Partial Undeath

A black robed necromancer surrounded by undead creatures
Artist unknown. Sourced from Forgotten Realm’s Wiki

For evil wizards not ready, or unwilling to attempt the transformation into a lich, partial undeath offers an interesting middle ground. Through dark and bloody rituals, a character’s body parts can be infused with negative energy, causing them to fail, and be reanimated as though they were part of an undead creature. While the caster themselves remains alive–able to enjoy life as only the living can–the parts of them which have become undead confer powerful benefits which can give the caster great advantages.

Zombie Lungs

Requirements: Animate Dead, 2 Assistants, 10,000gp worth of materials.

A focus is required to complete this ritual, and it must come in direct contact with the lungs to be successful. Once completed, the target will not need to breathe in order to survive. They can survive indefinitely underwater, and become immune to any inhaled poisons.

Zombie Stomach

Requirements: Animate Dead, 2 Assistants, 7,000gp worth of materials.

As with the Zombie Lungs, a focus must come in contact with the stomach directly. Once the ritual is completed, the target will not need to eat to survive. They also become immune to ingested poisons.

Zombie Eyes

Requirements: Animate Dead, 3 Assistants, 12,000gp worth of materials.

The eyes must be temporarily removed from the head in order to accomplish this task. When the ritual is completed, the normally white color of the eyes turns to gray. The subject gains darkvision 60ft.

Skeleton Hands

Requirements: Animate Dead, 3 Assistants, 12,000gp worth of materials.

During this ritual, all the flesh must be cut from the hands, leaving nothing but the bone beneath. When it is completed, the subject will have a 1d4 claw attack.

Ghoul Tongue

Requirements: Create Undead, 2 Assistants, 30,000gp worth of materials.

Performing this ritual requires that the tongue be split, and stretched out of the mouth until it freely hangs past the lips. Once the ritual is completed, the subject’s tongue will produce the Ghoul Fever disease. The subject themselves will be immune to it, but if they bite a victim, and that victim fails their fortitude save, then they will rise as a zombie under the biter’s command. This ability does not allow a caster to exceed the normal amount of undead they would be able to control.

Mummy Eyes

Requirements: Create Undead, 4 Assistants, 40,000gp worth of materials.

Like Zombie Eyes, this ritual requires the eyes be fully removed from the head, and then re-inserted once the procedure is complete. Along with turning the white color of the eyes grey, Mummy Eyes causes the iris to turn red and become slightly luminescent. Not so much that it would be obvious in a well lit room, but enough to be visible in darkness, or candlelight. In addition to conferring the subject with darkvision up to 60ft, Mummy Eyes also grant the Despair ability described on page 210 of the Bestiary. The only difference is that the caster must make eye contact with their victim for the ability to come into effect.

Vampire Teeth

Requirements: Create Greater Undead, 4 Assistants, 70,000gp worth of materials, Vampire’s Teeth

Vampires cannot be created by common necromancers, so in order for this ritual to be successful, the teeth must be acquired from an already existing vampire, in addition to the ritual’s other components. These teeth are not grafted into the subject’s mouth, but ground up int an enamel which is applied to the subject’s teeth, and swallowed. Once the ritual is complete, the subject will be able to regain hit points by consuming the blood of the living. While biting a target, they may deal 1d6 damage per round, and heal that same amount.

Note that a the victim does not become a vampire, or any kind of undead, if they are killed by this ability.

Ghost Skin

Requirements: Create Greater Undead, 10 Assistants, 170,000gp worth of materials, a ghost.

This is among the most difficult grafts, even though ghosts are a relatively common form of undead. Because of the level of difficulty involved, an actual ghost must be somehow captured and used in the completion of this ritual, in addition to the ritual’s other components.

Performing this ritual is a grisly ordeal. The subject’s skin must be flayed from their body, and burned in a magical fire along with the ghost. The ash from the fire must then be collected and carefully applied to the skinless body of the subject. When the ritual is complete, this will create an illusory skin which will appear and feel completely normal, though any effects which dispel or disrupt illusions will allow people to see through the subject’s skin. Many casters view this as an acceptable sacrifice, however, since the end result of this ritual is the ability to become incorporeal at will.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

12 thoughts on “Partial Undeath”

  1. I find grafts interesting choices, I didn’t know about the vampire teeth and ghost skin yet, thanks.
    Would people getting these grafts also get undead weaknesses?
    I ask because in 4E undead grafts give negative effects.

    1. Well, first I would point out that these are not grafts. Grafts are when a human part is removed, and an undead part is attached in its place. These rituals actually kill and reanimate part of the subject’s original body.

      That’s a pretty minor difference though.

      There are no specific weaknesses which these rituals confer on the subject. The greatest weakness would be that if the partially undead caster were recognized as such, then they could expect to be shunned from civilized society.

      Perhaps it would also be appropriate to give such casters a small chance to be turned if Turn Undead is ever cast in their presence. Something like a 5-10% chance for each ritual they go through.

      1. Maybe a penalty to healing dice, as healing is positive energy and the undead part would be negative energy in Pathfinder, no? And perhaps if the undead parts are damaged, they require repair rather than healing?

        1. An excellent point. The character is in something of a conundrum, since positive energy will heal the living parts and harm the undead parts, while negative energy will heal the undead parts and harm the living parts.

          I think your solution is best. Characters are still healed by positive and harmed by negative energies. But both positive and negative energy effects are reduced by 1 die when the target is a partially undead character.

  2. Very cool idea that can be extrapolated other ways. Transmuters may use similar rituals to change specific parts of themselves permanently, I’d think. Off the top of my head, polymorphing additions to their bodies, such as redundant organs (-25% crit chance?) or even a (weak) version of a Draconis Fundamentum (as detailed in the Draconomicon, it’s the organ that makes breath weapons happen) so that they could have such elemental options at their disposal.

    Lotta possibilities for fleshwarping too, come to think of it. It’s fun thinking of what lengths mages might go to enact positive (?) change upon themselves and why..

    1. That is a damned good idea. I’m surprised I’d never thought about how Transmuters would modify themselves before.

      I must ponder this further.

      1. The old Lords of Madness book for DnD v.3.5 had a lot of useful information about flesh grafts (even a fleshwarper PrC!) that could help mould some ideas for you LS.

  3. I have always liked the idea of change like this. I Agree with Jeff H. about thinking of different ways the same idea can be used. Something like infernal energy through contracts comes to mind. It’s pretty hard to think of things without getting mixed up with grafts.
    It’s also feels odd getting this post the day after Halloween, like everything horror-y should have stopped. Well, the day after for me, anyway.

Comments are closed.