On rare occasions, forces intruding into elvish domains have encountered bands of elves with an unbelievable amount of magical capability, with bands of elves striking from nowhere and seemingly casting spells while fighting. While virtually nobody outside of a small group of elves is aware of it, this is due to a thing that would be known as an Elvish Deadwood to any non-elf that knew about it.
% in Lair: None
Dungeon Enc: With Elves (1, 5% chance per company)
Wilderness Enc: With Elves (1, 5% chance per company)
Alignment: Neutral (Chaotic if berserk)
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Hit Dice: 6***
Armor Class: 3
Attacks: 1 (fist)
Treasure Type: None
The Deadwood is an abominable mix of a construct and an undead, merging the spirit of an elf with a wooden body to create a powerful tool to amplify the capabilities of a squad of elves. Each has the standard construct immunities. Unlike a wood golem, they are man-sized (or, rather, elf-sized), and look like rotten tree trunks with decaying limbs attached by animal sinew. It also has a greasily gleaming crystalline device embedded in its torso, with six amulets magically linked to the device, which are worn by the squad assigned to work with a particular Deadwood. As long as the amulets are worn, any spell cast by a wearer on themself will be amplified by the device and cast on anyone wearing an amulet within 120’ of the Deadwood. Note that this does not apply if an amulet wearer casts a spell on another amulet wearer - each amulet attunes itself to the magical signature of its wearer, and ignores all spells with a different signature. Thus, abominable creations are often assigned to groups of elves with multiple spellcasters, to maximize the synergies possible.
However, there are drawbacks. The Deadwood is a rather weak fighter. Spells cast by the amulet wearers on themselves don’t affect the Deadwood, so (for example) an invisibility spell will make the six amulet wearers invisible, but the Deadwood can still be seen. Additionally, if more than six spell levels are channeled through the Deadwood in one round, it overloads, the undead spirit of the elf overwhelming the layered enchantments that keep it docile. It is treated as being under a haste spell, becomes Chaotic for the duration of the haste effect, immediately attacks the nearest amulet wearer, and each spell level cast by an amulet wearer while the Deadwood is overloaded causes 1 point of magical damage to all wearers within 120’ of the Deadwood due to arcane feedback. Once the three turns of the haste spell have expired, it reverts to normal operation.
Constructing a Deadwood costs 30,500gp and takes 37 days, plus a magical research roll at +6 (note: this is the cost for a construct plus half the cost for an undead, since it merges both, and it should be quite rare).
Deadwoods are rare for multiple reasons:
- Their cost and difficulty of creation.
- The elf used to create one must be capable of casting spells.
- It uses necromancy to bind the spirit of an elf to a physical shell; if that shell is destroyed, the elf’s spirit is lost. This is a horrific fate for an elf, and means the creation of a Deadwood is a sign of desperation.
- They’re dangerous in operation, and a squad with potent magic needs to be well-trained to avoid overloading the fragile magical device.
Spells commonly used by Deadwood squads:
1st level: Detect Magic, Shield
2nd level: Detect Evil, Detect Invisible, Invisibility, Mirror Image
3rd level: Fly, Haste, Infravision, Protection from Evil (Sustained), Protection from Normal Missiles
4th level: Confusion, Dimension Door, Wizard Eye
5th level: Animate Dead, Transmute Rock to Mud
(design notes: Amulet wearers don’t have to be spellcasters. It would be perfectly legitimate for a squad to consist of 5 non-caster elves and a single spellsword. It would also be safer - but less fun. The original spell is at whatever caster level the caster is; spells cast by the amulets are at the lowest level a mage could cast them, so an Animate Dead from a 10th-level Spellsword would animate 20 HD under the control of the Spellsword and 18 HD under the control of each amulet wearer, since a mage can cast 5th-level spells at 9th level. The magical device is considered two special abilities, and would be more if not for its drawbacks. That’s probably still not enough if played mean.)