Undead are once-living creatures animated by spiritual or supernatural forces.


An undead creature has the following features.


An undead creature possesses the following traits (unless otherwise noted in a creature’s entry).

  • No Constitution score. Undead use their Charisma score in place of their Constitution score when calculating hit points, Fortitude saves, and any special ability that relies on Constitution (such as when calculating a breath weapon’s DC).
  • Darkvision 60 feet.
  • Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms).
  • Immunity to death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning.
  • Not subject to nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength), as well as to exhaustion and fatigue effects.
  • Cannot heal damage on its own if it has no Intelligence score, although it can be healed. Negative energy (such as an inflict spell) can heal undead creatures. The fast healing special quality works regardless of the creature’s Intelligence score.
  • Immunity to any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless).
  • Not at risk of death from massive damage, but is immediately destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points.
  • Not affected by raise dead and reincarnate spells or abilities. Resurrection and true resurrection can affect undead creatures. These spells turn undead creatures back into the living creatures they were before becoming undead.
  • Proficient with its natural weapons, all simple weapons, and any weapons mentioned in its entry.
  • Proficient with whatever type of armor (light, medium, or heavy) it is described as wearing, as well as all lighter types. Undead not indicated as wearing armor are not proficient with armor. Undead are proficient with shields if they are proficient with any form of armor.
  • Undead do not breathe, eat, or sleep.
  • Per the spell magic jar: “Undead creatures are powered by negative energy. Only sentient undead creatures have, or are, souls.” This is an important sentence when considering any spells or effects which reference “souls.”

Five Things Almost Everyone Knows About Undead

The following are a few facts that are considered common knowledge among civilized peoples.

  1. Most undead were once living. Knowing details about the phase of existence that preceded a creature’s undeath is often invaluable in determining its motives.
  2. Holy water damages undead as though it were acid. Distributed by goodly religious orders the world over, holy water is the only line of defense against undead for many commoners.
  3. Undead are invariably evil, as are the means to create such beings.
  4. Undead are healed by negative energy and harmed by positive energy.
  5. Undead are immune to numerous magical effects, including mind-affecting effects and abilities that affect a creature’s physical constitution.

Undead Uprising!

Whether from an ancient curse or fell necromancy, one of the most terrifying of all supernatural disasters is the undead uprising—the dead emerging from their graves to claim the living. This disaster can strike any area where the dead have been laid to rest, not just towns and cities. More than one blood-soaked battlefield has given rise to a legion of desiccated undead warriors.

Undead uprisings occur in waves, with the timing varying according to the underlying forces at play. The events may happen over the course of only a few days, devastating a city, or be spread out over weeks as the terrified populace cowers behind locked doors and struggles to survive. During the day, life often returns to some semblance of normalcy, as the light of day briefly suppresses the power of the undead.

The Unquiet Dead

On the first nights of an undead uprising, the bodies of the recently dead rise as zombies. Those interred in consecrated ground remain at rest, but bodies left unburied or in mass graves lurch out into the streets, wreaking havoc. At first, only a few corpses are able to free themselves from their coffins and tombs, but each night, more bodies return to walk the land of the living. When dawn breaks, the dead seek safety in their graves or other hidden places. Any caught in the daylight flail about confused, as per the condition until they are destroyed or manage to stagger into shelter. At the GM’s discretion, non-humanoid corpses may rise as undead on subsequent nights.

Skeletal Awakening

As the uprising progresses, older and older corpses join the shambling ranks of the undead. Skeletons wearing traces of long-rotted funeral garb claw their way out of graveyards and crypts, and act with a malevolence and organization rarely encountered among their ilk. The undead remain mindless, but the magical power behind the incursion gives them the efficiency and tactical acumen of a living army. The skeletons seek out weapons and armor to gird themselves for battle. Elite skeletal champions lead the troops, wielding magic items scavenged from abandoned graves. Eventually, ghouls and wights prowl the streets after dark as well, along with other lesser, free-willed undead.

Lost Souls

As the uprising gathers strength, the unquiet souls of bodies long since turned to dust awaken as well. Ghosts, shadows, wraiths, and even spectres arise to prey upon the living. A handful of the ghosts might be free from the malevolent influence of the uprising, and enterprising PCs may be able to glean valuable intelligence from these troubled spirits.

The infusion of negative energy strengthens the undead within the area of the incursion, providing the benefits of a desecrate spell. Areas that were once consecrated are now treated as normal ground, and may well provide new sources of corpses for the undead armies, but hallowed ground remains inviolate. As the undead grow stronger, the growing flood of negative energy brings the Shadow Plane closer, leaving colors muted or gray except during the brightest hours of daylight. Even those undead most vulnerable to light can move about with impunity from late afternoon to mid-morning.


If the flow of negative energy is not reversed, darkness finally claims the area, cloaking it in perpetual shadow. The entire area of the undead uprising functions as if under the effects of an unhallow spell (with no additional spell effect tied to it). Hallowed ground remains a rare sanctuary, but only until destroyed by the malevolent forces without. Heroes who perished in the battle against the uprising return as fearsome undead generals. The few living survivors are enslaved as thralls. The area becomes a city of the dead, or construction begins if no such city existed or survived. Free-willed undead flock to this new sanctuary, and only the greatest of heroes can return this now-blighted area to the world of the living.

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