by Will McDermott, Dragon #297
Nether creatures are a special type of undead created by the evil queen of Ico (Playstation 2) to guard her castle and serve her every need. Infused with the essence of air and darkness, these undead appear to be made entirely of an inky, black smoke, resembling the creatures they were in life. A nether creature's limbs trail off into tendrils of smoky nether - the creatures have no hands, feet, or fingers. Therefore, nether creatures cannot use weapons and are slower than they were in life. However, the insubstantial nature of their bodies makes it easier for nether creatures to avoid opponents in melee. The only thing that breaks the shadowy nature of these creatures are their glowing eyes, which pierce the darkness of their queen's castle like beams of light from a lantern.
Creating a Nether Creature
"Nether" is a template that can be added to any living creature (referred to hereafter as the "base creature"). The base creature's type changes to "undead." It uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted below.
Hit Dice: Change to d12.
Speed: Reduce all the base creature's speeds by half. A creature with a fly speed also loses one maneuverability class. For example, a creature that has a speed of 30 feet and a fly speed of 60 feet (poor) would have a speed of 15 feet and fly speed of 30 feet (clumsy) after the nether creature template was applied.
Attacks: A nether creature retains all the natural attacks of the base creature, but a nether creature's hands are turned into tendril-like claws that prevent it from using weapons effectively. If no natural attack is listed for the base creature, it gains two claw attacks at its full attack bonus.
Damage: A nether creature's natural attacks have the same damage value of the base creature. If no natural attack is listed for the base creature, it does damage with its claws following the chart below:
Face/Reach: A nether creature retains the facing of the base creature, but its reach increases by 5 feet.
Special Attacks: A nether creature retains all the special attacks of the base creature and also gains those listed below.
Improved Grab (Ex): Nether creatures gain the improved grab ability.
Knock Back (Ex): Whenever a nether creature deals 10 or more points of damage to an opponent in melee (usually with a claw attack), it can then make a trip attempt as a free action against the same target. If successful, the target is thrown back 10 feet and knocked prone, suffering 1d4 points of damage during the tumble. A nether creature using this ability does not incur an attack of opportunity nor does the target of the trip attempt have a chance to trip the nether creature. A nether creature can use this ability only against opponents of the same size category or smaller.
Special Qualities: A nether creature retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains those listed below and the undead type.
Electricity Vulnerability (Ex): A nether creature takes double damage from electricity attacks unless the attack allows a save, in which case the nether creature takes double damage on a failed save and half damage on a success.
Damage Reduction (Su): A nether creature's shadowy essence is resistant to attacks, giving the creature damage reduction 5/+1.
Glowing Eyes (Su): At will, as a free action, a nether creature can create light as though cast by a 3rd-level sorcerer centered upon itself.
Shadowy Form (Ex): A nether creature's indistinct and shadowy form makes it difficult to determine where its body actually is. Any melee or ranged attack directed at it has a 20% miss chance. True seeing has no effect.
Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +4, Dex +2. As an undead, a nether creature has no Constitution score.
Skills: Nether creatures gain a +4 racial bonus to Climb, Jump, and Move Silently, and a +8 racial bonus to Hide.
Feats: Nether creatures gain Dodge, Mobility, and Toughness, assuming the base creature does not have these feats and meets the prerequisites.
Climate/Terrain: Same as base creature
Organization: Solitary, pair, gang (2-5), or pack (6-11)
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +1
Alignment: Usually lawful evil
Advancement: Same as the base creature
Sample Nether Creature: Nether Ogre Mage.