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D&D 3E
Idea for a template to be applied to the Undead 
29th-Jun-2007 04:50 pm
hot raam
I had an idea for an undead template. Please look it over and tell me
what you think. It works best for zombies, but with a little
forethought, it could probably apply to any undead (EDIT: except incorporeal.)

Plant-based Undead (someone else suggested I call them Verdant Undead)
Rather than being powered by negative energy, these undead are corpses
that have been overrun by a plant organism that animates their body.
-Type changes from Undead to Plant.
-HD changes from d12 to d8
-Attack bonus changes from 1/2 to 3/4 (like a cleric)
-Gains a Constitution score based on size. (I recommend Tiny 6, Small
10, Medium 12, Large 16, Huge 20, Gargantuan 24, Colossal 32)
-Since they are not truly undead, they lose all universal Undead
traits and gain all universal Plant traits (which are mostly the same
anyway. I.e. immune to critical hits, sleep, paralysis, etc.)
-Immune to turning and rebuking. Also not hurt, but rather healed by
cure spells. They are susceptible to damage from inflict spells.
-CR should increase a step (e.g. 1/3 to 1/2 or 3 to 4) to account for
the immunity to turning and the increased attack bonus.

In all other ways they should be just like the original undead.

Possible adventure hooks in a game:
-An evil druid develops an Animate Dead spell of her own and is
terrorizing the people of the town.
-Infestation of undead from a Far Realm that local clerics seem
powerless to defeat.

Potentially, you could apply the template to all undead and make it
make sense with a little modification. For example, a plant-based
vampire that sleeps by night in an earth-filled coffin and seeks out
blood by day. Might possibly be healed by sunlight spells, rather
than harmed. In that case, you may want to increase the CR a little more.
29th-Jun-2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
Would it be possible to kit-bash the woodling template onto undead? I guess the CR adjustment might need fixing.
30th-Jun-2007 01:02 am (UTC)
That's an interesting idea. I'd kind of forgotten about the Woodling template. I'm looking it over now.

Of course, it excludes undead as potential woodlings, but that's easy to ignore. One big difference is that type doesn't change, so if we followed the template exactly, the creature would still be undead, just an undead creature with druid-like abilities.

I posted my template idea in a yahoo group and someone suggested that I'd probably actually need to lower the CR, rather than raise it. (Same person who suggest the name "Verdant," actually.) He pointed out that these creatures would suddenly become susceptible to ability drain, disease, poison, death from massive damage and death effects, which drastically weakens the undead much more than immunity to turning helps them. I'm not sure, turning is so easy IF you have a cleric on hand and doesn't allow a save, but it's a good point. At most, the CR shouldn't be raised, and should possibly be lowered.
(Deleted comment)
30th-Jun-2007 01:06 am (UTC)
And see, now you've given me ideas, too. What you said reminds me of a plot hook I read in Heroes of Horror (which is excellent if you haven't read it.) It suggests having a character bite into a piece of fruit, then spit out a seed which appears at closer examination to be a human tooth. Disgusting and horrifying and begging for PC investigation. "The fruit that bites you back."
30th-Jun-2007 03:08 am (UTC)

Why not just make a "plant-zombie" template from scratch? Most of the corporeal undead that AREN'T already templates in one form or another are fairly inappropriate for this, as they're so heavily based on negative energy.

Unless, of course, you WANT a "plant-lich", "plant death-knight", or even a "plant ghost."

(FWIW, +1 CR sounds exactly right. Anything with a CON score can have a buffed CON score.)
30th-Jun-2007 03:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, incorporeal undead seem pretty inappropriate. Otherwise, the sky's the limit, whatever works logically in your campaign.

That being said, it would get pretty ridiculous if the players faced down a horde of plant-zombies AND a plant-deathknight AND a plant-famine spirt AND finally a plant-lich. That just sounds like a joke. But used carefully, maybe only applying it to one kind of undead, can make a surprising twist to a routine combat encounter and provide a possible plot-hook.
30th-Jun-2007 06:30 am (UTC)
i find it quite depressing when as a DM you have a great idea, only to find that it's been done before, so I hate to do this but....


Yellow musk plant and their zombies are in either MM2 or FF. Great idea for a villainous druid tho!
30th-Jun-2007 01:18 pm (UTC) - oops, wasn't logged in.
Thanks for posting the link. I figured someone must have done something like this before. The ideas are different enough though to make it still worth writing down, in my opinion. Also, that's someone's 3rd edition interpretation of a monster originally printed in a 1st edition book from 1981 and so it won't be available to everyone unless they know about the website.

Isn't that always the way, though. You come up with a good idea and if I'd only been 26 years faster writing it down, it would have been original.
30th-Jun-2007 04:02 pm (UTC) - Re: oops, wasn't logged in.
well... from what I read, the yellow musk zombie isn't really a zombie....just a PC/NPC who's been Int drained to the point that it can take controlled, so, although it might fit into the same general category, it isn't the same as this creature...

next....not to split hairs (btw, nice job...I might use this in a game) but, if this is a creature that's animated by the plant embedded within a corpse would it still be considered Undead?

my thought is to change its type to Plant of the appropriate size (depending on creature size), with the parent plant size Large or Huge

second, add a size restriction.....how incredibly ugly would a Colossal Dragon turned into one of these would be? (well, you get my point....

ok... I think that's bout it for now.....feel free to summarily dismiss my 2cp worth at will.....
30th-Jun-2007 07:45 pm (UTC) - Re: oops, wasn't logged in.
Well, the template as it stands does change the type from Undead to Plant (both mine and the Yellow Musk Creeper.) That's what makes it different. It looks like a zombie, smells like a zombie, but if you try to Turn or Rebuke it, you're SOL.

Normally, you can't make zombies from anything with more than 10 HD, at least not with the Animate Dead spell, so that would cut out all of those Colossal Dragons.

If you're changing an undead creature that's not a zombie into a plant, things can get weird. Skeletons and Ghouls might work okay, but other things require some explanation. If you made a Verdant Vampire, why does a corpse infected with mold or moss or something suddenly have the ability to turn to gaseous form, or spider climb, or turn into a wolf. You could do it, but you would have to frankly evaluate each special ability and decide to either keep it, change it or drop it, then adjust the CR to match.
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