Jolly Roger

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Jolly Roger
Climate/Terrain:Sea of Sorrows
Activity Cycle:Night
Intelligence:Average (8-10)
Alignment:Chaotic evil
No. Appearing:1
Armor Class:4
Movement:9, Sw 12
Hit Dice:6+2
No. of Attacks:1
Special Attacks:See below
Special Defenses:Spell immunity, +2 or better weapon to hit
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:M (6' tall)
Morale:Fearless (19-20)
XP Value:2,000

A jolly roger is the undead spirit of a pirate or buccaneer who died at sea. These foul creatures were usually captains or officers while living, and retain their taste for command after death. They are often found as captains of vessels crewed by sea zombies.

Jolly rogers look quite similar to the zombies they command, resembling human corpses that are bloated, discolored, and dripping with water and bits of sea weed. They generally wear the remains of once-garish pirate garb (pants, vests, cutlasses, eye patches, scarves, etc.), and may be peg-legged or have a hook for a hand. Though they may carry weapons, they do not use them in combat. Invariably, jolly rogers have terrible, frozen grins on their faces that make them look both gruesomely affable and chillingly insane. They are ever so slightly transparent, causing some people to mistake them for ghosts. Their eyes are bright pin points of crimson within otherwise empty sockets; they smell of fish and brine.

The jolly rogers' only communication with the living is a rasping chuckle that escapes from between their grinning teeth, an unnerving phenomenon that gives rise to their name. They communicate with their crew via telepathy and do not communicate with the living at all.

Combat: Those viewing a jolly roger's grin and hearing its crazed, nerve-grating chuckle must make a saving throw vs. spell or be affected as if by a Tasha's uncontrollable hideous laughter spell that lasts for 1d4 rounds. The creature prefers to attack those who fall prey to its spell, leaving others to its zombie crewmen.

Advancing on its victim, a jolly roger attempts to touch him or her. A successful touch requires the victim to save vs. death magic or be slain. A +3 bonus is allowed on this roll. If the save is not made, the victim dies of laughter within 1d4 rounds unless a dispel magic, remove curse, or similar spell is cast on him before that time. Those making their saves receive 1d6 points of damage. Those who fail their saving throw but are magically saved from death will suffer 1d6 points of damage per round between the touch and the casting of the spell that saved them.

Those slain by a jolly roger's touch will rise as sea zombies in 24 hours unless their bodies are blessed and then committed to the deep in a traditional burial at sea. Raise dead, resurrection, or wish will also counter this if used carefully and promptly. Newly created sea zombies are under the control of the jolly roger.

Jolly rogers are immune to sleep, charm, and all illusion or mind-affecting spells. They take half damage from fire or fire-based spells and are unaffected by water or cold-based spells. If raise dead or ressurrection is cast on them, Jolly rogers must save vs. spell with a -2 penalty or be utterly destroyed. If a jolly roger is successfully turned (as a vampire), any sea zombies under its command are turned as well, though the zombies are usually immune to such. Jolly rogers can only be hit by +2 or better weapons.

Habitat/Society: Like those they command, jolly rogers are driven by hatred for the living. Though they do not need to eat, they rend and chew the flesh of those they slay, probably to cause fear. Their smiles never waver as they chew.

Jolly rogers are only rarely discovered alone. They are usually found aboard broken and decaying ghost ships. These spectral craft are raised from the bottom of the sea and set sailing (though they are not at all seaworthy) by a strange power of the jolly roger. Anyone living who attempts to board the jolly roger's ship must save vs. death magic or be transformed into a sea zombie. If they make this roll, they may explore the ship freely. However, each turn they have a 30% chance of falling through rotting planks or otherwise injuring themselves.

Jolly rogers may lead their crewmen on raids against ships at anchor or into towns along the sea coast when the fog rolls in.

Ecology: Jolly rogers are evil, undead creatures native to the demiplane of Ravenloft. For some reason, they are tied to that region and are never encountered elsewhere. If one were to somehow escape from the misty confines of Ravenloft. it seems likely that the spirit would simply cease to be.