Fresh Takes On The Unfresh Dead: 5 Non-Egyptian Themed Mummy Types For Your Ravenloft (OR Other) Campaign
Greetings once again!
Adventurers within the Mists are likely more than acquainted with what Van Richten referred to as the Ancient Dead: corpses preserved by vile thantological sciences and reanimated to spread woe and misery upon those among the living who would dare to defile their places of rest.
Although considered by some to be uniquely indigenous to the Amber Wastes, (and that region is certainly home to the alpha's share of such creatures!) mummies can be found throughout the Core, several clusters, and even a few of the so-called islands of terror. Please find enclosed a sample of the various mummies I have encountered (or that I can confirm the existence of from reliable sources).
1. Jas-jassasok (Fire Mummy)
In the land of Sri Raji, east of the city of Tvashti, almost near the misty border, one encounters ancient, crumbling ruins of a civilization long forgotten, presumably destroyed by the more numerous Rajians. Beneath one of these faded ziggurats there lies a labyrinth of twisting passages filled with the bones of grave robbers gone by. At the center of this maze of lethal traps and spiteful undead lies Jas-jassasok.
Jas-jassasok's people mummified their dead by having the aged and infirm consume a special saline solution. Once they passed on, this solution prevented natural processes from causing decay inside the corpse. The body would then be smoked over a fire and preserved internally by blowing the smoke of sacred herbs through the body cavity.
The lord of this particular tomb has never been known to speak, although reports indicate he is very capable of understanding the languages of others. He appears as a man of striking musculature, his skin withered and browned like meat jerky, and usually chooses to go about in a shocking state of nudity. His eyes glow dimly like hot coals, and he is surrounded by a perpetual cloud of grimy grey smoke.
In Play: Fire Mummies utilize the same statistics as regular mummies, but lack a normal mummy's vulnerability to fire. Attacks against a fire mummy originating from more than a single space away suffer disadvantage due to the thin cloud of smoke which surrounds them. Fire mummies can see through all smoke (including magical smoke) but not through fog or haze created by water vapor. Adjust their CR by +1.
2. Aukagaak (Frozen Mummy)
Northwest of Kirinova in the land of Vorostokov, one can find a goatherd's trail up into the mountains (long since abandoned). Well up above the heights any sane person might travel one finds the Cavern of the Hungry Winds, a place spoken of only by a few of the most ancient elders among the Voros. The cavern is crudely constructed from the stone, although its age makes it quite expansive. This cave complex has been carved so that the high, dry winds sweep through the complex constantly. The cavern is ruled over by Aukagaak, the matriarch of a tribe destroyed by famine during a particularly harsh winter.
The dry winds and unrelenting cold of the Cavern of the Hungry Winds causes a peculiar desiccation effect in living flesh. The mummies created within the cavern (done by leaving them upon high wooden plinths scattered throughout) freeze and dry out so rapidly that there is virtually no decay. The skin of the bodies is as thin as paper, and the swift desiccation consumes the eyes of the victims while stretching their eyelids permanently open, leaving them to stare widely with horrifyingly black, empty sockets. (Despite having no eyes, they seemed to 'see' and be vulnerable to vision based attacks in the same fashion as their more common cousins.)
Aukagaak is a whip-thin woman in dried animal furs, who wields a staff adorned with the horned skull of a ram. She has become consumed with an insatiable need to rebuild and restore her community. To that end, she hoards supplies of food her people will never use, much of it as freeze dried as she and her tribe. Livestock reanimated through her necromancy form roving packs of undead animals that wander throughout the cavern. The largest danger in her lair, however, comes from her tribe: Aukagaak has animated many of her people as frozen mummies like herself, and in a deranged effort to continue her tribe's legacy, she has abducted new members of her tribe from the surrounding countryside. She prefers children for her 'adoptions,' seemingly failing to understand that they will never repopulate the caverns with a living community.
In Play: Frozen mummies have the same statistics as normal mummies, but gain immunity to cold. Instead of inflicting necrotic damage with their rotting fist, they inflict cold damage. Although they possess a mummy's vulnerability to fire, they never exhibit a fear of it, or anything else.
3. Crochan (Bog Mummy)
Groups of travelers along the road south of Mordentshire have reported similar encounters with a loping, stoop-framed man dogging their steps, who seemed capable of appearing and disappearing into the swamps almost at will. Although no one who reports seeing this creature have been harmed, in recent months several lone travelers have vanished, leading me to suspect the region is being haunted by a bog mummy capable of biding his time until he finds the easiest prey.
In the swamps and fens of Mordent live tribes of strange creatures called moor men. Not quite beast and not quite human, they caper half-naked beneath the moonlight, feasting and rutting with savage abandon, venting a barbaric wrath on any civilized folk they come upon. Rarely, a living person will be entranced with their heathen ways and cast off the trappings of civilization to join them. Such fools, when they pass on, are buried according to the gruesome traditions of their new 'kin:' when they become too infirm to carry on their wild practices, the unlucky person is killed by his own tribe as a ritual sacrifice, his throat slit and his body pinned into the bog waters before the life has left him. If the conditions are right, the acidity of a bog can preserve the corpse to a remarkable degree.
I believe the bog mummy from these recent reports to be Crochan: a trapper who vanished with a tribe of moor men in 742. Reports from his widow indicate Crochan appeared at their home numerous times, attempting to entice her to come with him, although she never gave in. This longing for his bride seems to have followed him into death: the travelers who have disappeared have all been women. (A few women with male companions have vanished, although their escorts bodies have been recovered.) The reports I've heard indicate Crochan's appearance is typical of bog mummies: smooth skin gone deeply blackish brown, appearing like tanned and ancient leather. He'll likely be covered in the bizarre and primitive tattoos sported by the moor men.
In Play: Bog mummies use normal mummy statistics, except that they gain a swim speed equal to their land speed, and have advantage on Stealth checks in swampy terrain. In addition, such terrain never counts as difficult terrain for them.
4. St. Laina (Incorruptible Mummy)
The Tepestani community of Briggdarrow has had a recent flurry of activity. Laina Meath, a warrior for Wyan's inquisition, passed away suddenly last year (many say from a hex-sickness brought against her by the curse of a vengeful fey). The faithful of Belenus claim that her remains have been the subject of a miracle: her purity, legendary in life, have made her corpse incorruptible, and it remains as perfectly preserved as the day she died. Her tomb has become a shrine, her remains now on open display within. I can confirm that they appear not only undecayed, but even lifelike, as though the warrior-maiden merely slumbered.
Legends of incorruptible saints are not uncommon. Nidala and Darkon are also home to legends of holy warriors of such surpassing fortitude that even after they have passed on, not even death despoil their mortal remnants. If such legends are to be believed, then these warriors have even been known to be possessed by their spirits once again and roused from eternal slumber to help those in need.
I can verify that such is the case with St. Laina. Even in death, her zeal to destroy those she believes corrupted by the fey is unquenchable. When my companions and I attempted to stay overnight in Briggdarrow, we found ourselves pursued by her animated form: a pale Tepestani woman of surpassing beauty, wholly dead but surrounded by a nimbus of cold blue light, clad in mail and armed with a broad sword. The dread she inspired was horrific, and my companions' magics availed them little. Fortunately, she did not pursue us beyond a night's travel from her shrine.
In Play: Incorruptible mummies have all the normal statistics for mummies. In addition, they have resistance to magic, and immunity to magic from one type of being (choose one of the same patron sources available to warlocks). Incorruptible mummies can detect magic at will, and their rotting fist does radiant damage as opposed to necrotic. Despite this, they are still harmed by radiant damage, and spells which inflict radiant damage bypass their resistance. Increase an incorruptible mummy's CR by 1.
5. Eston Kohlier (Plastic Mummy)
I've received a few reports from travelers coming through the Heath of Fevered Tears in Lamordia of an encounter with a strange man. They say that he appears from nowhere. Sometimes he attacks the traveler, and other times he arrives to point out an unseen danger or aid them against an attacking enemy. Those who he's helped claim he retreats as soon as the conflict is finished, refusing any form of conversation or thanks.
This pitiable man is a victim of Dr. Mordenheim's ministrations, I believe. A courier who disappeared near Schloss Mordenheim a short time before the first sightings is the likely identity of the mystery fellow: a Lamordian man named Eston Kohlier. My reports indicate that the good doctor had been engaged in chemical research in the months leading up to Kohlier's disappearance. I believe, if my research is correct, that Mordenheim was attempting to develop a resin which would allow for the indefinite preservation of a living being, until such time as the being could be released from this preservative lacquer by means of separate concoction. Alas, I believe the first human trial proved a dismal failure, permanently transforming Mr. Kohlier even as it preserved his now undead form forever.
Kohlier's body, according to witnesses, has been permanently altered by the doctor's chemical compounds. His flesh is flexible at the joints by a process I cannot understand, yet rigid and unyielding at the same time. He is nearly impervious to physical harm, and his touch still bears the toxic remnants of his rebirth. His face is an unmoving expressionless mask save for his eyes, which are his only capacity for displaying emotion. Eston, I believe, only attacks those who are working in the interests of Dr. Mordenheim or Adam. Those on their own errands have nothing to fear from him, while those in danger from the two dark masters or their catspaws may even find the resin man coming to their aid.
In Play: Plastic mummies have all the normal traits of a mummy save for the following: they have no immunity to being frightened or charmed, they are immune to bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage, as well as corrosive or poison damage. They are susceptible to necrotic damage. Their rotting fist attack does poison damage, rather than necrotic. Increase the DC of their Dreadful Glare by 1. Increase their CR by 2.
This is far from an exhaustive list of types of the ancient dead. From the preserved, severed heads of they goblyns of Forlorn (said to reanimate and fly about, possessing the living) to the dwarven lime mummies (formed from a calcified body and as mighty as the stones they lay on), the forms that the ancient dead take are as varied as the cultures that spawn them.
Hopefully, this missive will remind you to keep your eyes and mind open for such possibilities. As to the specific locations and individuals mentioned, whether you take the information about them as warning or invitation is up to you. Should your valor prove equal to the task of destroying such creatures, please write me that I may update my own records.
As always, wishing you safe travels and happy hunting,
Frankie "Farshot" Drakeson, Lord Mayor of Carinford-Halldon
Jim Stearns is a deranged hermit from the swamps of Southern Illinois. His mad scribblings can frequently be found in Quoth the Raven, as well as anthologies like Selfies from the End of the World, by Mad Scientist Journal.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.