The Parched can be born of any sapient creature who dies in a dry, hot environment; the only common traits are the tough, leathery skin that has been baked to a purplish-black hue, with the flesh beneath parched to such a degree that the creature is little more than a horrific leather sheath over the desert-dry bones. The eye sockets are empty, the soft tissues there having burned away beneath the relentless desert sun, and the flesh around the mouth has shrunk and drawn taught, revealing cracked, blackened gums set with sand-polished teeth. What appears to be sand - really the perpetually crumbling internal organs and soft tissues of the creature's innards - trickles from cracks in the sun-baked skin with each movement, leaving a fine trail of powder wherever it walks.
Parched are created when a sapient creature dies under the harsh glare of the desert sun, the unforgiving light and heat forcing the moisture from it until even the deepest tissues and the very bones have become devoid of any dampness. Those whose minds and spirits linger until the last moment, their thoughts consumed by a feverish desire for cool and water, often arise as the Parched; the desires which held their minds at the moment of death become the driving force of the undead creature, driving it to crawl across the sands, becoming ever more dessicated, leathery, and burnt by the relentless sunlight as it seeks oases and shade by day.
The Parched can consume prodigous amounts of water, and radiate an aura of the desert's daytime heat. They can dry up an oasis over a week's time, and their leathery skin turns aside blades. However, their bodies are so dried out that any smashing weapon capable of dealing trauma through the skin will shatter the dried-out bones, crippling the loathsome thing.
Servants of the gods of sun and desert find it a simple matter to command these pathetic creatures, using their connection to things of heat to cow them into submission, while servants of cold, water, and night find themselves hard-pressed by the furious need that drives the Parched.
It is possible to destroy one of the Parched by immersion in more liquid than it can destroy in a short time, effectively quenching it. This would necessitate a truly large volume, however, and would destroy a fair portion of the water involved in the process.
Parched are rarely, if ever, encountered beyond the desert's fringes, which they cause to gradually expand. The world 'outside' the desert seems painfully cold and clammy to them.
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? Responses (17)-17
What would happen if one of these finds a huge freshwater lake?
Manfred pretty much hit it; they'd deplete it somewhat, but it'd end up 'quenching' them. They'd have a hard time finding their way out of the desert, though, since their nature is tied to the desert heat. I expect that if one wandered out of the desert, you could track it by the trail of utterly sun-baked and dried-out land it leaves behind it. A pack of them could potentially be responsible for a drought, if they were captured and carted someplace more temperate.
I'll add a bit to directly answer this, though.
Ohhh, nasty! I didn't know we missed the counterpart to the various frozen undead, but now that omission is corrected. Great work, Kassil!
If exposed to a truly great amount of water - like that huge lake, or an ocean, I would expect that they will dissolve. Sadly, in their unfortunate state they won't seek this fate, and need others to help them by dragging them underwater and 'drowning' them. (Note: don't do this in your source of drinkable water.)
I would also imagine, that they can't really find their way out of the desert. They will become one of its many dangers.
Thank you, although the Parched have been in work for a bit; I have a handful of undead that I'm tinkering into shape. One of my pet projects is diversifying the undead so it becomes less of a 'oh, a zombie, get out the axe' situation and may require creative thinking on the part of the players.
You are correct; exposed to a sufficient amount of water, it will 'quench' them, but in the process they'll likely destroy a fair amount of it by the nature of their dessicating effect. Enough of them might well be able to destroy a large lake, although it'd naturally refill once they wandered back out of the basin.
You're correct there as well; they're tied to the desert's daytime heat, and as such you'd have to have someone deliberately bring them out of the desert. I'd expect the fringes of the desert regions might slowly grow as they wander in and out of it, but the 'outside' would seem painful to them.
Hmmm... "deliberately bringing them out of the desert"....
I would imagine any group braving the desert, having water supplies, some animals and their own bodily water, would attract a Parched like light attracts moths. While by no means fast, they would surely, inexorably follow the living until they lose any trail (or sense a larger source of water nearby). If the desert is not merciless enough, imagine one of these things willing to follow you for all eternity, hard to kill and always knowing where you are... oh,the fun.
Updated: Added habitat and destruction method; and before anyone says anything: yes, I know that deserts can get absurdly cold at night. I rather expect the Parched are somewhat dormant at night, much like a vampire during the day.
A well built undead type - something to put in deserts other than mummies.
Mummies and deserts *are* a bit overdone, particularly after those movies...
They crave water by the barrel, but any climate other than desert is painful? Being undead stinks.
Being trapped halfway between life and death generally does, yes. I still want to set all the 'OMG VAMPIRES R KEWL!!!' people on fire.
If there are vampires, there should be vampire hunters. :->
And, when I discover vampires in a game world, I assure you there's at least one. I don't care *how* 'kewl' people make them out to be. I *will* leave the miserable things stake out for the sun to fry.
While "those-that-thirst", is not that unique of a template, this _is_ a good rendidtion. Nice job! Plus what Misanpilgrim said :)
This is true; the concept itself isn't all that unusual - I can probably find a few variants in the various game books I own - but tinkering with the living dead is amusing. In another world I'd probably be a necromancer.
It is an excellent nuance on a classic idea and I'd love to see it implemented. For some reason, I keep picturing a Parched dragon or somesuch beast: a massive, dry, desperate thing that collapsed in the deserts long ago and devours the fluids of any transgressors of its sandy domain. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.
That's a pretty cool idea. I bet you could make a unique monster on that idea.
Maybe I should make one.