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Nihili

Source Alien Archive pg. 82
More so than any harsh desert or freezing tundra, the airless void of space is an unforgiving killer. Most life-forms can survive for about 90 seconds in a vacuum before dying, though rapid depressurization can cause unconsciousness in as little as 15 seconds. When an unprotected body is introduced to a vacuum, the gases inside it begin to expand due to the difference in pressure. While this causes discomfort, especially in the abdominal area due to the expansion of intestinal gases, the real danger comes from any oxygen still in the lungs. If that gas can’t escape (say, because the person is trying to hold his breath), the delicate pulmonary tissue can become severely damaged. Those who survive such an event can be left with permanent injuries, such as blindness, a collapsed lung, or worse. Those who do not survive spend their last few moments in terrible pain and mind-numbing terror, and sometimes such suffering prevents souls from passing on to the afterlife. These unfortunate creatures rise again as undead monstrosities known as nihilis.

With puffy skin, ragged wounds from gases escaping the body, and gaping mouths, nihilis might resemble mindless zombies, but they have a sharp intellect and powers that make them far more formidable. A nihili’s gaze can crush the lungs of any living creature who sees it, as if the victim were being squeezed by a giant hand. In addition, nihilis creates their own gravity, allowing them to move easily about the wrecked starships where they are usually found. This aura can surprise those attempting to float past nihilis in zero gravity, often causing them to fall face first onto whatever surfaces the undead are standing on. Nihilis that perished floating through the void use this ability to cling to passing vehicles, eventually working their way inside to slaughter the vessels’ crews.

Nihilis have an everlasting hatred of the living, especially of spacefarers for daring to travel the void. Some scholars posit that nihilis are the embodiment of outer space’s cruelest aspects and exist only to punish those who sully its vacuum. While most scoff at the idea of ascribing a will to something so vast and pervasive as space, there is no denying that nihilis exist and are vicious killers. The undead use their natural cunning to lie in wait for potential victims, usually crouching in dark corners near the ceiling where few think to look before springing into combat. They fight with almost no sense of self-preservation, unless vastly outnumbered, at which time the nihilis turn and flee. Once nihilis have killed their victims, they usually leave the corpses where they fall, having no desire to consume living flesh or blood. They then begin the hunt for further prey.

Most nihilis occur naturally, but they can be created by powerful spellcasters using the animate dead spell. Animating a nihili in this way requires crushed rock from a planetoid with no atmosphere as part of casting the spell. Nihilis created by Eoxian necromancers are sometimes assigned to ships of the Corpse Fleet as engineers, as they can walk along the outside of the vessels with little difficulty in order to make repairs. An ambitious nihili who proves its worth might eventually become the captain of its own Corpse Fleet ship.

Rumors speak of a cult of nihilis in the fringes of the Vast who have discovered a small tear in reality that opens up onto the Negative Energy Plane. Calling it a “dark star,” these nihilis eject corpses (usually of victims they have killed) into the surrounding vacuum as sacrifices; some of these bodies are animated as nihilis who immediately attain honored positions in the cult, as they preach of sinister whispers from beyond the portal that encourage this gruesome form of reproduction. When one of these nihilis is destroyed, its remaining flesh is almost instantly flensed from its body, leaving a skeleton marked with glowing blue runes that are difficult for living creatures to focus on—attempting to do so results in blurred vision and nosebleeds. The few mystics who have studied these runes (usually through sketches or eyewitness descriptions) have yet to decipher their meaning. A small handful of rune-marked bones are kept in smoked-glass cases inside secure vaults by a few arcane research bases within the Pact Worlds.

No one knows for certain whether the nihilis who worship this “dark star” are venerating a shadowy entity or are suffering from some unknown kind of madness. However, travelers who survive passing through this region return with tales of huge masses of floating corpses forming a ring around a cloud of ebony particles that seems to absorb all light.

Aliens in the "Nihili" Family

NameCR
Nihili5
Nihili Captain13

Nihili

Source Alien Archive pg. 82

Nihili CR 5

XP 1,600
NE Medium undead
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +11
Aura gravity well (5 ft., DC 15)

Defense

HP 72
EAC 17; KAC 19
Fort +7; Ref +7; Will +6
Immunities undead immunities

Offense

Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee slam +14 (1d6+10 B)
Offensive Abilities decompression gaze (15 ft., DC 15, 1d4+3 B)

Statistics

STR +5; DEX +3; CON —; INT +2; WIS +0; CHA +0
Skills Athletics +16 (+24 when climbing), Stealth +11
Other Abilities unliving

Ecology

Environment any vacuum
Organization any

Special Abilities

Decompression Gaze (Su) The dead stare of a nihili makes those around the undead feel like their own lungs are starting to violently collapse, mimicking the nihili’s demise. A living creature that can see and breathe that begins its turn within 15 feet of a nihili must succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save or take 1d4+3 bludgeoning damage.

Gravity Well (Su) A nihili generates a field of gravity that functions in a 5-foot aura around itself (including 5 feet above the nihili), exerting a downward force toward the nihili’s feet. This allows the nihili to function as if constantly under the effect of spider climb. Any creature entering this aura from an area of zero-g must succeed at a DC 15 Reflex saving throw or be knocked prone.

Extra Content

The following extra content was found for this creature:
- Nihili (Other) Graft Template