They shouldn’t have existed, mistakes of nature and mistakes of humanity! These abominations were the accidents as a result of careless experiments and deadly warfare. And the result? Worse than we could have ever feared. Confused, angry, resentful, hateful! These things seek to destroy both their creators and the world around them. Much like the forces that spawned them, destruction is usually their goal. But, these creatures are no villains, but the consequences of arrogance, apathy, discrimination and violence.
Author’s Note: As a continuation of my theme, here’s a plethora of horrible mutants and mad experiments. While much of it is revisiting old monsters, there’s a good amount of new goodies to toss into your wastelands, super secret labs and other such locations.
Stories of monsters changes through the ages, adapt to different societies and views. Some tales and creatures alike die out, while new ones are born. These can be from new developing trends or even tragedies. Wherever they’re spawned from, their dastardly ways will terrorize much like their predecessors before them.
In a world closer to our own, when the stories truly connect to us on some level, we truly begin to think about it… and when we dwell on the thought, then we get scared. This is the true effect of horror. Now please, look behind you so we can be properly acquainted…
“Corpses. Lumbering, rotting cadavers. What contrivance could have wrought this… this abomination!? Diseased science…? Blasphemous occult rituals? How can something so… so dead, be so alive?” – Maximilian Roivas, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
The Ancients are awakening, as they gather forces to fight in their onslaught on the grounds below. And what better army than the countless dead, reconstructed to work as puppets for more death. And once more are slain, they too are recruited to the shuffling mindless masses. This doesn’t even take into account other vile things, far detached from our own realities. Whether born of brutality, the esoteric or the absolutely mad; these zombies exist in agony and awareness that cosmic forces use them as toys. Worse yet, they often have no capacity to do anything about it. Many of these undead puppets are merely just that, puppets. They have no control over their actions beyond the necromancer-like orders that the old ones give. For the most part, they are told to attack the living as well as defeat any old one creature with a rival alignment.
While more numerous than the eldritch horrors conjured from the realms of the ancients, the undead are terrifying for a different reason… they were once us! They are but mere corpses reanimated and altered to serve their respective aligned ancient. They are often spawned where the lines between our world and the realm of the ancients tend to be weaker and where rifts can be more easily established. This is often the resting place of dark powers, sites of deranged rituals or former homes of those terrorized by ancient horrors.
Author’s Note: Eternal Darkness is one of my favorite games of all time. Some of the madness effects still give me chills. So, why not bring even more monsters from the game to D&D 5E? Here’s a handful of the variant zombies you encounter throughout the game.
“Captain, there’s far too many!” “I think I am well aware of that!”
Zombies, disposable minions of the undead. Alone, these near mindless shambling corpses pose little threat. But woe to those who get too close to a horde of them, for they risk being torn apart by a walking mob of death. Zombies come in many stocks, destroying all that they encounter. In some instances, a single living dead can spell disaster for anything it comes into direct contact with. Such zombies are loaded with corruptive pathogens that create more walking dead when their victims fall. Others are brought back through a mixture of divine rites and deadly neurotoxins, forced to work off the sins they committed in their past lives. Others are the foul manifestations of negative energies, twisted and corrupted for likely malicious purpose.
No matter the origin, the zombie is a creature synonymous with absolute horror. Its shambling remains exist to cause destruction and misery. Only by slaying them can you hope to put their miserable souls to rest. Sometimes that is not enough; consecration, utter annihilation, reburying the remains and burning everything are typical ways to rid the undead plague. Sometimes, pushing the problem elsewhere is the only action that can be taken.
Author’s Notes: Zombies, for when you run out of ideas and need a horror monster on the spot! But in all seriousness, I love zombies in all sorts of games, even though they are typically the result of a creative dry spell. That said, building zombies is always fun, so I wanted to make some monstrous variants as examples of you can make legions of living dead at the disposal of necromantic masters. Also, be on the look out for the finale of my Gothic & Gaslamp theme!
“Yooou who reeeekindle the Flaaaame, embraaaaccceee deeaatttthhhh!”
Sometimes, the sweet embrace of death is all but impossible for countless damned souls. They are forced to continue to walk a dark path. For them, they seek to regain an essence of life and restore their shattered minds, lest they be lost to an abyss of emptiness and madness. Such a curse can be from a variety of sources; an exploitation of a life source at a deific level, exposure to/using evil magics for too long, a hex brought upon by a powerful caster or even a destructive force bent on draining life from all reality.
The Curse of Undeath is a vile magical power that breaks the soul and leaves the body as little more than a husk. These drained husks share little with their once living counterparts. They are merely corpses controlled and warped by dread energy. Any remnants of mind left in these creatures are stretched to madness and driven to violence. While many of them retain enough knowledge to fight as though could in life, it is impossible for them to engage in rational dialogue let alone interact peacefully.
Author’s Note: Dark Souls III is out and I love it! With that, here’s an optional rule for handling a curse similar to the Undead of the Dark Souls universe. If you don’t want to literally be running Dark Souls, it shouldn’t be too hard to reflavor this into a different dread curse of sorts. If you’ve ever played Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Anthony’s chapter certainly comes to mind. One last disclaimer, these are mostly random ideas in my head, in an attempt to make a Dark Souls inspired mechanic. As such, it’s more than likely that this idea is a bit clunky. It will probably receive a revision in the future, if reader interest is there.