This is getting really spooky!
The dancing dead are a unique kind of undead. Their main facade is appearing harmless and whimsical, making them much like dark fae spirits in some sense. They put on elaborate shows and dances, doing incredible routines that few can do in life. In fact, some take part in music relevant to the dance they’re displaying. (Rumor has it that this and this are the most common musical themes.) Most likely, the Dancing Dead were once talented masters of art and acrobatics in life themselves.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I made a swarm of spooky, scary skeletons for Pathfinder sometime last year or the year before and they were a blast to run! With that, I brought them back for 5E, right on time for Halloween. This time, I made them more generic undead. They could be skeletons, zombies or whatever! No matter, Happy Halloween, everyone!!
You are born from the stuff of nightmares. From a young age, you had come to know fear, as fear was very much a part of you. You faced wretched terrors as well as found methods of eventually manipulating them. Some figure you to be mad, but you know that your mental fortitude against vile horrors is far greater than most uses of magick.
NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE
Throughout the ages, many places of rest are long since forgotten. Eventually, departed souls come to realize they too have been forgotten. In self-pity and despair, they either continue to haunt these grounds or return from the afterlife. Eventually, these souls bond together as their hatred and sorrow grow, slowly fusing with the forsaken ground as well. A hivemind made of dirt, bone and soul arises to bring forth legions of undead to chastise the living. These creatures are known as Graveyard Tyrants, commanding waves of undead horrors while seeking to control the living out of a sense of vengeance. These tyrants often stir where cemeteries once stood, watching them with a sense of duty and honor; as they feel no one will tend to the grounds besides them. While they have a great hatred towards living creatures, they have a connection to the realm where they were spawned and will do anything they can to protect it.
“Let me just reach into your mind…”
Deep within the realms of the fae lie particularly insidious spirits that thrive off the minds and life forces of material plane creatures. These parasites drain both energy and sanity from their hosts, rendering them into a vegetative state or possibly empty husks. Referred to as psychic vampires by some, this category isn’t far from the truth. They have the ability to mentally drain targets who are very much awake, making them a threat in active combat too. Few have seen to recount about their fateful incursions. Most remark that these winged creatures have muted and soulless features. In a sense, they fit the mold of the classic vampire in many ways, but with a more faerie-driven motif as well.
Luckily, these creatures are quite cowardly. If put in a situation beyond their control, they will do all in their path to escape and search for a much weaker target to feast from. Their preferred prey is helpless creatures locked into sleep. This is where their name comes from, despite them being indifferent towards targeting unconscious or generally helpless creatures.
Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.
IMAGE SOURCE: elves, by youxiandaxia
When a soul faces great tragedy, not even the dead are granted final repose. When this isn’t the case, some sort of plight plagues ghosts, tethering them to this world. The whole experience horrifies, saddens and angers them greatly. Ghosts are created from all the mortal races of the multiverse, trapped in the realm of the living until they can finally break free into the lands of the dead.
Creating Ghostly Haunts
Ghostly Haunt is a template applied to any living non-planar creature. Creatures with this template have died and returned as undead. Stats after the jump.
Wizards are weird.
In darker settings, distant beings and magical powers are hard to trust… and for good reason. In older iterations of the game, as well as darker fantasy RPGs like “Dungeon Crawl Classics”, delving into the supernatural had a risk far beyond a price tag and losing a spell slot or gaining the ire of a church. Exploitation of eldritch powers could leave the victim becoming mad, diseased, or both. Turning the forces of chaotic energy into an orderly event is by all means a paradox in and of itself, taking its toll on those who craft too much. Likewise, making bargains with incomprehensible entities too takes its toll. Those who take either too far risk becoming mad or warped beyond recognition.
And worse than exposing yourself to the unknown in immersing yourself is realms tainted by absolute corruption. Desecrated lands, alters to dark gods, creatures that are the truest essence of evil and so on. These sources of the most vile powers in existence are just as likely to twist and decay the soul into something it is not… or was not. While some struggle with sanity, distortion at the hand of dark powers are far worse.
If you prefer, here are some alternative lists that can work as well. Mutations – Part 1 (Benefits), Mutations – Part 2 (Drawbacks), Wild Magic Surge (Alternate)
Author’s Note: This is inspired by corrupted magic from Dungeon Crawl Classics, Carcosa, Taint from D&D 3.5 Heroes of Horror and the Insanity option from the Dungeon Master’s Guide. At its core, this is a variant of the Sanity and Madness rules from the D&D 5E DMG. Also, this is merely a draft for my concept. Expect revision at some point!
Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.
IMAGE SOURCE: Dungeon Crawl Classics
The masters of living death come in multiple forms. Some are the incredible elite, capable of unleashing a new age of darkness. Others are near mindless spawn under the mercy of their creators. In the middle lies most vampires, still powerful creatures of darkness capable of causing absolute hell to the world around them. They retain free will like their masters, but will likely never outrank them. However, an army of the standard “vampyre” rank is capable of doing just as much damage as a high vampire lord themselves! Whoa to those who meet these kindred en mass, for survival chances are exceptionally low.
Author’s Note: The entry for Vampire in the Monster Manual is really damn high. I know vampires are supposed to be absolutely awesome, but that layout better fits Count Strahd for I6 Ravenloft, or at least an elite vampire. So, here’s an entry for vampires that, while not as strong as Strahd, are pretty damn scary. In a sense, it’s a mod of the vampire spawn and the regular vampire more or less.