The Forty-Two Vessels of Iz
Ages ago when Bel was still merely a pit fiend, he led an incursion onto the Prime. His infernal forces were finally driven back when he was struck down by a mortal warrior after a long and bloody fight (Kno History DC 20). Bel slew the warrior that struck him down upon the field of battle on Avernus, a blow that pierced spirit as well as body. This warrior's sword was shattered into 42 pieces (Kno History DC 23) and his mangled soul rendered unable to pass on to the next life becoming a vestige (Kno Planes DC 26). However, it was not truly his entire soul which became a vestige, pieces had been torn off by the pit fiend's blow. These pieces grew lost in the void between planes, tethered by infernal energy to the Great Wheel, but too insubstantial to stay within it. (Kno the Planes DC 32). They attached to one of Iz's mortal companions, a fellow warrior who had held his heart, and lingering on her followed back onto the Prime Material. These ghosts of Iz were sighted from time to time, mere shadows of an entity with no substance or ability to affect the world. (Kno History DC 35) However something of Baator still stirs within these tattered soul-fragments. When the hell blade Hope Flenser, the blade Bel wielded in the battle and stored now in Elysium, is brought back to the Prime it will call to these fragmented spirits, causing their infernal energies to resonate and awaken within them. (Kno the Planes DC 40) The ghosts of Iz will then change, becoming the Forty-Two Vessels (Know the Planes DC 42).
The ghosts of Iz are mad, utterly and completely mad. Driven insane by the tortured state of their soul for all these millennia. (Kno Religion DC 36). As the 42 Vessels they will now have the power to act upon this madness. There first act will be hunting down and slaying all the descendants of their comrades at arms (Kno Religion DC 42). They will hunt and kill every individual descended from their companions, and then turn to any individual who has wielded one of the 42 shards of Iz, or bound Iz the Grand Master, and kill them and the descendants of any that has had such a connection. Once they have killed all these entities, they will destroy the 42 shards of Iz and thus destroy all their ties to the world, destroying themselves (Kno Religion DC 48).
The dead did not rest easy, nor did they die easy, in the days that were to come. Nothing seemed to pass on properly, and when heroes were revived, they came back wrong.
Faint: Any creature revived from the dead loses a level regardless of method used, this is in addition to their normal level loss (i.e. 1 from Revivify and 2 from Raise Dead). This additional level loss can be removed by Restoration as normal for level loss unlike that incurred by normal revival from the dead.
Moderate: Humanoids which die have a 25% chance of rising as incorporeal undead (stronger creature = stronger undead) 1d4 days after their death unless kept in a consecrated or hallowed area for 24 hours. Creatures which are revived from the dead gain enough depravity or corruption to raise them to the next level of taint of that type (whichever is a lower level of taint, or depravity in the case of a tie).
Strong: Humanoids which die have a 50% chance of rising as incorporeal undead 1d6 hours after their death unless kept in a consecrated or hallowed area for 24 hours (if kept for the end of the initial 1d6 hours and then removed it will begin ticking down time again from when it was put in the consecrated area). Creatures revived from the dead have a 50% chance of having their alignment shift 1 step towards Neutral Evil (towards Evil first).
Overwhelming: Humanoids which die rise as incorporeal undead after 1d6 hours outside of a consecrated or hallowed area. Any creature revived from the dead has their alignment shift 1 step towards Neutral Evil and gains enough depravity and corruption to raise them to the next level of taint in each of those types.
Living creatures near the 42 Vessels burn with the fires of Hell which the tattered soul has felt for generations.
Effect: Any creature within the area of this malefic property must make a Fortitude and Will save when they enter the area and every minute thereafter (DC 10 + 1/2 the HD of the Vessel + the Vessel's Constitution modifier). If they fail the Fortitude save they take 1d6 hellfire damage per 3 hit dice of vessel. If they fail the Will save they take 1 Charisma drain. If in the area of multiple Vessels' malefic properties only the strongest's needs to be saved against.
The 42 Vessels are in fact 42 creatures. The weakest 10 become active when the sign is merely faint. 10 more become active with each additional level of the sign until the last level is activated at which point the 2 strongest become active as well (for 5 levels). The 'inactive' vessels take the sword and hide it at the beginning, biding for time as they feast upon its infernal energies. The 42 vessels cannot be slain except in the presence of Hope Flenser, any attempt to do so just causes them to reform next to it 1d4 weeks later if the sign is faint, days later if the sign is moderate, hours later if the sign is strong, and minutes later if the sign is overwhelming. Even if slain next to the blade they will still reform unless all 42 are slain at once, but do so more slowly (treat sign as 1 grade weaker, with faint reforming 1d4 months later). The vessels are each vaguely humanoid in shape, but seemingly covered in a green steel chitin. The weakest are corporeal, while the stronger grades are able to change between corporeal and incorporeal with increasing ease. Each has the ability to form a greatsword out of hellfire to supplement their melee attacks. The 42 vessels rarely work together, but the strongest 2 continuously guard the Hope Flenser, knowing that it can end them before they finish their mission.