Skeletal and towering over the battle, the herald of undeath blasts the living in the name of its dark lord: “Hail the age of apocalypse, for your death is here! I shall reap you all into my master’s fold, for I am the end times made flesh!” Fresh from the land of the dead, a herald of undeath is an enormous, undead servitor of the dark gods of undeath. It is often accompanied by flutterflesh scouts or a pack of wraiths, and it travels as a messenger to a hierophant lich or an evil high priest. The herald of undeath walks tirelessly to spread its master’s grim message of death, doom, and decay.
Large undead, lawful evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 152 (16d10 + 64)
Speed 40 ft.
|14 (+2)||18 (+4)||18 (+4)||10 (+0)||12 (+1)||16 (+3)|
Saving Throws Strength +6, Dexterity +8
Skills Deception +7, Perception +5, Stealth +8
Damage Vulnerabilities radiant
Damage Resistances cold, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, paralyzed, poisoned, stunned, unconscious
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Common, Darakhul, Infernal
Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)
- Creeping Death. A creature that starts its turn within 10 feet of the herald must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or take 13 (3d8) necrotic damage.
- Magic Weapons. The herald’s weapon attacks are magical.
- Turn Resistance. The herald has advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead.
- Shrieking Bones. When struck by magic or by a magical weapon, the bones of the herald cry out in pain with the voices of the damned.
- Separable Limbs and Eyes. The herald of undeath can detach its various limbs at any time, leaving them to act independently. It will often leave an eyeball somewhere to keep watch on a particular location.
- Raises Entire Cemeteries. A herald of undeath can and will raise entire undead armies from large cemeteries, battlefields, or necropoli. There is no limit to the number of undead that will follow a herald of undeath, and even intelligent undead are not immune to its clarion call. Tribes of gnolls sometimes follow them, seeking chaos and easy plunder.
- Undead Nature. A herald of undeath doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.
- Multiattack. The herald of undeath makes two reaping scythe attacks or uses its Ray of Annihilation twice. If both reaping scythe attacks hit the same target, the target must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or it is reduced to 0 hp.
- Reaping Scythe. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d10 + 4) slashing damage plus 9 (2d8) necrotic damage.
- Ray of Annihilation. Ranged Spell Attack: +7 to hit, range 120 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (4d8) necrotic damage and the target must succeed on a DC 16 Charisma saving throw or be blinded for 1 round.
The herald of undeath is referred to as the Herald of Rot, where the god of undeath and his hideous messengers live within an ancient necropolis, or summoned on battlefields, to create a city of the undead. A herald may corrupt ley lines or transform a ruler of Nuria into a god-king or god-queen. Its role in this later work requires deep necromancy and a divine spark in the chosen ruler.
In places most deeply corrupted by necrotic energies, the herald of undeath crowns itself as a minor godling and bringer of the grave’s embrace. It builds a settlement of undeath, first a small village and temple of skeletons and zombies building shrines to demons and dark gods, then a larger town looting tombs and decorating an elaborate and profane cathedral, and (if left undisturbed) an entire city of undead working to gather the living into its chilly embrace.
The largest of these cemetery cities are strange places filled with the chittering of ghouls and the clatter of bone, and their primary purpose is the slavish adulation of the dark god who sponsors their founding herald. They have no fields to till or livestock to maintain; instead, they gather and carve stone into grotesque buildings, offertories, and abattoirs where the living cross into undeath. Cemetery cities can grow to enormous size with freakishly carved devotional scriptures on every wall, gates made of ebon stone, and streets paved in powdered bones and small cobblestones, each ivory stone crudely carved to resemble a skull. At some point, their rituals, stonework, and sheer nightmarish blasphemy generates a portal to the land of the dead, and many demons and powers of the outer darkness can enter the world of the living directly. These might include chained angels, neophron demons, and umbral vampires.
Destroying cemetery cities is always an urgent priority for followers of the gods of life and light. Doing so usually requires either a traditional siege powered by living troops and clerics able to turn undead, or a smaller group of powerful heroes able to reach and destroy the herald of undeath itself. Destroying the herald usually severs the connection that its undead followers have to the afterlife; skeletons, zombies, and most intelligent undead turn to dust immediately, and the cemetery city itself crumbles into ruins within a few weeks or months.
Creature Codex. © 2018 Open Design LLC; Authors Wolfgang Baur, Dan Dillon, Richard Green, James Haeck, Chris Harris, Jeremy Hochhalter, James Introcaso, Chris Lockey, Shawn Merwin, and Jon Sawatsky.