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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Jun 2011

    Question Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    One of the most frustrating things in D&D homebrew is creating classes, races, etc. around certain concepts from level 1. Many concepts, such as Dragon Riders, are, sadly, almost impossible to play from the start.

    While I'm still brainstorming on Dragon Riders from level 1, here I'd like to discuss the issue of incorporeal undead. More specifically, ghosts. Ghostwalk is the only supplement that aids players in their ghostly adventures, but they don't work in most campaigns and, frankly, I don't like some of the ways it handles things.

    I'm going to present some ideas below and I'd like to know what the playground thinks. As long as the LA for a creature with the following traits, features, and abilities wouldn't be higher than +1, or even a weak +2, then I've done what I set out to accomplish.

    Without further ado, I present:


    Living Dead Template/Subtype
    The living dead subtype can be applied to any creature of the undead type. It's features, and traits, are used in place of those normally constituting the undead type.
    Features
    A living dead derives its hit die, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points from the class(es) it selects (unless it has racial hit die; then refer to the undead type).

    Traits
    • Don't possess a Constitution Score.
    • Darkvision out to 60ft.
    • Uses charisma for concentration checks, fortitude saves, and for their hit points gained each level.
    • Immune to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, fear and morale effects, and death effects. Not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage or drain, energy drain, fatigue, or exhaustion.
    • Living dead are not subject to massive damage. They fall inert, or rather unconcious, and are helpless until restored to at least 1 hit point. At -10 hit points they are destroyed.
    • Healed by negative energy and damaged by positive. Ressurection and True Ressurection can return a willing living dead creature, that has been destroyed, to the living. See their description(s) for more details.
    • Can be raised or ressurected, similar to a living creature may, by any spell that can animate, or create, undead. This functions as detailed for the Ressurection spell, but without any level, or constitution, loss.
    • Even though the living dead do not need to eat, sleep, or breath, they can still benefit from consumables, such as potions or a Heroes Feast spell, and must still rest to recover spells per day (or other dailies requiring rest).
    • Livind dead possess a +4 turn resistence. Turning and rebuking effects are less effective against them.


    Fade Away (Su)
    A limited number of rounds per day, equal to 3 + her [race/class] HD/level + her charisma bonus (if any), the [race/class] can become partially incorporeal. Entering, or exiting, this state is an immediate action.
    Whilst in this state she gains a deflection bonus, equal to her charisma bonus (if any), to her AC and can phase through corporeal objects and creatures. She must end her turn in a legal space or be shunted out, taking 1d6 damage per 5ft, to the nearest available. It should be assumed this ability also affects any objects, and equipment, carried by the [race/class]. Creatures, except for her own familiar(s) or animal companion(s) carried or mounted by her, are not capable of becoming partially incorporeal with her.
    Last edited by eftexar; 2013-09-23 at 11:02 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    nonsi's Avatar

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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    Lose the ability to benefit from consumables.
    Someone that inherently doesn't eat/drink/breathe doesn't process consumables in any way.
    This will also mitigate LA.

    Notice that Fade Away amounts to LA+2 (it's also a DM's nightmare feature, so you'll have a tough time getting to play a Living Dead).
    The other advantages and drawbacks, taking into account that all races come with bonuses that amount to more than zero, more or less cancel each other out.


    One thing to notice is that a Living Dead is almost shoehorned to play Dread Necromancer with Lord of the Uttercold feat (Black Lore of Moil could also come in handy, but is resource taxing), unless you already have another option thought out.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    I agree with Nonsi, Fade Away is a very strong ability and bumps up the power the of the class. Not to mention all the things they are immune to. The Cha to HP, saves and skills makes it really SAD for some characters which can be a little strong too.

    I recommend reeling back the power and possibly let them use some of their abilities later? For example, "At 5HD, you can use fade away as an immediate action" and at first level it takes a standard action?

    Warforge still have a Con score since they are a "living construct" so why not the living dead?

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    bekeleven's Avatar

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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsi View Post
    Lose the ability to benefit from consumables.
    Someone that inherently doesn't eat/drink/breathe doesn't process consumables in any way.
    Not that I necessarily disagree with your balance calls, but warforged share this clause.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Eurus's Avatar

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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    I would call it at plus two LA. Unholy Toughness is itself a very powerful and rare ability, and while Fade is a decent way to handle incorporeality it's still pretty notable.
    Avatar by araveugnitsuga.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Dec 2008

    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    First, let me say that this post isn't really a critique of your homebrew, as much as an acceptance of your invitation to brainstorm solutions to the underlying problem.

    I think a challenge like playing incorporeal undead from level 1 is not best solved with a template. You probably want to progress towards being a fully-incorporeal creature, rather than just having a scale-down set of abilities from level 1. Without having read Ghostwalk, I'd suggest something along the lines of a monster class for the ghost template, or even a full 20-level progression.

    I'd fluff it as follows: at level 1, a restless spirit is still strongly tied to its former life. Its sense of its own identity is all that maintains it, and that is easily disrupted, even by nonmagical physical attacks. Similarly, it has trouble leaving its physical existence behind in other ways, such as moving through physical objects or flying. As the spirit becomes more powerful, however, it embraces its identity as an incorporeal being, gaining mechanics like miss chance, flight, etc.

    By mid-levels, most/all of the advantages of incorporeality can be duplicated with spells, abilities, or items, so it should be possible to play as an incorporeal creature from that point without the DM throwing things at you. In my mind, you're better off phasing those advantages in as you progress, rather than giving a static set of limited abilities.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    Making it a monster class would probably be the best way to make it playable from level 1.
    If not I'd still suggest making it more on par with the warforge's living construct type. Maybe add the incorporeal abilities as a racial feat chain?

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    nonsi's Avatar

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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    Quote Originally Posted by desero clades View Post
    Making it a monster class would probably be the best way to make it playable from level 1.
    If not I'd still suggest making it more on par with the warforge's living construct type. Maybe add the incorporeal abilities as a racial feat chain?
    The problem with monster classes is that you have to see them thru before you can take levels in any other class.
    I'd advise circumventing this option.
    I say that feat chains or HD dependency will give more character build options without shoving specific progression routes down a player's throat (though I can hardly see how such character would handle themselves decently without being a DN, or at least having one around).

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    Fax Celestis's Avatar

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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    Official Ghost racial progression class. Might be a good place to rob some ideas.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    With some revisions based on some of your comments I've got it down to something like this:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Living Dead Template/Subtype
    The living dead subtype can be applied to any creature of the undead type. It's features, and traits, are used in place of those normally constituting the undead type.
    Features
    A living dead derives its hit die, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points from any class(es) selected (unless the creature has racial hit die; then refer to the undead type instead).

    Traits
    • Darkvision out to 60ft.
    • Uses Charisma for concentration checks
    • Immune to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, fear and morale effects, and death effects. Not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage or drain, energy drain, fatigue, or exhaustion.
    • Living dead are not subject to massive damage. They fall inert, or rather unconcious, and are helpless until restored to at least 1 hit point. At -10 hit points they are destroyed.
    • Healed by negative energy and damaged by positive. Ressurection and True Ressurection can return a willing living dead creature, that has been destroyed, to the living. See their description(s) for more details.
    • Can be raised or ressurected, similar to a living creature may, by any spell that can animate, or create, undead. This functions as detailed for the Ressurection spell, but without any level, or constitution, loss.
    • Livind dead possess a +4 turn resistence. Turning and rebuking effects are less effective against them.

    Fade Away (Su)
    A limited number of rounds per day, equal to 3 + her [race/class] HD/level + her charisma bonus (if any), the [race/class] can become partially incorporeal. Entering, or exiting, this state is a standard action.
    Whilst in this state she gains a deflection bonus, equal to her charisma bonus (if any), to her AC and can phase through corporeal objects, and creatures, as if she were fully incorporeal.
    Each 5ft of space that she phases through consumes 10ft of movement. She must end her turn in a legal space or be shunted out, taking 1d6 damage per 5ft, to the nearest available.
    It should be assumed this ability also affects any objects, and equipment, carried by the [race/class]. Creatures, except for a carried familiar or mounted animal companion, are not capable of fading away with her.


    Living dead now have a constitution score, to reduce sad, and Fade Away has more, and clearer, limitations.

    As far as the consumables go I'm debating on whether or not I should keep that clause. I've removed it for now, but, as noted by bekeleven, that is in the Warforged, which is actually what I partially adapted living dead from.

    Looking at the Ghost class, that Fax Celestis gave me above, I think Fade Away, with it's new changes is reasonable at 1st level. Ethereality is a much bigger boon and is given before +2 LA here and in a couple of other monsters. I suppose I could base the deflection bonus off of an ability other charisma, maybe?

    As far as scaling goes, that's a great idea guys. I'm not sure though whether I should do a class to extend capabilities or a feat chain.
    I suppose I could do a feat chain and then create a class that grants bonus 'ghost' feats along with a spellcasting progression or something. Does that sound appropriate?
    Last edited by eftexar; 2013-09-25 at 03:12 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Eurus's Avatar

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    Default Re: Brainstorming (3.5); Incorporeal Undead from level 1

    Quote Originally Posted by eftexar View Post
    Looking at the Ghost class, that Fax Celestis gave me above, I think Fade Away, with it's new changes is reasonable at 1st level. Ethereality is a much bigger boon and is given before +2 LA here and in a couple of other monsters.
    Yes it is, but for what it's worth, that's a terrible thing that shatters low-level balance into a million pieces. An incorporeal creature at low levels is likely to be flat-out untouchable by the vast majority of enemies, since magic weapons aren't very common. An ethereal creature is even harder to hurt, permanently invisible/silent, and generally kicks your poor DM in the gut repeatedly as he tries to come up with viable encounters and dungeons.

    That's why I much prefer your version, which does away with the whole "partial invincibility" thing. Phasing through solid objects is very potent, but restricting it to a certain number of rounds per day is a pretty good limiter.

    All things considered, I'd probably allow something like that for +1 LA. I feel like you should just allow it to be applied to humanoids as well, though, since the undead type is often template-based itself and forcing a player to be stack necropolitan and living dead to get a playable creature seems like a weird route.
    Avatar by araveugnitsuga.

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