A thick tangle of discolored entrails clings to this lurching skeleton’s torso and winds upward to loll from its jaw like a clawed tongue.
Str 21, Dex 19, Con —, Int 11, Wis 10, Cha 14
Humanoid creatures killed by a mohrg rise immediately as fast zombies under the mohrg’s control. The sudden bloom of unlife when a mohrg’s victim dies and becomes a zombie causes a surge of negative energy to flow through the mohrg. Whenever a mohrg creates a zombie in this manner, it is healed 1d6 hit points per HD possessed by the slain creature and acts as if hasted for the round immediately following the spawn’s creation.
A mohrg is as much a product of the method of its execution as it is an undead manifestation of one who, in life, was a murderous criminal or warmonger. At times, unusual methods of execution can trigger equally unusual mohrgs. The extreme nature of these executions are such that these variant mohrgs are only rarely created by accident—more often, they are deliberate creations by officials who themselves dabble in necromancy and may in fact be as vile as those they put to death.
A desert mohrg rises from a violent criminal who has been executed via torturous means in arid, hot environments, typically methods designed to kill through exposure and draw out the criminal’s expiration. Being affixed to a rock, tree, or other object and being buried up to the neck and left to bake in the sun are both methods that can result in the creation of desert mohrgs. A desert mohrg looks leathery and dry, not moist, but has the same statistics as a typical mohrg. Spawn created by a desert mohrg rise as burning skeletons rather than fast zombies.
When a criminal is executed through methods that leave no physical mark upon the body (such as by poison or a death effect), and then the corpse is preserved via a gentle repose spell, a fleshwalker mohrg is the result. While these mohrgs function as normal mohrgs, their flesh does not decay—further castings of gentle repose are unnecessary. Only upon close inspection (whereupon one might notice a faint underlying charnel stench, or might note the lack of breathing with a DC 30 Perception check) or in combat (when the creature’s hideous tongue extrudes from its mouth) is the truth apparent.
Distinctive for the icy sheen over the blue flesh of its innards and tendrils, a frost mohrg’s genesis is similar to that of a desert mohrg—a violent criminal that is executed via lingering exposure to the elements, only in this case, in a cold environment. Frost mohrgs look partially frozen and retain much of their flesh, albeit flesh blackened by frostbite. A frost mohrg has the advanced creature simple template, and its attacks deal an additional 1d6 points of cold damage on a hit.
Perhaps among the most perverse category of mohrg arises when the executed murderer is also pregnant with child. The unborn, undead infants of these nightmarish monsters cling to the exposed entrails of the mohrg, but do not grant any additional powers. All mohrg-mothers always have the advanced creature simple template. Once per day, a mohrg-mother can choose to animate a recently slain victim as another mohrg instead of as a fast zombie.
Organization solitary, gang (2–4), or mob (2–4 plus 4–12 zombies)
Treasure standard (see below)
Those who slay many over the course of their lifetimes, be they serial killers, mass-murderers, warmongering soldiers, or battle-driven berserkers, become marked and tainted by the sheer weight of their murderous deeds. When such killers are brought to justice and publicly executed for their heinous crimes before they have a chance to atone, the remains sometimes return to unlife to continue their dark work as a mohrg.
Undead things caring less for life than they did before their own deaths, mohrgs exist solely to wreak havoc on the living. Sometimes mistaken for skeletons or zombies, they are far more dangerous than those mindless abominations, retaining some semblance of their own memories—and the delight they once took in hearing the screams of the dying.
When possible, mohrgs gather in small groups, seeking out lone targets much as they did in life. If faced with capable foes, a mohrg attempts to incapacitate them one by one, starting with divinely empowered characters first, both to protect itself from holy wrath, and to make the task of paralyzing and devouring the others that much easier.
Some mohrgs retain enough of their former memories that they return to the favored locations of their pasts, “haunting” old hideouts and sometimes even resuming the depredations of murderers long dead, falling back on means of death and mayhem that were more comfortable in their breathing days. Such mohrgs are even more insane than most undead beings, and can sometimes be found wandering the streets of a city or town in cowls and cloaks, carrying on their old life’s work of slaughter and murder as best they can.
Of course, since those slain by a mohrg rise soon thereafter as undead themselves, the murders of a mohrg do not go unnoticed for long, even when they take extra care to prey only upon society’s dregs. A sudden uprising of undead in the streets is the inevitable result of a mohrg’s attentions. Since these zombies remain under the mohrg’s control, and since the mohrg itself possesses a hateful and cruel intelligence, it often holds its undead army in reserve, even commanding it to lie motionless until several weeks or months have passed and the local graveyard is filled with the sleeping dead. Then, when the time is right, the mohrg calls upon its army to rise and aid it in finishing the slaughter.
Unrepentant killers in life, mohrgs retain an intense hatred for all living creatures, in particular sentient beings that can experience a fear of impending death. Some mohrgs were bloodthirsty warriors who slew as many as they could on the battlefield, others cold and calculating murders who selected their victims with delicate care, but nearly all mohrgs lived and died as mortal humanoids who delighted in the deaths of their fellow beings. A few mohrgs, however, are created from the remains of innocents by spellcasters (using the create undead spell), who are driven mad by being deprived of a peaceful death and then watching the transformation and slow decay of their own bodies. Those traumas, coupled with the loss of memories that tied them to the living world—to family, friends, and lovers—festers within these newly created mohrg, eventually resulting in the same hatred for the living that resides in the unbeating hearts of “naturally occurring” mohrgs. Regardless of a particular mohrg’s means of animation and how much the creature remembers of its former life, the need to snuff out life like an unwanted candle is the primary desire of each mohrg. A mohrg exists merely to kill, and when it is not killing, it broods angrily, plotting the best means to spread death further. mohrg attacks often catch smaller communities unawares. The few survivors of such attacks are often dismissed as unfortunate souls turned mad by some other trauma, and unless a town under attack is blessed with the presence of powerful adventurers or a benevolent spellcaster, it may be wiped out by the mohrg’s wave of lesser undead long before the townspeople realize the true nature of the threat.
Despite their almost compulsive need to kill—which for many mohrgs began while they were still alive, and fueled their undead transformation—mohrgs are not mindless. As intelligent undead, they are fully aware of their actions, and experience a perverse joy when killing, particularly when they slay other intelligent beings. This psychological joy is accompanied by a physical sensation of pleasure when negative energy rushes into a mohrg’s body to mark the raising of its latest victim as a zombie, an addictive feeling the mohrg seeks to replicate whenever possible.
Even more than their formidable combat abilities, mohrgs’ intelligence, and the fact that they may remember a significant portion of their previous lives, make them fatally dangerous predators. They have knowledge of human society and behavior, can navigate streets and cities (or avoid them, if necessary), and—if they can find a means to disguise their nature—are fully capable of recruiting living agents into their perverse quests. A mohrg can show inhuman patience when pursuing a plan, killing off a populace in slow handfuls until it has an army of waiting zombies prepared to rise up and destroy a settlement, and its desire for death far exceeds that of any sociopath. In rising as mohrgs, those with murderous urges in life are stripped of all mitigating factors, leaving only the unholy core of their bloodlust.
Mohrgs tend to show a preference for the killing styles they employed in life, creating eerie echoes of their former crimes. A murderer who slit open the throats of his victims might claw the flesh from the necks of its prey, or even employ a knife on helpless victims, while a thug who killed innocents and took their coins might still seek to lure new victims down dark alleys rather than simply striking to kill. The most dangerous of mohrgs are those who remember their mortal lives entirely, and still feel no remorse for their actions; taking a dark satisfaction in each and every kill, these mohrgs seek to best the murderous exploits they committed while still mortal. Whether it was in cruelty or in sheer numbers, a mohrg attempting to outdo the mortal killer it once was is a frightening and sickening creature, anathema to life itself.
There are two means of becoming a mohrg: by spell or by deed. A dead creature subject to a create undead spell might find herself transformed into a mohrg. Likewise, a humanoid who has killed many over the course of his life—or even just a few, if he is particularly unrepentant about the lives he’s taken—could awaken to discover that he has not yet passed to the afterlife, but arisen to undeath. Regardless of the means by which the state is achieved, all mohrgs experience a similar passage from life into existence as a mohrg.
Although some mohrgs’ appearances may vary with respect to other details, nearly all specimens can be described as humanoid skeletons with grotesque, purple loops of intestine growing within their torsos and winding up and out of their mouths like twisting, clawed tongues. Occupying the space where the digestive system once resided, these innards occasionally pulse with a hunger for nearby life, but otherwise serve no function. A mohrg may look as though some oddly shaped purple creature has animated a skeleton as a means of locomotion, but the mohrg’s limbs and organs are all integral to its unlife.
Mohrgs do not begin their undeath in the forms they come to possess. At the time of its initial animation, a mohrg has whatever flesh remains on its corpse, which continues to rot and disintegrate from its form as time passes. As negative energy suffuses the mohrg, its entrails (which regenerate if they’ve been removed) become a bloated, purple mass, stretching up inside its body and extending out through its jaw. Over time, as the once-living flesh falls away, the mohrg is left as nothing but a skeleton wrapped in twining and swollen purple tendrils.
Mohrgs do not experience pain, have no need to eat or drink, and have only the most rudimentary sense of touch. Without the means to experience physical pleasure or even satisfy their hunger, destroying life is the sole fulfillment mohrgs can enjoy, and they do so whenever possible. Mohrgs experience an almost narcotic reaction to the rush of negative energy that follows the animation of their victims as zombies. This pleasure must be balanced against mohrgs’ instinct to survive; those mohrgs that last longer than a few weeks swiftly learn to control their appetites, or at least manage the spawn that result to avoid immediate exposure. Once a mohrg has learned to temper its desire to destroy every living thing within reach of its limbs, it focuses on studying the environs it finds itself in, and learning how best to kill given the prey at hand.
Without any need to feed on flesh, blood, or even life force, it might seem odd that mohrgs hunt so deliberately, or even need to kill at all. And yet they continue to do so, driven by a twisted desire to rob others of the life they no longer enjoy.
The means by which mohrgs hunt, kill, and draw enjoyment from their activities can be likened to a perverse sort of game. Although many mohrgs keep trophies of their kills (see the Treasure section), the thrill that mohrgs get from hunting, tormenting, and killing their prey is derived from the same visceral love of power that drove them in life. As undead, they have also seen a glimpse of the grave, and thus have a deep understanding of the terror that mortals experience when paralyzed and faced with the promise of certain death.
Lacking the need to eat, drink, or sleep, mohrgs have little desire for large or elaborate dwellings. A lone mohrg maintains a small, usually lightless cave or room (if living in a building or dungeon), with just enough space for its collection of trophies. Some mohrgs even pursue academic studies, and keep books on anatomy or necromantic magic in their homes, but mohrg lairs are otherwise sparse, uninviting places without seating or a place to sleep. These are not, after all, creatures known for their hospitality.
Small groups of mohrgs sometimes gather together for protection, strength, and better access to killing opportunities; while one mohrg might fall to a lucky guard or a group of adventurers, a gang or mob of mohrgs has more of a chance to disable and slay armed warriors than a lone specimen. Mohrgs understand their common drive to kill, and can sometimes make elaborate plans to set up the perfect situation in which to do their work, but they almost never discuss tactics in combat. Rather, the most powerful mohrg (either physically strongest or the oldest) seeks out a target, and other mohrgs in the group choose their own prey. Mohrgs do not generally fight over kills, except when driven mad by their lust for the resulting rush of negative energy.
Mohrgs that find themselves in large communities do their best to blend in, hiding in sewers, catacombs, dungeons, or abandoned buildings. Some even prowl the streets dressed in cloaks and concealing clothing, especially if they have not yet lost all of their flesh (see fleshwalker mohrgs in Variant Mohrgs on the facing page). Those that cannot conceal their natures choose their targets carefully, hunting at night and picking off weaker prey in ones and twos. Once they have established a small cadre of zombies, more resourceful mohrgs are happy to have their servants collect victims for them, dragging the poor mortals back to be slain by the mohrg itself.
Generally speaking, mohrgs have indifferent relations with other undead. They view mindless creatures like skeletons and zombies as humans might view household tools or furniture—as objects to be amassed and used when necessary but which are otherwise ignored. Although intelligent undead, they have little concern for the souls of the bodies that are animated by their killings, as they have no more empathy for their victims now than they did as mortal murderers. With regard to other intelligent undead, mohrgs have varied opinions. They resent powerful liches, mummies, and vampires, who all seem to have better recollections of their previous lives or to have gained greater powers in their transformations. They are also jealous of dullahans, whose gift of unlife seems, at least to mohrgs, to be more joyful.
Interestingly, a great number of ghosts and revenants owe their undead existence to the depredations of mortal killers who later became mohrgs, and it’s not unheard of for a revenant to hunt a mohrg, or for a ghost to assist adventurers in tracking down the unholy reanimation of its killer.
Mohrgs work well in a number of different campaign roles. A mohrg might be the source of continual waves of zombies that plague the ever-dwindling population of a remote town, the cause of the disappearance of folk in poorer sections of a city, or a servitor to a more powerful undead or to a powerful spellcaster fond of creating undead minions.
Although mohrgs are fine combatants, it’s best to play up the terror a populace feels at the presence of a mohrg or group of mohrgs before introducing the monsters directly. A village whose people keep vanishing, only to reappear days later as mindless, walking dead, can be a far more compelling setting for part of your campaign than a simple cave filled with undead enemies. Likewise, the killing off of the poor of a dock district or the sudden disappearance of beggars from the street near a palace might indicate that a once-wealthy or noble mortal has been transformed into a mohrg, and is cleaning his city of the two-legged vermin. Whatever the case, it’s important to remember that mohrgs are smart, and should be played accordingly in combat—they know when to stand their ground and when to run, and do their best to strike when their enemies are weakest, exploiting observed flaws in the PCs’ tactics.
A mohrg’s paralysis attack makes it dangerous well into the upper levels of the game. An advanced mohrg, or one with class levels, poses an even greater threat to players, and could potentially become a recurring villain. While mohrgs rarely plot and scheme the way a lich or vampire might, their relatively high CR as even baseline mohrgs means that low-level PCs who are equipped to deal with a mohrg’s wave of zombies may still need to recruit help, find a magic item, uncover secrets from the mohrg’s past, or embark on other quests before they’re ready to take on the mohrg directly.
Mohrgs do not generally accumulate magical treasure of any great utility, preferring to rely on their unnatural abilities. They are, however, fond of collecting trinkets or trophies that remind them of their former lives; a mohrg that was once a vicious warrior might claim armor clasps or small weapons from its victims, while a former murderer who preyed on the upper classes might collect signet rings. Some mohrgs engage in this behavior without any real recollection of their lives, and amass a random assortment of possessions as a sort of compulsive behavior they cannot explain. A mohrg that does remember its mortal life often gathers items that remind it of its former profession or family, mementos of lost loves, or baubles that remind it of past glories—particularly its murderous exploits.
If a mohrg possesses class levels, it sometimes seeks out items that augment its class abilities. Alternatively, it may eschew such items altogether, and instead focus on hunting down particular forms of prey—this is especially true of mohrgs created by spellcasters. These undead often turn on their creators at the first opportunity, but although they may keep their former masters’ spellbooks or magic items, they typically only keep such items around as mementos of their rebellion. Mohrgs rarely have any use for coins, gems, or other material wealth, subconsciously preferring to gather items that connect them to individuals in the living world rather than ones that might be useful for trade.
Mohrgs gain no satisfaction from bodily comforts and sensations. They do, however, possess two overwhelming drives, even when they have no memories of their mortal lives: the desire to survive and the lust to kill. This second need is heightened by the sole physical pleasure a mohrg can experience—the quickening rush of negative energy gained when a victim rises as a zombie. This sudden surge not only heals the mohrg and hastens it for a short time, but is also a reminder of what it was once like to live.
Those who have studied mohrgs during this quickening liken the effect on the mohrg’s speech and behavior to that of an individual under the effects of a powerful drug, but describe the increased aggression that follows the rush of negative energy as a desire to heighten the feeling before it disappears. Some reports also include horribly vivid descriptions of changes in the mohrg’s purple flesh, but this may be a reaction to the negative energy with the once-living tissue, and not a reaction to the feeling of elation experienced by the creature.
Section 15: Copyright Notice – Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Undead Revisited
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Undead Revisited. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC. Authors: Eric Cagle, Brian Cortijo, Brandon Hodge, Steve Kenson, Hal Maclean, Colin McComb, Jason Nelson, Todd Stewart, and Russ Taylor.