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Marsh Dire

Medium undead, neutral evil

Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 142 (15d8 + 75)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
18 (+4) 13 (+1) 20 (+5) 7 (–2) 11 (+0) 8 (–1)

Skills Perception +3
Damage Resistances fire, necrotic
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages understands all languages it knew in life but can’t speak
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)

Special Traits

  • Cloying Stench. Any creature that starts its turn within 10 feet of the marsh dire must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned until the end of its next turn. On a successful saving throw, the creature has advantage on saving throws against the marsh dire’s Cloying Stench for the next 24 hours.

Actions

  • Multiattack. The marsh dire makes three attacks: two with its claws and one with its strangling vine.
  • Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage.
  • Strangling Vine. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage plus 7 (2d6) necrotic damage. If the target is Medium or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 15). Until this grapple ends, the target can’t breathe, speak, or cast spells with verbal components; is restrained; and takes 7 (2d6) necrotic damage at the start of each of the marsh dire’s turns. The marsh dire has three vines, each of which can grapple only one target.

About

This waterlogged humanoid is partially rotting and has plant matter, including a trio of whipping vines, infused in its body.

Drowned Dead. Marsh dires are the animated remains of humanoids who drowned in marshlands, weighted down by muck and held in place by constricting vines. The bodies decay for several weeks and incorporate the plants that aided in their demise. After they complete this process, they rise as undead, often mistaken as zombies. Their continuously waterlogged state gives them a modicum of protection against fire, and, in dry areas, their footfalls are accompanied by a disquieting squelch.

Marsh Rot. A marsh dire exudes a persistent odor, combining the smell of rotting flesh and foul marsh gasses. Creatures exposed to the stench must constantly resist nausea. The overwhelming power of the odor prevents the marsh dire from successfully hiding unless it is hidden among other swamprotted organic matter.

Slow Spawning. A marsh dire seeks to kill creatures in the same way it was killed, attacking them from the water, where it can drown them. The vines it uses to hold its struggling victims oozes a vile liquid that rots flesh in a fashion similar to the rot undergone by the marsh dire. When a marsh dire kills a creature, it leaves the body in shallow water, where the body makes the same transformation it once did. Two months later, the body rises as a new marsh dire, independent of the creature that started the process.

Death cults devoted to deities or fiends that champion decay often “seed” nearby swamps with marsh dires by deliberately drowning sacrificial victims. Some cults have learned the hard way that the newly-created marsh dire offers them no loyalty for its creation. Soon, such cults join the marsh dire’s ranks to carry out their master’s presumed wishes.

Undead Nature. A marsh dire doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Tome of Beasts 2. © 2020 Open Design LLC; Authors Wolfgang Baur, Celeste Conowitch, Darrin Drader, James Introcaso, Philip Larwood, Jeff Lee, Kelly Pawlik, Brian Suskind, Mike Welham.