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by Jamie Baty

Topis are tiny undead humanoid creatures similar to zombies. Before these creatures are animated however, their bodies are shrunk to a smaller size, usually 2 ft tall for a medium creature. The process gives them dark, wrinkled, leathery skin. Their eyes are wide and bulging, and their lips are usually curled back, freezing their faces into permanent toothy grimaces (occasionally, however, the lips are sewn shut).

Like zombies, topis usually are dad in the tattered remains of the clothing they were wearing when they died. Unlike zombies, topis do not have a rotting stench, as the shrinking process also preserves their flesh.
Topis cannot speak but often hiss, snarl, grunt or gnash their teeth when attacking.

Like zombies, topis exist only to serve the spellcaster who animated them. Their intelligence and evil nature make them prone to malice, however, and it is unwise to trust them with anything delicate or overly complex.

Topis are usually found guarding tribal burial grounds or temples. Some witch doctors and shamans also employ them as servants, scouts, and bodyguards.

Topis are unnatural creatures that have no ecological role except as a consequence of their orders. They can, for example, be ordered to gather food or hunt small game. Unless ordered otherwise, a topi left on its own will gleefully maim and kill anything it can catch. Topis do not require food or water, lulling only for pleasure or to obey orders. They are able to jump quite well, and in combat will often ambush enemies by jumping at them from behind or above.

The dead body of any large, medium or small humanoid creature can be made into a topi. Only a few tribal spell casters know bow to shrink the corpses, however. The few travellers who have observed the process and have been lucky enough to return to tell the tale report that the corpse is boiled for several days in a mixture of water, herbs, and animal organs, then dried in the sun and animated, presumably with a variant animate dead spell.

Creating a Topi
"Topi" is an acquired template that can be added to any large, medium or small corporeal humanoid or monstrous humanoid (other than an undead) that has a skeletal system (referred to hereafter as the base creature).

Size and Type: The creature's type changes to undead. It retains any subtypes except alignment subtypes and subtypes that indicate kind. It does not gain the augmented subtype. It sizes drops one category: Large to medium, Medium to small, Small to tiny. It uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Hit Dice: Drop any Hit Dice from class levels (to a minimum of 1), double the number of Hit Dice left, and raise them to d12s. If the base creature has more than 10 Hit Dice (not counting those gained with experience), it can't be made into a topi.

Speed: If the base creature can fly, its manoeuvrability rating drops to clumsy.

Armour Class: Natural armour bonus increases by a number based on the topi's size:
Tiny +2
Small +3
Medium +4

Base Attack: A topi has a base attack bonus equal to 1/2 its Hit Dice.

Attacks: A topi retains all the natural weapons, manufactured weapon attacks, and weapon proficiencies of the base creature. A topi also gains a slam attack.

Damage: Natural and manufactured weapons deal damage normally. A slam attack deals damage depending on the zombie's size. (Use the base creature's slam damage if it's better.)
Tiny 1d3
Small 1d4
Medium 1d6

Special Attacks: A topi retains none of the base creature's special attacks, but gains the following special attacks:

Venom (Ex): Each hit by a topi's natural attacks may poison the victim. The victim must make a fortitude save vs DC 15 or be envenomed. Primary damage is 1d6 Dex + slowed (as per spell), secondary damage is 1d6 Str.

Special Qualities: A topi loses most special qualities of the base creature. It retains any extraordinary special qualities that improve its melee or ranged attacks. A topi gains the following special qualities.

Damage Reduction: 5/Slashing and piercing

Off Balance (Ex): If a creature larger than a topi successfully inflicts damage to the topi with a bludgeoning weapon, it is knocked off-balance and loses any remaining actions that round.

Saves: Base save bonuses are Fort +1/3 HD, Ref +1/3 HD, and Will +1/2 HD + 2.

Abilities: A topi's Dexterity increases by 2, it has no Constitution or Intelligence score, its Wisdom changes to 10, and its Charisma changes to 2.

Skills: A topi has no skills, other than jump. It receives a +4 racial bonus to all jump checks.

Feats: A topi loses all feats of the base creature and gains Toughness.

Environment: Any tropical and subtropical land and underground.

Organisation: Any.

Challenge Rating: Depends on Hit Dice, as follows:

Hit Dice Challenge Rating
1/2 1/8
1 1/4
2 1/2
4 1
6 2
8-10 3
12-14 4
15-16 5
18-20 6

Treasure: None.

Alignment: Always chaotic or neutral evil.

Advancement: As base creature, but double Hit Dice (maximum 20), or - if the base creature advances by character class.

Level Adjustment: -.