Beyond the Shore: To Seek After Sadness
All beings die, and, when they die their are only two options: Rot or Drown (or so people say). Any sentient being that perishes while submerged in the strange waters of the world will return as one of the Drowned. The only intelligent beings that do not become one of these undead are those poor souls who breath their last breath on land. Thus it is common practice for those that are near death—those with critical diseases, mortal wounds, or suffering from advanced age—to be thrown into the nearest body of water.
While even the Drowned do not exist forever (their bodies continue to decay and their minds degrade over the centuries), this second existence allows most individuals to complete any unfinished business, allows parents to continue to protect their young, and ensures that wars are never won by attrition.
Physical Description: The Drowned are a diverse lot, being drawn from the deceased of all of the many intelligent races that have walked the world. The one consistent feature of the Drowned is that they are dead. They may appear as skeletal humans, rotting elves, salt-mummified dwarves, or any other form of sentient corpse the player wishes.
It is considered polite for a being that becomes one of the Drowned to remain in their watery graves until their flesh has dissolved, so that they do not offend the living with their smell. Unless they have some extremely pressing unfinished business (such as those that die mid-conflict) it is considered good form for them to pay their immediate respects to the Kraken King in the underwater city of Venice and remain their in his service for 3 to 5 years. Thus, most Drowned encountered will be their race’s equivalent of a walking skeleton. Truly vain individuals may return to land immediately and seek out someone to embalm their remains, so as to preserve their flesh for as long as possible.
Society & Relations: The Drowned are the one constant in the ever-changing politics of the world. Raised with the knowledge of their former lives and professions, the Drowned are what keep society running. They may be smiths, sailors, bakers, soldiers, merchants, bureaucrats, or anything else. Regardless of their former race or profession though, they perform their tasks tirelessly.
The Drowned are most numerous in sub-aquatic polities, but can be found in all land-locked cities as well. Regardless of their former lives and current station or nation, all Drowned recognize The Kraken King as their nominal lord and pay their respects to him in his sunken capital of Venice, alongside any living leaders of their current homeland.
Despite their undead nature, most people in the world treat the Drowned just as any other beings. The Drowned have existed for time immemorial. Everyone grows up around these walking corpses, and many children have Drowned caretakers: a deceased grandparent or sleepless nanny. In fact, the only dead truly pitied are those that do not make it to water before they perish, and therefore never pass into the afterlife as one of the Drowned.
Alignment and Religion: The Drowned retain the same faith and outlook as they did in life. Most religions in the world recognize the existence of the Drowned as the only afterlife, and as such they find general acceptance among all faiths.
The one exception is Dormin and his followers. Dormin has the unique power to restore the dead to life, even those who have joined the Drowned. This strange power over death and the possibility of rejoining the painful existence of the living makes the Drowned extremely wary of Puritans.
A character who dies and becomes one of the drowned retains all of the knowledge and abilities they had in life. They retain their ability scores, class abilities, racial abilities, proficiencies, etc, but takes on a skeletal form gaining the following additional traits:
- Because they are assembled from bones, cold-based attacks also do skeletons no harm. The fact that they are mostly empty means that edged or piercing weapons (like swords, daggers, and spears) inflict only half damage when employed against skeletons and they ignore all wounds that would cause bleeding. Blunt weapons, with larger heads designed to break and crush bones, cause normal damage against the drowned. Fire also does normal damage against skeletons.
- Holy water inflicts 2-8 points of damage per vial striking the skeleton.
- Some priests (including all Clerics of Dormin) are able to Turn, Command, or even destroy a Drowned through the power of their gods.
- Because they lack functioning organs and circulatory systems, the Drowned are immune to all poisons and diseases. Healing spells (such as “Repair Wounds”) work normally on the Drowned.
- The Drowned are immune to sleep effects, but, being intelligent, are still subject to other mind-affecting effects like Charm or Hold spells. Likewise, they retain their original personalities and emotions, and are just as vulnerable to fear as the living.
- The Drowned have no need to eat, drink, sleep, or breathe.
Aging Effects: The Drowned lose 1 point from Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma for every 100 years that they exist as their bodies and minds continue to degrade. A Drowned who reaches 0 in any stat falls apart and ceases to function. Only the most truly remarkable individuals can extend their existence by more than a millennium by becoming one of the Drowned.