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Undying

A Base Class for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

UndyingFlat

Art by Naiche Washburn

The undying utilize a mysterious school of techniques collectively known as the “phoenix arts”, named after the resurrecting fire-bird. The practice of such arts is a jealously guarded secret that helps them blur the line between life and death. In the hands of a master of the phoenix arts, death is a malleable thing.


The undying are warriors who achieve an understanding of its intricacies, and find themselves neither truly alive nor dead -- instead caught in a constant battle to remain in one state or the other. The techniques that they learn require years to perfect. Once mastered, they allow legions of undying to throw themselves in devastating human wave attacks, fight pitched battles, and take on assignments deemed too dangerous for anyone else.


The training to be an undying wipes both fear and individuality from the trainees, making them unquestioningly loyal and generally more subdued than other soldiers. They live to be commanded and sometimes have problems finding their own solutions if the answer exists outside the purview of their orders.


Though there are various military organizations that employ undying soldiers they all follow similar training programs. The funding of such schools, that must often train a large number of soldiers at a time, come from local political and religious organizations. For this reason, undying are often heavily affiliated with such institutions. Undying units are large and they accept people from all walks of life. Sometimes slaves or convicts are allowed to join such units as a way to work towards freedom. The allure of potential immortality is too good for many people to pass up, though the harsh training and lifestyle weeds out all but the best. Many undying organizations have identifying marks (brands, masks, tattoos, etc.) that mark the individual as belonging to said organization. Furthermore, some societies often impart social, legal, or political restrictions on members of these units (some example: undying may not marry, may not hold office, may not  own property, etc).

Hit Dice: D8.


Role: In spite of their tragically frail forms, drained by the powers they wield, the undying make excellent front line fighters. Counterintuitively, their greatest strength comes when they die. Able to self-resurrect, an undying can trigger enemy traps, temporarily distract the most dangerous foe for a while, or even fight a war of attrition that they know they will win.


Adventures: Many circumstances lead undying to become adventurers. Undying, who have died a certain number of times in battle, are often allowed to leave the military if they wish (the exact number varies but many times it is in the hundreds). Many stay with undying legions, finding it hard to adjust to civilian life after seeing so much combat. Occasionally a unit will actually be decimated or their civilization/organization destroyed -- leaving them the chance to see the world.


Alignment: Any Lawful

Undying training removes all fear and doubt but also much of a trainee’s individuality. They are conditioned to respond to orders and operate as a unit. While most are neutral on the good and evil axis, there are always variances in the kind of person the units attract.


Inspiration: Undying draw from a number of disparate sources. They are monastic, unquestioning death commandos who have low standing. Part of their inspiration came from the concept of kamikaze squads, sohei, death commandos, gladiators, Persian Immortals, and even fictional sources such as the Unsullied from Game of Thrones and Fedaykin death commandos from Dune. On the other hand, resurrection is a common theme throughout many religions. Outside the Abrahamic traditions, religions like Chan Buddhism, Hinduism, and even Haitian Vodou have resurrection stories. It is quintessential to our nature as frail living beings to want to cheat death, and the undying exemplify this.


Starting Wealth: 3d6 × 10 gp (average 105 gp.). In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.


Class SkillsEdit

The undying’s class skills are Climb (Str), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Ride (Dex), Survival (Wis), Stealth (Dex), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per Level: 2 + Int modifier.


Level

Base Attack Bonus

Fort Save

Ref Save

Will Save

Special

1st

+1

+0

+0

+2

Brainwashing, self-resurrection (1/day), undeath

2nd

+2

+0

+0

+3

Toughness

3rd

+3

+1

+1

+3

Self-resurrection (2/day)

4th

+4

+1

+1

+4

Phoenix arts

5th

+5

+1

+1

+4

Fast healing (3), self-resurrection (3/day)

6th

+6/+1

+2

+2

+5

Bonus feat, Unyielding

7th

+7/+2

+2

+2

+5

Self-resurrection (4/day)

8th

+8/+3

+2

+2

+6

Phoenix arts

9th

+9/+4

+3

+3

+6

Self-resurrection (5/day)

10th

+10/+5

+3

+3

+7

Bonus feat, surging rebirth, fast healing (5), unfeeling

11th

+11/+6/+1

+3

+3

+7

Self-resurrection (6/day)

12th

+12/+7/+2

+4

+4

+8

Phoenix arts

13th

+13/+8/+3

+4

+4

+8

Self-resurrection (7/day)

14th

+14/+9/+4

+4

+4

+9

Bonus feat, unthinking

15th

+15/+10/+5

+5

+5

+9

Surging rebirth, fast healing (7), self-resurrection (8/day)

16th

+16/+11/+6/+1

+5

+5

+10

Phoenix arts

17th

+17/+12/+7/+2

+5

+5

+10

Self-resurrection (9/day)

18th

+18/+13/+8/+3

+6

+6

+11

Bonus feat

19th

+19/+14/+9/+4

+6

+6

+11

Self-resurrection (10/day)

20th

+20/+15/+10/+5

+6

+6

+12

Surging rebirth, phoenix talent, fast healing (10), unending

Class FeaturesEdit

The following are the class features of the undying.


Weapon and Armor ProficienciesEdit

The undying is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with all armor (heavy, light, and medium) and shields (including tower shields).


(Sidebar) Playing an UndyingEdit

An undying is very counterintuitive to play- you want to die. When playing an undying there are two main schools of thought. The first is to rely on your phoenix arts, abilities that trigger when you resurrect, and the second is to make yourself into a undying defender. In the first case you will likely want to drop your AC a bit after you get to about 5th level (and thus have a few resurrections per day). This will allow you to trigger your phoenix arts more often because you will die more often. In the second instance, you will want to armor yourself as much as possible and take feats like Dodge to augment your AC and make up for your d8 HD.


Brainwashing (Pn/Ex):Edit

An undying feels no pain, experiences no fear, and questions no orders. They gain a bonus against fear effects, pain effects, effects that results in ability score damage, and effects that result in exhaustion or fatigue. This bonus is equal to 1/2 their undying level (minimum +1). However, a undying must follow all orders from a legitimate source they are assigned to respect without question (even if it means their death). In addition, an undying has a penalty against all (non fear) mind-affecting effects as well as Sense Motive, and Bluff checks equal to 1/2 their undying level (minimum -1).


This has an impact on how a undying should be roleplayed. They do not see options outside of their assigned task, are indoctrinated to follow orders unquestioningly, and respond well to powerful authority figures.


Self-Resurrection (Su):Edit

At 1st level, the first time per day a undying is killed he is resurrected (as per true resurrection) at the start of their next turn. During the turn when he is resurrected, he may take actions as per normal (though he is prone in most instances). At 3rd level and every odd level thereafter, he may do this one additional time per day. His uses of this ability reset every 24 hours. In order to regain uses of this ability he must have rested at least 8 hours. An undying cannot choose to not self-resurrect.


Sidebar: How to Kill the UndyingEdit

Undying are difficult, but not impossible, to kill. The trick is that they need to be put in a situation where coming back to life still results in death. Burning one alive (or dead), bathing the corpse in acid, or just having a few guys with spears is generally sufficient to take out a lone undying. The difficulty comes when undying attack en masse. It is easy to keep track of one but miss a few and things get messy.


Undeath (Pn):Edit

At 1st level, a undying who is reduced to 0 hp is killed rather than rendered unconscious. This is due to the constant tug towards the grave that results from tampering the energies of life and death.


Toughness (Ex):Edit

At 2nd level, a undying gains Toughness as a bonus feat.


Phoenix Arts (Ex):Edit

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, an undying gains new and unique benefits as his mastery over his own mortality expands. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, an undying gains a talent from the following list. Any spell-like ability uses the character’s undying level as their caster level. Talents marked with * are referred to as burst talents, and an undying can only utilize one of them per time he is resurrected. He may select which he wants to use at the time of his resurrection. An undying may also elect to benefit from no phoenix talent. Statistic bonuses provided by these abilities end upon a undying’s death.


  • Fiery Rebirth*: You produce a ring of fire around you as you are restored back to life. This deals 1d6 fire damage per level of undying and has a radius of 10 feet. Creatures in the area can attempt a Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 undying level + Dexterity modifier) for 1/2 damage.

  • On Your Feet: When you resurrect, you are standing rather than being prone. This does not provoke attacks of opportunity. In addition, any attacks made on during your first round of combat you have a +2 competence bonus for attack rolls. An undying must be at least 8th level to select this talent.

  • Light of Heaven*: Your resurrection is accompanied by a flash of divine light. All creatures within 30 feet must make a Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 undying level + Dexterity modifier) or be dazzled for 1d4 rounds + 1 round per 4 undying level (minimum 1d4 + 1).

  • Broken Earth*: Your return to life cracks the earth around you, creating a 10-foot area of difficult terrain around you. This only functions if the surface you are on has 10 or less hardness.

  • Delayed Return: An undying can delay his return the world of the living until he is ready. After he dies he may delay his resurrection for up to 10 rounds. The undying determines  how long he will stay dead for at the time of his demise.

  • Clean Spirit (Sp): Upon your resurrection you may chose one of the following benefits: Remove 1d4 negative levels, remove up to 4 points of ability score damage, or benefit from regeneration. An undying must be at least 8th level to select this talent.

  • Empowering Resurrection: After resurrecting the undying gains a +2 bonus to their Strength score and increases their movement speed by 10 feet for 1d4 rounds + 1 per 4 levels of undying. Should an undying die this effect prematurely ends.

  • Delay Taint (Sp)*: Upon resurrecting, all allies within 30 feet of the undying gain one of the following benefit: delay disease, delay poison, delay pain. This is chosen by the undying and may be selected on a per character basis.

  • Vitality Burst*: All allies within 30 feet of the undying are restored a number of hit points equal to twice undying level. An undying must have selected purge taint before selecting this talent.

  • Sympathetic Resurrection*: One creature within 30 feet of the undying is restored as per the undying self-resurrection class feature when the undying resurrects. A creature affected by this talent cannot be affected by it again for 48 hours after being resurrected by it. An undying must have selected vitality burst before selecting this talent.

  • Hardy Spirit: You gain one additional use of your self-resurrection class feature per day. This may be selected up to 3 times. A undying must be at least 12th level to select this talent.

  • Necrotic Punishment: When you resurrect, you may deal 1d6 points per 2 levels of undying of positive energy damage to all undead within 30 feet of the site of your death. Creatures in the area can attempt a Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 undying level + Dexterity modifier) for 1/2 damage.

  • Death Pact (Sp): By swearing a mystical oath and sealing the pact with a skill gained from your study of the phoenix arts, you bind your soul to another willing creature’s. The ritual takes 10 minutes and involves an exchange of blood and the undying’s oath of loyalty to the other creature (henceforth referred to as their charge). So long as the undying is within 30 feet of his charge they are treated as if you had cast shield other on them. In addition, should the undying’s charge be killed the undying is also reduced to 0 HP (the undying may resurrect however). Death does not break a death pact, but an undying or his charge may dissolve a death pact by taking a full round action. Should a death pact be broken by either party within 24 hours of it being made, the undying takes 1 negative level for 6 hours. If the death pact is broken after the initial 24 hours there is no penalty.


Fast Healing (Ex):Edit

At 5th level, an undying is granted fast healing 3 for 1d4 rounds after they resurrect. At 10th level this improves to fast healing 5. At 15th level this is fast healing 7 and at 20th level this is fast healing 10.




Bonus Feat (Ex):Edit

At 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, an undying gains a teamwork feat or combat feat. A undying has an effective fighter level for the purpose of qualifying for feats equal to his undying level -4.


Unyielding (Ex):Edit

The brainwashing an undying undergoes is both a blessing and a curse. At 6th level an undying is immune to fear effects.


Surging Rebirth (Ex):Edit

At 10th level, an undying can select 2 burst talents (those talents marked with *) to benefit from when he resurrects. At 15th level he may select 3, and at 20th he may select up to 4.


Unfeeling (Ex):Edit

At 10th level, an undying has moved beyond pain and distress. He can shut out pain as easily as he breathes. The undying is immune to pain effects; physical ability score damage; and exhaustion/fatigue.


Unthinking (Pn/Ex):Edit

At 14th level, an undying becomes a machine of war. He becomes immune to mind-affecting effects and morale bonuses and penalties.


Unending (Ex):Edit

At 20th level, an undying can self-resurrect a number of times per day equal to his undying level. This replaces the number of times per day specified in the self-resurrection class feature.






Section 15 OGL Copyright Declaration:Edit

• System Reference Document. Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. • Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Copyright 2009, Paizo Inc.; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams. • The Book of Experimental Might. Copyright 2008, Monte J. Cook. All rights reserved. • Tome of Horrors. Copyright 2002, Necromancer Games, Inc.; Authors: Scott Greene, with Clark Peterson, Erica Balsley, Kevin Baase, Casey Christofferson, Lance Hawvermale, Travis Hawvermale, Patrick Lawinger, and Bill Webb; Based on original content from TSR. • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Player’s Guide. © 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Benjamin Bruck, Jason Bulmahn, Brian J. Cortijo, Jim Groves, Tim Hitchcock, Richard A. Hunt, Colin McComb, Jason Nelson, Tom Phillips, Patrick Renie, Sean K Reynolds, and Russ Taylor. • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Magic. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Jason Bulmahn, Tim Hitchcock, Colin McComb, Rob McCreary, Jason Nelson, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Sean K Reynolds, Owen K.C. Stephens, and Russ Taylor. • Politics and Power © 2014, Little Red Goblin Games LLC; Author: Scott Gladstein • Alternate Paths: Martial Characters © 2015, Little Red Goblin Games LLC; Author: Scott Gladstein, Christos Gurd, Caleb Alysworth, and Dayton Johnson.