Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Varkolak (Art by Jeremy Duncan)

This is actually a rewrite of a monster that I wrote up three years ago.  When they actually came up in my WFRP game, I changed some things about the monster to more closely match the tone of my campaign.  This version is essentially a Swords & Wizardry conversion of the monster which Abraham Nermal and others fought only a few months ago.  The art, as mentioned above, was provided by Jeremy Duncan based on a sketch he made of the creature at the time.

No. Appearing: 1 (1d8)
Armor Class: as Chain
Hit Dice: 4
Movement: 60'/240' (flying)
Attacks: See Below
Morale: 7
Alignment: Chaotic

Varkolaks are a form of undead that, while not unique to the Dark Country, are disconcertingly common there.  They are the created when a body is improperly disposed of - either because certain burial practices were not observed or because they were interred in unholy ground - or because their grave has been disturbed in some way.  These corpses then rise each night to feed on the living in hopes that it will ease the pain of undeath.

During the day they appear as little more than inert corpses, though of an unusually ruddy cast; however, at night they go through a hideous transformation.  They become hideously gaunt, and their eyes merge into a single, saucer-like orb in the center of their head.  Their hands are filth-caked and end in black talons.  Their hair is stringy and coarse, and their skin is wrinkled and cold and hard as iron.

Varkolaks feed by attaching themselves to a victim with their awful, jagged teeth.  This requires an attack roll and deals 1d6 damage for each round that the creature is attached.  They will often do this while hovering over their victim.  As they drain blood, they bloat hideously like a tick, giving a "full" varkolak the appearance of being morbidly obese.  Creatures slain in this manner become a varkolak in 1d4 nights.

Once full, they fly back to their grave, often cackling in a hideously shrill voice that can be heard for miles.  Usually this newly absorbed blood leaks out of the creature's nose, eyes, and mouth as it transforms back into an inert corpse before daylight.  Skilled rangers and monster hunters know this as a way to identify them.

If attacked while full, the creature will move with a horrid, waddling gait and attempt to strike with its filthy claws.  These claws infect victims with a disease in the same manner as a giant rat's bite, and it is said by some scholars that they often scratch those who they are not feeding on while they are sleeping in order to spread their awful disease.

Varkolaks may only be hit by magical or silver weapons, but they are also subject to a number of "rules" that can aid the knowledgeable hunter in slaying them.  First, they cannot enter a house without being invited.  If they desire to feed on someone in a particular domicile, they will usually knock on the door and ask if they may come in, though typically their shrill voices warns their prospective meal.  It is far more common for them to create some kind of disturbance outside using their prodigious strength and ability to fly in order to coax the victim out to see what is going on.  Since they are inert during the day, it is easy to destroy the corpse using the methods that would typically work on the active variety.  Finally, if there is a group of varkolaks, there will always be a "head varkolak," that will cause all of the others to become not but normal corpses if it is destroyed.  If these corpses are not properly disposed of, however, they may still return as a new varkolak.


  1. A great monster made even more monstrous by Jeremy's art.

  2. This is awesome (both the monster and the art)