[Runequest] Non-human undead (ghouls, zombies, mummies)

Marko Perälä perala at student.uef.fi
Thu Oct 11 10:29:32 EST 2012

Well, I wasn't really going for maximizing stats. I was just curious on how to handle the different species thing. In D&D 3.5 (an rpg that has a few interesting details, but which I loathe as a system) templates - such as undeath - are completely species exchangeable. I'd hope someone could have cleared these details for me.

>Related: if you want to push the limits of the STR and CON stat for a
>humanoid, then make an ogre into a vampire. And as it has sorcery, it could
>give a large chunk of those stats to a hag as a familiar, which could end
>up with over 100 STR if the vampire wants to really go for it at its own

I sense an upcoming thread hijacking on best familiars. Well, let's run with it. Hag is excellent familiar matherial. All it needs is a point of SIZ to make a complete creature (to make it's own SIZ permanent). It's optimal also, because it is pretty much only economical choice for a sorcerer, who wants a familiar, but doesn't want to a) play with chaos monsters, b) sacrifice INT to a creature with fixed INT, c) dabble in necromancy, d) sacrifice a butload of stats to make various spirits functional.

Second possibility would be a ghost possessed elemental. You would only need to spend CON and DEX. Although I'm not sure, how a CON 1 elemental familiar would handle usual CON-related problems. Is an elemental familiar suspectible to poison and disease. I'm sure regular elemental would be immune. If answer was no, then CON 1 is not a problem.

Undead are also good options, for a) they only require spending POW, which is simple to replenish and b) they can be made out of just about any species that you might be interested in. E.g. dream dragon mummy or mummified gorgon would be nice. Notice though that I don't prefer this species malleability, because of a chance to get a stat (although those are always nice), but because undead familiars allow the sorcerer to access special abilities not available on simple magic. I did mention mummified gorgon, didn't I? Unicorn mummy familiar for healing, Zombie jabberwock for fire gaze, vampire huan-to familiar for creating a ghoul army (hey, that last one is an adventure idea).

However my current favourite undead familiar is a ghost possessed centaur skeleton. Requires only CON sacrifice. You see, I realised a while back that in close combat skeletons are weak, but in ranged combat they are actually quite powerful.
1. Since impaling weapons harm a skeleton only on special hits or better, skeletons have little to fear from ranged weapons. Bumerang, thrown axe, thrown rock, lasso and bola are pretty much non-impaling ranged weapons - none of which have long range.
2. A skeleton's weapon skills are based upon DEX*5%. A skeleton enchanted with 15-16 POW of which 11 given to DEX gets average 38 DEX and therefore longbow skill at 190%. That's halved to 95% on extreme range, some 300 yards. That's well beyond the range of all Spirit and Divine spells as well as all non-longbow ranged weapons.
3. Centaur skeleton has Move 10. That means it has superior mobility. It can pursue and retreat at the speed of a cavalry horse and thus always stay at the extreme range. It's virtually untouchable, without sorcery or Mobility spells cast on horse.
4. Skeleton is virtually indestructible, once enchanted. Sure it can be broken, but it nothing a simple Repair 1 doesn't fix. Here's a thought: Repair 1-matrix linked to couple of POW-spirits and a trigger condition to activate on broken bones.
5. Skeleton doesn't tire, living horses do. It can keep on pursuing the living all day long, shooting hundreds of arrows from it's saddle bags all day long. Notice that as a steed a zombie horse is more comfortable. Bony spine is bad place to sit on for living PCs. (Side note: Horses are the best creatures to use Create zombie on, to create tireless, non-eating, non-demoralized cavalry or wagon pulling steeds. Just don't take them to cities containing uptight, sensitive nosed people within.)
6. Skeletons don't scare, living cavalry do.
Bottom line: A skeleton centaur can shoot all day long from maximum range, maintaining that range regardless of whether non-flying targets try to go away or come towards. Unless they have longbows, they can't even shoot back, and even then their to hit % is probably lower that 50% (remember halved skill) and THEN it requires impale to do anything. It can keep shooting all day, and it ain't gonna run out of arrows soon. As long as it doesn't let anyone get close enough to slice it with a sword, it pretty safe.

Well, after those familiar candidates, the next best thing is Chonchon (requires only POW, smart, magical, can do aerial recon). It's the second alternative to nymphs for a picky sorcerer, but rather weaker. That's why it's so low in the list.

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