Runequest Thursday #209 - Draugar Stone, Part 2!

Clint Staples

Last week I wrote up a potent location - The Draugar Stone - that can be dropped into any out of the way place in Glorantha or elsewhere. It would fit well into a corner of the Big Rubble, a cursed portion of Prax or the Wasteland, or even in a little traveled section of the River of Cradles.

The powerful Undead Rune manifestation of the Draugar Stone corrupts the area surrounding it, making it so charged with undead energy that even the vermin and insects that are drawn to the scent of death that oftn permeates the region are killed and raised as undead flies, beetles, etc. Other larger creatures are subject to the same power, and many succumb - rising as zombies under no one's command, but often remaining in the region of the Stone. A few, stronger, or perhaps less fortunate, rise with some of their intellect intact, and with greater powers of Undeath - these are known as Wights.

Some wights quickly leave the region, fearing others of their kind, more powerful than they, or Humakti Deathbands bringing destruction and final death. Others remain nearby, perhaps because of the same unconscious urge that keeps many of the lesser undead near. Whatever the reason, the living have a great deal to fear from these new inhabitants of the are.

Below, I have made up a template for creating a Wight, siply by modifying an existing character or statblock. You can use this to create wights to populate the area, or to impose upon a player character so unfortunate as to be turned into one, err,  somehow. I also include some resident wights pregenerated, as well as some unusual zombies, and an Undead Vermin Swarm, the result of a great number of flies, beetles, rats, scorpions or whatever swarming together in good zombie fashion.

 

Wight Template

 

Note: The information below is for gamemasters, and should only be shared with players when their characters learn it – probably the hard way.

 

A Wight is a terrible undead creature, resembling a zombie, but far more potent. A corrupted, malevolent intellect drives a corpselike body with a craving for the energy of the living. Red eyes, capable of vision in utter darkness, allow them to move and hunt the shadows, as well as underground tombs and caverns. Though they cannot pass for a living being on close inspection, they can ape the ways of normal mortals such that they are convincing at a distance. Wights detect as undead.

 

Wights are bound to the man rune in a way that vampires are not. Wights cannot become mist, or shapeshift, unless these powers belonged to the wight while it lived. Its flesh is dead and pale, often showing signs of desiccation, but it is tough and leathery, and largely insensate, granting it significant resistance to injury. A wight possesses any skills and spells it did in life, and this, combined with an individual wight’s likely preference to wear the clothing and armor it did in life, can make them terrible, implacable foes, very difficult to hurt or destroy.

 

A wight cannot drain the blood from a living creature, sustaining itself thereby. Instead it attacks the creature’s health directly, draining the CON of living victims to sustain itself and heal its own wounds. In this way, it can also create others like itself, for any living creature drained to 0 CON by a wight rises quickly under the command of the one who drained it.

 

Because of the strength of a wight’s association with the Man rune, these creatures do not lose POW or CON through normal existence. They also, however, do not normally regenerate, and healing magic causes them injury in accordance with the strength of the magic. A Heal 2 does 2 damage to a Wight in the location touched. More potent magic, such as Chalana Arroy’s Heal Area or Regrow Limb will completely destroy the location touched if successful against a wight. The viability of Resurrection on a wight, or the slain corpse of a wight, is unknown at this time.  

 

Wights are not hampered by many of the traditional weaknesses of the vampire, and are hated by the children of Vivamort for this. Never having been buried, Wights are not bound to their grave earth. Neither are they especially flammable. They can move about by day without hindrance, are not damaged by holy water and may cross running water at will. They do however share the vampiric aversion for the presentation of the Death rune, and are affected as any other undead by such spells as Turn Undead.

 

Tales abound of the Wight Kingdom in the troubled past of Dorastor, and Praxian stories of Wight cults or cabals in the Wasteland are too common to discount. For the most part, wights are rare east of Dragon Pass.

 

Rumors of a sub-cult of Vivamort, sometimes called Wightbarrow, are refuted by many Humakti, but the growing number of wights in recent years suggests some sort of cultlike organization. Given the hatred that vampires have for wights, it is equally likely that the wights are a more recent manifestation of Vivamort’s corruption of life, or something that the God of Undeath loathed every bit as much as his bloodsucking spawn. Experts on the undead might point to the wights ability to withstand the power of sunlight, fire and water as reason to doubt any connection with Vivamort. Yet the power of the Death rune against both types of undead, as well as their shared predilection for darkness and the need to rip energy from the living are suggestive of some sort of commonality.

 

At the current time, there is insufficient evidence to posit a Wight cult, its practices, special spells, or specific goals. Some have speculated that the rune Mastery is somehow connected to being or becoming a wight, because they are able to command those they create, and are able to drain CON and transform any living creature, regardless of its level of intellect or form.

 

To create a Wight, add the following traits and stat modifiers to any creature:

 

Wight Traits: Dark Sight, CON Drain, Dead Flesh (2 AP), A Wight has all the characteristics it had in life with its STR rising by 1d8 and its DEX by 1d4. Adjust skill percentages accordingly.

 

CON Drain: A wight can devastate the health of a living creature with a touch, claw or bite attack. Once per round, on a successful hit with such an attack, reduce target CON by 1d3(and therefore also the total HP). The draining Wight regenerates damage equal to amount of CON drained. A living target drained to 0 Health becomes a wight after 1d4 rounds, under the command of the wight that created it.

 

Death Rune Susceptibility: A Wight cannot approach nearer to a Death rune presented strongly by an initiate or higher in a Death rune cult. The touch of a Death rune is painful to any wight, and increases Damage done by any Disrupt or Healing spell by 2. A wight-drained corpse cannot rise as a wight if the Death rune is inscribed into the flesh of the corpse by an initiate or higher in such a cult. This takes 1 Melee Round to do, and requires a POW x3% success on the part of an Initiate, a POW x5% success on the part of a Rune Lord or Lady, and is automatically successful if scribed by a priest.

 

 

Attached are a number of wights of various sorts that you can use together or separately.