hile clearly similar to the zombies created by the animate dead spell, the blood zombie is curious in that it only occurs "naturally". In life, such a creature was a soldier with church affiliations, whether a holy crusader or a simple monastery guard. Such a man-at-arms who perishes in battle, and as a result fails in his duty to his church, will sometimes become a blood zombie, a truly disgusting undead creature that carries a terrible disease in its tainted blood.
A blood zombie resembles the more typical zombie in most respects. Decaying flesh hangs limply, worm-eaten in places and rank with the odor of putrid meat. A blood zombie is typically dressed in corroded armor and wields a nicked broadsword, but can be outfitted in conceivably any manner, depending on the circumstances of its life and death. Closer inspection reveals subtle indications of the blood zombie’s unusual nature. Its flesh is puffy and flushed, much like a living person when he or she is overheated. Its lips are swollen and purple, and its eyes are featureless, blood-red orbs. Blood occasionally trickles from the creature’s nose or tear ducts. Surprisingly, those blood zombies who have been dead for centuries still display the characteristics of a corpse only a few years in the grave. It may be that blood zombies are somehow supernaturally preserved from crumbling away to dust.
Blood zombies cannot communicate with other creatures, but are generally more vocal than their mindless counterparts. They frequently utter guttural battle roars that trail off into wet gurgling, as if they were trying in vain to intimidate their opponents. They ignore all other creatures, whether friend or foe, blindly attacking anyone that enters their territory. Only the commands of evil priests or powerful undead creatures can prevent a blood zombie from reacting with hostility.
Combat: Unlike standard zombies, blood zombies retain enough intelligence and dexterity to attack with weapons. Typically, a blood zombie wields a broadsword, attacking once per round for 2d4 points of damage. Though they walk somewhat sluggishly, blood zombies nonetheless use normal initiative.
The true danger of a blood zombie encounter only comes to light when one of the creatures is struck down. When a blood zombie is destroyed, it literally explodes in a spectacular torrent of blood. The gruesome eruption carries a terrible magical disease. Any living creatures within five feet of a blood zombie when it is destroyed must save vs. poison or contract a fatal disease, as the 3rd-level priest spell cause disease. Victims lose two points of Charisma per month, and the disease proves fatal in 1d6 months. The victim cannot benefit from cure wounds magic and heals naturally at a mere 10% of his normal rate. As with mummy rot and similar magical afflictions, only cure disease or more powerful magic can eradicate the disease.
Like most undead, blood zombies are immune to all mind and life effects, as well as poison, disease, and suffocation. They never check morale, attacking mercilessly until their opponents are dead or until they leave the blood zombie’s lair.
Habitat/Society: Blood zombies lurk in abandoned religious sites or dungeons, usually where they fell in battle against the enemies of their church. Although blood zombies usually occur individually, there may be a whole squad of such creatures at the site of a massacre, such as a failed attempt to hold a temple or abbey that was under siege. A squad of blood zombies has no clear leader or organization, but the creatures recognize one another as allies and never attack each other.
The nature of blood zombies is controversial. Clearly, they are undead creatures, but unlike other minor undead, they arise “naturally” rather than at the commands of a necromancer. Only fighters with church ties seem to rise as blood zombies; paladins, paragons, priestly crusaders, and other militant religious figures do not seem to be subject to such an undead state. The blood that saturates a blood zombie’s form has a greater volume than a humanoid body normally holds, leading to an obvious question: where does the blood come from? Some sages speculate that the warrior’s anguish at the time of death, dwelling with his last thought on his failure to his god and church, leads to a fanatical determination in death. The plague-ridden blood, these sages argue, symbolizes the blood zombie’s lingering faith, now tainted by rage and frustration. Of course, such speculation is just that, and the blood zombies themselves certainly aren’t talking.
Other undead, and even living creatures of evil disposition, are inclined to leave blood zombies be. Though they cannot be directly controlled, they are vigilant and tireless sentries. Many a powerful undead creature has allowed blood zombies to serve as ignorant minions for its lair.
Ecology: As undead creatures, blood zombies have little impact on their surroundings. They require no food, water, or breathable air to survive. They are blasphemous mockeries of life, nothing more, and their lairs are usually on unhallowed ground where living things rarely survive long.
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