RavenloftCampaign Setting Logo

Climate/Terrain:Temperate plains, forests, and homes (Barovia)
Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Night
Intelligence:Very (11-12)
Alignment:Lawful good
No. Appearing:1
Armor Class:7
Hit Dice:1 hp
No. of Attacks:1
Special Attacks:Nil
Special Defenses:Undead Ward
Magic Resistance:50%
Size:T (6” long)
Morale:Unsteady (5-7)
XP Value:35

Why do you assume that there is no good in our Land? True, the minions of evil lurk on your doorstep, but the servants of righteousness are present as well. You just have to look a little harder...

Andrei Tiszanov

The giwoitis is strange little creature that guards Barovian homes from the undead. By currying the giwoitis' favor, a family can ensure that it protects them from vampires and the like. Although the giwoitis appears to be a harmless lizard, it commands potent powers that terrify all but the most powerful undead creatures.

A giwoitis (the term is both singular and plural) resembles one of the tiny meadow lizards common to Barovia. It is about six inches in length, fully two-thirds of which belongs to its long, tapering tail. The creature has a long, pointed head and plump legs with tiny, clawed digits. It is predominantly bright green in color, though yellow or white stripes run down the length of its body, edged by cinnamon-colored spots or flecks. Though they are intelligent, giwoitis cannot speak. They are, however, capable of communicating with other beings through telepathy. They rarely use this ability with anyone other than proven allies, however.

Combat: In terms of physical combat, giwoitis are about as defenseless as the lizards they appear to be. In most cases, a threatened giwoitis will simply flee, as they can scurry away as fast as a man can run. A giwoitis will not leave helpless creatures of non-evil alignment behind, however, and remains with the defenseless even it means risk to its own life. If cornered (or picked up without permission) a giwoitis can deliver a painful but insignificant bite that causes only 1 point of damage. This bite is only effective against bare flesh, and any kind of armor will protect against it. Their only other inherent defense is their surprisingly high magic resistance (50%).

Giwoitis do possess other remarkable abilities, however, and this is the reason that many Barovians go out of their way to lure the little lizard into their homes. Giwoitis can radiate a remarkable version of undead ward that affects an entire enclosed structure. The affected area must be a building with true walls and a roof, though it can be any size, from a shed to a castle's keep. As long as the giwoitis desires it, all undead who attempt to enter the structure - by passing through doorways, windows or other portals - are subject to turning as if by a 10th-level priest (see Table 91: Turning Undead in Domains of Dread, pg. 264). If several undead attempt to enter simultaneously, the undead ward affects each undead creature individually, with no limit to the number that can be turned. Even those undead that cannot normally be turned are affected by the giwoitis' ward, being treated as undead of equivalent hit dice. The undead ward also affects undead in unusual forms, such as a vampire's animal or gaseous forms. An undead creature teleporting inside a structure protected by the undead ward (or otherwise circumventing the normal entrances) is subject to turning immediately upon appearing inside. If it fails, it must flee the structure as quickly as possible through the nearest available exit. The giwoitis' ward never affects undead domain lords or undead minions under their direct control (such as zombies and skeletons).

The giwoitis may turn its undead ward “on” and “off” at will. It may not use the ward in any structure that the DM deems to be a “sinkhole of evil” as described in Domains of Dread (pg 263). However, the giwoitis may instead use its ability to cancel a sinkhole of evil penalty of up to -2 for the purposes of other turning attempts. This ability does not provide a bonus to turning attempts; it merely cancels “-2 worth” of the sinkhole's penalty for as long as the giwoitis is in the sinkhole's area and maintains the effect.

Habitat/Society: Giwoitis are friendly and kind creatures, but pathologically shy. They can be lured into a home by placing a saucer of fresh, warm milk near the chimney each night. One should be persistent, even if it seems as if the coercion is not working. Eventually, a giwoitis will take up residence and observe its hosts for some time, judging their character. If it finds its hosts to be honest and virtuous folk, it will make the building its home, keeping its undead ward active at all times (even while hibernating during the winter months). It will normally remain hidden, even from its hosts, who only know of the giwoitis' presence by the absence of insect pests. If the creature is ever mistreated, it will give its hosts the opportunity to make amends, but will not forgive blatant abuse. Those hosts that strike the giwoitis as particularly kind-hearted and interesting (lawful good characters of high Charisma) may be approached. Giwoitis are shy, but enjoy telepathic conversation, particularly stories and moral parables. Though giwoitis are primarily attracted to the simple homes of the common folk, they also favor Barovia's few scattered wizards. Though it might be assumed that giwoitis reproduce just like the meadow lizards they resemble, more than one of the creatures has never been observed together.

Though giwoitis have long been a part of Barovian folklore as beneficent household spirits, the actual creatures are a relatively recent magical creation of the Gundarakite abjurer Andrei Tiszanov. Tiszanov was interested in creating an unobtrusive item that would protect the common folk's homes against undead creatures. He researched the problem for years as a young man, traveling extensively in the lands surrounding Gundarak. He eventually became intrigued by Barovian woodcarvings that depicted little green lizards, which the Barovians called giwoitis. They claimed that the giwoitis were kind, brownie-like creatures that protected homes from harm. Tiszanov loved the idea, and created a pair of pseudo-homonculi to serve as living undead wards, imbuing them with powerful abjuration and necromancy magics. He then released the little creatures into the wild, shortly before the Great Upheaval.

Tiszanov thought fondly of his creations, but became dismayed as the years passed and he saw no sign that they had succeeded on their own. Now chafing under the yoke of Count Von Zarovich's militias, Andrei took to wandering again. He eventually discovered that the hatchlings of his giwoitis had indeed survived and spread, and found several households that hosted the benign lizards. The giwoitis' abilities were far more powerful than Tiszanov had suspected, however, and he speculated that something had occurred during the Great Upheaval to amplify their powers. For their part, the few Barovians and Gundarakites who are fortunate enough to host a giwoitis consider themselves blessed.

Ecology: Aside from their intelligence and their remarkable powers against the undead, giwoitis appear to be normal lizards in most respects. They eat insects and spiders, are preyed upon by hawks and owls, and hibernate in the winter. The creatures are most active at night, spending the days on rooftops and clinging to walls, soaking up the sun's warmth. Several wizards have learned to their great dismay that giwoitis provide no useful substances in the manufacture of anti-undead magical items.

The Lonesome Road