Author's Note: The Gravyman is a support unit with a different function than garden variety zombies. With the help of a scattering of Gravyman units, an undead army should be able to do much more damage than what was originally possible. Perhaps even world domination is possible. With that said enjoy.
A Gravyman is a “frankenstein's monster” style construct that is animated using necromancy. To make such a zombie one needs, as a minimum, a special potion (I will discuss at greater depth later), approx 4 pounds of preserving herbs, a full corpse of a sturdy person, a full skin of another humanoid which is water tight, and four lungs of a bovine or another large mammal, however most “Gravyman” zombies are made from much more. Often because of the weight of the potion it carries many of these zombies are created to have four or more legs. Due to their moist nature, a Gravyman is not usually created in extreme hot & dry or freezing conditions.
The zombie has a sole purpose of enhancing other undead within it's vicinity, therefore one is rarely going to encounter more than one, and if encountered will be surrounded by more garden variety zombies or other undead. Due to it's weaker nature, other undead will usually be commanded to protect it, making the Gravyman one of the last targets available in a fight.
A Gravyman at minimum appears to be a normal if not an exceptionally slow zombie. The differences will be noticed by almost anyone immediately. The bowels of the zombie are completely missing and a large bag of flesh hangs down like an enormous “pot belly”. Alternatively, if the Gravyman was built with multiple legs, the bag will be found hanging down in the center of the “spider” set leg pattern. This bag is notably filled with a liquid (the potion mentioned earlier) and acts to encumber the zombie. Often the bag will be encased/protected by a rib cage constructed casing. Another unique feature of a Gravyman is the extra orifices in it's head often having a head made of many faces with multiple noses, mouths and earholes, at minimum extra holes punched through it's skull. Possibly the most notable difference is that this thing often breathes through every orifice in it's head (the lungs mentioned earlier must be treated with preservatives prolonging the life of the lungs), with long awkward breaths expelling the most noxious and toxic of fumes. This thing isn't particularly resilient and will spill it's “guts” easily if the right person gets a stab in. However, if it's only spilled it's guts the controlling necromancer or undead can repair it and replace the missing potion if desired (must be the same potion).
A Gravyman is created to have it's giant baglike stomach filled with one of a number of different possible potions. The zombie breathes in air, the air mixes with the potion, and a gas is released. The four lungs help produce a whole lot of the gas really quickly and belch it out making a large cloud in moments.. The gas produced is what makes a Gravyman worth making.
Here are is a list of possible potions for a Gravyman:
- Fog/Smoke – The Gravyman puts up a “smokescreen” which hides it's presence and the other undead in it's party. This power is obviously even more useful in the dark of night. The fog/smoke is foul smelling and if completely blinding the living isn't good enough the nausea will help cripple them further.
- Plauge bearer – the Gravyman's potion acts as a powerful pheremone that attracts stinging and poisonous insects. Anyone to approach the Gravyman's party must also deal with swarms of dangerous insects.
- Cloudkill/Poison Cloud – the Gravyman is at least partially concealed by a cloud of poison gas. Any who breathe the gas will find their life force being bled away.
- Hallucinatory Gas – the Gravyman produces a slightly sweet smelling gas that if inhaled will begin hallucinations within the living. The hallucinations usually make everyone appear to be a zombie. The person experiencing hallucinations can see extra non-existent zombies as well. The real charm of this one is that there are real zombies present as well as the hallucinations. Have fun sorting it out which one is your buddy, which one is your enemy, and which one isn't there.
- Mirror Image – the Gravyman produces a gas which has an unstable “displacer” effect on all creatures (alive or undead) in the area. Basically, whenever the players/characters try to do a head count of the opposition they always get the number wrong but it's always different. The actual number is always less than what they are seeing. The Gravyman typically keeps this cloud smaller so that only it's party is affected, but when melee combat begins you might just see yourself off to the side attacking as well. The zombies always know which ones are the illusions.
- Necrogen Cloud – the Gravyman produces a green cloud of Necrogen. The necrogen is laced with amplifiers which result in a haven or sanctuary for the undead. All undead in the cloud regenerate every round. Further the undead are harder to turn and more resistant to spells and other weaknesses (i.e. holy water)
- Spell Leech – the Gravyman's cloud sucks away, disperses, and/or cancels activated magical energies. Not a true anti-magic cloud, this ability does not cancel or disrupt existing enchantments but does stop magic that is activated or cast within it's influence. Therefore the cloud doesn't destroy the undead that carry it... but no undead can be created within it's influence. A sword +1 is still a sword +1 in the cloud... but a flaming sword will not light once it's in the cloud. A wizard who casts Stone Skin or Shield upon himself and then steps into the cloud will find his enhancements remain and will last their normal durations, but the same spells “fizzle” if cast within the cloud. The real trick to this is knowing where this cloud begins as it is odourless and colourless.
- Marshland - the Gravyman produces a magical fog which slows down the living. All who are effected find that fleeing the undead is nearly impossible and their combat skills are also slowed to match their once human counterparts. (thanks, manfred)
Variations for the Gravyman:
This zombie constructed in a similar fashion to the Gravyman, although instead of blowing out a gas will spit/vomit the potion directly on the intended victim. Mobility and combat readiness are more valuable to the Spitter than the Gravyman. Often a spitter will have better protection and a smaller bag. For the Spitter, the potions would consist of any number of contact poisons, flamable liquids, or in short any offensive spell could be weaved into a potion.
The Suicide Bomber
This zombie constructed in the sameway as the Gravyman and the Spitter. But this zombie is usually encountered alone. This zombie is known for moving exeptionally quietly and usually moves to as close as possible to it's commanded location. When it gets there or realizes it cannot get there, it crushes it own head, which releases a potion which flows down into the bag where it mixes with the big potion. The mixing of these two potions causes a horrifically huge fiery explosion, which is extremely fatal to all mortals close to the blast and is extremely dangerous to all within range. Non-magical adventurers who encounter such a zombie can only hope to defeating it by wrestling it's arms and then decapitating it.
Credit: I used the idea of Necrogen from Scrasamax's 30 ZOMBIE FREAKS submission. Thanks.
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? Responses (16)-16
Update: Just added the credit
Update: Small grammatical change, I sadly didn't catch on my first proof reads.
Still an interesting concept if you necromancers like pushing the edge of their own magical technology. The question is... why would they?
I mean they are more effective than regular zombies, as a zombie support role. Why would they make these rather than just get a zombie bull or a bigger zombie creature?
Cool, a '30' entry expanded and then some!
Moon's question is a good one, but I have enough juicy details here to use these guys.
This is a sweet paragraph!
'A Gravyman is created to have it's giant baglike stomach filled with one of a number of different possible potions. The zombie breathes in air, the air mixes with the potion, and a gas is released. The four lungs help produce a whole lot of the gas really quickly and belch it out making a large cloud in moments. The gas produced is what makes a Gravyman worth making.'
Thank you, MoonHunter & Murometz for your feedback. I really appreciate it. I would like to take a stab at answering MoonHunter's question(s). When getting into building an apocalyptic undead army, there is always costs, tactics, availability, and many other concerns. If you fail to diversify your army you are bound to run into trouble. For example, giant sized zombies are great at gate crashing and breaking a shield wall, but if outnumbered by smaller units, it tends to get overwhelmed. Another way of looking at it is damage per second (per hex perhaps). If a maximum of 5 or 6 zombies can engage a single human sized opponent, then with a Gravyman that number is effectively higher. One last thing to consider is priests or clerics turn ability. Their 'anti-undead specialization' does need to be countered for effective world domination. The Gravyman can offer a solution. Hope that helps.
I see a little Left 4 Dead here as well, but only a little. You have added so much beyond that trace and the name - Gravyman - is suitably disturbing.
Well done sir!
5/5, truely a new take on the zombie.
A zombie support unit? Well, if you are building undead armies, why the heck not! Makes an amusing 'medic' unit for the troops. :)
And oh, then there is the Marshland: a strangely thick fog, that slows down all living beings in it down to the speed of zombies. Nothing like competing on even ground. :->
Excellent zombie support, and I really like the variance of its payload. A nice abhorrence I intend to spring on my players. :)
Nice, and by nice I mean it has the potential to be stomach turningly disgusting. I love the name too, zombie gravy!
I do believe this is my fave Quest entry so far. *thumb up*
Once it gets to a location you wouldn't want to destroy it for fear of its cargo being released in a huge cloud. Key would be getting to these early. The army/support unit of this one has me envisioning controlled zombie wars. Not what I am used to :)
some errors in the post:
s/The zombie has a soul purpose of/The zombie has the sole purpose of/g
s/undead within it's vacinity/undead within its vicinity/g
Otherwise a nice new undead! I like the different payloads and possible uses. The Mirror Image and Hallucinatory gases are what I'd like to throw my players into. Good job on a suitably repulsive undead! I can see a whole range of further zombie support coming into play. Lots of cool ideas flowing into my brain from this. Cool! (not sure where the apocalypse comes in though...)
Because I forgot to vote! 4/5
Update: Added: Author's note, Marshland potion to the list, and corrected grammatical/spelling issues raised by dark_dragon. Also I modified the summary.