Attack: Incorporeal touch
Special Qualities: Constitution drain, create spawn, incorporeal, +2 turn resistance
Organization: Solitary or gang (2-5)
From the personal journal of Azalai Korias, Elven Wizard
22 Nymm, 998:
We are currently resting in a room we were able to seal from the inside. Most of the undead should not be able to reach us here - the glowing blue column seems to be keeping them at bay.
A man claiming to be a representative of the Silver Flame asked us to retrieve a religious tome from these catacombs, but after perusing the pages, I trust him less and less. This is a necromantic tome, and its previous owner was loathe to part with his work.
Cobwebs, dust, and the faint smell of death are hardly unusual when exploring ancient tombs. A number of restless dead took offense at the living intruding on their burial grounds - skeletons and zombies, a handful of ghouls led by a ghast. We have become experienced enough that small groups corporeal undead are barely a threat. The crackle of bones roasting in a fireball is one of the great joys of my life.
We made our way deeper into the catacombs, to a room containing the central crypt. Sarcophagi lined the walls of the circular room with a single ornate casket resting in the center beneath vaulted arches. Kleija found no traps, so Zarn pushed the lid from the grave and Khovis took the book that was our prize.
A black shadowy figure rose silently out of the ground, its malevolently glowing red eyes fixed hatefully on Khovis. It lashed a shadowy hand out at the dwarf before he could react, reaching through his armor and chilling his soul. Zarn brought his greataxe down through the wraith, smashing the coffin in a single blow as his attack had no effect on the incorporeal creature. Senna’s attack struck true, and the creature jerked back as I launched a handful of magic missiles into it - force effects bypass the protection that incorporeality grants the monster, and it disappeared before our eyes.
The momentary stillness was shattered by a hundred moaning voices crying out for our blood. Disturbing the lord of the catacombs had roused the rest of the dead. I cleared a path with another fireball and we ran - our mission here was accomplished, but we still had to make it out in one piece. Dodging around a corner, the wraith was waiting for us. It struck Khovis with a clawlike hand then disappeared again, toying with us as its minions closed in behind us.
When it appeared behind Senna, I struck it with a quickened magic missile before it could disappear again, and Kleija drove her daggers into the creature’s form. It dispersed in a shadowy cloud - I am not sure if it went ethereal or was slain, but we dove into this room and sealed the entrance. If the wraith comes through the wall, we will be able to fight it alone. If it waits outside, we will defeat it with its minions once we are at full strength.
The clawed hands of the undead are scraping against the door in a futile attempt to enter - we’ll soon have quite the fight on our hands. For now, we rest.
Only the bravest of heroes - or at least, the most prepared and well-equipped - will dare to hunt down wraiths. These hellspawned creatures are not the usual dimwitted undead foes like unto skeletons or zombies. Despite their undead state, they are more intelligent than the typical commoner - or typical adventurer, for that matter. They stand out as one of most intelligent undead creatures short of liches.
For most adventurers, the wraith is the first incorporeal creature that they face. This creature pays no heed to the toughest armors, and even the most well-crafted swords and arrows do little to affect it. It is naturally immune to wide range of spells and attacks, thanks to the "virtue" of being undead. Wraiths phase in and out of this plane, venturing into the ethereal plane for short time in order to pass through doors or to harry opponents with an attack or two, before making a sudden disappearance.
Most adventurers have never dealt with attacks that cause Constitution damage, which is at least as deadly as regular damage, and much more difficult and expensive to heal than any poison. And so the typical group of heroes encountering a pair of wraiths for the first time is ill prepared for the fight. Sadly, these same ill-prepared adventurers usually end up increasing the wraith population of Xen'drik when they fall.
How to overcome such foes? Fighting characters should invest in ghost touch weapons when they can find or afford them, as these weapons are the only implements that can reliably strike at these ghostly creatures. Equally important, they must watch closely for any sign that a wraith is marshalling the dark will to begin a Constitution-draining attack. If they notice in time, the bets are to either get out of the way quickly, or raise a shield or weapon to block the attack. For arcane characters, magic missile is the most effective and most available solution. Meanwhile, a cleric hero should be prepared with plenty of restoration spells for the inevitable Constitution damage.