Deathshead (CR 7)

Small Undead
Alignment: Usually chaotic evil
Initiative: +5; Senses: darkvision 60 ft., scent, Spot +11, and listen +11
Languages: Common, Giant, and up to three other languages spoken by its creator

AC: 19 (+1 size, +1 Dex, +7 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 17
Hit Dice: 10d12 (65 hp); DR: 10/cold iron or good
Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +9
Speed: 20 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
Space: 5 ft./5 ft.
Base Attack +5; Grapple +15
Attack: Hair lash +11 melee
Full Attack: 6 hair lashes +11 melee and bite +8 melee
Damage: Hair lashes 1d6+4, bite 1d4+2
Special Attacks/Actions: Dominating contact, improved grab
Abilities: Str 19, Dex 13, Con -, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 18
Special Qualities: freedom of movement, SR 15, undead traits
Feats: Improved Initiative; Lightning Reflexes; Multiattack; Weapon Focus (hair lash)
Skills: Bluff +12, Climb +12, Diplomacy +12, Hide +5, Intimidate +12, Jump +2, Knowledge (all) +17, Ride +7, Sense Motive +11, Spot +11, Swim +12, and listen +11
Advancement: 11-20 HD (Medium)
Climate/Terrain: Any
Organization: Solitary
Treasure/Possessions: Standard

Source: Tome of Magic

Dominating Contact (Su): When in a grapple, a deathshead can dominate its foe as if using the dominate monster spell (caster level equal to its Hit Dice; Will DC 19 negates) as a standard action. Only the sustained contact of a grapple is sufficient for the deathshead to establish dominance, a simple touch attack has no effect. The save DC is Charisma-based. A deathshead can control a dominated creature only as long as it maintains physical contact with it. Doing so usually requires the deathshead to remain in the dominated creature's square and either ride on or be carried by its victim. Thus, deathsheads typically attempt to dominate very strong or large individuals that can support them easily unless they intend to gain a brief benefit - such as forcing a spellcaster to use some spells against his allies. A deathshead can stand next to a dominated creature and simply hold it with a tentacle, but such an arrangement is risky in combat.

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a deathshead must hit an opponent with a hair lash attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can try to dominate the opponent in the following round.

A deathshead has a +10 racial bonus on grapple checks which is included in the statistics above.

Freedom of Movement (Su): A deathshead has a continuously active freedom of movement ability.

Skills: A deathshead has a +10 racial bonus on Knowledge checks. It also has a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on a Climb check, even if rushed or threatened. In addition, a deathshead has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform a special action or avoid a hazard. It can always take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming provided it swims in a straight line.

Although it can be fearsome in melee, a deathshead generally prefers to employ a foe as a weapon against other enemies. Typically, it dominates the best combatant sent against it, then rides that individual into combat against its other enemies. During the ensuing melee, it often tries to capture and dominate a spellcaster so that it can finish off the others or escape. Because a deathshead usually rides foes without a saddle, it takes a -5 penalty on Ride checks for riding bareback. A deathshead that dominates its mount automatically on Ride checks made to guide with knees, leap, spur its mount and control its mount in battle, and the dominated creature is considered a war-trained mount.

A spellcaster of 15th to 17th level can create a deathshead by casting a create undead spell on the severed head of a drowned giant with long hair.

Binder don't like top admit it, but deathheads were probably first created by a binder necromancer who had an affinity for the vestige called Shax. Now, the creatures come into being through the depraved actions of evil spellcasters and a ritual that involves the drowning of a giant. Initially, the spellcasters who used this ritual were also giants, but over the years, wicked members of other races have learned the practice and come to understand its value.

Deathsheads are valuable to necromancers because they possess great knowledge about all subjects and can act as oracles. In fact, a deathshead shows great ability with all qualities associated with the head. For example, each possesses keen perception and a silver tongue in addition to great knowledge. While these qualities make a deathshead invaluable, its powerful mind can also endanger a careless creator, since it can dominate other creatures simply by touching them. A deathshead often climbs onto a dominated foe and rides it as though it were a mount.

Deathsheads most often serve powerful spellcasters, but some escape control or survive after their masters' deaths. When not under anyone's control, a deathshead usually seeks to dominate either the most powerful creature in the area or the leader of a powerful group of creatures. Although most living creatures find undead disturbing, many communities (even those of ostensibly good-aligned creatures) willingly submit to the rule of a deathshead to benefit from its great knowledge. Once in power, a deathshead does everything it can to maintain and increase that power, including disguising its influence.

A deathshead looks like the partially rotted head of a giant with long hair matted into several ropelike tendrils. The type of giant varies, but the hairless stone giants are never turned into deathsheads. By the same logic, female deathsheads are slightly more common than males, since male giants often keep their hair shorter than their female counterparts. The size of a deathshead's body depends on the type of giant head used to create it, but most range between 2 and 3 feet in diameter. A deathshead typically weighs about 100 pounds and stands approximately 4 feet tall on its hair tentacles.

A deathshead speaks Common, Giant, and up to three other languages spoken by its creator.