at the two extremes: werebears and wererats.

Werebears have a highly individualistic outlook on life. They are more concerned with their own freedoms and prerogatives than they are with the rights and concerns of others. They are naturally solitary creatures, not given to seeking the companionship of their own kind except when it is time to mate. Werebears are extremely territorial and will frequently resist the incursion of others into their domains. (Werebears are also highly intelligent, so one masquerading as a human in a village will certainly not automatically respond to the arrival of another werecreature by changing form and attacking.)

In direct contrast, wererats are highly social, gregarious creatures, with respect to their own kind, that is. They demonstrate this enjoyment in ways that seem strange to most humans. The creatures are almost continuously in competition with each other: for mates, for standing within their community (and their "adopted" human community as well), for wealth, and for other tangible benefits. By human standards, this competition is not friendly; it is more sly and conniving than anything. Most humans would describe multiple wererats living a ruse in the same community as enemies, or at the very least ardent rivals. Yet, to the wererats themselves, this behavior does not illustrate any ill will; quite the opposite, in fact.

Weretigers and werewolves are examples of lycanthropes that fall in a middle ground. The former phenotype forms strong bonds within a "pride," or extended familial group. A pride will establish a territory and consider other weretigers that enter this region as rivals or even enemies. Interlopers are occasionally invited to join a pride, at which point such rivalry ends.

Werewolves are, generally speaking, loners. Yet under certain conditions they evince strong social behavior. For example, like their natural lupine cousins, werewolves can form packs (extended familial groups, generally larger than weretiger prides). Members of a pack will usually forget personal differences and work together if the pack is threatened, whether through the actions of locals or through the invasion of another pack. Yet, when there are no such direct threats, a werewolf pack is characterized by machinations, politics, and backbiting that makes most human political maneuvering look tame bycomparison.

The leader of a pack is the strongest individual, usually judged through personal challenge and combat in animal or man-beast form. Other positions of authority fall to those who have the wherewithal to take them and hold them. Challenges and internecine squabbles within a pack are occasionally fatal, but this does not diminish the vehemence with which individuals pursue them.

It is important to note that characteristic behaviors hold true no matter what form the werebeasts involved are in. For example, two werewolves who are both masquerading as human merchants might extend their pack - based rivalry into the marketplace and engage in vicious price wars. It is vital to realize that the above discussions are generalities only. Lycanthropes are individuals; even though they may be genetically predisposed to certain behaviors, they have the freedom to choose their own paths. Thus, though most wererats are social creatures, it is not impossible to encounter a solitary example of its kind. Similarly, atypical werebears may form a tight-knit social group. It is my belief that one who blindly trusts to trends and generalities is as foolish as one who categorically ignores them.

Between Phenotypes

Generally speaking, lycanthropes of one phenotype tend to shun those of another phenotype. They are liable to ignore the others' actions unless those actions would bring direct harm or disadvantage to themselves. This said, I must again stress the unreliability of generalities. Some werebeasts show extreme antipathy to lycanthropes of different phenotypes (whether they act overtly on this antipathy is another question, of course); others show the opposite behavior and actively seek them out. It is impossible to predict the behavior of any individual werebeast. Further, there seems to be no phenotypic correlation with this behavior range: in other words, no phenotype is more or less likely to diverge from the norm. In this matter, then, phenotype is of no significance, while individual personality is of paramount import.

I have sometimes thought that collaboration between lycanthropes of different phenotypes would be beneficial, perhaps even favoring natural selection, and thus likely to become more common. While this has not proved to be the case over the decades I have studied lycanthropy, I am not yet ready to discard my hypothesis. Perhaps the increase in interphenotypic collaboration is so slow that I have been unable to measure it. Or, more disturbingly, perhaps collaboration is so successful that, where it occurs, the werebeasts involved are never detected and thus never destroyed...

Even when lycanthropes feel the strongest of antipathies toward each other, they will rarely abandon their own subterfuges to act on their hatreds. Even the most virulently hate-filled werebeast might suffer the presence of another, simply because taking action against the intruder would put itself at unacceptable risk. In all but the rarest cases, lycanthropes are highly pragmatic: they are practical enough to put enlightened self-interest ahead of any personal animosity.

From my experiences, most lycanthropes seem able to recognize and identify others of their ilk, regardless of what forms they take. This explains, perhaps, why werecreatures who meet in man form in, say, the local market, do not react and attack. Perhaps this recognition is based on smell; yet, then, why would dogs not detect the difference? Or it could be visual cues too subtle for men to recognize. Most likely, however, is the supposition that lycanthropes exude a kind of "psychic taint" that others of their kind can detect. After all, in so many other ways it seems that Evil recognizes its own.

A resident werefox I once knew sensed that a newcomer to town was actually a lycanthrope in disguise. I admit to believing the werefox was in error, for I had detected nothing out of the ordinary from the stranger. But not only did the werefox know the man was an interloper, she knew too that he was a weretiger of excessive cunning. Sadly, I still did not believe the fox, and she paid for my disbelief with her life when the weretiger decided to invade her territory. By then, of course, I believed my confederate. Try as I did, however, the weretiger eluded all my attempts to hunt and kill him. He escaped one night, and I have never seen him since.

Compiler's Note: This off-hand reference to the werefox poses many questions. For some reason, he doesn't mention, Dr.Van Richten obviously knew of this werebeast's existence, but did nothing to eliminate the threat. Perhaps he only discovered the werefox's true nature when it came to him with news of the weretiger, arid the werefox was killed by the second werebeast before the good doctor could act on his own.
- GWF


That was my first glimpse into understanding how keen the senses of werecreatures must be in order to recognize someone not quite of their kind, regardless of what form they are in. On more than one occasion, this belief has been upheld and even fortified. Yet, on others, the creatures have seemed absolutely unaware of another's presence or specific phenotype. Does this mean that some werebeasts have the power to make the determination while others do not? I cannot say, but I maintain that this ability is a highly dangerous quality for, if a lycanthrope is able to detect the presence of others of its kind, how unlikely is it that it will not be able to detect a werehunter?

- Rudolph Van Richten.


Souces: Van Richten Guide to The Werebeast
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 12:53:06 PM by MAB77 »

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The Ghoul - ECL 3
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2007, 12:02:26 PM »
The Ghoul



"I had been hungry all the years;
My noon had come, to dine;
I trembling, drew the table near,
And touched the curious wine."


- Emily Dickinson, "I had Been Hungry"

Although usually portrayed as bloodthirsty killers content to dine on carrion, ghouls (And their tougher cousins, the ghasts) were once living humanoids with true emotions. Sometimes memories of that previous life comes back to haunt a ghoul, and such qualities make for an excellent tragic character.

Ghouls haunt graveyards, battlefields and other places rich with the carrion they hunger for. These terrible creatures lurk wherever the stench of death hangs heavy, ready to devour the unwary. Ghouls are said to be created upon the death of a living man or woman who savoured the taste of the flesh of people. This assertion may or may not be true, but it does explain the disgusting behaviour of these anthropophagus undead. Some believe that anyone of exceptional debauchery and wickedness runs the risks of becoming a ghoul. The transformation from living beings into fell things of the night has warped their minds, making them cunning and feral. Ghouls speak the languages they spoke in life.

Ghouls are undead creatures, once human, who now feed on the flesh of corpses. Although the change from human to ghoul has deranged and destroyed their minds, ghouls have a terrible cunning which enables them to hunt their prey most effectively.  Ghouls are vaguely recognizable as once having been human, but have become horribly disfigured by their change to ghouls. The tongue becomes long and tough for licking marrow from cracked bones, the teeth become sharp and elongated, and the nails grow strong and sharp like claws. This foul creature appears more or less humanoid, but has mottled decaying flesh drawn tight across clearly visible bones. It is mostly hairless and has a carnivore's sharp teeth. Its eyes burn like hot coals in their sunken sockets.

Roleplay: Mercenary, out for himself. Those words best describe the free ghoul, a style commonly made up of independent undead such as ghouls and ghasts. These creatures reproduce through a bite or through simple means and need no higher source to provide the curse of their immortality. As such, they've commonly found that they are responsible for themselves, and only through their cunning and daring can they survive in both mortal and undead societies.

Ghouls and ghasts have a distinct advantage over zombies and skeletons; with some work, they can integrate into human society for short periods of time. Although they smell like the grave and their outward appearance is gaunt and deathly, they aren't obviously non-human. It is likely that a PC of this sort could spend considerable time in a city, so long as she took the proper precautions.

Habitat/Society: Ghouls and ghasts are most frequently encountered around graveyards, where they can find plenty of corpses on which to feed.

Religion: Ghouls like most undead, rarely devote themselves to any religion. As intelligent undead, ghouls are rightfully wary of divine power.

Alignment: Ghouls are traditionally chaotic evil. Exceptions are possible, but most ghouls will still tend toward chaos or evil.

Background: Some ghouls are created upon the death of a living individual who savored the taste of humanoid flesh. Others are transformed by the bite of a ghoul or ghast; these ghouls are the most likely to deviate from the normal ghoul alignment of chaotic evil.

Races: Most ghouls were formerly human or a member of one of the savage humanoid races (Orc, goblinoids, gnolls). Evil dwarves sometimes prove wicked enough to transform into ghouls, but elves, gnomes and halflings rarely descend to such depths of depravity. Of course, any humanoid afflicted by ghoul fever might become a ghoul, even without resorting to such behaviour.

Other undead classes: Ghouls get along reasonably well with Wights, though they sometimes look down on the wights' lack of subtlety. They respect the power and "vision" of the mass-murdering Morghs, but vampire spawn are much too haughty for a ghoul's liking and mummies are generally too lawful.

Souces: Libris Mortis, Monster Manual
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 10:45:49 AM by MAB77 »

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Re: Monsterous Roleplaying Ressources and Lore.
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2007, 03:36:58 AM »
Wereleopards: Playable Template



Wereleopards are a race of ferocious hunters. They tend to keep to themselves until led by the paka, an intelligent race of humanoid cat people. Under the influence of that evil race, they are often involved in sinister acts against the folk of the realm.

Wereleopards have only one form, almost a direct cross between a feline and a human. The creature can fight from all fours or upright as it chooses. Either way, its terrible claws can rake foes while its powerful jaws lock in on the prey's throat. They dislike clothing, but have thick spotted coat that protects them from the elements. Female leopards are almost exclusively black with slightly lighter spots throughout. Males have orange fur with black spots.

Wereleopards speak their own language, a growling tongue almost impossible for men to learn, as well as that of the paka. They disdain the languages of men and never learn to speak them.

Combat: Wereleopards are faster than other lycanthropes, and they use this speed to great advantage in combat. Their favored attack form is to race behind a fleeing foe and bite at the tendons in the back of the leg. When it strikes in this way, the creature receives a +4 bonus to its attack roll (in lieu of a normal +2 for a rear attack). Any modified roll of 18 or better which strikes the target indicates that the victim becomes painfully hobbled until healed. While so injured, the victim can move at only half its normal rate. Whether or not the victim was hobbled, the attack does its usual 1d6 points of damage.

Once the prey has been slowed, the Wereleopards circle as a pack and try to herd them in one direction or another. As the targets become separated and confused, the creatures close in for a quick and violent kill. Only after the entire group of prey has been slaughtered will the pack allow itself to return for the feats.

Wereleopards can only be hit by silder or magical weapons of +1 or better or by magic, acid, fire or other special attacks. If unable to employ its preferred method of attack, the Wereleopard will tend to avoid combat, if that is not possible, the creature slashes with its claws, making two attacks for 1d4 points of damage each, and bites at its victim inflicting 1d6 points of damage with a successful attack. Their only real weakness is their fear of lighting. When confronted with natural or magical lighting, they must make an immediate Morale check with a -4 penalty or flee for 5-20 (5d4 rounds. Loud noises that resemble thunderclaps also frighten them and require a Morale Check, although a +4 bonus is allowed in this case.

Habitat/Society: Wereleopards came from a hot, arid place where stark mountains rise majestically above vast plains. In Ravenloft, they usually settle in areas similar in appearance and temperature. On their world, the creatures were true leopards who were led into acts of evil by an unknown creature. When they make their way into the Demiplane of the Dread, they were cursed wit the lycanthropy and their shapes forever twisted. Only 40% of Wereleopards are true lycanthropes and only they are capable of transmitting lycanthropy to their victims.

Cursed Wereleopards, those who are not true lycanthropes, are often created by the pride to help defend against a particular local threat, such as settlements, adventurers, or even the evil creatures that sometimes threaten them. After the curse takes effect, the victim develops near-animal intelligence and strictly follows the orders and whims of the true lycanthropes that rule the community. Unfortunately for members of this worker class, when their usefulness is at an end, so is their life.

When the full moon rises across the plains, cursed wereleopards transform back into their human shape until the sun rises the next morn. After transformation, the victim is dazed and confused. He remembers both his Wereleopard pride and human life and usually attempts to flee to sort the conflicting emotions of loyalty. The leaders of the pride exploit the moment of weakness and bring them down with savage delight. The transformed humans do not last long naked and unarmed against the ferocious felines. Not all of the transformed are eaten, but most are. Some may even be allowed to escape as the others know they'll come back when the sun rises and the transformation reverses itself.

Ecology: Wereleopards eat strictly meat, preferably freshly killed. Their catlike origins show in every aspect of their life. They lounge in the limbs of tall trees, lick their fur clean and even roll in the grass with the innocence of kittens. When its time to hunt, however, few can mistake their true nature.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2020, 12:42:44 PM by Marionétt »

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Mummy - ECL 6
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2007, 03:41:09 AM »
The Ancient Dead (Mummy)



"The form was lifeless and inert, but it seemed to Smith as he gazed that there still lingered a lurid spark of vitality, some faint sign of consciousness in the little eyes which lurked in depths of the hollow sockets. — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "Lot No. 249"

Van Richten Ancient Dead

Background: The means by which a living being is transformed into an ancient dead creature is often the pivotal factor in determining the creature’s appearance, powers, and actions. When dealing with very powerful mummies, learning the creature’s history is a vital task because that past often holds the only key to laying the mummy to rest. Each ancient dead creature has a dual origin.

First, a creature’s mortal shell must be preserved so that it may house the spirit even after death.

Second, the spirit itself must be compelled or induced to return to its body. The first statement might lead some readers to conclude that destroying all corpses would check the propagation of ancient dead. This is true to some extent. The ancient dead can exist only within those physical bodies which were their own in mortal life. However, burial customs in most communities require that the deceased be interred intact. I have visited some lands (such as Har’Akir) where it is believed that the deceased will be denied an afterlife if the body is not properly embalmed, preserved, and interred. Adventurers who meddle with funerals and graves risk not only the wrath of the local community, but the displeasure of the gods themselves!

Physical Origins: Every ancient dead creature I know about falls into one of three subcategories: accidental, created and invoked. The terms refer only to the processes that preserve the creature’s body, and not to their motives or psychic traumas.

Accidental: It seems that the ancient dead can form when a corpse is naturally preserved. The majority of these mummies were suddenly overcome by death. The matures also suffered, usually their deaths included great pain or emotion. Any environmental condition that prevents a body from decaying can create a natural mummy. The most common conditions include burial in dry sand, freezing, and immersion in swamps or bogs. There also might be other conditions that can naturally embalm a corpse.

Ancient dead creatures created unintentionallyare extremely rare. They also tend to be among the weakest of mummies, since there is no outside agent to invest them with power.

Created: The vast majority of the ancient dead rise when a preserved corpse is deliberately tumed into an undead creature. The typical mummy found in many lands is created from the corpse of a priest, carefully embalmed and wrapped for the ritual that will bind its spirit with its body once again. My observations and research lead me to believe that there are two types of created ancient dead subservient and usurped. When the entity that creates a mummy had control over the creature’s mortal form, the resulting monster becomes its creator’s servant. The greater mummies of Har’Akir are examples of this. The nature of this bond varies greatly, but often it provides the key to defeat.

When the entity that creates a mummy did not hold sway over the creature’s mortal form, the result is a usurped mummy. Many powerful mummies (and a few of their lesser brethren) have the ability to create other ancient dead, usually by transforming their slain victims through some ritual or arcane process. These usurped mummies then become the mindless tools of their undead masters. Sometimes a usurped mummy has a more insidious origin. Even the most reverent and well-intentioned funeral rites can lead to undeath for the deceased if an enemy can subvert those rites and lay a curse on the corpse. Beings who have been thus victimized often lie helpless for centuries, trapped in a state between life and death, denied the afterlife that funeral rites were meant to assure. Ancient dead creatures of this kind are driven by a inhuman rage born of endless disappointment and despair. Even if the victim was good and virtuous in life, its involuntary undead state transforms it into a corrupted monster. Careful research can often reveal a method for putting these types of creatures back into slumber. Sometimes they can be permanently laid to rest, freeing the creature’s tortured spirit and ending the mummy’s threat forever.

Invoked: This subcategory includes the most terrible and powerful of all ancient dead. Invoked mummies embraced undeath willingly, laying plans for a corrupted form of immortality while still alive. Such creatures often lie undisturbed in their tombs for decades-even centuries before stirring and walking the land. What passes through their diving minds during their slumbers I do not know; however, all my experience and research leads me to believe that years of unnatural life weigh heavily on the once mortal mind. If slumbering mummies dream, their visions can hardly be pleasant. Certain archaic scrolls I acquired during an otherwise ill-fated voyage on the Sea of Sorrows indicate that such a creature’s spirit might actually depart the mortal realm and go to dwell in a true afterlife for a time. This is not genuine immortality, however, as the spirit can be drawn back to this world in order to fulfill certain duties and conditions.

Once the physical body is transformed into a vessel capable of holding the creature’s spirit, some other factor must secure the spirit within that body. Remains that have been merely animated, and thus lack an intrinsic sense of self, become mindless automatons such as skeletons and zombies. The ancient dead, by contrast, possess at least a modicum of intelligence, and often they are empowered with formidable intellects. Even first-rank servitor mummies follow orders with a sense of purpose and the ability to adjust their tactics. When a hapless party has misidentifi such foes as common zombies or skeletons, even the weakest mummy can be deadly.

Unlike the processes that preserve their bodies, the ancient dead‘s motivations defy easy classification. men it is the circumstances of-a creature’s death, or of ewntsdhatocclrrred afterward, that determines wha$mmtimtes the mummy. I have discovered four broad categories that describe a mummy’s psycholagid origins: servitude, restlesness, and dark pacts.

The reader should understarrd that the ancient dead rise only under specific circumstances, and these factors often leave their mark on the resulting creature.

Servitude: This creature lies under another’s control. The extent of this control ranges from independent service to complete mental domination, in which the servant must act against its own self-interest without resistance if so ordered. Servitor mummies are most often created by other mummies or by a mummy cult. such servants are never the ody ancient dead associated with the cult They usually serve as guards and soldiers, front-lie troops whichdelay and wear down an enemy until the main strenght arrives.

Not every ancient dead guardian is a servitor. Many restless and invoked mummies stalk the mortal world, seeking of their own volition to
protect something. Servitor mummies also may have access to vast resources or be backed up by a horde of other creatures. Fortunate hunters can discover the link between servant and master and sever it. Even if one cannot break the link, one might discover that the terms of a mummy‘s service restrict its actions in some manner. Servitor mummies are almost always deliberately created, usually by the creature that controls them. It is important to note that if a mummy is not created specifically to serve, then its servitude is a condition of its existence, rather than a part of its origin. If the control over such a mummy is broken, the creature will immediately begin acting in a manner consistent with its own motivations.

Restlessness: There are emotional forces which bind the dead to the mortal world. Some ancient dead creatures arise from the same kinds of circumstances that create ghosts. This is particularly true of accidental and invoked mummies: something in the creature’s psyche
maintains a link between spirit and body that outlasts even death. This link can arise without a conscious desire on the dying person’s part; sometimes it merely provides a path through which an outside agent can create a mummy. This type of mummy strongly resembles but the creature is fully corporeal. Restless ancient dead often remain quiet unless their tombs are disturbed or allowed to decay, or until some task they could not complete in life suddenly becomes possible. A mummy with an unfinished task might rise periodically to set about trying to achieve it.

Recalled: Sometimes the ancient dead can rise in response to events that occur long after their deaths. After many hours of study and countless interviews with priests and mediums who have had some experience with these matters, I have come to believe that a being can pass fully from the mortal world, only to be drawn back when certain conditions prevail. Some force or summons compels the spirit to re-enter its mortal body.

Ancient dead of this type are usually invoked, but not always. In one case I have documented, the creature returned in response to an ancient curse it had successfully avoided throughout its life. Strangely enough, when one of her descendants triggered the curse, the blight fell upon the dead ancestor. The curse was worded in such a way that the victim's repose in death was interrupted so that she could waken and feel the curse's effects.

Dark Pacts  To many short-sighted individuals, the thought of physical immortality beckons like a sweet, radiant dream. It is true that the mortal world offers many pleasures, but fate has decreed that only mortals may enjoy them. There is no shortage, however, of dark powers all too willing to indulge the misconceptions of the foolish. I do not know, nor do I care to know, how or through what agency undeath is granted; I can only attest to the results. The victim always superficially gains what is desired. In the case of the ancient dead this is most often continued ownership of material things. I am sure that agents of darkness always take more than they give, however, and the victims never gain any joy from their possessions. Instead, possessions become obsessions. Often, one or more of the objects associated with a mummy is a key to destroying it (a mummy that can be destroyed in this fashion is said to be dependent upon the object).

Mummies are the most single-mindedly possessive creatures that exist. Their passion for the things that gave them joy in life exceeds even that of the legendary dragons. Tampering with the goods kept in a mummy’s tomb is almost certain to bring about a curse or some other deadly assault.

Forms: The four types of forms: humanoid, animal, monster, and composite.

Humanoid: Most of the ancient dead have humanoid form. These creatures were once living, breathing people, and they retain a recognizably human shape. Without careful study, there is no easy way to tell what a humanoid mummy’s origins are. Details of dress and ornament, hair style and even facial features may provide clues to the culture or era from which an ancient dead first issued.

Animal: In some cases, the preserved bodies of animals can become reanimated as creatures. In most cases an animal mummy is deliberately created, as animals have neither the intelligence nor the force of will to retum to the’ mortal world on their own. Thus, most animal mummies serve another mummy or a mummy cult.

Monster: Monsters tend to die violent deaths that do not leave behiid intact bodies. This makes ancient dead monsters merciful& rare. Likewise, only . fully mortal and corporeal creatures can become ancient dead. Though many other types of creatures have physical bodies, not every body remains a suitable vessel for a spirit once death overtakes it. Like ancient dead animals, ancient dead monsters are most often created.

Composite: One of the most horrifying and physically imposing types of ancient dead are composite creatures. These mummies are almost certainly created. They are constructed from bits and pieces of several different creatures, sewn or otherwise joined together in the same manner as a flesh or bone golem is fashioned. Some humanoid parts invariably decorate the mix, and a humanoid spirit animates the mummy. Rarely are such creatures independent, and their presence is a sure sign the area containing them is a vast complex teeming with vileness.

Other Undead Classes: Mummies interact poorly with most other undead. They fi nd fl esh-eating or blood-drinking undead creatures such as ghouls and vampire spawn distasteful, and have little patience for the chaotic nature of most undead, particularly the hateful mohrgs. Wights at least share some of the mummies’ disciplined nature, and mummies can fi nd common cause with them against a shared enemy.

Automatic Languages: Common. Once humanoids themselves, mummies remember the languages of their own former existence. Mummies often study rare or exotic languages to preserve their connection to an ancient past.

State of Preservation: 4 Arbitrary types: skeletal, withered, intact, and pristine. Most, but not all, ancient dead are clad in funerary garments or wrappings. The exact type and appearance of the mummy’s raiment depends on the type of funereal rites that have
been performed over the corpse, and these in tum vary with the local culture, religion, and fashion. A lack of garments or wrappings often
indicates a relatively weak mummy, but this is not always so.

Skelletal: A skeletal mummy’s physical body has been reduced to bare bones or bones only thinly clad in shards of dried flesh. Such creatures are easily confused with common skeletons.

Whitered: This is the typical state of preservation for a mummy: many fully wrapped or clothed mummies have desiccated bodies under their raiment. These creatures have fleshy but emaciated bodies. They often look skeletal, but the bones are fully clothed in leathery skin. Almost all naturally mummified ancient dead survive in thii state of preservation.

Intact: Ancient dead in this state of preservation have bodies that show no decay at all; often they appear to be freshly dead, or even living but very old. This kind of ancient dead can be confused with ghosts or vampires. When facing these creatures, one can often quickly determine that the foe is not a ghost because it is always corporeal and remains so.

Pristine: This is the most insidious type of ancient dead I for their bodies, though long dead, appear to be healthy and alive. It is nearly impossible to identify such creatures as undead until they reveal themselves, usually through the use of their deadly powers. By then, of course, it usually is too late.

[Note:] One factor Van Richten has failed to note is the preserved body's age. Mummies cannot be created from fresh corpses: the body must be embalmed before it can house an ancient dead spirit. Natural embalming requires 10 to 100 years or more, depending on how quickly the preserving medium acts on the body. Immersion in a tar pit would transform a body fairly quickly. PReservation through freezing in ice or immersion in a bog takes much longer. Ultimately, the DM must decide.

A summary of powers: Enhanced Strenght, Cause disease (Mummy rot), Slam, Supernatural fear, damage resistance, high resistance to cold.
A summary of weaknesses: Elemental damage (fire), divine, turning undead, holy water.

Creating a Mummy: The first step, preserving the body, is not always sinister or evil. Embalming the dead, while not practiced everywhere, is an essential part of solemn and respectable funerary rituals in many lands. I have already warned the reader of the perils of interfering with such rituals. Still, the following particulars might prove to be useful in some circumstances. The first step in preparing a body for proper (that is, ceremonial) disposal usually involves evisceration and drying. This can take anywhere from 1 to 80 days.

A recipe for Mummification:

  • Lay body on a stone slab.
  • Insert long metal instrument with hook through nostrils and pull brains out. Rinse brain cavity with palm wine.
  • To open torso, carefully slit skin of left flank with sharp stone knife. Withdraw all vital organs through opening: heart, intestines, liver, lungs, and so forth. Set aside.
  • Rinse body cavity thoroughly with palm wine; rinse again with spice infusion.
  • Pack body cavity with herbs and spices, especially myrrh and cassia.
  • To purify flesh, immerse body in oils and resins for no fewer than 40 days.
  • Treat organs with spice and oils.
  • Place treated lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines in individual canopic jars of stone or alabaster, with stoppers.
  • Test body for doneness. When all flesh has been dissolved and naught but skin and bones remains, wash body again.
  • Plump body and face with bags of myrrh and cinnamon for a natural look.
  • Important: Return heart (center of intelligence and feeling) to chest. Return kidneys to abdominal cavity also, if desired.
  • Sew opening so heart may be withdrawn for testing in the underworld.
  • Anoint body with scented o resin, or both.
  • Wrap body with strips of linen treated gum. Enclose scarab over heart, along other protective amulets.
  • Sew body incision if desired. Leave small
  • Place mask over head.
  • Place Scrolls of the Dead between thighs so deceased can reach them easily in the underworld.

  • Place body inside series of coffins, including outer sarcophagus made stone.
  • Store upright in a cool, dark place.

On Preservation of a Mummy: Dragon Magazine, issue 300.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 10:50:36 AM by MAB77 »

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A Guide To Playing Monsters
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2008, 10:35:16 PM »
A Guide To Playing Monsters

Taken from Champions of Darkness (a lot of garbage in that book, but some decent stuff). Although the information concerns vampires, it can very easily be used when trying to define or shape up your own vampire spawn; the stuff on werebeasts is good as well. Unfortunately it doesn't include the other types of undead, just the two most prominent ones in Ravenloft. Anyhow, here goes:

Playing Monsters
Evil people never believe they are evil. They may do evil acts and accept that they have done them, but they always rationalize their actions with some underlying motivation other than "I did it because I am evil." The motivations that drive evil may be fairly straightforward ones such as greed, desire or hunger. When the motivations are more complex, however, they result in a three-dimensional, multi-faceted character that is not only fun and challenging to play but also helps add scope and depth to a campaign. Keep this in mind when playing monsters, especially as PCs.

When a character falls prey to the caress of a vampire or the bite of a lycanthrope, what changes take place within the once-human, now monstrous soul? In some ways, the character remains the same, but in other ways, her focus changes drastically. Though she may attempt desperately to hold on to her former life, she can feel the stirrings of inhuman hungers within her and knows that, little by little, she is changing into a monster. As she grows more and more aware of the increasing distance between her current self and her past life, she may face her future with resolve to find redemption (even in death), anger at the blow fate has dealt her, or despair at her horrible plight. She may accept, reject, deny, or attempt to overcome her new state of being. Sometimes she may try to hide what she is from those she loves, but eventually the truth must reveal itself.

[...]

Vampires
Playing a character who has succumbed to the attacks of a vampire presents a unique challenge for both players and DMs. Everyone knows that vampires are driven by the need for blood, but is that all that motivates them? A blood-drinking monster that goes out and kills every night to feed soon grows boring to portray, either as a PC or an NPC. Each vampire has a history, and detailing that history, wether for a PC or an NPC, transforms a standard "blood-sucker" into a complex and fascinating anti-hero or antagonist.

The following questions may help flesh out your vampire. Besides the hunger for blood, what other motivation drives the character? How did he become a vampire? Did he seek it out? If so, why did he want it? If he did not, is he angry with the one who doomed him to this undeath? Now that he knows the truth of being a vampire, how does he feel about it?

By answering these questions, you learn more about your vampire's nightly existence and bring his inner turmoil to the fore so that you can use it to make your character (or an NPC) a unique individual.

The driving need for the blood that grants vampires their continued existence gives them power as well. Along with the power comes a pleasure that is nectar to them. This blood hunger also dooms them to live apart from mortals.

As immortals, vampires not only outlive most mortals, they also grow to look upon them as prey. This perception makes it difficult for a vampire to have a lasting relationship with a mortal or to see these frail creatures as equals.

When a character becomes a vampire, she discovers that she is smarter, stronger, and faster than most mortals. Her senses become enhanced as well, making her even more sensitive to the sights, sounds and odors of the world around her. All of this ultimately leads to feelings of superiority. A vampire who continues to adventure with her mortal companions often cannot help but feel as if she is better than the rest of the group and may become very frustrated with her companions' weakness or lack of wit.

Upon entering a town, a vampire must deal with her sharpened senses that now recoil from the stench of unwashed bodies, feces, urine, and even the cheap perfume worn by a prostitute or a serving wench. All these odors, which fade into the background for most mortals, can be repugnant to someone with a sensitive nose. Add to this the alluring scent of hot blood that emanates from the masses of people that live in a town, and you have a mix that can drive a vampire mad.

A PC vampire might be somewhat better than most at controlling where and how she feeds, but she will never be able to get away from the need for blood. The hunger is constant. With her keen senses, the PC vampire can smell the blood of her companions, beckoning to her with its sweetness. This colors any alliances or friendships she might make or try to retain. The rest of her adventuring party eventually realizes that they travel with a predator and that they qualify as "prey". Ideally, an "adventuring" vampire should have a strong motivation for doing so. Does she regret what she is and seek to do some good to atone for her compromised nature? Is she hungry for the company of others, particularly those who were once her friends and traveling companions? Or is she looking for new experiences to ease the tedium of the years? Is she driven by more base motivation, such as the search for power or wealth to ensure her comfort? Just like a mortal, a vampire's motivations may consist of a combination of several or all of these reasons, colored by the fact that she also needs and desires the blood that gives her life. Such a vampire, whether she is a PC or NPC, adds much more to a story than a slavering beast completely ruled by the need for blood and little else.

Lycanthropes
Lycanthropes present a similar challenge. Like vampires, their nature (in this case, bestial rather than monstrous) sets them forever apart from normal people. The need for raw meat drives a lycanthrope. He must have this sustenance every day or suffer the consequences. The lycanthrope's feral nature expresses this need in a passion for the hunt and the kill. The thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of tearing warm flesh from the prey's body are seductive songs that lycanthropes always hear and must respond to.

As with vampires, werecreatures are also stronger and faster than normal people. They have greater endurance and keener senses than mortals. This leads to feelings of superiority, while their fear of being hunted down by a group of mortal makes them wary of trusting anyone. A werecreature travelling with an adventuring group most likely resents being held to a traveling pace mandated by his feeble mortal companions. The odors accumulated by a groupe of people constantly on the move with few hygienic amenities also irritate the sensitive noses of most lycanthropes, making them resent the heavily armored fighter or the druid whose robes collect all the dirt and stains of the road.

When portraying true lycanthropes as PCs or NPCs, you should remember that these creatures know what they are and have some control over the change. How do they feel when the music of the hunt fades and the lycanthrope stands over the body of his prey, hus hunger sated and his needs temporarily abated? Some lycanthropes revel in it; others may feel remorse, especially if the prey was sentient or known to them.

Afflicted lycanthropes normally do not remember what they do when the change takes them, but they know that something happens from indications such as torn and bloodied clothing. Since afflicted lycanthropes are very likely to target those near them when they change; they sometimes regain their self-awareness only to find their families murdered and eaten and themselves with bloodied clothes and red stained hands and mouth. Imagine the guilt and remorse that such a person must feel...

Ideally, PC lycanthropes should come from the ranks of those who are battling the inner beast. They try to deny the song of the hunt, but they must still find the needed quantities of raw meat. These werecreatures may search for a way to cure (or at least control) their affliction. Their interactions with other members of an adventuring group become tense and charged with mistrust as their companions find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders or frantically watching the night sky for the first sight of the moon. This is especially true in the case of afflicted lycanthropes who do not have as much control over their shape change.

Some lycanthropes become hunters of other lycanthropes because they so revile themselves for what they have become and because of the actions they are compelled to take. Regardless of their motivations, these characters always need to feed the hunger and are always hearing the dark, seductive cry of the call to the hunt. This overriding need colors anything else these characters do or feel.

By Eo, from Monstrous Forums.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 11:38:59 AM by MAB77 »

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The Vassalich
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2008, 09:26:59 PM »
The Vassalich



"It was the most terrible thing I have ever seen, Dolf! No! Not the most terrible - the dreams it put into my head when I could no longer stay awake. . . . when I put my wife's hand into a - No! I didn't do that! I didn't do that! Don't look at me!"
"It was the lich that put those thoughts in your head, Harmon. Let them go, they are not yours!" I cajoled him, realizing that his reason would not remain much longer.
"Tell me about the minions. You were talking about the lich's minions, remember?"

"Yes, yes! It was horrid, horrid! Not just dead things - living things too. Men! A man became a lich before my eyes! He swallowed a stone - a diamond or something, I don't know.
Then the lich slit its rotted wrist open with its own fingernail and blood - no, not blood ooze, gray ooze ran from the black hole! And the man drank it! He drank the lich's blood! He drank it, Dolf! And he fell down and screamed. And he changed. He shriveled. He died! He lay there, dead, and -"
"And what, Harmon?"

"He got up and spit the stone into the lich's hand. Then he was a lich, too."


- From the private journal of Dr. Van Richten

Vassaliches are the horrid servants of true liches, the masters of undeath. Many a mortal spell caster has sought immortality or fostered a morbid fascination with death, but thankfully most of these villains lack the time, patience or talent to follow the path to true lichdom. These lesser aspirants may enter into an unholy pact with a lich, gaining eternal life for the price of eternal servitude.

By their very nature, vassaliches are scheming, power-hungry creatures, willing to make any sacrifice to advance themselves. Vassaliches obey their masters perfectly at first, but obedience often chafes under the weight of time, and many vassaliches eventually come to plit against their masters---if their masters allow them to survive that long, of course.

Vassaliches are physically indistinguishable from true liches. Their flesh withers from their bones, and their empty eye sockets glow with pinpoints of hellish light. Many an adventurer has mistaken a vassalich for its more powerful master. Vassaliches speak whatever languages they knew in life.

Creating a Vassalich
"Vassalich" Is a template that can be added to any humanoid creature that has undergone the ritual of creation. The creature changes to undead.

Vassalich Characters
The process of becoming a vassalich is an irredeemably evil act and can be undertaken only by the characters' free will.

The Vassalich phylactery
Like its lich master, a vassalich stores its life force whithin a magic phylactery. Unles the phylactery is destroyed, the vassalich reappears 2d10 days after is apparent death. Unlike liches, vassaliches do not creature tehir own phylacteries. Creating a vassalich phylactery requires the Craft Wondrous Item feat, and the creator must be a lich. The phylactery usually takes the form of a small but precious gem requiring a total of 10,000 go and 400xp to prepare. The phylactery has a caster level equal  to that of its creator at the time of creation.

To create a vassalich, the lich must soak the phylactery in a lethal concoction similar to the brews many liches use to ritually end their mortal lives. The character then swallows the bew and the gem. The, in its final moments of life, the character must consume some portion of the lich--perhaps a dribbling of ichor or a scrap of withered flesh. To survive the process, the character must have at least 2 sorcerer, wizard or cleric levels (that is, the new vassalich must be at least a 1st-level spellcaster). If the character meets this requirement, she dies and rises again moments later as a vassalich, forever bound to her master.

The new vassalich spits up the gem into its master's waiting hand as one if its first acts of undeath. A lich typically conceals its minions' phylactery in a secure place, ensuring the creature's enslavement. Azalin keeps his collection of vassalich gems in a warded puzzle box, stored in the same chamber that houses his own phylactery.

Van Richten Guide to Lich

I have never met a creature like the one Dr. Ruscheider described on that evening when he came to me like a crazed animal beneath the full moon, but I have little doubt that it exists. So much evil is around us, and so many people are exposed to temptations proffered by agents of that evil. It is sadly simple to conclude that a wizard of questionable values might strike a pact with a lich and become immortal, albeit undead. What mage does not crave the arcane secrets of the universe? What wizard would not consider the advantages of unlimited time to learn new magic? Who among any of us does not wish to live forever?

These sentiments are the genesis of the vassalich: a wizard who undergoes the transformation to lichdom under the sponsorship of a full lich, thus becoming an undead magic-user long before he could accomplish the feat himself. Such a foolish mage is a free- willed individual who is yet a slave. He is capable of independent thought, abstract strategy, self-conducted research, and intellectual processes available to a living human, but he has committed himself to eternal bondage to a master who inevitably will use him as nothing more than another means to its own ends. As people who are more intelligent than the average, mages should know the consequences of entering into such a relationship, or so I would assume. This may well be why I have never met a vassalich; it is extremely uncommon. Even so, I have shared Harmon Ruscheider's remarks with a few scholarly wizards, and I have made the following speculations upon the nature of the vassalich.

[DM Notes]: A vassalich ideally much rarely than a lich; such a slave is bound to be more than a handful, and it is sure to draw undut attention as well - something few liches desire. If a Dungeon Masters wishes to roleplay the creation, of a vassalich, a number of conditions can be created to carry off a successful transformation. Heroes who prevent these conditions from occurring also prevent vassalich creation.

For example, the wizard might have to fall at least two powers checks before the transformation will work. Perhaps the phylactery must be a gem of not less than 10,000 gp value which the lich can wear ornarnentally or keep with the rest of its treasure Perhaps the new vassalich must rest after the conversion, like its master, but foe 10 full days.

The transformation itself might consist of Joint spellcasting by the sponsor and aspirant. Perhaps the casts enchant an item on the phylactery while the wizard drinks prepared potion: then the wizard casts magic jar before he dies. Next, the lich casts reincarnation on the wizard's boby, and the vassalich is created.

The vassalich's phylactery would likely not be nearly as magical as that of the lich. It might be destroyed merely by inflicting 25 points of damage upon it using any nonemagical weapon. (A saving throw vs. crushing blow might apply.)


The Potion of Transformation (Applies to Vassalich and lich)
With the phylactery constructed, the next step requires the mage to cast his spirit into his newly enchanted box. To do so, however, requires the inclusion of the most secret aspect of becoming the lich - the potion of transformation. The ingredients of this potion are unknown to me, and it was only by chance that I even came to know of its existence. Mirinalithiar's journal mentions it but once as "that foul brew from the heart of evil." After consultation and speculation with my many scholarly sources, I have concluded that the poisonous venom of a number of rare creatures must be involved, as the potion kills the mortal wizard almost instantly. Of course, after my near fatal experience with my old friend Shauten, I am sure that another one of the ingredients is the heart of a sentient creature. In any case, I do know (from Mirinalithiar's journal) that the mage must drink the potion when the moon is full. If successful, the mage is transformed into a lich. Otherwise, the mage immediately dies. The success of the potion and the ability of the mage's constitution to handle the consequences are the ultimate tests of the mage's skill, knowledge, and fitness.

[DM Notes]: To initiate the transformation, to break the link between his body and spirit and forge it anew between his spirit and the phylactery, the mage must drink a special potion that is highly toxic. This potion, if properly made, will cause the mage to immediately transform into a lich/vassalich. If any error is made in the formula or in the concoction and distillation of the potion, irrevocable death results.

To create the potion, the mage may blend several forms of natural poisons, including arsenic, belladonna, nightshade, heart's worry, and the blood of any of a number of poisonous monsters. Also necessary are a heart, preferably from a sentient creature, and the venom from a number of rare creatures such as wyverns, giant scorpions, and exotic snakes. When the ingredients are properly mixed, the following spells must be cast upon the potion: wraithform, cone of cold, feign death, animate dead, and permanency. The potion must be drunk during a night with a full moon. Upon ingestion, a System Shock roll is required. If the mage passes the test, then he has been transformed by the potion into a dreaded lich.

If the mage doesn't survive the shock, he is dead forever, with no hope of any sort of resurrection. Not even a wish will undo the lethal potion. Only the direct intervention of a deity (or the Dungeon Master) has any hope of resurrecting a mage killed in this manner.


Van Richten on appearance
"The skin over its entire body was shrunken and wrinkled over each bony limb.
It was as dried as parchment, and rough tothe point of being able to grind marble into dust.
The sockets of the eyes were the most terrifying to behold. Instead of eyes,
it had sunken pits as black as the most evil heart that ever pulsed.
As the skirmish wore on, from within the sockets came a harsh reddish glow,
two fiery blobs of light thatsparkled and illuminated the sockets and the area around the vassalich."


Necrology
I would guess that nearly all vassaliches were once living students of the wizards' college of Necrology. A preoccupation with or sheer ambivaience about death would certainly render the prospect of becoming undead less daunting. Hence, it is expected that a vassalich can wield death magic as a specialist of the dark school of Necromancy.

A vassalich most likely undergoes a process similar to his master's when he becomes undead. He might drink a poisonous potion or partake of the lich's body fluid as Ruscheider suggested, but his soul then occupies a phylactery. Ruscheider's story also implied that the phylactery is given over to the lich, who presumably keeps it as the perfect instrument of leverage over its new minion. The lich gains an absolutely loyal servant in complete control of its sophisticated mental faculties. As long as the phylactery remains in the lich's possession, the vassalich must do its sponsor's bidding.

Quick-thinking hunters will realize that he who holds the phylactery of a lich, be it a vassal or otherwise, controls the lich! Furthermore, the phylactery of a vassalich may not be subject to the same security standards as the master's. The captured phylactery of a vassalich may be one of the deadliest weapons that a lich hunter could ever hope to wield.

Powers
A wizard who becomes a vassalich probably gains its master's black aura to some extent, and it probably shares the lich's resistance to holy symbols and certain types of magic, but it surely lacks its master's experience and level of magical power. I suspect that a vassalich retains the same spellcasting ability as it had in life. If there is any such gain upon transformation, then it is probably paid for with the loss of endurance, mobility, or strength.

Psychology
The mind of a vassalich is sure to be an incredibly complex thing. It retains its memories and force of personality after its transformation, which must mean that it continues to harbor within its breast the same intense ambition that drove it to pursue vassalichdom in the first place. How it must grate upon it to become the absolute slave of another! No doubt, a candidate for transformation is absolutely loyal to the sponsor lich while courting immortality, but once the deed is done, how long is it before the intelligent minion comes to resent the bond of slavery?
This line of reasoning leads me to two conjectures about the "lesser lich." First, a would-be vassalich might be more dangerous to our world while he is still a mortal, for he can act as a spy and thief for the monster whom he wishes to please.

While he remains a living man, he is capable of insidious and far- reaching damage, for who would guess at the ghastly station to which he aspires, and realize that he is already a minions of a lich? Second, he may be more dangerous to the lich when he is no longer mortal, for such an ambitious creature is sure to plot against the one who holds its phylactery. After the transformation, egotism and ambition, to say nothing of basically evil character, quite likely estranges the vassalich from its master. As long as the lich has its very life essence in its keeping, a vassalich's existence hangs upon the whim of an evil persona. I think that I can safely say that such an arrangement cannot be tolerable for long. While I have little advice to offer regarding living spies, I think that it may be possible for a clever hunter to poison the relationship between the lich and its vassal undead. The trick is to establish an alliance with the vassalich without the lich's knowledge. The vassal is sure to be nervous about such an arrangement - after all, its master will crush its phylactery at the first hint of rebellion. However, there is more than enough incentive to turn against the lich, and that is one fact upon which a lich hunter may almost certainly depend.

[DM Notes]: Many interesting adventure scenarios are possible with the inclusion of a vassalich. It may serve as a nemesis to heroes who simply are not strong enough to deal with a true lich; in such cases, the lich may be busy in another realm while the vassalich runs the lair or initiates plots of its own. A vassalich can be powerful, but never as much so as a true lich. Another adventure possibility lies in the attempted mental and emotional seduction of a player's mage by a lich. Of course, it is expected that the heroic mage will respond to the temptation only as a way to infiltrate the lich's defenses. If roleplayed well, the game of cat-and-mouse could be very exciting.

A player's hero may actually find himself forced by the lich, physically, magically, or otherwise, to undergo the transformation process as a result of roleplaying. In this case, he becomes a nonplayer character until his companions can destroy the vassalich's body, gain control of the lesser phylactery, ctone the player's wizard (use of other bodies, alive or dead, may call for a powers check, depending on the circumstances), and cast magic jar, then raise dead or resurrection (apply all saving throws), A wish may be substituted for either spell.


Roleplay Sample Whithin the swirling mind of a "Wanting-To-Be-Vassalich"

-From the burned down remains of Demnadon's notes:

"4th April:
The cough is getting worse. I cannot sleep well at night. The priests of the eternal order will not help an aging sick man! As if I'm the common peasant they're use to babysitting! They fail to see my importance. I will get over that ailment without their help. I have already started getting treatment and medicines until I manage to use my arcane powers to deal with that sickness.

23th April:
I'm usually with fever. I need minor spells to keep my head clear and work on my projects and spells. I shouldn't have tried to use my enchantment spells on the cleric to convince him. How could the simpleton so easily shake it off? He told me straight that he suspects me for using spells on him and that if I show my face again there I'll regret it.
Morons! I'm one of the protectors of this realm. I'm a brilliant mind.
The basics of the magic formula I'll use to cleanse myself are starting to crystalize in my mind.

16th May:
Doctor Wandon doesn't seem very optimistic about me. The painkiller herbs are not as effective as when I started my treatment. He hinted that I should start make preparations on how I will split my fortune. As if I'll let the vultures that surround me lay hands on my hard earned treasure and occult tomes.
I manage to keep my mind mostly clear with spells and some treatment from a minor priest that I managed to bribe. I'm tired, but I should go on.
On another note... it seems that in order to live on, I should actually steal the years that life owes me. Someone must pay the price. Can I sacrifice someone so young as that child? Perhaps there is another way.

2nd June:
I cough up blood, I'm getting physically weaker. I have to stay at bed at least half the day. If I didn't have my magic I would be unable to get up at all. I have to continue, I have to go on.
I wish I had the time to do it another way. I have to go on. It was harder than I thought to slice the throat of that child but I needed her blood. She would probably become nothing more than her parents; a muddy, ugly peasant with a horde of kids.

9th June:
Am I getting insane? Has the fever finally started addling my mind? I can hear whispers calling me. I can feel as if my mind is "touched" sometimes. The voice calls my name at night when I cough in pain, promises to take away the pain, rains doupts on my plans telling me that my ritual won't work, that I have sacrificed a kid for nothing.

18th June:
I passed out yesterday. The Doctor tells me that I have a couple of months, maybe three. He warns me that I'll get even more weak. Fool! I won't lay down and die. I'm almost done. I'll be healed using the stolen blood from that girl, Gods bless her. I'll live on and put to shame the doctors and the priests. I have to go on, I have so many things to accomplish.
 The voice is getting more persistent. I won't lose my mind! Never that! He (it seems to be a male voice) keeps on hinting he has the way.

21st June:
How was that possible? I failed! I failed! I have murdered a girl and I'll die in my bed in a couple of months! It cannot be! Not me, Gods not me! I have to go on!
That damned voice has gone silent. Come to me you thrice damned fiend! Speak to me!"

25th June:
The price to pay is steep. But I will live forever. I'll be a servant but to a master of magic so great that it clouds my feverish mind. He has been preparing for me, he knew that I will fail. He hinted that I'll lose some power for a time, but he promised it will be restored in time. What else can I do? "


Sources: Ravenloft Gazetteer II (statistics), Chilling Tales (Gazing Into the Abyss), Roots of Evil, Requiem - The Grim Harvest, Van Richten's Guide to the Lich.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 10:30:47 AM by MAB77 »

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Re: Monsterous Roleplaying Resources and Lore.
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2011, 09:50:24 PM »
Werejackal



Standing upright on bent canine legs, with a narrow face reminiscent of a feral hound, the humanoid brandishes curved talon-like claws.

~ Werejackal entry, Denizens of Dread, pp. 141


This curse was originally granted to the priesthood of a little-known and depraved cult of Anubis as a sign of the deity's blessing. It has since spread throughout the desert regions of the Dread Realms. Werejackals in humanoid form tend to have long, dark nails. They are often surly and quick to offer insults.

Habitat/Society
A true werejackal tries to transform a small population of beings into cursed versions of itself and enslave them to his will. This link is not telepathic, so the priest will have to verbally command his lesser minions. Those that remain free-willed are still under the werejackal’s control whenever they assume their humanoid form. Troublesome resisters are usually slain after a single incident raises the priest’s ire. One of the first tasks the werejackal demands of his pack is the creation of a temple dedicated to Anubis, the god he serves. The minions practice the priest’s religion routinely, gradually becoming enthralled by the werejackal’s tales of the mysterious god’s deeds and goals.

Ecology
Werejackals are cunning and cold. They seek to dominate all those around them by creating a state of fear and helplessness. Then the true savagery of the lycanthrope emerges as they cruelly taunt their foes through a long and agonizing death. Werejackals are, however, natural cowards and flee if confronted with an obvious superior foe.

Alternate Form
A true werejackal can assume a bipedal hybrid form or the form of a jackal. The bipedal form stands about 6' tall, with a short tail, canine legs and a narrow, dog-like head. Its hands and feet stretch into clutching paws with long, curving talons. In animal form, the creature resembles an adult jackal with no trace of humanity.


Werejackal Chosen
When a debased cleric of the Anubis cult devotes herself completely to her deity, the deity will often grant her the "blessing" of lycanthropy. The cleric must be an unfailing follower of Anubis. Akiri clerics of the Anubis cult may chose from the cleric domains of Death, Evil and Repose.

During day to day activities, the priest tends to pick spells that will awe her followers and keep them happy, or terrify rebellious and as yet uninfected villagers into acquiescence. Call lightning, cause disease, plant growth (used on crops), summon insects, and water walk all fit this description. If the werejackal is aware of imminent confrontation and has time to prepare, her spells tend toward controlling poisonous snakes via snake charm or slicks to snakes, or any of the above that might still be appropriate.

While werejackal priests can usually rebuke or control undead, they don’t like taking advantage of this power. They prefer to let their armies of lesser werejackals and followers prove their devotion instead. Only in the direst circumstances or when undead are used against them will werejackal priests attempt to exercise this ability.

Source: Werejackal entries, Denizens of Dread, pp. 141, AD&D 2e. Monstrous Compendium III pp. 80
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 04:19:42 PM by MAB77 »

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Lycanthropy as heretidary (True Lycantropes)
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2011, 07:19:09 PM »
Lycanthropy as heretidary (True Lycantropes)

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Lycanthropy as Hereditary: True Lycanthrope

This is the archetypal form of the scourge that is lycanthropy. Often called true lycanthropy, it is an inherent, self-sustaining condition that can neither be cured nor contracted by others. If one is not born a true lycanthrope, then one can never become one. If one is so born, then it is impossible to alter or cure the condition, much as it would be impossible to cure an elf of the condition of being an elf.

Transfiguration

Transfiguration is the term I apply to a werebeast's ability to change forms, or aspects. With few exceptions, a true lycanthrope has three aspects, any of which it can adopt at wilt. In contrast, an infected lycanthrope normally displays but two forms (to the best of my knowledge). Furthermore, the true tycanthrope is generally unaffected by the triggers thatinitiate transfiguration in infected lycanthropes. Thus, a true werewolf need never fear that the full moon will trigger an unwanted transfiguration. It is important to stress that the actual process of transfiguration is not typically a rending, burning agony for true lycanthropes, but it is often so for the pathologic variety. In fact, many of the true lycanthropes with which I have spoken (before destroying them) have claimed that the experience is one of transcendent ecstacy. Furthermore, true lycanthropes retain all of their mental faculties while in any of their forms. At no point do they forget what occurs when not in human aspect, nor do they lose control of their actions. In addition, they always retain their immunities and most of their abilities.

Primary Aspect
The first aspect of a true lycanthrope is human (or demihuman, of course), and the human aspect is characteristic of the individual. In other words, when in human form, it will always look the same. A werebeast cannot use the transfiguration to alter its human appearance or create disguises. To an astute observer, certain characteristics of the true werebeast's human form can provide hints of the individual's inhuman nature. Almost invariably the human form shows one or more bestial features: slightly pronounced canine teeth, unusually bushy brows which meet above the nose, slightly pointed ears, abnormally pronounced body hair, hair on the inside of the wrist and on the palm, or perhaps exaggerated finger- or toe- nails, for example.


Secondary Aspect
The second form that any true lycanthrope can assume is that of the beast. In this aspect, the individual appears as an animal.b Again, the type of animal and the specific details of its appearance are characteristic of the individual. Details such as eye color, pelt markings, and other distinguishing features do not change, which makes it possible for an astute observer to distinguish between individuals, just as an owner of hounds can tell the difference between two members of the same breed. A true lycanthrope's animal aspect is usually larger than average, when compared to normal animals of the same type.


True lycanthropes in their animal aspect retain their full intelligence, which makes them much more intelligent and aware than natural animals that may surround them. Yet the monsters are also in touch with their animalistic nature - the beast within - in the form of natural senses and instincts. They can, if they so wish, allow these senses and instincts to overshadow their human intelligence and thus behave identically to a natural animal. This knack for subterfuge makes it exceedingly difficult to distinguish a werebeast from a normal animal.

It is important to point out the fallacies in some legends and tales. While it is true that lycanthropes in animal aspect can still understand the languages of mankind, it is not true that they can speak them. The anatomy and physiology of animals precludes this. For example, the throat and mouth of a rat is incapable of human speech; thus, so is a wererat in animal aspect. (The wererat would be able to both speak and understand the limited communication of natural rats, however.) Similarly, while in animal aspect most werebeasts have neither hands nor fingers, and thus cannot easily manipulate their environment. Accordingly, those tales which describe werewolves in wolf form opening intricate locks or latches are most obviously fantastical.


Tertiary Aspect
The true werebeast's third aspect - half man, half beast - is indeed the most dreadful. This is the form most commonly associated with true lycanthropes in tale and legend. The man-beast has the features of both human and animal forms, creating a horrifying, unnatural blend. True lycanthropes in man-beast aspect retain the ability to use language. Their voices are usually harsh and growling, however. The creatures also retain their full dexterity in man-beast form, and thus can manipulate their environment easily.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 12:15:44 PM by MAB77 »

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Re: Monsterous Roleplaying Resources and Lore.
« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2015, 07:42:49 PM »
The Dread Flesh Golem


"I beheld the wretch — the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs. I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited, where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life." 
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, chapter five.

Dark desire, on almost any other plane a gateway only to madness and frustrated ambition, is given very real potency on the Demiplane of Dread by the ever-watching Dark Powers. You can will something into being—provided, of course, you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices along the way. The motivations change—hubris, guilt, love, a futile hope for redemption—but they all lead to a deep, dark, and overpowering obsession. The things such lost souls shape in the darkness—wretched patchwork things—reflect the torn, twisted reality of their creators’ minds. Imbued with all of its creator’s intelligence but forever outcast from his society and his race, the dread flesh golem lives out its existence in the shadows, forever bound heart and soul to its creator but driven always to seek its independence, to strive against the bounds which constrain it—an ineluctable paradox which almost always culminates in the destruction of one or the other.

The life of a dread flesh golem is defined by the tension between it and society: it must live a solitary existence, or be feared and hated, but it is an intelligent being and can feel loneliness as keenly as any other. Lamordia, as a domain obsessed with the scientific, is the origin point for most of the setting’s dread flesh golems, but they can, in theory, be produced anywhere in the Core. When new, they experience the world as a child would, with all of the intelligence of a sentient being but none of the experiences, the memories, the habits that form an adult personality. As they grow and develop over time they are thus shaped by their environment, be it to antagonistic or heroic purposes, but invariably to tragic ends.

“I say this, of course, so that you might better understand your foe. Never should such empathy keep you from using all means at your disposal to destroy it. For the Created are indeed monsters, despite their vaguely human appearance. And they are enemies to be feared. Golems do not view life and death as you or I do; they cannot share our joys and fears.”
Dr. Rudolph van Richten


The act of creating a dread flesh golem requires great resources and great effort. They can be shaped in any number of physical ways—composed of parts long dead and those freshly removed from their original owner, those that are human in origin or even, in some cases, those that are not. Thusly, their appearance is wildly variable and largely dictated by the available materials and the preferences of the madman who pieced it together out of the shreds and dregs of former life. The essence of the creature itself comes from another—be it by the attraction and capture of a spirit or the wholesale transfer of a brain—and therefore essence—from another.

Zeitgebers
Almost all dread golems suffer from one or more zeitgebers, which are involuntary responses triggered by certain sights, sounds, or experiences. Like the golem's salient powers, the zeitgebers often mock the creator's goals by rendering the golem unable to act as desired in given situations. The potential triggers and effects of zeitgebers are limitless. The sight of fire might cause a particular golem to cower in fear or stare transfixed at the flames. A song or style of music might cause another golem to dance clumsily or sing croakingly. Another golem might start howling uncontrollably when the full moon rises. The effect of zeitgebers in game terms are up to the DM, but they should serve as a tool for clever hunters to use against the beasts.

Sources: Ravenloft Campaign Setting, Chilling Tales (The Surgeon's Blade), Van Richten's Guide to the Created, Adam's Wrath.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 12:09:20 PM by MAB77 »
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Re: Monstrous Roleplaying Resources and Lore
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2019, 08:59:32 PM »
The Dread Revenant



"Lord knows I should be pushing daisies;
I was six feet down, but something raised me up--
Sent back for to lift my curse;
I’m gonna get me a taste of some chaos first.

Untied, gonna get little wild,
Go screaming through the dark like a demon child.
Close your eyes now, the light is fading,
And the noise in the night is gonna get a little louder, baby..."

~Lord Huron, "The World Ender"


In the Demiplane of Dread, many crimes go unpunished. So prevalent are the evils that dominate the land, so merciless are the rulers of every domain, so uncaring is the world in the face of human desperation and denigration, that the hope of justice for the misdeeds of others is a quaint fantasy better suited to dreams. Yet there are times when a soul is unwilling to accept the injustices perpetrated against them in life, times when anger and rage at justice denied reaches beyond even the thin veil between life and death, and calls a body back to service even though its heart has stopped beating and its blood has long since cooled. It is thus that a Dread Revenant comes into being.

A Dread Revenant is an undead creature governed by a single and overriding instinct: to right a wrong done to them (or against them) in life by bringing the perpetrators to account for what they have done. Although it retains the sentience and abilities it possessed in life, plus the resilience of a creature that no longer fears injury or death, it is single-mindedly focused on this one goal to the exclusion of all else. A Dread Revenant can employ others as agents; it can use manipulation, stealth, and other more careful tactics, but it cannot delay too long in hunting its quarry before it is compelled to proceed. Dread Revenants can be destroyed as can other undead creatures, but so powerful is the spirit that lurks within it that it reforms the next night, ready to continue on its violent course. Only a Dread Revenant's victim may destroy it, as the force of that final injustice forces even a defiant spirit to succumb.

"Revenge is the sweetest morsel to the mouth, that ever was cooked in hell."
                                    ~Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian

As many acts of pettiness and cruelty are commonplace in the Demiplane of Dread, it takes an act of betrayal or assassination of truly dramatic scale to create a Dread Revenant. It does, however, not matter if the act was genuinely cruel; it only matters that the spirit perceives it to be, and is gripped or obsessed with this belief at the moment of its death, and that this unholy desire for vengeance animates its corpse after the end of its natural life. The Mists have somehow granted the Revenant its dark wish and set it on a path to seek the justice it believes it was denied.

Dread Revenants usually appear as dried, desiccated corpses, with bright, alert, and angry eyes. While its skin is leathery, its body is taut and powerful, betraying its unnatural strength.

Dread Revenant is a template that can be added to any humanoid, hereafter referred to as the character. The character's type changes to Undead. The Dread Revenant uses all of the base creature's statistics and abilities, except as noted below.

Sources: Van Richten's Guide to the Walking Dead.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 10:53:55 AM by MAB77 »
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Re: Monstrous Roleplaying Resources and Lore
« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2019, 05:09:36 PM »
The Werecrocodile



Appearance
This powerful, scaly reptile stands upright like a human, but that’s where the resemblance ends. Its flesh is that of a vicious crocodile, complete with a flattened body and tail, short legs, and powerful, toothy jaws. It stands over 7 feet tall.

In their human form, werecrocodiles are tall, thin creatures with sharp features, a long nose and chin, and a thin face with a noticeable overbite. In their crocodile form, they are very long, big, and powerful monsters. Werecrocodiles often work somewhere close to water, and they have unnerving, steady stares. Werecrocodiles are found only in deep waste environments that are pierced by life-giving rivers.

Combat
Werecrocodiles can assume hybrid forms as well as animal forms. In combat, werecrocodiles prefer their human form. They try to trick their prey into assuming they are harmless. Werecrocodiles are infamous for playing on people’s sympathy by pretending to be grieving. Once the prey is in close range, they change to crocodile form and attack.

In crocodile form, they rely on stealth to approach potential victims, then lunge forward with a bite attack. They use their tail slaps only when facing multiple opponents. In hybrid form, though, werecrocodiles generally lead with their tails, using their bites only when they wish to grapple.

Habitat/Society
Natural werecrocodiles live in small family groups. The mother is usually the leader of the family pack. Mating occurs with their own kind, and werecrocodiles are born live from the mother’s womb. The young attain the ability to transform at the onset of puberty.

Werecrocodiles usually live in mud shacks by the edge of rivers or in swamps. They stay away from populated human settlements and do not collect treasure or possessions. They usually assume crocodile form to find prey, then assume human form at night to sleep. They are very territorial and attack any human, demihuman, or humanoid who enters their territory, though they will try to be as subtle as possible before springing their trap.

Werecrocodiles of Toril worship the god Sebek, who created them, and can become clerics or specialty priests of Sebek.

Ecology
Werecrocodiles are biologically identical to humans, except for their lycanthropy. They prey on both warm-blooded creatures and fish native to the swamps. They eat any wererats native to the swamps. They do not particularly enjoy killing humans, but humans are too tasty to resist. No one preys on werecrocodiles except humans, so werecrocodiles try to have as little conflict with large bands of humans as possible.

Werecrocodiles are the creation of Sebek, a crocodile-headed minor deity in the Mulhorandi pantheon. Very few Sebek-spawn remain in Mulhorand, having been driven off by the servants of the god-kings five centuries ago, but werecrocodiles thrive in Chessenta’s Adderswamp.

In Ravenloft, werecrocodiles are primarily found in the swamps of Souragne, the waters of Saragoss or the Amber Wastes where they worship the Akiri god Sobek.

Allergens
Perhaps because they are relatively primitive creatures, werecrocodiles are vulnerable to primitive weapons. The majority can be struck normally by cutting, piercing, or bludgeoning weapons made of flint. Flint weapons may have wooden or other handles, so long as the actual cutting edge, piercing point, or place of impact is unreinforced flint. Mandrake appears to be the herbal nemesis of most werecrocodiles, though it is uncertain whether any singular part of the plant is responsible.

Sources: Monsters of Faerun, Sandstorm, Monstrous Manual (AD&D), Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts and Children of the Night: Werebeasts (Sandover).
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 02:28:21 PM by MAB77 »

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Red Widow
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2019, 05:13:20 PM »
The Red Widow



The red widow, or spider queen, is an evil and deadly shapechanger. Spinning a web of evil to all the lands about its lair, this foul creature derives a vile pleasure in the murder of those lured to it by its many charms and promises of delight. It generally preys upon unsuspecting males, using its seductive humanoid form to lure prey into its clutches.

The red widow has two physical forms. The first, and that in which it is most commonly encountered, is a human one. In humanoid form, a red widow appears as a female humanoid (usually human). Regardless of her apparent race, a red widow is always fair to look upon and has bright red hair. A red widow's lifespan barely stretches across three decades, but its humanoid form always appears to be at the prime of life. In its true form, which it will adopt only when it is about to make a kill, a red widow resembles a massive black widow spider with reversed colors. Its bulbous body is a bright, shiny red, bearing a black hourglass upon its back.

Red widows speak the domain languages of their homeland.

Combat
Although they are dangerous opponents, red widows prefer to avoid combat. They use their beauty and whatever seductive methods seem appropriate to draw their prey into a place of their choosing, often a web-choked urban lair. A red widow is a cautious being, and will patiently conceal its true nature until the last possible moment. A widow's goal is to lure its prey into a lover's embrace. Then, while he is most vulnerable, it reverts to its natural form and strikes. Those who witness this change (usually only the doomed victim) must make an immediate horror check.

The red widow is capable of releasing a jet of webbing when in its spider form. This is handled just as if the creature were casting a web spell.

Habitat/Society
The red widow is usually solitary but occasionally will work in pairs. It often makes its home in the cities and towns of men. Here, it moves about in its human guise and seduces its victims under cover of darkness. It is not uncommon for a red widow to love and then destroy a new victim every week.

Ecology
Red widows live by draining the blood and other bodily fluids from those they kill. A slain lover is hidden away somewhere in the creature’s lair and can supply the widow with nourishment for up to a week. When the monster finishes with a corpse, it discards the partially decomposed and dehydrated body far from its lair. In this way, it hopes that its home will escape detection.

Red widows are instinctually compelled to breed about once a year. After seeking out a charismatic male, it paralyzes its mate with its venom, but does not drain his blood. Instead, it implants 2d4 eggs in his abdomen and cocoons him in a web in its lair. Unless removed, the eggs hatch in 1d6 days. The newborn red widows feed on their father, with each spider inflicting 1 point of damage each day. Red widows reach maturity (and gain the ability to assume humanoid form) after one year; treat immature red widows as monstrous spiders. Red widow young are always red widows, but their apparent race in humanoid form is inherited from their father.

Their lives are usually consumed by their biological drive to feed and breed, but on rare occasion, red widows have been known to rise above their instincts, becoming truly ambitious predators who sought to better their social standing or extend their lifespan. These rare "ambitious" red widows can gain class levels, with rogue as their favored class.

Assuming they do not die through violence or accident, the average red widow lives to be 20 to 30 years old.

Sources: Denizens of Darkness (statistics), Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium I & II, Tales of Ravenloft (The Vanished Ones), Heroes of Light.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2021, 11:36:35 AM by MAB77 »

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Re: Monstrous Roleplaying Resources and Lore
« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2019, 10:31:13 PM »
The Death Knight


“From the dark into the light,
From the small unto the great,
From the valleys dark I ride
O’er the hills to conquer fate!”

— “Horseman Springing,” Lilla Cabot Perry

None can win the war with death, but losing the war does not mean the combatants have seen their last battle. Warriors who wish to fight beyond the limitations of flesh and blood can seek a forbidden way to steal their souls from fate. The cost of this immortality is death, but the fearless few who pay this price become death’s allies. Indeed, death bestows power upon them. Their fleshless bones clad in skins of armor, their brittle fingers clasping weapons with a grip of iron, these knights of death take command of their souls and their destinies. When they charge from the shadowy afterlife into the lands of the living, death knights ride to wage war upon life itself.

Death knights speak the languages they knew in life.

Appearance
A death knight's physical form is that of its decayed body. The face is a blackened skull covered with patches of rotting flesh, with two pinpoints of orange light in the eye sockets. The voice of a death knight is chilling, seeming to echo from deep within. Death knights were powerful people in life, and so they often wear expensive or magic clothing and armor. They are quite fond of wearing flowing capes to mark them as figures of importance.

History
The origin of the death knight lies in a period so ancient that only legends can speak of it with authority. Each race has its own version of the story.

For elves, the first death knight was a tragic figure who was tricked into becoming a death knight in order to win his love from the clutches of a rapacious rival. In this version, lies lead the story’s hero to death. His rival is not a villain. His lady doesn’t truly love him. The wicked fey creature who offers the  hero a path to power leads him instead to damnation. After killing his apparent foe and learning the truth of his supposed love, the death knight embraces the flame of darkness in his heart by slaying the lady and turning his grief and rage upon the rest of the world.

To dwarves, the first death knight was a greedy king who could not release his grip on the throne. The king sullied his clan, his kingdom, and the many honored dead who passed on before him by seeking unnatural means of extending his life. Seeing foes and rivals everywhere, he arranged for his children, his relatives, and those who refused his commands to die in battle or exile. With no heirs and no kin, he claimed his throne for eternity by becoming a death knight and transforming his loyal retainers into undead servitors. Dwarven legend says the death knight still sits on his throne and rules over a kingdom of undead, entombed behind miles of rock by those few dwarves who escaped his reign alive.

Humans relate several competing legends of the first death knight, but all bear a common theme: A man or woman wanted power and received it, and with that dark power, the newly made death knight accomplished its goals. The death knight might have been tricked or cursed, but in these tales the means are unimportant when compared to the ends. Sometimes tragic, sometimes triumphant, these stories teach that great power allows the wielder to achieve great things, even if the price is cursed immortality.

Halfling legend tells what might be the oldest story of the first death knight, and the story is so simple it might be closest to the truth. They say the first death knight arose in service to Orcus, Demon Prince of Undead. The tale’s protagonist, a human warrior of considerable skill and renown, was plagued with an unquenchable thirst for vengeance. When denied a position of power he felt was his right, he sought revenge but was denied satisfaction. Bloodied and disgraced, he fled to fell lands inhabited by demons. There he proved his worth to Orcus first by defeating the Demon Prince’s minions and then by killing Orcus’s enemies. When cultists of Orcus offered the man the power to avenge the slights against him, he readily accepted and became the first death knight.

Becoming a Death Knight
Gods of death create death knights. They are martial champions of evil. These horrible undead are most commonly raised from the ranks of blackguards, fighters, rangers, and barbarians; but a paladin who falls from grace near the moment of death may also become a death knight. Paladins who become death knights are subject to the same modifications as are presented for the blackguard.

There are also those who seek the dark powers of a death knight in death on their own. To do so they must first perform the proper ritual. Discovering the right ritual to become a death knight can be extraordinarily hazardous. Good-intentioned individuals often destroy copies when they find them, and the most fanatical will kill those who seek its secrets rather than allow knowledge of the ritual to spread. False rituals abound—traps laid for the unwise and unwary by those who seek souls for other dark purposes.

Despite this, working versions of the ritual exist, each with its own peculiar requirements. One ritual might simply demand that the performer sacrifice a loved one, while another might stipulate that the caster must die in battle at the hands of a foe while in a graveyard or tomb. Frequently, the supplicant must have spilled the blood of innocents with the weapon that will become the soul weapon.

The rarity of the true ritual drives many to seek it from a surer source, such as the cultists of Orcus. These vile madmen despise the gods and bow only to Orcus, who they believe will one day make eternal undead of them all. As worshipers of destruction, demons, and undeath, cultists of Orcus can never be trusted . . . but they enjoy seeing destructive undead unleashed upon the world, and few undead can be as dangerous as a death knight. The demands made of supplicants are a mystery, but the rites are terrible enough that even most Orcus cultists avoid this particular fate. Perhaps they do not feel worthy, or maybe, like many, they simply fear death.

Fear of death is a luxury those seeking undead knighthood cannot afford. Instead, they must seek death out. They must hunger for it. They must embrace death to gain its power. Through death, they become death.

Soul Weapons
The ritual to become a death knight tears the ritual caster’s soul from his body and binds it to the weapon used in the ritual. The ritual caster dies as the living parts of the body are consumed in unholy green fire. From that conflagration rise the soulless bones of the living person, guided by an evil intelligence that no longer needs a brain for its vile thoughts and an endless hatred that no longer requires a heart to drive its dark passion.

A soul weapon is similar to a lich’s phylactery in that the death knight’s soul resides there instead of in its body. But in most other ways, the soul weapon is the opposite of a phylactery. For a lich its phylactery is a weakness that allows its permanent destruction, but the soul weapon is the death knight’s greatest strength. A death knight literally wields its soul as a weapon. The soul weapon’s strikes burn with death, and at the death knight’s command it can become immaterial, passing through armor and shields to strike at its foes’ unprotected flesh.

A death knight need never fear its soul weapon’s destruction, for with a thought the knight can restore the weapon to wholeness and unwholesome power. If the weapon is taken, a death knight becomes weakened and distracted, distraught by the loss of its soul and consumed by the need to recover it. However, no other creature can wield a death knight’s soul weapon without feeling despair, so few can withhold a soul weapon from a death knight indefinitely.

Physiology
Death knights have no flesh and blood and thus lack the needs of a living body. They are tireless warriors who only desire vengeance, conquest, and other bloody evils. Despite lacking muscle and heart, death knights maintain the strength and vigor they had in life.

Like many of the living dead, death knights can be destroyed by damaging their bodies. Although they feel little pain, enough punishment can break their bones. Unlike a lich, a death knight cannot take refuge in a phylactery, and it does not reform from its soul weapon. When its earthly body is destroyed, a death knight’s soul leaves its weapon and travels to whatever dire fate awaits it in the afterlife. None can say with assurance what happens to the souls of death knights. Some death knights might believe they know the fate of their souls, and that knowledge spurs them to maintain their undead existence by any means. For the rest, the afterlife is an intangible and terrifying unknown. If no devil or vile deity seizes a death knight’s soul, the knight can expect no quarter when its soul is weighed by the gods.

Psychology and Society
Those who seek knighthood in death tend to be courageous and ambitious individuals. Either loners or leaders in life, in death they become both, leading lesser undead but isolated from mortal society. A group of death knights might form a cadre of dark riders, but even among such a collusion of evil, one death knight typically assumes leadership over the rest. The most ancient among them might even have been the one to corrupt the rest, creating a society of undeath.

Although on rare occasions a person has been transformed into a death knight through accident, deception, or outside force, most death knights hunted for their undead fate. They might have been motivated by fear of the afterlife, but those who seek to deny gods or devils their souls cannot be considered cowards. Rather, the desire for knighthood in death stems largely from a desire for power. Those who become death knights are often already powerful warriors, so the temptation of undeath must offer them something mortality cannot: power unmitigated by age.

Most who turn to death as a means of power are frustrated in life, thwarted in their efforts to achieve their ambitions. Defeat is less tolerable than death, and they are willing to trade flesh and life for the power to avenge themselves or to accomplish a goal. Upon achieving unholy knighthood, such individuals relentlessly pursue the cause of their rage. Continued failure results in greater frustration and anger and drives the death knight to marshal superior forces. Since time has little meaning to a death knight, it might return for revenge generations after those who wronged it are buried and gone. Success provides a death knight only fleeting happiness, for after achieving its goal, a death knight can only look forward to a cold eternity of endless struggle.

Whatever their personalities in life, death knights become brooding and wrathful in death. They carry their souls in their bony hands, a constant reminder of a bargain that cannot be undone. For power to accomplish a single goal, death knights forego all other joys. That choice weighs upon its every immortal moment.

Newly made death knights and those who regret their decision usually act alone, but with time most death knights accept their status among the undead and use it as a tool for power. Death knights can command lesser undead, and though they will work with dim-witted creatures such as zombies, most prefer minions that can accept and act upon complex commands. In particular, death knights prefer the services of undead that behave like warriors. Humanoid skeletons, battle wights, and sword wraiths serve them well as foot soldiers, captains, and bodyguards.

Of course, death knights are rarely welcome among the living, and as they gather forces about themselves, they must stay on the move or find refuge lest an army be brought to bear upon them before they are ready for battle. A death knight might take command of a ruined castle, or it might raid and claim a fortress from its inhabitants. If the death knight thirsts for conquest, such conquered territory might become the heart of a dark empire. If the death knight is still marshalling forces or nursing anger about a past defeat, the fortress might remain a haunted ruin, a source of dark rumors and whispered tales.

Although the majority of death knights work alone or as leaders, some become followers to greater forces. Death knights who became undead unwillingly or at the behest of others attach themselves to a superior who shows great purpose and initiative. Sometimes this is another death knight, but it might be a powerful undead such as a lich or vampire, or even a mortal who holds influence over the undead. Death knights might serve another for years or even centuries, but most eventually turn against their erstwhile masters, waiting until they are weak due to some loss. A death knight’s loyalty and sense of honor can last far longer than any living person’s, but with its soul in hand as eternity stretches out before it, a death knight finds few promises worth keeping and morality a farce.

If a death knight makes any long-term connection with a creature, it is most likely to be with a favored mount. Few horses can stand to carry such a horror, but evil beasts such as nightmares and undead mounts willingly carry a death knight into battle. The teamwork necessary for rider and mount to act as one is often a death knight’s only source of lasting pleasure.

Famous Death Knights
The first named death knight was Saint Kargoth, introduced in a 1983 Dragon article, but the most famous by far is Lord Soth of the Dragonlance campaign setting. Here’s a primer on some of the death knights D&D has named over the years.

Saint Kargoth: First introduced in Dragon and then adopted by the Greyhawk campaign setting, Saint Kargoth was a noble human knight who, along with thirteen fellow knights, became a death knight after being corrupted by Demogorgon. Kargoth was jealous that another knight was chosen to lead the Great Kingdom’s knight protectors, and his fury and envy lead him to seek the power of undeath to pursue his revenge. He became a hero to the worshipers of Hextor, hence his appellation as a saint.

Lord Soth: Like Kargoth, Lord Soth was also a great knight, but Soth’s transformation into a death knight is a far more twisted tale. Soth’s wife gave birth to a monster that was a representation of Lord Soth’s soul. Thinking his wife had been unfaithful, Lord Soth murdered her and his child, even though Lord Soth was himself unfaithful to his wife. When his crime was discovered, Lord Soth was spirited away from his execution by knights loyal to him. While besieged with his knights, Lord Soth was informed that he could save the world from a great cataclysm. He left to pursue the quest that would save the world, but he turned back when told lies about his new wife’s fidelity. Soth confronted his new wife and their child while the cataclysm occurred, refusing to save them from a fiery death. The fire that killed them engulfed the whole keep, killing Lord Soth and his allies, but the cursed Lord Soth arose as a death knight and his followers joined him in undeath.

Miltiades: Although not specifically referred to as a death knight, a skeletal undead paladin named Miltiades appears in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Cursed by Tyr, god of justice, after dishonorably slaying a foe, Miltiades sought to do good even after death. Tyr restored Miltiades to life after suitable heroics.

Vanthus Vanderboren: Vanthus featured as a villain in Dungeon magazine’s “Savage Tide” adventure path. Appearing as a human foe throughout the first two adventures, he returns as a half-fiend after visiting the Abyss and being transformed by the Flesh Forge. Following his death at the hands of the PCs, Demogorgon turns him into a death knight, and he bedevils the PCs again only to meet a second death. Upon this second failure, he is transformed into a larva, and the PCs meet him in this lowly form during the last adventure.

Sources: Dragon Magazine #290, 291 and 360, Living Greyhawk Journal 6 and Living Greyhawk Journal 7, Dragonlance Campaign Setting, Monster Manual II.
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