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The Genius Guide to Gruesome Undead Templates (PFRPG) PDF

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Gruesome undead templates are quick, easy options a GM can add to nearly any undead monster, to create creatures with whole new themes and abilities. A GM can use these as threats that are less familiar to experienced players, clues or elements for a specific background story, or to just have new boss undead to be the focus of a climactic final battle.

All the gruesome templates are designed to play into a specific fearsome idea or fate and provide an extra dose of horror for undead foes. Some of the gruesome templates are inspired by the ghosts, vampires, and zombies of classic horror fiction, while others are intended to tie into specific background or environmental themes. Each template includes all the game rules needed to run it (including a new mechanic, shock value, explained in detail below) and enough descriptive material and suggestions for use to make it easy for a GM to add them to an ongoing adventure or build whole new encounters around them.

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Product Discussion (21)
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I'm not sure how to fully describe how awfully, ickily good I feel about this product! Just bought it and have already (mentally, anyway) added at least two of these templates to the BBEG in the upcoming finale' to a campaign arc. Inspiring, I tell you! Inspiring!

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

Son of Blackleaf wrote:
I'm not sure how to fully describe how awfully, ickily good I feel about this product!

That does a pretty good job right there! Indeed, I think I am going to quote you. :)

Son of Blackleaf wrote:
Just bought it and have already (mentally, anyway) added at least two of these templates to the BBEG in the upcoming finale' to a campaign arc. Inspiring, I tell you! Inspiring!

Glad it'll be useful for you!

Your poor, poor players...


Can we get some hints as to which templates are included in this PDF? Are they templates for, say, making tougher undead, or for new kinds of undead, or both?


I like it! Fun new stuff for the undead. On another note, there were a few editing issues that I thought I should pass along that I noticed on a read through. Sorry....

1) Calculations Using CR sidebar:
occasions, the save DC is set at 10 + CR. If the fungal (something dropped here) A few other calculations

2) AC/HP/Saves:
Unlike most named bonuses, all these increases tack if a creature has multiple gruesome undead templates. (Should probably say stack instead of tack)

3) Shock Value:
how many templates it has.
For example, Lord Brevic Falkavian (and then it just ends)

4) Whispering:
They most often haunt old libraries and places where divination and (ends here)

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

Sethvir wrote:

I like it! Fun new stuff for the undead. On another note, there were a few editing issues that I thought I should pass along that I noticed on a read through. Sorry....

1) Calculations Using CR sidebar:
occasions, the save DC is set at 10 + CR. If the fungal (something dropped here) A few other calculations

2) AC/HP/Saves:
Unlike most named bonuses, all these increases tack if a creature has multiple gruesome undead templates. (Should probably say stack instead of tack)

3) Shock Value:
how many templates it has.
For example, Lord Brevic Falkavian (and then it just ends)

4) Whispering:
They most often haunt old libraries and places where divination and (ends here)

Wow. Now I think I sent the wrong file to layout.

Okay, thanks, I'll get the update out.

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

Eric Hinkle wrote:
Can we get some hints as to which templates are included in this PDF? Are they templates for, say, making tougher undead, or for new kinds of undead, or both?

Sure!

On the why:

The Genius Guide to Gruesome Undead Templates wrote:
The idea behind gruesome undead is to “spice up” these monsters, to make them more interesting (and perhaps more frightening) for players and GMs. Rather than face another horde of zombies, the players find themselves facing rotting corpses with elongated, twisted limbs, or gibbering wrecks of things once humanoid that whisper maddening secrets from beyond the grave. Creatures that have more wrong with them than “just” being walking corpses, gruesome undead have uncanny appearances, smells and sounds that makes them more frightening to even veteran characters than a typical monster of the type (generally represented by each gruesome undead’s shock value – see below), while the fact that they are difficult to identify makes them more of a mystery for players.

On the what:

Carrier
The slender figure constantly shivers, as though lightly shaken by unseen hands. Boils, sores, and crusty, scabrous growths are scattered across its body, some visibly oozing a thick, yellow fluid. Even from a distance the smell of soured sweat and rotting blood fill the air, and some foul miasma grows in strength each time the yellowish sludge spurts from a sore.
Carrier undead are normally a result of someone dying of disease under the same conditions that might normally create an undead – lack of proper burial, evil magic, negative material energy, or strong negative emotions. Less commonly, carrier undead may be the result of an undead disease – either from necromantic magics or from infection from a ghoul bite or similar undead injury. They are most common in areas struck by pandemic, sometimes clawing their way out of piles of unburied, festering corpses left to rot as communities flee from plague-ridden areas.

Flayed
The creature's body is shiny and wet, its muscles and teeth clearly visible. A constantly sheen of blood oozes from it, showing that though standing and active, the figure is lacking any skin. Its movements are accompanied by the sound of sticky leathers being pulled apart, and the strong smell of blood fills the area.
A flayed undead has no skin (or in the case of ghosts and similar incorporeal undead that lack any organs, have a form that looks like it has no skin). Most often flayed undead are those who were tortured to death and lost their skin as part of that torture, or those who carry heavy self-hate and guilt and as a result manifest as bodies lacking the natural protection of their outer hide. Flayed undead can also be created intentionally by necromancers who like to use the skin of undead to create books of necromantic knowledge.

Fungal
The pulsing mounds and growths on the creature make it difficult to determine its true shape or nature. Mushrooms, strange grey ridges, and waving patches of undulating hair cover its exterior, writhing with no discernible pattern and making soft, wet sounds.
Fungal undead often come into existence when undead dwell in damp, underground places. Leaky tombs and crypts, sunken ships, swampland battlefields, and towns destroyed by flooding are all likely locations for these gruesome creatures. The fungi attached to such animate corpses are themselves undead, making them immune to effects that target or protect from plants. Occasionally an undead fungus spreads from its point of origin, infecting undead and spreading through colonies of necromantic creatures to create a horde of fungal undead.

Gaping
As the creature’s jaw lowers a creaking sound loudly accompanies the stench of death. Its mouth continues to expand well past what seems reasonable, its teeth gleaming as its maw grows to be larger than its entire head originally appeared to be.
Gaping creatures can unhinge their jaw and expand the size of their mouth to be preposterously big. Humanoid gaping undead can have a toothy mouth grow up to two feet in diameter, though the shape varies from undead to undead. As an alternative to opening their mouth to great scope, such undead may instead split their face to expose a “second” mouth, such as a gaping undead’s entire face splitting vertically to create a head-sized mouth filled with rows of sharp teeth.
Gaping undead may be the remains of creatures that died screaming in agony, or of those with strong ties to singing, speaking, or sound, or may just be a gruesome mutation of the normal undead creation process. They could easily be found in places where innocents died in large numbers while terrified and hurt (such as an abandoned bardic academy that is also the site of a slaughter), or places where negative energy is strong and effects the development of undead created there (such as the demiplane of a necromancer who foolishly drew on the negative plane).

Racked
The manlike shape seems too long, too lean, with one shoulder much higher than the other and an oddly hunched posture. Its arms twitch and dangle, and its legs tremor as though it can barely stand. As one long, twisted arm reaches forward there are loud snaps and cracks as its shoulder visible pops in and out of the socket.
Racked undead were subject to merciless stretching prior to death. Most often they are the result of being put on the rack as torture and pulled at wrists and ankles, but a racked undead might have died by being drawn by horses, caught in a clockwork device that tore it slowly apart, or been ripped limb from limb by a carnivorous ape. They are likely to be encountered in places close to the scene of their torture and death – most often mad alchemist’s labs, haunted dungeons, or dangerous wildernesses.
A racked undead has long, twisted limbs of uneven lengths. They pop in and out of joint, twitch spastically, and periodically show signs of still being pulled and twisted by some unseen force.

Whispering
The sound of dozens of voices whispering in endless, overlapping, urgent hushed tones fills the area and drives out all other sounds. Horrid secrets are hinted at and vile names spoken, as though a choir of children was quietly reciting a book from hell.
Whispering undead are normally either undead spellcasters who have never given up seeking knowledge, or the remains of someone killed after betraying a secret it swore to keep to itself. They most often haunt old libraries and places where divination and sonic magic was stored or researched.


Wow. Those are some, um, rather memorable undead. Thanks for providing the information, Mister Stephens.

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Wow. Those are some, um, rather memorable undead.

I *hope* so. Otherwise my machine to sift through gamer's nightmares needs a tune-up!

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm looking at another book in this line. Actually I'm already working on it, I just don't know what monster type I'll apply the templates I am playtesting to. :P

(There will be more type-specific templates too, but I had some ideas that seemed gruesome so I got them into playtest first, and I'll decide on exactly how to skin them later...)

I *think* it'll be Gruesome Aberration Templates. (The Shuddering Mass template seems to work well for aberrations.) But if anyone had a suggestion, I'd be interested in hearing it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Gruesome monstrous humanoids has potential. Depends on the templates themselves, but a parasite infested gargoyle or a lepreus hag can be gruesome. Serpentfolk, scorpionfolk, harpies, medusas, etc, have a nice gruesome potential.

Gruesome humanoids too. A secret cult in a village with its members having something gruesome has potential. Humanoids can be used in so may situations, good templates for them are always welcomed.

So do outsiders with the evil subtype.

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

1 person marked this as a favorite.
goldomark wrote:
Gruesome monstrous humanoids has potential.

It does! I am suddenly considering a change in my plans...


Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to GMS magazine and Nerdtrek and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop. Cheers!

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

As always, many thanks for the review!

Shadow Lodge

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
goldomark wrote:
Gruesome monstrous humanoids has potential.
It does! I am suddenly considering a change in my plans...

Do both! I can't decide.

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

I'm actually leaning toward monstrous humanoids now, because I think they're more common. that both means that the templates are more likely to be useful, and that GMs are more likely to want some way to spice up encounters with creatures of that type.


I'd love to see some gruesome monstrous humanoids templates myself. I especially like the idea included with this PDF of the templates granting bonuses on armor, hit points, and saves; in retrospect it seems like one of those "It's so obvious, why did it take until now to think of it?" ideas.

Osirion

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Templates that add HD would also make sense. For instance, the Giant Simple template, from the Bestiary, if it added +4 HD, or double the base creatures HD (whichever is least), could make for a neat representation of a truly larger and tougher creature.

(Having the Giant template use the size advancement rules on p 296 might also be more consistent.)

Construct 'feature' templates that function like the build options you can add to an Animated Object could be neat. Any Golem or Construct could have a number of these features built in, at additional cost, like serrated blades (slams do S damage and cause a bleed effect) or the ability to shoot off metal, stone, bone, etc. spikes, thorns, icicles, etc. of it's composition matter all around itself, etc.

An aberration template that draws upon forces around it to fuel an emanation or breath weapon could be funky. The dark furnace template creature might generate an aura of freezing cold damage for 1d4 rounds as it draws in heat energy to fuel it's fiery blast. After the blast, it begins drawing in heat again. A more unusual version might draw upon electrical energy, tearing apart the bonds that hold matter together, so that everything in the area takes acid damage for the 1d4 rounds it is charging up it's batteries, before it launches an electrical attack. The undead version would draw upon life-energy before to fuel a death-magic attack, but since it's just 'take a little bit of negative damage for X rounds before taking a *bunch* of negative energy damage,' that wouldn't seem as dramatic as cold damage, cold damage, cold damage, fiery explosive blast!

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

A review from the Other Buyingstuff Site, and my commentary on it.

http://owenkcstephens.com/2013/08/30/best-3-star-review-ever/


Well, 3 out of 5 makes sense if you are looking it as a rating system of

OMG Horrible....Bad....Satisfactory...Awesome....OMG Incredible

So yeah, a pretty good 3/5 review.

Paizo Employee Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

If all my 3/5 reviews were like this one, I'd never complain. :)

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