Time Zombies (also known as Paradox Wights) have no ecology. They are created when a time-traveler creates a paradox, and attempts to return to a time and place that do not exist. Because the condition transfers but does not multiply, Time Zombies are usually only found in Nihilum, the domain of Tovavel, the tortoise god of Time, Reptiles, and Endings.
A time Zombie resembles a zombie (at least until you see it move). Its skin is drawn and tight, and evidence of long rot is apparent in all parts of the body. Its limbs appear to teleport in place, appearing as flickering postures of time-spawned possibilities. When not appearing to teleport, a Time Zombie moves slowly. A time zombie speaks one phase mindlessly whenever it is closing in on prey: “Your time is up.” This is decieving, since Time Zombies are not intelligent or even very perceptive.
A Time Zombie has three abilities.
The future is a crossroads split by different possibilities, and Time Zombies stagger through these future options in the same way that they stagger though everything else. Every few seconds, a Time Zombie appears to be in a different time stream, affected by a different reality. This effect is purely cosmetic.
If this effect ever has an effect on a game, you’re doing it wrong. It should be flavor, nothing more. If the time zombie is fighting an archer, it might temporarily appear in a corner of the room, slumped over and pierced with many arrows. If one of the party members fled the previous turn, it should appear in a different location for a fraction of a second, appearing to chase that party member. Et cetera. After this effect, it reverts to its normal movement and attacks.
The Turbulent Weave of Time
Every turn, roll a 1d4.
1 – The zombie jumps forward in time. It disappears, and reappears in the same place one turn later.
2 – The zombie jumps backwards in time. Before the ‘current zombie’ takes its turn, figure out where it is most likely to end its turn. Place a ‘future zombie’ there (a copy of the zombie that will travel back in time at the end of this turn). The ‘future zombie’ and the ‘current zombie’ take their turns simultaneously. At the end of the turn, the ‘current zombie’ disappears (since it went back in time to become the ‘future zombie’ in the past).
3 – Step through time. The zombie seems to teleport a short distance as its time accelerates relative to ours.
4 – Slow local time. The zombie delays all damage and effects for one turn, by acting out an alternate time path where it wasn’t affected by them.
The Time-Stealing Claw
The Time Zombie can hit an enemy with a Time-Stealing Claw attack. An opponent hit by this attack must resist the chrononecromantic energies of it, or be instantly aged—their hair falls out, their teeth rot, they die, and become a Time Zombie. Although bodies have withered, their minds have not, and they have control over their zombie body for a few more seconds after death.
The original zombie who stole the time is instantly regenerated—their hair regrows, their skin un-shrivels, and they appear to be the age they were when they first turned into a Time Zombie. This is an effective resurrection, and the person will have a rough memory of their time spent as a Time Zombie, and will probably flee from the newly forged time Zombie.
The new Time Zombie (e.g. the PC who got hit by the claw attack and turned into a zombie) will have an opportunity to steal their time back from the original Time Zombie (who is probably now a living dude fleeing from the PC) by hitting him with their own Time-Stealing Claw. However, after a minute or two, the crushing strength of chrono-undeath will be too much to endure, and the new Time Zombie will lose all memory and motivation from their former life.
After this ability has succeeded, it may not be used again until the following day.
Powerful mortal spellcasters sometimes choose to become Time Zombies. These powerful creatures are called Paradox Liches. Although these creatures have sacrificed most of their spellcasting abilities, there is no limit to how many times they can use Time-Stealing Claw, and the ability creates normal Time Zombies under the lich's control (while the Lich remains a Lich). Furthermore, the Paradox Lich has perfect control over their Weave of Time ability. And unlike normal liches, Paradox Liches hide their phylacteries in time.
Hesperion the Wizard was started casting a spell to immolate the zombie long before it noticed him. The zombie’s figure shifted, strobing between hunched and outreaching as it shambled towards him. For a moment, the zombie appeared as a charred corpse in the corner, but then the moment was over, and the zombie was even closer than before. This was creepy, Hesperion decided, as he unleashed his spell and bathed the zombie in a wreath of flame.
But it was not enough to kill it. From 50 feet away, the Time Zombie seemed to stall on a time-loop, repeating a fpotstep exactly as a record skips a beat. Then, without warning or explanation, the Time Zombie was beside Hesperion, rending him with its claws. There was dire magic in those talons, and Hesperion felt himself fall under its influence.
Three feet away, the original Time Zombie gasped and coughed grave dust from its lungs. It tripled in weight as its withered flesh was flushed with renewed life. The stolen time returned to the Time Zombie, and it suddenly turned into a puffy-faced merchant named Oscario. “I’m alive again! It was all just a nightmare,” Oscario said before he noticed the wizard-turned-zombie. “Aaah! An abomination! I won’t have you steal my life! Not again!” And Oscario the merchant turned and fled from Hesperion the wizard.
All the deaths that Hesperion could have died across his entire life flickered through him as he succumbed to the Time Zombie’s claw. He watched his flesh dessicate and peel back. His eyes rolled back and his skin shriveled. He had become a Time Zombie. Already a pressure was clamping down on his mind like a vice—a few more seconds and he would lose all sense of identity and self. As Hesperion watched Oscario flee, he knew that he must catch the man and steal his time back, or remain forever as a zombie. But wheezing Oscario was hustling away, and Hesperion's rotted legs were so very slow. . .