Wraith, War

Book of Souls

Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Night
Intelligence:Intelligence: Very (12)
Alignment:Chaotic evil
No. Appearing:Special (1d6)
Armor Class:4
Hit Dice:5+3
No. of Attacks:2 or 1
Damage/Attack:1d6 + Special
Special Attacks:Whispering
Special Defenses:Special
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:M (6’ tall)
Morale:Champion (16)
XP Value:1,400

These unnatural entities may be some of the Demiplane of Dread’s rarest horrors, for they have only been seen in the aftermath of large battles. They haunt the fields where the wounded lay dying, and do not linger long once they arrive. Some who speak of war wraiths claim they “may only walk upon soil still wet with the blood of war.” To date, they have only been sighted haunting the battlefields where Necropolis borders Falkovnia, although the occasional Tepestani legend can be heard telling of war wraiths haunting Arak in the days after all life was scoured from its surface.

From a distance, a war wraith appears only as an unearthly, misty light, easily mistaken for a will o’ the wisp. However, when within 90’ they can be seen more clearly, appearing as a spectral skeleton still clad in tightly-stretched, paper-thin skin. The skeleton seems to be that of a human, but with subtly fiendish features. Although war wraiths look insubstantial, as if made up of nothing but a dimly glowing, silvery mist, they behave like solid creatures. (Van Richten would classify them as corporeal manifestations.) More disturbingly, anything they touch comes away smeared with blood.

Combat: War wraiths carry a weapon in each hand. Common lore has it that this is the weapon which ended the wraith’s mortal life. Thus, war wraiths are most often seen carrying the weapons of battle: two long swords, two battle axes, etc. War wraiths may attack with each weapon in a round. No matter what sort of weapon the war wraith appears to be wielding, all their attacks do 1d6 points of damage per successful strike.

In addition, if the first attack hits, the victim loses one point of Strength. If the second attack hits, the victim loses one point of Constitution. If either score drops to 0, the victim dies and, according to legend, joins the ranks of the war wraiths.

War wraiths can only be harmed by spells or magical weapons of at least +1 enchantment. Some claim that war wraiths can be harmed by “unblooded” weapons, those that have never been used in combat. Others dismiss this tale, while still others guess that such weapons could only strike a war wraith once before being “blooded” and thus useless.

War wraiths also enjoy all the standard undead immunities, although they may not be truly undead.

If a victim cannot defend himself, as many of the wounded left moaning on a battlefield cannot, a war wraith uses a far more nightmarish tactic. Choosing not to attack with its weapons, the spirit will crouch down and whisper a long litany of unspeakable secrets into its victim’s ear. What insidious secrets does a war wraith tell its victim? None can say, for no one has ever survived to tell. Although the whispering causes no damage, the victim does lose one point in both Wisdom and Charisma each round as his soul simply surrenders the will to live. Victims of a war wraith’s whispering may make a save vs. death magic each round to avoid this effect, but they must keep making this saving throw every round the war wraith continues to whisper. The wraith will not end its litany until its victim dies or it is interrupted, either by other defenders or the coming of dawn. War wraiths have never been known to use their whispering attack on victims able to defend themselves; the evidence indicates they cannot.

Should a victim of whispering be rescued in time, he will have only vague memories of the war wraith’s litany: quickly forgotten fragments concerning duty, damnation, and the inevitability of the grave. Although dimly remembered, these secrets still compel the survivor to make a madness check.

Ability scores drained by any of the war wraith’s attacks return at the rate of one point each per day.

Habitat/Society: The basic truth is that no one knows where war wraiths come from, or why they haunt the bloodied fields of Ravenloft. The people of Necropolis claim they come from the Gray Realm, the land of the dead, here preparing for the day when the dead shall reclaim their kingdom. Although most people of Necropolis don’t believe in war wraiths, thinking them the fearful tales of old soldiers or, at most, embellished tales of will o’ the wisps, a saying has started to pop up around the domain: “Beware the shadows of Necropolis, those dark stains where the dead outnumber the living.” Supposedly, in these shadows the war wraiths walk.

War wraiths are attracted by sites of terrible violence; for every hundred people killed, 1d6 war wraiths will appear. The war wraiths will only haunt the area until the last of the wounded have been healed or have died, and the last of the dead buried. So long as a single body remains exposed on the field of death, the war wraiths will linger on.

Curiously, war wraiths seem bound by a strict code of behavior which they do not appear to follow willingly. They may only attack the wounded, those who have injured or killed another person since the last dawn, or those who attack the war wraith itself. If a war wraith encounters someone who falls into none of these categories, it will immediately put on a menacing display, hoping to intimidate the victim into attacking it. Once the victim has taken a swing at the war wraith, he becomes fair game, and the war wraiths will pounce.

War wraiths also only appear from dusk to dawn. At the sounding of the cock’s crow, all war wraiths simply boil away into the morning mist, not to reappear until the sun sets again.

Ecology: Citizens of Necropolis still tell tales of these creatures around their hearths at night, although no one seems to agree on their true nature or purpose. Some liken them to the bussengeist, explaining that if those dread apparitions are the omens which warn of impending disaster, then war wraiths are the carrion crows which follow after.

Other folk of Necropolis claim that these dread beings are recruiting soldiers for the armies of the dead, while still others claim that the spirits are the angry Falkovnian dead, seeking to drag comrade and foe alike into the grave with them.

Among the Kargat, it was whispered that war wraiths must call the Mists themselves their master, for apparently not even Azalin could bend them to his will.

By John W. Mangrum

Last Modified: February 22, 2014, 22:07:56 GMT

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

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