Of the Undead and the Unlife

Auteur : Cormac Doyle

Copy­right © Cormac Doyle, 2000

Edited by Lowell R. Mat­thews for « The Guild Com­pa­nion » http://​www​.guild​com​pa​nion​.com/

Excerpts from On the Nature of the Unlife, a lec­ture to the Col­le­giate of the Arcane by sage Crom taal Kie­ra­nis, Pro­fes­sor of the Occult :

« The Undead—the very word is suf­fi­cient to chill a person to his bones. This ins­tinc­tive fear is so strong because it brings to mind the very things we fear the most—ghosts, ghouls, spectres, and vampyres—but also because it reminds us all of our mor­ta­lity. For the Elven peoples, it heralds an even darker concept, that some­thing could not only kill their immor­tal bodies, but also enslave their immor­tal spi­rits ».

« In its broa­dest sense, any being which lin­gers after it has died can be termed Undead—because it is at once dead and not dead. Howe­ver, it is a dan­ge­rous over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion to assume that every Undead is a crea­ture of the Unlife, or even that it draws sus­te­nance from the Unlife. The terms Undead” and Unlife” should never—nay, must never—be confu­sed. Based upon my stu­dies of the Occult, I have conclu­ded that there are at least four sepa­rate and dis­tinct classes of Undead. I have called these classes the Ani­ma­ted Dead, the Bound Spi­rits, the Res­t­less Spi­rits, and the Trans­for­med. In addi­tion to these four classes of Undead, there are also three fur­ther types of being or crea­ture that might be confu­sed with the Undead—the True Spi­rits, the Deni­zens of the Dream-Realms, and the True Unlife. I hope to take each of these cate­go­ries in turn, and explain how their mem­bers differ from each other, and how to tell such crea­tures from one ano­ther ».

« If you had had as much contact with Undead beings as I have had, you would have noti­ced that it is more than just their name that can chill you. If they are beings of the Unlife, or are bound by the Unlife, they will cause cor­rup­tion and Taint. Howe­ver, whe­ther they are cor­rup­ted by the Unlife, or are simply res­t­less sprits, the very fact that they are Undead means that their touch, even their mere pre­sence, is capable of wea­ke­ning you, drai­ning the very life from your body. Howe­ver, as I have said before, there is undead” and there is Undead.” Not all crea­tures or beings that have pre­viously been clas­si­fied as undead” will drain your life essence any more than they will cause Taint. I will endea­vour to cla­rify these issues in the remain­der of my talk ».

The new classification

« In my stu­dies of the area of the Occult, I have encoun­te­red many examples of each of the cate­go­ries I have dis­cus­sed here, and I have pre­pa­red a scroll upon which I have ins­cri­bed a description—and the most common names—for each of these spi­rits. For those of you who wish to delve deeper into this topic, I will be giving a lec­ture entit­led* On the Trans­for­med and the Pro­cess of Trans­for­ma­tion in the mor­ning. Please ensure that you have proper rest tonight, as even dis­cus­sing the topic is a drai­ning expe­rience. Thank you for your atten­tion, and I will now open the floor for ques­tions. »

Notes on the New Classifications

This docu­ment is not inten­ded to chal­lenge the intel­lec­tual pro­perty rights of Iron Crown Enter­prises or any of the authors that work for ICE. Conse­quently, I have not listed any « sta­tis­tics » for any of the crea­tures I des­cribe, but rather I list page refe­rences for RM, RMSS and RMFRP publi­ca­tions. I have inclu­ded des­crip­tive pas­sages for each of the creatures/​beings, and in many cases have drawn upon the pas­sages in Crea­tures & Mons­ters, but in each case, the des­crip­tions have been alte­red to best des­cribe why the creature/​being has been clas­si­fied as it has. Please go and buy Crea­tures & Mons­ters if you do not already own it.

The Animated Dead

Animated Corpse

Refe­rences: RMCrea­tures & Trea­sures, pp. 32, 40, 41 ; RMSSCrea­tures & Mons­ters, pp. 173, 180, 193 ; RMFRPCrea­tures & Mons­ters, pp. 121, 127, 132.

Variants: Type I–Type VI (based upon the spell used to create them), Disem­bo­died Head (Type III), Roa­ming Hand (Type II).

Confu­sion: Living Ghoul (not actually dead yet), Ghoul (Type I–IV Trans­for­med), Zombie (Type I–VI Res­t­less Spirit).

Des­crip­tion: White, pallid skin and blank, sta­ring eyes ; a sham­bling walk and a mind­less obe­dience to their master—these things epi­to­mise the Ani­ma­ted Corpse. Of course, typi­cal fea­tures of an ani­ma­ted corpse vary with prac­ti­cally every corpse that has been ani­ma­ted. The pro­cess of ani­ma­tion pre­serves the corpse from decay, but it cannot repair any decay that had already dama­ged the body. Addi­tio­nally, any damage dealt to the corpse by way of acci­dent or vio­lence will remain, unchanged—so a figh­ter can hack off the corpse’s arm, or break the jaw clean off, and the corpse will conti­nue figh­ting. With suf­fi­cient damage, the necromancer’s spells will fail, and the corpse will col­lapse to the ground. 

A Disem­bo­died Head is a ghastly sight—a hove­ring, seve­red huma­noid head. Decom­po­sing eyes dangle from black sockets, and shar­pe­ned teeth fill their rot­ting maws, which constantly mouth depre­ca­tions and foul curses. Such a form is ideal for mis­sions invol­ving the infil­tra­tion of hard-to-get-to areas, as they can slip through small ope­nings that nobody or no body can fit through. A disem­bo­died head may attack by biting and drai­ning the blood and life essence of its victim (1d10+10 hits, 1d4 points of Life Essence per round).

A Roa­ming Hand is quite lite­rally a hand that a necro­man­cer has ani­ma­ted. Loo­king like some night­ma­rish insect, it may occa­sio­nally carry an eye, through which the necro­man­cer can see. (Although, tech­ni­cally, the necro­man­cer doesn’t actually need the eye, it’s simply tra­di­tio­nal!)

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: An ani­ma­ted corpse will ignore any and all acti­vity near it, as it can only act while under the direct control of the necro­man­cer that crea­ted it, or if fol­lo­wing very spe­ci­fic (three- or four-word) ins­truc­tions, like « Guard this room » or « Kill all Humans. » The des­truc­tion of an ani­ma­ted corpse can be achie­ved in a variety of ways. Firstly, the spells ani­ma­ting the corpse can be dis­pel­led (using Cancel Essence, Cancel Chan­ne­ling or Cancel Unlife [see the last sec­tion of this article, « The Unlife and the Realms of Magic »] depen­ding on how they were crea­ted). Secondly, the body may simply be hacked to pieces (although it is tra­di­tio­nal to des­troy the corpse alto­ge­ther by bur­ning it to ensure that the necro­man­cer cannot rea­ni­mate it at a later date).


Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42 ; C&T II, pp. 40, 41, 42 ; RMSS—C&M, pp. 191, 196, 197, 198, 200 ; RMFRP—C&M, pp. 120, 131, 133, 134.

Variants: Type I–Type VI (based upon the spell used to create them), Ice Ske­le­ton (nor­mally Type II, but may be any Type), Iron Ske­le­ton (nor­mally Type III, but may be any Type), Necros (Type I), Skull­bat (Type I–Type III), Skull­pack (Type III), Spi­ders­kull (Type I).

Confu­sion: Bone Golem (Type III Bound Spirit), Giant Skull (Type IV Unlife), Ske­le­ton Lord (Type IV Res­t­less Spirit), Ske­le­ton Sove­reign (Type V Res­t­less Spirit), Skull­bat (Type I–III Unlife), Skull­beast (Type IV Res­t­less Spirit).

Des­crip­tion: « Normal » ske­le­tons range from Type I–III (minor, lesser, and grea­ter ske­le­tons, res­pec­ti­vely). The larger ske­le­ton of one of the Giant Races (Trolls, Ogres, Giants, Titans, etc.) is nor­mally more power­ful, thus they range from Type IIIIV (lesser and grea­ter giant ske­le­tons, res­pec­ti­vely). Of course, these two classes assume that the ani­ma­ted ske­le­tons are huma­noid ; there is enough varia­bi­lity within the animal king­dom to pro­duce ske­le­tons capable of being clas­si­fied as Type V or VI. Huge ske­le­tons such as ele­phants or crea­tures of simi­lar mass could be ani­ma­ted as Type V Ske­le­tons. To create a Type VI ani­ma­ted ske­le­ton, the necro­man­cer would need to ani­mate the ske­le­ton of a Dragon or simi­larly super-mas­sive crea­ture.

Ice ske­le­tons are normal ske­le­tons enchan­ted to constantly emit an aura of cold, inflic­ting a cold cri­ti­cal of equal seve­rity to any inflic­ted with their melee attack.

Iron ske­le­tons are normal ske­le­tons that have been coated with iron (or ano­ther metal) to rein­force their « natu­ral » defences, increa­sing their ave­rage number of hits and armour type.

A Necros is a huma­noid skull, atta­ched only to the spinal column of the ori­gi­nal body, which has been enchan­ted to have veno­mous fangs. 

A Skull­bat is an ani­ma­ted skull with lea­thery, bat-like wings. Those skull­bats formed from human-sized skulls nor­mally have a wing­span of c. 3”, whe­reas larger bull’s skulls or simi­lar may have wing­spans in excess of 8”.

A Skull­pack is a group of 4–16 skulls that appear to magi­cally fly, swir­ling about each other in com­pli­ca­ted pat­ters of a see­min­gly random design. The cla­cking maws and empty sockets of these things usually com­mu­ni­cate nothing but death.

A Spi­ders­kull appears as a poison-bla­cke­ned skull with eight spindly, spi­dery legs pro­tru­ding from it. It scut­tles around in an obs­cene parody of life, making an ideal adjunct to a necromancer’s « bes­tiary » of spies and ser­vants.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: As Ani­ma­ted Corpse.

The Bound Spirits

Black Reaver

Refe­rences: RMRole­mas­ter Com­pa­nion (I), p. 75 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 175 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 114.

Variants: Lesser (Type VI); Grea­ter (Type VI).

Confu­sion: Stan­dard Constructs and Golems.

Des­crip­tion: A pitch-black suit of plate mail, 7”–9” tall, wiel­ding a large hooked battle-axe, topped by a horned helm from which two bright scar­let eyes glow forth with hel­lish inten­sity. The armour, the axe and the helm are all fashio­ned from the same substance—Eog. The Role­mas­ter Com­pa­nion contains a power­ful des­crip­tion of the panic that besets a group of adven­tu­rers when they rea­lise that the Black Reaver has not only fol­lo­wed them across a conti­nent, but also across a major ocean ! (It simply walked along the seabed).

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: There is nothing more dan­ge­rous than a Black Reaver short of a Deity (and pro­ba­bly not many of those either). A Black Reaver is the result of the fusion of a power­ful Trans­for­med (Lich, Vam­pyre, or Black Pala­din) with an Unlife Demon (nor­mally a Class VI Ordai­ner or simi­larly power­ful crea­ture). They are given a pur­pose, nor­mally guar­ding an object or the assas­si­na­tion of a spe­ci­fic indi­vi­dual. The are not wanton, and are highly intelligent—they will do wha­te­ver they deem neces­sary to ensure that their mis­sion is com­ple­ted, remo­ving any and all obs­tacles in their path. There is not a single recor­ded account of anyone suc­cess­fully pene­tra­ting an area guar­ded by a Black Reaver, those who did try were utterly van­qui­shed by this unyiel­ding power from beyond the grave.


Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 34 ; C&T II, pp. 32, 33, 37 ; RMSS—C&M, pp. 124, 125, 126, 176 ; RMFRP—C&M, pp. 81, 82, 126.

Variants: Stan­dard Golems (Bone, Brass, Clay, Crys­tal, Dia­mond, Eog, Flesh, Iron, Mithril, Steel, Stone, Wood). Colos­sus (same list as above). Demon (same list as above). Mite (same list as above). Beast (same list as above, almost any animal ima­gi­nable).

Confu­sion: Constructs (phy­si­cally iden­ti­cal to Golems, but constructs are ani­ma­ted, not spirit-bound).

Des­crip­tion: A Golem is a sculp­ture construc­ted from one of many materials—see the list above—and nor­mally moul­ded in the form of a huma­noid (5”–7” in height), although some Golems have been pro­du­ced in the forms of beasts. They are endo­wed with ani­ma­tion and pur­pose by bin­ding a spirit, which may be sum­mo­ned from the Spirit Plane or bound from a dying being. Because they are endo­wed with an intel­li­gent spirit, they can act with intel­li­gence and cun­ning in the exe­cu­tion of their instructions—although part of the bin­ding magic is a com­pul­sion to obey their crea­tor. If the Golem is crea­ted using Essænce, the Golem is not consi­de­red « a crea­ture of the Unlife »—it will not give Taint, nor will it drain Consti­tu­tion. Howe­ver, if the Golem was crea­ted using the Unlife, it will cause Taint (assume the « Type » to be the Golem’s level divi­ded by 5, roun­ding up). Note that regard­less of the type of Golem, they can never cast spells of their own.

A Demon Golem is one ani­ma­ted by bin­ding a Demon into it rather than a Spirit. There is no out­ward dif­fe­rence, but the Demon-bound Golem will nor­mally be even more intel­li­gent, and often highly chao­tic or evil.

A Beast Golem has been fashio­ned in the form of a crea­ture rather than a huma­noid. Horses, wolves, bulls, wyverns, fal­cons, cats—anything is pos­sible to the ima­gi­na­tive. Obviously, spells are used to repli­cate func­tions like flight of which a sculp­ture would not ordi­na­rily be capable.

« Colos­sus » Golems pos­sess bodies on a mas­sive scale—ranging 20”–50” in height—but are other­wise iden­ti­cal to their normal-sized cou­sins.

« Mite » Golems pos­sess minia­tu­ri­sed bodies—ranging from 1”–4” in height—but are other­wise iden­ti­cal to their full-sized cou­sins.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: A Golem can be des­troyed in two basic ways—it can be hacked to pieces, or the spells bin­ding the spirit within the Golem can be seve­red. Note that if the latter occurs, the spirit will, more likely than not, use the body it has been given to wreak its revenge on the spell-caster that ori­gi­nally bound it.


Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 44 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 103 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 71.

Des­crip­tion: Lea­thery, bat-like wings (2”–3” wing­span) carry these stun­ted gobli­noids to wha­te­ver des­ti­na­tion their master may desire. Their eyes are dark pits, and their mouths are home to two small fangs that drip with poison.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Formed from a necromancer’s blood and ani­ma­ted with a shard of his soul (psyche), a Homun­cu­lus rarely strays from its master’s side. This is a spe­cial form of spirit bin­ding in that the caster is bin­ding part of his own soul into the crea­tion. Because of this, he may concen­trate and com­ple­tely control the Homun­cu­lus and view the world through its senses. Howe­ver, the crea­tor also suf­fers acti­vity modi­fiers due to damage and exhaus­tion to the Homun­cu­lus. The death of the Homun­cu­lus will put its master into shock for d10 days, suf­fe­ring –50 to all acti­vi­ties during this time.


Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 190 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 118.

Variants: Lesser (Type III), Grea­ter (Type IV), Dark Mummy (Type IV).

Des­crip­tion: Mum­mies are (were?) huma­noid beings that have been embal­med and wrap­ped in layers of secu­ring cloths to help pre­serve their bodies. In some cultures, addi­tio­nal pre­pa­ra­tions may occur ; the intes­tines may be remo­ved and embal­ming herbs and spices may be added to the body cavity to ensure the pre­ser­va­tion of the body. Howe­ver, these par­ti­cu­lar bound-spirit mum­mies have been desi­gna­ted as the defen­ders of the royal tombs. The spirit of the dead war­rior is bound to his pre­ser­ved body through a series of bin­ding rituals, imbuing them with move­ment, and a pro­tec­tive will.

A Dark Mummy is iden­ti­cal in all aspects to a normal mummy, with one major excep­tion : Having been crea­ted by the Unlife, the spirit of the mummy becomes a dark and male­volent evil, desi­ring the death of all living beings. Often, the pre­sence of the Unlife also causes the mummy to be a source of cor­rup­tion and disease, fes­te­ring a wide range of ills which it will pass on to any who come close enough, even if they sur­vive its imme­diate wrath.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Because of their nature, mum­mies are par­ti­cu­larly sus­cep­tible to fire—the com­bi­na­tion of ages-old cloths and embal­ming solu­tions make for a highly flam­mable target. Howe­ver, mum­mies are nor­mally protective—it is a very rare mummy that would attack unpro­vo­ked, with the notable excep­tion of the Dark Mummy.


Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 119 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 114.

Variants: Lesser (Type II), Grea­ter (Type IV).

Des­crip­tion: The result of a ter­rible ritual known only to a few necro­man­cers and recor­ded in only the most des­pi­cable tomes of vile know­ledge, a Shadow appears like a shred of dark­ness, barely visible against the night sky. Huge, cloudy, bat-like wings aug­ment the soa­ring flight of this spirit, while invi­sible fangs faci­li­tate the consump­tion of the pul­sa­ting life-essence of its prey. The cere­mony involves the sacri­fice of one living being from a man­nish race, slowly drai­ned of their life essence over a period of a month, from one new moon to the next. During this period, the victim under­goes the most hel­lish of tor­tures, slowly losing his mind, beco­ming obses­sed with one thing—the life essence of man­nish beings. The Shadow shares some form of bond with its necro­man­tic crea­tor, and some­how trans­fers some form of mys­ti­cal invi­go­ra­tion to its crea­tor every time it feeds. This is one of the main rea­sons they must feed—the matrix that binds them also conti­nually drains them.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: The Shadow spends its days hudd­led in concea­ling nooks, caves, and caverns, cowe­ring from the harsh glare of sun­light which makes it slug­gish and slow. When dark­ness steals across the land, the Shadow bolts from its nest in a flurry of black wings and begins it nightly hunt. A Shadow must consume life essence regu­larly or it will begin to fade—if it should go without fee­ding for a month, it will fade to nothin­gness. To main­tain its strength, it must feed on a Human, Elf or simi­lar sapient once per night. Such a fee­ding will com­ple­tely drain the person. In an area with suf­fi­cient « hun­ting » oppor­tu­ni­ties, the Shadow will not kill ; it will break off the attack before the victim dies and move on to its next victim. If neces­sary, it can feed off lesser crea­tures (cattle, forest crea­tures, etc.), but it must kill many more of them because the life essence of such crea­tures does not satisfy it as does that of sapient crea­tures. Although it is almost always the Unlife that binds it to this exis­tence, it is repul­sed by beings with more than 50 PT Per­ma­nent Taint points, for it is the pure life essence of the Untain­ted that it seeks.

Note: I have wave­red bet­ween clas­si­fying the Shadow as a Trans­for­med and a Bound Spirit, but I finally deci­ded on clas­si­fying it as a Bound Spirit because it is inar­gua­bly bound to its crea­tor.

Shadow Assassin

Refe­rences: RM—C&T II, p. 41 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 194 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 119.

Variants: Type IVVI Bound Spi­rits (Lesser, Grea­ter, Major).

Des­crip­tion: These beings are only a shade darker than the sha­dows in which they live ; their bodies are but ghostly stir­rings of dark­ness with pier­cing yellow eyes. They clutch an ethe­real blade in their sha­dowy fin­gers. The spi­rits of dead assas­sins, these enti­ties are sum­mo­ned and bound by foul necro­man­cers and dark priests or magi to slay their ene­mies. If the proper incen­tive is not offe­red, the Shadow Assas­sin is just as likely to turn on its sum­mo­ner and slay them outright, so it is best to be cau­tious when dea­ling with such spi­rits.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Shadow Assas­sins are crea­tures that live prin­ci­pally on the ethe­real plane ; only their sha­dowy out­line is visible in this plane. They attack by plun­ging their ethe­real dagger into the heart of their « marks, » drai­ning the life from them. These crea­tures exist only for the ful­filment of their mis­sions, using their non­cor­po­real forms to flit through walls and bar­riers. They are never encoun­te­red without mis­sions, as the bonds that tie them to this plane are dis­sol­ved when they com­plete them.

The Restless Spirits

Corpse Light

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 177 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 116.

Variants: Corpse Candle (Type III Res­t­less Spirit), Corpse Lan­tern (Type IV Res­t­less Spirit).

Des­crip­tion: Illu­sion cloaks the remains of a drow­ned corpse, bequea­thing upon it a who­le­some and fair appea­rance. The image seems to float just below the sur­face of the water, cup­ping a becko­ning light in its hands, motio­ning with allu­ring charm to the living who gaze down upon it. The corpses of the dead actually lie motion­less in the dark and icy waters in which they drow­ned. The illu­sions seek to lure the unsus­pec­ting into the depths, where they can feed from the life essence of their vic­tims.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: A viewer that becomes entran­ced by a Corpse Light will drift into an ens­cor­cel­led sleep, fal­ling into the dark waters where the Undead spirit will feed from its victim’s life essence. Once under its spell, there is little that vic­tims can do for them­selves, but their com­pa­nions can rescue them if they act qui­ckly. Des­troying Corpse Light is difficult—fire could damage it, but would also be quen­ched as soon as it ente­red the water. Disillu­sion spells can cancel its power tem­po­ra­rily, and a Cleric may be able to banish it with dif­fi­culty.


(Type IV Res­t­less Spirit)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T II, p. 37 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 178 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 127.

Des­crip­tion: The spirit of a slain tree-herd (Ent), these woody spi­rits appear as large trees with twis­ted limbs, black eyes, and an omi­nously toothy maw. Their forms are ghostly, but the swish of the wind through their dead leaves and the creak of their boughs is not just ima­gi­ned by those who have come face to face with these Undead.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: The Dea­th­woode will nor­mally be pro­tec­tive of the forest that it tended while alive, but their Undead state may slowly cor­rupt them, and they will become pro­gres­si­vely more ven­ge­ful and ruth­less in their pur­suit of any forest tra­vel­ler. Howe­ver, after only a few cen­tu­ries of living death, most Dea­th­woodes will have faded into the essence of the forest—especially if a new guar­dian has star­ted to tend the forest.

Desert Spirits

(Type III Res­t­less Spirit)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T II, p. 39 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 179 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 127.

Variants: None.

Des­crip­tion: The spi­rits of those who die of dust storms and dehy­dra­tion in the desert, Desert Spi­rits are form­less and insub­stan­tial, but can ani­mate the sands into fluid huma­noid sand sculp­tures or violent sand storms.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Large amounts of water will slake down the sand, making a sludge that the spi­rits cannot ani­mate (although where one can get water in the middle of a par­ched, tra­ck­less desert I have no idea). The only way to release these spi­rits from their unen­ding hell is to Banish them through the use of a Cleric’s Repul­sion spell.


(Res­t­less Spirit)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42, C&T II, p. 39 ; RMSS—C&M, pp. 179, 187 ; RMFRP—C&M, pp. 116, 130.

Variants: Type II–V Res­t­less Spi­rits (Minor, Lesser, Grea­ter, Major Dirges), Mara (Type II Res­t­less Spirit).

Des­crip­tion: Vague of form and insub­stan­tial to the touch, these dark-eyed musi­cians are spi­rits tied to their music. Each indi­vi­dual Dirge car­ries some sort of ins­tru­ment. They are par­tial to playing depres­sing, fune­real music whe­re­ver they go. Nor­mally, this is in seldom-visi­ted gra­veyards and ceme­te­ries. Caught up in their music, they will take ill to any inter­rup­tions.

A Mara is simi­lar in many ways to a Dirge, bar one : They seek out the living, to sere­nade them as they sleep, slowly fee­ding on their life essence until their victim per­ishes of a slow, was­ting disease.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Although many Dirges are accom­pli­shed Bards, they will not seek out the living, but will bemuse and then kill any living crea­ture that inter­rupts their sin­ging. It is best to steer clear of areas known to be haun­ted by a Dirge.

Fire Phantom

(Type III Res­t­less Spirit)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 181 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 128.

Variants: None.

Des­crip­tion: A death by fire is a hor­ri­fic way to go, and can lead to the person’s spirit being unable to find its way to the Spirit Plane. Fire Phan­toms appear as an imma­te­rial form, motio­ning and wri­thing within a patina of roa­ring, spec­tral fire that smells of bur­ning flesh and brim­stone. Often not cogni­sant of their true status, they will rush towards the living, plea­ding for suc­cour.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: In addi­tion to the life essence that they drain from their vic­tims, Fire Phan­toms can burn them ; their mere pre­sence acts as a 20” Fire­ball, with them as the centre. Water will quench the fires that bind them to this plane, and release them to the Spirit Plane.


(Res­t­less Spirit)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42 ; C&T II, p. 41 ; RMSS—C&M, pp. 174, 182–183, 192 ; RMFRP—C&M, pp. 116, 126, 128, 131–132.

Variants: Minor Ghost (Type II Res­t­less Spirit), Lesser Ghost (Type III Res­t­less Spirit), Head­less Ghost (Type III Res­t­less Spirit), Grea­ter Ghost (Type V Res­t­less Spirit), Phan­tom (Type I Res­t­less Spirit), Phan­tom Steed (Type II Res­t­less Spirit).

Confu­sion: Living beings, Spectres (non­cor­po­real Trans­for­med).

Des­crip­tion: The rem­nants of dead beings cling to this plane of exis­tence with a super­na­tu­ral stub­born­ness, for­ming an insub­stan­tial body from ethe­real matter (ecto­plasm) which resembles the body they wore while living. Weaker (Minor or Lesser) Ghosts may be hazy, blur­red, or trans­lucent for the most part, but as the Ghost gets more power­ful, its form becomes pro­gres­si­vely more dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish from a normal phy­si­cal body by sight alone. 

The Head­less variety is nor­mally reco­gni­sable because it tends to carry its head around tucked under its arm. 

A Phan­tom is an insub­stan­tial spirit, whose pale, trans­lucent face shows a contor­ted rictus of pain, expres­sing its death ago­nies. The misty image of the disea­sed or dis­mem­be­red body some­times accom­pa­nies the horror of the face. The hor­rors that killed the being have shat­te­red the phantom’s psyche, so it wan­ders, see­king sur­cease from the pain that racks it.

The Phan­tom Steed is the spec­tral spirit of a steed that is bound by its master at the moment of its death, so that it may conti­nue to serve its master from beyond the grave. It can draw upon the ethe­real to form a spec­tral body, allo­wing it to become visible at will, although it is always non­cor­po­real.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Ghosts mas­que­rade as the living, often com­ple­tely una­ware of their true status, conti­nuing a tra­vesty of life in and around the loca­tion where they died. They are almost always tied to a focus of some sort that pre­vents their spirit from depar­ting this earthly way­fa­ring. These foci can take can forms—a person, a weapon, a trea­sure or a place—that are some­how tied to their deaths. If a ghost’s focus is iden­ti­fied, it can be resol­ved or des­troyed, allo­wing the ghost to rest. Other­wise, the ghost can only be tem­po­ra­rily driven away. Because a Phantom’s focus is its own pain, the only way to free it from its des­pe­rate condi­tion is to banish it (the Repul­sion spell)—any favou­rable result will break the bonds that tie the phan­tom to this plane, and return its shat­te­red psyche to the Spirit Plane.

Skeletal Lords

(Res­t­less Spi­rits)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 196 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 119.

Variants: Ske­le­ton Joker (Type III Res­t­less Spirit), Ske­le­ton Lord (Type IV Res­t­less Spirit), Ske­le­ton Sove­reign (Type V Res­t­less Spirit), Red Ske­le­ton (Type VI Res­t­less Spirit).

Confu­sion: Normal Ske­le­tons (Ani­ma­ted Dead).

Note on Ske­le­tons: Please note that the Type/​Class break­down I am using here is taken from the text of the RMFRP ver­sion of Crea­tures & Mons­ters. RMSS and RM list both types as Type IV. RM lists the Ske­le­ton Joker as Type III, but states that it is also known as « Red Ske­le­ton, » but it gives the Red Ske­le­ton a Type VI clas­si­fi­ca­tion. RMSS and RMFRP omit the Ske­le­ton Joker, and list the Red Ske­le­ton as Type VI. If you don’t have the ori­gi­nal C&T, use the « Grea­ter Ske­le­ton » stats for the Ske­le­ton Joker, but assume its out­look is Play­ful and its IQ is AV.

Des­crip­tion: Appea­ring to be merely ano­ther ani­ma­ted ske­le­ton, a Ske­le­tal Lord is actually a power­ful Spirit ani­ma­ting the ske­le­tal remains of some unfor­tu­nate being. Because of the « dif­fi­cul­ties » invol­ved in ani­ma­ting a corpse that has limi­ted or non-existent flesh, only spi­rits that have retai­ned at least ave­rage (AV) intel­li­gence or better and the capa­city to cast spells can ani­mate Ske­le­tons.
A Ske­le­ton Joker appears iden­ti­cal to any other Ske­le­ton, except that they are never sepa­ra­ted from their deck of cards. Many are accom­pli­shed Tarot Mages, using a per­ver­ted ver­sion of the Tome of Many Tea­chings to advise, enter­tain, and guide their fellow Ske­le­tal Lords. Red Ske­le­ton is the single most power­ful Ske­le­tal Lord on record, and is the true master of this per­ver­ted ToMT.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Ske­le­tal Lords actually pos­sess the capa­city to cast spells, in addi­tion to pos­ses­sing a level of intel­li­gence simi­lar to that pos­ses­sed by the ave­rage man or woman. While « normal » ani­ma­ted ske­le­tons can have the spells that ani­mate them dis­pel­led or sup­pres­sed, Ske­le­tal Lords are not « ani­ma­ted » in that mea­ning of the word, and so must be bani­shed by a Cleric. Phy­si­cal damage can bring down a Ske­le­tal Lord, but unless the spirit ani­ma­ting the ske­le­ton is bani­shed, it can rebuild the skeleton—although the more damage done the longer it will take.

Swamp Star

(Type IV Res­t­less Spirit)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 43 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 200 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 134.

Confu­sion: Will o” the Wisp (True Unlife).

Des­crip­tion: The spirit of a being that lost its life after beco­ming hope­lessly lost in the depths of a dark swamp, a Swamp Star takes the form of a small, bright light. The Swamp Star flits from point to point, pul­sing and chan­ging hue in an attempt to gain the atten­tion of those vie­wing it. The hyp­no­tic effect of its light can lead its vic­tims astray. Any tra­vel­ler that becomes mired in quick­sand, or trap­ped in the mud and murky waters of the swamp, makes a quick feast for the Swamp Star as it qui­ckly drains the person’s life essence.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Being incor­po­real, it cannot be harmed by phy­si­cal wea­pons, but by be dis­sua­ded or bani­shed by a Cleric.


(Res­t­less Spirit)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, pp. 42–43 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 207 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 125.

Variants: Minor, Lesser, Major Wights (Type IV, V, VI Res­t­less Spi­rits), Barrow-Wight (Type V Res­t­less Spirit).

Confu­sion: Spectre (non­cor­po­real Trans­for­med).

Des­crip­tion: Wights are dark, sha­dowy human forms with eyes akin to faint lights. Pale white limbs appear now and again, but are imma­te­rial and qui­ckly hidden again beneath their sha­dowy rai­ment. When obser­ved with the aid of magic or ethe­real sight, they take on the tat­te­red forms of great lords and ladies with cold, cruel, glea­ming eyes. Barrow-wights roam the narrow halls and low tun­nels of the barrow-tombs, while the more mun­dane wights haunt the pro­fa­ned gra­veyards and ceme­te­ries no longer pro­tec­ted by the wards and charms against the intru­sion of the Undead. Often it is the influence of the Unlife, sprea­ding its Taint across the land, which awa­kens these dread spi­rits from their end­less slum­bers. When this unclean influence satu­rates the final res­ting-place of a once-noble lord or lady, laid low by mor­ta­lity, the spi­rits of the dead are dis­tur­bed and drawn back to the place where their mortal bodies lie. The power of the Unlife satu­ra­ting the area cor­rupts such spi­rits, cau­sing them to become Wights.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Due to their ethe­real forms, normal wea­ponry is use­less against these spi­rits, and they may choose to become invi­sible at will. This makes them dan­ge­rous ene­mies that will ruth­lessly des­troy any who tres­pass upon their ter­ri­tory. It is the tomb, barrow, or grave of the Wight that serves as its focus—re-consecration of the ground (after pur­ging the effects of the Taint) will prevent the spirit from rea­wa­ke­ning after it is defea­ted or driven away. Unless this is done, even banish­ment will not prevent the Wight from returning—it will just slow it down, and irri­tate it !


Name Lvl BR Pace/​MN Speed MS/AQ Size/​Crit Hits AT (DB) Attacks Enc. Trea­sure Bonus EP Out­look (IQ)
Minor (I) 2B 30 Run/​0 VS/MD M/I# 45 F 1 (15) 30MBa/​Special 2–20 a b Ber­serk (VL)
Lesser (II) 4B 45 Run/​0 SL/MD M/I# 70 F 1 (25) 50MBa/​Special 2–20 a b Ber­serk (LO)
Grea­ter (III) 6B 45 Spt/​0 SL/MF M/I# 115 F 1 (40) 75MBa/​Special 1–12 g b Ber­serk (IN)
Major (IV) 11B 50 Spt/​0 MD/FA M/II# 145 F 1 (50) 80MBa/​Special/​Spells 1–6 g b Ber­serk (AV)
Lord (V) 15B 60 Spt/​0 MF/VF M/LA# 180 F 1 (50) 80MBa/​Special/​Spells 1–4 m b Ber­serk (SU)
Sove­reign (VI) 20B 75 FSpt/​0 FA/BF M/SL# 210 F 1 (50) 30MBa/​Special/​Spells 1 s b Ber­serk (VH)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 43 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 210 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 137.

Variants: Minor, Lesser, Grea­ter, Major, Lord, Sove­reign (Type I–VI Res­t­less Spi­rits).

Confu­sion: Ani­ma­ted Corpses (Ani­ma­ted Dead), Ghouls (Cor­po­real Trans­for­med), Mum­mies (Bound Spi­rits).

Des­crip­tion: These are the rot­ting, sham­bling remains of dead men and women, ani­ma­ted not by the dark will of a necro­man­cer but by the dis­tur­bed spi­rits of the dead. Often foul groans, sighs, and mut­te­rings stream from these crea­tures” mouths in a conti­nuous babble of hatred and loa­thing. Visually, it can be nigh on impos­sible to dis­tin­guish bet­ween Zom­bies and regu­lar Ani­ma­ted Corpses, but as one watches their actions, the dif­fe­rences become obvious—Animated Corpses are mind­less auto­ma­tons, obeying wha­te­ver ins­truc­tions they have been given to the letter. Zom­bies are aven­ging spi­rits, nor­mally cor­rup­ted by the Unlife, see­king to des­troy all living beings they come across. The more power­ful of the Zom­bies, those that have retai­ned at least « Ave­rage » level intel­li­gence, may even pos­sess the capa­bi­lity to cast spells. One obvious dif­fe­rence bet­ween Zom­bies and Ani­ma­ted Corpses is that Zom­bies will conti­nue to rot.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: The weaker Zom­bies (a jud­ge­ment based on the strength of the Spirit that infests the body, not the body itself) are often not much more intel­li­gent than the Ani­ma­ted Dead with which they are confu­sed. Howe­ver, some of the more power­ful Zom­bies actually pos­sess the capa­city to cast spells, in addi­tion to pos­ses­sing a level of intel­li­gence simi­lar to that pos­ses­sed by the ave­rage man or woman. While Ani­ma­ted Corpses can have the spells that ani­mate them dis­pel­led or sup­pres­sed, Zom­bies are not « ani­ma­ted » in that mea­ning of the word, and so must be bani­shed by a Cleric. Phy­si­cal wea­pons can damage the body of a zombie, and suf­fi­cient phy­si­cal damage can drop the Zombie. Howe­ver, they will rege­ne­rate any combat damage short of a seve­red limb in only a brief period of time (2 hits per round, broken limbs in 2–3 days, organ damage is igno­red). For this reason, it is tra­di­tio­nal to burn or dis­mem­ber the body of a Zombie after defea­ting it.

The Transformed

Dark Lords

(Cor­po­real Trans­for­med)

Refe­rences: RMRole­mas­ter Com­pa­nion VII, p. 114 ; C&T, p. 42 ; C&T II, p. 40 ; RMSS—C&M, pp. 174, 185, 186–187, 190 ; RMFRP—C&M, pp. 118, 126, 130, 131.

Variants: Black Pala­din (Type VI Cor­po­real Trans­for­med), Grey Noble (Type IV Cor­po­real Trans­for­med), Stan­dard Lich (Type VI Cor­po­real Trans­for­med), Elder Lich (Type VI Cor­po­real Trans­for­med), Monas­tic Lich (Type VI Cor­po­real Trans­for­med).

Des­crip­tion: Phy­si­cally, Dark Lords are hideous to look upon. Their pallid grey skin has withe­red and cra­cked, their flesh has atro­phied until they appear little more than skin and bones, and their eyes have been repla­ced by dark pools of a lurid, sickly green fire.
Black Pala­dins still wield the armour and wea­ponry that they used while alive—and it appears always on the verge of disin­te­gra­ting with rust. Their clothes are ragged and smell of mildew, and the colours have all faded to a non­des­cript grey.
Grey Nobles, in contrast, garb them­selves in the finest clo­thing or armour that they can find ; unlike the Black Pala­dins, their belon­gings do not appear to dete­rio­rate.
The Liches are dis­tinct from the other Dark Lords in that they rarely, if ever, wear armour. They strike fear into the hearts of the onloo­ker not though any mar­tial pro­wess they may have—and that can be considerable—but rather through their arcane acumen. The rich, flo­wing robes that they wear are often fashio­ned from heavy suede and felt, although the Monas­tic Liches seem to move with their robes with a grace that is unworldly—they have had eter­nity to master their mar­tial arts.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Assume all Dark Lords to pos­sess pro­wess in both the arts of war and the arts of the arcane. The degree to which they favour one over the other varies with what route they took to become a Dark Lord. Dark Pala­dins and Grey Nobles are most often drawn from pro­fes­sions such as the Pala­din, the War­rior Mage, and the Arms Master, while Monas­tic Liches are more com­monly drawn from Monks/​Adepts and simi­lar dis­ci­plines. Stan­dard and Elder Liches are nor­mally drawn from the more magi­cally orien­ted pro­fes­sions, although almost any spell-using pro­fes­sion makes a good basis for a Dark Lord. This is not enti­rely uni­ver­sal, but is a good rule of thumb. (Because many Grey Nobles are brought over by a Lich or Black Pala­din, it is less common for them to be spell cas­ters ; very often, a Dark Lord will « bring across » the loyal ser­vi­tors and knights that served them while they still brea­thed. Howe­ver, the nature of the ritual streng­thens their control over the arcane, and many Grey Nobles go on to become rea­so­nable spell cas­ters in their own right). 

When in combat with a Dark Pala­din, oppo­nents should note that appea­rances can be deceptive—the armour is always of the highest qua­lity steel (+5 to +15 to DB), and has been enchan­ted to be less encum­be­ring (+5 to +15 to MM). Simi­larly, their wea­ponry is always enchan­ted to be at least +5 (+5 to +20). The rituals that sus­tain a Black Pala­din also serve to cor­rupt the out­ward appea­rances of any­thing they touch. 

While Grey Nobles may pos­sess some arcane acumen (5 PP/​lvl ; assume they know a third as many spell lists as they have levels, and that they know them to their level—lists should be a selec­tion of Open, Closed and Evil lists from wha­te­ver realms suit the cha­rac­ter concept).

The Stan­dard and Elder Liches are consum­mate spell cas­ters (8 PP/​lvl ; assume they know at least as many spell lists as they have levels, to their level—lists should be a selec­tion of Open, Closed, Base, and Evil lists from wha­te­ver realms suit the cha­rac­ter concept). 

Monas­tic Liches and Black Pala­dins are somew­hat inter­me­diary in their arcane poten­tial (7 PP/​lvl ; assume they know half as many spell lists as they have levels, to their level—lists should be a selec­tion of Open, Closed, Base, and Evil lists from wha­te­ver realms suit the cha­rac­ter concept).

Pro­ba­bly the best way of dea­ling with a Dark Lord is to Run Away ! Unfor­tu­na­tely, that isn’t always prac­ti­cal. A Cleric’s spells can assist in hol­ding off a Dark Lord, but to defeat them, one must best them in battle, burn their bodies, and then banish their spi­rits.

Dread Soldier

(Cor­po­real Trans­for­med)

Refe­rences: RMRole­mas­ter Com­pa­nion (I), p. 75 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 177 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 134.

Variants: Dread War­rior (Type II Cor­po­real Trans­for­med), Dread Com­man­der (Type IV Cor­po­real Trans­for­med).

Des­crip­tion: These Trans­for­med war­riors are the scourge of the battlefield—there is nothing to indi­cate that they are dif­ferent until they have already hacked their way through their opponent’s front line. They can shake off mas­sive amounts of damage without see­ming to notice, and they can keep figh­ting when their com­pa­triots have already col­lap­sed from exhaus­tion.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Dread War­riors (ori­gi­nally called Chaos Sol­diers) cannot be stun­ned, have five time the normal amount of exhaus­tion points, and are unaf­fec­ted by acti­vity modi­fiers due to pain or blood loss. They also ignore acti­vity modi­fiers due to injury unless the manoeuvre acti­vely requires the use of the inju­red limb/​organ. Their only weak­ness is a degree of photosensitivity—their skin burns very badly if expo­sed to sun­light (spe­ci­fi­cally ultra­vio­let light, « black light » to you and me). Conse­quently, they always wear full-length sleeves and leg­gings with gloves and boots, and a cloak with a hood obs­cu­ring their face. In battle, appro­pria­tely obs­cu­ring armour is used. Unless their helms are enchan­ted to filter out UV light, they are blin­ded by sun­light (–75 to activity—and they can’t ignore this penalty), so it can be gua­ran­teed that they will seek out a sym­pa­the­tic Alche­mist to fashion them an enchan­ted battle helm PDQ. This means that it is some­times pos­sible to iden­tify Dread War­riors by their headgear—it is usually the most indi­vi­dua­li­sed and baroque head­gear likely to be seen this side of a museum or cere­mo­nial parade.


(Cor­po­real Trans­for­med)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 42 ; C&T II, p. 40 ; RMSS—C&M, pp. 183–184, 187 ; RMFRP—C&M, pp. 117, 129–130.

Variants: Lesser and Grea­ter Ghoul (Type I and II Cor­po­real Trans­for­med), Ghoul King (Type IV Cor­po­real Trans­for­med), Living Ghoul (Still Living – Trans­for­ming!), Rot­ting Corpse (Type II Cor­po­real Trans­for­med).

Confu­sion: Ani­ma­ted Corpse (Ani­ma­ted Dead), Mummy (Bound Spirit), Zom­bies (Res­t­less Spi­rits).

Des­crip­tion: Ghouls are stran­gely defor­med, putres­cent corpses with teeth leng­the­ned into fangs and nails streng­the­ned into claws. They are hor­ri­bly ani­mate, and the stench of the grave always accom­pa­nies them in their noc­tur­nal prow­ling. They appear to prefer moist, swampy areas or dry, sandy areas where they can easily burrow into the soft earth while the sun holds sway over the land. When the night once again casts its concea­ling cloak across the world, these Undead rise from the earth, shed­ding dirt, worms and grubs as they make their nightly patrols.
Many Ghouls carry a fes­te­ring infec­tion called Ghoul-rot ; there is a good chance that anyone coming in contact with a Ghoul will contact this ill­ness. This foul cor­rup­tion is an incu­rable infec­tion that causes 1d5 hits per day (and counts as 10 Taint Points per day), which slowly eat away at vic­tims until they die—at which point they will rise as Ghouls. (Ghoul-rot gets a +50 to resis­ting the effects of hea­ling spells that seek to remedy the damage).

Living Ghouls are beings that have been hea­vily tain­ted by the Unlife (at least 100 points of Per­ma­nent Taint) and have rever­ted to a depra­ved, can­ni­ba­lis­tic mind­set. The gro­wing level of Taint in their sys­tems leads to a variety of dis­tor­tions in their out­ward appea­rance, but the vast majo­rity can be typi­fied as grey-skin­ned, hunch-backed huma­noids with long teeth and claws. The psy­cho­lo­gi­cal stress of the Taint nor­mally causes them to lose their minds, and with it any know­ledge of civi­li­sa­tion, high society or arcane know­ledge that they may once have pos­ses­sed. These unfor­tu­nates are des­ti­ned to become Ghouls if they « sur­vive » the trans­for­ma­tion ; as their bodies accu­mu­late more and more Taint, the various organs begin to shut down. If a vital organ shuts down before com­ple­tion of the trans­for­ma­tion, that indi­vi­dual will perish without beco­ming a Ghoul. 

A Rot­ting Corpse is merely ano­ther name for a Ghoul, but one which implies that it is even fur­ther cor­rup­ted than a normal Ghoul—the smell of fes­te­ring decay announces the pre­sence of such a Ghoul long before it can be seen in the dark­ness. Its flesh oozes and its limbs are home to car­rion insects—boils of grubs often squirm and writhe around the flesh, drop­ping onto the ground as the ghoul moves.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Ghouls represent the beings that became so Tain­ted that they were Trans­for­med, yet lacked the arcane abi­li­ties to control the Trans­for­ma­tion. They truly are the most unfor­tu­nate of the Trans­for­med.
Stu­pi­dity typi­cally clouds the jud­ge­ment and beha­viour of Ghouls—they remain highly ter­ri­to­rial, figh­ting any new­co­mers, inclu­ding other Ghouls. The more intel­li­gent qui­ckly become ele­va­ted to the posi­tion of Ghoul King, capable of uni­ting and lea­ding legions of Ghouls against the living. Not so much known for the ter­rible damage they inflict, or even the Ghoul-rot that will condemn its vic­tims to an ever­las­ting hell, Ghouls are renow­ned for how hard they are to des­troy. They ignore all modi­fiers due to pain (hit loss) or exhaus­tion, cannot be stun­ned, do not bleed—a « hits per round » results causes that amount of « blood » to spray out­wards in that round, but the Ghoul does not conti­nue to bleed—and ignore penal­ties due to damage to limbs unless the manoeuvre directly involves that limb. Their bodies also rege­ne­rate at a hor­ren­dous rate once they burrow into the ground—they rege­ne­rate at a rate of 8 hits per round, and dama­ged bones, muscles, connec­tive tissue, and organs rege­ne­rate at a simi­larly acce­le­ra­ted rate. The Ghoul must be burned to prevent this occur­ring.


(Non­cor­po­real Trans­for­med)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, pp. 42–43 ; RMSS—C&M, pp. 174, 192, 199, 207–208 ; RMFRP—C&M, pp. 121, 125, 126, 132.

Variants: Appa­ri­tion (Type III Trans­for­med); Reve­nant (Type II Trans­for­med); Minor, Lesser, and Major Spectres (Types II, III, and V Trans­for­med); Lesser and Grea­ter Wraiths (Types IV and V Trans­for­med).

Confu­sion: Ghosts (Res­t­less Spi­rits).

Des­crip­tion: A deathly-cold glim­mer inha­bits the region where the eyes might shine, revea­ling the pre­sence of these ethe­real spi­rits. Terror heralds their arri­val, and fades with the depar­ture of the tat­te­red cloaks they often wrap around their non­cor­po­real forms. When beings lust for power and evil lies thick in their souls, it may be that at the point of death, they do not sever their ties with this plane, but rather gather into them­selves the power of the Unlife, trans­for­ming into a power­ful Undead—a Spectre.
Many Spectres revel in the fear that their mere pre­sence causes, relying upon it and the chil­ling effect that their touch pos­sesses over and above any sor­ce­rous powers they may pos­sess.
In contrast, the pre­sence of an Appa­ri­tion evokes less panic ; the Appa­ri­tion ins­tead revels in its abi­lity to mingle with the living, cau­sing chaos with its foul sor­cery.

A Reve­nant pre­fers the more direct method—it wields an enchan­ted weapon in its semi-cor­po­real claws, the weapon floa­ting beside a misty figure that becomes ever more imma­te­rial as it nears the ground, although its mas­tery of the arcane should not ever be in doubt. 

The Wraiths appea­rance dif­fers from the other Spectres in that it is the most likely to wear dark capes or cloaks that serve to give it a phy­si­cal pre­sence on this plane. Many are consum­mate war­riors in addi­tion to being power­ful magi­cians, capable of defea­ting any living war­rior in hand-to-hand combat. This pro­wess is often due to the fact that Wraiths—more than any other form of Spectre—tend to be crea­ted through the use of arte­facts or out­side influence rather than the beings” innate spell-cas­ting capa­bi­li­ties.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: Most Spectres (of all types) are power­ful spell-cas­ters. Refer to the lec­ture entit­led On the Trans­for­med and the Pro­cess of Trans­for­ma­tion for more details on their powers. Here we should just note that as they are power­ful non­cor­po­real spi­rits dra­wing their powers from the Unlife, normal wea­pons can’t affect Spectres.


(Cor­po­real Trans­for­med)

Refe­rences: RM—C&T, p. 43 ; C&T II, p. 36 ; RMSS—C&M, pp. 201, 204 ; RMFRP—C&M, pp. 124, 136.

Variants: Minor, Lesser, Grea­ter Vam­pyre (Type IVVI Cor­po­real Trans­for­med). Vam­py­ric Ogre (Type IV Cor­po­real Trans­for­med).

Notes: Vam­py­ric Drakes and Were­wolves are not pos­sible under my scheme of things. If a GM wants to intro­duce such crea­tures, he will have to dis­re­gard the infor­ma­tion inclu­ded in the essay On the Secrets of the Dra­gons, which I will hope­fully make avai­lable even­tually. Just as a taster—a ritual called the Ritual of Ascen­sion creates « True Dra­gons. » They are so clo­sely tied to the Essænce that they could never become crea­tures of the Unlife. The Dra­gons and their fol­lo­wers, the Druids, are assis­ted by two other forces, the Were­wolves and the Slayers, both of which are crea­ted through rituals that can only be cast by a Dragon of at least 30th^ level. A Dragon can only have one Slayer, but can have mul­tiple Were­wolves (1 for every 5 full levels) to lead their forces against the forces of the Unlife.
I always though Vam­py­ric Gor­gons an odd idea—they would find get­ting a meal rather dif­fi­cult since their very gaze turns the prey to stone ! Vam­py­ric Cen­taurs have not been inclu­ded because there are no Cen­taurs in Palia. If you use Cen­taurs, I sup­pose they would fit fairly well.

Des­crip­tion: In almost every case, male or female, regard­less of from what race the Vam­pyres are drawn, they are gifted with excep­tio­nal pre­sence and appea­rance. Their sculp­ted faces and por­ce­lain skin tones are home to eyes as deep as the Void and filled with an all-consu­ming hunger. This hunger mani­fests itself as a dri­ving moti­va­tion and an intense pas­sion that colours every aspect of a Vampyre’s exis­tence.

Vam­py­ric Ogres are iden­ti­cal to normal Vam­pyres except for one small dif­fe­rence : The Ogres, Trolls and simi­lar base stock from which they are drawn lack the intel­li­gence and strength of spirit to become truly inde­pendent of their pro­ge­ni­tor, who can create a line of power­ful, blindly obe­dient ser­vants and war­riors to lead the hosts of the Unlife.

Powers, Limi­ta­tions & Des­truc­tion: The dis­tin­gui­shing fea­ture of Vam­pyres is that they drink the blood of the sen­tient races. Per­haps what people do not rea­lise is that it is not the blood that they require at all—that is merely a ritua­li­sed method of fee­ding. Rather, while they consume the blood that runs in the veins of their vic­tims, they also feed upon the very souls of their vic­tims. Per­sons drai­ned by a Vam­pyre have no chance of reco­very ; their spi­rits have been utterly consu­med. For spe­ci­fic details on Vam­pyres and the other Trans­for­med, refer to the essay entit­led On the Trans­for­med and the Pro­cess of Trans­for­ma­tion, which I hope to be post­ing soon.

The other fea­tures of Vam­pyres which are sup­po­sedly « common know­ledge » — sun­light, wooden stakes, holy sym­bols, garlic, fire, being invi­ted through door­ways — all have some truth to them, but is a confu­sing area. The « stake though the heart » is only vaguely true ; like any other gross phy­si­cal damage, it will serve to inca­pa­ci­tate the Vam­pyre. The sto­ries of the Vam­pyre disin­te­gra­ting in a puff of smoke are unfor­tu­nate errors. As a Vam­pyre grows more power­ful, it gains the abi­lity to ins­tan­ta­neously trans­port itself to its refuge if it suf­fers a serious injury. Holy water and holy sym­bols can do serious damage if the god is ali­gned against the Unlife. Burns from both fire and sun­light heal very slowly, cau­sing a Vam­pyre to be wary of both. Garlic, and seve­ral other less-well-known herbs, are repul­sive to Vam­pyres because of their abi­lity to retard or reverse the effects of Taint. That they must be invi­ted across a door­way is, oddly, true, but there are so many caveats to the situa­tion that it is not some­thing on which I would like to rely.

The des­truc­tion of a Vam­pyre requires the co-ope­ra­tion of the cle­ri­cal, the magi­cal and the combative—the Vam­pyre must be phy­si­cally inca­pa­ci­ta­ted and the body burned to prevent it hea­ling itself. As they are power­ful com­ba­tants and power­ful spell-cas­ters, it isn’t always as easy as it might sound ! 

The Creatures, Servants, and Lords of the Unlife

Since true beings of the Unlife are not Undead, but are rather Demons of the Unlife, I will simply list them here in a highly abbre­via­ted format. Remember—contact or proxi­mity to the Unlife causes Taint.

Table I : Creatures, Servants, and Lords of the Unlife

Name Class Spe­cial Notes and Refe­rences
Ban­shee (Ban Shidhe) Type I Its fear­ful wail para­lyses its prey, which it then eats. RM—C&T, p. 43 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 96 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 68.
Blood Beast Type IIIIV Lesser : Type III – Grea­ter : Type IV. These appear to be Ani­mate Corpses, slick with a thick layer of fresh blood. They leave bloody tracks whe­re­ver they go. They are nor­mally found with seve­ral Undead ser­vants wiel­ding sharp blades. Any wound within 50” of these crea­tures bleeds at 2x normal rate, and the blood seems to « fly » to the crea­ture, hea­ling it of the same amount of damage. RM—C&T II, p. 37 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 175 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 115.
Caus­tic Slime Type I A quasi-fungal growth that thrives in damp loca­tions, it can break down prac­ti­cally any orga­nic or metal­lic mate­rial into food. RM—C&T, p. 29 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 73 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 55.
Dark Appa­ri­tion Type II Shape-chan­gers able to alter their forms at will, Dark Appa­ri­tions are also called « Bogey­men » because they always adopt the form they know ter­ri­fies the viewer most. RM—C&T II, p. 37 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 178 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 127.
Gloom­bird Type I These are insub­stan­tial, mist-like birds, des­cri­bed alter­na­tely like mas­sive crows or vul­tures. The very pre­sence of a Gloom­bird will infest an area with a miasma of depres­sion. RM—C&T II, p. 40 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 185 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 129.
Mist Mons­ter Type III Icy-cold ten­drils of grey mist rea­ching for­ward out of the dark, mist mons­ters are crea­tures that appear to be com­po­sed of ani­mate mist. They feed on the heat evol­ved from living orga­nisms, espe­cially ani­mals, drai­ning it with their insub­stan­tial touch. Any crea­ture cap­tu­red in their ten­drils will lose per­iphe­ral body heat at a rate of 1 degree every minute until it escapes. As its per­iphe­ries lose heat, they will go numb and stop func­tio­ning pro­perly. After 5 minutes, the mist will begin to leach core body heat. The victim will pass out if its core body tem­pe­ra­ture falls more than 3–4 degrees and is very unli­kely to sur­vive without magi­cal inter­ven­tion if its core body tem­pe­ra­ture falls more than 6–7 degrees, even if the mist is driven back and its body is rehea­ted. RM—C&T II, p. 17 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 82 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 60.
Night­gaunt Type III Power­ful crea­tures that appear like large, hag­gard car­rion crows, with wing­spans in excess of 15”, Night­gaunts are noc­tur­nal car­rion eaters that view the world ethe­really because they pos­sess no sight. Like many car­rion eaters, they follow mar­ching armies, hoping for battle, but they consume not only the bodies but also the spi­rits of the fallen, men and women. RM—C&T II, p. 40 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 191 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 131.
Night­wing Type II Sha­dowy, winged shapes with wing­spans of 4”–8”, their insub­stan­tial claws rake the very soul—each attack wea­kens the spirit, stun­ning their vic­tims. When they pass out from accu­mu­la­ted stun, night­wings feed upon their souls (takes 1 minute). RM—C&T II, p. 34 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 167 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 111.
(Undead Mass)
Type I–VI Both of these terms refer to the same class of crea­ture, but there is so much varia­tion that it has been tra­di­tio­nal to list seve­ral dif­ferent classes. These « crea­tures » tend to be 7”–9” tall ani­mate mounds of filth, sewage, mag­gots, refuse, decaying flesh, skulls, and prac­ti­cally any­thing else that might get « picked up. » It is rumou­red that the lar­gest one is roughly 30” tall. They absorb dead and dying crea­tures of any shape and form, and when they reach « cri­ti­cal mass »—nor­mally 240–250 pounds (c. 100 kg)—they divide into two sepa­rate beings, each half the size of the ori­gi­nal. Howe­ver, they can choose not to divide should that give them an advan­tage. RM—C&T II, p. 41 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 197 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 132.
Slig­guth Type IV Intel­li­gent, ani­mate slime, they can alter their 10”–15” dia­me­ter form at will, pro­du­cing up to six pseu­do­po­dia at any one time. They only « feed » while in their embryo­nic stage, during which they pos­sess a huma­noid victim by cove­ring it with their slime. They then control it and force it to feed in a can­ni­ba­lis­tic manner. RM—C&T II, p. 35 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 169 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 112.
Veyrr Type VI The single most power­ful Unlife Demon known to exist, a Veyrr (the Veyrr?) is akin to a god in its capa­ci­ties. Of course, it must remain near the rift, as there is insuf­fi­cient Unlife per­mea­ting the rest of Kul­thea to sup­port it. None can be cer­tain what it looks like, or what its capa­ci­ties are, because it has slain any that could report back. RM—C&T II, p. 42 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 206 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 137.
Wild Hunt Hound Type I This is a ghostly white crea­ture, simi­lar in form to a hound, whose eyes and mouth, glo­wing red, paint racing streaks of pale fire across the skies and the lands on the nights of the Hunt ; their wild cries drive all without shel­ter before them. Only the Hunts­man, using the evil talis­man called the Horn of the Hunt, sum­mons them. A great pack gathers at the sound of the Horn, ready to race across the land­scape, hun­ting all that dare walk the land. RM—C&T, p. 43 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 210 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 137.
Will o” the Wisp Type I A tiny spark dan­cing and bob­bing in the dis­tance that beckons to the unwary, the Will o” the Wisp will pur­po­sely try to get its vic­tims lost, lea­ding them into marshes and swamps in an attempt to get them mired or stuck in quick­sand. Simi­lar to the Mist Mons­ter in how it feeds, the Will o” the Wisp will then feed on the body heat of its victim, although it leaches the heat at just one-third the rate. RM—C&T, p. 31 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 87 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 62.
Wrath Type IV-VI (Minor : Type IV — Grea­ter : Type V — Major : Type VI) These are ebony-skin­ned, gaunt huma­noids with foot-long, razor-sharp claws in the same, unre­len­ting black as the rest of their bodies. They have eyes that gleam with a black light while their mouths grin in the anti­ci­pa­tion of a slaugh­ter. As they are highly intel­li­gent and often power­ful spell-cas­ters, it is pos­sible that this is what the « intel­li­gent races » look like on the other side of the rift. RM—C&T II, p. 42 ; RMSS—C&M, p. 194 ; RMFRP—C&M, p. 126.

Table II : Results of Contact with the Undead and Creatures of the Unlife

Results of Contact — Animated Dead

LED Contact* = Life Essence Drain / Contact

LED Proxi­mity* = Life Essence Drain / Proxi­mity

Ani­ma­ted Corpse

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Stan­dard Type I–VI (Taints)
Disem­bo­died Head Type III Taints, Drains 1d4/​rnd
Roa­ming Hand Type II (Taints)

Ani­ma­ted Ske­le­ton

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Stan­dard Type I–VI (Taints)
Ice Ske­le­ton Type I–VI (Taints)
Iron Ske­le­ton Type I–VI (Taints)
Necros Type I (Taints)
Skull­bat Type I–III (Taints)
Skull­pack Type III (Taints)
Spi­ders­kull Type I (Taints)

Results of Contact — Bound Spirits

Black Reaver

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Lesser Type VI Taints
Grea­ter Type VI Taints

Golem (various)

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Golem (various) (Type = « Level »/5) (Taints)


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Homun­cu­lus Type III


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Lesser Type III
Grea­ter Type IV
Dark Type IV Taints


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Lesser Type II Taints, Drains 2d10/​rnd
Grea­ter Type IV Taints, Drains 2d10/​rnd

Shadow Assas­sin

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Lesser Type IV (Taints) 10´ crit sev.
Grea­ter Type V (Taints) 15´ crit sev.
Major Type VI (Taints) 20´ crit sev.

Results of Contact — Restless Spirits

Corpse Light

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Corpse Candle Type III 4/​rnd
Corpse Lan­tern Type IV 5/​rnd


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Dea­th­woode Type IV 4/​rnd

Desert Spi­rits

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Desert Spi­rits Type III


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Minor Type II 1/​rnd
Lesser Type III 2/​rnd
Grea­ter Type IV 3/​rnd
Major Type V 4/​rnd
Mara Type II Taints 2/​rnd

Fire Phan­tom

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Fire Phan­tom Type III 1/​rnd


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Minor Type II 2/​rnd
Lesser Type III 3/​rnd
Grea­ter Type IV 5/​rnd
Head­less Type V 3/​rnd
Phan­tom Type I 1/​rnd
Phan­tom Steed Type II (Taints)

Ske­le­tal Lords

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Ske­le­ton Joker Type II (Taints)
Ske­le­ton Lord Type III (Taints)
Ske­le­ton Sove­reign Type IV (Taints)
Red Ske­le­ton Type V (Taints)

Swamp Star

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Swamp Star Type IV 6/​rnd


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Minor Type IV Taints 10´ crit sev. 4/​rnd
Lesser Type V Taints 15´ crit sev. 5/​rnd
Major Type IV Taints 20´ crit sev. 6/​rnd
Barrow Type V Taints 15´ crit sev. 5/​rnd


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Zom­bies Type I–VI Taints

Results of Contact — The Transformed

Dark Lords

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Black Pala­din Type VI Taints 3/​rnd
Grey Noble Type IV Taints 1/​rnd
Stan­dard Lich Type VI Taints 5/​rnd 1/​rnd
Monas­tic Lich Type VI Taints 5/​rnd 1/​rnd
Elder Lich Type VI Taints 15/​rnd 5/​rnd

Dread Sol­diers

Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Dread War­rior Type II Taints
Dread Com­man­der Type IV Taints


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Lesser Type I Taints
Grea­ter Type II Taints
Ghoul King Type IV Taints
Living Ghoul Living Taints (1/5)
Rot­ting Corpse Type II Taints


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Appa­ri­tion Type III Taints 1/​rnd
Reve­nant Type II Taints 3/​rnd
Minor Spectre Type II Taints 10/​rnd
Lesser Spectre Type III Taints 15/​rnd
Major Spectre Type V Taints 20/​rnd
Lesser Wraith Type IV Taints 10/​rnd
Grea­ter Wraith Type V Taints 20/​rnd


Name Class Cor­rup­tion LED Contact* LED Proxi­mity*
Minor Type IV Taints, Drains 15/​rnd
Lesser Type V Taints, Drains 20/​rnd
Grea­ter Type VI Taints, Drains 30/​rnd
Vam­py­ric Ogre Type IV Taints, Drains 15/​rnd

Notes on Using this Chart

The Undead can cause both Life Essence Drain and give Taint/​Corruption. The table « Sources of Cor­rup­tion » (The Cor­rup­tion and Taint of the Unlife) lists two levels of pos­sible inter­ac­tion with crea­tures of the Unlife and the Undead—« contact » and being « spla­shed by the blood of the Unlife. » This table does not repli­cate that infor­ma­tion ; where a crea­ture causes taint due to its connec­tion to the Unlife, it is simply noted as such. If the crea­ture is not always connec­ted to the Unlife, this will be indi­ca­ted by pla­cing the word Taints in (paren­theses). Howe­ver, cer­tain beings—Vampyres, Spectres, and Sha­dows, to name but a few—remain in extre­mely close contact for pro­lon­ged per­iods. This causes the victim to accrue Taint at the higher rate (as if the victim had been « spla­shed by the blood of the Unlife »). Thus a Vam­pyre, being a Cor­po­real Trans­for­med Undead, causes bet­ween 8 and 12 Taint Points per minute while in close proxi­mity (« contact »). If it over­po­wers its victim, and begins to feed, the victim will suffer 20–30 points of Taint per round.

The Unlife and the Realms of Magic

The Unlife adds a com­pli­ca­tion to the basic Spell Law structure—instead of the conven­tio­nal three realms (Chan­ne­ling, Essence, and Men­ta­lism ; pos­si­bly also Psio­nics), now at least six exist. I per­so­nally solved this pro­blem by com­ple­tely restruc­tu­ring the various realms. My system uses exactly four realms : 

GM’s who do not wish to imple­ment such a radi­cal change to the spell system should simply imple­ment spells such as Detect Unlife, Cancel Unlife, Unlife Resis­tance, etc., at two levels higher than the most expen­sive spell of simi­lar name on the same list. Thus, if a spell list contains Detect Essence at 1st^ level, Detect Chan­ne­ling at 2nd^, and Detect Men­ta­lism at 3rd^, the GM should add a 5th^ level spell called Detect Unlife. Of course, if the caster is a Crea­ture of the Unlife, the Detect Essence and Detect Unlife spells should be swap­ped.

Editor’s Note

Please post your com­ments on this article on the RM2 or RMSS Dis­cus­sion Boards.


Pour les fichiers .markdown, préférer un clic droit et sélectionner
« Enregistrer le lien sous... »