Spawn of Death – Creatures born and reborn from the dead


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.

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Curse of Undeath – A Dark Souls-inspired mechanic

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.

An Affliction of Body, Mind and Soul

As the last of life’s flames extinguish, you become less and less human.  For every time you die, a piece of you is lost when you’re brought back.  Only through restoring your humanity can you truly become whole.  Even before the curse has truly taken hold of you, its dark power has tainted you indefinitely.  You may currently look like one of the living, but heinous power seeks to transform you into one of many mindless and angry dead.

The source of the curse can be from one of several horrible events.  Perhaps the Gods attempted to prolong the life of themselves and their followers by draining life essence from the planes.  Perhaps an entire area was desecrated by overuse of necromancy.  No matter the cause, the results will turn apocalyptic in the long run as people without souls begin to wither into deranged husks.  Even before before truly becoming one of the Undead, the cursed already suffer greatly.  Upon being afflicted by the Curse of Undeath, you automatically fail death saving throws when brought to 0 HP.  You must still roll a Death save.  Upon failure, you receive two failed saves instead.  Getting a natural 1 causes three failed saves instead of two.

Image Source: Revenant – oevrlord

Based off of Dark Souls, which belongs to From Software.  Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.

The Living Dead – An Undead Race for D&D 5th Edition

UPDATE SEPT 2017: Check out my alternate take on this!  In my opinion, it’s more balanced and more in line with D&D 5th Edition!  Click here

The build posted here is not balanced and is more suitable for NPCs.  You have been warned.


Necrotic Post-Humans

The Living Dead are augmented by dark forces from across the cosmos. Through exposure to powerful magic, a ritual gone awry, or a dreadful radiance; they resemble undead creatures that are typical in the Dungeons & Dragons game.   Their skin ranges from a washed out pallid tone to a gruesome necrotic color caused by a period of rot.  Their curse has also inflicted some degree of rigor mortis – like stiffness upon them.  While they’re still as capable of using weaponry, they struggle to move the same speeds they were once capable of.

Despite looking like enfeebled undead horrors, they’re still more than capable combatants.  Due to their deadened nerves, they no longer feel any sort of pain. Their fears of pain and death have also been destroyed due to their traumatic creation. Due to their deathly state, they don’t require essential mortal needs in order to survive.  That doesn’t stop the more devolved Living Dead from feasting upon the living.  Albeit, that’s more so a psychological craving rather than a need.

Burning Pain, Burning Hate

The existence of the Living Dead is one of agony and pain.  While their nerves have been numbed in their lifeless state, that doesn’t stop their minds from even greater suffering.  As a result of their post-zombified anguish, they’ve begun to develop a hatred towards “pure skins”, deeming them ignorant of their “advantages”.  Much of this anger comes from envy and desire for what was taken from them, their mundane existence.  While attacking the “True Living” isn’t exactly taboo, ruthlessly indulging in acts of wanton violence and cannibalism is.  Those who have done so have eventually degraded into something akin to the average zombie.  The rest of the Living Dead have adapted without succumbing to their hatred and violent urges.

Despite that, many have given into their hatred in less primal ways.  Many have been swayed by dark gods, especially those in control of the forces of death and necromancy.  As a result, death cults will often see Living Dead relatively high within their ranks.

Those who haven’t succumbed to their ailing mental state have tried to embrace a more noble path in hopes of breaking the barriers between the rotten skins and the pure skins.  These Living Dead go on to become diplomats, priests for good gods, and adventurers.  Luckily, Living Dead who have fallen to evil temptations are secretive about their new interests.  Despite the Living Dead having their own culture, they tend to keep their own names as a proud reminder of who they once were.