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. The 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 life-like and evil intelligence.
“Dread Zombie” is an acquired template that can be added to any corporeal 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.
Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +1.
Type: The creature's type changes to undead. Do not recalculate base attack bonuses, saves, or skill points.
Alignment: Always neutral evil.
Aura: A dread zombie gains the unnatural aura (30 ft.)
Armor Class: The base creature's natural armor bonus increases according to its size, as given on the Table 2-17.
|Size||Natural AC Increase|
|Tiny or smaller||+0|
Hit Dice: Change all of the base creature's racial HD to d8s, and then add 2 racial Hit Dice to this total. Creatures without any racial HD gain 2 HD.
Speed: The dread zombie retains the base creature's speeds. If the base creature has a fly speed based on the possession of wings, its maneuverability is reduced by one step (minimum clumsy). Dread zombies cannot run.
Attacks: The dread zombie gains a primary slam attack if it has no other natural attacks. If the base creature possesses at least one mouth but has no natural attack with it, the dread zombie gains a secondary bite attack with each mouth.
All natural attacks gained by a dread zombie are size based. The damage for a gained slam attack is as if it was one size category larger. For a gained bite attack the damage is as one size category smaller.
Special Attacks: The dread zombie retains all the base creature's special attacks and gains those described here.
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 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. The save DC is Strength-based and uses the dread zombie's total HD.
Abilities: Str +4, Dex –2 (min. 1), Int –4, Cha –4 (min. 1). As undead, it has no Constitution score. If the base creature's Intelligence is reduced to zero or below by the application of this template it loses its Intelligence score and becomes mindless.
Feats: A dread zombie gains Toughness as a bonus feat.