I am working on the next villain for my party (4 man, 6th level gestalt with 20 point buy. I am treating them as a CR10 encounter while building, rather than an APL 6 party).
I want to staff the villain (siabrae(druidic lich) necromancer) with a host of undead lieutenants, which will be his acting arms throughout the country.
I have ZERO idea what undead are more vs less powerful (or over/under CRed). I would love some advice on building undead encounters in general, and more specifically suggestions for more interesting undead outside of Zombified/Skeletized X.
I have the first encounter planned, as an example of the types of fights I have considered.
Party is seeking ruins in a swamp. They encounter a Giant Anaconda Zombie(CR 7), left by the enemy as a guard dog.
Reaching the ruins, there are 8 Advanced 4arm Mudra Skeletons wielding 3 swords and a board (CR 10) guarding the outer ruins against intrusion.
Inside single standing building, large church space with 4 more Mudra and the LT, a Skeletal Champion Ice Troll close to a mountable Deathweb (CR 8), who may or may not be on the ceiling waiting to ambush, depending on how much noise they make outside
EDIT: My other ideas for LTs include a Vampire Dread Lord as the master of a small city and a Grave Knight(which may or may not be a captured NPC the party likes)
Zombies and Skeletons tend to be quite powerful in terms of raw combat stats, but they're little more than muscle (or bone, as the case may be) and as such tend to only shine when backed up by casters. While there can be a lot of interesting creatures you can transform into such mindless undead, they are ultimately simplistic front-line melee and will not make for an interesting encounter on their own. Use them to fill out encounters and back up more interest and intelligent opponents.
As for undead creatures to be mindful of: ghouls and ghasts. Three attacks per round, each with a chance to paralyze. Their base CR is quite low so it's tempting to advance them with class levels, but that ever-present chance of paralysis means they consistently hit above their CR regardless of how you stat them.
There are a bunch of really cool non-undead creatures that can go well with undead armies. The Hungry Fog is an ooze that has no way of harming undead creatures (it has a negative energy attack, so its attacks only heal them). If you want to go a bit higher, the Trench Mist is an aberration that creates undead and is in general quite terrifying. The Pukwudgie is another undead-spawning monster that has a flavor that could fit very well with druidism.
I have ZERO idea what undead are more vs less powerful (or over/under CRed).
If I'm reading this right, you're asking for under CRd monsters. Sounds good to me, a gestalt party needs something to challenge them! Undead are actually a great place to start, when you're looking for under CR'd monsters. Specifically, undead templates applied to fey. This is because becoming undead changes all of your hit dice to d8s, and fey only have d6s. Because they only have d6s for racial hit die, most fey compensate by having a whole ton of them. For instance, a CR 4 satyr has eight. Fey also tend to have low CON scores, but high charisma.
A Satyr Vampire is only CR 6, but it has 92 hit points, 27 AC, DR, and can cast Dominate Person at will with a DC 21. It also drains levels. A small group of them can be devastating.
And undead fey are thematic, too, since your Siabrae is a druid!
If I'm reading this right, you're asking for under CRd monsters.
More generally, I was looking for advice on any creatures to beware of(EITHER by being under CR like ghouls/ghasts OR over CR creatures). I LOVE the fey vampire suggestion. I planned on a vampire in the cadre, and a group of maybe 4 of the satyr vampires beneath the Boss Vampire I have in mind would be super in-setting as well as hard to fight.
|Tiny Coffee Golem|
First thing I thought of is the captured NPC is trapped inside the reanimated grave knight (since a grave knight is technically the armour), and is still alive. Just my two CP.
That's exactly what I was thinking. Either save him soon or he BECOMES the grave knight(I.e. it takes over completely) and you have to kill your friend. Sense of urgency with consequences. Cut and dry good story to me (if a little mean/heavy on the consequences)
AS FOR FEY VAMPIRE
I think 3 satyr vampires with a satyr Nosferatu Mastermind overboss and 3 vampire fauns per satyr as servants, each making vampire spawn to assist in kidnapping villagers and travelers. A Lurker in Light could be using these as sacrifices to bring over more satyr and faun, to join the cult under the rule of their Nosferatu vampire, all under the Siabrae's umbrella. Sooner they kill of the Lurker, the less Satyr vampires they have to deal with over time
Fauns can't be vampires, at least not without class levels first. The vampire template specifies that it can only be added to things with five or more hit dice.
Which y'know, kind of makes sense seeing as vampires drain levels and that's just lethal against low level PCs which is totally lame but them's the rules.