New Monster – War Band of the Undying Lament (for D&D 5E)

13 November, 2022

War Band of the Undying Lament

How they looked in life.Emerging from the mist as they climb up the rise are a set of once people, their skin white and bloodless contrasting with the blue glow of the tattoos that wreath their bodies. Their hair is spiked and their eyes share the same blue glow as their tattoos. They carry rectangular shields and spears or swords, a few have javelins as well. They start to spread out in a loose line, the lament never wavering in their dead voices.

A thrown axe takes one square in the forehead, it starts to topple and the tattoo snakes up to cast out the axe and reknit the dead flesh, which is now tattooed as well.  Its head snaps down and it continues to advance.

War Band of the Undying Lament
Medium unliving (undead), usually evil

Armor Class 12 (14 with shield)

Hit Points 25 (3D8+12)

Speed Walk 30 ft.

STR 14 (+2) DEX 10 (+0) CON 18 (+4) INT 10 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 10 (+0)

Saving Throws Charisma +2

Skills Athletics +4, Perform +2

Damage Resistances thunder, cold, necrotic

Damage Immunities poison

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10

Languages any languages it knew in life, can only sing laments and dirges

Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Coordinated Tactics.  A warrior has advantage on an attack roll against a target if at least one of the attacker’s allies is within 5 feet of the target of the attack and the ally is not incapacitated.

Death Song.  When a warrior is slain and there are any other warriors still singing, the lament intensifies to brutally strike at the person who slew the warrior, this causes 1d12 Thunder damage +1 per two other warriors still fighting (rounding up, maximum +6), or +1 per other warrior if the end was caused by a spell or magical effect (maximum +12), and the victim is deafened until the end of their next action, a Constitution saving throw (DC 12) halves the damage and prevent the deafening.

Tattooed Restoration.  The magical tattoos that bind the warrior to this world after death also try to keep them whole.  If damage reduces the warrior to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken beyond the amount that drops them to 0, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit.  On a success, the warrior drops to 1 hit point instead.  Out of combat, a warrior heals one hit point every hour until fully healed.

Unhallowed Lament.  The presence of the war band is accompanied by a lament, sung louder than their number could create.  All within 60′ of the war band that can hear the lament must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC 12) or be unnerved, suffering a -1 penalty to D20 attacks, saving throws, and tests.  Once a save is made, the person is immune to the lament until the next sundown.

Unsettled by Silence.  If their song is silenced by some magical force, they suffer disadvantage on all attacks and tests.

Attack. A warrior may make one weapon attack.

Melee Weapon. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5  ft., one target. Hit: by weapon +2.

Thrown Weapon. Missile Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range by weapon (usually 20/60 ft.), one target. Hit: by weapon +2.

The War Band of the Undying Lament is composed of warriors who made unfortunate or foolish pacts, symbolized by the tattoos upon them, with dangerous powers and now serve those powers after death.  The song and tattoos are what keep them animated and focused on the tasks they have been set, which are usually gruesome and unpleasant as are their masters.

Before Combat: Between the glowing tattoos and the endless lament, they do not sneak up on people but will use terrain and circumstances, such as fog and forests, to maneuver as close as they can before engaging their foes, hoping to panic them before the fighting begins.

During Combat: The war band will try to engage enemies with at least two of their members, or more if they can, to take advantage of the coordinated tactics.  They will use javelins against people using ranged weapons until they can close.

Morale: The war band will retreat if obviously outmatched and return with reinforcements, if available, or seek out weaker prey.

Notes:  A nasty variation on the classic unliving threat, good minions for a more powerful being as well.  It is the imagery that really sells them to my mind, the writhing tattoo and the endless dirge as they fight.

Image of a Caladonian pict warrior found on WikiMedia Commons and is in the public domain.

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