Dread Captain Lich

The undying Pirate Lords bound to sail the sea eternal, masters of all that sails, sinks, or swims


  Unstoppable. Undying. Nightmarish. All these words and more are used to describe one of the most feared Lich variants the world over - the insidious and ever-damnable Dread Captain, an oceanic Lich whose blackened, vile soul is split equally among all those who sail beneath its flag, turning it into an undying captain whose strength is legion. The mere act of killing one, many say, is futility itself - so long as the ship upon which it is bound sails the seas, there will always be a Dread Captain to sail it, as the crew of the former Dread Captain will band together to replace their fallen captain in short order if the ship itself is not slain. They have a myriad of oceanic abilities that make them a terror to all who sail the seas, which is only compounded by the fact that, on Zheng-Kitar, they are frequently associated with and seen sailing beneath the flag of The Ramshackle - a fact which earns them no trust nor favors from the land of Zheng-Kitar nor its people.   Their origins, in truth, are unclear - the fact that Dread Captains exist that are unbound to The Ramshackle imply to many that the true origins of this insidious transformation might lie beyond the bounds of that undying fleet of the damned. But whether these undying oceanic liches were originally born from the blessings of a far-off Yema God of Piracy, the unique machinations of an ancient sailor who wished to sail the seas eternally, or some other ancient method which has been lost to time, the Dread Captain stands as one of the most unique varieties of Lich to exist in the world today - champions of the Pirate Way, who use their nefarious powers to live eternal and bind others into service beneath their flags that they might serve their new captain's goals.  


  CR: Same as base creature + 2   Alignment: Any Chaotic   Type: The creature's type changes to undead, with the augmented and water subtypes. Do not recalculate BAB, saves, or skill ranks.   Senses: A Dread Captain gains Darkvision 60ft.   Aura: A Dread Captain emanates the following aura:  

Unholy Control Aura(Su)

The Dread Captain can control ships and all oceanic vehicles within one mile as if they were extensions of its own body - this requires no action when used to control its own vessel, and the Dread Captain can attempt to hijack control of another oceanic vehicle within its radius that it can see by making opposed Profession Sailor checks with the captain of that vessel. A Dread Captain can control its ship at will so long as it remains within this radius, and can detect the presence of all other oceanic vehicles within this radius barring magic of at least 5th level designed to block divination. All creatures within this aura take a -4 to saves made versus curses. Within 30ft of a Dread Captain, any creature attempting to use positive energy must beat the Dread captain's SR or contract the Black Spot spell with no save and lose the channel, spell or source of the positive energy.
  Armor Class: A Dread Captain gains +4 to their natural armor bonus. Unlike normal Natural Armor, this applies to firearm touch attacks.   Hit Dice: Change all of the creature’s racial Hit Dice to d8s. All Hit Dice derived from class levels remain unchanged. As undead, Dread Captains use their Charisma modifiers to determine bonus hit points (instead of Constitution).   Speed: A Dread Captain gains a swim speed equal to double their base land speed.   Defensive Abilities: A Dread Captain gains channel resistance +4; DR 10/Adamantine and Magic; and immunity to cold and electricity. A Dread Captain also gains spell resistance equal to its augmented CR + 11 and fast healing 5. The Dread Captain also gains the following defensive ability:  

Ship Rejuvenation(Su)

While on board their own personal Dread Ship(Bound to them when they become a Dread Captain), a Dread Captain gains regeneration 5 that cannot be suppressed by any means and will regenerate even if disintegrated, obliterated, or otherwise destroyed. If they fail a save that would kill or destroy them instantly, they instead return from death 3 rounds later with full HP. If the Dread Captain is destroyed away from their ship without destroying either the Dread Ship or their Heart they reform at the Helm 1d10 Hours later at full health.

Oceanic Reliance(Su)

A Dread Captain is staggered any time they are more than a mile away from a sufficiently large body of water(GM Discretion), or their Dread Ship itself.
  Attacks: A Dread Captain gains a slam attack if the base creature didn’t have one. Damage for the slam depends on the Dread Captain size.   Special Attacks: A Dread Captain gains the special attacks described below. Save DCs are equal to 10 + 1/2 lich’s HD + lich’s Cha modifier unless otherwise noted.  

Touch of Void(Su)

Any weapon a Dread Captain wields seethes with energy, and deals an additional 1d6 points of Negative energy and cold damage for every 4 Hit Dice the Dread Captain has. This additional damage is both cold and negative energy and functions as whatever is more beneficial at the time. This extra damage may be used without a weapon as a melee touch attack.

Undersea Curses(Sp)

A Dread Captain may cast some nautical curse - 3 times a day they may cast the spells Black Spot, Black Mark or Old Salt's Curse as spell like abilities with a Caster Level equal to their HD. They can invert the effect of Old Salt’s Curse, penalizing the target as normal for being on land more than a mile from the shore inland instead of the normal effects of the spell.

Undead Mastery(Su)

As a standard action, a Dread Captain can attempt to bend any undead creature within 50 feet of itself to its unholy will. The targeted undead must succeed at a Will save or fall under the Dread Captain's control. Mindless undead recieve no save for this ability. This control is permanent for unintelligent undead, though an undead with an Intelligence score is allowed an additional save every day to break free from the Dread Captain's control. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected again by the same Dread Captain's Undead Mastery ability for 24 hours. A Dread Captain can control 5 Hit Dice of undead creatures for every Hit Die it has. If the Dread Captain exceeds this number, the excess from earlier uses of the ability becomes uncontrolled, as per animate dead.
Special Qualities: A Dread Captain additionally gains the following abilities:

Dread Ship(Su)

On top of serving as the focus for their reanimation, a Dread Captain's ship gains a couple of powerful magic effects: The Dread Ship and all creatures on it are immune to all weather effects, unless brought forth by a wish, miracle, or similarly powerful magic. The ship no longer requires any propulsion, sailing along at a steady pace. A Dread Captain’s ship is also incredibly hard to destroy - Creatures attempting to destroy it often find it to be much easier to simply purify the ship of its foul curse first. A Dread ship has hardness 20 and shares the Dread Captain's defensive abilities (Besides those from the Undead Type) and is treated as undead for positive and negative energy. The Dread Ship may only be destroyed if it is reduced to 0 hit points and hit by either a channel positive energy from on board the ship or any effect that would destroy objects instantly (Like disintegrate). Purifying the enchantment requires casting a Break enchantment spell inside a consecrate spell on the ship; a Dread Ship’s Spell Resistance applies to the break enchantment spell. Purifying the Dread Ship immediately destroys the Dread Captain and revokes all benefits the ship gained by being a Dread ship (but not enchantments from before the Dread Captain's ascent.   A Dread Ship under the command of a Dread Captain gains the ability to sink itself at the Dread Captain's command, resurfacing later. This takes a full round and functions as greater teleport to any other body of water big enough to fit the ship under the surface, affecting the ship and any creature, willing or unwilling, on board without a save. Reappearing may be delayed up to 1 day per HD at the Captain's discretion, during this time the ship and creatures still exists although it can neither be found nor interacted with unless it is by creatures affected by the teleport.

A Pirate's Life(Su)

A Dread Captain is Immune to any effect that would control undead.

Captain's Call(Su)

All Undead creatures under the Dread Captain's command gain a swim speed equal to their base land speed, ranks equal to their HD in Profession Sailor (and the ability to make these checks regardless of intelligence) and gain the benefits of the Dread Captain's Ship Rejuvenation ability, reducing the regeneration to 1 and they do not return from death by effects that destroy them instantly and extending the time to reform to 1d10 days when slain away from the ship itself. Any effect that would stop creatures rising as undead applied to the corpse of these Undead Creatures during the reform time causes the undead to lose these benefits and immediately be destroyed permanently (unless they otherwise have features that would prevent that). Additionally, when the Dread Captain or any creature under its command summon aquatic creatures they may add any undead template the animate dead spell could normally apply. These summoned creatures gain all the usual benefits of Captains Call for the duration, treating any space within 120ft of the Dread ship as being on the Dread ship.


Any living creature reduced to 0 aboard the Dread ship or that makes a willing pledge to serve the Dread Captain while aboard its ship rises 1d4 rounds later as a Fast Zombie under the Dread Captain's command as if by Animate Dead. This can be stopped by healing a creature above 0 before they rise, though the creature is slain instantly if they are allowed to rise as a Fast Zombie. If the Dread pirate has no HD left in Animate dead’s control they can immediately affect them with their Undead Mastery ability. The new undead retains their intelligence and class levels, though it automatically fails all saves against the Dread Captain's Undead Mastery ability as if it were mindless. The Dread Captain may free these creatures at will. Freed creatures immediately return to life unless they would now exceed their lifespan counting the time under this effect, instead immediately being destroyed if this would put them over thier maximum lifespan. The moment a Dread Captain is properly destroyed all creatures are immediately freed. At a Dread Captain's discretion, a creature may be freed from service in such a way that it begins aging normally, counting none of its years of service towards its maximum lifespan - though it cannot be forced to do this, and any creatures released through other means are aged normally, dying if such an aging effect would bring them over their maximum health.   Additionally, if a Dread Captain is slain, any willing members of its crew are not released from undead service - instead, all willing crewmembers can gather together in a ritual that takes 1d4 months to replace their fallen captain with one from among their own numbers. During this time, the ship falls underwater and does not resurface until the ritual finishes and a new captain is found - the only way to prevent this is by destroying the ship itself after the Captain is slain through appropriate means within 1 minute, as after this minute has passed the ship will sink into the depths as the willing crew begin the ritual to decide a new captain. Once the ritual has started and the ship has sunk, the ship and the crew members cannot be harmed until a new captain has been created.
Abilities: Dex +4, Int +2, Wis +4, Cha +4. As an undead creature, a Dread Captain has no Constitution score.   Skills: Dread Captains gain a +8 racial bonus on Intimidate, Perception, and Profession Sailor checks.   Feats: Dread Captains gain Improved Initiative and Toughness as bonus feats.  

Creating a Ramshackled Dread Captain

“Ramshackled Dread Captain” is an acquired template that can be added to any Dread Captain bound to the undead will of The Ramshackle (referred to hereafter as the base creature). A Ramshackle Dread Captain uses the base creature’s statistics and abilities except as noted here.  
NOTE: The abilities listed below are not exhaustive - many likely remain incomplete, poorly or incorrectly described, or are altogether unknown from the list of abilities the Ramshackled Dread Captains recieve, as research into the ranks of the Ramshackled Dread Captains is glacial at best, and incredibly dangerous; thus, the below abilities are described from what has been seen and noted from previous encounters with them across the ages.
  CR: Same as base creature +2.   Alignment: Any Evil.   Special Qualities: A Ramshackled Dread Captain gains (or modifies) the following abilities or qualities.  

Roiling Waters

All water within one mile of a Ramshackled Dread Ship is considered rough and stormy regardless of its normal state, moving at speeds that fluctuate but often exceed 70mph(112km/h) - additionally, once a day as a full-round action, a Ramshackled Dread ship can generate an oceanic whirlpool 100ft wide per HD of the ship's captain. The Dread Ship itself and all ships of The Ramshackle are immune to these inclement waters.

True Terror

All creatures on within 30ft of a Ramshackled Dread Captain lose all immunities to fear, and can be inflicted with fear even if they would be immune to fear OR mind-affecting effects in general. As a standard action that does not provoke AoO, a Ramshackled Dread Captain can reach into the memory of a living creature it can see and create an undead of varying type(Proportional to the strength the creature had in life) that resembles a fallen family member or close friend the living being remembers fondly. The target from whose memory this creature came must succeed on a Will save to take hostile action against this newly risen undead that wears the face of a fallen ally, though this effect does not break if the undead takes hostile action against them.

Phantom Ship(Su)

The power of the ramshackle boosts the ship's unholy power - another spell is required to purify the ship aside from just Break Enchantment. This spell is entirely dependent on the Ship (or Dread Captain), and should be decided upon by the GM to represent the Ramshackled Dread Captain's unique legacy, history, and potentially weaknesses or strengths. This link causes a vulnerability in the curse of the ramshackle, however - if the ship is ever purified, the previously unholy ship is unbound and whole once more, dragging the ship out of reach of the necromantic power of The Ramshackle much like salvaging a wreck would; Guaranteeing any crew that served under this ship a release from the ramshackle, returning their minds and souls to the lifestream as they were always supposed to.

Captain's Call(Su)

All Undead creatures under the Ramshackled Dread Captain's command are similarly bound to The Ramshackle, gaining the ability to cling to unlife and to synchronize unnaturally. This grants a telepathic link to the Dread Captain and all other undead under the same Dread Captain's command regardless of range. Any undead destroyed while in this link may delay the destruction for a single round, functioning as normal. This does not work if the effect is positive energy or would destroy the body entirely (Like disintegrate). If the Destruction is because of the death of the Ramshackled Dread Captain, They may linger for 1 minute instead. Once the grace period is over they are destroyed as normal for how they died.


A Ramshackled Dread Captain cannot free the creatures under its command at will. They are still freed if the Dread pirate is destroyed, but any not returned to life are eternally bound to The Ramshackle.   Any Undead under Press-gang often try to find a new Dread Captain to bind to this fate should their previous Captain be destroyed, as the Unholy power of The Ramshackle refuses to let go. Any living creature that died less than 1 minute ago may have their heart ripped out in a ritual requiring all remaining crew and taking one full minute - at the completion of this ritual, the target creature's heart immediately replaces the previous Dread Captain's Phylactery and the creature gains the Dread Captain Template, Gaining control over all undead the previous Dread captain controlled (Taking up the relevant control limits if available.). The New Dread captain may make a will save to resist falling under The Ramshackle's command (and therefore not gaining the Ramshackled Dread Captain’s Template modifications).

The Dread Captain's Phylactery

The Dread Captain, as a variant of a lich, has its own unique kind of phylactery: nothing less than the still beating heart of the Dread Captain themselves, severed from the body to act as their anchor to unlife. The transformation to turn one's own heart into the Phylactery required to ascend into Dread Captain status should be of similar complication and cost a similar amount to the normal Lich transformation - but once transformed, unlike a normal Lich a Dread Captain often stores its Phylactery as far away from itself as possible - keeping it hidden, safe, and secure from any who would seek to destroy them, as for all their immense power their heart is their most critical weakness. However, most Dread Captains keep knowledge of its location either in their minds or on their person, to ensure it is not entirely unguarded.   If this heart is ever pierced through, it instantly destroys the Dread Captain completely and utterly, and so can often be used to coerce them should it be captured by a nefarious third party using a suitably magical containment vessel - one more reason the Dread Captains tend to be so protective of them.


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