Living Dead (3.5e Template)

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Author: Sulacu (talk)
Date Created: December 31, 2011
Status: Work in progress
Editing: Clarity edits only please
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Living Dead[edit]

Powerful mortals turned into undead monsters of great intellect and power.

The evil inherent within the curse of the living dead twists and deforms everything it touches, no matter how great the victim’s willpower. As they turn into dead in an agonizing transformative process, personality and alignment are stripped from them, turning them into vile, grotesque reflections of their former selves. However, through their unique suffering, they gain insights into the forces of life and death that no mortal should possess. They are the perfect dead, the living dead who, in their transcendence to undead retain their full mental and physical faculties, and gain many new ones. While some living dead struggle daily to cling to their mortal convictions, all but the most stalwart and resolute will quickly slip into an unstoppable descent towards pure evil.

Creating a Living Dead[edit]

Living Dead is a template acquired when a sufficiently powerful mortal creature succumbs to the effects of the curse of the living dead. The chance of acquiring this template grows with character level. Only characters with 7 or more character levels or Hit Dice can become a living dead (see Table: Becoming a Dead.

Only humanoids and monstrous humanoids can become living dead.

Size and Type[edit]

Base type changes to undead. Recalculate base attack bonus, base save bonuses and skill points over its racial Hit Dice only (see below).

Hit Dice[edit]

The creature retains any class levels it had in life, and loses all racial hit dice. Furthermore, it gains a number of undead Hit Dice equal to the number of racial Hit Dice lost + 4.


Base creature's land speed increases by 10 feet.

Armor Class[edit]

Base creature's natural armor increases by +5. A creature without natural armor gets a natural armor bonus of +5.


The base creature retains the ability to use the manufactured weapons it could use in life. It loses all natural weapons it possesses and and gains two claw attacks with a base damage of 1d8, and a bite attack with a base damage of 1d4. If the base creature possessed a claw or bite with a higher base damage, it keeps the base damage of its original claw or bite. A living dead's bite attack is infected, and carries the curse of the living dead.

Full Attack[edit]

A living dead may either attack with its manufactured weapon, or use its 2 claws and bite in a full attack action, but not both.

Special Attacks[edit]

A living dead retains all the special attacks of the base creature and gains those described below. Saves have a DC of 10 + ½ living dead’s HD + living dead’s Charisma modifier unless noted otherwise. Creatures that cast spells as a particular class gain 3 effective spellcasting levels in that class upon gaining the template. If the creature had more than one spellcasting classes upon attaining the template, he chooses which of his spellcasting classes gains the spellcasting levels.

Curse Detection (Su): A living dead can sense the proximity and direction of ambient carriers of the curse, up to a distance of 100 feet per Hit Die. This ability functions as blindsense, but it only lets them detect other Dead and living creatures afflicted by the curse. Within 60 feet of the ascended Dead, this ability instead functions as blindsight related to these types of creatures.

  • Curse of the Living Dead: A creature suffering the curse of the living dead as inflicted by a living dead's natural attacks or abilities must make Fortitude saves at a 1-minute interval. The save DC of the curse given by its bite is Constitution based.
  • Control Dead (Su): A living dead can exert supernatural influence over any lesser or greater Dead without a saving throw. A living dead can control a total number of Hit Dice of Dead equal to twice its total Hit Dice, plus its Charisma score. This ability does not affect other living dead. Uncontrolled lesser or greater Dead are always neutral to a living dead.
  • Create Dead (Sp): A living dead can force a single corpse to rise as a Dead of the type of his choice (provided the creature has sufficient Hit Dice to turn into such a dead naturally, as per Table: Becoming a Dead), or turn every corpse of 3 HD or less within 30 feet into level-appropriate Dead. Any Dead created by this spell-like ability starts out under the living dead's control unless dismissed or currently controlling too many HD of Dead. This ability cannot create living dead, and is equivalent to a 6th-level spell.
  • Malform (Su): A living dead's control over the curse allows them to mutate their own flesh or that of other Dead. As a standard action, a living dead may bestow a single malformation of their choosing upon the target Dead. This malformation is in addition to any of the malformations the target may have naturally and is permanent until dismissed. A Dead may only be granted one aqditional malformation as a result of this ability at any given time. Bestowing another malformation to the target overwrites the first granted by this ability, even if it is applied by another Ascended.

Special Qualities[edit]

A living dead retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains undead traits, the Dead's aim for the head property, lifesight out to 100 ft. and a +4 turn resistance, and furthermore gains the special qualities described below.


+4 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +4 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom, +4 Charisma.

A living dead has no Constitution score.


Any secluded dungeons and crypts, or Dead-infested regions.


Living dead typically lead an insular existence, furthering their own goals in secrecy and seclusion. Some living dead may inhabit ancient mausoleums and necropolises and use the dead interred there as resources and protection. There are a few settlements purely inhabited by living dead and their undead thralls deep in the underdark.

Challenge Rating[edit]

As base creature +3.


Usually evil (any).


By character class.

Level Adjustment[edit]


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AuthorSulacu +
Identifier3.5e Template +
Level Adjustment4 +
RatingUnrated +
SummaryPowerful mortals turned into undead monsters of great intellect and power. +
TitleLiving Dead +