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- Join Date
- Aug 2009
From Beneath Your Feet [3.5e Monster, PEACH]
I was going to do a series of Undead/horror monsters (including the DnD versions of the Matador from the Shin Megami Tensai series and the Heartless from Kingdom Hearts), but I found myself losing interest in all of them, and the Heartless would be better as a stand alone series if I ever got back to actually working on them.
This is a creature of my own design, and the only one finished in time for Halloween. Not as good as the Living Servant or Rebirth Cauldron, I think, but it'll have to do.
"Yeah, you saps go ahead and cross the creek. Like I'm gonna risk my neck with whatever is swimming in there. You don't have that problem on solid land!" -Teressa Edgeworth, Human Rogue, right before an encounter with a Grave Swimmer.
Hit Dice: 6d12 (39 HP)
Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares); Burrow 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 11 (Dex +1); touch 11; flat-footed 10
Base Attack/Grapple: +3/+9
Attack: claw +5 melee (1d6 + 2)
Full-Attack: 2 claws +5 melee (1d6 + 2)
Space/Reach: 5 ft.; 5 ft.
Special Attacks: Drag Under
Special Qualities: Ground Swimmer, Strong Grip, Tremorsense 45 ft.
Saves: Fort +4 Ref +3 Will +5
Abilities: Str 15, Dex 12, Con -, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 10
Skills: Hide +11, Move Silently +11, Perform (Oratory) +4, Swim +11
Feats: Great Fortitude, Power Attack, Stealthy
Organization Name: Solitary, Duo, Party (3-6)
Challenge Rating: 5
Alignment: Always Chaotic
Advancement: 7-12 HD (Medium), or Class Levels.
Level Adjustment: +2
"Margaret is Greek you geek it means pearl..." The young bard sang under her breath, trying to quell her fears. She'd been low on cash, so when she was offered such an easy job for a huge amount of gold she took it without question. A few minutes later, she realized the absurdity of the situation and was immediately beset by dread. Margaret could think of a few reasons why they'd pay so much for a new grave keeper, and why they'd give it to someone from out of town. None of them were pleasant. When she started asking around, the responses weren't encouraging.
Nobody seemed to know the cause, but every grave keeper that took the job would flee the town after a few days, screaming about a singing phantom. Which explains why people fled or glared when she tried to perform. She was worried she'd lost her touch sometime since the last town. She finished wiping the cobwebs off another tombstone, nearly lost in her song. "Reaper, reaper, that's what people call me. Why?"
"'Cause they all die! When I sing I end their lives!"
Margaret leaped to her feat and scanned the area. Her kind was well equipped to see with little light, but she couldn't spot the source of the voice. "Who's there?!", she called, "Show yourself!" There was no response, nothing came into view. She waited for what seemed like hours before giving up, sighing and wiping sweet from her brow. "Just my imagination. I guess I've been listening to too many ghost stories."
She laughed, tucking a strand of hair behind her large ear and clearing her throat to compose herself. "Where was I? Um... You act as though payback makes you a noble man, is that a fact?"
"Well you're just a stupid philistine!" An arm shot up from the ground, catching her leg in mid-stride. Margaret screamed as she lost her footing and fell. Before she could scramble back to her feet, she felt something grab onto her hips and pull her into the ground. She clutched the tombstone next to her to keep from being completely submerged.
"Where do you think you're going, elf?" Margaret felt claws across her back and hissed in pain. She turned towards the sound, and she came face to face with what likely was once a human woman. "You're the most entertaining guest I've had in years! You can't leave now!"
Grave swimmers can be born in a variety of ways. Most commonly, they are the result of a creature that was buried alive clinging to life, for revenge against those responsible, or regret that they hadn't lived their lives to the fullest. When buried in an area with enough magical energy, this allows them to return to life shortly after as a grave swimmer.
A grave swimmer can pass itself off as living easily if it feels motivated to. It retains the appearance of the creature it used to be, with very little decay if any. They are unearthly pale, with a slight blue tinge to their cheeks as a result of suffocation. Their nails are replaced with sharp claws, and the tattered remains of whatever clothing they were wearing still cling to their form. Their teeth become more fang-like, their eyes are glassy, and their limbs are thinner but somehow sturdier.
On a whole, the personality of a grave swimmer depend on the circumstances of their passing. Those who were murdered will be raging berserkers, or silent, introspective wanderers searching the world with the intent of exacting revenge. Those that passed in an accident will be more sullen and spiteful, begrudging the living and causing trouble, or determined to enjoy themselves as much as possible for an undead creature, causing mischief.
It's almost impossible to find a good aligned grave swimmer, and there are more evil then there are neutral. Most will stay near the area they died, unable to let go of the event. Some, however, will travel the world to do the things in death they couldn't in life. It's even scarcer for one to be an adventurer, but not entirely unheard of. Those who died without going insane will often pick up a hobby to pass the time. Singing and poetry are common, since they require no instruments or materials to practice.
Despite having the ability to move through soil like a ghost, a grave swimmer is entirely tangible. Grave swimmers are not mindless, but otherwise have all the traits of a normal undead. It is proficient with its own natural weapons, but nothing else. They are the average weight and size of whatever creature they were before death. A grave swimmer speaks common, and whatever languages it spoke before death.
Grave swimmers immobilize enemies by pulling them into the ground, then attack the creature from the safety of the soil. It goes for weaker targets first, and smarter ones avoid clerics and paladins as best they can. It baits enemies towards large patches of dirt, sand, or soil, where it can move about freely and drag them down. When it feels it's in mortal danger, it will retreat underground and attempt to escape.
For larger groups, it will not confront them directly. Instead, it will stalk them until they stop to rest. Once they've lowered their guard, it will carefully disable enemies that cannot alert the others first, then engage the remaining enemies in a surprise attack. It will place it's attention on any who seem strong enough to rescue the others, followed by healers or those capable of turning it.
Drag Under (Su)
When grappling an enemy from underground, the grave swimmer can choose to pull the creature partially into the ground. The soil around the creature changes to thick mud, then re-solidifies around their limbs once they're half underground. To do so, the grave swimmer makes an opposed grapple check to pull them down. If it fails the grapple check, the creature can escape the grapple and shift to an adjacent square, or attempt another opposed grapple to pull the grave swimmer out of the ground.
Once partially underground, the enemy is released from the grapple. However, creatures without a burrow speed are unable to move from that square until they free themselves or are freed by an adjacent ally (Strength check, DC 15. DC is strength based). They are treated as occupying both the ground square and the square below it, and the grave swimmer may attack them without surfacing. The creature is treated as flat footed until freed, but treats it's size modifier to AC as if it were one size smaller.
The grave swimmer can pull objects and willing creatures weighing less then half its carrying capacity with it completely underground. Objects heavier then that are too hard to move with, and creatures must completely cooperate with the grave swimmer for it to move them due to the limits of it's ability to move something other then itself.
When taking something completely underground, it and the grave swimmer are effectively 'chained' by its power until they surface. When one moves, the other is pulled along with it in that direction. The creature with the grave swimmer uses whichever speed score is their best for this purpose, and may make swim checks as if underwater with a -4 circumstance penalty.
If one disagrees with the others movement, it can make an opposed grapple check (the grave swimmer receives a -2 circumstance penalty to these checks from the strain of pulling another creature with it) to reduce the others movement by half. If suffocating, the creature's desperation grants it a +2 morale bonus for the grapple checks for this purpose.
While underground, an anti-magic field or a similar effect that negates (Su) abilities does not negate this ability. However, the movement rate of the creatures trying to move this way are cut in half.
When succeeding a grapple check, the grave swimmer must either leave the ground the following turn or successfully drag the enemy into the ground to maintain the grapple.
Ground Swimmer (Ex)
A grave swimmer's name is highly accurate. While moving through the ground, it does not displace any soil or rock. It passes through like a phantom. It can only move through soil; tree roots, thick masses of stone/marble, metal, and the like are impassible. However, it's carrying capacity is reduced by half when 'burrowing' this way.
When burrowing, the grave swimmer can make standard attacks as touch attacks to creatures standing above it, and can make trip attempts without provoking an attack of opportunity as long as it's burrowing.
However, moving more then a small amount of itself out of the ground takes effort. To perform an attack from underground on an above ground target provokes an attack of opportunity (treat the grave swimmer as trying to enter the target's square). Moving in and out of the ground is a full-round action, but does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Strong Grip (Ex)
To use this ability, a grave swimmer must hit a Large or smaller opponent with a claw attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can use its drag under ability. Grave swimmers receive a +4 racial bonus on grapple checks, which is already included in the statistics block.
Lore: Knowledge (Arcana)
16|You faintly recall creatures known as 'Grave Swimmers'. They are undead that often result from a creature who was buried alive clinging to life after they passed away. They can move through the ground like it was water, and favors hit and run tactics. Reveals the 'Ground Swimmer' ability and undead traits.
21|When in a fight or just feeling mischievous, a grave swimmer will latch onto a target with an inhumanly strong grip and pull them into the ground to immobilize them. Luckily, they cannot completely submerge another creature unless the creature is cooperating. Reveals all remaining information.[/table]
- You arrive at a graveyard, hired by the town to banish an evil spirit. After a short battle, the 'spirit' informs you that it has risen from its rightful rest to find the person responsible for its death. It introduces itself, and offers to share the location of its treasure if the party helps it.
- A group of aristocrats hire the party as protection. Several of their business partners have turned up dead over the past few months, and they're paranoid that they may be next. As time goes on and the party fends off several grave swimmers, it becomes apparent that the aristocrats are more knowledgeable about why the creatures are attacking them, and the exact 'business' they are associated through comes into question.
- The party is approached by an unearthly pale man, asking them for information on a band of bandits he is tracking down. He is utterly single-minded about finding this group, going to the point of kidnapping and torturing those he believes are connected to the outlaws for information. The party is hired to capture him, but he proves to be difficult to find. He always appears and disappears from just out of sight.
This creature can serve several purposes. A Grave Swimmer can make low level parties paranoid of a powerful enemy attacking at any time, serve as exposition or plot hook, be a powerful antagonist with proper class levels, or even be a friendly NPC with a decent escape route should the more 'Kill! Kill!' PCs go after it for no reason. At the very least, it's a different kind of fight.
I'm hoping that I can keep improving through criticism, so please, pull no punches. Feel free to pass on any advice or point out mistakes, and I'll get onto fixing it up. Also, I have most the Matador finished, so feel free to request it if you want to see it.
The song being performed by the Bard in the fluff section is Nadia Gifford's Philistine (with some censorship), which appeared in No More Heroes 2.
Spoiler10/30/10: Cut down on excess words, and simplified some of the crunch.
Last edited by UserShadow7989; 2010-10-30 at 01:24 AM.
- Join Date
- Jul 2009
- WOTC ≱ my opinion
Re: From Beneath Your Feet [3.5e Monster, PEACH]
Well, i'm not seeing any glaring errors.
Small world...I came up with pretty much exactly this monster almost 10 years ago for 2e. I guess it's just such an obvious combination, eh?
- Join Date
- Aug 2009
Re: From Beneath Your Feet [3.5e Monster, PEACH]
Great minds think alike, I guess? I was watching the Nostalgia Critic's review of Jaws 3D, something along the lines of 'landshark' popped in my head and it snowballed from there.
Funny, since the final product has little to do with a shark. The rest was me remembering that one topic about various undead being born from different types of death and thought it was cool.