Dragon MagazineCampaign Setting Logo

Frequency:Very rare
Organization:Roving bands
Activity Cycle:n/a
Intelligence:Very to exceptional (11-16)
Alignment:Neutral evil
No. Appearing:1-4
Armor Class:0*
Movement:9, Fl 18
Hit Dice:9+*
THAC0:See below
No. of Attacks:1 hammer/1 snake
Damage/Attack:2-8+2*/1-4 + poison
Special Attacks:Clerical spells
Special Defenses:+ 1 weapon to hit
Magic Resistance:Nil
Morale:Fearless (20)
XP Value:9th = 7,000
10th = 8,000
11th = 9,000 etc.

* At the DM's discretion, higher level charuntes could have more hit points (due to a high Constitution score when alive) or have better armor and do more damage with their hammers (i.e., using more valuable magical equipment, or having better Dexterity or Strength scores).

Again, the lich is a game monster given an appropriate name. "Lich" is an archaic word from Middle English and is still used in certain Scottish and English dialects. It also has been used to give “flavor” to some fantasy, gothic, and horror stories. The word comes from the Anglo-Saxon “lic” and is akin to the Germanic “leiche” which means “corpse.” According to the dictionary, lich means a dead body, a corpse. It is only a step of the imagination for a lich to become a walking dead body; an animated corpse.

The Etruscans often associated their own mythology with that of the Greeks. In the course of time Greek names have come to replace the Etruscan ones. It is more probable that, because the only accounts we have of the Etruscans were written by Greeks and Romans, that the writers simply used more familiar names. Sometimes the names were given slightly different spellings to differentiate them from the Greek originals.

Charun was a male demon in the Etruscan underworld who may have been a god fallen on hard times. His symbol is a hammer that he carries on his shoulder, or with which he supports himself, like a cane. He has a nose like a vulture’s, pointed animal ears, hair entwined with snakes, and wings growing out of his back. In Etruscan mythology Charun escorts the dead, and watches over the portals of graves.

Charun is obviously associated with the ferryman of the dead for the Greeks: Charon. The Charun of the Etruscans is, however, more ferocious and active than the dread ferryman. It seems likely that, for the Etruscans, Charun really was the demon of death who kills the dying and carries the victim off to the underworld.

Charun was worshiped, or appeased, by the Etruscans essentially like a god. He even had a special order of priests called charuntes (or charontes) who served Charun and who carried hammers similar to the demon’s, These priests have inspired an undead monster. They have returned from the dead, much like a lich, to serve the gods of death and evil using clerical spells instead of magical spells.

Charuntes were once the priests of some neutral evil death god, goddess, or major fiend. They look like winged humanoids with the nose of a vulture, pointed animal ears, and snakes instead of hair. They have come back from the dead to harvest victims for their evil masters.

Combat: Charuntes attack using +2 two-handed hammers. They wear full plate armor +2. The snakes in their hair also attack once per round. Any victim bitten by a snake must save versus poison or die in 2-12 turns.

Charuntes also have clerical spells appropriate for the level they held in life. A priest must reach at least 9th level to come back from the dead as a charuntes. Otherwise, they could be of any level up to level 29. Note that the XP-Value of a charuntes depends on its level. Hence, several values are given.

The THAC0 of a charuntes will also vary by level. Taking into account the +2 weapon, the THAC0 for various levels is: 9th = 14, 10-12th = 12, 13-15th = 10, 16-18th = 8, and 19th + = 6. If a DM allows a charuntes magical weapons greater than +2, or a high Strength score, she should adjust the THAC0 accordingly.

The following spells or attack forms have no effect on charuntes: charm, sleep, hold, enfeeblement, paralysis, polymorph, cold, electricity, insanity, or death spells or symbols (including any poisons).

A cleric has the same chance to turn a charuntes as she does a lich.

Habitat/Society: As undead, charuntes have no real society. They do, however, still retain an affinity for attacking in a group. If only one charuntes is encountered, he will be guarded by two skeleton warriors. While charuntes can be encountered anywhere, they are most likely to be found in spots that death gods would consider holy. Such spots include: tombs, graveyards, ruined temples, altars to a death deity, battlefields, death-cairns, and burial vaults or mounds.