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Dread Ghast (CR +1)

The first ghouls were humans who rose as undead because they had indulged in unwholesome pleasures in life. The original ghasts rose as undead for similar reasons, but their sins were of vaster scale. A man who broke a taboo by consuming dead bodies to avoid starvation might rise as a ghoul, but a man who murdered his wife and children, then cooked them up as a delicious meal for himself and his mistress would instead rise as a ghast.

Cursed with a terrible stench of death and corruption that serves as a warning to the living, the ghast’s greater sins in life grant it greater power in undeath. The first dread ghasts were villains of still broader scope. Leaders in life, they influenced the actions of scores of others and led them to participate in terrible atrocities. Today, the dread ghast “race” of undead perpetuates itself through the transmission of vile power.

A creature killed but not consumed by a dread ghast rises as another dread ghast. Though the new dread ghast is not under its creator’s control, it usually succumbs to its progenitor’s exhortations to perform the same sorts of evil acts that led to the creation of the “race.” But dread ghasts are careful with this power. Since they have no control over the other dread ghasts they create, they consume the bodies of any victims that seem likely to be more powerful in undeath than themselves.

A dread ghast appears much as it did in life. Its decayed and rotting flesh clings tightly to its bones, and its eyes burn with unholy light. Dread ghasts often have long teeth and wicked claws. Their long, dry tongues loll out of their mouths, making rasping sounds when dragged against their fangs.

Creating a Dread Ghast

“Dread ghast” is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A dread ghast uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +1.

Alignment: Always chaotic evil.

Size and Type: The creature’s type changes to undead with the appropriate augmented subtype. Do not recalculate base attack bonuses, saves, or skill points. Size is unchanged.

Hit Dice: Increase all current and future Hit Dice to d8s.

Speed: If the base creature has both a climb speed and a land speed, the lower of the two increases to match the higher. If it lacks one of those speeds, the dread ghast gains the missing mode of movement at a speed equal to the other. If the base creature lacks both modes of movement, the dread ghast gains both at a speed equal to one-half the base creature’s highest speed.

Armor Class: The dread ghast’s natural armor bonus improves by +4 over that of the base creature.

Attack: The dread ghast retains all the base creature’s attacks, and its weapon and armor proficiencies. These attacks retain the same primary or secondary status they had for the base creature. If the base creature possesses at least one mouth but has no natural attack with it, the dread ghast gains a bite attack with each mouth. The bite attack is primary if the base creature has no natural attacks; otherwise it is secondary. If the base creature possesses at least one arm but has no natural attacks with it, the dread ghast gains a secondary claw attack with each such limb.

Damage: If the dread ghast gained bite or claw attacks from the application of this template, the base damage for each is as given on the following table.

Size Bite Base Damage Claw Base Damage
Fine 1d2
Diminutive 1d3 1
Tiny 1d4 1d2
Small 1d6 1d3
Medium 1d8 1d4
Large 2d6 1d6
Huge 2d8 1d8
Gargantuan 4d6 2d6
Colossal 4d8 2d8

Special Attacks: The dread ghast retains all the base creature’s special attacks and gains those described here.

Command Ghasts and Ghouls (Su)

A dread ghast can automatically command all normal ghasts and ghouls within 30 feet as a free action. Normal ghasts and ghouls never attack a dread ghast unless compelled.

Create Spawn (Su)

In most cases, dread ghasts feast on the bodies of the fallen. However, any creature killed by a dread ghast that lies undisturbed until the next midnight rises as a dread ghast at that time. The new dread ghast is not under the control of its creator. A protection from evil or gentle repose spell cast on the corpse prevents its conversion.

Paralysis (Ex)

A creature damaged by a dread ghast’s natural attack must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 dread ghast’s HD + dread ghast’s Cha modifier) or be paralyzed for 1d4+1 rounds.

Stench (Ex)

The noxious stench of death surrounds a dread ghast. Any breathing creature within 20 feet of a dread ghast must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 dread ghast’s HD + dread ghast’s Cha modifier) or take a –2 circumstance penalty on attack rolls, saves, and skill checks for 1d6+4 minutes. A creature with the scent special quality must make this save at a range of 40 feet and take a –2 penalty on the save. This save must be repeated each round that the breathing creature is within range of the dread ghast, but once the penalty has been applied, further failed saves merely reset its duration.

Unnatural Aura (Su)

Any creature of the animal type within 30 feet of a dread ghast automatically becomes panicked and remains so until the distance between it and the dread ghast is at least 30 feet.

Special Qualities: The dread ghast retains all the base creature’s special qualities and gains those described here.

Channel Resistance (Ex)

A dread ghast has channel resistance +4.

Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +4, Dex +4, Int +2, Wis +4, Cha +6. As an undead creature, a dread ghast has no Constitution score.

Skills: A dread ghast has a +10 racial bonus on Acrobatics checks. A dread ghast receives a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened.

Environment: any.

Organization: solitary, pair, gang (3–4), or pack (5–12).