5e SRD >Races >Ancestry and Culture: An Alternative to Races >Alternate Ancestries >


Death is not always the end. You died, but you continue to exist in some form. Life as an undead is very different than when you were living. You no longer need to concern yourself with mundane things like eating or breathing. But at the same time, things that once tied you to the land of the living no longer seem as important.

Death is Hard

The process of becoming an undead is hard and rarely intentional. You were lucky enough to retain some of your memoirs and personality, but you find that certain skills or tasks are harder than they were. You have been reborn in undeath and must relearn what was lost.

Many Kinds of Undead

There are many different kinds of undead, and an almost equal number of ways to become undead. Some retain their body, although ravaged by undeath. Some have lost all but their bones, and the most unfortunate are those that have lost their entire body and live as ghosts.

Most undead are mindless, nothing more than a dead body animated by magical programming. You are different. Either the specific type of undead you are is commonly intelligent, or you are a unique exception.

Life Among the Living

Many communities fear the undead, as unintelligent undead monsters are more common than sentient ones. Undead often need to conceal their nature to avoid negative reactions. The nature and state of an undead person’s body determines how easy this is.

Ghosts, for example, find it hard to conceal their incorporeal nature from casual observers.

Undead often congregate in locations that are friendly towards their kind. The Undead Pharaoh has opened their home to all undead creatures and protects those that swear fealty. You may have outlived all of your friends, family, and enemies, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t made new ones. Is there anyone around that remembers you when you were living? Do you even remember anymore?

Undead Traits

You gain the following abilities as a result of your undead nature.

  • Ability Score Increase. You gain a +2 and +1 bonus to two different ability scores of your choice, or +1 to three different ones.
  • Age. Undead no longer age, and in most cases will survive until killed.
  • Size. Undead can be of any ancestry or species, and have the same size they had in life. Player character undead should be Small or Medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 feet if you are Small, or 30 feet if you are Medium.
  • Undead Nature (Major Feature). You do not need to eat, drink, or breathe.
  • Dual Type. You have two creature types: humanoid and undead. You can be affected by a game effect if it works on either of your creature types.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one additional language of your choice related to your previous life.

Previous Life

“But before they died, my character was a 20th level wizard! Shouldn’t that mean I know magic too?” Death is tough on all of us, and sometimes it acts like a reset button. If you still want to cast magic, either be a wizard or pick the magic initiate feat (if allowed). If you want to go in a new direction, maybe you have proficiency in Arcana from your prior knowledge. Or maybe you just forgot everything. But no, you’re not getting anything extra from when you were alive.

Undead Form

There are many different types of undead. Most undead fall into one of three general categories: cadaverous, ghostly, and skeletal.

Choose one of the following options for your undead.


Your undead form still has flesh, but death has clearly taken a toll on it.

  • Never Die (Major Feature). When you are reduced to 0 hit points, you remain conscious and can continue to operate as if you had 1 hit point, but you must continue to make death saving throws as normal. This effect lasts until you die or you roll a failure on a death saving throw, at which point you fall unconscious as normal. A failed death save from damage still applies toward your total number of failed death saves, but does not render you unconscious. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

You no longer have a physical body. Your being is made up of ectoplasm, a substance that sometimes becomes ethereal. Ectoplasm allows you to interact with the physical world, including using armor and weapons.

  • Insubstantial (Major Feature). You can use your action to become insubstantial. While insubstantial, you can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. You take 1d10 force damage if you end your turn inside an object or creature. You can remain insubstantial for up to 1 minute, or until you revert back to your ectoplasm form as a free action on your turn. After you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

All that remains of your physical form are bones. Magic keeps your body connected, and your eyes blaze with raw magical energy.

  • Skeletal Frame (Major Feature). You are immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition.

Minor Features

Choose two of the following minor features.

  • Darkvision. Your undead nature grants you the ability to see in the dark. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
  • Disassembly. Necromantic energy holds your form together, but each piece of you can operate independently. As a free action, you can detach any of your limbs, which continue to operate as normal. You can reattach limbs as a free action on your turn. The actions you can take are limited by the limbs that you have available. Your limbs have no additional abilities or features and are limited by what they can logically do. For example, a leg can hop and an arm can crawl. You have telepathic control over your limbs, but only your head can see and hear. Detached appendages can act on their own, but can only make attacks or cast spells if you spend the appropriate action to do so. You can replace any lost or destroyed appendages during a short rest as long as you have a replacement. If you replace an appendage, you lose connection to the old one.
  • Fluent. You can speak, read, and write two additional languages of your choice.
  • Natural Weaponry. You have natural weapons, like claws or a powerful bite. These are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage (depending on the type of weaponry) equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier, instead of the normal bludgeoning damage for an unarmed attack. Your natural weapons are considered to have the light and finesse weapon properties. They are not weapons, but attacks with them are considered weapon attacks. This means that you can use your natural weapons for effects like the paladin’s divine smite, but feats like dual wielder do not apply the AC bonus.
  • Pass Among the Living. You have proficiency in the Deception skill.
  • Poison Resistance. You have resistance to poison damage.
  • Trained Tools. You have proficiency in two tools of your choice.
  • Undead Fortitude. You have advantage on saving throws against poison.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Ancestry Awakened: Copyright 2021, Pirate Gonzalez Games: Author Timothy Gonzalez