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Quick-Shard Cavalier (Dread Codex Monster)

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Quick-Shard Cavalier
Size/Type: Large Undead
Hit Dice: 12d12 (78 hp)
Initiative: +6
Speed: 60 ft.
Armor Class: 21 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +8 full plate, +2 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 20
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+14
Attack: Lance +10 melee (2d6+6) or greatsword +10 melee (3d6+6) or longbow +7 ranged (2d6)
Full Attack: Lance +10/+5 melee (2d6+6) or greatsword +10/+5 melee (3d6+6) or longbow +7/+2 ranged (2d6)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./5 ft. (10 ft. with lance)
Special Attacks: Trample 1d8+6, Spurs
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., Undead Traits
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +8
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 14, Con —, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14
Skills: Balance +10, Climb +12, Intimidate +10, Jump +12, Listen +10, Move Silently +10, Spot +10
Feats: Cleave, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (heavy lance), Weapon Focus (greatsword)
Environment: Any land
Organization: Patrol (4-6) or column (11-16)
Challenge Rating: 8
Treasure: None
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: 13-24 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment:

A skeletal hybrid, half-humanoid/half-horse, taps a lance against its plate mail in an emotionless salute. It gleaming white hooves then suddenly burst into motion. As it gallops toward you, the furious clanking of the creature's greatsword mimics the frightened beating of your own heart.

The quick-shard cavalier is considered to be the most accomplished undead soldier. With its speed, weapons, and average intelligence, a patrol of these undead can break the ranks of many an adventuring band. The origins of the quickshards lie in ambitious, militant necromancer-kings. Not merely content to craft spells which slay others and animate them, these necromancers of some forgotten continent cooperated to create the quick-shard ritual. The ability to create many quick-shards at one time is a well-guarded secret today. To create even one, however, requires magic en par with create greater undead.

The bones of slain creatures are gathered together (enough to make a Large creature) and, as long as a humanoid head is amongst the ivory pile, a quick-shard cavalier can be fashioned. The other bone shards fuse together to create the core skeleton while other bits are left to form the creature's spurs (see below). The cavalier aspect of the monster is a direct mockery of the mounted warriors that the necromancer-kings fought in their own time. A quick-shard salutes an opponent with a curt tap of its lance or greatsword to its armor before attacking. But after that no quarter is given and surrendering to one of these undead is not an option unless a controlling master orders it.

If only one quick-shard is encountered, it means that the rest of its patrol or column has recently been defeated and the survivor is returning to its master to "report" (a controlling necromancer or cleric can ask a quick-shard up to three questions a day which can be answered with one word). A lone quick-shard never engages in combat, seeing its primary mission as returning to the lair with vital information as to the race, number, and location of the foes that routed it.

Combat Edit

Quick-shard cavaliers are remarkably quick for undead and often catch their opponents flat-footed with the speed of their assaults. They typically begin combat with a massed charge, driving lances into targets and then drawing greatswords to hack at foes. Some, particularly parapet guards, use longbows to whittle down opponents at a range. Quick-shards are not particularly tactically innovative, although those under a necromancer's direction gain the benefit of their master's intelligence and can follow ever more complicated instructions.

Trample (Ex): Quick-shard cavaliers can trample their opponents. When one performs an overrun action, its opponent may not choose to avoid it. If the overrun is successful, the opponent takes 1d8+6 points of damage.

Spurs (Ex): The bone spurs protruding from quick-shard cavaliers serve as a measure of defense. Anyone attempting to grapple a quick-shard in combat (which may include attempts to leap on its back, body slams, or bite attacks) must make a successful Reflex save (DC 12) or take 1d6 points of damage from striking a spur.

Treasure Edit

None — It is not in the quick-shard's scope of consciousness to either collect or use treasure. Its purpose is to fight with its fellows until destroyed. The only treasure a party might find is the treasure of a quick-shard patrol's necromancer commander.

In Your Campaign Edit

While it is easy to think of these undead as PC-trampling war machines, take another look at their alignment—usually neutral. Now how could this be given the stated background? Perhaps, over the centuries, the cavaliers the quick-shards were modeled after not only provided the undead's physical form but somehow penetrated into their "psyche" as well. Cavaliers are good-aligned protectors of the weak and helpless. How can anything born of such roots become evil? In this case, the answer is that it cannot. Make the quick-shard cavaliers a bit more unpredictable by having an evil-controlled patrol fight the PCs one adventure and having a column guard a good-aligned temple the next.

Some necromancers are hard at work on designing another feature to add when a quick-shard is created. There are a few prototypes with a death throe quality that causes the final blow against a quick-shard cavalier to make it explode, sending jagged fragments of bone spinning in all directions. Such a quality would raise the quick-shard cavalier's CR by +1 and look like this...

Death Throes (Ex): When the quick-shard cavalier is reduced to 0 hit points or below, it explodes, sending jagged bone fragments spinning wildly in a 20-ft. radius. All creatures within the area of effect must succeed a Reflex save (DC 18) or take 2d6 points of slashing and piercing damage.



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