You are a creature created from the impossible, either unnatural life given back to a body or from a birth most foul. In either case, the death infused are considered abominations by many. In some cases, they were created from revival rituals and necromatic magic gone awry. In other cases, merely the results of trying to achieve immortality… with horrific results. Arcane experiments in general are the source of the half-undead, either to crossbreed horrors or to create a new form of unlife entirely.
While the Death-Spawn are tainted by different forms of negative energies and dark power, they tend to share similar aspects in traits. They convey a sense of lifelessness or at least an uncanny sense of life. They typically lack the warmth of a living body, feeling clammy and/or cold to the touch. Some are lucky enough to have bodies perfectly intact, looking indistinguishable from other average humanoids. The unlucky look akin to shambling corpses and disheveled zombies.
Author’s Note: I wanted to take a crack at races again. So, here’s a new race of undead-touched creatures inspired by a handful of resources: The Raven Queen, The Crow, Pathfinder’s Dhampir, the Half-Undead from Dragon Magazine and so on and so forth. Just a heads up, this is a rough draft and none of these have been tested yet. I am likely to revisit this at a later time though.
Ability Score Increase. The Death-Spawn have a heightened ability to endure pain and plague far better than those around them. Their Constitution increases by +1.
Age. Due to their corrupted blood, death spawn tend to age at a slower rate, but like longer for it. They typically become mature around the same age as their mortal parent would, but can live upwards to 50 years after they would normally die.
Alignment. It’s not uncommon for the undead-touched to give into their negative energy roots, embracing their role as a creature of the night. However, many reject the path of evil. Some even use their innate abilities against the darkness as a force for good.
Size. Your size is typically medium. However, small sized ones have been known to exist.
Speed. Your base speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. You can see in darkness, being a creature born from it. You gain darkvision out 120 feet. However, your ability to see color is heavily muted.
Light Sensitivity. Your vampiric blood has a catch, the light is horribly uncomfortable for you. While in natural light or under the effects of magical sunlight, you have disadvantage on attack rolls as well as perception checks relying on sight.
The Living Dead. You are empowered by a dark force, separating you from the world of the living. You gain resistance to necrotic damage.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common.
Sub-Races. the death infused typically diverge depending on the origin of their bloodline, outright developing unique innate talents as a result.
You are spawned from the archetypal vampire. One would call such a birth impossible. The vampire is a parasite that feeds off of blood, only capable of taking life. By some strange twist of fate, they somehow took enough life for just a moment, allowing them to help conceive a child. Such an unholy union of vampire and mortal results in a dhampir. Many speculate how such a tragic birth can be possible. It has been said that if a pregnant woman was turned or attacked by a vampire before giving birth, the child might become a dhampir. Some beliefs say that dhampirs are merely cursed humanoids destined to become vampires, perhaps the direct descendant of what is known as vampires.
While living, they share much of the gloom and lifelessness of their undead parent. Skin tone is a sickly, pale or muted version of their other parent. Thus, they are often viewed as hexed or diseased to the naked eye. While most don’t share direct abilities connected to a specific bloodline, many tend to share physical quirks and features found in their vampiric parent. This can range from strangely shaped ears to hollow/blank eyes, among other things.
Ability Score Increase. There is a disturbing zeal to your mannerisms and presentation that’s oddly alluring. Your Charisma increases by +2.
Biting Fangs. Your canines are sharp and capable of puncturing the flesh of your victims. You may make an unarmed strike to bite a victim, dealing 1d4 damage. Once per long rest, you may also regain points equal to the total damage dealt.
Vampiric Magnetism. You are capable of manipulating the living through your natural charisma. You are proficient in Persuasion checks. In addition, you are proficient in Animal Handling checks involving bats, wolves and other animals associated with vampirism. As a campaign option, the DM may designate certain creatures to fit your bonus, depending on where the dhampir hails from. Upon reaching level 3, you gain an additional talent. Once per long rest, you may impose your will on another creature. The creature must be a humanoid or beast. This effect acts like a Charm Person/Animal Friendship spell, except it’s a natural ability instead of a spell.. At level 9, this may affect any creature that is not immune to charming effects.
The hungry, the wracking pain, the raw desire. These are the things that the ghoul touched face. While not true ghouls, and not nearly as deformed, they suffer similar delusions of the mind. However, some are more than capable of channeling their strange thoughts… usually into violence. Luckily, adventurers tend to be quite violent at times.
Those who have the markings of the ghoul often have sunken features, hollow eyes, large teeth and the most obvious sign, claws! Some look like feral monstrosities from deep in the layers of dream, while others are akin to the corrupted horrors that wander in graves.
Ability Score Increase. Your feral hunger has forced you to become agile and nimble from desires to stalk the living. Your Constitution increases by +1 and your Dexterity increases by +1.
Claws. From the tips of your fingers jut terrible claws. When you take the attack action to make an unarmed strike, you may deal 1d4 slashing damage as you attack with claws.
Ghoulish Paralysis. Once per long rest, when you hit with a claw attack, you may use your bonus action to force the target to make a Constitution saving throw, using your spell DC. Should the DM allow it, using your Constitution in place of a casting stat. If the target fails, they are paralyzed for up to 1 minute. They may make a new saving throw on the next turn and have advantage if they were damaged the previous turn. If they succeed or end the effect, they are immune to this sort of effect for 24 hours.
In life, you were dealt bad luck. Ultimately, your life should have ended… But, it didn’t! Passion, anger, sorrow, a series racing thoughts; these things coupled with lingering energies around you kept you going. Through a brisk death, you came back as a phantom tasked to get revenge and stop those who would cause others to suffer a similar fate. Unlike a true undead, you are still capable of feeling. Sometimes your aggression pushes you over the edge, risking the loss of what made you your mortal self in the first place.
You essentially look much like you did when you died. Your scars and wounds never seem to go away. Those who died horribly have it the worst as revenants, while those who passed in a way that didn’t leave horrible marks have an easier time at their second chance.
Ability Score Increase. You are empowered by your anger against those who wronged you, which has only made you more powerful in your new form. Your Constitution increase by +1 and your Strength increases by +1.
Life’s Remains. You still retain an aspect of your previous life. Choose one of the races below. You gain a boon based on the race your character was in life. (Below are some examples of races that can become revenants. These are by no means the entirety of what can become one. Work with your DM to formulate a boon for other races)
- Aasimar: Gain Celestial Resistance (necrotic resistance does not stack.)
- Dragonborn: Gain Resistance.
- Dwarf: Gain Dwarven Resilience.
- Elf: Gain Fey Ancestry.
- Genasi: Gain a trait based on a sub-race: Unending Breath, Earth Glide, Fire Resistance or Acid Resistance.
- Gnome: Gain Gnome Cunning, your size is small.
- Half-Elf: Gain either the Elf or Human boon.
- Half-Orc: Gain Savage Attacks.
- Halfling: Gain Lucky, your size is small.
- Human: Gain an extra +1 to a stat that is not Constitution or Strength.
- Tiefling: Gain Hellish Resistance (and an equivalent replacement).
Supernatural Perseverance. When your character would otherwise die, roll a death save as a reaction. If the death save is successful, the Revenant is instead stabilized. If the death save fails, they die as normal. They cannot use this feature again until after a long rest.
Child of the Winter Raven.
While the revenant is a creature of revenge and anger, you are born to serve the winter raven in some way. Instead of lashing out against those who attacked you, the raven commands your aid. The mission of this being? To take down those who would desecrate the dead, to bring the true undead back into the grave, to endure the pain of “the eternal winter” inside of you until you are one day called back to rest. Such creatures are not truly undead, kept from embracing the despair ridden emptiness of death.
Your skin is not only cold to the touch, but feels almost frosty. It’s as if any warmth was pulled out of your skin the moment you were brought into this world, leaving only icicles. To an extent, you might be more at home in the cool earth than walking with the living. And par for the power of winter, your skin tone seems permanently frost bitten. For the uninitiated, you look like a victim of bone-chilling temperatures. In addition, many tend to suffer damage to their mental state. While not always the case, many emote far less than in their previous state. In a play on words, they are usually as emotionally cold as they are physically.
Ability Score Increase. For you, survival is paramount and the supernatural energies that are imbued within you only help with that. Your Wisdom increases by +2.
Resisting Death’s Chill. Just as death is cold, so are you and you have adapted as such. You have resistance to cold damage.
Undead Magick. You know the frostbite cantrip (EE). Once you reach 3rd level, you know and can cast chilling wind* once per day as a 2nd-level spell. Once you reach 5th level, you know and can also cast darkness once per day. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
*Chilling Wind functions like Burning Hands, except it deals cold damage instead. Also, destroyed objects and killed creatures are covered in shards of ice.
EE refers to the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion.
IMAGE SOURCE: Revenant – Monster Manual, Wizard of the Coast.