Creature Feature: Corpse Crawler

Corpse Crawler CR 8

The pile of corpse parts pulls itself together, rising into a shuffling mass of limbs and bones as its many faces contort in rage.

XP 4,800
NE Large undead
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., [sense]; Perception +14


HP 125
EAC 24, KAC 26
Fort +10, Ref +12, Will +9
Immunities undead immunities


Speed 40 ft.
Melee claw +19 (3d4+14 S)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.


Str +6, Dex +4, Con -, Int +2, Wis +1, Cha +0
Skills Stealth +21, Athletics +16
Languages Common and 2 others it knew in life (cannot speak)
SQ unliving, corpse assimilation, discorporate


Corpse Assimilation (Ex)

A corpse crawler can add body parts and entire corpses to itself to repair damage. Assimilating a corpse takes a full round action, granting the corpse crawler both 1 temporary hit point for every hit die the creature had in life and fast healing 1 for five rounds. A corpse crawler that gain a number of temporary hit points in this manner equal to its hit point maximum permanently gains the advanced template. 

Discorporate (Su)

As a move action a corpse crawler can split apart into a number of zombies whose total CR equals that of the original corpse crawler, with its current hit points divided among the zombies. Adjacent zombies can remerge as a free action into a corpse crawler with a hit point total equal to the sum of the integrated zombies.


Environment Any
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3-5)

Not everyone is capable of making the transition to undeath on their own. Sometimes a body is too mangled to form a sustainable creature, even when powered by negative energy and hate, but there is a way for even such ruined forms to persist. When enough beings are killed in close proximity and time to one another in such a way that most or all of them are too damaged to function, the bodies may press and fuse together into the undead amalgamation known as a corpse crawler.

Due to the nature of how corpse crawlers come about, they are often found on battlefields where weapons tear soldiers to pieces en masse. The quantity of available bodies coupled with the violent nature of their deaths can create dozens of corpse crawlers every day in areas with a particularly high casualty rate. Reactions to the shambling creatures varies from truces to eliminate the mutual threat, to attempting to corral them towards the other side as mindless weapons. This is not, however, the only situation in which they may arise. Particularly brutal serial killers may find they’ve created a corpse crawler during a rampage, and there’s at least one recorded instance of such a creature being kept as both a pet and muscle by its unwitting creator. Disasters that kill large numbers can also cause them, and certain extremist groups have taken to infecting their bombs with necromantic energy in hopes of creating a monster in the wake of the blast as a secondary threat.

Trying to talk to or reason with a corpse crawler is a futile exercise. Formed from the broken bodies and minds of dozens of beings, they can do little more than howl broken fragments of words in various languages without comprehension for their meaning. Attempts at studying the minds of captured corpse crawlers has yielded little useful information, as their fragmented minds make telepathic reading all but impossible even to those dedicated to circumventing the natural undead immunities. What is known is that all corpse crawlers are driven by an unrelenting desire to feed, not eating their victims but rather merging the bodies into themselves as they discard the oldest and most damaged parts. Some theorize that this is an attempt to replace their broken components, an endless task as they must damage the bodies they hope to add to themselves. Others believe that this is merely an action by a desperate animal to stop its pain by finding new parts to take the burden and dilute the sensation. But most agree that their motivations are merely academic to the issue of the bloodshed that follows in their wake.

Still, not all corpse crawlers are nigh-mindless beasts. Some manage to retain enough of a mind from one of their component bodies for it to seize control over the whole creature, even after their own body has been discarded. Such crawlers are capable of far more cunning than most of their kind, setting up ambushes and traps for prey while wielding weapons in combat. Despite this capability for higher thinking they are still bound by their instinctive drive for new bodies, though they are often willing to strike up deals and bargains with those who can secure them access to a greater supply.

By far the greatest danger of corpse crawlers is their potential for versatility. Their habit of adding other bodies to themselves later has a habit of disturbing other spirits, resulting in ghosts, haunts, and other incorporeal undead following the crawler due to their bond with their bodies. As undead, the corpse crawlers themselves are generally ignored by their unwilling tagalongs, though living creatures who happen by are rarely¬† so lucky. The crawlers themselves never take notice of their new partners due to their lack of corporeal form, though they have no hesitation to consume a body killed by their phantasmal partners. On the rare occasions a ghost is able to perceive the corpse crawler as the cause of their plight they can serve as allies in battle to those who would see the creature dead, helping guide them to the creature’s weaknesses in an attempt to secure their own freedom. On other occasions, a corpse crawler may include parts from more dangerous species, gaining potent new abilities depending on these appendages. Some gain new senses, attacks, or even entire spell-like abilities from such additions, making them even more threatening until those parts are inevitably discarded. In cases of intelligent corpse crawlers, however, they will keep useful parts even long after they would normally have dispensed with them and may even seek out replacements when they inevitably fail.

About nwright

A freelance writer for the Open Gaming website who looks forward to building plots out of monster entries for you to enjoy as a player or DM.

View all posts by nwright →

Submit a Comment