A dread poltergeist is created when a creature dies under traumatic circumstances in a place of great importance to it. Often the locations that house dread poltergeists are places where they felt a sense of ownership and security. A simple death, even murder, is rarely enough to cause the victim’s spirit to remain as a dread poltergeist—the death must intimately involve the location as well as a torturous death. A gravedigger buried alive in his graveyard might become a poltergeist, as might a ferryman who drowned beneath his dock, or a steward crushed beneath his desk.
Dread poltergeists are mad and erratic beings that often lie dormant for weeks or even months at a time. A dread poltergeist may resurface when some creature reminds it of its former life or defiles the place it is attached to. Naturally invisible and possessed of frightening powers, dread poltergeists usually manage to frighten off and kill trespassers with terrible efficiency.
“Dread Poltergeist” is an acquired template that can be added to any living, intelligent creature with a Charisma score of 3 or higher (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A dread poltergeist uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +3.
Alignment: Usually chaotic evil.
Armor Class: The base creature’s armor, shield, and natural armor bonuses no longer apply, but the poltergeist gains a deflection bonus to Armor Class equal to its Charisma bonus or +1, whichever is higher. Unlike most incorporeal creatures, poltergeists can use and carry equipment (see Manipulation under Special Attacks)
Hit Dice: Change all of the base creature’s racial HD to d8s.
When a dread poltergeist is destroyed, it only remains destroyed for 2d4 days. After this time, the undead spirit reforms where it was destroyed, fully healed. The only way to permanently destroy a dread poltergeist is to determine the reason for its existence and set right whatever prevents it from resting in peace (similar to a ghost). The exact means varies with each spirit and may require a good deal of research, and should be created specifically for each different poltergeist or group of poltergeists by the GM.
Speed: A dread poltergeist gains a fly speed equal to the base creature’s highest speed with perfect maneuverability. It loses all other speeds the base creature possesses.
Attacks: The dread poltergeist retains all the base creature’s natural attacks and its weapon and armor proficiencies. However, all its attacks become incorporeal touch attacks, retaining the same primary or secondary status they had for the base creature. The poltergeist gains a primary incorporeal touch attack if it has no other natural attacks. The poltergeist’s incorporeal touch attacks are dependent on its size and deal slashing damage unmodified by Strength as a talon attack of one size category larger.
Special Attacks: The poltergeist loses all special attacks that require corporeal contact, but it gains those described here.
Once per minute as a standard action, a dread poltergeist can temporarily drop its natural invisibility, revealing itself to be a skeletal, ghostlike humanoid. All creatures within 30 feet when a poltergeist uses this ability must make a Will save to avoid becoming frightened for 1d4 rounds. The poltergeist then resumes its invisibility at the end of its turn as a free action. A creature that successfully saves is immune to this effect of that dread poltergeist for 24 hours but is still subject to the terrifying and killing image abilities. If the dread poltergeist’s natural invisibility is negated via other methods, it cannot use this ability. Likewise, those that can see invisible creatures are immune to this special attack. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based. The dread poltergeist has a +3 racial bonus to this DC.
Once per day, a dread poltergeist can turn its terrifying image (see below) into a deadly manifestation. This effect is identical to the phantasmal killer spell, but it affects all those that can directly see or hear the dread poltergeist. The killing image requires an additional save from the targeted creatures, even if it has made a successful save vs. the dread poltergeist’s terrifying image ability. The caster level is equal to the dread poltergeist’s total Hit Dice. The save DC is Charisma-based. The dread poltergeist has a +3 racial bonus to this DC.
Although it is incorporeal, a dread poltergeist can use and carry equipment, manipulating the objects as it did in life, so long as the total weight of the items does not exceed 10 pounds per the Hit Die the poltergeist possesses. Thus,a dread poltergeist can wear armor, use weapons, and benefit from magic items worn, just as any corporeal creature can. These items do not encumber the poltergeist, so it does not take any armor check penalties or have an arcane spell failure chance. Its items do not become invisible or incorporeal, and the poltergeist cannot take them along as it passes through objects and creatures.
If a dread poltergeist is wearing clothing or armor, an opponent can attempt to grab its garb with a successful combat maneuver attempt. If the opponent succeeds on this check, the dread poltergeist can choose to move with the armor or clothes as though wearing them, or it can remain where it is and lose possession of the items.
At will, the poltergeist can produce an effect like that of the major image spell, (caster level equals poltergeist’s total Hit Dice), except that the poltergeist can make the image extremely frightening. Upon first seeing or hearing such an illusion, a creature must succeed on a Will save or affected as a fear spell. Once a creature makes its save vs. a terrifying image it is immune to this effect of that dread poltergeist for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. The save DC is Charisma-based. The dread poltergeist has a +3 racial bonus to this DC.
Abilities: Dex +4, Cha +4. If the base creature’s Strength is higher than its Dexterity, the poltergeist’s Dexterity becomes equal to the base creature’s Strength. As an incorporeal creature, a poltergeist lacks a Strength score, and as an undead creature, it has no Constitution score.
CMB/CMD: A dread poltergeist has the CMB and CMD of the base creature when manipulating objects (see above). Replace the base creature’s Strength bonus with its Charisma bonus when calculating its CMB and CMD
Feats: A dread poltergeist gains Ability Focus (telekinesis) as a bonus feat. Feats that have a Strength score prerequisite that the base creature satisfied, a dread poltergeist also satisfies with its Dexterity.
Special Qualities: The poltergeist retains all the base creature’s special qualities that do not require corporeal contact with another creature and gains those described here.
Advanced Bestiary, Copyright 2014, Green Ronin Publishing, LLC; Author Jeff Hersh, Developer Owen K.C. Stephens