Nether Hound of Kiaransalee

by Thomas M. Costa, Dragon #322

Unlike many gods of the FORGOTTEN REALMS who lord over realms of death and the undead, Kiaransalee prides herself on imagination. Rather than contenting herself to rule over endless legions of uniform, rotting terrors, the drow goddess appreciates original and monstrously elegant servants. Like a mother with a newborn, Kiaransalee favors each infant variety of undead, coddling and doting on new strains with perverse adoration. Thus, Kiaransalee's current favor falls to her youngest and most promising children, the augmented undead she's named nether hounds.

Nether Hounds Of Kiaransalee

Kiaransalee, drow goddess of the undead and vengeance, is credited with the creation of nether hounds, slavering undead empowered to hunt down and slay her enemies. The truth is perhaps more complex, as other powers of undeath have also been known to send these fiendish undead after their foes. In fact, Kiaransalee has shared the nature of the nether hounds' creation with her allies - particularly those who have sided with her against the demon lord Orcus.

Night hag servitors of Kiaransalee throughout the Lower Planes care for the goddess's packs of nether hounds. The hags create, train, and hire out the hounds to demon lords and other interested parties who have someone they need hunted down and slain. The exact process of how nether hounds are created remains unknown, although it is thought to require acts only Kiaransalee and her night hag minions are corrupt enough to perform.

Nether hounds are corporeal undead infused with Kiaransalee's godly lust for vengeance and granted the power to hunt down and slay almost any quarry. They are perhaps the most bestial of undead, slavering and yowling as they hunt their prey, often loping and scampering about on their clawed hands and feet. Their faces are distorted wrecks, their eyes weeping viscous black tears and their mouths filled with wicked fangs that drip a similarly grotesque spittle. More often than not, they are organized into hunts of thirteen such monstrosities, usually made up of twelve nether hound ghouls led by a nether hound ghast. The creatures relish their role as hunters, relying on their senses and skill to track down prey. Even if their quarry escapes their grasp, they know a single diseased claw will slow their prey down for the final kill.

The faithful of Kiaransalee and her allies, such as Velsharoon, may enlist nether hounds into their service by using a planar ally spell to contact a night hag in the service of the goddess. The cleric must then barter with the hag for the service of one or more nether hounds to carry out the agreed-upon task. However, those who command nether hounds must always be wary, as the hounds are first and foremost the servants of Kiaransalee. As such, they always carry out the will of their goddess over the wishes of any other creature, even a more powerful deity.

Creating A Nether Hound

"Nether hound" is an acquired template that can be added to any corporeal undead with an Intelligence of 3 or more and nongood alignment (referred to hereafter as the "base creature").

A nether hound uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Speed: Nether hounds are quick and capable of scampering up or down just about anything to take down the prey. The nether hound adds +10 feet to its land speed and gains a climb speed of 20 feet if it did not already have an equivalent or greater climb speed.

AC: The base creature's natural armor improves by +2.

Special Attacks: A nether hound retains all the special attacks of the base creature and gains the following new abilities.

Demon Fever (Ex): Disease - natural attacks, Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 nether hound's HD + nether hound's Charisma modifier), incubation period 1 day, damage 1d6 temporary Constitution. Each day after the first, on a failed save, an afflicted creature must immediately succeed at another Fortitude save (with the same DC) or 1 point of the Constitution damage is ability drain instead.

Sure Striking (Ex): Nether hound attacks with natural or manufactured weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Yowling (Su): Nether hounds are prone to bestial slavering, howling, moaning, and gibbering when they pick up the scent of their prey - though they are generally intelligent enough to keep this urge in check if it is to their best advantage. All creatures (except evil outsiders and undead) within 100 feet of a yowling nether hound must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 nether hound's HD + nether hound's Charisma modifier) or become shaken for as long as they are within range of this ability and can hear the gibbering undead. If the save is successful, the affected creature is immune to that nether hound's yowling for 24 hours. Nether hounds yowl as a free-action and do so almost constantly. This is a sonic, mind-affecting, fear effect.

Special Qualities: A nether hound retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains those listed below.

Elemental Resistances (Ex): Nether hounds have fire and acid resistance 5, electricity and sonic resistance 10, and are immune to cold.

Senses of the Hound (Ex): Nether hounds gain scent and low-light vision.

Abilities: Adjust from the base creature as follows: +4 Str, +4 Dex, -2 Int, +2 Wis, +2 Cha.

Skills: Nether hounds receive a +6 racial bonus on Listen, Search, Spot, and Survival checks. In addition, as the nether hound has a climb speed, it gains a +8 racial bonus to Climb checks.

Feats: Nether hounds gain Improved Initiative, Run, and Track, assuming the base creature meets the prerequisites and doesn't already have these feats.

Climate/Terrain: Any land.

Organization: Solitary, team (2-3), pack (4-12), or hunt (13-30 nether hounds).

Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +1.

Alignment: Always chaotic evil.

Advancement: As base creature.

Level Adjustment: -.

Sample Nether Hound: Nether Hound Ghast.

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