Half-Dead (3.5e Template)
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 Half-Dead (Ready for functional reviewing)
Half-Dead are those that wander the worlds trying to fulfill their last purpose before finally being able to rest.
Background: Half-dead are transmuted characters that have died at some point in life. A god, powerful cleric, sorcerer or wizard can bind the soul and the decaying body back together by means of an especially powerful transmutation. This transmutation must be performed within six days six hours and six minutes from his actual point of death or the transmutation will fail. Also the body must be largely intact containing at least a brain and a hart. During the transmutation the body will be restored in some of its functionality except for the parts that cannot be saved because they are missing or damaged beyond repair. His soul will be magically bound to this body and his skeleton will become animated giving the Half-Dead undead traits and appearance. A soul cannot be bound to his body if it is unwilling but may be tricked or forced to do so. For example a evil necromancer has children held hostage and threatens to kill them if he does not comply with his wishes. On the other hand there are those souls that accept the cursed half life of the half-dead in order to fulfill a last desire like murdering the person that has slain his family. A half-dead will always have a purpose when brought back to life.
|“||Death, yet another path we must take to find our revenge||”|
|—Geraldo the wise, bard and loreseeker|
The tale of Herod, cleric of Westfall, commander of the first legions of King Theobold's empire
“How has this come to be?”, Herod wonders. He looks around and sees a shadow play of soldiers running around in fear and disarray getting massacred by a ghostly enemy. “I have to get back up, I have to close the ranks, the enemy is upon us...” Herod, combat cleric and commander of the first legion tries to command his body back to its feet but a large and unknown force pressures down on his chest which seems to be pinning his body down to the ground. He tries to look at his feat but is unable to lift his head far enough up from the ground, hindered by his helmet. The only thing he can see is a long wooden stick standing right up into the sky. He rolls his head to the right. Next to him lies a horse sleeping calmly in a puddle of red sirup that seems to grow slowly by the second, then it occurred to him.... it was his own horse. “Did my horse get hit?”, “Did I fall to the ground?”. A stabbing pain shoots through his chest, compelling him to look back at the wooden stick. “That angle, the direction it sticks towards the ground ...”, More flashes of pain shoot through his chest. “Did I... get hit by a spear? How would that even possible? We were not close enough to the enemy to get hit by a spear. But the shape of the head, it looks all too familiar” Thoughts are flashing back and forward through his head while the pressure in his chest keeps building up and the flashes of pain shooting through his body seem to increase in frequency.
Sounds of hoofs, a shadow of a man riding a horse approaches him from the left. He is calmly whispering his name repeatedly, with a voice that somehow sounds familiar. The apparent horseman maneuvers his steed to his side but Herod cannot command his eyes to fully focus on the man, he seems familiar by shape, does he know this man? “Impressive that you are still alive” the horseman whispers. “But your time has come Herod, these lands now belong to your enemy... Herod....”. Herod tries to speak but manages only to increase the pain in his chest while the only substance managing to exit his mouth is his own blood. “Your time is over... Herod..., but do not worry my dear friend I will take... care... of matters for you.”. A loud and sarcastic laugh fills the air while a faint shadow of a long object approaches him at great speed.
The pain is gone, everything is black, all is empty. It is clear to Herod that he has been betrayed, but by whom? The area around him seems dark and empty however he is obviously lying on something hard yet it seems to have no shape. A floor maybe? Herod is filled with thoughts, questions that need answering, he crawls to his feet and starts to slowly wander the black space, unable to see anything but seems to have no end to it. How long has he been here anyway, the space seems to have no sense of time. An hour, day or maybe even years, Herod cannot tell.
A small dark figure suddenly appears on the horizon, yet the space that he now wanders has none, Herod can see his silhouette clearly yet the darkness bears not even a single ray of light. The figure is breathing heavily as if someone has knotted a rope around his neck squeezing it partially shut. He appears to be far away, yet at the same time very close. What exactly is this place?
Out of the blue a deep and unnatural voice fills the entire space what was supposed to be endless. The voice is loud yet so strong that it makes his whole head ring. “Do you fear death?” it asks calmly while it continues to walk towards him gaining size quickly. “Death? Herod wonders. “Who is he? Where am I? Am I dead?”, Herod is unable to focus his thoughts but the figure approaching him becomes clearer while growing in size even faster. It has the shape of a man, a very large man, wearing dark armor containing thousands of razor sharp spikes that point in every direction. It is holding a massive flail which head drags over what acts like a floor yet is not there. Herod realizes that it must be as large as his own house!. He screams his answer in the direction of the man: “Fear is for the weak!”. The dark figure responds, this time with a much softer voice almost as if he is whispering but the voice is still feels like it will make his ears explode at any time. “Excellent” he says in a slightly sarcastic voice. “Then maybe we can make an arrangement?”. “An arrangement? What kind of arrangement?” Herod wonders. As if the figure can read his mind it immediately replies onto his thought. “A very... good arrangement” the man replies that now seems to be slowing down in growth but is still marching slowly towards him. “I like you Herod, you were a good servant for a man like me. I will grant you this one chance to return to the world, return to the living and set things right”. “How long have I been here?” Herod asks the man,”Is there still time?”. The colossal man answers, “There is no time here, but eternity. However on the living side enough time has come to pass to allow the destruction of the town you so desperately tried to defend and every single man, woman and child within it”. The most horrible thoughts fill Herod's head only quickly to be replaced by bitter anger. He realizes that there is nothing to return for, no family or friends. The only thing worth returning for is to find that man that has betrayed him, that man that has betrayed him and destroyed it all, the man that he failed to recognize on the battlefield. “Be careful with your decision though, if you were to fail, your soul will no longer belong to me.”.Belong to me? It doesn't take Herod long to realize that whom he is speaking to can only be Hextor, the god of war and destruction, his god that granted him his powers while riding into battle. “Whom would it belong to then?” Herod replies calmly. A few seconds pass by before an answer billows through his head. “Death...” and the seemingly endless space around him fills with a dark but amused laugh. “I accept...”. Hextor lifts his massive flail from the ground and touches the head with his finger upon which it starts to glow dark green as if it were set on fire with poison. “This wont hurt...” as he sweeps the flail through the air directing the massive head directly towards him. “Me...”.
Bright flashes, a narrow tunnel of light, the pain seems to lessen. Herod opens his eyes and carefully looks around, it is night and the air is filled with a penetrating foul smell of decaying flesh. He recognizes the distinct tree line and the mountains to the right. He recognizes it as the place where he staged his ambush upon the enemy, he must be back on the battlefield. Herod wishes to stand up but notices foot steps and ruffling noises coming from behind, instead he closes his eyes again quickly playing dead. A voice sounds surprised and almost shouts out, “Look at that one, isn't that commander of the enemy forces?” it says with a surprised and pale and scruffy voice. A second and deeper voice joins the conversation “Yes it is, always remarkable how fast an army can crumble when its leader dies in front of them on the field. Better search him, he may still carry something of value”. The two persons approach Herod slowly but in a steady pace not long for the pale voice to make itself heard again “This guy gives me the creeps somehow... Is he still breathing?.” upon which the other voice replies, “Don't be such a coward, see that pointy thingy that is sticking out of his body? He has been dead for days” and laughs a bit, but not confident, they are close. The two unknown persons kneel down beside him starting to ruffle though Herod's belongings searching for anything of good use upon which Herod opens his eyes and lifts his head up from the ground as far as he can looking right into two sets of terrified eyes, their bodies trembling from horror of what just had unfolded beneath them. A wide grin grows around Herod's face, given a macabre appearance by missing chunks of flesh around his cheeks. His voice penetrating the calm air with a deep sarcastic undertone. “Tell me gentleman... Do you fear death?”
Screams of horror fill the air.
 Creating a Half-Dead
Half-dead should be combined with a normal living character race. The half-dead traits are then superimposed on top of his original character race and when any traits between the races conflict with each other the half-dead traits will be dominant. A half-dead will lose part of his intelligence and wisdom due to unrecoverable damage to the brain and suffers a hit in charisma due to missing chunks in his body. Also he will loose the benefits from gaining or losing life from his constitution score however he will benefit ( or be killed by) from his constitution modifier. Also a half-dead will gain a small increase in power and strength (like most undead). The half-dead template gives a fun alternative on playing Alignment|evil aligned characters while still fitting into a group of adventurers, seeking to fulfill his goal. Make sure you do not set an unreachable or unlikely goal like “ridding the world from all the goblins” or “purging the world from good”. If a paladin is part of the group he may support your presence if you formerly were a good aligned person and do not intend to destroy all that is good, however he will still be naturally suspicious of you and you should be careful with your actions while in his presence.
Clerics and Priests:
A half-dead will automatically become evil and any alignment dependent variable must be changed accordingly. Cure wounds spells will become inflict wounds spells and good spells cannot be cast anymore. In case of a cleric he will continue to serve his original deity or may change religion if his Half-Dead life was granted by another god, possibly trying to convert that cleric. If returned to life by a true resurrection spell he may revert back to his original deity and / or alignment, but will still have the urge to fulfill his purpose when he was Half-Dead.
A Half-Dead is always filled with hatred and anger towards something or someone and is always evil regardless of his alignment of his past life. Also a Half-Dead must have a purpose to choose such a cursed half life and will pursue that purpose with dedication and will do anything within his power to reach his intended goal. However he has not become an animal and is not unreasonable unless the Half-Dead chooses to be so. Half-Dead still understand the concept of good and evil and may choose to help people if he was a good person before he became a Half-Dead, or incur great evil if he was evil in his past life. Whenever a Half-Dead reaches his goal the magical bond between body and soul are broken by the god of death and he will be able to rest in peace.
Alignment: Any, but the character will become evil but otherwise will retain his other alignments (chaotic, neutral, lawfull).
Class: All except a paladin (a paladin will never revert to evil, not even when pressured)
Level: A character may become halfdead at any point during the game.
 Size and Type
Half-dead have the same size and bodily appearance that he or she had before becoming one. However his body mass has decreased slightly due to missing flesh and organs. Reduce the weight of a Half-Dead creature by 30% to accompas this effect. Half-Dead need half the food and water to stay alive while requiring half the sleep to combat fatigue. The act of sleeping will however not replenish hit points but his regeneration will continue while resting (also degeneration). Holding breath under water and similar skills work normally.
Any race that becomes Half-Dead will gain the Half-Dead type next to his normal types. For example: A Human Barbarian that becomes Half-Dead will become a Human Half-Dead Barbarian.
 Hit Dice
Whenever a character becomes Half-Dead he will become a bit stronger and more resistant to damage due to some undead properties that he or she will inherit. The person becoming Half-Dead loses all his hitdice and needs to roll again for each level according to the classes it posses. When re-rolling hitpoints every class gains a hitdice one size larger then normal. For example: A level 7 wizard would have 7d4 as hitdice. Remove them all and replace them with one dice size larger, that would be the d6. The newly formed wizard now has 7d6 hitdice. The increments in hit dice are:
d4 to d6 to d8 to d10 to d12 to d14
Half-dead gain no life from a high constitution score nor do they lose life due to a low constitution score. Half-dead have a magical and unnatural fast rate of regeneration or degeneration.
The speed of a creature that has become Half-Dead does not change. Eventhough his physical properties may have changed a bit and has become a bit lighter then usual, this will not affect land based speed and the original speed must be preserved.
 Armor Class
A Half-Dead will not receive any increase nor decrease in AC that was granted to him before he became Half-Dead.
Half-Dead will not gain or lose any new attacks that may be performed.
 Full Attack
A full attack for a Half-Dead is dictated by his original race and/or class. In essence it does not chance.
 Special Attacks
A Half-Dead will not lose nor gain any special ability attacks that it could perform before becomming a Half-Dead.
 Special Qualities
Regeneration and degeneration( Living and Undead trait ):
Half-dead have a magical and unnatural fast rate of regeneration or degeneration. Each turn the half-dead will gain his constitution modifier as hit points if it is positive, or he will actually start to lose hit points if his constitution modifier is of a negative value. A constitution modifier of 0 will imply neither loss nor gain of hit points. There is no limit on how fast a half-dead looses hit points due to a negative modifier however he can never gain more hit points per turn then half his level. Having a high constitution score and keeping it high is extremely important for half-dead because you cannot be healed by normal means and must (mostly) rely on regeneration, therefor the constitution of a half-dead is a serious weak point.
Critical strikes and sneak attacks(Living traits):
A half-dead can be the victim of sneak attacks and critical strikes because they still possess organs that function normally.
Damage reduction(Undead trait):
Because a Half-Dead has less functioning organs then a normal living creature he gains a damage reduction equal to (Level / 2)/Bludgeoning with a maximum reduction of 7 at level 14. This damage reduction will replace any damage reduction provided by his original race or class but does stack with items and / or spells.
Vision and travel(Living and undead trait):
Half-dead may walk the world during daylight but will feel uneasy while doing so, a half-dead gets a -2 attack penalty modifier while being subjected to full daylight or a spell that emulates / produces bright daylight. Standing inside a dusk bar will not impose any penalties while standing in an atrium made completely from glass will. Speed is not affected, while his vision is reversed, seeing perfectly and in color in darkness while being impaired to see by day (sunlight blinds you). Needles to say half-dead prefer to travel during the night and sleep or hide during the day. They are especially keen on investigating permanent dark places like catacombs and dungeons.
Spells(Undead and Living trait):
Half dead can always be the target of spells and abilities as if he were a undead or living creature. However when a spell has effects for both like the cure wounds spells both effects apply. Because the cure wounds spell heals living creatures and hurts undead creatures a half-dead cannot gain hit points from this heal. The same is also true for the inflict spells who damage living and heal the undead. Please note that losing hit points at any time even when restored immediately will inflict pain and counts as a successful attack. Any negative penalties from being hit apply normally, like concentration or some trigger effect when loosing / gaining hit points.
If a spell only targets living or undead then the effects apply normally. For example a desecration spell will make undead stronger while consecration spells make them weaker. As both spells only target undead only the undead part of his body will hence forth be affected by it. The same is true for spells that specifically target living creatures.
Half-dead can be the victim of turn / rebuke undead spells but gains (or loses) his constitution modifier as added hit dice. When under the effects of rebuke undead the half-dead is entitled to a will saving throw each turn in order to resist its effects. He must continue to throw will saves as long as the rebuking creature is alive possibly slipping in and out of its command multiple times.
The bond between body and soul is magical and will show up as evil transmutation with detect magic spells. Also a half-dead has a strong and dark aura around him and will appear evil when subjected to discern alignment and detect evil spells. Magic may conceal these traits if it has obscuring properties. This bond cannot be the target of dispel magic and similar spells. The bond is governed by the god of death.
Poisons and diseases(Undead and Living trait):
Half-dead do not have much of a body left to be affected by poisons and diseases but still have a living part that can be targeted by them. All negative modifiers accompanying poisons and diseases apply normally except for those that alter constitution. Losing or gaining constitution will not affect hit points directly but do affect the constitution modifier. If this modifier is equal to 0 he will stop regenerating health and when it becomes negative his body will actually start to rot away dealing damage each turn until his constitution is restored to provide for a modifier of 0 or higher. This is a major weak spot of the half-dead and they are painfully aware of it.
Negative hit points and death(Undead and Living trait):
The soul that is magically bound to his body needs both his undead part and his living part to stay alive. If either where to be destroyed the bond is broken and the half-dead character will have truly died. Because half-dead are also living they will loose consciousness when dropping below 0 hit points just like a normal character would. A half-dead cannot be stabilized by heal skills but also do not lose hit points when dropped below 0 hit points. Instead his regeneration or degeneration will continue normally possible killing the half-dead faster or when his hit points reach 0 it will regain consciousness. Whenever a half-dead reaches -10 his body will be beyond repair and will die normally. He may be brought back to life with a resurrection spell but it must be performed before his body has fully decayed away. The time frame to do this is 4 plus (or minus) the constitution modifier at the point that he died. Natural decay will increase when having a low constitution modifier at the point of death while it will be decreased when having a high constitution modifier at the point of death. Spells like gentile repose can help delay the process. Once it is too late to save a half-dead his body will have decayed beyond repair and the bond between soul and body is broken. The half-dead will transform in a normal undead at this point and will have no recollection of past events and start to attack living creatures randomly or run away. At this point he can only be returned to life with a true resurrection spell.
A true resurrection spell will return the character back to life with his normal body and as his normal race. If the half-dead is still alive he may refuse to be brought back to life if he does not wish to do so. A half-dead returned to life with a true resurrection spell will always loose this prestige race.
Tongues of the dead(Undead trait):
half-dead gain the abyssal or infernal language according to his alignment (chaotic or lawful). A half-dead may be neutrally evil and in this case he must choose one of the languages and cannot change this later in the game.
Adjust the ability scores for a creature that has become Half-Dead by the following:
STR +2, A Half-Dead will become stronger thanks to his animated skeleton gaining a +2 bonus to strength.
CON +2, A Half-Dead will gain a bonus to constitution, however constitution no longer influences hit points as per usual.
DEX +0, A Half-Dead will feel no change in how dexterous it is.
INT -2, A Half-Dead will lose some intellect due to some unrecoverable damage to his brain.
WIS -2, A Half-Dead will lose some of his wisdom, partially by brain damage but mostly by becoming slightly insane.
CHA -2, A Half-Dead will suffer a hit towards charisma due to missing chunks of flesh and bone.
Half-dead are naturally uncharismatic. No living creature shall fully trust a semi dead animated corpse but will be a bit intimidated by it. Instead of subtracting a negative charisma modifier add it to your total for Bluff and Intimidate checks when conversing with a living creature. Do the same for Diplomacy and Gather information when conversing with an Undead, Demon or Devil. If the charisma modifier is possitive then the apparent undead traits are less visible and may be confused with a disise or mutilation, or the missing flesh and bone may not be normally visible if it is covered up by clothing or armor. In this situation you should treat charisma modifiers as normal.
A creature becoming Half-Dead will neither gain nor loose any feats.
Half-Dead do not have a specific enviroment where they live. Half-Dead are souls that wander the world in search of that one goal they whish to achieve. This makes their favoured location highly unpredictable and can show up litiraly anywhere in the world. However Half-Dead tend to avoid open sunlight as it makes them weaker and feel unconfortable. They usually will find or wander dark or shadowy places like catacombs, sewers systems, dense forests or other locations where the sunlight cannot hinder them much. However when nighttime falls they often leave such places in search for anything they need. This does not mean they cannot wander in daylight. A Half-Dead persuing his goal will have no problem leaving the comfort zones of darkness to achieve its goal.
Any living creature with a soul can become a Half-Dead. As such half dead can come from any organization or stature. It is however unlikely that they still feel part of such organizations as more often then not it will interfere with their goals at that point.
 Challenge Rating
Half-Dead gain some interesting features that resemble undead closely, however due to still having a partly functioning normal body the Half-Dead also gains some aditional weaknesses that will even it out as a whole. For this reason any Half-Dead should not be adjusted in challenge rating.
Half-Dead can carry any form of treasure and even none altogether. Half-Dead beasts usually fight with their natural weapons and cary no armor while humanoids will often cary equipment with them to aid them in their quest. There is no absolute rule on what a Half-Dead could possibly cary. Likely items that humanoids will cary though are symbols and items revealing some, if not all, details from his past life or the goal it now persues.
Half-Dead will per difinition become evil. This doesn't mean that they do not understand the concept of good. Especially if a Half-Dead was a good creature in his past life he may be inclined to help other good people more easily, but will most likely do it in marcabre ways. A priviously evil creature may stop at nothing and hunt good just for some fun. Use the gained evil alignment more for roleplaying the Half-Dead instead of binding to it as an absolute rule. Any race or class enabled skills that have different outcomes wether being good or evil should be adjusted towards evil, unless there is some good reason not to do that.
Any Half-Dead that gains a hit dice should do so according to the class level that it gains. However the hit dice size is increased by one step.
(See: Hit Dice)
 Level Adjustment
The Half-Dead gains some strong features like damage reduction and regeneration, however a creature becomming a Half-Dead also gains some very strong disadvantages. For one its hitpoints cannot be restored by the usual cure and heal spells making them virtually unhealable. On the other hand Half-Dead can now also become victim to spells and effects that target undead only. Due to the balance between possitive and negative traits the level adjustment is neglectable.