Welcome back to this series of updated Ravenloft monsters. If you haven’t caught the first couple yet, you can see them all by clicking here: Ravenloft monsters.
The flavor text is taken from the original Monstrous Manual.
Though there is nothing more loathsome than the foul undead, the defiler lich raises even this putrid circle of fiends to new levels of destruction and malevolence. Some that tread across the blasted domains of these creatures have heard them called by another name: kaisharga.
Defiler liches look like gaunt and skeletal wights or mummies. Tiny green points of light float in the blackness of their empty eye sockets and their bony fingers can quickly flay the flesh from the bones of an unarmored man.
All liches are arrogant creatures, so most dress in the clothes of local nobility or elaborate garb reminiscent of the profession they held before their transition to unlike. Even the fanciest of garments does little to hide their true appearance. however. Defiler liches emanate an aura of atrophy that slowly rots their clothes and anything around them. Cloaks begin to tatter, sleeves fray, and fruit at the same table as the defiler will quickly turn brown and spoiled.
Environmental Hazards. In life, defiler liches were spellcasters of great power who learned to garner their magical energies from the very land around them. Trees, grasses, and the very essence of all living things provide fuel for their infernal spells.
No one seems to know where the first defiler lich came from. With the many gapes and portals existing in the demiplane, it is most likely that the foul things came from some other place far removed from Ravenloft. Rumors abound that the world of their origin was blasted into the desert by their ilk, but thus far no proof has been offered of this theory.
What is evident is that the rich forests of the Ravenloft realms provide a virtually unlimited power source for their small numbers. Of course, this very same advantage can often be the first clue that such a creature has entered an area. If once lush forests suddenly turn to lifeless gray ash, few will doubt that there is a defiler in the land.
Due to the very nature of a defiler’s magic, its lair is normally devoid of vegetation. Underground lairs may lie beneath blasted heaths, ruined keeps have none of the typical ivy growing up the side, and any haven is likely to lie in the midst of a gray and dusty plain. Defilers will often use illusions to cover their abodes, but an astute adventurer will notice the dusty film that covers his gear and collects in his throat and eyes.
The ash created by defiler magic is black and gray, completely devoid of life or life-giving elements. Nothing will grow in an area of ash for one year. The ash itself is very light and usually blows away, leaving behind a lifeless, circular scar on the ground. Even with the ash gone, though, the defiler’s magic has leeched all life-giving nutrients from the soil, so that a defiled area may take many years to recover if it ever does.
There are rumors that many of the defiler lichee chased from places like Barovia or Falkonovia have migrated to the more familiar environment of Bluetspur. Some even say that several of these fiends have stricken unholy alliances with the illithids that live there. If this is true, it is likely that the defilers will use their allies to push their way back into lands with more flora to power their ruinous magical arts.
Eternal Plotters. Defilers have the same basic goals that other liches have; the eventual ascension to demilich status and even transcendence to other planes and forms of existence. In the meantime, however, these undead fiends have thousands of years in which to wait impatiently for some condition or circumstance. During this period their evil plots often grow far beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.
Defiler liches gain their status in the same way that other liches do. This includes the construction of a phylactery and its enchantment. Adventurers seeking to battle such a creature would do well to locate the fiend’s phylactery and focus their efforts on it.
Undead nature. A defiler lich doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.
Defiler Lich Template
Any lich can become a defiler. It keeps its statistics except as follows.
Actions. The paralyzing touch of the defiler deals double damage to spellcasters. In addition, spellcasters make their Constitution saving throw to avoid paralysis at disadvantage.
Challenge. Defiler liches have a challenge rating of 22 (41,000 XP).
In addition to the lair effects detailed in the Monster Manual, the defiler’s lair also has the following magical effect:
- When the defiler casts a spell within its lair, creatures in the lair are overcome with intense pain as its magic draws from their life essences. An affected creature must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned until the end of its next turn. If the creature is a plant, it makes this saving throw at disadvantage and takes 1d4 necrotic damage per level of the spell cast on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. Undead and constructs are immune to this effect.
Vampire, Mind Flayer (Illithid)
Vampire illithids are the result of evil experiments that were meant to be terminated. They were first created by Lyssa Von Zarovich and the High Master IIlithid of Bluetspur in an attempt to create a creature that could successfully convert the High Master into a vampire (conventional methods were not viable). When the hatchlings proved insane and completely uncontrollable, they were destroyed and thrown into the common water dump, where all victims of mind flayers are thrown after they expire. The vampire illithids regenerated, however, and were washed out of the mind flayer complex. Now they run free across the surface of the realm.
A New Horror. Vampire illithids are a recent development and are not known to the general populace of Bluetspur yet, but they are sure to find their way back into the complex as their deepening hunger drives them to sniff out life wherever it hides. Also, they are quite likely to penetrate the misty borders and invade other realms of Ravenloft – such a monstrosity is sure to thrill and delight the Dark Powers.
In the meantime, they run wild across the expanses of Bluetspur, seeking out and attacking any living thing. Since there technically is no “day” in Bluetspur, they are not constrained by the clock and sleep whenever the urge to rest overcomes their ravenous appetites.
Brains or Blood. Vampire illithids mature in a matter of weeks, rather than years, thanks to their undead status. They enjoy dining on both blood and brain matter, and they receive sustenance from both as well. They are not the least bit picky about their quarry, so long as it is alive.
Vampire, Mind Flayer
Medium undead, chaotic evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 144 (17d8 + 68)
Speed 30 ft.
Abilities Str 18 (+4), Dex 18 (+4), Con 18 (+4), Int 3 (-4), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 6 (-2)
Saving Throws Dex +7, Wis +3, Cha +1
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +7
Damage Resistances necrotic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages understands the languages it knew in life but can’t speak
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
Regeneration. The vampire regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point and isn’t in sunlight or running water. If the vampire takes radiant damage or damage from holy water, this trait doesn’t function at the start of the vampire’s next turn.
Spider Climb. The vampire can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Vampire Weaknesses. The vampire has the following flaws:
- Harmed by Running Water. The vampire takes 20 acid damage when it ends its turn in running water.
- Stake to the Heart. The vampire is destroyed if a piercing weapon made of wood is driven into its heart while it is incapacitated in its resting place.
- Sunlight Hypersensitivity. The vampire takes 20 radiant damage when it starts its turn in sunlight. While in sunlight, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
Multiattack. The vampire makes two melee attacks, one with its tentacles and one with either its drain blood or extract brain attack.
Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 15 (1d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is Medium or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 15) and must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until this grapple ends.
Drain Blood. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature that is grappled by the vampire, incapacitated, or restrained. Hit: 9 (1d10 + 4) piercing damage plus 27 (5d10) necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and the vampire regains hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.
Extract Brain. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one incapacitated humanoid grappled by the vampire. Hit: 55 (10d10) piercing damage. If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the vampire kills the target by extracting and devouring its brain.
Mind Blast (Recharge 5-6). The vampire magically emits psychic energy in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 15 Intelligence saving throw or take 22 (4d8 + 4) psychic damage and be stunned for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
One of a vampire’s most vulnerable moments is when the evil creature is attempting to complete its dark kiss, its bonding with a new vampire companion, creating a vampiric “bride” or “groom”. As elaborated upon by Doctor Rudolph van Richten in his great treatise on vampires, the process of creating a vampire bride or groom is quite elaborate, involving a great expenditure of both passion and blood on the part of the monster. For approximately one hour after the monster has poured all of its energy into the erstwhile companion, the vampire lies helpless beside the bride’s or groom’s transforming body. If the vampire is slain during this time period, its victim does not complete the transformation but becomes a creature caught between the world of the living and that of the dead – a sorry being known as a vorlog.
Physically the vorlog appears no different from a normal human, save for the budding fangs visible when the monster speaks. A vorlog has pale skin and always wears an expression of terrible pain and longing on its ashen face. Although the vorlog casts a shadow (unlike a true vampire), the monster can be recognized by a careful observer who notes that the creature appears translucent in mirrors and makes no noise when it moves.
Vorlogs speak the languages they knew in life. Those who have existed for a long time may have acquired other tongues as well.
In Search of Meaning. Vorlogs are often left alive by vampire hunters, for the creatures initially appear human. Many valiant hunters have falsely congratulated themselves for saving a poor wretch when they have actually condemned him to a semi-life of eternal torment.
The focus of the vorlog’s entire existence centers on its utter anguish and bereavement at the death of its vampire lover. The creature had already given itself over to the vampire, body and mind, when the newly wrought bonds were ripped away by the creature’s sudden demise. The shattering combination of psychic and physical blows is so devastating that the creature can never truly recover. Instead, it spends its eternal existence attempting to recreate its lost companion.
A vorlog spends much of its time searching for humans who resemble – even in only a remote fashion – its vampiric creator. Once a vorlog fixates on a particular individual, the monster becomes more and more convinced that the person actually is the vampire, reincarnated or otherwise restored. This fixation becomes so powerful that the vorlog will attempt anything to have the object of its obsession.
Once the vorlog has captured or charmed the individual in question, it makes the new “companion” dress and act like the yearned-for vampire lover. The vorlog also exchanges a small amount of blood with its new companion for three consecutive running, attempting to re-create the original and satisfying bond. At this point, the companion becomes the vorlog’s surrogate. The surrogate gains no advantages from this bonding, although the vorlog can regenerate faster (see “Combat”) while in the presence of a surrogate. The vorlog also feeds on its surrogate’s Wisdom regularly, so that the poor thing never has more than half of his or her normal Wisdom score at any time.
A vorlog can survive no more than three months without a surrogate to feed upon, and it is loathe to go for even a month without such a companion, as the loneliness of its existence is almost unbearable.
The vorlog can sense the location of its surrogate, no matter where he or she hides. Only an amulet of proof against detection and location, or a similar magical charm, can keep a vorlog from discovering its surrogate’s whereabouts.
Over the course of a few weeks, or at most months, the vorlog grows dissatisfied with the hollow mockery of its original bonding. This dissatisfaction is inevitable, as no being can ever recreate the powerful relationship between the vorlog and its creator. The miserable creature grows bitter and anguished as it begins to restlessly search anew for its creator. Eventually, the creature finds a new object for its obsession, at which point the vorlog returns to its current surrogate and destroys him or her.
A vorlog is capable of bonding with only one surrogate at a time. It cannot create new vampires or even other vorlogs to ease the utter desolation of its existence.
Interestingly, when two or more vorlogs confront each other, they find no comfort in mutual commiseration or empathy. Instead, the creatures tend to f1y into rages and attack one another or their surrogates. Even if such a fight does not occur, the vorlogs spend the bulk of their energies comparing their dead vampire masters, with each vorlog insisting that its beloved was far superior. Such petty and pointless rivalries consume the vorlogs, causing them to remain distant from the only other beings that might truly understand the anguish of their own existence.
Unwanted Creatures. Only a mortal in the final stages of the transformation into a vampiric bride or groom can ever become a vorlog. Other potential vampires merely recover or die as a result of the injuries inflicted upon them by their vampire attacker.
The vorlog must feed on both normal food and psychic energy to survive. The creature’s body needs only one-tenth the amount of food it required while alive, and it can go months without being seriously affected by starvation. More important to the creature is the psychic energy it draws from its surrogates. Without such a surrogate, the vampire dies in three months.
The vorlog is a creature that was never meant to be. Caught on the razor’s edge between life and undeath, the vorlog is trapped in a world of horror which no other being can truly understand. There is no known way to cure a vorlog; only death grants monster any the measure of release. The vorlog is a creature to be both pitied and feared.
Medium monstrosity, chaotic evil
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 39 (6d8 + 12)
Speed 30 ft.
Abilities Str 14 (+2), Dex 14 (+2), Con 14 (+2), Int 10 (+0), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 12 (+1)
Saving Throws Dex +4
Skills Perception +2, Stealth +4
Damage Resistances necrotic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages the languages it knew in life
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Regeneration. The vorlog regains 5 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point, it isn’t in sunlight, and it has one of its surrogates within 30 feet of it. If the vorlog takes radiant damage, this trait doesn’t’ function at the start of the vorlog’s next turn.
Rile Beasts. The vorlog’s presence causes beasts to act aggressively. Each beast with an Intelligence score of less than 4 that starts its turn within 100 feet of the vorlog has advantage on melee weapon attack rolls. In addition, attack rolls against them also have advantage.
Sunlight Hypersensitivity. The vorlog takes 10 radiant damage when it starts its turn in sunlight. While in sunlight, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
Multiattack. The vorlog makes two slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) bludgeoning damage.
Charm. The vorlog targets one humanoid it can see within 30 feet of it. If the target can see the vorlog, the target must succeed on a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or be charmed by the vorlog. The charmed target regards the vorlog as a trusted friend to be pitied and mourned. Although the target isn’t under the vorlog’s control, it takes the vorlog’s requests or actions in the most favorable way it can. In addition, the creature is so focused on the vorlog, it makes Wisdom (Perception) rolls at disadvantage while within 30 feet of the vorlog. Each time the vorlog or the vorlog’s companions do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 24 hours or until the Vorlog is destroyed, is on a different plane of existence than the target, or takes a bonus action to end the effect.
Variant: Vorlog Surrogates
Vorlogs that charm humanoids to return with them to their lair can use an insidious ritual to turn the victim into a surrogate. Surrogates act as if permanently under the vorlog’s charm ability, however, it is not allowed a saving throw to resist while within 1 mile of the vorlog even if harmed by the vorlog or its allies. A surrogate’s stats are the same except that it makes its all Wisdom skill checks and saving throws at disadvantage as if it is in a permanent daze. Once the surrogate has been away from the vorlog for 1d4 days, it returns to its senses and the vorlog’s bond is broken.
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully, this series has armed you with plenty of new monsters and BBEGs for your gothic horror campaigns.
See you next time!
Art by Wizards of the Coast.