Monday, July 14, 2014

Pop Creature - Gallow Walker

The titular creatures from Gallowwalkers.
It's not a surprise to most people who know me that I'm an avid watcher of bad movies, specifically bad horror and sci-fi films. The recently released (but long-troubled) Wesley Snipes' sci-fi/fantasy western Gallowwalkers fits squarely in the middle of my bad movie Venn diagram where terrible overlaps with fun. It's an incoherent, terribly produced, but at times surprisingly inventive romp involving some of the worst cinematography outside of the shaky-cam fights of a Doug Liman Bourne flick. That said, there's something inherently watchable about Gallowwalkers and part of that comes from the film's titular villains: skin-stealing undead born from the curse of a wrathful god. That's exactly the kind of stuff perfect for a tabletop RPG!

Today's Pop Creature article delves deep into the rancid pool of meat that is Wesley Snipes' Gallowwalkers, and comes up with a gem of a creature. Pop the gallow walker undead template into your Pathfinder game and introduce a face-stealing nemesis that yearns for the pleasures of life and escape from the eternal torment of death!

Let us know what you think of the gallow walker (or Gallowwalkers, if you dare sit through it) in the comments section!


Gallow Walker

Gallow walkers are a form of undead arisen from those cursed by gods of death or undeath to eternally walk the world, either as punishment for crimes or in order to enact some form of revenge or unfinished task. Powerful necromancers long ago stole the secret of laying the curse of the gallow walker from the gods, and those who utilize these apocryphal secrets risk drawing the ire of the very beings who first laid these curses down.

History
The first known instance of a gallow walker was recorded as recently as 4702 in the city of Alkenstar in the Mana Wastes. A gunslinger outlaw on the run from shield marshals made the mistake of fleeing into the Smokeside district—where magic does not function—causing his flesh to peel off of his body in gory strips. The creature was eventually cornered and destroyed by the shield marshals, and later identified as Jezidah Ciol; an assassin for hire that was presumed dead some ten years prior.

In the wake of the discovery of the first gallow walker, sages and scholars throughout the Inner Sea revisited stories of shapeshifters, skin-changers, and other anomalous creatures for possible mis-identification. Since that time, an additional seven historical gallow walkers have been recorded by the Pathfinder Society at the Grand Lodge in Absalom. Some ancient accounts of gallow walkers date back as far as the Age of Anguish and come from Kellid stories of witches rising from the dead wearing the faces of their killers. 

It is believed that the original gallow walkers were created by curses laid out by wrathful gods like Urgathoa and Zon-Kuthon, though organizations like the secretive Anaphexia in Ustalav is believed to possess magic capable of creating gallow walkers as well.

Appearance
A gallow walker resembles the creature it was in life, but is entirely stripped of skin, down to its exposed muscles and veins. When a gallow walker dons the skin of another creature, its fast healing ability causes the skin to contract and tighten into a bodysuit that allows the gallow walker to impersonate the victim. However, there are telltale signs of a gallow walker inhabiting a body, such as "seams" on the flesh where the skin was originally split off, or unusual seams around the eyes and mouth. A close inspection can typically foil a gallow walker's infiltration, forcing them to never stick to the same face for prolonged periods of time.

Ecology
Gallow walkers are cursed to live forever without skin of their own, existing in a state of constant agony that prevents them from feeling any sensation other than pain. While this would be distracting to a living creature, a gallow walker is accustomed to the agony of their existence, but find it a psychological barrier preventing them from returning to their old lives. Only when a gallow walker partakes in a skindance and wears the flesh of another creature does the pain end, and only then can they experience the pleasures of living for as long as they can maintain their masquerade.

Most gallow walkers are loners, unable to relate to—or find companionship in—the company of others. Some charismatic gallow walkers form gangs of their own kind, moving from settlement to settlement like a plague, infiltrating local societies and indulging themselves on the sensations of life, only to slaughter the village and move on in their fresh husks. Groups like these are rare and typically draw attention to themselves, ending in the gallow walker pack being hunted down and killed.


Gallow Walker CR 6
XP 2,400
Human gallow walker gunslinger 6
CE Medium undead (augmented humanoid)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +19

DEFENSE

AC 22, touch 16, flat-footed 17 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +3 Dex, +2 dodge, +2 natural)
hp 61 (6d10+24); fast healing 5
Fort +5, Ref +11, Will +5
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4, nimble +2; DR 10/good
Immune undead traits

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk dagger +10/+5 (1d4+3/19–20) or 2 claws +9 melee (1d4+3)
Ranged revolver +12/+7 (+10/+10/+5 with rapid shot) touch (1d8+5/x4)
Special Attacks grit (2), gun training (revolver, +5)

STATISTICS

Str 16, Dex 21, Con —, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 14
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 27
Feats Gunsmithing, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Toughness, Weapon Focus (revolver)
Skills Bluff +10, Disguise +7(+17), Craft (weaponsmithing) +9, Knowledge (local) +9, Perception +19, Sense Motive +10, Sleight of Hand +11, Stealth +12; Racial Modifiers +8 Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive, and Stealth checks, +10 Disguise (when skindancing).
Languages Common
SQ deeds (deadeye, gunslinger initiative, gunslinger's dodge, pistol-whip, quick clear, utility shot), skindance, gunsmith

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Skindance (Su) A gallow walker may strip the skin off of a creature of the same size and general anatomy (number of limbs, etc) that has been dead for no longer than one hour and wear it as a disguise. Removing the skin of a creature in this fashion takes 10 minutes and a sharp object (typically the gallow walker's claws.) Once the skin has been removed, the gallow walker dons it like clothing, a process that takes 1 minute. Then the gallow walker's fast healing immediately integrates the new skin onto his body, making it tighten and function as if it were his own living flesh. A gallow walker may end his skindance as a full-round action by tearing the flesh off of his body. This action provokes an attack of opportunity.
While skindancing, the gallow walker is treated as though his creature type (and subtypes) are the same as the creature's skin he is wearing, or undead (and any other subtypes the gallow walker normally possesses) for purposes of effects that target type, whichever is most beneficial. Additionally, while skin dancing, the gallow walker is healed by positive energy and harmed by negative energy as if he were a living creature.
A gallow walker may use skindance indefinitely, but while he is wearing another creature's skin the gallow walker does not gain the benefit of fast healing or DR/good.

ECOLOGY

Environment any
Organization solitary
Treasure NPC gear (oil of silenceUE, potion of haste, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of inflict moderate wounds, smokestick, mwk chain shirt, revolver with 40 metal cartridges, mwk dagger, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1, mwk artisan's tools, 50 pp, 40 gp)

Gallow Walker (CR +1)

"Gallow Walker" is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature). Most gallow walkers were once humanoids, fey, or monstrous humanoids. A gallow walker uses the base creature's stats and abilities except as noted here.

CR: Same as the base creature + 1.

Alignment: Any evil.

Type: The creature's type changes to undead (augmented). Do not recalculate class Hit Dice, BAB, or saves.

Senses: A gallow walker gains darkvision 60 ft.

Armor Class: Natural armor improves by +2.

Hit Dice: Change all racial Hit Dice to d8s. Class Hit Dice are unaffected. As undead, vampires use their Charisma modifier to determine bonus hit points (instead of Constitution).

Defensive Abilities: A gallow walker gains channel resistance +4 and DR 10/good in addition to all of the defensive abilities granted by the undead type. A gallow walker also gains fast healing 5. A gallow walker reduced to 0 hp is not destroyed, but instead becomes inert and is considered helpless. Falling to 0 hp immediately ends a gallow walker's skindance ability and causes its fast healing to begin functioning again. The only way to kill a gallow walker is to reduce it to 0 hp and perform a coup de grace with a good-aligned weapon, severing its head. 

Melee: A gallow walker gains 2 claw attacks if the base creature didn't have one. Damage for the claw attacks depends on the gallow walker's size. The gallow walker may retract or reveal these claws as a swift action.

Special Qualities: A gallow walker gains the following:
Skindance (Su) A gallow walker may strip the skin off of a creature of the same size and general anatomy (number of limbs, etc) that has been dead for no longer than one hour and wear it as a disguise. Removing the skin of a creature in this fashion takes 10 minutes and a sharp object (typically the gallow walker's claws.) Once the skin has been removed, the gallow walker dons it like clothing, a process that takes 1 minute. Then the gallow walker's fast healing immediately integrates the new skin onto his body, making it tighten and function as if it were his own living flesh. A gallow walker may end his skindance as a full-round action by tearing the flesh off of his body. This action provokes an attack of opportunity.
While skindancing, the gallow walker is treated as though his creature type (and subtype) are the same as the creature's skin he is wearing, or undead (and any other subtypes the gallow walker normally possesses), whichever is most beneficial. Additionally, while skin dancing, the gallow walker is healed by positive energy and harmed by negative energy as if he were a living creature.
A gallow walker may use skindance indefinitely, but while he is wearing another creature's skin the gallow walker does not gain the benefit of fast healing or DR/good.
Ability Scores: Str +4, Dex +4. As an undead creature, a gallow walker has no Constitution score.

Skills: Gallow walkers gain a +8 racial bonus on Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive, and Stealth checks. Additionally, while using skindance, a gallow walker gains a +10 bonus on Disguise checks made to impersonate the race or specific creature he wears the skin of.


Open Content: The game mechanics of this game product are Open Game Content, as defined in the Open Gaming License version 1.0a Section 1(d).

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