Zombie (5e Class)

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Zombie by ben1804-d57lweg.jpg
Zombie by ben1804

Animated by necromantic energies, zombies are the bodies of creatures doomed to wander as the living dead. Almost all of these walking corpses are mindless, devoid of personality. Rarely, a humanoid risen as a zombie retains a sliver of its soul and has a rudimentary memory of its previous life. These unlucky few can only moan in frustration as they barely recall the tools and behaviours of their past – but these specimens can become adventuring zombies. Guided by other adventurers (perhaps their prior comrades, or the wizard that rose it from the dead) they instinctively pick up the routines of combat and dungeoneering, albeit slowly. Maybe they can stave off the decay of their body as they recover more of their soul?

Creating a Zombie

How did you die? Were you slain on a battlefield, murdered in your sleep, or fall foul of a dungeon trap? How did you rise as a zombie? Perhaps a wizard raised you to guard a location, or maybe your corpse absorbed ambient necromantic energies in a cursed place. Have you risen recently, with a fairly intact body, or have you been mouldering away in the ground for months? What triggered your transition from a thoughtless corpse to having some semblance of agency? Perhaps you saw the creature that slew you, or stumbled across some trinket from your living years.

Quick Build

You can make a zombie quickly by following these suggestions. First, make Strength your highest ability score, followed by Constitution. Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma can be any value, but ensure they are each 8 or greater. Secondly, choose the unknown background.

Class Features

As a Zombie you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per Zombie level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + Constitution modifier per Zombie level after 1st


Armor: None
Weapons: Simple melee weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Wisdom
Skills: None


You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) A club or (b) a greatclub
  • Common clothes

Table: The Zombie

Level Proficiency
Features Slam
1st +2 Zombie Ability Modifiers
Poison Immunity
Undead Fortitude
2nd +2 Zombie Grab 1d6
3rd +2 Zombie Archetype 1d6
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 1d6
5th +3 Causa Mortis 1d8
6th +3 Undead Body 1d8
7th +3 Hungry Bite (1d4) 1d8
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement, Weapon Proficiencies 1d8
9th +4 Zombie Archetype Feature 1d8
10th +4 Improved Grab 1d8
11th +4 Undead Body 1d8
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement, Recalled Personality 1d8
13th +5 Zombie Archetype Feature 1d8
14th +5 Undead Body 1d8
15th +5 Improved Undead Fortitude 1d10
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 1d10
17th +6 Zombie Archetype Feature 1d10
18th +6 Hungry Bite (2d4) 1d10
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement, Recalled Personality 1d10
20th +6 Zombie Lord 2d6


Your brain doesn't work properly. Your Intelligence decreases by 4, and your Wisdom and Charisma both decrease by 2. This feature cannot reduce an ability score to less than 3.

Your Intelligence score cannot be reduced by any means, and you are not considered to have a brain: for example, you are immune to a intellect devourer's devour intellect action, or the mind flayer's extract brain action.


You don't need to breathe, eat or sleep.

Poison immunity

You are immune to poison damage, and immune to the poisoned condition.


You understand languages you know, but can't speak except through grunts and moans. As a result, you cannot speak command words for magic items or cast spells with verbal components. You can attempt to communicate a sentence of no more than three words by making a DC 10 Intelligence check, and must wait 1 hour between attempts.


You can only attack by flailing your rotting arms or swinging simple weapons. You have disadvantage on attack rolls made with martial weapons, regardless of proficiencies granted to you by race, feats, or classes other than zombie.

If you have one hand free, you can use an action to make a slam attack. This is a melee weapon attack with an attack roll of your Strength modifier + your Proficiency bonus. It deals 1d6 + your Strength modifier bludgeoning damage. The damage die increases to 1d8 at 5th level, to 1d10 at 15th level, and 1d12 at 20th level.


Your base walking speed is 10 ft. slower than normal.

Undead Fortitude

If damage reduces you to 0 hit points, you must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, you drop to 1 hit point instead.


You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Zombie Grab

At 2nd level, when you hit a creature with your slam you can make a grapple check against it as a bonus action.

Zombie Archetype

At 3rd level, you choose a zombie archetype. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 9th, 13th and 17th level.

Causa Mortis

At 5th level, you gain a feature related to the way you died. Choose one of the following:

Drowned One

Most zombies that perished in the sea become rotting corpses. Other archetypes might be bodies that were recovered swiftly from shallower waters. In any case, a drowned one remains waterlogged and can swim at unnatural speed.

You have a swim speed of 30 feet and have resistance to fire damage.

Salt Zombie

Those that die of thirst in certain mystical deserts rise as salt zombies. They are thin and dessicated, and are doomed to thirst for water they can never drink.

When you come into contact with water or fog, it is destroyed as though you had cast the create or destroy water spell. In addition, when you successfully grapple a creature with a zombie grab, you deal 2 necrotic damage to the target, and gain 2 temporary hit points.

Slaughtered One

You were slain on the battlefield. Wounds mean nothing to you.

Your maximum hit points increases by 5. It increases by 5 again when you reach the 10th and 15th levels of zombie.

Arcane Zombie

You were killed by a spell, and its energy remained within you. You know one evocation cantrip, which you can cast without requiring components. Your spell save DC is 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. Your spell attack is your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus.

Undead Body

At 6th level and again at 14th level you choose one of the following features:

Necrotic Resistance

Ravages of the flesh and soul barely effect you anymore. You have resistance to necrotic damage and advantage on saving throws made against disease.

Feel no Pain

You gain proficiency in Constitution saving throws. In addition, when you roll a Hit Die to regain hit points you can roll twice and use the greater of the two results.


You add your proficiency bonus to saving throws made against the following conditions, if that saving throw doesn't already use your proficiency bonus: stunned, unconscious, incapacitated, paralyzed.


When you eat a brain of a Small creature or larger, you gain temporary hit points equal to your zombie level.

Hungry Bite

At 7th level, when you successfully grapple a creature, or a creature fails to escape from your grapple, you can make a hungry bite attack. This is a melee weapon attack with an attack roll of your Strength modifier + your Proficiency bonus. It deals 1d4 + your Strength modifier piercing damage. The damage die increases to 2d4 at 18th level.

Weapon Proficiencies

At 8th level you gain proficiency with the following weapons: club, light hammer, flail, maul, morningstar, warhammer. When attacking with these weapons, you do not suffer the disadvantage incurred by your slam class feature.

Improved Grab

At 10th level, you add your proficiency bonus to grapple checks and opposed checks when a creature tries to escape your grapple, if you do not already use your proficiency bonus for those checks. In addition, creatures grappled by you have disadvantage on attack rolls.

Recalled Personality

At 12th level your Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma each increase by 1 (to a maximum of 20.) You can now attempt to communicate by making a DC 5 Intelligence check, waiting 1 minute between attempts. You are still limited to three-word sentences.

At 19th level, your Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma each increase by 1 (to a maximum of 20). You can communicate normally. You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice.

Improved Undead Fortitude

From 15th level onwards, the DC of the Constitution check you make when using Undead Fortitude is 0 + the damage taken.

Zombie Lord

At 20th level, when you make an attack with a weapon with which you are proficient, you can make a slam attack as a bonus action.

Zombie Archetypes

Rotting Corpse

Your body has begun the process of decay. Perhaps you were already dead for some time, or you having been wandering in humid conditions attracting molds, insects and disease. Your skin and muscles are tattered, and your internal organs are swollen with noxious gases. You are mostly animated by necromantic magic, and when one of your broken limbs is hacked off (or merely falls off) it tries to crawl back to you so you can reattach it.

Animated Severance

Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, when you suffer a critical hit you can choose to treat it as a normal hit and roll 1d6 on the following table.

  • 1–3: Your hand is hacked off and becomes a crawling claw (MM p. 44). You drop whatever you were holding in that hand. You cannot use a two-handed weapon (or any weapon if both hands are severed) until it is reattached, but you can still make slam attacks. The crawling claw acts on your turn in the initiative order and moves towards the nearest foe to attack it. If it cannot see any enemies it attempts to move to your space. The claw has hit points equal to 2.5 times your level.
  • 4–5: Your leg is severed, you fall prone, and you can only crawl until the limb is reattached. The leg is treated as a crawling claw with hit points equal to 3.5 times your level. It's speed is 10 ft. and it does not have any actions.
  • 6: Your head is severed. You can only draw line of sight to your head. It is treated as a crawling claw with hit points equal to 2.5 times your level, a speed of 0 ft. and a bite instead of a claw attack: Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 0 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) piercing damage. Until your head is reattached, you have disadvantage on your attack rolls.

A severed body part is placed within 5 ft. of you. If it is in the same space as your body you can use your action to reattach it. A body part that is reduced to 0 hit points becomes inert but can still be reattached unless it was subject to instant death (PHB p. 197).

Sickening Miasma

At 9th level, you can exude a revolting aura of decay as a bonus action. The aura is a 5 ft. sphere, and each creature completely within the miasma at the start of its turn must make a Constitution saving throw against poison. The DC for this saving throw is 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. On a failed save the creature is poisoned for 1 minute. The miasma lasts for 1 minute, and you must finish a long rest before you can create it again.

Putrescent Bite

At 13th level when you make a hungry bite attack, you can also regurgitate the rotting contents of your stomach onto your foe. After the hungry bite is resolved, the target must make a Constitution saving throw against disease. The DC for this saving throw is 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. If the bite hit, the target has disadvantage on the saving throw. On a fail, the target takes 1d10 + your Constitution modifier necrotic damage.

Unclean Weapons

At 17th level the weapons you use are coated in ooze, dried blood and maggots. When you hit with a melee weapon attack other than your slam, the target takes an additional 1d6 poison damage.

Raging Cadaver

You are a well preserved specimen, with dry taut skin and no broken bones. Some semblance of blood still oozes through your arteries. When excited, necromantic magic causes your blood to surge.

Reckless Speed

Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you can choose to disregard the slow class feature and move at your normal base walking speed. If you do this, you have advantage on attack rolls with your slam attack that turn, but attack rolls against you have advantage until the end of your next turn.


You can bend your joints beyond their limits. At 9th level, it does not cost you extra movement to climb or crawl. In addition, you may add your proficiency bonus to your Strength score when determining how far or high you can jump, and to your Dexterity score when escaping from bonds, if you don't already use your proficiency bonus for these tasks.

Savage Bite

At 13th level your hungry bite scores a critical hit on an attack roll of 19–20.

Raging Pounce

At 17th level, if you move at least 20 feet straight towards a creature and then hit it with a melee weapon attack on the same turn, the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw. The DC is 8 + your Strength modifier + your Proficiency bonus. On a failure, the target is knocked prone and grappled by you.


Jianshi are corpses that rise when a roaming spirit claims it as a host, or because the burial rites were not completed correctly and the original spirit cannot leave the body. Jianshi are sometimes purposely created by a priest by placing a talisman on the corpse's forehead, ostensibly for transporting it back to its hometown for burial. They rise between four hours and one day after the time of death, when rigor mortis is at its worse. For this reason, they are also known as stiff zombies, as they cannot easily bend their limbs. They remain mobile by hopping, with arms outstretched. Their nails have lengthened and hardened. Unlike other zombies, jianshi can absorb the life essence of living things that they kill by using their long, black tongue to perform a "death kiss".

Jiangshi Traits

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain the following features.

  • When you make your slam attack, you can choose to cause slashing damage instead of bludgeoning damage.
  • You are blind, and have blindsight to 30 feet. This replaces your darkvision. You have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks to notice creatures that do not breathe.
  • When you kill a living creature with a melee weapon attack, you gain temporary hit points equal to the creature's hit dice.
Draining Tongue

At 9th level, when you hit a creature with your hungry bite, you can choose to cause necrotic damage instead of piercing damage. You gain hit points equal to the damage inflicted. You can use this feature twice, then must finish a long rest before you can use it again.

Last Gasp

At 13th level, you can use your action to exhale a rancid green musk that can paralyze. Creatures in a 15 foot cone must make a Constitution saving throw against poison. The DC is 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. On a failure, the target is paralyzed for 1 minute. At the end of each of their turns, targets can make another Constitution saving throw. On a success, the paralysis ends on the target. You must finish a long rest before you can use this feature again.

Consume Personality

At 17th level when a humanoid drops to 0 hit points or lower within 30 feet of you, you may change you appearance to match that of the deceased. You gain all that creature's skill proficiencies, weapon proficiencies and the ability to mimic that creature's voice (allowing you to talk normally). The facade lasts for 1 hour as long as you can concentrate on it (as though this were a spell). The effect also ends prematurely if you are revealed to be an impostor by someone who knew that creature. You must finish a long rest before you can use Consume Personality again.


Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the zombie class, you must meet these prerequisites: Intelligence 8, Wisdom 8, Charisma 8. You must have died.

Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the zombie class, you gain the following proficiencies: None.

A player character can begin play as a zombie, and multiclass to represent the memories and skills of a past life returning. Alternatively, the zombie class is an option for a player character who has progressed in other classes, was killed, but could not have raise dead cast on them within the 10 day limit.

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