Gravetouched is a new player class option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition. This is playtest material and not official. Please feel free to leave any comments and constructive criticisms down in the comments section.
- 11/17/2018 – Nerfed Death’s Thirst so it only heals for half. Thanks to the folks on Reddit (and elsewhere) that suggested it!
Gravetouched Class Table of Contents
- Design Notes
- Class Features
- Necromantic Paradigms:
- Angel of Death
- New Weapon: Scythe
Swiftly, he catches the orc’s fist and ties both its arms up in a grapple. Then, his fangs emerge, sinking into the green flesh of the orc’s neck. Instantly, his blood magic allows him steals a vision of the orc’s past. Most importantly, that vision tells him where the orc and his clan are hiding the kidnapped children. After he’s done siphoning the orc’s memories he abruptly ends its life with a chilling magic phrase. His blood-soaked face turns to a rictus as his comrades look on in horror. “Don’t worry, folks. I got what we came for. Let’s go.”
A human grabs as his throat as an invisible force chokes him, lifting him six inches off the ground. “I think you’re holding out on me,” says the half-orc with the chilly, remorseless look in his eyes. “I hope you’re not afraid of death. I know I’m not.” The half-orc throws his head back and laughs, tightening his telekinetic grip on the human’s throat.
The villagers bar their doors. Horses neigh. Children cry. The woman stalks through town, hood drawn low, scythe by her side. Death is here.
Gravetouched are dark souls cursed with an innate bond with death. Some use their experiences to go beyond their mortal forms and achieve undeath, while others might use their necromantic knowledge to unlock innate powers.
Death is everpresent. Gravetouched know this all too well. In fact, they are death’s ushers, using their innate necromantic powers to help others reach their final resting place. All gravetouched have the ability to speak Dark Rites, grim passages all they know by heart that can literally release a soul from its mortal shell. Creatures killed by a gravetouched Dark Rites collapse into withered, rotting corpses; truly terrible to behold!
The Road to Undeath
Most gravetouched are not obsessed with immortality like some undead. Instead, they see undeath as the middle ground between life and death. It is in undeath that they can fully realize their potential as harbingers of dread. And once their mission is complete, they, like so many before them, can die, too.
A quick intermission before we jump into the details of this class. The class itself uses the rogue as a model with a few notable changes. Namely, it relies less on skills, and more on a slow to change to undeath.
It’s also a total SAD Intelligence based class. Like a rogue, it lacks area control abilities, relying more on heavy-hitting one-shot kill powers, especially its Dark Rites ability.
Dark Rites may seem more powerful than Sneak Attack, but keep in mind that a) it’s relying on a Constitution saving throw vs an attack and b) it doesn’t have a weapon’s damage with it, so it scales differently. In addition, Sneak Attack works against most creatures, whereas Dark Rites does not work against undead or constructs at first, and can be avoided easily by creatures that are resistant or immune to necrotic damage.
The three subclasses have elements of the rogue sub-classes (especially Psychomancers which work similarly to Arcane Tricksters) as well as the monk class. During my research of the 5e classes, I noticed that monks and rogues both have similar class structures, so the horizontals were very similar.
My design team and I worked very hard to make sure this class was balanced and all of the RAW is solid. Of course, it will need some playtesting. And there will be errata. Regardless, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them down in the comments below. Otherwise, enjoy!
Creating a Gravetouched
What originally turned you to the path of a gravetouched? Maybe you survived a near-death drowning experience as a young child. Or perhaps you were locked in the tomb of your parents following a funeral. You could have even grown up in the tower of a respected necromancer, developing less a fascination and more an appreciation for death and its mesmerizing lure.
And why did you set out into the world as an adventurer? Do you feel a compulsion to spread death to those who deserve it? Or do you wish to learn more about the mortal coil, studying the violent adventurers you surround yourself with? Maybe you’re seeking greater undeath, lichdom or true vampirism.
You can make a gravetouched quickly by following these suggestions. First, Intelligence should be your highest ability score, followed by Constitution. Second, choose the sage background (or haunted one if you own a copy of Curse of Strahd).
|Level||Proficiency Bonus||Dark Rites||Features|
Innate Spellcasting, Dark Rites, Mortality Sense
|2nd||+2||1d8||Aspect of Death|
|4th||+2||2d8||Ability Score Improvement|
|6th||+3||3d8||Improved Mortality Sense|
|8th||+3||4d8||Ability Score Improvement|
|9th||+4||5d8||Necromantic Paradigm feature|
|12th||+4||6d8||Ability Score Improvement|
|13th||+5||7d8||Necromantic Paradigm feature|
|16th||+5||8d8||Ability Score Improvement|
|17th||+6||9d8||Necromantic Paradigm feature|
|19th||+6||10d8||Ability Score Improvement|
As a gravetouched, you have the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d8 per gravetouched level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per gravetouched level after 1st
Armor: Light armor
Weapons: blowguns, simple weapons, rapiers, scythes (see the end of the class description), shortswords
Saving Throws: Constitution, Intelligence
Skills: Choose three from Arcana, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, and Religion
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a scythe or (b) any simple weapon
- (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two daggers
- (a) a scholar’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
- leather armor
Beginning at 1st level, some of your features give you spell-like abilities. You use your Intelligence whenever an innate spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for an innate spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Spell attack DC = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Beginning at 1st level, as an action, you can utter a dreadful phrase that causes injured creatures to suffer.
Once per turn, you can target one creature that doesn’t have all its hit points within 30 feet of you. The target must make a Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC, taking 1d8 necrotic damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one.
The amount of the extra damage increases as you gain levels in this class, as shown in the Dark Rites column of the Gravetouched table.
This feature has no effect on undead or constructs.
At 1st level, you can tell how much vitality a creature has with only a glance. Once per round, when you see a creature that is within 30 feet of you take damage, you can use your reaction to force that creature to make a Charisma saving throw against your spell save DC. If the creature fails its saving throw, your DM tells you the creature’s current hit points. On a success, nothing happens. If you are the one that dealt damage to the target on the same turn, the creature makes its Charisma saving throw with disadvantage.
This feature has no effect on undead or constructs.
Aspect of Death
Starting at 2nd level, you have accepted the chill embrace of death and in return, you’ve been granted various powers. As an action, you can activate or deactivate one of the following aspects. The aspect stays in effect until you use another action to deactivate it or replace it with another aspect, or if you are killed.
While active, the aura deals 2 necrotic damage to any creature that ends its turn within 10 feet of you. This damage increases when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to 3 at 5th level, 4 at 10th level, 5 at 15th level, and 6 at 20th level. Undead and constructs ignore this effect.
You can use your bonus action to Hide on each of your turns in combat.
When you use the Dark Rites feature you can add your Intelligence bonus to your damage rolls.
At 3rd level, you choose a paradigm that you emulate in the practice of your necromancy: Angel of Death, Lifedrinker, or Psychomancer, all detailed at the end of the class description. Your paradigm choice grants you features at 3rd level and then again at 9th, 13th, and 17th level.
Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Starting at 5th level, you gain another aspect that you can use with your Aspect of Death feature.
Immediately after you deal damage with your Dark Rites feature, you can use your bonus action to regain a number of hit points equal to half the necrotic damage dealt (rounded down).
Improved Mortality Sense
Starting at 6th level, when you use your reaction to use your Mortality Sense feature, your target automatically fails its saving throw. In addition, you can now use Mortality Sense to target undead and constructs.
At 7th level, your familiarity with your own biology and mortality allows you to avoid effects that would otherwise harm your physiology, such as a beholder’s enervation ray or a drow’s poisoned crossbow bolt. When you are subjected to any effect that allows you to make a Constitution saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.
In addition, you are immune to poison and the poisoned condition.
At 10th level, you have advantage on saving throws against becoming charmed or frightened.
Starting at 11th level, you gain another aspect that you can use with your Aspect of Death feature.
You can create up to three undead servants. The method of creating and commanding these servants is similar to the animate dead spell. However, if you use your action to replace this aspect with another aspect or are killed, the creatures immediately return to their original states: the zombies become corpses again and the skeletons turn back into piles of bones. Otherwise, the undead remain and continue to follow your commands to the best of their ability.
At 15th level, you can create up to five undead servants at a time using this feature.
At 14th level, you are halfway between life and undeath. In addition, you no longer require food or drink, you are immune to exhaustion, and you do not need to sleep. Instead, you enter a trance, remaining semiconscious for 4 hours a day. While in this trance, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit as you would from 8 hours of sleep. This effect does not stack with other trance effects, such as an elf’s.
By 15th level, you acquire greater mental strength. You gain proficiency in Wisdom saving throws. In addition, you have resistance to psychic damage.
Starting at 18th level, you gain another aspect that you can use with your Aspect of Death feature.
Once per turn, you can use your bonus action to target one creature that you can see and that can see you within 30-feet of you. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC or be stunned until the end of its next turn. Undead, constructs, and creatures immune to being frightened automatically pass their saving throws.
At level 20, when you use your Aspect of Death feature, you can activate two aspects instead of one. You may not select an option more than once.
Necromancy is more than just an arcane tradition, but the ontological discipline of death and its inevitability. So it’s unsurprising that there is more than just one type of gravetouched in the world. These different archetypes are known as Necromantic Paradigms. Your choice of paradigm is a reflection of your philosophies, ideals, and preferred techniques as a gravetouched.
Angel of Death
Most cultures have a personification of death. As an Angel of Death, you are that personification. The Angel of Death’s mission is to usher souls into the next life without hesitation or remorse. Your abilities focus on the most effective and efficient ways to do just that.
Starting when you take the Angel of Death paradigm at 3rd level, you gain another aspect that you can use with your Aspect of Death feature.
You have learned to channel your negative energy to create a ghostly skull crackling with dark energy which you send hurling at your enemies. As a bonus action, you can make a ranged spell attack against one creature that you can see within 30 feet of you. On a hit, the target takes 1d4 necrotic damage and it can’t regain hit points until the start of its next turn. Until then, the skull clings to the target. This effect creates more than one skull when you reach higher levels: two skulls at 9th level, three skulls at 13th level, and four skulls at 17th level. You must direct each skull at a different target. Each additional skull is optional. Make a separate attack roll for each of them.
Detect the Dead
Starting at 9th level, you can magically sense the presence of creatures up to 100 feet away that are either dead, undead, or have 0 hit points remaining. You know the direction they are in but not their exact locations.
At 13th level, you gain another aspect that you can use with your Aspect of Death feature.
You sprout a pair of wings on your back; these wings can be spectral, bone, or feathered (your choice). You gain a flying speed equal to your movement speed. If you use your action to change or deactivate your aspect or you are killed your wings vanish and you fall if you are still aloft unless something can stop your fall.
Inevitability of Death
At 17th level, you can use your action to weaken a target against your necrotic attacks. Choose a creature that you can see within 30 feet of you. That creature must make a Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, nothing happens. On a failed save, you may choose one of the following effects:
- If the creature is immune to necrotic damage, it temporary loses its immunity to necrotic damage and replaces it with resistance to necrotic damage for 1 minute.
- If the creature is resistant but not immune to necrotic damage, it temporarily loses its resistance to necrotic damage for 1 minute.
- If the creature is not resistant or immune to necrotic damage, it temporarily gains vulnerability to necrotic damage for 1 minute.
- If the creature is undead or a construct and is not immune to necrotic damage, you may use your Dark Rites feature against that same creature for 1 minute.
You can not use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.
There are necromancers who believe that the secret to life and death hides in one of the fundamental elements of our mortal forms: blood. Part-vampire and part-necromancer, these Lifedrinkers (as others refer to them with cautious whispers) use blood to power their unique abilities. Even among other gravetouched, these ghoulish, blood-drenched maniacs are feared.
Starting when you take this paradigm at 3rd level, you start to take on animalistic traits that make you a fearsome foe in combat. You gain the following benefits while you are wielding only one-handed simple weapons and you aren’t wearing medium or heavy armor or wielding a shield:
- Unless you already have one, your bite becomes a natural weapon which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with your bite, you deal piercing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice) instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike, plus 1 necrotic damage.
- If a creature within 5 feet of you is willing, grappled by you, incapacitated, or restrained, you can make one bite attack as a bonus action assuming you haven’t already taken a bonus action for the turn.
When you choose this paradigm at 3rd level, you learn how to create spell-like effects from the freshly drawn blood of living creatures that you’ve just consumed. If you hit a creature with your bite attack on your turn, you may immediately use your reaction to use one of your blood magic disciplines.
Undead and constructs, as well as creatures that are resistant or immune to necrotic damage, are not affected by your blood magic disciplines.
At 3rd level, you know the Blood Rites blood magic discipline and one other blood magic discipline of your choice, which are detailed in the “Blood Magic Disciplines” section below. You learn one additional blood magic discipline of your choice at 9th, 13th, and 17th level.
Whenever you learn a new blood magic discipline, you can also replace one blood magic discipline that you already know with a different discipline.
Blood magic disciplines use your spell save DC and spell attack DC as described in your Innate Spellcasting class feature.
Blood Magic Disciplines
The blood magic disciplines are presented in alphabetical order. If a discipline requires a level you must be that level in this class to learn the discipline.
Banishing Bite (17 Level Required). After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately use your reaction to force the creature to make a Charisma saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is banished as if affected by the banishment spell.
Bewitching Bite. After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately use your reaction to force the same creature to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is charmed by you. Although the target isn’t under your control, it takes your requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and it is a willing target for your bite attack.
Each time you or your companions do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 1 hour or until you are incapacitated, on a different plane of existence than the target, or take a bonus action to end the effect.
Blood Rites. After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately use your reaction to use your Dark Rites feature against the same creature.
Fiendish Bite. After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately use your reaction to tear away part of the target’s flesh. The creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 1d6 slashing damage at the start of each of its turns due to a fiendish wound. Each time you hit the wounded target with this blood magic discipline, the damage dealt by the wound increases by 1d6. Any creature can take an action to stanch the wound with a successful DC 13 Wisdom (Medicine) check. The wound also closes if the target receives magical healing.
Insightful Bite (9th Level Required). After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately use your reaction to explore the target’s memories. The target must succeed on an Intelligence saving throw. If it fails, you gain insight into its reasoning (if any), its emotional state, and something that looms large in its mind (such as something it worries over, loves, or hates). If it succeeds the effect ends. Either way, the target knows that you are probing into its mind.
You are allowed to ask a single question which you can verbally direct at the target. This naturally shapes the course of its thoughts, so this blood magic discipline is particularly effective as part of an interrogation.
Your ability to read the creature’s thoughts ends at the start of the creature’s next turn.
Slowing Bite (13th Level Required). After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately use your reaction to force the same creature to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the target is magically slowed for 1 minute. The target’s speed is halved, it takes a -2 penalty to AC and Dexterity saving throws, and it can’t use reactions. On its turn, it can either take an action or a bonus action, not both. Regardless of the creature’s abilities or magic items, it can’t make more than one melee or ranged attack during its turn.
Stunning Bite (9th Level Required). After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately use your reaction to force the same creature to make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is stunned until the end of its next turn.
Stupefying Bite (17th Level Required). After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately force the same creature to make an Intelligence saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 3d6 psychic damage and the creature’s speech becomes a muddled mess. The creature can’t cast spells with verbal components and loses its ability to communicate with spoken words. The creature can repeat its saving throw on each of its turns, ending the effect on itself with a success. The effect lasts for 1 hour or until you are incapacitated, on a different plane of existence than the target, or take a bonus action to end the effect. The effect can also be ended by a remove curse spell or similar magic. A creature that succeeds on its saving throw or the effect ends for it is immune to your Stupefying Bite for 24 hours.
Terrifying Bite. After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately force the same creature to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is frightened for 1 minute. The creature can repeat its saving throw at the end of its turn, ending the effect on itself with a success. A creature that succeeds on its saving throw or the effect ends for it is immune to your Terrifying Bite for 24 hours.
Venomous Bite. After you deal damage with your bite attack, you may immediately use your reaction to force the same creature to make a Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC. On a failed save, the creature is poisoned.
Weakening Bite (17th Level Required). After you deal damage with your bite attack against a creature that has one or more damage immunities, you may immediately use your reaction to attempt to disable one of the creature’s damage immunities. Your DM tells you which immunities the creature has if any. Select one of the immunities. The creature must then make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature temporarily loses that immunity and replaces it with resistance against the same damage type. If you use this blood magic discipline again on the same target, you can select another of its immunity to weaken. You can not weaken the same immunity more than once. This effect lasts for 1 minute or until you are incapacitated, on a different plane of existence than the target, or take a bonus action to end the effect.
You’ve seen into the afterlife. And it’s bad. Real bad. This brush with death has also tapped into your latent psionic abilities. In addition to special attacks and abilities granted by your psionics, you can catch glimpses of the future.
When you reach 3rd level, you gain the ability to use psionic powers. Psionic powers work similar to spellcasting with bard spells. See chapter 10 of the Player’s Handbook for the general rules of spellcasting and chapter 11 for the bard spell list. You do not require components to cast your spells.
Cantrips. You learn three cantrips: mage hand and two other cantrips of your choice from the bard spell list. You learn another bard cantrip of your choice at 10th level.
Psychic Points. Each of your psychomancer spells has a psychic point cost based on its level. The Psychic Point Cost table summarizes the cost in spell points for slots from 1st to 5th level. Cantrips don’t require slots and therefore don’t require spell points.
To use your spells, you have a pool of psychic points. You expend a number of psychic points to create a spell slot of a given level, and then use that slot to cast a spell. You can’t reduce your psychic point total to less than 0, and you regain all psychic points when you finish a long rest.
The number of psychic points you have to spend is based on your level as a Gravetouched, as shown in the Psychomancer Spellcasting table. Your level also determines the maximum-level spell slot you can create. Even though you might have enough points to create a slot above this maximum, you can’t do so.
Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher. You know three 1st-level bard spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the divination and enchantment spells on the bard spell list.
The Spells Known column of the Psychomancer Spellcasting table shows when you learn more bard spells of 1st level or higher. Each of these spells must be an enchantment or divination spell of your choice and must be of a level which you can cast. For example, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.
The spells you learn at 8th, 14th, and 20th level can come from any school of magic.
Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of your bard spells you know with another spell of your choice from the bard spell list. The new spell must be of a level from which you can cast, and it must be a divination or enchantment spell, unless you’re replacing the spell you gained at 8th, 14th, or 20th level.
Spellcasting Ability. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for your bard spells since you learn your spells through tapping into the dark regions of your mind. You use your Intelligence whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a bard spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one:
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
|Gravetouched Level||Cantrips Known||Spells Known||Psychic Points||Max Spell Level|
Psychic Point Cost
|Spell Level||Point Cost|
Power of the Mind
Starting at 3rd level, whenever you cast a spell that requires a target to make a Wisdom saving throw, you can have the target make an Intelligence saving throw instead. You must decide what type of saving throw the creature must make before it rolls.
When you cast mage hand, the spectral hand is invisible.
When you reach 9th level, you can use your Action to spend 3 psychic points to mentally assault one creature that you can see within 90 feet of you. The target must make an Intelligence saving throw, taking 3d8 psychic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. On a failed save, you also can briefly see into the creature’s mind as if you had used the detect thoughts spell (no further saving throw required). This effect lasts until the start of the creature’s next turn and the target is aware of you probing its mind.
Improved Innate Telekinesis
At 13th level, your ability to use your mage hand to assist you improves. When you cast the spell and as a bonus action on your subsequent turn, you can spend 3 psychic points to perform one the following additional tasks with it:
- The hand attempts to push a creature within 5 feet of it in a direction you choose. Make an Intelligence check contested by the Strength (Athletics) check of the target. If the target is Tiny, you have advantage on the check. If you succeed, the hand pushes the target up to 5 feet plus a number of feet equal to five times your Intelligence ability modifier. The hand moves with the target to remain within 5 feet of it.
- The hand attempts to grapple a Medium or smaller creature within 5 feet of it. You use your Intelligence score contested by the Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check of the target (the target’s choice) to resolve the grapple. If the target is Tiny, you have advantage on the check.
- The hand strikes one creature or object within 5 feet of it. Make a melee spell attack for the hand using your game statistics. On a hit, the target takes 2d8 force damage.
At 17th level, you can use your Action to spend 5 psychic points to release a wave of psychic energy at a point you choose within 150 feet. Each creature in a 20-foot radius sphere centered on that point must make an Intelligence saving throw. A target takes 5d8 psychic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
New Weapon: Scythe
What would a gravetouched be without its scythe? A scythe is a martial melee weapon that costs 10 gp. It deals 2d4 slashing damage on a successful hit. Scythes weigh 6 lbs and have the heavy and two-handed weapon properties.
Thanks for reading!
This class was a blast to make and hopefully, you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it. I’ve been getting a lot of people demanding a book of these classes so I might work on creating one soon and kickstarting it.
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See you next time!
Art by Ming Zhu Yang and Laura Salva. from Legends of the Cryptids card game.