Tag Archives: Undead

Undead in AD&D Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about Undead in AD&D, with a focus on the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide.  [Part 1]  [Part 3]

I got a lot of likes and comments on it, some wanting to see what I had to say about the Fiend Folio.

So today, I will touch on undead as mentioned in the other books in my collection. As someone with a BA in history, and learning to do research via card catalog and actually handling and reading books, the search features of PDFs and other electronic media is so handy. I will ignore the AD&D books I have in physical form, but have not gotten the PDF form.

To be thorough, the Unearthed Arcana does not have any monsters, so no undead there.

Oriental Adventures’ list of monsters does not contain the word undead, and turn is not used in relation to undead.

Fiend Folio
Different searches gave different results.
“turned as” only brought up the Apparition
p. 12 Apparition turned as spectre.

“undead table”
p. 19 Coffer Corpse as wraith
p. 83 Son of Kyuss as mummy

“undead” finds the three above, plus the following:
p. 26 Death Knight – can’t be turned. (I would argue against that.)
p. 51 Huecuva turned as wight
p. Necrophidius (death worm) not an undead so can’t be turned.
p. 71-72 Penanggalan – one form can’t be turned. true form turned as wraith.
p. 73 Poltergeist – wandering poltergeist turned as skeleton, in its “home” turned as ghoul.
pp. 75-76 – Revenant – cannot be turned motivated by sheer force of will. (Magical protections and turning would have a chance and might require a high level cleric for turning in my opinion. Liches combine their force of will with magic, so why not be able to turn a revenant? )
p. 78 – Shadow Demon turned as Special.
p. 78 – Sheet Ghoul turned as spectre
p. 78 – Sheet Phantom turned as wraith
p. 79 – Skeleton Warrior – no chance to turn (they are lich-like, why not turn as a lich or special?)
p. 97 – Yellow Musk Zombie – not a true undead, so can’t be turned. (I’m ok with that. In a sense they are like golems, automata, or animated statues. A druid might be able to turn a plant/fungi type creature.)
p. 115 Undead Subtable that includes MM1 & FF undead on one encounter by terrain table. (There is no such table in MM2.)

There is no revised Turning Undead Table in the Field Folio. I think this would be really handy if you are going to use the undead from this book.

p. 21 Crypt Thing – It does not say it is undead, but its name gives one that initial idea.

Monster Manual 2:

After trying to find one term for searching ended up being “undead” for the Fiend Folio, I stuck with it in other PDFs.

p. 100 Phantoms “Phantoms are often mistaken for ghosts, haunts, or groaning spirits, but they may not be turned as undead. The clerical spell exorcism will dispel a phantom.”  (I would argue that such a thing can be turned. Perhaps as a higher order undead or special.)
p. 109 Skeletal Animals turned as normal skeletons.
p. 32 Demilich – ghost form and wraith form, only ghost form can be turned. (I argue that all “true” undead can be turned.)
p. 131 – Juju Zombie – turned as a spectre
p. 131 Zombie, Monster – turned as a ghast

There is no combined undead sub table with all the undead by terrain type, as we found in the Fiend Folio. Neither is there a revised turn undead table.

I built my own updated turn undead table. It is crude, but illustrates the information one may wish to include.

The groaning spirit (banshee) falls between the mummy and spectre in hit dice, so as I suggested in yesterday’s article, use that to help decide how a cleric can affect it.

TYPE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9-13 14      
Skeleton 10 7 4 T T D D D* D* D* Poltergeist, Wandering (FF p. 73) Skeletal Animals (MM2 p. 109)  
Zombie 13 10 7 T T D D D D* D*      
Ghoul 16 13 10 4 T T D D D D* Poltergeist, “At Home” (FF p. 73)    
Shadow 19 16 13 7 4 T T D D D*      
Wight 20 19 16 10 7 4 T T D D Huecuva (FF p. 51)    
Ghast 20 19 13 10 7 4 T T D Zombie, Monster (MM2 p. 131)    
Wraith 20 16 13 10 7 4 T D Coffer Corpse (FF p. 19) Penanggalan (True Form) (FF p. 71-72) Sheet Phantom (FF p. 79)
Mummya 20 16 13 10 7 4 T Son of Kyuss (FF p. 83)    
Groaning Spirit                          
Spectreb 20 16 13 10 7 T Apparition (FF p. 12) Sheet Ghoul (FF p. 78) Juju Zombie (MM2 p. 131)
Vampirec 20 16 13 10 4      
Ghostd 20 16 13 7 Demilich, ghost form (MM2 p. 32)    
Liche 19 16 10      
Special**f 20 19 13 Shadow Demon (FF p. 78)  

Of course, if I missed an undead creature, please let me know.

I also searched my OSRIC PDF and found the following information:

Turning Undead table on pp. 129 & 130 lists the same creatures as on the table on page 75 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Monsters are organized by type, so Undead are all in one place on pp. 245-252, each undead has a type number to know how easily it is turned, from 1 to 13 for fiends (term used for demons & devils.). NOTE: Some undead from the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual 2 are included, and others not. I don’t know why this might be other than author preference or copywrite issues.

Banshee (Groaning Spirit) (turned as type 13) This is the same as Special! Wow! That makes a banshee seem even more powerful.

Coffer Corpse (turned as type 7)

Ghast (turned as type 6)

Ghost (turned as type 11)

Ghoul (turned as type 3)

Lich (turned as type 12)

Mummy (Turned as type 8)

Poltergeist (Turned as type 1 or 3)

Shadow (turned as type 4)

Skeleton (turned as type 1)

Spectre (turned as type 9)

Vampire (turned as type 10)

Wight (turned as type 5)

Wraith (turned as type 7)

Wraith (turned as type 7)

Zombie
Normal (turned as type 2)
Monster (turned as type 6)

Zombie, Juju (turned as type 9)

So one ends up with quite a lot of varied undead, 27 by my count. I am sure there are many new undead ideas in all of the OSR and perhaps other editions of D&D that I am not familiar with. I won’t continue this exercise with other versions of D&D, or OSR products at this time. If I did, it would only be those resources I already own in PDF. It still takes an hour a book to do all the searches I do.

To keep the size of this article under control, I will have a separate article on holy water and magical protections in AD&D. If all goes well, I will post it tomorrow.

NOTE: All the links for the AD&D books are Affiliate Links that help me support my RPG/Blogging habit.

Undead in AD&D

I was reading up on the various undead in the Monster Manual, and noted which ones in their descriptions specifically mentioned throwing holy water on them would hurt them. [Part 2] [Part 3]

For some reason, the articles on ghouls, ghasts, shadows, ghosts, and liches do not mention them being affected by holy water. I thought this was wrong, so I turned to the DMG and found on p. 65 “All forms of undead, as well as creatures from the lower planes (demons, devils, night hags, night mares, nycadaemons, etc.) are affected by HOLY WATER.”

Similarly, “Paladins, lammasu, shedu, ki-rin, and similar creatures of good alignment (or from the upper planes) are affected by UNHOLY WATER.”

In addition to affecting undead, on p. 228 in the glossary of the DMG, it says, “Useful as a weapon against undead or to slow the effects of poison.” Further on p. 115 it slows the effects of becoming a lycanthrope or undead for 1-4 turns.

I also found the bit on holy/unholy areas having an affect on the ability to turn on p. 66 of the DMG.

And of course the ability to make holy/unholy water is limited to at least a 5th level cleric with a font. Fonts are limited to one per religious edifice. and can only be used once per week. See pages 114-115 DMG. If there is a sudden outbreak of undead, the availability and cost of holy water will be a factor. Determining the day of the week the cleric makes holy water will determine just how many spells for healing or other purposes the cleric has prepared that day. Of course, this will only be an issue if there is only one cleric of sufficient level to create holy water.

Some undead have the ability to create like or lesser versions of themselves, from those they have slain. Skeletons and Zombies lack this ability, but Ghouls have it. The AD&D ghoul is the closest analog to zombies in relatively recent media that cause those killed by them to become one of them.

Ghasts are a “super ghoul”, in that their paralyzing touch can affect elves, but it doesn’t mention that those killed by a ghast become a ghast. I would rule that they do, since they are otherwise identical to ghouls.

Of the higher order undead, mummies, ghosts, and liches victims do not become undead. Of these, only a ghost’s victims are permanently dead. The ghost is the only undead with such an unforgiving and irreversible condition. I would rule that a limited wish, wish, or alter reality spell could change that.

Draining powers have some variability. Shadows drain strength, while wights, wraiths, spectres, and vampires drain levels. Ghosts are the only one that age.

Oddly, only the ghoul and the ghast are mentioned as being repulsed by circles of protection. I would rule that the right efforts put into such protections would be effective. This only makes sense, since holy symbols in the hands of clerics are beneficial.

The different speeds of undead is also interesting. The slowest are zombies, mummies, and liches at 6″. The fastest land speeds are ghasts and shadows at 15″. With flying speeds of 18″ for vampires in bat form, to 24″ for wraiths, and 30″ for spectres.

It appears that only ghouls and ghasts get 3 attacks per round. All the rest only get 1 attack per round.

The fear affect by some undead is quite powerful, either causing one to flee, or be inactive with fear, in the cast of a mummy, or flee in fear if under 5th level for a lich. The fear effect of a lich is even greater than that of a huge ancient dragon which “only”
affects up to 4th level characters/4 HD monsters. Since a lich is at least an 18th level magic user, it makes sense that their fear effect is greater, as an 18th level magic user, who acted smartly, should be able to take out an ancient dragon on their own. Thus, the power of a lich could easily result in a cooperative agreement between the lich and an ancient dragon.

The groaning spirit (banshee) is an undead, but is not listed on the turning table. It falls between the mummy and the spectre in hit dice, so consider its special abilities and defenses when deciding where to place it on the turning table.

I find it interesting that a wight has more hit dice than a ghast, but the ghast is harder to turn. With that exception, the turning table on p. 75 of the DMG is in HD order.

As I prepared the image to go with this article, I realized that Dave Trampier seems to have illustrated all of the undead.

Of course, this is only the undead in the original Monster Manual. A separate article or more may be needed to review the undead in the Fiend Folio, Monster Manual II, and other AD&D resources.

Read Part 2 here.

NOTE: All the links for the AD&D books are Affiliate Links that help me support my RPG/Blogging habit.