Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Mohrgs were the breakout stars of the 3.0 Monster Manual’s undead (no small feat, given that devourers, bodaks, and allips also muscled into that book amongst the usual wights, spectres, etc.).  Spawning undead are always scary, but intelligent spawning undead with paralyzing tongues/entrails take the cake. 

And the fact that I have to slash “tongue/entrails” really tells you everything you need to know about the appeal of this monster.  These are visually and viscerally terrifying undead.  Plus, they are the spirits of mass murderers and serial killers—among the worst humans whilst alive, now in death animated by their very love of killing.  Um, yikes.

Best of all, you can play them as brutes or schemers; they’re terrifying either way.  Brain Cortijo breaks down mohrgs in Undead Revisited, illustrating their potential as necrotic energy junkies (particularly young mohrgs) and undead minion-spawning masterminds (for older specimens).  And they could certainly handle class levels (going back to 3.5, I believe Dragon even featured articles for creating mohrg PCs).  In fact, the very fact that they are such physical nemeses makes them a refreshing change from all the undead spellcaster masterminds out there.

And who says a mohrg has to be the PCs’ enemy (at least at first)?  I can easily imagine playing a mohrg as a party’s Dexter-like ally: a bounty hunter, perhaps, who helps them out on tough cases—the evil they know who aids them against the greater evils they don’t.  Only later do they find out that he’s gone back to kill and reanimate everyone they’ve ever helped, making a mockery of all their good work and spawning an army out of their friends and neighbors, for nothing more than the sick joy of it.

There’s more to say about mohrgs, but I don’t have time to say it, so I’ll just shut up and get to the hooks, and let you say it in the comments!

Some say “Wild” Jamesun was the first gunslinger—a bounty hunter who saw the dread appeal of firearms before most men.  Others say he was a practiced hand with the crossbow long before the first blunderbuss was crafted.  What is not in question is that he and his posse of fast zombie spawn have decimated thorps and haciendas across the South—though now he aims to wound with his pistols rather than kill, so he can finish off his victims up close.

A debt collector in life, Marshall Lewel Fairborne is unusual in that he rose as a mohrg despite never having personally killed.  But he was so dogged, cold-hearted, and contemptuous in his hunt for debtors—aided by his magical paralyzing rod of office—and he blithely sent so many people to die of disease and privation in debtors’ prisons that his twisted spirit refused to rest in peace.  He still carries his rod of office (now matched with his paralyzing tongue) and he preys almost exclusively on the poor or bankrupt.

Undead battle in the streets of Camden—the result of a battle between a mob of mohrgs and the cultists of Shem-Zen the Binder.  The mohrgs are furious that the grave-robbing cultists have taken control of and experimented on their zombie minions, so their response has been to murder and reanimate even more innocents, sending them in waves to exhaust the clerics’ spells and resources.  Worse yet, the local citizens cannot flee the conflict—they are quarantined in the Common Quarter due to an outbreak of yellow pox—and only truly brave or mad heroes can enter the ghetto and save the trapped populace.

Pathfinder Bestiary 208

I’ll never forget an early installment of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror series that featured a shaman who went to kiss his lover, only to have her tongue revealed as a cursed gigantic tapeworm sent by a rival.  Mohrgs have a similarly delicious squick factor.

Also, the paralyzing rod above?  That’s actually not far from real life.  Patrick O’Brian’s obsessively researched Aubrey-Maturin series has several scenes with England’s Napoleon-era debt collectors, whom the law dictated debtors could not flee once the collectors touched them with their staves of office.

I didn’t spend much time with the WotC website, but when I did I thought the “Elite Opponents” column was great—a lesson in using templates to create unexpected takes on favorite monsters (or bold new monsters entirely with old monster stats secretly under the hood).  Here’s the mohrg entry, but be sure to browse the whole list.

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