Undead (Athas), General Information

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Undead (Athas), General Information

The undead of Athas are classified as either freewilled undead or controlled undead. Freewilled undead once belonged to an intelligent species and in undeath continue to think for themselves. They are often referred to simply as undead. Controlled undead are animated corpses such as skeletons and zombies that may not belong to an intelligent species. In undeath they are controlled by others, usually evil wizards or priests. They are often referred to as the walking dead. Freewilled undead are far more dangerous than controlled undead as they can think and act independently.

All undead are intolerant of all intelligent living races and most attack them on sight. Even undead who were of good alignment in life are evil in undeath and do not tolerate the presence of living beings for long. Many undead actually seek out and attack living beings whom they sense nearby.

Undead seldom need food or water and are immune to the harshest elements. They are often unaffected by normal weapons and can resist massive amounts of damage without being slowed down.

The undead of Athas are all unique creatures. While undead are classified by their basic powers and weaknesses, most have additional powers and weaknesses beyond those commonly associated with creatures of their type. Undead retain all the powers, skills, and abilities they possessed in life based upon their character class and level.

The type of undead a creature becomes upon death is based upon the motivation or event that caused the undead to resist death. While certain races are more likely to become certain types of undead, this is because members of that particular race often share similar motivations.

The different categories of undead on Athas are the dhaot, fael, kaisharga, meorty, raaig, racked spirit, skeleton, zombie, thinking zombie, t'liz, and wraith.

Dhaot: Dhaots are incorporeal undead who cannot rest until they return home. Even after returning home as spirits, they often find they cannot rest until their physical remains are also returned to their home. The desert is filled with dhaots of halflings who died outside their beloved forests.

Fael: Faels are gluttonous undead who appear wherever a large amount of food is present. They try to remain inconspicuous, but their insatiable hunger eventually gives them away as they eat every scrap of food in sight. Faels are never full as their hunger is derived from their insatiable hunger for excesses they had in life. Most faels are from the upper echelons of society and most are elves or humans.

Kaisharga: Often called the Dead Lords, the kaisharga are undead similar to liches. They voluntarily sought undeath, believing it to be a form of immortality. They are incredibly powerful and extremely rare. The largest known collection of them is found in the Valley of Dust and Fire.

Meorty: Meorties are undead who were once protectors of domain that vanished more than 2,000 years ago. They were placed in crypts with large amounts of treasure, so they might continue to look after their realms in death. They emerge from their crypts and hunt down those who violate their ancient laws. Each ancient domain has its own ancient laws and its own meorties; however, the boundaries of the ancient domains have been forgotten and even the ancient laws are lost except for those held over as customs by the people of the various regions. Those who see a meorty's crypt seldom live to tell of the experience. All meorties are of the old races (human, elf, dwarf, giant, and halfling).

Raaig: Raaigs are incorporeal spirits sustained by their unwavering belief and sense of duty to ancient gods that no longer exist on Athas. Raaigs serve as guardians to ancient shrines and temples, protecting them from those who follow different moral precepts, primarily those of different alignment than themselves. They occasionally appear to those they deem worthy who are of the same alignment. All raaigs are at least 2,000 years old and all are of the old races (human, elf, dwarf, giant, and halfling).

Racked spirit: Racked spirits are incorporeal undead animated by their own guilt over committing some act that violated their basic nature. These guilty spirits suffer eternally and only gain joy and peace through acts of destruction. The dwarven banshee, created when a dwarf forsakes his life purpose, is the most common.

Skeleton and zombie: Skeletons and zombies are controlled undead. They retain none of the special powers, skills, or abilities they possessed in life. They are simply animated corpses controlled by an evil wizard or priest. Most skeletons and zombies are man-sized or smaller, but larger corpses such as mekillot skeletons and zombie giants are often animated by more powerful necromancers.

Thinking zombie: Thinking zombies are freewilled zombies often identifiable by the spark of hate burning within then eyes. Creatures who die before completing an important task (often under the compulsion of a geas or quest spell) often become thinking zombies. They continue in their effort to complete their quest and are often very clever in their approaches. They never allow themselves to be diverted from their goal. Many thinking zombies are giants and half-giants, as they are often selected for quests because of their size and strength.

T'liz: T'lizes are powerful defilers who died before completing their magical studies. They continue in their studies as undead and are among the most powerful and dangerous of the undead. Most defilers are hunted down and destroyed by the sorcerer kings and the Veiled Alliance before becoming t'lizes. They are valuable sources of information since they live for centuries, but they are evil and cunning and only associate with and aid the living when it is to their own advantage.

Wraith: Athasian wraiths differ from other wraiths in that they voluntarily embraced undeath as a form of existence. They are incorporeal spirits, and servants of the Dragon. They are occasionally found among the ancient ruins guarding the bodies and possessions of their dead relatives.

Special Undead Powers

Accelerate Aging: The undead have the power to cause a living victim to age 5-30 (1d6×5) years with their touch. The victim receives a save vs. spells, gaining +1 to their save for each HD they have greater than that of the undead.

Cause Despair: The undead have the power to cause living victims within a 30-foot or greater (30 feet + 10 feet per HD more than 5) radius to lose hope and become depressed. Victims must successfully save vs. spells or suffer a -1 to -4 penalty (1d4) on all rolls for a number of turns equal to twice the undead's HD.

Cause Fear: The undead have the power to cause fear in any living creature within 10 feet. Treat the effects as those caused by a dragon's fear aura. Those with fewer than 1 HD flee for 4-24 (4d6) turns. Those with fewer HD than the undead must successfully save vs. petrification or suffer a -2 penalty on attack rolls against the undead.

Cause Paralysis: The undead's touch causes paralysis for 2-8 (2d4) rounds (1%-50%), 2-8 (2d4) turns (51%-75%), 2-8 (2d4) hours (76%-90%), or 2-8 (2d4) days (91%-100%). Victims must successfully save vs. paralysis to avoid the effects.

Cause Revulsion: The undead can cause all within a certain (30 feet + 10 feet per HD more than 5) radius to become physically ill, suffering extreme nausea. Victims must successfully save vs. spells or suffer a -1 to -4 (1d4) penalty on all rolls for a number of turns equal to twice the undead's HD.

Claws: The undead has claws, either retractable or not, that cause 1-6 (1d6) points of damage. If the undead already have claws, then the claws are longer and sharper, causing an additional +2 damage.

Control Undead: The undead have the power to control undead as an evil cleric equal in level to their HD. If they were clerics during life, their power to control undead is increased by 1-8 (1d8) levels.

Drain Attributes: The undead can drain 1.4 (d4) points from one of a victim's attributes with its touch. The victim must make a successful save vs. death so no attributes are lost, but if the save is failed, the attribute points are lost. The effects last a number of days equal to twice the undead's HD. After that, the points are regained at a rate of 3 per day. If a victim's attribute is reduced to zero, the victim falls unconscious until at least one attribute point returns.

Drain PSPs: The undead can drain 3-24 (3d8) PSPs from their victims if they have psionics. The victim must make a successful save vs. paralyzation to resist the effect.

Enhanced Senses: While all undead typically possess infravision, those with this power have one or more specially acute senses. Their senses allow them to spot the living much easier and they are more difficult to surprise (-1 to their surprise roll).

Fangs: The undead have fangs that serve as an additional attack, causing 1-4 (1d4) points of damage. If the undead already have fangs, the damage they cause is increased by +2 as the fangs are longer and sharper than usual.

Improved Saves: The undead gain +1 on all saving throws.

Increased Attribute: The undead have a score of 19-24 in one attribute of the DM's choosing.

Increased Hit Points: The undead have an additional 1-4 (1d4) hit points per HD.

Increased Movement Rate: The undead's movement rate is 3 more than other undead of its kind.

Increased Psionic Strength: This power is useful only to undead who have psionic powers. Undead with psionic powers receive an additional 3 PSPs per HD.

Increased Weapon Resistance: The undead can be hit only by a creature with greater HD than themselves or by a +1 or greater magical weapon. If the undead already have a +1 THAC0 bonus, then increase the defense to +2, meaning they can only be hit by a creature at least 2 HD greater than themselves or with a +2 or greater magical weapon. If the undead already have a +2 THAC0 bonus, then increase the defenses to +3, meaning they can only be hit by a creature at least 3 HD greater than themselves or with a +3 or greater magical weapon.

Magic Resistance: The undead have an additional 5% magic resistance per HD up to 90%.

Produce Undead: The undead can produce one lesser controlled undead (animated skeletons or zombies) for each HD they have. This may be used once per day and there must be skeletons or corpses present.

Psionic Wild Talents: The undead have one or two psionic wild talents per 3 HD, along with any prerequisite psionic powers they might require. The DM can choose the wild talents or select them randomly by using Table 12 in The Complete psionicists Handbook. The undead have a number of PSPs to use for each of their powers plus an additional 4 PSPs per HD more than 1.

Regeneration: The undead can regenerate 1 hit point per round. If they can already regenerate 1 hit point per round, then their regeneration increases to 2 hit points per round.

Spell Immunity: The undead are immune to 1-4 (1d4) spells of the DM's choosing.

Spell-like Power: The undead can cast any selected spells totaling a certain number of levels based on then Hit Dice levels. The number and level of the innate spells possessed by the undead is based upon their HD. Spell levels gained, based on undead's Hit Dice: 1-3 HD gains 1-3 spell levels, 4-6 HD gains 1-4 spell levels, 7-9 HD gains 1-6 spell levels, 10-12 HD gains 2-8 spell levels, 13-15 HD gains 3-12 spell levels, maximum spell level of 5th level; 16+ HD gains 3-12+2 spell levels, maximum spell level of 6th level.

The spells can be cast at will, there is no limit to the number of times these spells may be cast, and no spell components are required. Treat the spell as though it were cast by a wizard or priest of a level equal to the undead's Hit Dice. Common selections include;

Level one (wizard) audible glamer, change self, chill touch, dancing lights, enlarge, hold portal, hypnotism, phantasmal force, protection from good, spiderclimb, spook, taunt, wall of fog, (priest) curse, command, darkness, destroy water, cause light wounds, detect good, faerie fire, pass without trace, putrefy food and drink, cause fear.

Level two: (wizard) alter self, blindness, blur, darkness 15' radius, detect good, ESP, improved phantasmal force, invisibility, knock, undetectable alignment, levitate, scare, spectral hand; (priest) undetectable charm, dust devil, enthrall, hold person, obscurement, resist fire/resist cold, silence 15' radius.

Level three: (wizard) blink, clairaudience, clairvoyance, delude, dispel magic, fly, gust of wind, hold person, infravision, monster summoning I, non-detection, phantom steed, protection from good 10' radius, spectral force, suggestion, wraithform; (priest) animate dead, continual darkness, cause blindness or deafness, cause disease, locate object, bestow curse, speak with dead.

Level four: (wizard) confusion, contagion, dimension door, emotion, fear, fumble, hallucinatory terrain, improved invisibility, monster summoning II, phantasmal killer, polymorph other, polymorph self curse, shadow monsters; (priest) control temperature 10' radius, cause serious wounds, undetectable lie, lower water, poison.

Level five: (wizard) advanced illusion, chaos, contact other plane, demi-shadow monsters, distance distortion, domination, nightmare, false vision, hold monster, magic jar, monster summoning III, passwall, shadow door, shadow magic, summon shadow, telekinesis; (priest) air walk, control winds, cause critical wounds, dispel good, insect plague, plane shift, quest, slay living.

Level six: (wizard) control weather, death fog, death spell, demi-shadow magic, disintegrate, geas, guards and wards, invisible stalker, legend lore, lower water, mass suggestion, monster summoning IV, move earth, permanent illusion, programmed illusion, project image, shades, veil; (priest) animate object, harm.

Transformation: Roll 1d6. On a roll of 1-4 the undead can take the form of a number of natural creatures equal to the roll. On a roll of 5 they can transform into a mist, and on a roll of 6 they can transform into mist and 1-4 (1d4) natural creatures. The undead retain their hit points, but gain any natural attacks common to the natural creature they become. The creature cannot be larger than human-sized. In mist form, undead can travel freely and are immune to all weapons.

Number of Special Undead Weaknesses

Roll 1d8, 1-2 = no special weaknesses, 3-4 = one special weakness, 5-6 = two special weaknesses, 7 = three special weaknesses, 8 = four special weaknesses

Roll 1d100Type of Undead Weaknesses*
01-07Low morale
08-13Easier to turn
14-20Reduced resistance
21-26Rotten stench
27-32Susceptibility to iron
33-38Must eat corpse flesh
39-44Code of honor
45-50Energy susceptibility
51-56Must eat living flesh
57-62Cast no shadow
63-68Susceptibility to obsidian
69-75Susceptibility to spells
76-82Can't cross running water
83-88Sunlight vulnerability
89-94Must drink blood
95-100Bound to an area

*If a weakness is rolled twice, the effects are doubled. If rolled three times, the effects are tripled. If rolled four times, the effects are quadrupled, and so on.

Special Undead Weaknesses

Bound to an Area: The undead are bound to an area and cannot leave. The DM may choose the size of the area; it can be from the size of one room to a few square miles.

Cannot Cross Running Water: The undead become terrified of running water and crossing it cause the undead 3-12 (3d4) points of damage per round.

Cast No Shadow: The undead have no shadow and are easily recognizable as undead by those knowledgeable of their nature.

Code of Honor: The undead are bound to certain rules of behavior. They cannot break their code. The undead can be manipulated and forced into serving those who know their code well.

Easier to Turn: The undead are turned as undead 3 Hit Dice (1 HD minimum) less than their own Hit Dice.

Elemental Susceptibility: While almost all undead are immune to cold-based attacks and many take only half damage from electrical attacks, undead with this weakness take damage normally from one of these two forms of energy or take double damage from some other form of energy.

Low Morale: The undead cannot have a Morale score higher than 10.

Must Drink Blood: The undead must drink blood each day in order to sustain themselves. Most prefer the blood of humans and demihumans.

Must Eat Corpse Flesh: The undead must consume corpse flesh to sustain their existence. The undead often rob graves for food.

Must Eat Living Flesh: The undead must kill and eat living creatures, most likely humans and demihumans.

Reduced Resistance: The undead can be hit by weapons one less greater in magical value than they can normally be hit with. This has no affect on those who can already be hit with nonmagical weapons.

Rotten Stench: The undead can be smelled a great distance away and will easily be identifiable as undead.

Sunlight Vulnerability: The undead are completely nocturnal since direct sunlight causes them 1-6 (1d6) points of damage per round.

Susceptibility to Iron: The undead can be hit by iron weapons, even if they can normally be hit only with magical weapons. This has no effect on undead who can be hit with nonmagical weapons.

Susceptibility to Obsidian: The undead can be hit by obsidian weapons, even if they can normally be hit only with magical weapons. This has no effect on undead who can be hit with nonmagical weapons.

Susceptibility to Spells: The undead are susceptible to all sleep, hold, and charm spells, unlike most other undead.