Merciless Monsters 3: Draugr

Draugr - Undead VikingFor the first time in a long while now, I sat down to write today’s post without the foggiest idea of what it was going to be about. It’s Friday, so my choices were narrowed down to either Merciless Monster, a Colorful Character, or a Magical Marvel. Most of the time, when I wake up Friday morning, I start thinking about what I would like to create. While I’m taking care of the mundane tasks which make up our daily lives, I’m also fumbling through the details for the monster, character, or item I’ll be writing about once I can finally sit at my keyboard in the morning. Today I…just didn’t do that. Not quite sure why. By the time I got home I was so exhausted I went straight to bed after dinner. Couldn’t have been later than 7 o’clock. When I awoke at 3 in the morning on Saturday, I sat down to write without the foggiest idea of what I’d be writing about.

I had wanted to continue my Magical Marvels series on the artifact weapons found my my Ascendant Crusade campaign, but the artist who has been illustrating those is asleep, so that’s a no-go. And since I’m still a little tired of the Colorful Characters posts, I decided to write another Merciless Monsters post. But what to write about? If you’re not willing to randomly combine animals together and call it a ‘monster,’ coming up with a fearsome creature on the spot isn’t so easy. I was first inspired by my plushie of Jabba the Hutt to create a Pathfinder version of Hutts which hoarded gold and made Faustian bargains with those who sought their aid. Truth be told I think it’s a really great idea, and I may return to it, but the creature I imagine would be used for role playing encounters, rather than combat encounters, and that’s not what I wanted to write about tonight.

Out of ideas, I gave into my inner-zombie and googled “Undead in Folklore.” Unsurprisingly, wikipedia was the first result, but I opened a number of windows in anticipation of a lengthy search. I started with Wikipedia’s list of “Forms of Undead,” and clicked the first type which I wasn’t already intimately familiar with: the Draugr. At first they didn’t seem particularly interesting, just mummies without the wrappings. I almost clicked away, but continued reading long enough to learn that they could grow in size at will. That’s pretty interesting. I kept reading, and learned even more interesting things. This creature (which, incidentally, was the very first type of undead on that list) is surrounded by superstitions and rituals which I’ve never seen represented elsewhere.

Let this be a lesson to all game masters: Mythology will never let you down.

Particularly the shit that vikings came up with. Those people were fucking crazy.


Grinning DraugrThe imposing form of the corpse-blue creature stands before you, emanating a stench of decay which nearly makes you gag. It wears the garb–and the grin–of a fearsome warrior.

Draugr; CR 14; [Undead] [Crypt] [Cool Climate] [Nocturnal]

XP: 38,400
NE Medium Undead
Init +1; Senses Darkvision 60ft, Perception +0


AC 23, touch 13, flat-footed 21 [10 + Dex(1) + Dodge(1) + Ring(1) +Armor(10)]
HP 85 (11d8 + 33)
DR 5/Iron
Regeneration 2 (See “Destruction”)
Fort +9 Ref +4 Will +5;
Immunities Undead Traits


Speed 30 ft.
Melee +2 Greatsword +25/+20/+15 (2d6 + 17)


Str 29 Dex 12 ConInt 3 Wis 10 Cha 16
Base Attack +11/6/1; CMB +20; CMD 33 (+8 vs. Bull Rush or Trip attempts.)
Feats Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Disruptive, Dodge, Improved Vital Strike, Lunge, Mobility, Spellbreaker, Spring Attack, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (Greatsword), Weapon Specialization (Greatsword), Whirlwind Attack
Skills Intimidate (+14)
Languages Common
SQ Gaseous Form, Stability, Armor Training 3; Weapon Training (Heavy Blades +2,Light Blades +1)
Gear +1 full plate, +2 Greatsword, Ring of Protection +1


Environment They guard their crypt unless disturbed, then they will attack nearby settlements.
Organization Solitary or in groups of up to ten.
Activity Cycle Primarily nocturnal, but do not tire, and can function even in daylight.
Diet None; Natural Enemies None
Treasure Standard


Gaseous Form(Su) As a standard action, a draugr can assume gaseous form (Pathfinder Core Rulebook Pg. 287) at will. It can remain in this state indefinitely, and has a fly speed of 20 feet with perfect maneuverability.

Swim Through Earth(Su) As a standard action, a draugr may enter into earth or stone at will as though it were water. This state lasts indefinitely, and allows the dragur to travel at a speed of 10 through any surface made of these materials. A draugr may take a grappled creature with him when he uses this ability. This creature will not suffocate, but is considered to be under the effects of a Meld Into Stone spell (Pathfinder Core Rulebook Pg. 312). Non-casters may be unable to escape without assistance.

Enlarge Self(Su) As a standard action, a draugr can enlarge itself at will. This functions as the spell Enlarge Person (Pathfinder Core Rulebook Pg. 277) except the draugr can only cast it on itself, and its duration is indefinite. In addition, a draugr is able to grow up to four times its normal height. A medium creature would become a huge creature, gaining  a -2 penalty to attack rolls and AC, a -6 penalty to Dexterity and a +6 bonus to Strength. The creature also gains a +2 special size modifier to combat maneuver checks and defense due to its increased size, and has a reach of 15ft. A draugr’s speed also doubles while in this form. One of the draugr’s preferred methods of slaying its victims is to crush or devour them while increased in size.


Brutish Draugr lose nearly all their intelligence when they become undead, though they retain enough to be sentient and aware. They are also creatures of immense strength. When a draugr is created, its Intelligence is reduced to 3, and its Strength is raised by an amount equal to the amount its Intelligence was lowered. So if a creature has 10 STR and 10 INT, then upon becoming a draugr its INT becomes 3, and the STR becomes 17.

Forceful Presence Upon become a draugr, a creature gains 6 Charisma.

Weapon Resistance Draugr gain Damage Reduction 1/Iron for every 2 HD

Overweight Draugr are unnaturally heavy, and gain a +8 bonus to their Combat Maneuver Defense when resisting a bull rush or trip attempt.


Viking Draugr Background Draugr are crypt guardians, not unlike their distant undead cousins mummies. They rise to protect their tombs (or the tombs of powerful leaders they were interred with), from graver robbers and thieves who would defile them, and pilfer their riches. They are sometimes created intentionally,using simple burial rituals which are known to a number of warrior peoples. Most often, however, draugr simply rise from the corpses of those whose wealth was gained through violence and bloodshed. Warriors who valued gold more than they valued the lives of others.

Draugr are intelligent, though barely so. Most draugr know only two things for sure: they must protect their tomb, and they hate the living. Draugr are painfully jealous, and take great delight in killing. If they cannot have life, then why should anybody else? Often times after they encounter a living creature who has entered their tomb, they will become so enraged that killing only once is not enough. They will dare to leave their crypt for a few hours every night for a few days, searching for more living creatures to kill. If anything is actually taken from their tomb, then the draugr may not stop venturing out at night until it is slain.

Occasionally when a draugr kills someone, they will drag the body back to their crypt. The next night, that body will also rise as a draugr, and work with the first to protect the crypt. Some scholars speculate that the draugr who do this are slowly becoming more intelligent, and realize that additional draugr will allow them to spend more time away from their own crypt, killing the living.

Appearance Draugr are bloated and ugly. Their skin is a blue-black color, and they have a pungent stench of decay about them.

Emanations of Evil Animals which feed near a draugr’s tomb often become dire animals. They will attack anyone who approaches, and obey any command given them by the draugr.

Progression Sometimes, usually after a draugr has left its crypt and slain a number of interlopers, it begins to regain some of its Intelligence–though none of its memories. These draugr become even more intensely jealous of the living, and often become more concerned with tormenting them than they do with protecting their tomb. They also gain a number of powerful magical abilities, allowing them to enter dreams, spread magical diseases and plagues, bestow curses, control the weather, change their form to that of an animal, or even see the future. On occasion, extremely powerful draugr have been known to prevent the sun from shining anywhere within miles of their tombs. The goal of these draugr becomes to drive all living beings mad, so that they cannot enjoy the life which the creature so envies.

Destruction Destroying a draugr is difficult. Even when its damage reduction can be overcome, the creature’s bones knit back together of their own volition. Wounds will close, and even severed limbs may reattach themselves. Even a draugr reduced to 0 HP is not destroyed, as most undead creatures are. The only way to truly destroy a draugr is to cut off its head, incinerate it, and scatter the ashes into a sea or river. If this is not done within 6 days, the draugr will regenerate within two weeks.


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9 thoughts on “Merciless Monsters 3: Draugr”

  1. These Draugr seem much more interesting than the Skyrim versions <3 Also, everytime you post something about Undead creatures, I immediately want to play as one. :P

    1. I honestly didn’t even know about the Skyrim ones until I started looking for pictures of Draugr I could use.

      I really ought to play that game one of these days.

  2. Looks like the Bloody Avenger text got left in from your previous Bloody Mary post.

    Do you find that you ever actually use monster ability scores and skill ratings? I’ve been playing a 4E-derived ruleset for a while now, and while I tried to use those things at the beginning, I have recently just been ignoring them. I have come to the conclusion that these are just stat-block bloat and are not very useful in play.

    1. Thanks for pointing out the Bloody Avenger text. Let me know if you see any more! =P

      No, I don’t find that I often use monster ability scores / skill ratings. Though in this case, obviously, the ability scores are pretty important to the way the creature functions, since it has such immense strength.

      If I was throwing together a monster for a game, I would probably be a lot less exacting in creating its stat block. But for the purposes of this site, I like to make things line up more closely with “official” monsters.

      The issue of fully statting monsters out versus listing only necessary stats is one I’ve struggled with a lot as of late. On the one hand, I like having such things on hand if, for example, the players attempt to escape from a creature by barring a door. In that instance, knowing whether the monster can break through the door or not become pretty relevant. It’s also nice to have stats for creatures like orcs, trolls, ghosts, and really anything that a player might want to play & add class levels to in a non-traditional party.

      On the OTHER hand, it’s a huge pain the GM’s ass, and as you and I have both acknowledged, we don’t actually *do* it most of the time.

      I’m actually working on a compromise, but I’m not sure if it’s solid enough to write a post about yet.

  3. Unrelated: do you know how to subscribe by email to comments on a particular post? Your new blog does not seem to have that functionality.

      1. Alright, unless I miss my guess, you should now be able to subscribe to be notified of follow up comments.

        Let me know if it works or not. And feel free to point out any other oddities you’d like to see improved!

  4. Hmm. Are you aware that Draugr actually worked their way into the Bestiary 2 book? The logic behind them primarily being “men who died at sea”.

    As for Skyrim, I advise that game be taken with a porta potty, three months worth of food and drink, and plenty of caffeine pills. Oh and a kickass computer with a good internet connection, so you can find all the neatest mods (seriously, some people go so far as adding requirements for food, hypothermia mechanics, some are only as limited as a DM, provided they’re good at programming.)

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