Sepulchral Thief

They say that you can't take it with you. "They" have clearly never encountered one of these rapacious undead.

A sepulchral thief is an undead criminal, a thief, burglar, or bandit. Unlike other undead whom it resembles, such as the lich, the sepulchral thief does not deliberately seek out an undead existence. Rather, like some ghosts or ghouls, it rises spontaneously on rare occasions when the proper circumstances align. First, an evil-aligned and malicious thief must die in the midst of planning or executing the greatest theft (or similar criminal activity) of his career, an endeavor in which he has devoted his greatest efforts and on which he has staked his future. Perhaps he is slain by a terrible trap, or by a guard or rival thief. He must die in both anger and frustration, within reach of his goal, or even having just managed to acquire it.

Creating a Sepulchral Thief

"Sepulchral thief" is a template that can be added to any humanoid creature of 5 HD or more (referred to hereafter as the base creature), provided it is of chaotic neutral or any evil alignment, and possesses the appropriate ability and skill requirements. The base creature must have a Dexterity score of at least 13, and must possess at least 5 ranks each in any five of the following skills: Balance, Climb, Disable Device, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Open Lock, and Sleight of Hand.

A sepulchral thief has all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Size and Type: The creature's type changes to undead. Do not recalculate base attack bonus, saves, or skill points. Size is unchanged.

Hit Dice: Increase all current and future Hit Dice to d12s.

Armor Class: The base creature's natural armor bonus increases by +5.

Attack: A sepulchral thief has a touch attack that it can use once per round. If the base creature can use weapons, the sepulchral thief retains this ability. A creature with natural weapons retains those natural weapons. A sepulchral thief fighting without weapons uses either its touch attack or its primary natural weapon (if it has any). A sepulchral thief armed with a weapon uses its touch or a weapon, as it desires.

Full Attack: A sepulchral thief fighting without weapons uses either its touch attack (see above) or its natural weapons (if it has any). If armed with a weapon, it usually uses the weapon as its primary attack along with a touch as a natural secondary attack, provided it has a way to make that attack (either a free hand or a natural weapon that it can use as a secondary attack).

Damage: A sepulchral thief without natural weapons has a touch attack that uses negative energy to deal 1d8+5 points of damage to living creatures; a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 sepulchral thief's HD + sepulchral thief's Cha modifier) halves the damage. A sepulchral thief with natural weapons can use its touch attack or its natural weaponry, as it prefers. If it chooses the latter, it deals 1d8+5 points of extra damage on one natural weapon attack.

Special Attacks: A sepulchral thief retains all the base creature's special attacks and gains those described below. Save DCs are equal to 10 + 1/2 thief's HD + thief's Cha modifier unless otherwise noted.

Special Qualities: A sepulchral thief retains all the base creature's special qualities and gains those described below.

Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Dex +4, Int +2, Cha +2. Being undead, a sepulchral thief has no Constitution score.

Skills: Sepulchral thieves have a +8 racial bonus on Balance, Climb, Hide, Move Silently, and Sleight of Hand checks. Otherwise same as the base creature.

Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +2.

Strategies and Tactics

Although a sepulchral thief enjoys causing pain and suffering, it prefers to do so as the result of its thefts, rather than through direct physical assault. Still, it is ready and willing to slay anyone in its way, or anyone who angers it. It prefers to attack from surprise, making use of its sneak attack (and perhaps draining touch) abilities. Under most circumstances, a sepulchral thief prefers to save its shadow jump ability for last-minute escapes, but it might use it to enter a particularly well guarded area or to obtain a tactical advantage in battle.

Because they are frequently of high intelligence, sepulchral thieves are fully capable of focusing their efforts on their most dangerous foes. When faced with a choice of targets, the thief often attempts to slaughter spellcasters first, then melee fighters. Their malice-driven nature makes them prone to holding grudges, and a sepulchral thief might take months or even years planning vengeance on one who thwarted it.


Only the greediest and most vile of criminals have a chance of rising as a sepulchral thief, even under the proper circumstances, but when they do, they become undead beings of nigh-unstoppable cunning and ability. Sepulchral thieves are scheming and clever, always planning their next acquisition. They are driven by a lusty greed more overpowering than that of any mortal. Like dragons and other monsters, they seek to hoard items of great value, from gold to artwork to items of potent magic. Sepulchral thieves make use of what items they can, but the others simply sit in hidden stockpiles, for it is not the expenditure of wealth that these undead love, but the act of stealing it - and, more important, the suffering such loss causes its original owner. Cruelty as much as greed motivates the sepulchral thief; it seeks out not only items of great monetary value, but great personal value. It desires the last handful of coins owned by a poor family as much as it does the most fabulous masterpiece in a lord's manor. The acquisition of wealth and valuables is of primary concern, but if the sepulchral thief can harm its victims in the process - causing a family to starve for want of coin, absconding with the holy icon that might end a war between nations, or removing the only cure for a plague spreading across a village - so much the better.

Environment: Any. Sepulchral thieves almost invariably dwell in urban regions, where both wealth and victims are plentiful, but they occasionally beleaguer smaller communities or seek out powerful magics and great riches in dungeons.

Typical Physical Characteristics: Sepulchral thieves look like their original race, but gaunt and desiccated. Their flesh hardens, almost like a mummy's, and darkens into shades of gray or dirty white. Their flesh frequently tears sufficiently to expose bits of bone, and their eyes disappear into dark and empty sockets.


Sepulchral thieves are parasites in humanoid communities, having no society of their own. They view others of their kind as potential rivals; alliances between sepulchral thieves are almost unheard of, and even those that do exist are short-lived and invariably end in betrayal.

Because they still retain intelligence and memories from their past lives, sepulchral thieves are most comfortable in cities that resemble their former homes.

Alignment: The malice and lawlessness inherent to the sepulchral thief makes every last one of them either neutral evil or chaotic evil. A base creature that was lawful evil becomes neutral evil; one that was chaotic neutral becomes chaotic evil; those that were neutral evil or chaotic evil retain that alignment. Although they are sentient, a sepulchral thief literally cannot change to any alignment other than these two, though shifting between the two is possible.

Typical Treasure

Sepulchral thieves hoard treasure they cannot use, but attempt to equip themselves with the best and most useful items they can. A sepulchral thief carries standard equipment for its CR, but always has one or more hidden stashes of treasure containing that same amount over again. Thus, when faced in their lair (a rare occurrence), such a creature has double normal goods, but when faced elsewhere has only the normal amount.

Sepulchral Thief Lore

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (religion) can learn more about sepulchral thieves. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (history) or Knowledge (local) checks cannot reveal the nature of these creatures, but they might reveal the names of local criminals rumored to be undead or monstrous.

Advanced Sepulchral Thieves

All sepulchral thieves advance using class levels. Rogue is by far the most common class, but a sepulchral thief with levels in bard, fighter, ranger, assassin, and shadow-dancer are not uncommon. A sepulchral thief retains its favored class from when it was alive, but considers rogue a favored class as well.

Level Adjustment: As base creature +6.

Sample Sepulchral Thief: Sepulchral Thief.

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