Thursday, December 29, 2011


Judging by published Pathfinder adventures, the draugr may be the most popular monster in the Bestiary 2.  This isn’t a surprise.  Certain deaths are so horrible that they seem to deserve their own monsters, and death by drowning is clearly one.  The nausea-causing draugrs are also an excuse to go whole hog with the gory descriptions.  “Their attacks smear rancid flesh, rotting seaweed, and swaths of vermin on whatever they hit,” says the Bestiary 2 (and thanks to the Pirates of the Caribbean series, players have no trouble connecting those dots in their imaginations).

The templars of Dol Imri are known as much for their banking system as for their skill in fighting infidels.  When one of the Templar Knights’ lost treasure ships returns as a ghost ship, the sailors and paladins have all become draugrs, while the paladins’ Master is now a draugr captain wreathed in green obscuring mist.

Sages say the plains of the Middle Passage were once a vast inland sea.  No human eye witnessed that epoch, but the theory would explain the strange fossil fish sometimes unearthed in farmers’ fields there—as well as the elven draugrs that sometimes erupt from the soil to attack homesteaders, wielding magical harpoons and still rotting of fish despite now being thousands of miles from the water.

Certain dark priests can summon forth draugrs.  The rival sects of Urodel, the Marsh Queen, and Hungry Jinn, the spirit of shipwrecks, send draugr minions against each other in their never-ending war of attrition, with poor coastal communities caught in the middle.

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 110


  1. Before this, I only knew of draugr from the Elder Scrolls series of games, where they’re just undead Nords rising in their barrow-tombs. In real-world Germanic/Norse mythology, they could arise from any dead body, though often from these not laid out properly, or from particularly greedy or evil people, and retained their skill and abilities from their living days.

    But their origins in Norse mythology does easily lead to a type of undead arising from sunken ships, what with all the time the Scandinavians spent on the water. Of course, anyone looking to run an adventure with draugr (plural draugar) should see THE FOG (the 1980 original, not the 2005 remake), which that first adventure seed seems to reference. (Actually, everyone should see THE FOG, it’s just a great horror movie.)

  2. I must admit that I was a little bit disappointed by the PF draugr when I first found them. Like, the original Norse tales told stories similar in style to those of mummies and vampires.

    We're talking monsters that turn into mists causing people and animals to go so insane they die, grow to massive size to rend and devour Nords like french fries, and control the weather here.

    That said, I've grown more relaxed about it all. The new Scandinavian version seems to be their inspiration this go-around, and it helps make them their own thing.

    1. Inspired to reread the passage in Bestiary 2, I noticed that Draugr Captains "usually have additional class levels, USUALLY as barbarians, fighters, and rogues."

      I need to remember that the easy answer to any monster that's "too mundane" or "too underwhelming" is to chuck character levels at it. In this case, sorcerer sounds pretty good.