The Lonesome Road

Climate/Terrain:Temperate/Rural areas
Activity Cycle:Day
Intelligence:Exceptional (15-16)
Alignment:Chaotic evil
No. Appearing:1
Armor Class:6
Hit Dice:5
No. of Attacks:1
Special Attacks:Madness gaze
Special Defenses:Nil
Magic Resistance:50%
Size:M (6’ tall)
Morale:Unsteady (6)
XP Value:2,000

The poludnica is a dangerous creature sometimes found in the grain fields of the central Core. Appearing as a comely maiden wielding a sickle, she seems to limit her activities to the height of midday during the growing season. As many Balok-speaking folk have observed, anyone foolish enough to be caught alone in the fields at that time deserves what they get.

A poludnica resembles a beautiful, statuesque young woman with pale skin and tangled, raven-black hair. She is always dressed in coarse, white cloth draped over her body in heavy folds. She carries a razor-sharp sickle – usually encrusted with dried blood – at all times.

Poludnica are either unable or unwilling to communicate with other beings. No sound ever escapes their lips, which are constantly set in a thin, crooked smile. Nonetheless, they seem perfectly capable of understanding local human tongues.

Combat: Poludnica are deceptively dangerous opponents. They are bloodthirsty, but prefer stealth and surprise to outright attack; murder is more to their taste than war. Anyone who enters a grain field inhabited by a poludnica between approximately noon and two in the afternoon risks drawing the creature’s wrath. Peasants who must work the fields even during such sweltering hours always travel in pairs, as poludnica seem to prefer solitary victims.

Poludnica can use invisibility at will, and always use this ability to gain surprise on their opponents. They wield sickles in combat, and while they can always attack normally, they seek to decapitate opponents when possible. A poludnica attempting to decapitate a victim suffers a -4 penalty to her attack roll (in addition to any other modifiers). On a natural roll of 18-20, the victim is decapitated (and obviously, slain instantly).

Even those victims who escape physical harm at the hands of a poludnica may not come through the encounter unscathed. A poludnica’s very gaze can drive a man insane. Anyone looking into a poludnica’s eyes must make a madness check as described in Domains of Dread (see the rules for gaze attacks in the Dungeon Master’s Guide pg 64.) DM’s may, if they wish, choose the result of a failed madness check, giving consideration to the agricultural habitat of the poludnica. Hallucinations, such as visions of shadowy, malevolent shapes moving through the grass of any field or plain, are particularly appropriate.

A poludnica can use dust devil at will and may pass without trace through any agricultural field. Poludnica possess 50% magic resistance.

Habitat/Society: Poludnica are native to the grain fields of the central Core, particularly Balok-speaking kingdoms such as Barovia, Borca, Falkovnia, and Invidia. They are almost exclusively encountered during the midday, although no one is foolish enough to actually seek them out at any other time. Furthermore, poludnica seem to vanish during winter, only to reappear when the next year’s crop has sprouted.

Theories abound on the origin of the poludnica and the reasons for its unusual habits. Many folk contend that the poludnica is a spirit that tries to protect hardworking farmers from their own obsessive work habits. By deterring farmers from going into their fields during the midday, the poludnica prevents them from falling victim to heatstroke and exhaustion.

Interestingly, tales of the poludnica seem to be effective in this respect; most sensible farmers dutifully take a break durring the midday. Only the occasional curious child or witless outsider falls victim to a poludnica in any given year. Still, the creature’s chilling bloodlust gives this explanation a somewhat implausible air. The Vistani – as well the ocassional morbid observer – suggest that the poludnica is an agent of the Land itself. The blood the poludnica spills seeps into the soil, enriching the productivity of the fields they inhabit. Such suggestions give many farmers pause, especially when they are made over a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Ecology: Poludnica do not appear to have any role in the natural environment of rural areas. Sightings of such creatures have been so brief that virtually nothing is known about their habits. They certainly appear to be living, breathing creatures, but it has not been established whether they require food, water, sleep, or breathable air to survive.

The Lonesome Road

Last Modified: March 26, 2014, 20:50:19 GMT

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

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