• NOW LIVE! -- One-Page Adventures for D&D 5th Edition on Kickstarter! A booklet of colourful one-page adventures for D&D 5th Edition ranging from levels 1-9 and designed for a single session of play.
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E PC wants to become undead

ElterAgo

Explorer
Ok I have a player whose PC can't stand the thought of eventually becoming old and weak then eventually dying. He want to become an undead and live forever. I am willing to work out something with him for this. He's not sure if his character is vicious enough to sacrifice large job lots of people to become a Lich. Could get turned by a vampire then be a free agent when the creator vampire is destroyed. But the whole "burns in sunlight" thing is a serious weakness.

What other options are there and how would you handle it as a GM? We're still at the looking for ideas stage.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I would encourage the player (and character) to find other avenues to immortality, personally. In my games, the PC would become an NPC as soon as they became undead. 🤷‍♂️

But for the sake of trying to be helpful, what class is the PC?

Offhand, my suggestions would be a ghast, wight, or wraith, depending on the player's goals.
 
Last edited:


UnknownDyson

Explorer
Vampire is probably the easiest and least disruptive way to accomplish what you want. The creator vampire doesn't necessarily have to die for the PC to be a free agent. They can be let off the leash by the parent vampire.
 

Ok I have a player whose PC can't stand the thought of eventually becoming old and weak then eventually dying. He want to become an undead and live forever. I am willing to work out something with him for this. He's not sure if his character is vicious enough to sacrifice large job lots of people to become a Lich. Could get turned by a vampire then be a free agent when the creator vampire is destroyed. But the whole "burns in sunlight" thing is a serious weakness.

What other options are there and how would you handle it as a GM? We're still at the looking for ideas stage.
they could try for archlich like all properly powerful adevntures.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Ok I have a player whose PC can't stand the thought of eventually becoming old and weak then eventually dying. He want to become an undead and live forever. I am willing to work out something with him for this. He's not sure if his character is vicious enough to sacrifice large job lots of people to become a Lich. Could get turned by a vampire then be a free agent when the creator vampire is destroyed. But the whole "burns in sunlight" thing is a serious weakness.

What other options are there and how would you handle it as a GM? We're still at the looking for ideas stage.
If the goal is to avoid getting old and dying, becoming a druid or a warlock of the Undying patron will at least help slow the process significantly. Personally, I wouldn’t allow any method to permanently escape death that wasn’t inherently evil, but that’s a personal moral stance of mine. You could always provide a non-evil path to lichdom if you wanted to,
 


Iry

Hero
Assuming the player is not looking for a bunch of immunities, you could go for a Juju Zombie. That's not an especially powerful undead, so the player might grumble about not being one of the cool iconic ones, but it would definitely get him thematic immortality. You could also make him a Ghoul and he may have fun roleplaying that, and limiting the ghoul attack to 1 per short rest would be a neat ribbon.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Also, keep in mind death and reincarnate leads to immortality. As long as the PC doesn't mind a new body when the old one is no longer serviceable. Granted, you would have to work out having someone able to cast reincarnate...
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If you do the construct thing, you could change his race to warforged. There's always just a McGuffin they have to go on a quest to find that will grant them immortality.

As far as turning into a vampire and so on, in my campaign they'd become an NPC because I don't want to deal with evil blood sucking PCs. A lich might be possible, but obviously people will have negative reactions and I wouldn't give him any of the special lich abilities.
 


jgsugden

Legend
I'd tell the player that it sounds like a fun story idea, but let them know that being an undead usually means losing the part of you that has free will. You become slave to the forces that drive you as an undead. At some point, you'd transfer the PC to an NPC status and take it over. However, it would not be right after the change if I were running the game... it would be the first time the PC tried to do something against their new undead nature. I'd give them a DC 18 Charisma save to retain their identitify. Every time they did somethig against their undead nature, the DC would rise by 1 and the first time they failed - NPC.

As for how they'd change - the books provide rules. They might not give you everything you need to know, but it will give you most of it.

In this edition, a lich needs to be 17th level as a wizard or warlock to have access to the imprisonment spell to sustain itself. If it doesn't... demilich. The MM details the path to be followed and the darkness that will overtake their obsessed minds.

The vampire section of the MM has a snippet on PCs becoming vampires. They also describe how the mind changes and things that used to be important are twisted.

One path they might consider is Magic Jar. It is not undeath, but a careful spellcaster can use it to become, effectively, immortal (although vulnerable).
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I'm not deeply familiar with it beyond some quick skimming way back in the before time, but guide to wildemont has some stuff focused on undead PCs. You might want to reference it for ideas.

edit: I think even a race iirc
 

The Wildemount book has an option to have a dead character come back as an unaging undead revanant called a Hallow One or to create a character as such. That is the most straightforward character option for it.

Contracting vampirism also does the trick, but vampires are rather powerful and this is might unbalance the game. There are also substantial drawbacks if they ever want to be in direct sunlight, pass through running water, or enter a residence uninvited.

While there is no system support for PCs doing it, there is lore for Warlocks whose patrons have further work for them being kept "alive" as undead deathlocks until their tasks are complete. I have a villain in my current campaign who is stuck in a cycle of this because his inscrutable Great Old One patron has tasks for him, but is unlikely to ever lay them out in a way he can comprehend.

There is no system support for becoming a Lich, but there is a mention in the mindflayer section of Volo's Guide of it involving casting the Imprisonment spell on your phylactery, so you generally need to be a Wizard, Warlock, or Bard of at least 17th level for that, but I suppose a DM could leave a spell scroll hanging around somewhere.

There are a variety of other ways to avoid aging, these are just the ones I can think of that involve embracing undeath.
 

aco175

Legend
Why not become a god, or at least something like the Companions of the Hall in the Drizzt books where a goddess brought them all back to life. All you need is the gods to be an overarching part of your campaign and make the PCs feel little compared to them.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
A series of questions leap to mind:

Does the player intend to keep playing the undead version of the PC, or is this a post-retirement goal? If it's a post-retirement goal you can take all the time you need over finding a way for the PC to pull this off, and - as someone already noted - really never have to worry about specifics as the campaign will be over before any of this happens. But...

If the player intends to keep playing the undead PC, what average level is the party? This will largely meta-determine what type of undead the PC can become, entirely due to power relative to the other PCs. A Vampire in a low-level party would be right over the top, while a Zombie in a high-level party would be a waste of time. Corollary to this: does the player expect the PC to keep its class abilities throughout, e.g. to simply change a Human 7th-level Bard into an undead 7th-level Bard? If yes, power concerns become even more relevant.

If the player intends to keep playing the undead PC, is the rest of the party going to accept it? For example, if the party already has a dedicated undead hunter in its ranks, I'd say that character would be perfectly justified in chopping down the undead PC - or better yet, somehow preventing it from becoming undead in the first place - on first sight, no questions asked. (I ask as I'm currently playing a character of my own who, given this situation, would do exactly this)

Taken a step further, if the player intends to keep playing the undead PC is the rest of the world going to accept it? Will the party have to park ol' Zombie Bob in the woods every time they enter a town? Does the party have to worry about keeping Vampire Mary well-blooded; and if so, who's going to volunteer to donate to the blood bank?

My advice is to think this all through from many angles before allowing it, and then still be prepared for something to go adrift.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Mechanically, the main features of undeath are poison immunity, darkvision, not needing to eat/drink/breathe, and the undead creature type. Nothing there is particularly overpowered. In 3E, there was a "necropolitan" race which pretty much just had those things. You could whip up a homebrew undead race, give it those features and a few other perks for flavor, and come up with a ritual the PC could use to become a member of that race.

Note, however, that wizards* already have a way to achieve immortality--the clone spell. You can set the clone's age as young as you like, then kill your aging body, and your soul will transfer to the young healthy one. By normal human standards, this is far superior to undeath; not only do you stay young, you can still enjoy the pleasures of being alive! If what the player wants is a PC who is obsessed with cheating death, you might point him to clone.

However, if he wants his PC to be chasing undeath instead, it's worth asking why the character would choose the darker path. I can think of three possibilities:

1. The PC is already old and doesn't think he'll make it to 15th level before dying. Obviously, this rules out lichdom, which requires reaching an even higher level. He needs options and he needs them fast. The ritual to become a "bare-bones" (heh) undead seems like a good solution here.

2. The PC doesn't just want immortality, he also wants the power that comes with becoming a lich or vampire. For this, I think the player needs to be resigned to having his character become an NPC if he ever achieves his ambition. By definition, that kind of power would grossly unbalance the game.

3. The PC is insane and believes that undeath is a preferable state to life. This again would point toward a ritual to become a member of a no-frills undead race.

*Since lichdom was being considered, I assume the character is a wizard. If not, of course, clone may not be available.
 
Last edited:

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Mechanically, the main features of undeath are poison immunity, darkvision, not needing to eat/drink/breathe, and the undead creature type. Nothing there is particularly overpowered.
Not needing to eat-drink-breathe - or sleep - is huge!

I've got a PC in my game who picked up a blessing/curse a while back, that he only needs to sleep one night in thirty. This seemingly-little thing has made a massive difference in the party's ability to keep watch while resting.

Poison immunity is also a pretty big deal if the PC is a Thief or similar, or itself deals in poisons.
Note, however, that wizards* already have a way to achieve immortality--the clone spell. You can set the clone's age as young as you like, then kill your aging body, and your soul will transfer to the young healthy one.
You can set a clone's age???? That's a new one on me!

I've always read it that the clone appears exactly as the caster at the moment of spell resolution, even to the point of including any injuries the caster might have sustained.

The soul transferring from one clone to another is also a new one on me.
 

If the goal is to avoid getting old and dying, becoming a druid or a warlock of the Undying patron will at least help slow the process significantly. Personally, I wouldn’t allow any method to permanently escape death that wasn’t inherently evil, but that’s a personal moral stance of mine. You could always provide a non-evil path to lichdom if you wanted to,

also, all monks get Timeless Body at level 15.

Of course, if the player’s character is not a 15th level monk...
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Note, however, that wizards* already have a way to achieve immortality--the clone spell. You can set the clone's age as young as you like, then kill your aging body, and your soul will transfer to the young healthy one. By normal human standards, this is far superior to undeath; not only do you stay young, you can still enjoy the pleasures of being alive! If what the player wants is a PC who is obsessed with cheating death, you might point him to clone.
Yeah, this is how the BBEG in our last game tricked the party. He ended up joining use via a younger clone of himself--we didn't know it was him until the end. :eek:
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top