Dressed in graveyard rags, this pitiful creature cries out like a sick child. An over-sized, bestial head perches atop its spindly, child-sized body, and its eyes are nothing but sunken pools of shadow with no trace of life in them. A cloying mist wreathes its frail form, accompanied by the stench of death and disease.
AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dex, +3 natural, +1 size)
hp 30 (4d8+12)
Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +7
DR 5/silver; Immune undead traits
Weaknesses sunlight aversion, vulnerability to magic, vulnerability to salt
A child slain by a drekavac’s disease has a 1-in-6 chance of rising as another drekavac 3 days after death. The new drekavac is not in any way controlled by its maker, and is immediately capable of exercising its full powers, including creating spawn of its own. It does not possess any of the abilities it had in life.
Drekavacs are spirits of disease and contagion. While most drekavacs carry bubonic plague, drekavacs who died from other afflictions may carry those diseases instead. Any illness caused by a drekavac must be potentially fatal. Other diseases commonly carried include demon fever, filth fever, and slimy doom. If a drekavac is reduced to 0 hit points (from weapons or other sources, including channeled energy), all of the diseases it caused are cured, although the victims must recover from any effects normally, and slain victims are not restored.
Any creature touched by a drekavac’s shadow is also affected by the creature’s disease ability. If there is a question about which way the drekavac’s shadow falls, roll 1d8 to determine a random square around the creature. A character with a light source cannot be touched by the drekavac’s shadow, but the light causes the shadow to fall directly opposite the character (unless there is another light source there as well). A drekavac can deliberately touch a creature with its shadow as a standard action by making a successful touch attack.
Drekavacs hate natural sunlight and immediately flee from it. A drekavac caught in natural sunlight is staggered.
Animals, wild or domesticated, can sense the unnatural presence of a drekavac at a distance of 30 feet. They do not willingly approach nearer than that and panic if forced to do so unless a master succeeds at a DC 25 Handle Animal, Ride, or wild empathy check. Panicked animals remain so as long as they are within 30 feet of the drekavac.
A remove curse or remove disease spell cast directly upon a drekavac (DC equal to the drekavac’s disease ability) immediately destroys the creature, allowing the afflicted soul to move on. Destroying a drekavac with remove curse or remove disease does not cure any of the creature’s diseases.
Drekavacs are vulnerable to salt that has been consecrated in the same fashion as holy water, and cannot cross an unbroken line of blessed salt. A handful of blessed salt thrown at a drekavac inflicts the same damage as a flask of holy water.
Organization solitary or pack (2–5)
Drekavacs are the undead remains of children who perished from disease, particularly in plague-ridden areas where many such deaths occurred in a short period of time. Able to become as insubstantial as the mist rising from a graveyard on a cold, dark night, drekavacs are carriers of disease, seeking to infect the living with the afflictions that slew them. According to some stories, drekavacs only result from young plague victims who remain unburied or died bereft of the proper funeral rites; performing those rites may allow their spirits to rest and no longer haunt the world of the living.
Drekavacs typically haunt desolate places, from windswept plains and mountains to dark forests and abandoned homes or villages. They may move among inhabited areas in gaseous form, but are typically warded off by bright lights and the sounds and sights of life. They are always encountered indoors or at night, preferring dark, cloudy or foggy nights, ideally during the waning moon. Drekavacs are usually encountered during the gloomy, cold winter months rather than in the spring or summer. Rural clerics and adepts must sometimes deal with one or more drekavacs seeking to spread disease in their communities. Their favored targets are children, some of whom can also become drekavacs 3 days after death unless their bodies are burned and the ashes scattered. The work of drekavacs in a community can sometimes lead to hysterical accusations by grief-stricken parents and families, stirring up resentment and violence toward outsiders or anyone suspected of involvement with unnatural forces. It is customary in some rural areas to surround a child’s crib with a ring of blessed salt to keep evil influences at bay, including drekavacs, who cannot cross an unbroken line of salt. However, drekavacs can convince others to break the line of salt for them.
Drekavacs are lonesome, bitter, and pitiful creatures, often crying when they appear, mourning their lost lives. Some folk mistake them for living children, lost or starving, although the creatures are not very effective liars. Still, a dim night and a half-seen form huddled and sobbing pitifully are often enough to trick someone into approaching close enough to become victim of the drekavac’s chilling grasp.
Once they have inflicted their plagues upon victims, drekavacs quickly lose interest and move on, although they may follow a victim, begging for aid and attention, behaving as if they were still living victims of disease rather than its agents. They rarely kill victims outright, preferring instead to inflict long and lingering deaths through disease. Drekavacs threatened with salt, magic, or silver weapons become vicious, attacking opponents like snarling dogs until they are dead or the creatures are driven off. Drekavacs sometimes band together in small packs, particularly in places where epidemics or plagues have swept through a population, either recently or long ago, but they have no real organization beyond seeking out new victims to infect. Drekavacs are intelligent and aware, able to converse in Common, or whatever languages they knew in life. This means some drekavacs are only able to communicate in largely dead or forgotten languages. They are childlike in their understanding and largely incapable of being reasoned with, but deft use of Bluff or Diplomacy and a playful or parental tone may keep a drekavac at bay, at least temporarily.
In Slavic myth and folklore, drekavacs are the souls of unbaptized children, not necessarily victims of disease, although they were often said to be. They are known for their horrifying cries, and descriptions of their appearance vary widely, some looking like thin, emaciated children, others having animal heads, fur, or bird-like features. The most common way of exorcising them was believed to be a rite of baptism performed on the creature, its corpse, or grave. Believers say the touch of a drekavac’s shadow causes illness and disease in anyone unfortunate enough to encounter the creature. A home around which a drekavac cried and wailed was destined to have someone die there soon, and drekavacs were said to return to haunt the dreams of those who had done evil, particularly to children. The spirit of a child killed by its parents (from abuse or neglect) was likely to return as a drekavac, either to seek vengeance or to accuse them with its cries until they repented and confessed what they had done.