Lifeforms
Third Kingdom
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4.07
7 Votes

32xp


Hits: 3387
Comments: 14
Ideas: 0
Rating: 4.0714
Condition: Normal
ID: 4155

Submitted:

Updated:
August 10, 2009, 9:28 pm

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Cheka Man

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Sorcerghul

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Beware this wizardly cadaver! His spells might not kill you, but you will wish they had…

Appearance:

Sorcerguls appear as emaciated cadavers, with their empty eyesockets blazing with cold blue light. Their mouths, filled with blackened, sharp teeth, are stained red by their gruesome diet. They are typically garbed in once fine robes or other clothing associated with magi, but are invariably in bad shape and as heavily bloodstained as their faces.

Details:

The Sorcergul is an undead spellcaster of significantly less power then the better known Lich.  Most closely related to the common ghoul, they are generally much smarter and more powerful. 

In addition to whatever spellcasting abilities that they may have had in life, they acquire a powerful touch attack that may be drawn from the following list:

  1. Progressive Paralysis. At first the target is slowed, then paralyzed, and eventually breathing and heartbeat is stopped.
  2. Withering cold. Touch draws immense amounts of heat from the target, freezing the affected area. Can range from simple frostbite, to total loss of the affected area.
  3. Clutch of the Grave. Entropy as it affects all things is accelerated. Target person or object is aged.
  4. Infestation. Target is subjected to the effects of The Ghastly Sack of Garthian

Feeling that physical combat is beneath it, the Sorcergul will always prefer to use its magic. 

Having fallen short of the Lich form, the Sorcergul’s years are numbered. In a mere century after creation, the magics holding the form together begin to fail and the spirit will pass onto whatever fate awaits it in the afterlife.  Prior to its passing, the final days will be marked by excellerated rotting. Parts will begin to drop off, an unholy stench will arise, and colonization by vermin will mark its end.  Many sorcerguls will destroy themselves by magic rather then undergo this final stage. 

Sorcerguls sustain themselves with escaping life forces, though are unable to drain it directly as some undead can. Instead they devour their fresh victims - preferably still alive but restrained by magic. 

Creation:

Sorerguls are known to arise either from a deliberate ritual, or from failed attempts to become a Lich.

The ritual which transforms one to a lich is quite difficult and risky, and the normal result of failure is death. However, a different fate is sometimes possible, and that is the transformation into the Sorcergul.  The would-be lich is instead trapped into this inferior form, denied the powers that lichhood would have brought.

The second means is use of a deliberate transformational ritual.  The sorcergul form is not powerless, and the ritual is much more likely to succeed. In addition the various materials and costs are much lower. 

Campaign Use

A perpetual runner up and driven to improve its lot, the Sorcergul makes a good low to mid level villain, smart enough to scheme and powerful enough to hold it’s own against low to midlevel PCs.  For higher level games, the creature can serve as lieutenants for more powerful forms of undead.

This is the End

A sorcergul, after having for decades attempted to achive full lichhood, has failed and its time is up. It chooses to take as many other with it before it goes and it plans a suitable end for itself.  Seeking a magical disaster allowed by some means, the PCs must prevent it from obtaining the device/ritual/monster, and perhaps advance its timetable of self-destruction.



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Codex

School of Parasitism By: valadaar ( Systems ) Mystical - General

Not all magic is pretty, or fair. Some is cold and exploitive.  This is that kind of magic.

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Comments ( 14 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

manfred
August 1, 2007, 19:47
0xp
I heard there are rituals that can prolong their life significantly - pity it is mostly the masters who have knowledge of them.
valadaar
January 12, 2009, 19:34
0xp
Updated: Converted to Sub from stub.
Voted Cheka Man
January 12, 2009, 20:00
0xp
Litchlings. 5/5 for this orginal sub.
Voted Ancient Gamer
January 12, 2009, 21:42
3xp
There are several things I like about this sub. First among these is the name: "Sorcerghul". How wonderful. I could say that alound all day long, or not... but I like it!

Secondly the following sentence conjured up some nice visuals:
"Sorcerguls sustain themselves with escaping life forces, though are unable to drain it directly as some undead can. Instead they devour their fresh victims - preferably still alive but restrained by magic."

As for the creature itself: Well, it is certainly down to earth and usable. Might fit right into the monstrous compendium of some Dungeons and Dragons game even.

But this is also my main reason for awarding but a 4/5.

They fall between the chairs of a vampire mage and a lich. The Sorcerghul, for all their nice visuals, are yet another D&D undead clone, with little to separate them from the meat and staple undead of rpgs in that vein.

This might sound harsh, but is not meant to be. I just had to justify the 4, the chain of thoughts leading up to that score.

To get a 5/5 you would have to keep the kick-arse elements, but also do some work to raise these beings above the rest. (Not power-wise, but submission-wise)
Voted Scrasamax
January 12, 2009, 23:55
0xp
Not bad, not bad. I like these rotting magi quite alot. I think AG is onto something though, these fellows need a bit of something to seperate them out from the Undead Hierarchy of DnD. Maybe something of their organization, or their unlifestyle might help.

I wish I could get me a game group together because I would definately use these flawed undead as protagonists. A lich could make them from his failed apprentices, undead leaders for his zombies, or mini-bosses to keep the riff-raff out of his nefarious plans. Could a sorcerghul turn a magic user into an undead like itself?
valadaar
January 13, 2009, 8:10
1xp
I see no reason why not - as I mentioned I saw two ways of entering this sad half-state. Failed attempt at lichhood, and deliberate ritual. Since the ritual exists, I see no reason to restrict it to willing subjects :P

I am actually quite happy with the reception since it was originally a stub for another submission.

As for the D&D comment - guilty as charged, I have played very few other systems in my time, so everything I do likely has D&D influence. This one, by referencing directly Liches and ghouls is probably the most direct of my subs.
The big thing I think they have is their motivation to achieve something other then their current form. They are not dead yet, and they know that these inferior forms are not going to last forever. They have the intellect and power of a mage, so they are aware, generally sane and able to plan. Being hungry but not motivated by hunger itself allows them far more flexiability then the majority of the undead in D&D, while still making them dangerous and not nice people.
Mourngrymn
March 27, 2016, 21:49
0xp
I think I would have enjoyed it more so if it had been a failed attempt at actual Lichhoodism... (Coined the phrase right here... TM that right now.)
Voted manfred
January 13, 2009, 17:51
0xp
A very applicable undead, to say the least. It also brings to mind the many experiments with iron spikes. :)
Voted Strolen
February 18, 2012, 4:49
2xp

I like it, especially the faile lich angle of it. Nice to have some options if a spell failed. Maybe initially it would appear the spell worked and the powers are there but upon an extreme usage they are burned out and realize their attempt had failed. I only mention that because in my head I have the adventurers come upon a newly formed Lich and during the attack the Lich realizes, the hard way, he is only a Sorcerghul. Thought that would be fun to play out. 

Mourngrymn
September 23, 2012, 18:10
0xp
I like it, different and can be entertainingly useful. However the block quote format had me wonder if it was accidental or on purpose. Otherwise, I love me some accidental undead.
valadaar
September 23, 2012, 19:07
0xp
blockquote has changed significantly since I created it.

Bad Strolen! Bad! :)
Mourngrymn
September 23, 2012, 19:24
0xp
:)
Voted Murometz
March 24, 2016, 9:51
1xp
I like it. Simple but evocative alternative to the demi-lich. Or conversely jacked-up, spell-casting ghouls. Who knew there were other possible outcomes to Lichdom Fails.
Voted Mourngrymn
March 27, 2016, 21:54
0xp
Ok I read it and apparently forgot I had read it and had a comment and a vote already in mind but then I saw I had already voted and commented. So I am changing my vote and comment as follows.

I really like this. It's simple, different enough to add only minor flavor to be used how one wished. As I said in a previous comment I think I would have liked this better had it been an actual failed attempt at some other ritual, Lichhoodism not withstanding. I realize that it has that option as a result but personally I would have preferred it to be a result, but personal preference only.

I think this is a good addition to an already growing (sometimes overflowing) genre of undead, and seeing as I am extremely heavy on the necromantic and undead aspect for my game/ world/ system I enjoy this a bit more. Kudos val. But why is it linked to the Chalice? I didn't see a reference in there for it.

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