Dead Man Walking

Dear Readers,

It has been a long time; in fact I can’t even remember the last time I wrote an article.  Recently DM Vince contacted me and asked if I would be interested in starting my column back up.  I thought about it a bit and agreed I could do something, perhaps not as frequent as before as real life has kept me busy but at least once or twice a month I will attempt to provide some content.

With that I began to dig through some of my old notes and came across an interesting antagonist I had created for a higher level party to contend with.

I decide this would be as good a subject as any to get “back in the saddle” with and have flushed out a history below.  I have tried to keep it generic enough that the background and character can be easily modified and dropped into any campaign setting.

So with no further ado.



Terrance was the youngest son of Duke Bernard Fuery.  The Duke was a kind and well respected ruler. Keeping his taxes relatively low and strictly enforcing the law to keep crime down made him beloved by the common people.

Terrance’s brother Jason was older by a year.  Being the oldest son he was next in line for the throne and was always his father’s favorite.

While Jason was kindly and often referred to as wise beyond his years, he was weak physically and never adept at martial skills.  Terrance on the other hand filled out quickly becoming tall and strong, and excelled at combat and military strategy.

On Terrance’s 16th birthday his father died of a heart attack, the next day his brother was sworn in as Duke and took control of the Fiefdom.  Terrance was angry; his brother was weak and docile while he was strong and aggressive. Certainly he could rule the land better than his brother who was weak in both body and spirit.

Over the next year his anger grew as his brother instituted programs to help feed the poor and care for the sick, spending from the family treasury to do so.  A month before his 17th birthday, while hunting, Terrance was separated from his group, as he was searching for the others he met a man dressed in fine silks riding a massive stallion.

At first Terrance accosted the man for being on the duke’s land, accusing him of poaching, but the man quickly begged for pardon and introduced himself as Surco the wanderer, a mage of some repute.  He seemed to know all about Terrance and his brother the duke, and he showed disappointment that Terrance was not the ruling lord.  After all would not the fiefdom prosper if it were to expand its holdings?  Would not the coffers be better used to strengthen the fiefdom’s forces and military infrastructure?  It all seemed such a waste being showered on the poor, weak, and shiftless.

Telling him how much more effective he could be in his brothers place Surco gave Terrance a small golden pendant.  He told Terrance that the pendant contained powerful magic, and that if he truly wanted to rule all he had to do was have his brother freely place the pendant around his own neck and the right of rulership would transfer to him.

Terrance stared at the pendant, entranced by its intricate patterns. By the time he looked up Surco had disappeared as quietly and suddenly as he had appeared.

Over the next month Terrance would obsess over the pendant every night mulling over the strange man’s words.  Three days before his birthday feast Terrance’s brother came to him.  There was a terrible accident in one of the villages, a mine had collapsed.  The money that was going to be spent on his feast was going to be diverted to the village instead, to help the peasants rebuild.

Terrance was furious, how dare his brother do this to him!  To care more for some peasants than his own flesh and blood!  That night Terrance took the pendant and wrapped it in a silk lined box.

Three days later on his birthday Terrance approached his brother.  Jason hugged him close and apologized for canceling his feast, imploring him to understand the needs of the people and their responsibility as the ruling family to ensure the health of the fiefdom.

Smiling sweetly Terrance assured his brother he understood, regardless of his past disagreements he was after all still his father’s son, any disagreements were fleeting but they were blood and that was forever.

Presenting the silken box to his brother, Terrance played to his brother’s sympathy.  Using his brothers concern for others as a guide Terrance would present him with a gift, instead of receiving on his birthday he would be giving, to recognize the efforts that his brother had done for so many others.

Touched by his brother’s show of selflessness John opened the box and marveled at the small pendant with such intricate designs.  Pulling the chain from the box he placed it around his neck and hugged him once again.

The next day his brother feel deathly ill, and all of the clerics across the land failed in their healing attempts. Terrance was at a loss, he wanted the throne, but he did not know it would mean his brother would suffer so.  This changed though day by day as his brother grew weaker Terrance grew stronger and more vigorous.

A week is how long John lingered clinging to life and on the 7th day he died, nothing but a wasted shell of his former self.

So it came to pass Terrance Van Fuery became Duke Van Fuery.   Quickly he forgot the regret he felt for entrapping his brother as he set about growing his army and making plans to expand his new found power.

For the next 30 years he ruled the land with an iron hand, he turned the peasants into little more than slaves and drained the land of its resources.  His armies marched against his enemies leaving nothing behind as they stripped and plundered the land.

On the day of his 47th birthday the duke was jousting at his great celebration feast when a lance splintered and a large piece flew through his visor slit and pierced his eye killing him instantly.

Three days later the duke was buried, and having left no heir, as the peasants rejoiced the nobles convened to decide his replacement.

Imagine their surprise when on the 4th day the duke barged into the castle demanding to know what was going on.  He claimed to have been returned to life by powerful magic and he reclaimed his throne.  It was evident immediately that something was wrong.  Servants and members of the palace guard kept disappearing, and the duke who had retuned pale white began to turn gray.

Within a week his skin started to deteriorate, the nobles gathered in force to confront him, only to find that the servants and guards who had disappeared had returned as undead under the command of the duke.

The land grew dark as the evil undead forces of the duke grew larger and began to spread across the land ravaging the living.  Eventually put in check by a force of priests and holy warriors to this day the duke sits in his castle plotting the destruction of the human race, those humans unlucky enough to be within his territory and unable to escape are raised as little more than cattle.

Terrance Van Fuery (The Zombie Prince)
HD: as 10th Level Fighter
HP:  80
AC: 0
# of Attacks: 2 or 1
DAM: By weapon +3 or 1-4 + special
Special Attack: See below
Special defense: See below
Align: CE

S: 18 25% I: 15 W: 14 D: 16 C: 17 CH: -1 (18 to undead)

Items: Ghoul Touch: Mace +2 (Int: 13, Ego: 12, Align: CE, Ability: On a successful hit victim must save versus paralysis or be paralyzed for 2-5 rounds), Ring of Free Action, Helm of Telepathy

Description:  A dried corpse with molted gray skin wearing tarnished plate mail.  Terrance radiates fear in a 5’ radius as the spell of the same name.  He has an insatiable appetite for human flesh and if not attacking with a weapon he will elect to bite an opponent.

If scoring a successful hit with his bite Terrance drains 2 levels of experience and regains 2d4 lost hit points (to his max of 90).  He prefers to paralyze his foes with his wicked black mace (Ghoul Touch) and then slowly eat them.  Terrance has the innate ability to create undead from fresh corpses (dead for no longer than 24 hours) to serve him.  Terrance turns as Special on the cleric turning chart.

Once per day he can create 1 Wight, 2 Ghouls, and 4 zombies.  He can control which undead is created up to the maximum allowed, one undead per fresh corpse.  All undead created by Terrance serve him and he knows what they know and can see through their eyes via his innate link with them.

*** The Looking Glass ***

 Ring of Success          XP: 2,000        GP Value: 7,000 gp

This simple silver band bestows onto the wearer good luck when dealing with business transactions.  Whenever purchasing goods or services the wearer of the ring will always receive a 10% discount on costs.

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