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D&D General have we had a player race of undead?

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Space Jam Confirmed
For 5E, the Dhampir is not mechanically undead (their creature type is "Humanoid"). They are certainly undead-flavored (the text says "tied to the undead"), but it specifically says they "retain their grip on life."

The Reborn from the same book (Van Richten's) are generally more like Frankenstein's monster, but they are also Humanoids and not Undead.

The Hollow One from Explorer's Guide to Wildemount is in even more of a grey area. The book says "You retain your creature type, yet you register as undead to spells and other effects that detect the presence of the undead creature type."

the Jester

I haven't encountered exactly what you are looking for. Not sure what kind of undead fits your niche- most undead start alive and become undead after, well, dying, but some are created wholesale.

I've written up 5e style pc ancestry/race/species treatments for the necropolitan (from 3e), which is undead, but isn't born that way, and the pseudo-undead (from 1e), which aren't actually undead but act like it.


Undead from birth is a contradiction. Two of the fundamental traits of the undead is that they are the remnants of formerly living creatures, reanimated by negative energy, and that they don't produce new life. It's fairly definitional.

That being the case, rather than a creature that's born undead, would you accept a species with an innate affinity for negative energy and the Shadowfell? Because from a character flavor perspective, the shadar-kai may be your closest hit. They're your gothiest of goths when it comes to PC species aesthetic.


A suffusion of yellow
The Reborn from the same book (Van Richten's) are generally more like Frankenstein's monster, but they are also Humanoids and not Undead.
Frankensteisn monster was only one example, in play they were more like The Crow, revenants and mummy also fit the Reborn type.

to op do Shades count as undead? Shadows as a whole have always had a funny status in being undead but of uncertain origin - where they ever alive?

Not really the OP topic, but once at PaizoCon, I saw someone play an undead PC. They were quickly injured and surprised no one could heal them.

Undead is what happens when Negative Energy gets into once living things. If we remove the "once living things" qualifier, we just end up with Negative Energy (hence my Negative Energy Elemental comment from earlier). I mean, even the Xeg-yi and Trillochs are said to come from somewhere else than the Negative Elemental Plane.

But I suppose it's possible to have some blob of sentient negative energy that is not strictly an elemental. You could animate a pile of debris in a cruel mockery of life. You could even do possession by a malevolent force and have it be from the negative energy plane slowly draining you away and corrupting you. You are bound to end up undead, but the possessing energy would not be undead by itself.
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