• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

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

Voadam

Legend
IDR the particulars but the 2E AD&D Ravenloft boxed set Requiem: The Grim Harvest had rules for undead PCs.
Yep but that was also because anyone who was in a specific city when a catastrophe struck was turned undead and anyone who enters now gets turned undead. The general narrative idea there I think is a continuation of the old character as undead, instead of a wholly new undead character using the body but unconnected to the old character.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Weiley31

Legend
"Officially or unofficially?"
That question is both easy to answer if we're going by official WoTC 5E material. Pretty much No.......,,,,..ish.

By the books we have both the, as previously mentioned by others in the thread, the Hollowed One and the Reborn.

The Hollowed One is a Supernatural Gift introduced in Mythic Odysseys of Theros. It somewhat makes your pc an "Undead" and the background flavor states how the person was dead, but now is back into the world of the living. Although your typing is still Humanoid, your pc is still affected by spells that detect Undead or spells/effects that affect them.

The Reborn is a Lineage introduced in Van Richten's Guide to Ravensloft. Your dead, but back to the world of the living. Whether that means your Frankenstien's creature, a non-deity version of The Nameless One, or something is up to the PC, but the shoe still fits. Your typing is still Humanoid, but the Undead portion of the Lineage is definedish in the Deathless Nature feature. Advantage on Death Saving Throws, don't need to sleep/eat/breath/, and getting poisoned or sick isn't a major deal breaker for you.

We also had the Dhampir, which was classified as both a Humanoid and Undead in the Unearthed Article: Gothic Lineage. (Bout the closest and only time we had something officially from WoTC that Undead player race option). When it was officially released, the dual typing was ditched, and it stayed as a Humanoid. It too has a Deathless Nature but compared to the Reborn, it's a poorer version of the feature. (Don't have to breathe. Big Whoooooop).

Then we had the Revenant, which again was Unearthed Arcana material (Article: Gothic Heroes). Your type didn't change, from what I can tell, and you pretty much can't perma-
die unless you complete your quest. I'd say the ONLY super neat thing about it was if you made a Dragonborn Revenant, cuz then you FINALLY got something like Necrotic for the Breath Weapon. Way before Gem Dragonborn got introduced in 5E.

Regardless: none of the official options actually had an Undead Typing.

Unofficially, we start getting into some interesting territory.

Before we started getting MtG crossover books, we would get what were known as Plane Shift articles. They were pretty much the proto-crossover books with MtG that 5E have done before as major releases. (Ravnica, Theros, and Strixhaven).

Two of said Plane Shift articles were Ixalan and Zendikar. Both of those introduced Vampires as playable pc options. Well......Vampires that are typed as Humanoid. So from a fluff vantage point, they are undead but aren't typed as such. Honestly, in my humble of opinions, they can pretty much be used/refluffed as 4E Vyrlokas. (Vamps with all the pros and none of the cons.)

And then we have 3PP. The best version of the Undead player pc race option would be the Revenants and Specters option from the upcoming Iron King Requiem: The Nightmare Kingdom book. Compared to official 5E race write-ups, they have A CRAPTON of Traits/Features. But you get what ya expect for playable undead: Turn Resistance, Undead Typing, turning ghostly/insubstaantial and other neat things.

The Specter even has you select Banes like Salt, Running Water, and others. You also can get to choose from a small selection of ghostly powers like Possession, Haunting, Turning Invisible, and putting on your best Spooky face to scare the crap out of people.

Really, if you want to play as an Undead character in 5E, but tired of waiting for WoTC to actually pull the trigger on something like that,*** then Nightmare Kingdom is probably your best choice.

***Although, in WoTC's defense, they seem to be experimenting in giving us more pc race typings. Spelljammer FINALLY gave us Oozes and Constructs as a playable pc type. So, who knows what will happen.
 

R_J_K75

Legend
Yep but that was also because anyone who was in a specific city when a catastrophe struck was turned undead and anyone who enters now gets turned undead. The general narrative idea there I think is a continuation of the old character as undead, instead of a wholly new undead character using the body but unconnected to the old character.
You are probably right regarding the expectations that groups were running a series of adventures with a particular narrative and players would want to continue using their PCs. From what I recall, but believe me I could be wrong as its been over 25 years since I read it, I remember there being undead PC creation rules out of the box. I'll check when I get a minute.
 

Voadam

Legend
You are probably right regarding the expectations that groups were running a series of adventures with a particular narrative and players would want to continue using their PCs. From what I recall, but believe me I could be wrong as its been over 25 years since I read it, I remember there being undead PC creation rules out of the box. I'll check when I get a minute.
Its been a while for me as well, it was the culmination of a trilogy of pretty terrible modules where everybody dies and becomes undead and in the future anyone who enters that city also dies and becomes undead as well, so it is a city of the undead only.

There were definitely PC undead rules for out of the box but I think that city's undeadifying effects were a big deal in the boxed set.

I have the first two modules in print from that era but the boxed set as a pdf only from later and I have only skimmed it.

Here is a couple quotes

Darkon is transformed by a wave of negative energy that is thrown out when the doomsday device is activated. The capital of the domain, Il Aluk, is swept clean of living things. Every living creature in the city (including the heroes) is transformed into an undead caricature of itself.
In fact, the wave of blackness that the heroes saw coming out of the exploding doomsday device was a shock wave from the Negative Energy Plane. Even as the heroes were killed, this energy washed over their bodies, infusing them with unlife and transforming them into undead creatures. At the same time, it transformed all of Il Aluk into a city of the dead and forever changed the domain of Darkon (henceforth known as Necropolis).
Every living thing in the city, from the lowliest rat to the highest Eternal Order priest, has been transformed into an undead creature by the doomsday device.
When the doomsday device was activated, it threw out a shock wave of negative energy so powerful that every living thing in Il Aluk was instantly slain. At the same time, the streets and buildings of the city were permeated with this force, which began to pulse within the city like a corrupted heartbeat. As a result of this powerful energy, the people and animals of Il Aluk were infused with unlife and rose as undead creatures on the morning that followed Darkest Night.
Il Aluk, the capital of Necropolis, has been swept clean of living things. There are no plants, no insects, no bacteria, nothing. So infused with the power of the Negative Energy Plane is this place that only the ranks of the living dead may come and go freely in this region. Any living creature who tries to enter the city is drained of life and becomes an undead thing.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Eberron had deathless that were positive energy version of undead. There may have been a playable deathless but I'm not sure. If you want a race that feels undead, d20 deadlands had a race called harrowed that were basically revenants & might be worth looking at.
 

R_J_K75

Legend
Its been a while for me as well, it was the culmination of a trilogy of pretty terrible modules where everybody dies and becomes undead and in the future anyone who enters that city also dies and becomes undead as well, so it is a city of the undead only.

There were definitely PC undead rules for out of the box but I think that city's undeadifying effects were a big deal in the boxed set.

I have the first two modules in print from that era but the boxed set as a pdf only from later and I have only skimmed it.

Here is a couple quotes
Yes, same here. I had to go look but does appear you are correct; on page 25 it seems to imply that undead characters are created after their PC dies. seems like, as with everything in AD&D, there were stipulations to what type of undead you became, so players couldnt just play any undead. I read the boxed set but dont remember owning the adventures or having read them
 




That seems like a pretty weak reason to not include them. It would take one sentence of flavour text to explain why healing spells work on playable undead. "Although undead, [species] retain the ability to benefit from healing magics, which cannot enervate them like a living creature but still manage to knit their flesh back together." It seems like WotC just don't really want them for some reason.
Well, as you can see from the autognome (Spelljammer), that wording is too vague for 5e. You need to specify exactly which spells function normally, since 5e does not use a keyword system to unambiguously define which spells are healing spells. Whilst it might seem obvious, there are edge cases which could create arguments at the table. For autognome, these are the spells that function normally: cure wounds, healing word, and spare the dying. You might also have to think about Turn Undead, which is rather more common than effects that target constructs (although autognomes may need to worry about Shatter) and could result in an allied cleric accidently disintegrating their undead party member.

But a kludge is a kludge, and that is no more or less kludgy than "whilst you are undead, you creature type is treated as humanoid for mechanical purposes" which is what WotC use for Dampir, Reborn (VGR) and Hollow One (EGW). Since there are several examples for undead themed PCs in WotC publications, I see no reason to think WotC have any problem with them.

But you can homebrew is how you like. In which case, you need to start answering the questions other posters have raised: what type of undead? How do they reproduce? What is their society like? How do they fit into your game world?
 
Last edited:

Remove ads

Top