Human, Voodan

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Human, Voodan
Activity Cycle:Night
Intelligence:Exceptionally (16)
Alignment:Lawful neutral
No. Appearing:1
Armor Class:10
Hit Dice:1 (3 hit points)
THAC0:See below
No. of Attacks:1
Damage/Attack:1-2 (1d2)
Special Attacks:Voodan rituals
Special Defenses:Voodan rituals
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:M (5' tall)
Morale:Average (8)
XP Value:120

The Voodan are a race of humans who are found only in the misty domains of Ravenloft. Some say they are an offshoot of the Vistani, but there is no real evidence to support this claim. Little is known about them, because they keep to themselves and never reveal anything of their pasts.

Chicken Bone is an old man who lives in the domain of Souragne. His real name is lost to the mists of history and none now speak it. When the people of Souragne speak of him now, they do so in hushed tones, for Chicken Bone is a Voodan - a master of dark and mysterious forces that most would not dare to contemplate, let alone attempt to control.

Chicken Bone looks for all the world like any other shrivelled old man. His hair is cut short and frazzled, looking as if it has never seen a comb. His grey eyes are set back beneath protruding brow's and divided by a long, straight nose. He has no beard or moustache, save that his wrinkled chin is covered with a scattering of wiiry whiskers. He wears bright, colorful (some would say gaudy) clothing. He may or may not be typical of the Voodan; so few of them have been encountered that it is impossible to say.

Chicken Bone walks with the aid of a long staff which he leans on heavily. Countless bones dangle from this staff. Despite his name, these bones come from many types of small animals, including lizards, chickens, squirrels, chipmunks, fish, and snakes.

Chicken Bone speaks in the language of the common folk of Souragne. Further, he claims to know the language of the dead and can speak with dead (or undead) at will. If there is a language native to the Voodan, Chicken Bone probably speaks it, but this is impossible for outsiders to judge.

Combat: Chicken Bone is exactly what he appears to be, a half-crippled old man. As such, he is hardly suited to melee combat. If forced to defend himself, he strikes with his staff, hitting only on a natural roll of 20 and inflicting merely 1-2 (1d2) points of damage with each blow.

However, this old man is able to call upon the forces of the undead to defend him. In general, he can call 2-12 (2d6) zombies to come to his aid. These creatures will be normal zombies (85%), monster zombies (10%), or ju-ju zombies (5%). The ritual to summon these defenders requires 1 hour to perform, so it is of little use if he is caught unawares by danger. However, if he is attacked in sight of any undead creature with no higher than Low intelligence, that monster will come immediately to Chicken Bone's aid.

Chicken Bone is able to employ a number of magical spells. In order to invoke any given power, however, he must complete a complex ritual. Given enough time, the old man can cast any spell from the schools of Necromancy, Enchantment/Charm, or Greater Divination. The ritual required to invoke these spells is quite involved and requires no less than 1 hour per level of the spell. During this time, the Voodan must be left undisturbed. The rituals by which Chicken Bone invokes his spells requires him to set alight numerous candles, burn certain incenses, and offer up the lives of one or more small animals as sacrifices - to what, he will not say. In addition to whatever material components the actual spell might require, Chicken Bone must have a sympathetic token from both the person hiring him to cast the spell and the person to be hindered or harmed by it. These tokens can range from things like a lock of hair, some nail clippings, or a drop of blood to personal possessions like a favorite weapon, a wedding ring, or an important lucky charm. Range is not a consideration, for the use of the sympathettic item negates all such concerns.

Neither of the sympathetic items are destroyed in the casting of the spell and Chicken Bone retains them afterwards as part of the contract for his services. In this way, he is able to cast spells on his patrons if they later threaten or refuse to pay him.

Habitat/Society: As has been said, Chicken Bone's origins are utterly unknown. Indeed, it is said that he himself no longer remembers them. So far as Souragne is concerned, the story of this gnarled old man begins some twenty years ago.

It was a cold night and the last full moon of the year hung in the sky like a great jaundiced eye, when wordspread through Souragne that a strange man had appeared in the swamps west of Port d'Elhour. He had assembled a shack of sugar cane, bamboo, and reeds on an island in the center of Lake Noir. At the same time, a rickety raft appeared near the shores with a long pole that could be used to navigate the open water and reach the island.

Word quickly spread that this old man was a master of strange spells. For a price, it was said, lie would use these powers to strike down enemies. As payment for his services, he required only that supplicants perform some service for him. As a rule, these services were minor. On rare occasions, however, the task required might be quite extreme. The severity of the required payment seemed to have no relationship to the action that Chicken Bone performed.

Those who failed to repay their debt to the old man soon fell ill and died. No magical or natural healing seemed able to save them. Once dead, these sorry souls are said to have risen anew as ju-ju zombies who now wander the marshes around Lake Noir. They are now the minions of the Voodan, repaying their obligation with an eternity of servitude.

When someone hires Chicken Bone to cast a spell, the task that he requires of them should be decided upon ahead of time by the Dungeon Master. Like so many aspects of Ravenloft, this seemingly random event ought to be controlled to promote the overall flavor of the game and to drive the plot forward. It is important to note that the old man does not reveal his price until after his ritual is completed and the spell cast. The price for his services, he insists, comes to him during the ritual.

Ecology: The Voodan are an unusual people. They seem to have no homeland, instead settling in many diverse places. There are reports of them living atop mountain peaks, in remote caves deep beneath the surface of the earth, or at the heart of impassible swamps. Wherever they dwell, however, they make their homes difficult to reach. While they are not selective in their customers, those who wish to employ their services must prove their desire by surmounting whatever obstacles might stand between them and the Voodan. Chicken Bone is no exception; the swamps around him are alive with deadly monsters. Reaching his island home can be an adventure in itself.

It is worth mentioning that Chicken Bone seems to have some immunity to the horrors living in the swamp around him. None of the terrible creatures that lurk near him, whether they be magical or mundane, will attack him. Indeed, most will come to his aid if he is attacked. Thus, while it is impossible to say for certain, it seems likely that anyone who kills the old man will stand little chance of escaping the swamis of Souragne alive. In addition, rumor has it that a major curse will strike anyone who harms the Voodan; the truth of this rumor, and the nature of the curse, is up to the Dungeon Master.