Stalker, the Hateful Shadow

Stalker is not fully a part of any goblinoid pantheon,  but is propitiated in many local pantheons as a god of death, particularly amongst the bugbears. It seeks nothing but death and revenge, hunting after all the goblinoid races and anything else that lives in the dark places. Its rare followers operate in secret, plotting revenge and murder upon their personal enemies. Enjoy!

Stalker (PDF Version)
(The Hateful Shadow, the Cold Death, the Devourer of Souls, Bane of Meriadar)
Demipower of the Planes, NE

Portfolio:  Hate, death, cold, revenge, the dangers that lurk under the earth
Aliases:  None
Domain Name:  Wanders
Superior:  None
Allies:  Skiggaret
Foes:  Meriadar, everyone else
Symbol:  Creeping shadow
Wor. Align.:  CN, LE, NE, CE

Stalker (STAW-ker), a primordial, chthonic being related to the root stock of all the goblinoid races and deities, is a baleful entity with a deep and abiding hatred of all life. It is known as the Hateful Shadow, and believed to haunt the darkest places in the earth, waiting to slay any beings it catches. It represents in the minds of goblinoids the cold stillness of ignominious death and secret murder, and the Cold Death is believed to devour the souls of such slayings. Finally, it is the Devourer of Souls, hoping to satiate its ravenous hunger for the lives and souls of any it catches. Death and conflict strengthen it and its power, and it seems through this relationship it sustains itself despite the small number of followers it has.

Stalker seeks endless revenge against the goblinoids and their gods for driving him from his realm in the depths of pre-history. It hates them all, but the strength of Gruumsh and Maglubiyet and their pantheons keeps his wrath focused on the lesser races of the bugbears, kobolds, mongrelmen, and gnolls. However, the orcs and goblins have not forgotten the Hateful Shadow, and it features in many of their oldest traditions. The gods of the goblinkin seem to leave it be, possibly because it weeds out the weakest members, and the death and terror it brings drives conflicts which make the races stronger yet, at least to those powers’ eyes. Only with the mad bugbear god Skiggaret does it have any sort of tolerance, although they do not work together. Many sages of divine matters suspect this relationship may be at the heart of the Deranged One’s madness. In general, the Cold Death considers all other deities his enemies, but its greatest hatred is reserved for Meriadar, whose goal is the polar opposite of Stalker’s: instilling within the goblinoid races a respect for life and a tolerance of pain and suffering.

Stalker’s sends its avatar to prey upon any substantially weakened community, such as after a mass battle or one suffering the ravages of plague. The gods of the various goblinoid pantheons allow “Stalker’s share” of souls after such events, but will move to turn the Cold Death away if it gets too greedy. Otherwise, it keeps its avatar roaming the underdarks of the various Prime Material worlds, consuming lone individuals it encounters and instigating monsters into destructive rampages.

Stalker’s Avatar (Priest 24)
Stalker takes the form of a large slow shadow that fluctuates between two and twenty feet in length, as it desires. It casts spells from any sphere, but only uses harmful or reversed versions of spells.

AC −1; MV Fl 30 (MC: A); HP 129; THAC0 6; #AT 1
Dmg 2d8 + 7 (claw, +7 Str bonus) + 1d8 (chill)
MR 30%; SZ Varies (2–20 feet)
Str 19, Dex 17, Con 17, Int 18, Wis 15, Cha 1 (all races)
Spells P: 11/10/9/9/9/8/3
Saves PPDM 2; RSW 6; PP 5; BW 8; Sp 7

Special Att/Def: Stalker attacks with a single swipe of a shadowy claw that it can extrude from any point on its body. This claw deals 2d8 points of damage, plus its Strength bonus, and 1d8 additional points of chilling damage. The Hateful Shadow also radiates fear and cold within ten feet of its body; any creature entering this area suffers 1d8 points of damage (no save) and must make a saving throw vs. wands or flee in terror (as a wand of fear). It can cast any cold-based priest or wizard spell once per day, at the 18th level of experience.

Stalker is immune to nonmagical weapons and suffers half damage from blunt weapons, and is immune to all fear, illusions, mind-affecting spells, caused wounds, paralyzation, gas attacks, energy drains, and symbols. The Cold Death can absorb 50 hit points of cold damage per day without being harmed, and reflect the attacks as a cone of cold dealing the same amount of damage.

Other Manifestations
Stalker ignores his followers almost entirely. He often sends dangerous subterranean monsters against tribes of goblinoids on a whim, purely to enjoy the death and pain they cause. He particularly loves to send servitor beasts like bulettes, hook horrors, purple worms, and similar creatures to terrorize tribes that have suffered defeats and setbacks, to further erode morale and confidence.

The Cold Death works his will primarily through shadows, slow shadows, revenants wraiths, and spectres, but also bodak, bulettes, darklore, frost salamanders, hook horrors, ice fundamentals, ice mephits, incarnates of anger, invisible stalkers, jellies, negative energy elementals, nightmares, oozes, puddings, purple worms, shadow dragons, shadow hounds, slimes, and yeth hounds. It never shows favor or disfavor towards its priests through discoveries of any kind, but those priests that fail or disappoint it often face attacks from shadows or slow shadows.

The Church
Clergy:                      Specialty priests, mystics, shamans
Clergy’s Align.:      NE, CE
Turn Undead:           SP: No, Mys: No, Sha: No
Cmnd. Undead:         SP: Special, Mys: No, Sha: Special

All specialty priests, mystics, and shamans of Stalker receive religion (goblinoid) as a bonus nonweapon proficiency. Specialty priests and shamans have no power over corporeal undead; they can only control non-corporeal varieties, such as wraiths and spectres. They can control shadows and slow shadows as if they were two levels higher.

Stalker’s priesthood is deeply feared by most races aware of its existence. They are extremely rare and stay hidden within any communities they are members of, carrying out their rites and their god’s will in secret. They delight in performing secret and magical murder, and often any unusual or mysterious detrimental events suffered by a goblinoid tribe will be blamed on Stalker or his followers. They do not act stupidly or arbitrarily, as the priests are always conscious of risking detection. Any cult discovered in a community will immediately be hunted down and killed or driven off. Despite this fear and aversion to the cult of the Cold Death, goblinoid communities often sacrifice prisoners after battle, or incinerate a portion of the dead, as “Stalker’s Share,” sending him the souls to be devoured. They do this to appease him and his cult, hoping they will turn his attentions away from their communities.

The Hateful Shadow’s clergy builds no permanent temples or shrines in order to maintain secrecy and avoid discovery. They do build maintain small portable altars that are easily hidden or camouflaged; in particular, they often have small stone altars that can be hidden within tables or chairs in their abodes. Such altars are never uniform in design, as to do so could allow others to use their appearance to ferret out the cults of the Cold Death. Priests perform their services away from their communities, often on random nights, preferring the darkness of caves and wooded hollows.

The priesthood of Stalker has no hierarchy. Full priests feel a drive to take on a novice once they reach middle age, and training typically takes two years; novices can be of any age when called to service. When a novice receives an omen from the Hateful Shadow that they are ready to become a full priest, they are expected to murder their master as an offering and a sign of devotion. Occasionally, elder priests will drive their novices away before this murder, and it is in this way that the priesthood grows. No individual titles are used by the priests, but fearful goblinoids will occasionally bestow such upon them, such as the Hand of Death or the Baneful Shadow. The priesthood itself is known as the Shadowed Doom, and specialty priests are called malevolors. Lay followers are not always found within the cults; generally only in large communities, but there will never be more than two priests. Stalker’s clergy is composed primarily of shamans (56%) and a smaller contingent of specialty priests (38%); mystics (6%) make up the remainder. Stalker cares little about the gender of his priests, but even so, few females are called to his hateful service (9%). Bugbears, more than any other race, are drawn to the service of the Cold Death (33%), followed by goblins, hobgoblins, and their kin (18%), kobolds and urds (13%), orcs and their kin (9%), demihumans and humans (6%), ogres (4%), gnolls and flinds (3%), and other races (such as giants, lizard men, etc.; 14%).

Dogma: All life ends in the chill of death, when matters little, so please the Devourer of Souls by bringing it early. Help the icy hand of the Hateful Shadow grip the hearts of those you hate. The Cold Death waits in the shadows beneath the earth; help it achieve its goal of revenge on the creatures that disturbed its sleep so long ago.

Day-to-Day Activities: Followers of Stalker spend their time scheming harsh revenge upon those they consider their enemies for anything from minor slights to major affronts. They maintain a façade for the people around them that match the expectations for one in their position, but inside they hold a seething hatred of most, if not all, other beings. They delight in using spells, poisons, and strangulation to bring death in secret; they are meticulous about covering their tracks and try to keep such murders mysterious.

Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: Stalker’s cult observes no formal holy days. They hold rites before major battles in hopes of drawing the eye of the Hateful Shadow to harvest souls from the battle. After large battles that have a high casualty count, they pray to their deity to come and take his share of the souls.

The sole ceremony held publicly by goblinoid tribes, and the only known time they propitiate the Cold Death, is a very rare ritual dance known as the Dance of Death’s Promise. Such a dance is typically utilized by a severely weakened tribe faced with an imminent battle against a much stronger foe. The dancers call for Stalker’s aid in battle, promising it many souls to devour. The dancers, who are typically shamans or influential members of the tribe, dance for at least a full day and night, sealing the promise with their deaths from terminal exhaustion.

Major Centers of Worship: As the cult of the Cold Death does not build permanent shrines or temples, nor do they observe locations of religious significance, there are no major holy sites dedicated to Stalker.

Affiliated Orders: Stalker’s cult is too small and secretive to have any martial or monastic orders.

Priestly Vestments: When performing ceremonies dedicated to the Hateful Shadow, priests wear plain, voluminous black robes with deep cowls. These robes are always carefully hidden when not in use, lest anyone else find them. The holy symbol used by the priests is an item taken from their first murder victim. This can be any durable item at all, including bones.

Adventuring Garb: When not performing their secret rites, priests of Stalker wear the normal clothing and gear for their position within the community. They keep nothing on their person that could identify them as followers of Stalker, as their holy symbols are usually nondescript.

Specialty Priests (Malevolors)
Requirements:          Constitution 12, Wisdom 9
Prime Req.:                Constitution, Wisdom
Alignment:                NE, CE
Weapons:                   Same as thieves, plus mace, morning star, hand axe, and battle axe
Armor:                       Any up to chain, no shield
Major Spheres:         All, charm, combat, elemental air, elemental earth, elemental water, healing (reversed), necromancy (reversed), sun (reversed), weather
Minor Spheres:         Creation, divination, protection
Magical Items:         As clerics
Req. Profs:                Survival (choose type for homeland)
Bonus Profs:             Blind-fighting

  • Malevolors may be of any intelligent race, although most malevolors are bugbears, goblins, or hobgoblins.
  • Malevolors are not allowed to multiclass.
  • Malevolors can cast chill touch (as the 1st-level wizard spell) once per day per level.
  • Malevolors can cast numbing ray (as the 1st-level priest spell) or frostshroud (as the 1st-level wizard spell) once per day.
  • At 2nd level, malevolors can cast choke (as the 2nd-level wizard spell) or frost blade (as the 2nd-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 5th level, malevolors can cast feign death (as the 3rd-level priest spell), or freezing fog (as the 3rd-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 8th level, malevolors can cast enervation (as the 4th-level wizard spell) or the chill version of fire shield (as the 4th-level wizard spell) once per day.
  • At 11th level, malevolors can cast cone of cold (as the 5th-level wizard spell) once per day.
  • At 15th level, malevolors can cast blue earth (as the 7th-level priest spell), suffocate (as the 7th-level wizard spell), or symbol of death (as the 7th-level priest spell) once per day.

Stalkerite Spells
In addition to the spell listed below, priests of the Cold Death can cast the 1st-level priest spell detect living, detailed in Powers and Pantheons in the entry for Jergal.

1st Level
Numbing Ray (Pr 1; Necromancy)
Sphere:                    Necromantic
Range:                     10 yds. + 5 yds./level
Components:           V, S
Duration:                 1 rd./2 levels
Casting Time:          4
Area of Effect:         1 creature
Saving Throw:        Neg.

With this spell, the caster causes a chilling numbness in the limbs of a victim, reducing their motor skills. Only animal life can be affected (humans, humanoids, fish, insects, etc.); plant-based and rock based creatures are not affected, nor are constructs or undead. If a creature targeted by this spell fails their saving throw, they suffer a −1 penalty to all attack rolls, Armor Class, Dexterity checks, and any physical proficiency checks, as well as a −5% penalty to physical thief skills like picking locks or climbing walls. In addition, they suffer a 25% movement penalty (creatures with a movement rate of 12 would be restricted to a rate of 9). At 7th level, the penalties to physical checks and attack rolls are doubled, and creatures using a non-magical shield lose the Armor Class benefit from it.

Any creature that spends a round rubbing their numbed limbs gains a new save to throw off the effects of this spell.

2nd Level
Frost Blade (Pr 2; Evocation)
Sphere:                    Elemental Air, Weather
Range:                     0
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 4 rds. + 1 rd./2 levels
Casting Time:          4
Area of Effect:         3-ft. long blade
Saving Throw:        Special

With this spell, the caster causes a solid field of ice-cold frost to spring forth from his hand, about the size of a long sword. Any successful hit with the frost blade deals 1d4+4 points of cold damage, with an additional +4 bonus if the creature is especially vulnerable to cold. In addition, creatures hit must make a saving throw vs. paralysis or become numbed by the chill; they suffer a non-cumulative -1 penalty to attack, damage, and armor class. Undead and creatures protected from cold only 1d2+2 points of damage, and are immune to the numbing effect of the blade. Cold-dwelling or using creatures are completely immune to the effects of the frost blade. This blade does not count as a magical weapon for determining what creatures it can affect, nor does it work underwater.

In addition to the caster’s holy symbol, the spell requires a leaf of wintergreen as a material component.

3rd Level
Freezing Fog (Pr 3; Alteration)
Sphere:                    Elemental Air, Weather
Range:                     40 yds.
Components:           V, S
Duration:                 1d4 rds. + 1rd./level
Casting Time:          6
Area of Effect:         One 10-ft. cube/level
Saving Throw:        Special

The freezing fog spell creates a large stationary fog bank of freezing vapor, filling a volume of ten cubic feet per level. Like the fog cloud spell, all vision within this cloud is reduced to two feet. Any creatures caught within this fog bank suffer 1d4 points of freezing damage, plus 1 point per round that the fog has persisted; fire-based or dwelling creatures (fire elementals, salamanders, etc.) take double damage from the cold. In addition, every round a creature is within the fog, they must make a saving throw vs. paralysis or become numb from the cold, and suffer a cumulative −1 penalty to attack rolls and damage for each failed save. This numbness lasts for five rounds after leaving the fog, although returning to the fog before the expiration immediately resets it.

The material component for this spell is a handful of crushed quartz.

7th Level
Blue Earth (Pr 7; Alteration, Evocation)
Sphere:                    Elemental Earth, Necromantic
Range:                     0
Components:           S, M
Duration:                 Instantaneous
Casting Time:          1 round
Area of Effect:         20-ft. radius/level
Saving Throw:        None

When a priest casts this spell, the ground upon which he stands is blighted with a deadly supernatural chill. The chill affects only a 20-foot radius around the caster the first round; however, the edges of its effect begins to spread outward in a slow ripple at a movement rate of 12, until the maximum area of effect is reached (20-foot horizontal radius/level).

In the wake of the expanding spell effect, the ground and everything standing, growing, or constructed upon the ground is sheathed in a micro-thin layer of deadly cold ice, excepting the caster. The caster must remain still during the initial casting; however, once the spell is cast, he may move behind the dangerous “cold front” of the spell in perfect safety, allowing for the slippery surface that must be navigated. The contents of structures with solid walls of two or more feet in thickness are unaffected (unless a door is open), and the heights of structures or trees 30 or more feet tall are also unaffected by the icy coating.

Brittle inanimate objects within the area of effect must save vs. cold on the Item Saving Throw Table at the DM’s discretion or shatter with the sudden plunge in temperature. Plants are killed outright, trees taller than 30 feet survive, and plant monsters suffer 6d6+6 points of damage. Living beings that fail to outrace the spreading area of effect also take 6d6+6 points of cold damage with no saving throw. Living beings (and plants) killed by this cold front stand frozen, and have a 25% chance of shattering if treated roughly within one minute of the wave’s passage.

Once the initial wave of cold has passed, the danger of freezing is gone. Those venturing into the slowly melting area of effect need only take precautions against slipping upon the incredibly slick surface. (A successful Dexterity check is required to maintain footing for each round of melee that occurs upon this icy surface.)

The material component for this spell is a black diamond worth at least 200 gp.

One Response to Stalker, the Hateful Shadow

  1. […] Sources: DMGR4 Monster Mythology (TSR2128), Stalker, the Hateful Shadow on AuldDragon’s AD&D Blog […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *