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.
EDIT April 2018: Check out my updated take on this alongside some neat ways to change up Tomb of Annihilation (again) here!
“Yooou who reeeekindle the Flaaaame, embraaaaccceee deeaatttthhhh!”
Sometimes, the sweet embrace of death is all but impossible for countless damned souls. They are forced to continue to walk a dark path. For them, they seek to regain an essence of life and restore their shattered minds, lest they be lost to an abyss of emptiness and madness. Such a curse can be from a variety of sources; an exploitation of a life source at a deific level, exposure to/using evil magics for too long, a hex brought upon by a powerful caster or even a destructive force bent on draining life from all reality.
The Curse of Undeath is a vile magical power that breaks the soul and leaves the body as little more than a husk. These drained husks share little with their once living counterparts. They are merely corpses controlled and warped by dread energy. Any remnants of mind left in these creatures are stretched to madness and driven to violence. While many of them retain enough knowledge to fight as though could in life, it is impossible for them to engage in rational dialogue let alone interact peacefully.
Author’s Note: Dark Souls III is out and I love it! With that, here’s an optional rule for handling a curse similar to the Undead of the Dark Souls universe. If you don’t want to literally be running Dark Souls, it shouldn’t be too hard to reflavor this into a different dread curse of sorts. If you’ve ever played Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Anthony’s chapter certainly comes to mind. One last disclaimer, these are mostly random ideas in my head, in an attempt to make a Dark Souls inspired mechanic. As such, it’s more than likely that this idea is a bit clunky. It will probably receive a revision in the future, if reader interest is there.