Death Knight, Variant (5e Subclass)

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Death Knight[edit]

This content deviates from 5e standards. Its use could dramatically alter campaigns, take extreme care. DesignDisclaimer.png
Caution - Here there be monsters!
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This content intends to provide a different experience, or goes beyond the scope of the anticipated subjects and situations, than the 5e rules were intended to handle. Some portions of the content below may not be what you expect from traditional game content. When implementing this content, DMs and Players should read over all the information carefully, and consider the following specific notes of interest:
The Unbound Death Knight is a fighter subclass made for a more reckless playstyle.

Fighter Subclass

Most of the times, the Death Knight creation is the result of a failed attempt from a necromancer, to reanimate and bind a mortal warrior, with an exceptionally strong will. In other instances, he is the result of a secret dark ritual, known by only a few. These Death Knights aren't bound to their creators, nor are sworn to an oath, being free from the shackles that usually enslave undead creatures.

Those who become Death Knights exist into a unique state of being: they are both a living creature and a undead, constantly shifting between the two. When they are alive, they experience the world like any other living creature. But, when they become a undead, they start to sense the world in a different manner. They lose their sense of smell and taste, all colors they see are a bit faded and gray and their bodies become numb. They can sense the touch of something, but cannot discern textures, temperature or the pressure of their grasp. While in this undead state, they don't need food, water, or sleep, although the effects of the lacking of resources affects their body while, and, when they are alive, they will suffer from starvation, dehydration, and exhaustion.

They can't die from old age, but anything else can kill them, including neglecting their survival needs, but this form of immortality has its drawbacks, because most death knights slowly go insane as the centuries pile on.

As far as appearance goes, their bodies go through noticeable changes: their skin becomes pale white; their hair, if it's a lighter color when living, becomes pure white or, if it's a darker color when living, it becomes pitch black; the sclera either becomes bloodshot or pitch black and the iris either becomes a mixture of their current eye color and red or they become heterochromatic, with one color being red.

Alignment[edit]

An interesting part of the existence of a death knight is that they are extremely polarized. Their strong personalities is what make the return of them from the realm of death possible in the first place, without the submission to the necromancer who brought them back to life. That is because it requires a more polarized alignment to become your own master and not someone else's puppet. Because of this, the word of a death knight is his bond: if a death knight gives his word that he will do something, he will do it even if it's the death of him several times over. Even chaotic death knights will keep their vows, but they rarely, if ever, give their word and when they do make a promise, they'll do in such a way as to be able to do it their own way or weasel out of it. For that reason, a death's knight will not have an neutral alignment.

Here a some examples of behavior's of death knight from each of the four polarized alignments:

  • Lawful Good: These are most often people with an unwavering conviction for justice, believing that it's their duty to uphold what is right alive or dead. There are those, however, that resent their fate seeing it as a curse from the Gods. These people are often those that led a good life following the law in hopes of a nice afterlife. They are often antisocial and keep to themselves, but will act when innocent people are threatened. Their resentment can grow into hatred and they can become lawful evil.
  • Motto:
    • "Alive or dead it's my duty to do what is right"
    • "What did I do, that the Gods have punished me. Maybe if I do enough good this curse will be lifted"
  • Lawful Evil: These death knights often lose their memories and become an instrument of death with one goal - to kill all that is living. They are pragmatic and don't take any joy in people's suffering. If they have a choice between killing someone or causing them suffering, they will always choose to kill.
  • Motto:
    • "I don't care what you say, you are alive, and it is my duty to kill all that lives"
    • "The Gods have cursed and forsaken me, now all will know death"
  • Chaotic Good: Most often people with an insatiable lust for life. They are very sociable and altruistic caring little for themselves and material possessions. But they are often prideful and reckless, charging ahead without thinking and having a hard time asking for help. Their main objective is to make people happy, to forget their worries and live to the fullest even if it's for one day. They indulge in carnal pleasures, overindulgence can lead to them becoming chaotic evil.
  • Motto:
    • "Who cares what happens to me, I certainly don't!"
    • "Live life to its fullest my friend, for I have seen and know what is death"
  • Chaotic Evil: Driven by a fierce desire to experience any and all carnal pleasures, the more taboo the better. They also care very little for material possessions, not because they are altruistic but because they can't bring them any carnal pleasures. A chaotic evil Death Knight might throw a large bag of gold to beggars in order to incite a riot. They revel in causing suffering and watching as hope drains from the eyes of their victims. Most of them claim that when a Death Knight is closest to death that is when they get a rush like no other, so some of them constantly chase it fighting and killing anything that moves.
  • Motto:
    • "It's been a while since I was stabbed through the heart. AHHH, WHAT A RUSH!"
    • "You want to know why I tortured them, why I killed them, why I desecrated their corpses? Simple, it felt good! Just like it's gonna feel good when I bathe in your blood"

Alternative Class Feature:Share My Fate[edit]

When you chose this archetype at 3rd level, you replace your Second Wind feature by this one. When you have less than your maximum hit points, you can deal damage to creatures near you equal to the number of hit points missing. You can distribute this damage equally between two hostile creatures within 5 feet. The creatures must make a Constitution saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier, taking half damage on a success. Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Death's Embrace[edit]

At 3rd level, you attain a new state of being as a death knight. Due to your magical origin, you have a faint magical aura, and detect magic cast on you will reveal an aura from the necromancy school.

If you are caught in an antimagic field or any area who suppress magic, you lose 1 hit point when you enter this area, and 1 additional hit point at the beginning of each turn you continues in this area. Each creature within 10 feet of you receives 1 point of necrotic damage.

If you die inside this kind of area, your body explodes, dealing double your remaining hit die to all creatures within 10 feet of you. If you die in that manner, you can only be resurrected by a wish spell.

In addition, you are both living and undead, existing in a state of flux between the two. At the end of a short or a long rest, roll a d6. On a 5 or 6, you become a undead, gaining the following traits:

  • Your type becomes undead.
  • You gain resistance to necrotic and poison damage, immunity to the poisoned condition and vulnerability to radiant damage.
  • You have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) check that relies on taste, touch and smell.
  • You also don't require air, food, water or sleep.
  • You gain immunity to having your soul or life energy drained, and any creature that tries takes damage equal to your hit die.
  • You don't have an astral form, and can't enter the astral plane through any means.
  • When your hit points drops to 0 you instantly die, don't making any death saving throws.
  • After a long rest you recover half of your hit points maximum (rounded up). You can't recover hit points by other means, like spells, short rests or magical items.
  • When you deal damage to a creature with the regeneration trait, it must make a Constitution saving throw against a DC 8 + your proficiency bonus + Charisma modifier. On a failed save, the creature can't regain hit points with this trait until the end of your next round.

Undead Disciplines[edit]

At 3rd level, you can harness the death energy flowing through your body, to generate powerful effects.

Necrotic Disciplines. You learn three disciplines of your choice from the Undead Disciplines List bellow. You learn one additional discipline of your choice at 7th, 13th, and 15th level. Each time you learn new discipline, you can also replace one discipline you know with a different one.

Hit Dice. You can spend your hit dices to fuel your Undead Disciplines. You can spend a number of hit dices to activate a discipline equal to your Constitution modifier. You regain all of your expended hit dice when you finish a long rest.

Saving Throws. Some of your disciplines require your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver's effects. The saving throw DC is equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Constitution modifier.

Necrotic Draining. When you reduce a creature to 0 hit points, you can use your bonus action to drain the remaining life force of that creature to refuel your hit die pool. You can regain a number of hit die equal to the number of hit die that creature had, up to your maximum. Once you use this feature, you can't do it again until you complete a short or a long rest.

Glyph Spells[edit]

At 7th level, you begin to tap on the arcane lore accidentally infused into you by the necromancer that created you. You learn how to craft glyph's, arcane symbols that contain magic, writing or carving them on certain materials.

You learn three glyph's, at 7th level, and you learn one additional glyph at 10th level, at 14th level and at 18th level. Each glyph contain's the power of a spell from the List of Necromancy Spells. Each time you learn a glyph spell, you can swap a spell you know from another one.

When you finish a short or a long rest, you can use your tools to draw or carve one glyph onto a medium. You must spend the number of golden pieces indicated to buy and prepare the medium to carve the glyph. You can have a number of glyph's carved at the same time equal to the number indicated on the table. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for glyph spells.

You are also adept at crafting spell scrolls, which are described in chapter 7 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. You can cast any spell you know from this feature usina a scroll as if the spell was on your spell list.

Glyph Materials
Level Material Number of Glyph's Spell Level
7th Paper, 10gp 1 Cantrip
9th Wood, 25gp 2 1st
11th Stone, 50gp 3 2nd
13th Metal, 100gp 3 3rd
15th Gems, 200gp 4 4th
17th Monster Body-parts, 500gp 4 5th

Rise[edit]

Starting at 10th level, you gain the ability to magically revive yourself, as in the revivify spell. This feature closes all mortal wounds and restores any missing body parts. You must use this feature in 1 minute, or the death becomes permanent. Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you complete a long rest.

In addition, you become immune to the charmed or frightened conditions. You no longer age, and you can't be aged magically or die due to aging.

Unyielding Spirit[edit]

Starting at 15th level, you gain the following features:

  • Rising Vengeance: When using your Rise feature, you can, right after, make a melee weapon attack against a creature you can reach with your movement speed.
  • Death's Gift: When you reduce a humanoid creature to 0 hit points, you can, as a bonus action, reanimate it as a zombie under your command. When raising the undead, you can chose to spend a number of hit die equal to your Constitution modifier, adding the number rolled to the hit points of the zombie. You can have only one zombie under your command at the same time.

Deathbringer[edit]

At 18th level you unlock the true power of a Death Knight. Your Charisma score increase by 2, to a maximum of 20. In addition, you can enter in a state where you emanate pure necrotic energy, for 1 minute (no action required). You become incapacitated after the minute ends, until the beginning of your next turn, gaining the following benefits:

  • On a critical hit, you can force a creature to make a Constitution saving throw against a DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. On a failed save, the creature dies, and you can make an additional attack against any creature you can range with your movement speed. Each time you kill a creature in that manner, you can make another attack against a creature within movement range.
  • If you activate this feature while on your living state, you automatically becomes a undead until you have to roll the die to determine your state again.
  • For the duration, you score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20 on the d20.
  • You can re-roll any 1 rolled on your hit die, when using any of your Undead Disciplines.
  • For the duration, your Undead Disciplines cost 1 hit die less to activate. It is possible to activate a discipline spending no hit die.
  • If you die while this feature is active and on your undead state, the range of your death explosion increases to 30 feet.

Once you use this feature, you can't do it again until you complete a long rest or spend 10 hit dices to use it again.

Undead Disciplines List[edit]

  • Reaping Strike. You can add your hit die to the damage of your melee weapon attacks, dealing extra necrotic damage. You recover a number of hit points equal to the necrotic damage dealt with your melee attacks, up to your maximum of hit points. You roll one additional die for each 10 hit point you have bellow your maximum number of hit points.
  • Weakened Rise. When you are reduced to 0 hit points, you can use your hit die as a reaction, recovering a number of hit points equal to the number rolled. After using this feature, you suffer one point of exhaustion.
  • Necrotic Bleed. When you are hurt, necrotic energy spills from your body. If you take damage from an attack, you can use your reaction to make a creature within 5 feet of you make a Constitution saving throw, or take 1d10 necrotic damage. You can spend hit dices to increase the damage caused. Each hit die spent increases in 1d10 the damage caused.
  • Take The Pain Away. As an action, you can target one ally that has taken damage, and you take necrotic damage equal to the number of hit dies spent. The target regain a number of hit points equal to the number rolled on the dice, and gain a number of temporary hit points equal to your Constitution modifier + the number of dice rolled.
  • Attract Death. Whenever an opponent takes the attack action, as a reaction, you can expend a number of hit dies equal to your Constitution modifier to redirect the attack to yourself. You reduce the damage of the attack by an amount equal to the number rolled on the die. If the creature has multiple attacks you become the target of all of them.
  • Death Breath. You can, as a bonus action, use a breath weapon, forming a line 60 feet long and 5 feet wide from your position. The creatures on the line must make a Constitution saving throw, taking damage equal to the number rolled on the dices on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.
  • Necrotic Blast. You can spend a number of hit die equal to your Constitution modifier to make a ranged spell attack against a creature you can see within 60 feet. Use your Constitution as your spellcasting ability. You create a number of necrotic blasts equal to the number of hit die spent. If you hit a creature, it must make a Constitution saving throw, or i will be paralized until the end of your next turn.
  • Necrotic Overflow: As an action you spend your hit dices to deal necrotic damage to all creatures within 10 feet that fail a Constitution saving throw equal to the number of hit dice you spend. The area affected becomes difficult terrain, and any creature that moves to the area or starts its round in it must make a Constitution saving throw, taking 1d10 on a failed save. This effect lasts for 1 minute.
  • Indomitable will: When you are targeted by an spell, you can spend one hit die to add to your saving throw. If you succeed the saving throw, the caster must make a Charisma saving throw, becoming stunned on a failed save, until the end of his next turn.
  • Necrotic Infusion: When you are casting a glyph spell, you can spend one hit die. You can reduce the number rolled on the DC saving throw of the target by the number rolled on the die.

List of Necromancy Spells[edit]

Cantrips: chill touch, spare the dying, toll the dead

Level 1: cause fear, false life, inflict wounds, ray of sickness

Level 2: blindness/deafness, gentle repose, ray of enfeeblement

Level 3: animate dead, bestow curse, feign death, life transference, revivify, speak with dead, vampiric touch

Level 4: blight, shadow of moil

Level 5: contagion, danse macabre, enervation, negative energy flood, raise dead


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