I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Dark Savants in Talislanta. In the first edition book, there were almost no details about them making them even more mysterious. There was very little about them except these cool pics:
So the following is a take on them that kind of inhabits much of the same design space as a Lich, without necessarily needing to involve undead. Oh, the stats below…the two different sets of *’s to denote special abilities. One is for the standard ACKS system, and the other is my variant. Anyway, enjoy!
% In Lair: 40%
Dungeon Enc: Cult (1d3)/Cabal (1d6)
Wilderness Enc: Cabal (1d6)/Illuminati (1d6)
Alignment: Unaligned (Chaotic)
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 7 (+ spells/magic items)
Hit Dice: 4-18***(******)
Attacks: 1 or Spells
Treasure Type: J (4-6HD)+1d3 scrolls, L (7-10) + 1d3 scrolls, 1 wand, N (11-14) + 1d6 scrolls, 1 wand, R (15+) +1d6 scrolls, 1d3 wands, 1 staff
Shadow Savants are strange creatures of living shadow. Similar in many ways to undead, yet not actually beings of necromantic energies, they inhabit a moral grey area for most scholars. There are many theories that speculate on their ancestry. Some say they were a race or order of mortal wizards who were consumed by dark magic (or elevated, depending on who you ask) and turned into living shadows. Others claim they are the result of magicians who try to channel too much power from the shadow plane. Still others claim that they are simply from another realm altogether.
They themselves are strangely silent on the subject.
What is known is their abilities. They are master mages, able to cast spells as a Mage of level equal to their HD. They have the equivalent skill of a Battlemage (proficiency) and know the Black Lore of Zehar and possess Loremastery due to their centuries of study. More skilled Savants know even more proficiencies (as a Mage of equivalent level). Their shadowy forms can only be struck by magic weapons. They are immune to magic that effects the mind, such as Charm, Sleep, and Hold spells, but also ESP and similar effects. Their cold touch can cause paralysis in living creatures (elves are immune to this effect), though they rarely deign to fight physically. They can see in the dark up to 90’.
Shadow Savants are known researchers of magic and they will do anything to further their knowledge and power. Shadow Savants are not particularly antagonist to other creatures, but they do view them as inferior beings. If the Savant’s studies can be furthered by live vivisection of a human, they will not flinch at this. However, if approached cautiously and with humility, they can be bargained with (assuming they are not involved in the middle of some mystical break through, in which case any interruption may be met with hostility). In fact, they have been known to trade magic weapons and armor they have found for wands and staves.