Friday, January 11, 2019

The Drowning Dead

ACHTUNG: This post is actually pretty grim and contains descriptions of real-world torture & executions, be warned!


Well shit. I owe Joesky more back-taxes than I owe the government by now! Let's get into something useful, some fun undead varieties from Land's End.

The Drowned Lands at the center of my Land's End hexmap is the locus of the setting. It's home to the lizardfolk, one of the few non-chaotic humanoid groups. One of the PCs is a lizardman so relations should start cordially - leading to plenty of roleplaying opportunities and adventure hooks. Most of the ancient cities and monoliths of the elder races lie in the swamps, for reasons unknown.

I'm excited about next session: my PCs are about to delve into the great swamp in search of Aercius' lost holy symbol, still held by his arm which was ripped off by a horde of zombies years ago! Of course it's a viciously dangerous region, so we'll see how much time the PCs spend there. The undead hordes make it especially difficult:

The Dead Legion

When the Empire of Man held (nominal) control over the wilderness beyond the Barrier, they stationed hundreds of soldiers to control the humanoid swamp-dwellers and guard the valuable resources they attempted to exploit. As Imperial might waned, the locals reclaimed what was theirs. One particular revolutionary slaughter destroyed an entire Imperial legion, leaving a literal mountain of corpses heaving out of the swamp. Over the years the site has been avoided by the locals, who so hated the invaders it was decided they weren't even worth eating.

Now the island stirs with vile unlife. A wriggling mass of slime-covered bones reaches out of the swamp, and some of these bones crawl, swim and walk away to pursue the Dead Legion's unknown purpose. What force animates these long-dead soldiers, and why now?

Of course it's all the clergy of Orcus' fault. Their activity in the Tomb of Abysthor to the south, digging in the great and ancient pit of bones, has emboldened them. One of their more puissant clerics has built a small house on the island of bodies and digs underneath through the rotting mound, for purposes unknown.

The only swamp faction that has to deal with the Legion is the bog elves. The island reaches down into their shadowed mirror-world beneath the waters of the swamp. Hanging upside-down above them in the black like a pale, rotting white sun. They hate it. Sometimes a few Legionnaires drop off and fall into their shadowy kingdom to cause death and mayhem - the elves fear what might occur should the island be destroyed or broken up completely.

[Dead Legion: Stats as normal skeletons. Slimy bones make them difficult to grapple (-4 penalty). Rusting weapons (-1 dmg) break on an attack roll of 1 or 20. Depending on the unit, they will have light or medium armour. I'm using chain shirts or breastplates (50% chance of each). All armour is rusted to hell (-2 AC). Dead Legionnaires speak a mix of Skeletongue and Imperial Common.]

Adapted from the Dyson Logos classic 'Challenge of the Frog Idol,' which you can get for free HERE.

Rebels & Sacrifices

The lizardfolk were the worst hit by the old Imperial occupation. A proud and violent warrior culture does not bend to the yoke easily. In those days, the empire had ruthless methods of putting down rebels and "traitors." Their public executions were legendary, and included the swift "Dozen Swords" and the slow, torturous Leng Tch'e: death by a thousand cuts. Many lizardfolk braves suffered these torments, which still loom large in their imagination hundreds of years later.

The tsathar and crabmen were just killed - too chaotic or stupid to be made use of anyway. All these corpses were just dumped in the rivers and ponds of the drowned lands.

In the distant past, when every humanoid race was in thrall to the gods of Chaos, even the proud lizardfolk conducted sacrifices to appease those ancient demon lords. Strangulation, drowning, impalement or worse were all pronounced by the high priests. They turned from that path ages ago, but the swamp remembers. The bodies of those sacrificed to propitiate the demon lords litter the drowned lands, and sometimes they wake up...

[Lizardfolk Zombie: Stats as normal zombies but great lizard-strength gives them +1 to damage. If you're playing Pathfinder, I guess you're stuck using templates like me. Those zombies who died at Imperial hands speak their normal language, while sacrificial victims of the old ways may speak Draconic or even Hissing if they're truly ancient.]

They differ by method of execution, roll for each individually (d6):

1 - Strangulation: Neck is bent at a disconcerting angle, head may be fixed or flop about sickeningly. The head can be damaged or even destroyed without affecting the zombie's HP total.

2 - Bamboo Impalement: Tied down over new bamboo shoots, which can grow 4cm in an hour, slowly impaling the body. The assortment of bamboo spikes in the corpse can be thrown like small javelins (1d6), or the zombie can attempt a spiky bearhug (2d6 on a successful grapple, 1d6 to an attacker who attempts a grapple).

3 - Leng Tch'e: The eyes, ears, nose, tail and organs of generation have been cut off, to say nothing of strips of flesh all over the body. Perpetually oozing blood from numberless wounds. No special abilities - they're just horrifying.

4 - Swamp Drowning: Mud poured down its throat and sunk to the bottom of the swamp. It will attempt to grapple and pin an enemy, and drown them by coughing & vomiting a perpetual flow of river mud into their mouths. Use your system's drowning rules, or say 1d8 damage and -1 CON per attack.

5 - Fed to Crabs: A horde of small yellow & green swamp-crabs live in the zombie's abdomen. I'm going to use a half-HD version of Pathfinder's "Crab Swarm" monster (I suppose there are SOME useful things about the system). Simply put, take 1d6 damage every round you stand within 5' of the zombie.

6 - Dozen Swords: Impaled by 2d6 rusting imperial swords right through its body. Just like the Man of Wounds from Varlets & Vermin. Its hit points/HD are equal to the damage rolled by all the swords stuck into it. Striking it causes your weapon to stick, and adds hit points equal to the weapon's damage. Damage it by removing a weapon from its body. When all weapons are gone, it's dead.


Phew, that was a good one! Lots of cool shit coming up soon, let's keep it rocking: