Nightcrawler (Ravenloft)

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Climate/Terrain:Subtropical to tropical swamps (Souragne)
Activity Cycle:Night
Intelligence:Low (5-7)
Alignment:Chaotic evil
No. Appearing:6-24 (6-24)
Armor Class:8
Hit Dice:4
No. of Attacks:1
Special Attacks:Nil
Special Defenses:Undead Immunities, Regeneration
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:S (3')
Morale:Fearless (19-20)
XP Value:270

"Some things shouldn't have to die. Children, for instance. Then again, if they do die, they probably shouldn't come back either"


Of all Anton Misroi's undead minions, none are more horrifying than the nightcrawlers. Created from the corpses of children, and infested with all manner of swamp vermin, they are hideous creatures that seek out adults to “play” with.

Superficially, nightcrawlers resemble children, but they are clearly inhuman. Their flesh is mottled with loathsome shades of green and brown. Tattered clothing hangs decaying from their little bodies. Their hair is plastered to their heads in damp, stringy clumps, and their gray, watery eyes lack pupils. Bits of algae and weeds cling to their bodies. Everywhere they go, they carry the ripe, unmistakable odor of the swamp. Those who get a good look at a nightcrawler will notice that its bloated skin seems to wriggle and pulse. This is because beneath its skin, a nightcrawler is nothing but bones and foul swamp creatures: leeches, earthworms, crayfish, crabs, water bugs, small snakes and frogs. These vermin constantly crawl in and out of the nightcrawler's orifices and through tears in its skin.

Nightcrawlers can speak the language they spoke in life, but their voices are inhuman are slurred, and punctuated with hissing and clicks. It is not living vocal cords that creates their speech, but the bodies of vermin.

Combat: A nightcrawler attacks with its tiny teeth, but its bite is nonetheless vicious, doing 1-4 points of damage. Nightcrawlers are intimately familiar with their swampy home in Maison d'Sablet; they can move silently, hide in shadows, and climb walls at a 80% chance of success while in the swamp. Like all undead, nightcrawlers are immune to sleep, charm, or hold spells. However, since they are composed of living creatures, they are not immune to poison, paralyzation, disease, suffocation, or life-affecting spells. They are not harmed by holy symbols or holy water, but can be turned as shadows.

Although undead, nightcrawlers do not have preternaturally tough flesh. Their skin rots slower than might be expected, but is not otherwise protected. Nightcrawlers are, however, extraordinarily difficult to harm permanently, because the living horde within them can constantly be replenished as long as they are in Souragne's swamp. A nightcrawler regenerates 2 hp per round as long as is in Maison d'Sablet, as countless creatures swarm to repair its wounds. If reduced to zero hit points or below, a nightcrawler collapses, but continues to regenerate. It will not rise again, however, until it has regained at least half its original hit points.

The true destruction of a nightcrawler depends on doing enough physical damage to the creature's skin that it can no longer realistically hold itself together. The DM should keep track of how many cumulative points of damage has been done to each nightcrawler. Once it has taken double its original hit points in damage, a nightcrawler will no longer be able to regenerate, and may be slain normally.

Habitat/Society: Nightcrawlers lurk exclusively in Maison d'Sablet, never leaving its swampy environs. They do not linger often on Misroi's decaying plantation, preferring the true wild areas of the swamp. There they romp and play endlessly, always on the lookout for adults with whom they might “play”. Although thoroughly evil, nightcrawlers still have the minds of children. There is a hideous gleefulness about them, and their desires alternate between the charming and the unspeakable. (“Are you my Mama? It's time to play, Mama”)

When he so desires, Anton can mentally summon his nightcrawlers from the far reaches of Souragne to give them orders personally. They act as shock troops of sorts, on missions and errands where some degree of intelligence and a maximum degree of terror are required. All nightcrawlers are utterly in Anton's thrall, and will destroy themselves for him if so ordered. Their view him as an all-knowing and beneficent father. Anton, for his part, behaves very erratically towards his favored creations, alternately spoiling them with attention and carrion, or tearing them to pieces when he is enraged. The nightcrawlers dislike the mindless zombies which make up a majority of Misroi's minions, but will cooperate with them if Anton orders it.

Ecology: Anton Misroi recently devised nightcrawlers as a particularly horrid way of combining his powers over both life and death. Nightcrawlers can only be created from the corpses of children who have died in Maison d'Sablet. Anton calls forth a swarm of vile swamp creatures, which enter the body through its orifices. They then proceed to devour all the soft tissues of the child, leaving only the skin and bones. The creatures remain within the body, filling out it shape and animating it through Anton's power. For reasons even Anton is not quite sure of, he cannot yet create nightcrawlers from adult bodies.

Since nightcrawlers are undead, one would assume that they would therefore interact little with their surroundings. Their very existence, however, draws upon the life of the swamp, and they require food and water to sustain that life. They are capable, however, of subsisting on the most basic and polluted of fare: mud, peat, and swampwater. Naturally, they prefer a treat of human flesh when they can get it.

The Lonesome Road