For most people, the cemetery is a place to reflect and remember. But, dark powers have other plans for these resting places. Thus, the safe haven for the dead becomes a grounds for corruption. Dare you see what wicked deeds taint once sacred memorials?
Author’s Note: What do Tom Waits and cemetery-themed monsters have to do with each other? I’m not sure. But, here are an assortment of higher level foes to fill your boneyards with. A few of these critters make nods to editions past as well as other media. In this case, I wanted to give some pretty powerful undead to face off against. Also, I won’t lie, the recent Joker movie inspired my take on the Wheep to take shape.
Grave Dirt Worm
Spawned and changed from graveyard soil tainted by necromancy, this giant worm is driven by a hunger for dead flesh. While not intelligent, it has developed a desire to hunt in order to further satiate its appetite. Many are bred by dark mages to act as guards for their grounds. Some are intentionally let loose into the domains of necromancers to foil their attempts at creating undead. The Grave Dirt Worm is an ever hungering monster, cursed to consume the mistakes of its creator. They’re aggressive and extremely territorial, with all in its way as prey.
Plane of Origin: Prime Material – Some creatures born from blighted realms need not come from the planes. There are plenty of tainted and vile lands not suitable for life within the prime itself. And as for life that tries to endure? Often it finds itself twisted into heinous forms such as this. Some fear that influence from the Negative Energy plane leaks in just low enough doses to create these abominations. Many have found themselves in strange demiplanes, such as the burnt forests beyond Evernight.
Huge monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 150 (12d12 + 72)
Speed 40 ft., burrow 40 ft.
STR 28 (+9) DEX 16 (+3) CON 22 (+6) INT 3 (-4) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 4 (-3)
Saving Throws Dexterity +7
Skills Athletics +13, Survival +8
Damage Resistances acid
Senses Tremorsense 120 ft., passive Perception 10
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
Quick Dig. The worm can use its bonus action to take the Dash action, but only to burrow or emerge from digging.
Swallow Whole. Upon hitting with a successful bite attack, the target must also make a DC 21 Strength saving throw or be consumed by the worm. The creature moves into the worm’s space and is restrained. At the start of the target’s turn, they take 13 (3d8) acid damage. If the worm takes 20 or more damage from a single attack caused by a creature inside of it, the worm must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. Upon failure, it releases the swallowed victim and all other contents.
Tunneler. The worm can burrow through solid rock at half its burrow speed and leaves a 10-foot-diameter tunnel in its wake.
Multiattack. The Grave Dirt Worm may attack two times per round.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d6 + 9) piercing damage.
Acid Spittle. Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, range 20 ft., one target. Hit: 30 (6d8 + 3) acid damage.
Bury Deep. While the worm is burrowing underground, up to three creatures within 30 ft. of each other must make a DC 21 Strength saving throw. Failure causes them to become restrained, requiring an action to escape (DC 21). Failure by 5 or more causes them to become paralyzed and pulled into the earth completely. Suffocation rules apply. Success results in halved speed until the end of their next turn.
Once a warrior of great prowess, corrupted into a horrible abomination of living death. Devoid of soul and twisted by rage, this body twists into an enlarged mockery of its former self. This undead titan was given a dishonorable grave, despite their service to a greater cause. Embittered, they returned to seek revenge. The resulting creature is an engine of war on a campaign against the living. Worse yet, their rotten flesh seems to mend itself over time. Strangely, necromancy only has so much to do with it. Their sheer conviction and hatred has turned into its own supernatural power.
The Corpse Warrior is always with its weapon and at least some form of armor. And just like warrior, its weapon has also grown to a larger size. During the frenzy of battle, the Corpse Warrior will sometimes swing with reckless abandon, favoring random damage against anything related to the living. Beyond martial violence, the warrior has acquired skills of the dark arts as well. Conjuring grasping skeletal hands, unearthing foul energies from the ground and coughing up corrupted flesh lumps as well. But, by far the most frightening is the warrior’s ability to reanimate victims slain by its weapon in an instant.
Plane of Origin: Prime Material. Just as a Lich is to a powerful spellcaster, the Corpse Warrior is in a similar vein. In a sense, their sheer force of mental resolve, plus the search for expanded life has lead to some darker sources. They have been preserved into a soulless fighting machine. Often, they will work under liches to gain this power, sometimes even crafting something similar to a phylactery. For all intents and purposes, this creature is much akin to the lich.
Large undead, any evil
Armor Class 17 (unholy defense)
Hit Points 152 (16d10 + 64)
Speed 35 ft.
STR 19 (+4) DEX 17 (+3) CON 18 (+4) INT 15 (+2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 14 (+2)
Saving Throws Strength +10, Constitution +10
Skills Investigation +8, Perception +7
Damage Resistances acid, cold, necrotic; bludgeoning piercing and slashing from non-magical weapons
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 17
Languages Common, up to three others
Challenge 19 (22,000 XP)
Axe Whirlwind (Recharge 5 or 6). The Corpse Warrior may make Axe attacks against all creatures within 10 ft.
Create Spawn. Creatures killed by the Corpse Warrior return as zombies after 1 round.
Executioner’s Leap (Recharge 4 – 6). The Corpse Warrior can choose to jump 60 ft. instead of using its normal movement, if they can land within melee reach of a target. Moving away from a target does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Turn Resistance. The Corpse Warrior has advantage on Saving Throws against any effect that turns Undead.
Unholy Defense. The Corpse Warrior is infused with dark auras that protect it. Add its Constitution modifier (+4) to the creature’s armor class.
Multiattack. The Corpse Warrior may attack with Axe of Death two times per round.
Axe of Death. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) necrotic damage.
Soul Grasp (Recharge 4 – 6). Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 36 (8d8) necrotic damage. The target is grabbed, as the Corpse Warrior regains HP equal to half the damage dealt by this attack.
Toss Sludge. Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 36 (6d10 + 3) acid damage. The target must also make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone.
Conjure Skeletal Hand. A 10 ft. large sized skeletal hand forms within 30 ft. of the Corpse Warrior, targeting all enemy creatures within its materialization zone (10 ft.). The targets must make a DC 18 Strength saving throw or be grappled, taking 21 (5d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage as well. If a target fails by 5 or more, they are restrained as well.
Hellish Earth. The corpse warrior strikes the ground as glowing green veins emit a wicked light from below. All creatures within a 30 ft. cone must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or take 26 (4d12) radiant damage. Failure by 5 or more induced 1 level of exhaustion. Success halves damage.
The Corpse Warrior can take 3 Legendary Actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time, and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Spent legendary actions are regained at the start of each turn.
- Weapon Attack. Make an Axe of Death attack.
- Leap Attack (2 Actions). Jump 30 ft. and make a single weapon attack.
- Double Sludge (2 Actions). Make a Sludge attack targeting two creatures within 10 ft. of each other
- Conjure Vermin (3 Actions). 1d3 Swarms of Insects appear within 5 ft. of the Corpse Warrior. Killing them does not grant extra Experience Points. This cannot be used again while there are still Swarms active.
Vampire Tree (Jubokko)
Trees cursed to drink the blood of slain men. Usually, they are found on ancient battlegrounds where the ground itself is drenched in blood. The trees, embittered by the violence, change and shift from the corruption. Over time, they too become bloodthirsty. It is then that you contend with the dreaded Vampire Tree.
Vampire Tree. Save for drinking blood, Jubokko does not need to eat, drink or rest.
Huge plant, neutral evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 148 (14d12 + 56)
Speed 0 ft. (stationary)
STR 25 (+7) DEX 7 (-2) CON 19 (+4) INT 12 (+1) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Resistance fire, lightning, poison; bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from non-magical weapons/cold iron weapons*
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralysis
Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)
Blood Drain. When a creature takes necrotic damage from Jubokko, they lose maximum Hit Points equal to the damage taken. In addition, Jubokko regains hit points equal to half (minimum 1) of the necrotic damage dealt for that round.
Extraordinary Tree. Jubokko cannot be affected by polymorph related spells. Likewise, it has advantage on all saving throws against the Poisoned condition.
Ordinary Tree. While motionless, Jubokko looks indistinguishable from an ordinary tree.
Quick Roots. Any time a creatures moves within its threatened space, treat as if they moved outside of their threatened space and incur an Attack of Opportunity.
Multiattack. Jubokko may attack up to two times. Only one attack may be Draining Branches.
Grabbing Branch. Melee Weapon Attack: +12 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d8 + 7) bludgeoning damage. Instead of dealing damage, Jubokko can grapple the target (escape DC 20).
Draining Branches. Melee Weapon Attack: +12 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target that is grabbed, incapacitated or restrained. Hit: 10 (1d6 + 7) piercing damage plus 14 (4d6) necrotic damage.
Blood Spore Cloud (1/day). Jubokko shoots out a blood mist laced with deadly spores. All living creatures within 30 ft. must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw or take 19 (3d12) necrotic damage. However, all undead in that area regain hit points equal to that amount. Until the end of its next turn, the area also grants half cover, but undead attack as normal.
Jubokko can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Jubokko regains spent legendary actions at the start of their turn.
- Sweeping Limb. One target within 20 ft. must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw. Failure results in them taking 18 (2d10 + 7) bludgeoning damage and they fall prone.
- Grabbing Branch. Make a Grabbing Branch attack.
- Draining Branches (2 Actions). Jubokko makes a Draining Branches attack, if the conditions are met.
- Animate Dead (3 Actions). Jubokko can animate one dead creature within 20 ft. of it, turning it into a zombie or skeleton.
This variant of Jubokko is weaker, but still deadly.
This creature uses the stats of the Treant, with the following modifications:
- Reduce movement to 0 ft.
- Replace Animate Trees with Animate Dead as an action. See above.
- Give Blood Drain. See above. However, it does not regain HP, only reduce the maximum of the target’s.
- Give Slam a 20 ft. reach., allow the Treant to take a bonus action to use Death Branch if one or more of the Slams hit.
- Replace Rock with
- Death Branch. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (2d10 + 6) bludgeoning damage plus 11 (2d10) necrotic damage.
Winterwight (Return to the Tomb of Horrors)
Blighted creatures as cold as the most wicked of souls. These beings are concocted from exposure to the Negative Energy Plane coupled with some of the most fell sorceries known to reality as a whole. Evil forces have built these things up in particularly tainted places equally coated in the cold. While hotter-based versions of these creatures likely exist, these are quite the special oddity onto themselves.
Plane of Origin: Deep Ethereal – City of Moil – Acererak tampered much with the sleeping city of Moil. Among his creations was a new form of undead well suited for the chilled city in lock down. Acererak had his own agenda beyond utilizing the city. This was but one step in his process to ascend beyond greater heights. And, as long as Orcus continued to ignore the lands, he would reap the rewards.
Medium undead, chaotic evil
Armor Class 20 (natural armor)
Hit Points 171 (18d8 + 90)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
STR 22 (+6) DEX 18 (+4) CON 20 (+5) INT 11 (+0) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 20 (+5)
Saving Throws Intelligence +5
Damage Vulnerabilities fire
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from non-magical weapons
Damage Immunities cold, necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, petrified, poisoned, stunned
Senses Blindsight 120 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Moilan
Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)
Armor of Orcus (1/day). As a bonus action, the Winterwight can conjure a glossy, magical coating on its skin to protect it. Creatures who hit the Winterwight while this is active within 10 ft. take 10 cold damage and 10 necrotic. This effect lasts for 1 minute.
Blackfire. Creatures that come into contact with the Winterwight, whether melee attack or touch, risk being afflicted by blackfire, the pulsating flames of unlife that wrap around the frozen form. When this happens, they must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw. Upon failure, the target loses 1d4 hit dice worth of hit points (including Con modifier per hit die) from their maximum hit points. The afflicted may make another saving throw at the start of their turn, or continue to suffer. However, succeeding three saving throws in a row fends off the affliction. However, Greater Restoration or completing a long rest will restore the lost maximum hit points after the effect is stopped. To remove an active Blackfire as well as undo its effects, a spellcaster must target the afflicted with both Greater Restoration and Remove Curse, both cast within 1 minute of each other. Creatures brought down to 0 hit dice immediately die, as they are reduced to a consumed and blackened skeleton with otherwise untouched gear. Their souls are lost permanently. And even worse, blackfire can spread from the tainted corpse onto another living being, should they get too close.
Cold Absorption. Instead of taking cold damage, the Winterwight regains hit points equal to the cold damage rolled.
Dark Regeneration. As long as the Winterwight hasn’t taken fire damage that round, it regains 15 hit points at the start of its turn.
Turn Immunity. The Winterwight cannot be turned like other undead.
Multiattack. The Winterwight may make three Claws attacks.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (5d4 + 6) slashing damage plus 5 (1d8) cold damage plus 4 (1d8) necrotic damage. The target must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or have its speed reduced by 5 feet. This effect stacks until it reaches 0. This effect ends after completing a short or long rest or being targeted by a Lesser Restoration or Greater Restoration spell.
Breath Weapon (Recharge 6). The Winterwight exhales a 30 ft. cone. All creatures within targeted area must make a DC 18 Dexterity saving throw or take 22 (4d10) cold damage plus 22 (4d10) necrotic damage. A successful save causes halved damage.
Wheep (Libris Mortis)
Tortured souls, bent and twisted by the sadistic. Their agony is blatantly visible, even as they’re forced to attack all around them. These once-mortals were physically and mentally broken by the most cruel beings imaginable, with no one to help them. Kytons, cults of pain and more capture the innocent to experiment in sickening ways. When the creature dies in this state of anguish, its evil masters revive the body for new purpose. This newly formed undead continues in anguish, forced to serve out of a lingering dread, forced to carry out horribly violent acts. It has no control over the deeds it enacts. And worst of all, many of them are aware of what they do. Because of this, not all of their crying calls are lures for traps, but also genuine pleas to end their suffering.
Often the Wheep is used to act as their masters do, torturing as they see fit. Some will have wheeps act as means of gathering information, disguising them as outcasts and the tortured of society; more future subjects for the powers of evil torment and corrupt. However, not all wheeps are made from sad victims. Some are jaded and disenfranchised masses who would sacrifice their own souls to get back at the societies that tortured them so. These forces are willing to do anything in the name of revenge, pain already affects them deeply in some manner anyway. The devilish beings that be are more than happy to oblige their seething hate.
Plane of Origin: Acheron – Originally a creation of Pain Devils, Kytons, the cult of Loviatar from Abeir-Toril; these creatures were supposed to be minions of the Blood War and general slaves to their diabolical creators. Eventually, the rituals and powers used to create them were taken by the highest bidder and the process was spread throughout a dark underground. One particularly barmy member of the Bleak Cabal is credited to making Wheeps in the depths of the Weary Spirit Infirmary. One has even escaped into the Hive Ward of Sigil, attacking Hivers out of hysteria.
Medium undead, lawful evil
Armor Class 16 (profane enchantment)
Hit Points 150 (20d8 + 60)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 19 (+4) DEX 15 (+2) CON 17 (+3) INT 10 (+0) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 16 (+3)
Saving Throws Dexterity+5, Intelligence +3
Skills Deception +9, Perception +5, Stealth +5
Damage Resistances necrotic
Damage Immunities cold, fire, poison
Condition Immunities frightened, poisoned
Senses Blindsight 120 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages whatever it knew in life
Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)
Blinded. The Wheep is inherently blind. All blindness effects automatically succeed against the Wheep. Likewise, it fails all Wisdom (Perception) checks made with sight, if it doesn’t substitute it out for another sense. This is where its blindsight factors in. However, it will have trouble pinpointing anything outside of that range, even with its other senses.
Chilling Cries. When the Wheep isn’t hiding, it lets out an obvious cry of anguish. Its cries of suffering wear down the listener. All creatures that start their turn within 60 ft. of the Wheep must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened. Those who succeed are immune to the frightened condition from a Wheep for 24 hours, except from its Wail of the Void ability.
Profane Enchantment. Wheeps add their charisma modifier to their armor class. Likewise, their attacks are considered magical.
Multiattack. The Wheep may attack three times per round, including Weeping Call.
Poisonous Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage plus 11 (2d10) poison damage.
Poison Spray. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, all creatures in 30 ft. cone. Hit: 20 (4d8 + 2) poison damage.
Weeping Call. All creatures within 20 ft. that aren’t deafened or immune to frightened must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw. Failure results in taking 10 (4d4) psychic damage.
Wail of the Void (1/day). When hit with an attack, the Wheep can use a reaction to make a sonic shriek, affecting all creatures within 60 ft. The targeted creatures must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw. Failure results in taking 14 (4d6) psychic damage and 14 (4d6) thunder damage, plus they are also frightened for up to 1 minute. Success results in halved damage. Frightened creatures may make a new saving throw at the start of their turn. Creatures that are deafened or immune to frightening effects are not affected by this ability.
*Functionally the same as silvered weapons
IMAGE CREDITS: Andy Shaw – Graveyard; Capcom – Gravedigger; WB Games/Midway – Lich; Matthew Meyer – Jubokko; Pinosious – Winterwight; Jeremy Jarvis – Wheep