Dullahan (3.5e Monster)
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|The Dullahan rides for its prey.|
Long ago, ancient and forgotten pagan Gods controlled the fate of many souls. When such a fated soul was destined to shed its fleshly body, a rider set out from the Unseelie court to claim it in the name of its masters. It was therefore said that wherever the rider dismounted and called out a name, a life would be taken.
The Dullahan, referred to as gan ceann (without a head) in the Seelie tongue, is a fearsome fey that is oft mistakenly considered an undead by many misinformed scholars of the occult. They are warriors garbed in weathered armor and old cloaks, riding fearsome black horses whose eyes glow a fiendish crimson. A Dullahan is what results when a higher feykin is ritualistically beheaded with a golden hatchet for a treasonous offense and kept living through occult rituals, forever bound to harvest specific souls for the nameless Gods that they serve.
The Dullahan is a fearsome warrior and a legendary rider, capable of outpacing all but the greatest mortal cavalrists. Wielding a whip fashioned from a human spine to spur its horse and terrorize its foes in one hand, and a dread sword in the other, it gleefully slaughters all who stand in the way of its divine duty. While riding, the Dullahan carries its own severed head at the hip, which can be borne aloft in order to unleash dreadful magic. Most dangerous however is the Dullahan's ability to speak a name and instantly take the life of its owner.
The Dullahan is an expert mounted combatant who rides into battle and never dismounts, until such times as it finds its target. As such, it will only dismount when it is about to find its target. It generally uses its poisonous sword to erode its enemies' mind and will, then strikes fear into their weakened hearts with its dreadful whip fashioned from a human spinal column. If the situation calls for it, the Dullahan will employ its blackguard spells or the dark magic imbued within its own severed head to turn the tide of battle.
Aversion to Gold: Due to having lost its head to a golden hatchet, the Dullahan has an irrational fear of gold. Simply carrying so much as one coin, ring or necklace worth of visible gold is enough for the Dullahan to incur a -2 penalty to attack rolls against that creature.
If a creature carries a visible divine focus made of gold, or wears at least 5 pounds of visible gold in terms of armor, clothing or jewelry, the Dullahan incurs all penalties of the crushing despair spell when interacting with that creature. Furthermore, said creature is treated as having protection from evil against the Dullahan's attacks, spells and abilities.
Though gold weapons are rare due to the metal's softness, they are sublimely effective against the Dullahan, bypassing its damage reduction the same way cold iron does. Materials based on gold, such as ensorcelled aurum, penetrate the Dullahan's defenses equally well.
Death of the Fated (Sp): While a Dullahan rides, it does so with the intention of harvesting the soul a specific fated creature. The fated creature is consciously aware that a supernatural doom is encroaching upon him and must make a DC 24 Will save every 24 hours or become panicked as it realizes that its death approaches. Succeeding on the save merely causes it to be shaken.
The Dullahan is keenly aware of the health, condition, direction and distance of the fated creature as per the status spell, and will actively pursue it to the best of its ability. It will ignore anything non-critical to its task, and violently dispatch any creature or obstacle that gets in the way of fulfilling it.
Once the Dullahan arrives in visual range of the fated creature, it will dismount and speak the creature's name straight into its mind and soul as a 1-round action. This functions as the power word kill spell. If necessary, the Dullahan will attempt to use force to reduce the fated creature's hit points to below the threshold at which the ability can guarantee the creature's death.
If the Dullahan succeeds in killing the fated creature, it automatically traps the soul in a black gem and rides back to the Unseelie court to offer the soul to its master. If the Death of the Fated ability fails to kill the fated creature or is somehow resisted, the Dullahan will use all of its abilities to murder the fated creature or die trying. The Dullahan can use this ability only once, after which it must return to the Unseelie court for it to become usable again.
Headless (Ex): A Dullahan's head has been removed from its body. As such, it entertains certain benefits, options and disadvantages for not having a head on its body, as follows:
- The Dullahan's head is normally fastened to its hip while riding, and provides a cone of vision going forward. The Dullahan uses its blindsense to deal with threats coming from other directions. The Dullahan can hold its own head in its offhand to look around, as well as use a number of special abilities involving its head (see The Dullahan's Head).
- As a consequence of having no head, a Dullahan is immune to the vorpal weapon quality and has 50% fortification against critical hits.
Lay on Hands (Su): A Dullahan can Lay on Hands like a blackguard to heal itself or its mount. Its daily allotment of healing is a total of 80 hit points that may be freely spread across any number of uses.
Profane Protection (Ex): A Dullahan enjoys the protection of its patron deity, granting it a profane bonus to its Armor Class equal to its Charisma bonus. This bonus is already subsumed in the above statistics block.
Spells: The Dullahan casts spells as a 13th-level blackguard.
Typical Blackguard Spells Prepared (4/3/3/2; base DC 15 + spell level)
1st—corrupt weapon, frighten, identify symbol, retort; 2nd—gnawing maggots, mass backstab (×2); 3rd— curse of misfortune, protection from energy, unlucky backlash; 4th—black chains of durance, freedom of movement. Caster level 13th.
The Dullahan's Equipment
The Dullahan wields the following special items into combat.
Dullahan's Sword: The main weapon of the Dullahan, forged within the cold fires of the Unseelie Court, is a +3 bastard sword. The Dullahan automatically has Exotic Weapon Proficiency with the Dullahan's sword, and can wield it in one hand without penalties. The Dullahan's sword is sublimely suited for sneak attacking, and deals +2d6 extra sneak attack damage. Living creatures damaged by the blade must immediately make a DC 22 Fortitude save or become poisoned by the Dullahan's poison; initial damage is 1d8 Wis, secondary damage is unconsciousness for 1d3 hours. The saving throw is Constitution-based.
Spine Whip: The secondary – and perhaps more well-known – weapon of the Dullahan, the spine whip is a flexible weapon fashioned from a long and sharply serrated spinal column that can extend in strange ways. It uses the stats of a +1 keen whip, except that it deals lethal damage, is not stopped by natural armor or armor, does not provoke attacks of opportunity while the wielder is mounted, and has a native threat range of 18-20, which is doubled by the keen quality. The spine whip inflicts 1 point of dread on a successful hit, and 1d4 points of dread on a critical hit.
The Dullahan's Head
The head of the Dullahan contains a considerable amount of power. In the event that the Dullahan is separated from its head, it will always retain a supernatural awareness of its own head's location, and be able to look through its own eyes regardless of distance. As the Dullahan and its head are still alive, they are linked and share the Dullahan's hit points. Should the head be destroyed, the Dullahan will perish as well.
Successfully targeting the Dullahan's head scores an automatic critical threat. The Dullahan's head uses the Dullahan's AC + 10. When mounted, the Dullahan can use its Mounted Combat feat to negate a hit to its head, provided it is not currently holding it in its hand.
Without its head, the Dullahan is effectively blind and deaf, though it has supernatural senses that allow its body to maneuver using blindsense. It needs its head to see precisely however. When worn at the Dullahan's hip. its head provides a cone of sight facing the direction it is riding. The Dullahan can choose to hold its head in its off-hand in order to 'look around', though doing so requires a move action.
When held in the off-hand, the Dullahan's head grants its owner several options in combat, as follows:
Dread Gaze (Su): The Dullahan holds its head aloft and its ghastly eyes glow with a vicious light that paralyzes all that look upon it. This functions as a gaze attack with a range of 30 feet that inflicts 1d6 points of dread and the effect of the hold monster spell (DC 23) to all affected creatures. The dread effect does not allow a saving throw.
Spell-Like Abilities: At will—dispel magic, hideous laughter (DC 17), spider climb; 3/day—air walk, animate dead, crushing despair (DC 19), dimension door, shout (DC 19); 1/day— circle of death (DC 21). Caster level 13th. Save DCs are Charisma-based.
The Dullahan's spell-like abilities are all activated using its head. As such, it can cast them while riding.
The Dullahan's Mount
The mount on which the Dullahan rides into battle is a particularly aggressive and cruel specimen of its kind. Its natural weapons and any attacks it makes are treated as magical for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Fiendish Servant: The Dullahan's mount is also its fiendish servant (see The Blackguard's Fiendish Servant). The mount is a fiendish heavy warhorse advanced to 10 HD with the following special abilities: empathic link, improved evasion, share saving throws*, share spells, speak with blackguard, and blood bond.
*In the mount's statistics block, the saving throws in parentheses are calculated using the Dullahan's base save bonuses. As such, in most situation these take precedence over the creature's own saves.