Archives of Nethys

All | Unique

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Cruciarus

The twisted, tormented frame of this ghostly spirit is reflected in the utter anguish that shines within its glaring eyes.

Cruciarus CR 12

Source Pathfinder #102: Breaking the Bones of Hell pg. 84
XP 19,200
LE Medium undead (incorporeal)
Init +13; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +21

Defense

AC 26, touch 26, flat-footed 16 (+6 deflection, +9 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 157 (15d8+90)
Fort +13, Ref +16, Will +14
Defensive Abilities incorporeal; Immune undead traits

Offense

Speed fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee 2 pain touches +20 (8d6/19–20)
Special Attacks tortured gaze

Statistics

Str —, Dex 28, Con —, Int 9, Wis 16, Cha 23
Base Atk +11; CMB +20; CMD 37
Feats Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (pain touch), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Spring Attack
Skills Fly +35, Perception +21, Stealth +27
Languages Common

Ecology

Environment any
Organization solitary or torment (2–8)
Treasure none

Special Abilities

Pain Touch (Su) A cruciarus can attack twice per round with its incorporeal touch attack, dealing 8d6 points of damage on a hit as it causes wracking, agonizing pains to tear through the victim’s body. This untyped damage penetrates all damage reduction, but does not harm undead. Whenever a creature is touched by a cruciarus (regardless of whether it takes damage or not), it must succeed at a DC 23 Fortitude save or be staggered from the pain for 1 round. Creatures that are immune to pain effects are immune to a cruciarus’s pain touch. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Tortured Gaze (Su) The method by which a cruciarus was tortured to death influences not only its appearance but also the effects of its gaze attack. Regardless of the actual effects, all cruciaruses’ tortured gazes have a range of 30 feet, and the effects can be resisted with a successful DC 23 Fortitude save. The save DC is Charisma-based. Specific types of cruciaruses are listed below—those encountered in Kintargo during the events of “Breaking the Bones of Hell” are all starvation cruciaruses, formed from the souls of those who perished from doghousing over the course of the Adventure Path. Other forms of cruciaruses may exist beyond those detailed below, as society’s capacity for torment knows few bounds.

Burning: This cruciarus was tortured to death via fire. Its incorporeal body seems to smoke and burn, and smoldering raw brands glow on its ghostly body from where red-hot coals or branding irons were used to inflict pain. The cruciarus’s gaze deals 6d6 points of fire damage (Fortitude DC 23 half). A creature that takes damage from this gaze becomes outlined as if by faerie fire for 1d4 rounds as it is wreathed in ghostly flames. This type of cruciarus can rise from the application of other forms of energy used to torture—a person frozen to death would result in a cruciarus that deals cold damage, while electrocution would bring about a cruciarus that deals electricity damage.

Crushing: A cruciarus created from crushing endured incredible pressure that caused the breaking of bones or the rupturing of organs—being compressed under a slowly increasing pile of stones is one grisly example of this torment. The target of this cruciarus’s gaze takes 6d6 points of bludgeoning damage (Fortitude DC 23 half) each round as its bones creak and snap and its body bruises horrifically. A creature that fails to save against this gaze effect is also treated as if grappled for 1 round.

Dislocation: This cruciarus was subjected to tortures designed to dislocate victims’ joints. These methods often involve mechanical devices such the rack and the strappado, but also include death via crucifixion and via hanging. The cruciarus’s arms, legs, and sometimes even neck bend in unnatural directions. Its gaze causes the victim’s limbs to stiffen, affecting the victim as if by a slow spell for 1 round on a failed saving throw. Every time a creature fails two consecutive saving throws against this gaze effect, it takes 2 points of Strength drain.

Dismemberment: One, some, or all of the cruciarus’s limbs were amputated during a long, drawn-out death—execution via beheading can cause a dismembered cruciarus as well. The creature’s ghostly body bears the terrible wounds, with its dismembered parts obviously still in proper relation to each other but separated from the body by an inch or 2. The target of this cruciarus’s gaze takes 6d6 points of slashing damage (Fortitude DC 23 half) each round as hideous wounds manifest on body parts analogous to those the undead lost. A creature that fails its saving throw against this gaze effect also takes 1d6 points of bleed damage.

Drowning: This cruciarus experienced real or simulated drowning. Variations include dunking chairs, forced ingestion, and waterboarding. A cruciarus who died this way always appears soaking wet, constantly dripping water that fades moments after running off its ghostly frame. The target of a drowned cruciarus’s gaze attack experiences the panic of suffocation or drowning (even if it is normally able to breathe underwater), and on a failed Fortitude save it cannot speak and becomes nauseated for 1 round. Every time a creature fails two consecutive saving throws against this gaze effect, it takes 2 points of Constitution drain.

Impalement: One or more sharp objects perforated this cruciarus before death. The cruciarus’s body still caries ghostly echoes of the spears, lances, or other weapons that impaled it. The target of this cruciarus’s gaze takes 6d6 points of piercing damage (Fortitude DC 23 half) each round as ghostly blades pierce its flesh. A creature that fails to resist this effect is also staggered for 1 round from the pain.

Starvation: This cruciarus expired from a form of torture that involved starvation or dehydration. The wretched spirit seems emaciated and gaunt. A creature subjected to this cruciarus’s gaze attack suffers wracking pangs of hunger or thirst and takes 6d6 points of nonlethal damage (Fortitude DC 23 half). A creature that fails its saving throw against this gaze effect also becomes fatigued—or exhausted if already fatigued.

Cruciaruses are also known as the tortured dead. These anguished, frightening creatures are the disembodied spirits of those who died while being tortured. A painful death is not enough to produce these undead; only prolonged and intentional torment, whether punitive or sadistic, gives rise to one.

A cruciarus bears the unmistakable wounds of a torture victim. Curiously, the features of cruciaruses never quite match those of the creatures whose deaths spawn them. While most cruciaruses spawn from the souls of mortal humanoids, others could well arise from creatures that suffer enough torture—statistics for such cruciaruses are identical to those listed above, although changes to size (as in the case of tortured giants or dragons) may be necessary.

Ecology

The exact triggers that cause torture victims to rise as cruciaruses are not entirely clear, although sheer magnitude certainly has an influence. A single or even small number of tortured victims never seems to be enough to result in a cruciarus; these mournful undead seem more apt to manifest when large numbers of victims are tortured, either at once or over an extended period of time. Curiously, deliberate attempts to trigger the formation of a cruciarus have failed to date, causing eager necromancers no small amount of frustration. The fact that cruciaruses do not resemble specific individuals who died of torture has caused many scholars to believe they comprise a sort of amalgamation of the torment suffered by many. No cruciarus remembers specific personal events from life, although they do recall regional events of public knowledge. And, of course, they always recall the cruel mechanics of their deaths. They seem to be driven not so much out of revenge as out of pure malice, and are as eager to inflict pain on the innocent as on those who continue to torture others in life.

Habitat and Society

Cruciaruses rarely travel far from where they form, although they don’t seem to be bound specifically to sites of torment and death. They often haunt torture chambers hidden in basements and dungeons, though it is very uncommon for more than one cruciarus to spawn at such a site, regardless of the total number slain. In some cases, though, particularly when such tortures were performed in public, these undead form in larger groups, as if the mere fact of their deaths having been viewed by so many eyes gives rise to greater numbers of them. Cruciaruses are particularly common in regions like Cheliax and Nidal, where torture is raised to a high art. Necromancers in Geb employ controlled cruciaruses as interrogators and assassins, but must be careful lest the tortured dead turn against them.