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Corpse Knight

The realms are full of necromancers, liches, vampires and other creatures and cults that have some relation to necromancy. These beings and organizations generally have something valuable which they want to protect: the phylactery of a lich, the sarcophagus of a vampire, or the laboratory in which a cult constructs flesh golems (and so on).

Like a king or queen who guards their treasure, these creatures and organizations want to make sure their most precious things are safe and secure. So, they let their most trusted servants or followers guard such items or places.

These guardians are called Corpse Knights. They are fighters who have necrotic powers and they are knights whose squires and steeds are made up of the undead. They craft their own armors and weapons out of the corpses of their enemies.

Corpse Knights, generally, live by a code of conduct in which the most important rule is to keep guarding whatever they must, at all cost. Although they are mostly seen in places or occurrences that have some connection to necromancy, some of them wander the world as free adventurers. Although they have a code of conduct they follow, or a master that they serve, codes can nonetheless be broken and masters can be killed. This means that Corpse Knights are not necessarily dominated by their code, nor their masters, and that they only adhere to these limitations as long as it suits them.

Becoming A Corpse Knight

A fighter can be initiated into the corpse knighthood in several ways:

  • A powerful necromancer or an undead can grant the fighter necrotic powers through a dark ritual.
  • The fighter can be exposed to necrotic energies in a location tied to the undead.
  • The fighter may have found a tome containing instructions on how to perform dark rituals and made itself a corpse knight, perhaps with the help of its friends.

Introducing the archetype in such ways may bring a certain flavor to the story. These listed options are merely suggestions to inspire both the players and the GM; you can also find other ways to transform a character into a Corpse Knight and use the above as examples to inspire your own creation.

Corpse Arsenal

A knight carries its pride in its weapons and armor. It also takes pride in its knowledge of armor and weapons. In case of emergency, you should be able to craft armor or weapons and be able to repair them when necessary. However, unconventionally, you craft this equipment out of bone and meat.

Starting at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with smith’s tools, Corpse Armor, Corpse Weapons, and your Corpse Arsenal.

These crafted items are called Corpse Weapons or Corpse Armor. There are certain types of armor and weapons that you can craft in this way according to your Corpse Knight level, as given in the table below:

Level Armor Weapon
3rd Breastplate Any Weapon
7th Half Plate Weapon deals 1d4 bonus necrotic damage
10th Plate Weapon +1
15th Plate +1 Weapon deals 1d8 bonus necrotic damage
18th Plate +2 Weapon +2

When wearing Corpse Armor, you have advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks.

Crafting an item in this way takes 8 hours and during this time, you cannot take a short or long rest as this type of crafting requires active work. You do not require a forge, nor heat, but you need the corpse of a Medium or larger creature to make an armor or a weapon.

These items possess their special properties only when you are using them. When someone other than you tries to use them, they turn back to being mangled remains of bones and flesh. The crafted weapons are thus used with disadvantage when wielded by others, and the AC the armor offers takes a -2 penalty.

However, at your GM’s discretion, you can use another Corpse Knight’s Corpse Arsenal as if the items in it were your own. Whether they belonged to an enemy or a fallen friend, using the arsenal of another knight could bring yet another flavor to the game.

Corpse Steed

Also starting at 3rd level, you can call a strong and loyal steed to serve you in your adventures. This mount is usually a Corpse Warhorse. However, it can be Corpse versions of other animals.

As an action, you can magically summon your mount or send it back to its regular dwelling, somewhere in the lands of shadow and death. When you summon it, it appears in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of you, or in the space that is closest to you if there is no unoccupied space within 5 feet. Each time the mount is called, it appears with full health and any gear it was carrying when it was last sent back to its dwelling. When the corpse steed dies, it disappears and drops any equipment it was carrying. As an action, you can call it again.

Corpse Squire

Starting at 7th level, you can create a squire for yourself from the corpses of your enemies either by performing a 1-hour ritual, or you are granted one by your master. You can have only one squire at a time and it tries to fulfill the quests you give it, and risks its life, if need be.

As an action, you can magically summon your Corpse Squire or send it back to its regular dwelling, somewhere in the lands of shadow and death, just like your steed. When summoned, it appears in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of you, or in the space that is closest to you. Each time the squire is called, it appears with full health and any gear it was carrying when it was last sent back. When the corpse squire dies, it disappears and drops any equipment it was carrying. In this case, you need to create a new squire for yourself.

You can create a corpse squire of CR 1 at 7th level, CR 2 at 11th level, CR 3 at 13th level, and CR 4 at 15th level.

Corpse Body

Regardless of whether you left the service of your former master, or you are still a loyal servant, the necrotic effects of your powers grow as you become more powerful.

Starting at 10th level, you gain resistance to poison damage and have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned. Also, you do not need to drink, eat, or breathe.

A New Shell

At 15th level, your Corpse Armor fuses with your body and becomes permanent. It cannot be broken or removed if you are not willing. You gain resistance to slashing and piercing damage from nonmagical weapons.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

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