Flesh Filcher (3.5e Creature)
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A skinless/flayed undead that removes the skin and organs from its still living victims and either adds them to its body or puts them into its "wardrobe". The victims are kept alive as "organ cattle" for the monster, eventually dying after seemingly endless periods of time or becoming flesh filchers themselves. Flesh filchers are exceptionally cunning and deceitful, usually amassing hundreds of disguises and vast amounts of knowledge over time. Their abominable lairs are akin to slaughterhouses/prisons with distorted, flayed, disfigured, yet still living creatures kept in gruesome captivity. They will even breed their "livestock" to produce more organs and disguises for themselves.
If a flesh filcher steals someone's skin, it can use it to magically impersonate them as a sort of disguise. They can even steal and absorb entire brains in order to gain their victim's knowledge, memories, and skills, without actually killing their victims. The victims of a brain-theft may either have their brains replaced with low quality replicas, are turned into zombies, or worse. Flesh filchers can even get class levels by consuming the flesh of their enemies (or allies). For example, if a level 12 wizard (not necessarily a living one) is consumed by a flesh filcher, then that flesh filcher gains that particular wizard's ability scores, special abilities, traits, spells, knowledge, skills, memories, and 12 levels in wizard right away. The bonuses acquired from a victim are appended onto the flesh filcher's preexisting stats with bonuses and penalties stacking.
Flesh filchers are shunned and rejected by even the most nefarious of people, as they have developed a reputation for treachery and for "flesh greed". Not even other undead are safe from them. As a result they almost always work alone until they can amass hordes of slaves, servants, guards, and more for their purposes.
|Artwork by Mark Riddick|
A flesh filcher is the size of the creature it used to be prior to becoming an undead, its mass is the same as well minus its skin and some body parts. They speak whatever languages they knew in life and whatever languages their victims spoke.
Flesh filchers abhor combat and much prefer to rid themselves of enemies and opponents by setting traps for them instead. Traps laid by a flesh filcher tend to be swift, deadly, well-hidden, hard to disarm, efficient, and tend to preserve most of the victim's body as possible. Less intelligent flesh filchers may gloat over their newly trapped victims and torment them with news of what is to become of them. More experienced ones would know that at no point should their enemies be within attacking range under any circumstances. Indeed, successful flesh filchers seldom have any sense of honor and will resort to the lowest, sneakiest, and most deplorable of tactics to get what they desire. Flesh filchers will only attack if they have the advantage (usually several advantages), if they don't, then they flee as quickly as possible. In fact, flesh filchers will do everything in their power to avoid being seen by others in general, out of sheer paranoia. They do not fight fair, ever.
Consume Flesh (Su): At-will as a standard action, a flesh filcher can make a melee touch attack against a mass of biological tissue (like skin, bone, muscle, fat, hair, etc.) and absorb it into their being. Creatures targeted by this ability must make a fortitude save (DC is charisma based). If the saving throw is failed, then the creature's body distends and flows into the flesh filcher's form through the point of contact as if the creature's flesh was made of a semi-viscous fluid. The result is the flesh filcher killing the creature, and gaining that creature's ability scores, class levels, feats, special abilities, skill points, spells, powers, knowledge, memories, known languages, and the flesh filcher now has the ability to perfectly mimic their victim's voice and mannerisms on demand giving them a +10 on checks to impersonate their victims when disguised. The victim cannot be resurrected as their very soul and body have been consumed and absorbed into another's being. It would be like trying to distinguish a single grain of sand on a beach during a hurricane.
Create Spawn (Su): If a flesh filcher performs the secret and magical ritual to remove the skin of a living creature without killing them immediately, then that creature will die and become a flesh filcher within 2d4 hours of the procedure.
Create Suit (Su): At-will as a standard action, a flesh filcher may make a melee touch attack against a creature, which prompts the creature to make a fortitude saving throw (DC is charisma based). If the saving throw is failed, the creature's skin is instantly removed and fashioned into a magical disguise suit. The creature is then wracked with massive amounts of pain (if living) and suffers 5d6 bleeding damage per turn and are paralyzed from the sheer agony of having no skin.
The flesh filcher can then use the stolen suit of skin to magically impersonate the creature. This ability functions similarly to polymorph except where noted. When donned, the suit magically seals itself to hide any and all seams. The flesh filcher may don or remove the suit at-will as a standard action. When wearing the suit, it gives the flesh filcher a +20 to checks made to impersonate whomever owned the skin before they did.
Energy Drain (Su): When a flesh filcher touches a living creature with a melee attack, it may choose to drain some of that creature's life. The affected creature must succeed on a fortitude saving throw or receive 1 negative level for each successful slam attack against itself.
Flesh-Filching Legacy: A flesh filcher has the ability to accumulate vast amounts of power in a short period of time. Successful flesh filchers, therefore, can attain numerous class levels and in a wide variety of classes over the course of their existence. It should be noted that the given table of stats in this monster entry refers to the base-creature and does not take into account any absorbed class levels. Use Table: Flesh Filcher Ages when designing flesh filchers who have existed for a while.
|Flesh Filcher Age:||Total Stolen Class Levels:||CR Adjustment:|
Note: No flesh filcher has ever survived past "middle-aged". They are usually hunted down and slain by then.
Frightful Presence (Ex): When a creature sees the horror that is a flesh filcher in their true, undisguised form, it is a horrifying experience for them. The creature must succeed on a will save (DC is charisma based) or be frightened until the creature can no longer see the flesh filcher.
Grim Reassembly (Su): When a part of a flesh filcher is severed from its body, that part will wiggle, flow, squirm or otherwise make its way back to the flesh filcher's body at a speed of 10 ft. per round. Once it reaches the main form of the flesh-filcher, it is mended and re-integrated by the flesh filchers regeneration ability. A flesh filcher can sense where various parts of its body are at any given moment, provided the body parts are on the same plane as the flesh filcher.
Improved Grab (Ex): If a flesh filcher hits with its slam attack, it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. No initial touch attack is required. For flesh filchers, there is no size category requirement for this special attack.
Regeneration (Su): Each round, at the start of its turn, a flesh filcher regains hit points equal to its hit dice divided by 2. Good effects and cold-iron deal normal damage to the flesh filcher. If a flesh filcher loses a limb or body part, the lost portion regrows in 1d6 minutes. The creature can reattach the severed member instantly by holding it to the stump.
- Animate DeadM: Creates undead skeletons and zombies.
- Armor of Darkness
- Blasphemy: Kills, paralyzes, weakens, or dazes nonevil subjects.
- Bolts of Bedevilment
- Cause Fear: One creature of 5 HD or less flees for 1d4 rounds.
- Confusion: Subjects behave oddly for 1 round/level.
- Create Greater UndeadM: Create shadows, wraiths, spectres, or devourers.
- Create UndeadM: Create ghouls, ghasts, mummies, or mohrgs.
- Death Knell: Kill dying creature and gain 1d8 temporary hp, +2 to Str, and +1 caster level.
- Death Ward: Grants immunity to death spells and negative energy effects.
- DesecrateM: Fills area with negative energy, making undead stronger.
- DestructionF: Kills subject and destroys remains.
- Disguise Self: Disguise own appearance.
- Dispel Good: +4 bonus against attacks by good creatures.
- False VisionM: Fools scrying with an illusion.
- Invisibility: Subject invisible 1 min./level or until it attacks.
- Lesser Confusion
- Maddening Scream
- Magic Circle against Good: As protection spells, but 10-ft. radius and 10 min./level.
- Mislead: Turns you invisible and creates illusory double.
- NondetectionM: Hides subject from divination, scrying.
- Obscuring Mist
- Phantasmal Killer
- Polymorph Any Object: Changes any subject into anything else.
- Power Word Blind
- Protection from Good: +2 to AC and saves, counter mind control, hedge out elementals and outsiders.
- Prying Eyes
- Screen: Illusion hides area from vision, scrying.
- Slay Living: Touch attack kills subject.
- Summon Shadows
- Touch of Madness
- Unholy Blight
Despite the massive amounts of power that flesh filchers can potentially accumulate, they are shunned by the necromancy community for their treachery and their greed. Every single alliance between a necromancer, lich, vampire, dragon, devil, or demon has always ended with the flesh filcher attempting to steal their ally's flesh for themselves. Only the ignorant would willingly deal with a flesh filcher. As flesh filchers constantly lust for more and more flesh to add to their collections.
As a result, flesh filchers lead a very lonely and selfish life. Though they enslave the minds of their staff, and have herds of "organ cattle" at their disposal, flesh filchers are unable to form alliances with any other malevolent forces, and as such are forced to act alone in most things. No matter what happens, they always give in to their desire to consume the flesh of another and to assimilate other beings into their own. A fact that is well-known in evil communities throughout the planes.
Incidentally, liches and other powerful evil forces will actually collaborate in order to destroy flesh filchers upon learning of the arrival of one in their world. The going policy is that "prevention is key" and to prevent a flesh filcher from getting too powerful, liches, devils, and other foul people will come together just to prevent a flesh filcher from becoming more powerful than any of them. Flesh filchers are tolerated by none.
Due to the fact that even evil forces will hunt down and exterminate flesh filchers, they have had to become masters of stealth and subterfuge. Their lairs are bizarrely well-hidden, well-designed, and well-defended. Their labyrinthine corridors, absolutely devastating traps, and horrifying contents tend to make short work of unprepared adventurers. In fact, flesh filchers will deliberately make false lairs to lure people away from their true hideouts. Lairs that house a fake treasure horde to lure in adventurers, but ultimately lead to one-way deathtraps with no hope of escape. Then, when their victims are incapacitated, they are transported (usually magically) to the flesh filcher's true lair and converted into "organ cattle".
Successful flesh filchers rapidly accumulate power compared to other undead, and with this power they tend to create their own personal, yet secret, armies of minions that they will order to act as sleeper agents, lair guards, cattle herds, and more. The lairs of flesh filchers are host to deadly and vastly unfair combinations of monsters and traps that are specifically designed to trick people into being incapacitated so they can be "collected". Going to a flesh filcher lair without an army is a bad idea.
In fact, the absolute best way to destroy a flesh filcher's lair is usually by attacking it remotely with either a magically-caused earthquake, tsunami, or some other nigh-unstoppable force of nature. Their lairs are, after all, designed for people to wander in, get caught, and turned into "organ cattle". So few that hunt for flesh filchers bother with actually raiding the place themselves.
A flesh filcher's main weakness is their addiction to the acquisition of more flesh. They hoard it, collect it, covet it, and are obsessed with it. Nearly every flesh filcher ever destroyed fell victim to a trap where some sample of flesh that was irresistible to them was the bait. Most times, the best way to destroy an exposed flesh filcher is to follow these steps:
Phase 1: Research
- Magically protect yourself from being detected by a flesh filcher or its minions before you begin to spy on them.
- Find the targeted flesh filcher.
- Gather as much information about a specific flesh filcher as you can while remaining as anonymous as possible.
- Determine based on your findings what the flesh filcher's current goals and machinations are.
- Determine what type of flesh that the flesh filcher currently craves.
Phase 2: Preparation
- Find a location where the flesh filcher will be sure to look or even be located.
- Find a sample of the kind of flesh that the flesh filcher currently desires.
- Ensure that the sample of flesh from step 2 is magically concealed from the flesh filcher until the time is right.
- Acquire a sphere of annihilation that is proportional in size to the targeted flesh filcher.
- Disguise the aforementioned sphere of annihilation magically to prevent its detection.
- Rig the sphere of annihilation at the aforementioned location from step 1 in such a way that when the flesh filcher moves towards the desired flesh, it will be unavoidably cast into the sphere of annihilation. Take precautions like ensuring that the flesh filcher cannot simply teleport away, plane-shift, or avoid coming into full contact with the sphere of annihilation.
- Set the trap to not fire if the flesh filcher sends some of its minions instead. The best way to do this is to guard the bait in such a way that only someone as powerful as a flesh filcher would be able to access it. The difficulty lies in guarding the bait sufficiently without drawing the attention of other beings or without making the flesh filcher suspicious.
- Prepare at least six contingency traps around the main trap in case the main trap fails.
Phase 3: Luring
- Lure and/or draw the attention of the flesh filcher to the trap that was crafted in Phase 2 while keeping your own presence and plans a secret.
- Wait for the flesh filcher's minions or vanguard to scout out the place and make sure that they do not become suspicious of your presence or intentions. But also take care not to let the scouts acquire the bait, otherwise the entire operation will fail.
- When the flesh filcher's minions have reason to believe that they are not capable of reaching the bait on their own and come to the conclusion that only their master is strong enough to acquire it, prepare your forces and make sure that none of them trigger the flesh filcher's suspicions.
Phase 4: Execution
- Expect an a vast quantity of highly varied and powerful minions to arrive before the flesh filcher and for them to attempt to secure the area and vicinity.
- Expect the powerful minions to covertly search the area (usually everything within a 5 mile radius of the location) with an inhuman degree of thoroughness and tenacity.
- Expect the powerful minions to create a series of major diversions that will draw local adventurers and enemies far away from where their master will be.
- Expect the overt arrival of a decoy flesh filcher that has been expertly and magically disguised to look like the flesh filcher. In the hopes of triggering any traps lying in wait.
- Expect the flesh filcher to arrive in a very brief, covert and easy-to-miss manner at any time during this process. Sometimes they will even disguise themselves as one of their own minions, as tiny insects, objects carried by other minions, or virtually anything they feel safe disguising themselves as.
- Once you locate the true flesh filcher, covertly ensure that they enter the trap area.
- When the flesh filcher is in place and the time is right, spring the trap. The flesh filcher should be cast into the sphere of annihilation and utterly destroyed. Failing that, ensure that the flesh filcher enters the paths of the contingency traps. Failing that, prepare for the fight of your life while the flesh filcher attempts to escape. If it can't escape and is forced to fight, you may need divine intervention.
Phase 5: Aftermath
- Thoroughly destroy all of a flesh filcher's minions to prevent them from somehow bringing the flesh filcher back. No exceptions.
- Trace the flesh filcher's path back to their lair and prevent another flesh filcher from taking it over by looting it, destroying it, or otherwise disabling it.