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|This material is published under the OGL|
For every type of undead, there exists an undead lord, a being of great power that commands the lesser if its kind. They are powerful creatures that inspire awe and fear in those they rule. Undead lords are extremely dangerous opponents. They are stronger, tougher, and more intelligent than the ones they command. As such, they are rarely encountered by chance (are rarely alone). Most maintain a lair away from civilization where they plot and plan, sending their minions on missions to further their goals.
Undead lords, appear as normal undead of their type, though there seems to be a strong aura of evil and power resonating about them. Undead lords speak any languages they spoke before applying this template. Mindless undead gain an Intelligence score of 10 and speak Common.
Creating an Undead Lord Edit
"Undead Lord" is an inherited template that can be applied to any undead creature (referred to hereafter as the 'base creature"). The creature’s type does not change and it uses all of the base creature’s statistics and special abilities as noted here.
Hit Dice Edit
An undead lord’s HD is equal to 5 or the base creature’s HD (including class levels), whichever is greater.
Armor Class Edit
The base creature’s natural armor bonus increases by +4. If the base creature is incorporeal, it does not gain this bonus.
The undead lord retains all the attacks of the base creature. Recalculate its base attack bonus based on its new HD and any ability modifiers or use the base creature’s base attack bonus (adjusted for any ability score changes), whichever is higher.
Special Attacks Edit
An undead lord retains all the special attacks of the base creature and also gains those listed below. Saves have a DC of 10 + ½ the undead lord’s HD + the undead lord’s Charisma modifier unless noted otherwise).
Command Undead (Su): Undead lords command or rebuke undead creatures of the same type as itself as a cleric equal to its current Hit Dice. If the base creature can already command or rebuke undead, this ability stacks.
Create Spawn (Su): A creature slain by an undead lord rises in 1d4 minutes as an undead creature of the same type as the undead lord. Spawn are under control of the undead lord. This replaces any other create spawn ability the base creature possesses.
Summon Undead (Sp): Once per day, an undead lord can summon a total number of HD worth of undead (of the same type as the undead lord) equal to its HD x 1.5. Undead lords cannot summon an undead creature that has more HD than it does.
Special Qualities Edit
An undead lord retains special qualities of the base creature and also gains those listed below.
Aura of Desecration (Su): Undead lords constantly project an aura in a 20-foot radius that functions as a permanent desecrate spell. Undead within the area (including the undead lord) gain a +1 profane bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saves. In addition, all turning checks made in the area suffer a -3 profane penalty. Summoned or created undead that appear in the area gain +1 hit points per HD.
Damage Reduction (Ex): Undead lords with 5 to 7 HD gain DR 5/magic; undead lords with 8 or more HD gain damage reduction 10/magic. If the base creature already has damage reduction/magic, use it or one of the above, whichever is better. If the base creature has another type of damage reduction (bludgeoning, piercing, and so on) its type modifiers stack. For example, a base creature with 5 HD and damage reduction 5/ piercing that becomes an undead lord now has DR 5/magic and piercing.
Turn Resistance (Ex): Undead lords gain turn resistance +4. If the base creature already has turn resistance, use this one or the base creature’s, whichever is higher.
Undead Telepathy (Su): Undead lords can communicate telepathically with any other undead within 100 feet, including mindless undead such as zombies and skeletons.
Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +4 (unless incorporeal), Dex +2, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +4. Undead lords have an Intelligence of at least 10, so mindless undead such as zombies and skeletons gain this Intelligence score. Incorporeal creatures do not gain the Strength bonus (since they have no Strength), but instead gain an additional +2 bonus to their Dexterity score.
Same as the base creature. If the base creature had less than 5 HD and was advanced (as above, under Hit Dice), recalculate its saves based on its new HD. Undead have good Will saves.
Same as the base creature. Mindless undead that gain an Intelligence score gain a number of skill points equal to 4 + Intelligence modifier x (HD + 3).
Same as the base creature (including bonus feats). If the base creature had less than 5 HD and was advanced (as above, under Hit Dice), it gains one additional feat.
Solitary or troupe (undead lord plus 1-4 undead creatures of the same type as the base creature).
Challenge Rating Edit
Same as the base creature +2. If the base creature was advanced to 5 HD (see Hit Dice above), its CR is increased an additional +1.
By character class.
Level Adjustment Edit
Same as the base creature +Level Adjustment::4.
Sample Undead Lord Edit
The following example uses a cadaver as the base creature.
|Hit Dice:||5d12 (32 hp)|
|Armor Class:||18 (+2 Dex, +6 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 16|
|Attack:||Claw +6 melee (1d4+4 plus disease)|
|Full Attack:||2 claws +6 melee (1d4+4 plus disease) and bite +1 melee (1d6+2 plus disease)|
|Space/Reach:||5 ft./5 ft.|
|Special Attacks:||Aura of Desecration, Command Undead, Create Spawn, Disease, Spell-like Abilities, Summon Undead|
|Special Qualities:||Damage Reduction 5/magic and bludgeoning, Darkvision 60 ft., Immunity to Cold, Reanimation, Turn Resistance +4, Undead Traits, Undead Telepathy|
|Saves:||Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +6|
|Abilities:||Str 16, Dex 15, Con —, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 15|
|Skills:||Intimidate +10, Listen +9, Search +8, Spot +9|
|Feats:||Improved InitiativeB, Power Attack|
|Organization:||Solitary or troupe (cadaver lord plus 1-4 cadavers)|
|Alignment:||Always chaotic evil|
|Advancement:||By character class|
SMW::on This monster resembles a humanoid dressed in tattered finery. Rotted flesh reveals corded muscles stretched tightly over its skeletal frame. Hollow eye sockets flicker with a hellish glow. Broken and rotted teeth line its mouth and its hands end in wicked claws.
This cadaver lord has gathered four standard cadavers and driven a clan of goblins from their deep cave lair. As a result, the goblins have attacked caravans on the nearby trade road that they might not otherwise have done out of need for food and supplies. The cadaver lord doesn't realize it, but the increased goblin presence will soon signal that there is a more deep-seeded problem; otherwise, why would the normally docile goblins be attacking caravans?
The cadaver lord is only interested in slaying the living with its brethren. At night, the five creatures slip into a nearby village and slay two of the residents. After eviscerating them, the corpses are not raised as cadavers. Rather they are hung on display in the community's central gathering place as a symbol of fear. The cadaver lord may take a particularly strong victim as a cadaver servant, but this is rare.
A cadaver lord attacks by raking with its filthy claws or biting with its sharp, disease-infested teeth after confusing opponents with darkness. Ideally, however, it stays out of combat. Its cadaver servants, bolstered by the lord's aura, are usually left to deal with opponents who come to close to its lair. Only if sorely pressed does the cadaver lord summon a cadre of other cadavers.
Command Undead (Su): Cadaver lords command or rebukeundead as 5th-level clerics.
Create Spawn (Su): A creature slain by a cadaver lord rises in 1d4 minutes as a cadaver. Spawn are under the control of the cadaver lord.
Summon Undead (Sp): Once per day, a cadaver lord can summon 7 HD worth of cadavers.
Aura of Desecration (Su): Cadaver lords constantly project an aura in a 20-foot radius that functions as a permanent desecrate spell. Undead within the area (including the cadaver lord) gain a +1 profane bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saves (included in the above stats). In addition, all turning checks made in the area suffer a -3 profane penalty. Summoned or created undead that appear in the area gain +1 hit points per HD.
Reanimation (Ex): When reduced to 0 hit points or less, a cadaver lord is not destroyed; rather it begins the process of reanimating by regaining 1 hit point per round. Hit points lost to magical weapons or spells are not regained. When the creature reaches its full hit point total (minus damage dealt from magical attacks and weapons), it stands up, read to fight again. If the creature is destroyed by a cleric's turning ability, it cannot reanimate. If a cleric casts gentle repose on the cadaver lord when it reaches 0 hit points, it cannot reanimate. A bless spell delays the reanimation, causing the creature to regain hit points at half its normal rate (i.e. 1 hit point every other round).
Undead Telepathy (Su): Cadaver lords can communicate telepathically with any other undead within 100 feet, including mindless undead such as zombies and skeletons.
Standard — A cadaver lord has intelligence enough to not only appreciate the finer items, but also to appreciate the impact certain equipment can have in a fight. As such, its treasure reflects that of an adventurer. This treasure is the cadaver lord's alone; any of its minion's treasures are left on their bodies.
- Ceremonial electrum dagger with a star ruby in the pommel [700 gp]
- Masterwork manacles [50 gp]
- Silver torque with moonstones [450 gp]
- Thunderstone (x4) [30 gp each]
- 280 gp
In Your Campaign Edit
The cadaver lord, and indeed the undead lord template itself, represents the chance to enhance weaker undead and really bring them back as a threatening foe once PCs have reached middling levels. If such a party faced a group of zombies, they would not be particularly worried. But if a zombie lord was hiding amidst the flock, secretly bolstering and directing them, then the PCs' opinion might change. Combat-inclined undead lords can perfectly masquerade as a typical member of the undead type it originated from, directing its minions to flank and attack spellcasters, as well as surprising opponents with its spell-like and disease powers.
But where does the power to become an undead lord come from? And why do not other types of creatures occasionally benefit from this type of enhancement? It could be chalked up to a favorable brush with an undead deity, the accidental discovery of a magical pool, or a complex ritual which sacrifices many creatures to enhance a chosen one. The truth is that it is totally up to you as the GM. The only certainty is that the every possible reason conjures up a wealth of adventure ideas on its own.