Colorful Characters 23: Higgins Dreadgrin

skeleton wizard by dulemorison
Skeleton Wizard by DuleMorison

When it all started, Higgins was just a lowly magician’s apprentice tagging along on his master’s adventures. He learned spells as best he could from the elder mage, but his primary job was to carry scrolls and lanterns, and occasionally fire a crossbow. That was fine until stray skeleton’s claw tore the face from Higgins’ mentor. Just like that, the apprentice was the only wizard in the room, and his companions needed a wizard. Higgins stepped up and did his best to fill his master’s role in the party, and succeed beyond his wildest imaginings.

Master Waggletongue had always seemed so accomplished to Higgins. He had hung on the elder caster’s every word, but it wasn’t long before he reached parity with, and then exceeded, his mentor’s abilities. The rush of power Higgins felt as his mastery over the arcane grew was addicting. He lusted for greater power more than he had ever lusted for anything in his life. Through his adventures, he continued to gain more and more of it. He uncovered ancient rituals scribed in tomes beneath the earth, and rediscovered spells which had been forgotten centuries ago.

As he grew more powerful, Higgins also grew more ambitious. Why should he limit his quest for power to the arcane arts which common folk considered ‘socially acceptable.’ Who were they to place limits upon a wizard? For that matter, why should he limit his pursuit of power to the arcane arts at all. Who better to lead those pitiful common folk than he? In darkness, Higgins began to study forbidden magical arts. And in silence, he began to plot the overthrow of Zorfath’s ruling council. Once he ruled this pitiful town he might even extend his reach further. Perhaps one day, he could even match the great Necromancer King who wages his bloody wars in the south!

Higgins became so caught up in his grand plans that he began to view them as inevitable. Nothing would stop him, because nothing could stop him. Without realizing it, Higgins began to doubt his own mortality. He tried never to act foolishly, but all it took was one slip. One arrogant step forward when his companions were staying back. Higgins Dreadgrin had his mortality reaffirmed by a quartet of skeletal demon rats which tore the flesh from his bones. His companions fled, turning to Higgins’ apprentice for assistance, as they had once turned to him so long ago.

Unlike most men, though, the tale of Higgins Dreadgrin does not end with his death. For the place in which he died was cursed. A powerful aura of evil permeated the place, and mere hours after breathing his last breath, Higgins’ bones clambered out of their skin, and stood on their own. Higgins had been raised as a skeleton, like the ones which had killed his master. Like the ones which had recently killed him. And yet, for some strange reason which is still not entirely clear to the wizard, Higgins did not become mindless. Perhaps it is because of the power of his intellect, or because of his budding knowledge of necromancy. Perhaps destiny itself would not allow his existence to end on the stone floor of a forgotten dungeon.Whatever the reason, Higgins retained all of his mind, even when the only thing he retained from his body was his bones.

With nowhere else to go, Higgins traveled South, to the lands of the Necromancer King. He traveled only at night so his monstrous form would not be noticed. But once he crossed into the Necromancer King’s lands, it was remarkably easy to fit in. He made his way, in the open, to the palace of the Necromancer King himself. He easily made his way inside with the other workers, and once there, found that he essentially had the run of the castle. Occasionally he had to perform some task or another so he could maintain the illusion that he was only a mindless undead, but Higgins actually had most of his time to himself. Every living creature who might have found his presence suspicious simply ignored him. All of the skeletons looked alike, and since none of them had a mind of their own, everyone assumed that whatever a skeleton was doing was a task given to them by someone else.

For decades, Higgins hid himself amongst the Necromancer King’s servants. He observed rituals, analyzed incantations, and read every scroll and codex in the castle a dozen times over. He turned the greatest necromantic resource in the world inside out. And when he was done, he walked up behind the Necromancer King, and cut out his heart before he could cry out. Higgins considered tearing out the king’s skeleton, and wearing his meat like a suit. He could make it look convincing if he was careful, and as he started to decompose he could claim he was becoming a Lich. After a year, he could shed the skin altogether, and none would be the wiser.

But after decades, Higgins was done hiding. Instead, he paraded the corpse of the mighty Necromancer in front of his greatest servants, and demanded that they submit to him as their master’s successor. A few dissented, but the majority bent their knee to Higgins Dreadgrin when the dissenters were immolated. It was a rush of power like none Higgins had ever felt before. It was intoxicating beyond imagining. And more than anything, he found he wanted to go back to where it all began, so he could easily accomplish the ‘lofty’ goals which had been denied to him in life.

That night, the armies of Lord Dreadgrin marched North, to Zorfath.

Higgins Dreadgrin (CR 16)
XP: 76,800
Male Human Skeleton Wizard 17
LE medium undead
Init +8; Senses Perception +0


AC 20, Flat Footed 16, Touch 16 [10 + Dex(4) + Natural Armor(2) + Robes of Natural Armor (2) + Ring of Protection (2)]
hp 116 (17d8 +34)
Fort +5 Ref +9 Will + 12
DR 5/Bludgeoning
Defensive Abilities Channel Resistance +4, Immune to Cold, Undead Traits


Speed 30ft
Melee Claw Attack (x2) +7/2 (1d4 – 1)
Ranged Heavy Crossbow + 14/9 (1d10 + 1)(19-20/x2)(120ft) (Speed: During full attack, may make 2 attacks at max BAB)

Prepared Wizard Spells (CL 17th; Concentration +21; +2 save DC for Necromancy and Evocation spells)
9th — Meteor Swarm +Energy Drain
8th — Polar Ray x2 +Horrid Wilting
7th — Delayed Blast Fireball, Forcecage, Mage’s Sword +Finger of Death
6th —  Chain Lightning, Contingency x2, Eyebite +Undeath to Death
5th — Cloudkill x2, Cone of Cold, Symbol of Pain +Waves of Fatigue
4th — Black Tentacles, Dimension Door, Ice Storm, Wall of Fire x2 +Contagion
3rd — Protection from Energy, Phantom Steed, Fireball x2, Wind Wall, Flame Arrow, Gaseous Form, Haste, Greater Magic Weapon+Vampiric Touch
2nd —Fog Cloud, Detect Thoughts, Shatter, Darkness, Ghoul Touch +False Life
1st — Burning Hands x2, Magic Missile x3+Cause Fear
0 (at will)– Bleed, Open/Close, Ray of Frost x2

Bonded Object The right index finger of Higgins’ teacher, on a chain around Higgins’ neck.
Arcane School
Opposed Schools Enchantment, Illusion
School Powers
Power Over Undead (Su): 9/day, may channel energy to Command Undead as the feat.(PFSRD Pg. 120)  DC: 19
Grave Touch (Su): 7/day, may make a melee touch attack causes living creature to become shaken for 8 rounds. (already shaken creatures become frightened for 1 round if they have fewer than 17HD).
Life Sight (Su): For 17 rounds per day, can detect living and undead creatures up to a range of 30ft, as a form of Blindsight


Str 9 (-1) Dex 18 (+4) Con — (–) Int 19 (+4) Wis 11 (+0) Cha 12 (+1)
Base Atk +8/3; CMB +7; CMD 20
Feats  Scribe Scroll, Craft Magical Arms and Armor, Weapon Focus (Crossbow), Extra Channeling, Iron Will, Spell Focus (Necromancy), Greater Spell Focus (Necromancy), Spell Focus (Evocation), Greater Spell Focus (Evocation), Channel Resistance +4; Metamagic: Extend Spell, Empower Spell, Widen Spell, Quicken Spell, Improved Initiative
Skills Bluff (+18), Craft(Tailoring)(+24), Knowledge(Arcana)(+24), Knowledge(Dungeoneering)(+24), Knowledge(Undead)(+24), Spellcraft (+24)
Languages Common, Ancient Common, Gestural Common, The Gravespeech, Draconic
Gear Three Spellbooks, each bearing a powerful curse if stolen: Arcanum Necronomica, The Book of Pain, and Utilis Magicam; An iron, 3 horned helm of sentimental value; Wand of  Lightning Bolt with 16 charges, Ring of Protection +2, Ring of Wizardry III, Robes of Natural Armor +2, +1 Heavy Speed Crossbow, Staff of Swarming Insects (PFSRD Pg 495), 180gp

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5 thoughts on “Colorful Characters 23: Higgins Dreadgrin”

  1. This is fabulous! This is a fitting continuance of the tale of your beloved Higgens. Maybe he is the villain in the campaign staring your players’ children? Bringing back PCs like this is always something I enjoy. :D

    1. I’m glad you agree!

      Whether he comes back as a villain or not is up to Brendan, the GM of the game Higgins was in.

      Though regardless, the character may show up in my own games in the future.

  2. Hm.. I really like this guy, though I’m getting a sort of Skeletor/Doctor Claw vibe from him. No, come to think of it it’s more Doctor Claw.

    Still, very nice continuance of a fallen PC!

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