Saturday, April 5, 2014

B/X D&D Month V: the Rusalka

On Friday's entry I mentioned the graveyard of ships beneath the waters of the harbor at Samaskar. Hundreds of old long ships, barges and sailboats once part of a great naval engagement, sunk when the void magic of the lich Xamorthas of Shatan aided in the destruction of Samaskar's enemies. This encounter lead me to the realization that there aren't really any aquatic undead in the Basic, Expert, Rules Compendium or Creature Catalog, so I figure it's time to add a few....first up is the Rusalka. 


Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 5** (M)
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: two claws or special
Damage: 1D6/1D6 by claw or special
No. Appearing: 1D4 (2D6)
Save As: E5
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: E
Intelligence: 13
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 425
Creature Type: undead
Terrain: any pool of water in which the rusalka was drowned

Rusalka are undead created when a woman perishes before her time, either from suicide, grief, woe or violence. Rusalka are usually tied to a watery death, by drowning, and take on an aspect of the pool in which they were murdered or committed suicide. When they rise from their watery graves they look like pale but beautiful women with wet green hair.

The rusalka is usually wronged by a man for numerous reasons, and their unique undead abilities work against men best (women and elves get a +2 bonus to the save to resist their songs). All rusalka can sing a woeful song which any targets in listening distance must immediately make a save vs. Spell to resist. If the save fails then the listeners are charmed by her spell. The rusalka will lure her target into the nearest body of water to drown him; each round the charmed target is being drowned he may make a new save vs. spells against the charm effect to snap out of his reverie, otherwise he takes 1D6 damage per round until drowned. A drowned victim of the rusalka will rise as a drowned zombie 24 hours later.

About 20% of rusalka look more gregarious, lively and alive than normal. These rusalka can masquerade as dryads or nymphs, or sometimes exotic elven women. They can sing the song, but are also gifted with a lilting, melodic laugh that is terminal to those listening; anyone in earshot of her laugh must make a save vs. death ray or suffer 1 negative level drain. This continues per round until the rusalka is injured, which will interrupt her laugh for 1 round.

A rusalka who is injured and manages to get to a pool of water will begin healing 1 hit point per round while immersed.

Weaknesses: A rusalka's hair and skin are always wet, though prolonged separation from water can lead to a risk of drying out. If the rusalka begins to dry out, she will take 1 point of damage until she immerses herself in water again. For many rusalka this is not a problem, as they carry special combs which, so long as they stroke their hair, creates water to keep them wet. Because of this weakness, rusalka are susceptible to fire damage, which always deals 1D6 additional points of damage to them per fire attack that affects them.


  1. Very nice!
    I had a similar take on the Rusalka a couple ofo years ago.

    1. Cool...I like you're take on it as well. Interesting thing I noticed about B/X and the RC...certain specific monsters definitely did not make the game; not seeing a rusalka seemed kind of odd to me, but then I noticed B/X doesn't have any nymphs that I could find, either. I wonder if the more family-friendly aim of B/X (which led to a no demons/devils policy) also led to excluding monsters like the nymph or rusalka, where they dealt either with femininity/sexuality, violence against women, suicide or other issues, or even implied such. Hmmm...come to think of it half breeds like half elf and half orc don't exist in B/X either....