Thursday, April 26, 2012

Death's Head Beetle

I created this creature for my Barrowmaze adventures:

Deaths Head/Ghost Head Beetle

No. Enc: 1-2
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-6 + special
Save: Fighter 2
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: Nil

Deaths head beetles are 3’ long creatures found below ground. They are rare insects that are often kept as tomb pets/guardians. They have a black carapace which displays a white ghost or skull like pattern on their hard shell. Their bite delivers a nasty toxin called “Death’s Dream”. If someone bit by this beetle fails their save vs poison, they fall down “dead”. In fact they enter a death like comatose that to all appearances seems like victim has died (like the Feign Death spell). This effect will last for 1-6 hours (unless a neutralize poison is administered during this time). After this time has elapsed, the victim will awaken but their physical condition will be very slowed and staggered and they will have very little of their cognitive resources. The victim will recognize basic things like people or food, but not specifics. Their motor functions will be slowed, dragging themselves as they move, their face seeming paralyzed and eyes rolled up into their heads and moaning (in an attempt to speak) and reaching out and even grappling another person ( in an attempt to make contact or get help). The victim appears by all accounts to have risen as a zombie. This affect will last for 1-6 turns. Unless  a person or ally of the victim takes particular actions to determine the true condition of the victim ( turn undead, holy water, etc), they will deal with the “zombie” accordingly. This beetle is a nasty tomb crawler for sure.
It is believed that the priests of Nergal bred and kept these creatures as pets and guardians for their Templetombs. Those who were caught under the beetles poison ( thieves and tomb robbers) were often knowingly buried alive. These priests were also said to know exactly how to remove the poison from the beetles glands and use Death’s Dream for other purposes such as in their live burial sacrifices.


  1. That's cool. holy water and turn undead will not work on them right? pretty creative! that would be sure to add some excitement to an encounter if anyone gets bit by them. I hope your players decide to stick with barrowmaze so i can read about them in action.

  2. Correct- they are insects not undead so turn and holy water doesnt work -but it be cool to see the cleric try : )

  3. Bro. Cadfael: I do not know these priests of Negral, and am not in a hurry to meet them!