You are dead, whoever or whatever you may have been while alive, and obviously so. This hasn’t stopped you, as it turns out; whether curse or faith, accident or deliberate transformation, you are dead but you are still moving by your own will.

There’s great variability in your corpse’s potential appearance, depending on your death, your personal upkeep and grooming habits, your access to talented necrochirurgeons, and so forth: skeletal, fleshy, mummified, a kind of dry rot-like existence, immaculately preserved — withered, waxen, leathery or cold as marble — or any and all combinations of the above and more are possibilities. No matter your looks, however, even if you have not modified or ornamented your corpse you will not be mistaken for a living being.

You also carry your heart with you. Actual transmuted heart? Manifest soul? Tether to the world? All of these? Who can say, save for that last? What’s important is that this glassy bauble, heavy in your hand and kindled with a softly golden light, is what keeps you going — and must not be taken from you. Best keep it safe. Maybe even inside.


Prime Requisites: CON and WIS
Attack: as Cleric
Saving Throws: as Cleric
Hit Dice: 1d8
Armour Allowed: Any
Weapons Allowed: Any
Languages: Common, Alignment

* Life’s Chains Broken: You do not require food, water or sleep, only four hours contemplation. You are immune to poison, disease, and paralysis.

* The Cold Seeks All: You have infravision to 60′.

* Dead Flesh: As a walking corpse, you cannot heal with rest (dead flesh does not heal) and healing magic has no effect on you. In order to regain lost hit points above 1, you require the attentions of a necrochirurgeon for a day and an expenditure of 1 gp, plus access to 1 hp of corpse material per hit point regained. You may work on yourself, at a rate of 2 hit points per hour’s work, but the material needs are doubled unless you are skilled in necrochirurgery. It is possible to choose to partially restore hit points if there is a lack of funds, materials or time.

* Tethering Heart: A glass-like bauble but so much more than that, heavy and large enough to fill a cupped palm and then some, your heart is key; if it is destroyed, so are you. Putting more than a mile’s distance between yourself and your heart causes discomfort and disquiet; if another creature claims your heart, you will do anything to get it back.

* Rising: You have already died once; it is cursed difficult to put you in the ground again and keep you there. Once reduced to 0 hp you collapse, but will rise again in 1d6 hours unless your heart has been destroyed. Upon rising you have 1 hp and will remain so until the damage to your corpse is seen to (see Dead Flesh).

* Curse Of Unlife: You’re an undead corpse, and that has drawbacks beyond the inability to heal. While you’re not necessarily affected by (un)holy water depending on your personal ethos, you are definitely affected by spells, magic items, divine proclamations and other things that can affect, harm, ward or destroy unliving creatures — and that includes being susceptible to clerical turning and command. You do get a to make a saving throw vs. death magic to resist the results of a turning or command check.

* Grave Gifts: Each risen has their own quirks. Roll twice on the following table:

01. Corpse Medicine: Offer a portion of your remains, from enresinated fluids to powdered bone, to heal another at a 1 : 2 hit point ratio.
02. Grave Armour: Whether dense flesh, strengthened bone or osseous plating, improve AC by 2.
03. Eldritch Sense: Cast Detect Magic once a day.
04. Spectre: Cast Cause Fear once a day.
05. Wardead: Claws, jaws, sharpened phalanges, bony fists or implanted weaponry, attack unarmed for 1d4 damage.
06. Mortuary Sense: 2-in-6 chance to sense other undead within 60′.
07. Devour: Three times a day, regain 1d3 hp from feeding from a corpse directly.
08. Chattering Bone: Ask a corpse or part of one one question, once a day.
09. Ghostlight: Conjure orb of pale-green or blue-white “flame” as a candle, once a day; one hour, or four if conjured into your heart.
10. Vault Cadavre: A portion of your corpse is modified for ease of opening and secure storage, revealing a space that can contain small objects up to a dagger to a waterskin, depending on the location of your vault.
11. Dead Tongue: You may communicate telepathically to any creature within 100′.
12. Grave Will: You are treated as +2 HD when faced with turning or control attempts.

* Ossuary Founder: After reaching 9th level, a risen may establish or build a stronghold or ossuary, attracting 2d6 followers who may be 1st level risen, magic-users or fighters. These followers are devoted, but if they die or are permanently destroyed they are not automatically replaced.

XP Requirements:

01: 0
02: 1900
03: 3800
04: 7600
05: 15,200
06: 31,400
07: 62,800
08: 125,600
09: 225,600
10: 325,600
11: 425,600
12: 525,600
13: 625,600
14: 725,600

Why did you rise?

01. There is something or someone you protected with your life, and now with your death
02. A necromancer got you instead of the zombie they were expecting
03. It was your literal dying wish
04. A wandering traveller blighted — or blessed — you, then vanished
05. You have an oath not yet fulfilled
06. Don’t play around with necromantic rituals you aren’t qualified for, folks
07. They will not have the satisfaction of having killed you
08. This way, you may serve for eternity
09. It was a strange illness; you had no idea just how strange
10. You traded your life for something or someone precious (or you thought so, at the time)
11. Your tomb was disturbed; you didn’t appreciate that
12. You don’t remember how it happened and dearly wish to find out

Some thoughts

01. How about Basic Fantasy, AD&D and the like?

Honestly, I was going to write up entire species stats and then I realized that, since I didn’t want to add prerequisites, there’s no real need for ability score modifiers either.

Besides, when you’re dead, you’re dead. It’s the great leveler. I suppose I could have added “Requirement: Dead” to the BD&D block? But naaah.

Assume movement rates work like a living representative of the species in question unless there’s a good reason not to; apply all the special traits given in the class write-up, including Grave Goods. Unless everyone is cool with the idea, it’s probably best to not carry over special abilities from the risen’s species (if the PC isn’t a human corpse).

02. Level limits?

Nah. If you want to use them, especially as a “species” and not species-as-class, assign them as you see fit; I don’t like level limits, especially with separate species and class, and honestly there’s not a lot of stereotypes I’d apply to a dead dude in order to limit them?

(you bet your arse I’d want to write a risen cleric, say. oh ho ho ho)

03. That’s some convoluted stuff and also why does it take so much to “heal” them and …

That’s the theme I wanted, basically. You’ll keep going, but your corpse is battered and so is what’s animating you, but since it’s all dead matter a clever-handed artisan can restore you in a grand combination of sculpture, leather-and-textile arts and taxidermy. And yes, you can fancy yourself up, because you’re already dead. Be the jeweled saint you want to be in the world, even.

04. That turning stuff is rough, man.

It sure is. I like my thematics and I’m not sorry. A destruction result probably shouldn’t destroy a risen’s heart, though — something for PCs wrangling with risen to keep in mind. Or learn the hard way.

05. Why the “heart”?

Because the image of a corpse carrying this warmly faintly luminous bit of beauty stuck with me and by fuck I was going to use it.