Sentient Undead in Alvena: Undead are feared and rebuked by most of the living throughout Alvena. Living creatures are wary of the undead and most of Alvena's inhabitants meet undead with hostility. While some sentient undead may be tolerated in some lands, the majority of the world fears them. A sentient undead may wander aimlessly without a place to call a home, or may be driven out of a town once their unlife becomes apparent. However, the most dangerous place for undead is the Omas Kingdom, where undead are seen as obvious monsters and undead are captured or destroyed. In direct contrast is the Everlife colonies on the borders of Omas and Goshreh, where undead are not only tolerated but welcomed by the undeath-embracing inhabitants.
Most undead heroes are outcasts who retain a sense of duty, a need for vengeance against evil, or desire redemption for past misdeeds. Some sentient undead are merely mostly normal people and may be hiding in society. Some might move about from time to time so that their agelessness is less obvious.
Playing The Undead: Playing an undead character in Alvena is a special challenge. Unless situation would dictate otherwise, most NPCs begin unfriendly towards undead characters if they know they are undead, and most NPCs from the Omas Kingdom begin as hostile. This means that most undead heroes must hide their undeath from the public or be treated with hostility. This can be done using the Disguise skill (taking a -2 penalty for disguising your race), and Bluff can allow undead to talk their way out of most common suspicions. Most undead receive both Bluff and Disguise as a class skill, but undead without racial hit dice aren't so fortunate and may have to deal with relatively low modifiers in such skills.
Additionally, undead have a number of drawbacks that are often overlooked. Since undead have no Constitution scores, they are destroyed immediately at 0 hit points, meaning that they no negative hit point threshold before they die. Likewise, bringing an undead character back to life is exceptionally difficult. Most living characters can be brought back to life and restored to full power with a raise dead and restoration spell, while undead characters cannot be raised with such magic, and require exceptionally powerful and specific magics to return to unlife. This means that undead characters must be especially careful, for while they can easily ignore some of the drawbacks of being alive, their second death is far harsher on them.
Undead are immune to nonlethal damage. In most cases this would be a boon, except it generally means that you cannot be taken alive unless you actively surrender. Thus if faced with enemies who don't necessarily wish to kill the party (such as authorities) they have no choice but to use lethal force to stop undead characters, which means that the risk of destroying the undead character permanently is much higher (a sudden critical hit can re-bury the character instead of incapacitating them).
Furthermore, a lot of beneficial spells and effects are either useless or outright harmful to undead characters. Spells like enlarge person cannot affect undead, and they are immune to most mind-affecting affects, which means they might not receive the benefits of certain enchantment spells like heroism or the benefits of a bard's inspire courage. They also become vulnerable to spells and effects that target undead, such as control undead, hide from undead, halt undead, undeath to death, hallow, searing light, and similar spells. Many of which mimic spells that affect living creatures, but are harder to evade (for example, charm person or dominate person can be avoided with spells such as mind blank, but there is no protection from control undead and halt undead). In addition, undead characters cannot benefit from positive energy spells and effects, and can actively be harmed by them as well. This means that undead characters cannot benefit from effects such as a cleric's Channel Energy (Positive), nor can they receive cure or heal spells without it hurting them, making it harder for them to maintain their hit points over the course of an adventure.
Likewise, this drawback can make it difficult to pass as living if it comes up. If you are damaged by a healing spell, and someone attempts to heal you because you are injured, it could harm you more and seem suspicious. Likewise, if you're carrying around potions of inflict spells, it would likewise seem exceptionally suspicious (though some might assume it was meant as some sort of poison). For this reason, it is often good to invest in Bluff as an undead character to talk your way out of situations like these.
Undead Races: Undead are unusual as far as races go. While most undead retain a resemblance to their living selves, they are in most cases entirely new creatures. The damned, however, are almost identical to their living selves if not for their sudden shift into the state of unlife.
Through special rituals or saturation in magic or negative energy, some creatures can be pushed beyond death to unliving without much change in their natural abilities. These undead are commonly called damned. People who have been transformed into undead versions of themselves. They lack much in the way of the frightening powers most famous undead possess, but they are indeed counted amongst the living dead.
A damned creature can intentionally be created by taking a creature who is near death (at negative hit points) and preforming a special magic ritual that requires the creator to cast bestow curse on the target followed immediately by an animate dead spell. If the target is unconscious they are considered willing targets for the bestow curse spell. The target's soul is temporarily trapped into their body by the bestow curse spell as their body is saturated with negative energy from the animate dead spell (use of the spell for this fashion does not require a material component). The creature immediately dies and returns to unlife on the edge of death with a single hit point. Thereafter they resume healing naturally (if they have an intelligence score).
A creator of a damned creature has no innate control over them, and they are free willed. They can however be commanded by the Command Undead feat, and are subject to spells such as control undead.
Damned is a template that can be added to any living corporeal creature. It gains the following adjustments.
- Challenge Rating: As base creature.
- Type: Type: The creature's type changes to undead. It retains any subtype and subtypes that indicate kind (such as elf). It does not gain the augmented subtype. It uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
- Hit Dice: All racial HD become undead hit dice (d8). Do not recalculate HD from class levels. Damned use Charisma to determine bonus hit points instead of Constitution.
- Saves: All racial HD become undead hit dice. Base save bonuses are Fort +1/3 HD, Ref +1/3 HD, and Will +1/2 HD +2. Do not recalculate saving throw bonuses from class levels. Damned us Charisma to determine Fortitude saves instead of Constitution.
- Defensive Abilities: Damned creatures gain all the special qualities and immunities granted by the undead type.
- Attacks: Damned creatures retain all weapon and armor proficiencies of the base creature and gain simple weapon proficiency if they have any racial hit dice.
- Special Attacks: A damned creature retains all the special attacks of the base creature. Special attacks that having saving throw DCs based on Constitution (such as breath weapons or poisons) use the damned's Charisma modifier instead.
- Abilities: A damned creature has no Constitution score. Other abilities are unchanged.
- Base Attack Bonus: All racial HD become undead hit dice. Base attack bonuses are 3/4 HD (rounded down). Do not recalculate base attack bonuses from class levels.
- Skills: All racial HD become undead hit dice. Undead gain 4 + Int modifier skill points each level. Do not recalculate skill points from class levels. The following are class skills for damned with one or more racial hit dice: Climb, Disguise, Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcane), Knowledge (religion), Perception, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Stealth.
- Feats: A damned retains any feats it had in life unless they no longer qualify for the feat (such as requiring a Constitution scores). They may replace any feats they no longer qualify for with feats that they do.
- Special Qualities: A damned retains any special qualities it had in life.