Tuesday Magic Item – Heart Nail

20 October, 2015

Hammer it inVoddick cleaned his sword and frowned.  “It that a nail in the chest of that unliving corpse we just put down?”

Gollaon looked from where his was cleaning the wound to his forearm.  “I think you are right.”

“Bugger,” said Voddick, pulling a dagger from his belt.  He stepped over to the corpse, knelt down and dug the nail out of the body with his dagger.

“Messy work,” commented his friend.

“Some of the dead brought back with nails like this do not stay dead.  Lost two members of a patrol to a nailed corpse once.  Not again.”

“I am glad you recognized that.  I have not encountered such before.”

Heart Nail

These nails are at least as long as a grown man’s hand and the metal used to make them is often pitted and scarred.  They seem heavier than they should be and they are as cold as ice when inactive and as warm as blood when they have been prepared.  Made from the metal of weapons that had been used to kill, the fires used to forge the nail must be stoked with bones and the finished nail quenched in fresh blood.

The item’s use is simple, the nail is used to kill a living being and this charges it with impure energy before the next midnight, the nail must be driven into the heart of a corpse no more than two days old.  The corpse will then return to a semblance of life under the general direction of the person who placed the nail there.

The power of the unliving creature created, depending on what was killed to empower the nail, which has to have been at least of the same size (or larger) as the corpse used:

  • Animal, the corpse rises with the zombie temple (except without the staggered condition).  If the animal used to empower the nail was a predator, the zombie gains a bite attack at its full attack bonus.  For each size larger than the corpse the animal used was, the corpse gains two additional hit dice and +1 natural armor.
  • Magical Beast, as above except the unliving corpse gains a low Intelligence (3 or half that of the beast, whichever is higher), skills appropriate to its new role and the Weapon Focus (primary attack), Great Fortitude and Lightning Reflexes feats.
  • Intelligent Being, may be restored to a false life as a ghoul or, if they were of 5th or higher level, as a wight (with a 1d6 claw attack instead of a slam and no create spawn ability).  For each two levels the victim had (over five for the wight), the created undead gains an extra hit dice, and for each three, both its Strength and natural armor increases by one (both of these calculations round down).

If the being placing the nail marks it with a drop of their own blood and transfers part of their lifeforce to the newly created unliving being (at the cost of 1d4+1 points of Strength and Constitution damage), it gains:

  • Relentless (Su) the unliving thing heals one hit point every minute as long as the nail remains in its heart, recovering from any amount of damage (given enough time) and reanimating once it has recovered half of its hit points.  It can sense those who “killed” it and will seek to hunt them down.  Additionally, it gains the Athletic and Stealthy feats.

The unliving creature retains the relentless ability as long as its creator lives, killing the creator removes the relentless ability but does not destroy the creature.

Aura strong necrourgy; CL 11th
Slot – ; Price 3,500; Weight
Construction Requirements
Craft Wondrous Item, create undead, false life, vampiric touch; Cost 1,750

Notes: Something horrific and scary for the Halloween season.  I am not sure on the pricing of the item either, it is essentially a one use item, but still fairly potent for that.

Photo by Roland Tanglao and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


  1. Nice fit for the season, for sure.

  2. I appreciate the fiddliness of the item creation, and it is always good to think through undead creation rather than just throwing them at the players, and this helps with that. I would probably base the increased HD for the zombie version on the used animal’s HD rather than size though.

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