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|This material is published under the OGL|
|Hit Dice:||19d12 (123 hp)|
|Speed:||20 ft., fly 90 ft. (average)|
|Armor Class:||20 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +9 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 18|
|Attack:||Slam +9 melee (1d8+9)|
|Full Attack:||Slam +9 melee (1d8+9) and bite +4 melee (2d8+4)|
|Space/Reach:||10 ft./15 ft.|
|Special Attacks:||Screech, Trample (1d8+13)|
|Special Qualities:||Aura of Undeath, Damage Reduction 10/good and magic, Darkvision 60 ft., Flight, Immunity to Cold, Fire, and Sonic, Regeneration 10, Resistance to Electricity 10, Spell Resistance 29, Undead Traits|
|Saves:||Fort +6, Ref +10, Will +18|
|Abilities:||Str 28, Dex 15, Con –, Int 5, Wis 24, Cha 23|
|Skills:||Listen +9, Search +10, Spot +27|
|Feats:||Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Flyby Attack, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Natural Armor, Lightning Reflexes, Multiattack|
|Organization:||Solitary or horde (1 dread sphere and 6d100 HD of undead)|
|Alignment:||Always neutral evil|
|Advancement:||20+ HD (Huge)|
This organism appears to be a floating ball-shaped mass of dead flesh. Two long arm-like appendages are curled around its bulk. A pair of beady black eyes stares at you with a sinister gleam as its wide, toothy maw grins in anticipation.
In an ancient magical struggle, the dread spheres were created to perpetuate undead forces for all time. Although the spheres' creators lost this conflict, a few dozen of these undead abominations remain to terrorize the living everywhere. Dread spheres float from continent to continent and from world to world, creating all manner and number of undead in their circuitous wake. When the undead it creates eventually slay it (see below), the sphere simply regenerates to begin the process anew.
The dread sphere does not seek engage in combat unless something directly threatens it. It uses its screech ability as much as possible. Holy damage and positive energy irritate it, and it may attack targets who can wield such powers, usually slamming ground-bound victims with its tentacles or slaying them with its screech.
Complex tactics are not a part of the sphere's agenda and it uses its abilities to finish off a foe as quickly as possible. If the sphere loses its ability to fly, its limited land movement speed is used to roll over opponents and inflict considerable trample damage.
Aura of Undeath (Su): The miasma of unholiness that surrounds the dread sphere sickens the living and bolsters the undead. Living creatures within 190 feet of the dread sphere must succeed at a DC 18 Fortitude save each round or be Sickened for 1d6 rounds and take 1 point of Strength and 1 point of Constitution damage. The save DC is Constitution-based. The 190-foot radius aura also functions as a double-strength desecrate spell. (The benefits of the aura are not included in the dread sphere's statistics.)
Finally, any corpse (be it fleshy or skeletal) within this aura or that the sphere casts its shadow upon as it flies overhead may rise up as some type of undead (see the table below). These undead attack any living being they encounter, but are primarily compelled to follow and slay the dread sphere. A corpse must succeed a DC 25 Will save (using the Will save bonus it possessed in life) to avoid rising as an undead. The save DC is Charisma-based.
If the save fails, roll d% and add the deceased's effective character level. The result determines what manner of undead arises from the corpse; giants, humanoids, and monstrous humanoids may rise as most kinds of undead, while other monster types usually rise as skeletons and zombies. Use templates where possible. Sunlight-vulnerable undead arise as soon as it is safe for them to do so. In each case, the GM should feel free to substitute another undead creature of the same approximate level of power if it better suits his game.
|d%||Result Undead Created|
|01-15||Zombie or Skeleton|
Flight (Su): The dread sphere is supernaturally buoyant and can move through the air at the listed fly speed with average maneuverability.
Regeneration (Ex): The dread sphere takes damage from good-aligned weapons, effects with the good descriptor, and attacks that deal divine (holy) damage.
Skills: The dread sphere has a +4 racial bonus on Search checks and a +8 racial bonus on Spot checks.
Screech (Su): Three times per day, the dread sphere can emit waves of terrible noise capable of slaying those nearby. This effect is similar to the spell Wail of the Banshee (caster level 19th; Fort DC 25 negates), except that it extends in an 80-foot radius from the sphere. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Trample (Ex): Reflex half DC 28. The save DC is Strength-based.
None — The dread sphere is always moving, forever spreading the gift of unlife across the world. Even if treasure interested the creature, there is no practical way it could carry or store it.
In Your Campaign Edit
The dread spheres are all that remain of a war between undead lords and living creatures on a world far from your own campaign.
However, the dread spheres have a habit of finding their way onto planar highways and emerging to wreak havoc in a new world until destroyed. Only the highest level clerics and necromancers can hope to control these powerful undead. Indeed, controlling the spheres may not even be necessary for these evil people. Instead, if the dread spheres can simply be directed in a certain direction, it will likely do the caster's dirty work without his guidance.
For example, if an evil cleric wanted to rid a city of its populace to get at an artifact buried beneath one of the streets, he might use a dread sphere to this end. First he must locate the sphere and then project its path, for these undead rarely deviate from their course since they have the ability to fly. The cleric would then want to point the sphere toward the city but only along a course that would insure it grows its undead supply (over a recent battlefield or a graveyard the cleric's minions dig up).
During the time it crosses a high obstacle is when it is most vulnerable to a course change. The reasoning behind this has something to do with the effort needed to climb at high elevations (even though the sphere shows no outward sign of exertion). By the time it reaches the apex of the mountain (or whatever high obstacle it is crossing), the sudden appearance of a moving creature or object off to the side easily distracts the sphere from its ascent. The dread sphere immediately moves to intercept the moving entity.
The evil cleric knows this and sends an imp minion to lead the sphere toward the city. The rest is up to the sphere. A simple tactic to put in motion a terrifying series of events.
As GM, you can introduce the PCs into any point along this kind of storyline for a great adventure. Maybe the party learns of the cleric's desire and tries to prevent him from finding a local dread sphere. Or maybe the PCs enter at the crucial point where the imp must lead the dread sphere on its new course. Perhaps the party is investigating why someone decided to dig up a graveyard only to leave the bodies strewn across the ground. The rude awakening would come when the dread sphere's shadow passes over the bodies and the PCs would be in the middle of a very sudden undead eruption. The most dangerous mission would be if the PCs discover the sphere by accident when it is just hours away from the city with a hefty undead contingent.