by T.A. Saunders ©2010 v1.1
Creature Type: Undead/Abomination
Activity: Any, but prefers darkness
Special Talents: Incomprehensible Presence, Reconstitution
Special Attacks: Scream of the Dead, Maddening Gaze, Absorption
Locality: Miroa, Shalzaar (Am-Orah’s under-city), Sovereignty of Anthalas (D`Mir)
Longevity: Eternal until destroyed.
Class Types: 50% of Shambling Horrors will be Berserkers, 25% will be Paragon Berserkers, 20% will be Necromancers and 5% will be Paragon Necromancers (Arch-Vile). This elite 5% will also have a relatively cohesive mind and be able to lead groups of its own kind.
To explain what the Shambling Horror looks like is to entertain a certain measure of madness. These creatures are actually the conglomerate of several different people or possibly creatures with their various body parts, bones and organs flesh-shaped by a necromancer so these various body parts are made to operate together.
The torso is a fused composite of all the poor souls utilized in its creation, warped in impossible ways to create a hulking frame and the heads are sewn and melded together in a similar fashion, making no two Shambling Horrors exactly (or perhaps better said, remotely) alike in appearance, save for the dark power that infuses their unholy existence into being.
The first Shambling Horror was created by Skaryn the Exiled sometime right before the Battle of Am-Raynia. It is thought that prisoners taken with the Invasion of Jir-Tasaar ended up being the unfortunate fodder for the first Shambling Horrors, though there is no documentation substantiating that claim, since when Skaryn was banished from the D`Mirian Empire, all his notes, memoirs and journals were destroyed (or looted by fellow Theocrats). The knowledge stayed with Skaryn however and like many of his spells, he was able to transcribe them again in new grimoires he would eventually fill his library at S`Kyrai with.
Aside of the few that had been left in D`Mir, under the command of Skaryn’s apprentices and those who found his spell books, it was generally thought and hoped these fearsome abominations would never be seen elsewhere on Imarel, save Miroa, where an entire legion of these undead served his every command. Even modern Shar`Vaire necromancers blanch at the thought of creating a Shambling Abomination, knowing well that to even create such a fiend is to risk driving one’s self mad. Only the most disciplined and sinister mind can comprehend the evil necessary to raise such an unliving thing, let alone command it.
However, sometime in the last fifteen years the knowledge to create Shambling Horrors escaped the library of S`Kyrai and fell into the possession of the Shadow Elf necromancy guild, known as the Kiris Miran. Crafted in secret, an army of these unliving brutes was moved into Am-Orah at the end of the War of Shadows, in an attempt by the fallen Shadow Elf queen, Aryiseema and her Dracolich cohort, Thanaxiscar to secure the city. While their hope to make Am-Orah into an undead freehold of sorts was thwarted recently, there are still Shambling Horrors that wander the daylight travel tunnels under the city, making re-occupation of citizenry impossible until every last one of them are destroyed.
Shambling Horrors have almost no socialization, or organization, or desire for companionship, save for a very few documented cases where spell-casting Horrors have managed to control lessers of their kind. They hate all life, including their own and will stop at nothing to kill anything that cannot control them or destroy them. Their very existence is fueled by souls fused together; entire conscious wills battling for control over the misshapen shell they are terminally a part of and against the fierce power of command that those who are able to create Shambling Horrors can administer. They do not sleep, nor have need for sustenance save as a means to rapidly heal themselves. Sunlight is highly uncomfortable to them (though perhaps the least of their discomforts, given their state of unlife) because of their lidless composite eyes, but they are not debilitated by it. Shambling Horrors register pain, but do not feel it, much in thanks to their own, perpetually agonizing existence. Shambling Horrors are impossible to turn or destroy by any holy host, save that of celestial origin.
In combat, the Shambling Horror will open with its Scream of the Dead, which causes momentary deafness in anybody who is within fifty feet of the creature, stun those who have exceptional hearing (such as Elves) for several minutes and for those who aren’t stricken deaf by the horrific sound, there is a 50% chance they will go temporarily catatonic with fright. Those stricken in this way are the first ones the Shambling Horror will attack, seeking to destroy them first, ignoring other attackers unless they pose a serious threat to the creature.
Simply seeing the Shambling Horror is tantamount to madness; the Incomprehensible Presence they project has a 50% chance to drive any mortal creature temporarily insane. The sort of insanity differs from person to person, but there have been recorded incidents of people going into a frenzied panic to get away from the Shambling Horror, uncontrollable berserk attack of the Horror and those who are simply stricken dumb with the impossible terror before them. This is not the extent of what might happen but certainly a good indicator when exposed to the Shambling Horror’s presence. Even if one survives such an encounter, it is likely that some part of their mind will be forever tormented by the sight of such a creature.
If a Shambling Horror manages to close in on a particular target, it may employ a Maddening Gaze, which strikes the individual thus gazed upon in such a manner with such mind-bending terror, that they are momentary confusion that makes it impossible to distinguish friend from foe, hearkening the victim to either flee once released from the glare of the Shambling Horror’s gaze, or begin attacking targets at random in a desperate attempt to escape. Like the insanity above, this effect is temporary and will wear off in minutes…providing one survives.
When wounded, the Shambling Horror has two ways in which to heal itself. The first of which is a talent called Reconstitution, by which a Shambling Horror with gaping wounds may shift around parts of its composite mass to repair the damage. Bits of muscle and organs might crawl across a hole in the stomach, then partially melt to create a meaty patch over the wound, or a severed arm could be lifted and re-grafted into the Horror. This ‘melting’ process is thought to involve partially the bile that it can spew at random, but there is a necromantic component to the process as well that allows the melted meat and flesh to fuse the recovered part or a new replacement into place.
The other method is called Absorption, which involves the Shambling Horror devouring the carrion of recently slain enemies and adding their physical mass to its own. This is a slower process but can restore a severely wounded Shambling Horror to its full strength, if allowed enough time to consume a whole body, which could take roughly fifteen to twenty minutes. Anybody slain, then absorbed in this manner is forever a part of the unliving abomination and can never be resurrected, short of direct divine intervention. If they are devoured in this manner while still alive, the spirit will likewise be fused with the creature, impossible to separate and salvage for resurrection.