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Dread Zombie (CR +1)

Though they resemble the mindless undead that fill out the ranks of armies commanded by evil necromancers and the clerics of dark gods, dread zombies (sometimes known as zombie lords) are fit to command such troops themselves. Dread zombies are created when the magic used to animate a zombie or other corporeal undead goes awry, or when a dread mummy breathes death on a living creature. Sometimes when the ceremony to create a lich fails, the would-be lich instead becomes a dread zombie, attaining eternal unlife at an unexpected cost—the loss of some of the intelligence it had in life. These undead recognize and mourn their lost mental acuity, and this knowledge translates into a sick hunger for living brains.

A dread zombie looks like the walking corpse of a living creature. Maggots writhe beneath its papery skin, and worms crawl through its muscles. Its eyes, however, are not the foggy, fluid-filled orbs of a normal zombie—they shine with a lifelike and evil intelligence.

Creating a Dread Zombie

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

CR: As base creature +1

Alignment: Always Neutral Evil.

Type: The creature's type changes to undead (augmented). Do not recalculate class BAB, saves, or skills.

Armor Class: A dread zombie gains a natural armor bonus based on it's size:

Zombie Size Natural Armor Bonus
Tiny or smaller +0
Small +1
Medium +2
Large +3
Huge +4
Gargantuan +7
Colossal +11

it Dice: Change all racial Hit Dice to d8s. Class Hit Dice are unaffected. As undead, dread zombies use their Charisma modifier to determine bonus hit points (instead of Constitution).

Defensive Abilities: A dread zombie gains channel resistance +2.

Speed: Winged dread zombies can still fly, but maneuverability is reduced one step (to a minimum of clumsy).  Dread zombies cannot run.

Attacks: A dread zombie retains all the natural weapons, manufactured weapon attacks, and weapon proficiencies of the base creature. If the base creature did not have a natural attack, it gains a primary slam attack.  If the base creature has at least one mouth, but no natural attack with with it, the dread zombie gains a secondary bite attack with each mouth.

If the dread zombie gained slam or bite attacks from this template, the base damage for each is given on the table below.

Table: Dread Zombie Damage

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

Special Attacks: A zombie retains all of the base creature's special attacks and gains the following.

Brain Consumption (Ex): When the dread zombie makes a successful grapple check to deal damage with its bite attack against a pinned or helpless living foe, the latter must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 dread zombie’s HD + dread zombie’s Str modifier) or die as the dread zombie consumes its brain. Creatures immune to critical hits and those with multiple heads are not killed by this attack.

Special Qualities: A dread zombie gains the following.

Command Zombies (Su): A dread zombie can automatically command all normal zombies within 30 feet as a free action. Normal zombies never attack a dread zombie unless compelled.

Unnatural Aura (Su): Any creature of the animal type within 30 feet of a dread zombie automatically becomes panicked and remains so until the distance between it and the dread zombie is at least 30 feet.

Abilities +4 Str, -2 Dex, -4 Int (minimum 0), -4 Cha (minimum 1). As undead creatures, dread zombies have no Con score.

Feats A dread zombie gains the Toughness feat.

Mmm, Brains...

If you’d like zombies in your game to be brain-eating monsters, but you don’t want them all to be dread zombies, simply use the standard zombie template, but give the zombie the brain consumption ability from the dread zombie template.

Although this attack can cause instantaneous death, it’s difficult for a normal zombie to use because it requires at least two successful grapple attempts on separate rounds, giving the victim several chances to escape or stave off pinning. Thus, giving this ability to a standard zombie does not increase its CR.