Tag Archives: undead

Abhorsen Trilogy – Mordicant


Undead, CE, 50’, Size Large, AC 0, HD 10+5, 1 claw and 1 bite, 2d6 (claw) + (Energy Drain or 1d4 STR dmg) / 2d4+1d4 fire (bite), F10, Mo 11, xp 6600

Mordicants are one of the most powerful undead that can be created by a Necromancer of the Old Kingdom. About the size of an ogre, a Mordicant’s body is molded from bog-clay or grave-dirt that has been infused with vast quantities of human blood. This vessel is filled with a malevolent Dead spirit that burns with a bottomless rage for the living.

A Mordicant’s eyes, mouth, feet, and claws drip with green fire and its presence is often enough to make mortals collapse from terror.

Aura of Death: A Mordicant has a persistent aura surrounding it that reeks of death and decay. The aura surrounds it at a radius of 20′ and might appear as a smoky miasma. Those who encounter it must Save vs Poison or be nauseated (can only make Move actions) and may only move at half speed (even while running) for as long as they remain in the aura and 1 round afterwards. Those who have recovered must still Save when exposed to the aura again, but those who make a successful Save are immune to the effects for 24 hrs.

The aura can be negated by a successful Dispel Magic (caster level 10), but the Mordicant can reestablish the aura as a free action on its next turn. Effects that improve the quality of the air and negate the effects of harmful gasses also work against this aura.

Weakening Touch: Those hit by a Mordicant’s claw must Save vs Death or suffer an additional 1d4 Strength damage. Whenever a Mordicant successfully drains Strength, it gains +1 to Hit and Damage on all its attacks and heals 1d8 damage. The bonus is cumulative and the bonus lasts for 1 Turn from the last time it was applied.

If you play with Energy Draining Undead, the Mordicant drains 1 Level of experience instead of Strength Damage, but gains the same benefits.

Night Affinity: A Mordicant naturally absorbs shadow-stuff from the darkness around them. They regenerate at 3 hp / round under two conditions: in complete darkness or once night has fallen (generally, between astronomical dusk and dawn).

Greater Dead: As a powerful undead spirit, a Mordicant can only be harmed by magical sources and by weapons with an enchantment of +2 or better.

Create Spawn: Those slain by the Mordicant rise as Dead Hands under the control of the Mordicant 1d4 rounds afterwards. A body that has been Blessed or doused in Holy Water will not rise as a Dead Hand.

Undead traits: Beyond the usual traits granted the undead, this type of undead cannot cross (above or below) deep or fast-moving water. An uncontrolled Mordicant will not attempt a crossing under most circumstances, but if it’s pushed to do so by a Necromancer, it must make a Save vs Death or be swept away into the River of Death, body and spirit. Very shallow and/or very still water may grant a bonus to this Save and vice versa (crossing a large waterfall would be a -4 penalty on a Save made every round, a sluggish brook would be a +4 bonus).

“There, between gusts of snow, she saw a figure leaping from step to step; impossible leaps that ate up the distance between them with horrible appetite. It was man-like, more than man-high, and flames ran like burning oil on water where it trod… It was a Mordicant that hunted her – a thing that could pass at will through Life and Death, it’s body bog-clay and human blood molded and infused with Free Magic by a Necromancer, and a Dead spirit placed inside it as its guiding force.”

– Sabriel by Garth Nix

The Dead from the Abhorsen Trilogy

I’ve been reading the Abhorsen Trilogy (in a hardcover book with a gorgeous cover) by Garth Nix lately and it’s inspired me to try to stat out some of the undead and creatures presented in the books. Perhaps it was just a bit of serendipity, but this is a book I normally wouldn’t have encountered or read. When I was visiting my mother, she gave me this book that she’d bought at a garage sale. Normally, I’m very picky about the books I own and the Abhorsen Trilogy was obviously a Young-Adult novel and geared towards women, so while the promise of necromancy intrigued me, I didn’t expect much. I was pleasantly surprised.

Sabriel presents a world where a ‘modern’ WW1-era technology nation meets fantasy magic realm and describes how the two blend together at the border. Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a blend of Lawful (called the Charter) mage / cleric and Chaos (called Free Magic) sorcerer / necromancer who is charged with putting the Dead to rest.

I really enjoyed the idea of the River of Death, a metaphysical plane where dead souls float along from Life through a series of nine Gates to their final resting place, but is thick with the Dead and Necromancers. These Free-Magic sorcerers and the Abhorsen wield seven enchanted bells that have influence over the spirits of the living and the Dead, but also seem to be semi-sentient and have personalities. Preventing a bell’s effect from backfiring if it’s allowed to ring on its own is half the skill of a Necromancer.

All in all, I loved the lore that the author skillfully presents to the reader without an exposition dump and a straight-forward adventure story that doesn’t hold back from descriptions of hideous Necromancy and human sacrifice. It’s one of the most original and detailed descriptions of Necromancy  and one that’s inspired my own setting of Ark.

Over the next week or so, I’ll post my take on the stats of some the creatures and undead. Below are the two most common undead creatures.

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Dessicator – Undead Water Elemental

I converted this monster from the Complete Arcane book (3.5 edition rulebook), so I take absolutely no credit for the monster or the artwork, but I did enjoy converting it to Labyrinth Lord.

On a related note, it was originally used in The Drowned Fort – Level 2 map.

Dessicator by Jeremy Jarvis

Dessicator – Undead Water Elemental

NE, 30’ / swim 70’, AC 4, HD 6, 1d6+fatigue, F3, Mo 11, xp 1520

  • Darkvision 60’
  • Immune to mind affecting spells and other Undead immunities
  • +2 to Initiative
  • Desiccating breath: 15ft long and wide cone, can be used every 1d4 rnds, does 1 CON damage that heals 1 per 2 Turns
  • Fatiguing touch: Save vs Poison or be fatigued; -2 to hit and must rest 1 hour (6 Turns) to recover, doesn’t stack with itself.

The tiny creature is little taller than your boots. It’s limbs and body are hard, crusty, spindly things and a conical head that’s all toothless mouth. Tiny points of blue light on the side of its head hint at eyes. Its crusty skin is a mottled yellow and white and it twitches sharply when it moves, grinding white powder on the floor from its joints. It screeches shrilly just before it attacks.

Garthmir’s Barrow

Garthmir's Barrow

Garthmir’s Barrow

A relatively short, two level crypt for all your Undead storage needs. It features many stacked wall graves, Several locations for a potential shrine, a huge potential for devilish traps and a central chamber protected by a portcullis.

The central chamber is, of course, the resting place of King Garthmir, a barbarian warlord, and his loyal bodyguards. The reward for destroying them and putting them to final rest is astounding.

“The vaulted cobblestone ceiling is low and damp with condensation. Moss grows in dark clumps inside the stacked wall graves and hangs in sheets from the edges of the ceiling. Glints of worn chainmail and the toothy smiles of the dead within the graves reflect your torchlight. You smell gold deeper down.”