The Revenant And Other Strangeness

The new and much anticipated Revenant was released on D&DI tonight, in an article written by Dragon Magazine EIC Matthew Sernett, and as previously speculated on the Wizards of the Coast forums, it is indeed a full player race rather than a feat chain like we saw with the Dhampyr, and along with the Tiefling, Shadar-Kai, Drow and aforementioned Dhampyr, provides plenty of roleplay fodder for more ghoulish minded players.

Actually, that isn't exactly fair. The Dragon article offers a wealth of information, flavor and player options for Revenant characters including Racial Feats, a Paragon Path and even an Epic Destiny. It's enough to make anyone want to play one. In fact, I reckon that all across the world, players are plotting to murder their own characters so they can be resurrected as undead PC's. I know I am...the Dark Reaping racial power and Reaper's Quarry Feat are just too tasty for my Ranger to ignore.

In Western European mythologies, a Revenant is a corpse returned from the grave, similar to vampires, sometimes for a specific purpose such as avenging their own murder, sometimes just to pester one's friends and neighbors...presumably for shits and giggles.

The Dungeons & Dragons design team has mined this concept for ideas and run with it, the result is the Revenant player race, who are the souls of a deceased individuals brought back to a sort of half-life by the Raven Queen (in the default D&D mythos) or whatever relevant cosmic entity you think is appropriate for your campaign, to accomplish a destiny not yet satisfied in life. It may also shock you to hear that, true to form for undead characters, they are sufficiently dark and brooding as they are constantly haunted by the fading apparitions of memories from their former life.

Revenants are described by the article as not looking like rotting husks of human corpses, but rather as frail yet preternaturally sturdy and quick humanoids with ashen and sunken features of a mask-like countenance and eyes that are pools of black with the burning ember of fiery red pupils in the center. Their hair is whispy and ranges from black to white and all shades inbetween, and their extremities terminate in scaly black talons like those of a raven.

Mechanically, Revenants receive a bonus to their Dexterity and Constitution scores, to reflect their graveborn agility and durability, and a racial bonus to Endurance and Intimidate skills because they don't tire easy, and folks tend to feel ill at ease around people who know what death looks like. They are considered by the game to be (technically) living creatures, with the undead keyword attached (HUH!?) for the purpose of effects relating to said keyword. I guess that means they are subject to turning and rebuking. In addition to this, racial features include "Past Life" which allows you to take racial feats associated with your former self as well as Revenant specific feats (Imagine a Half-Elf Revenant...featastic!) There is also the "Unnatural Vitality" feature which allows a Revenant character to remain conscious and take a standard action even after being dropped to 0 hit points and the "Dark Reaping" racial power that allows them to add necrotic damage to one of their attacks after an enemy is dropped within their immediate vicinity.

In addition to their pretty freaking sweet racial features, Revenants also have a number of racial feats, most bolster their Dark Reaping power and Unnatural Vitality feature, and add a bit of undead flavor (stale saltines) to class features while others reconcile Revenants with their former selves, granting access to racial powers from whatever race they were in a previous life.

The Revenant Paragon Path is called the "Avenging Haunt" which is a path for those Revenants who are seeking revenge against those that wronged them in life. I don't know if conceptually the desire for revenge has enough narrative depth to carry a character through Heroic and Paragon tiers, but meh...the PP has some pretty nifty features, including one where spending an action point makes characters gain insubstantial and phasing, a feature that grants you a bonus to hit and damage anyone who knocks you to 0 hp, and one that makes Revenant characters even harder to kill ('s called "Unkillable") Powers include a per encounter attack called "Deathly Retort" that allows the character to revisit damage on someone who hits them within a wide range as an immediate reaction. Also, there is a daily utility called "Haunting Form" which is sustainable and grants the user Insubstantiality, Phasing, and Flight for a short time. Finally, there is a daily area attack that hits for a good portion of damage, and allows you to revisit damage on any of the targets that manages to strike you afterward, it's called "Death Locus" So yeah...I'd be willing to hate on someone quite a while for that kind of coolness.

"Free Soul" is the racial Epic Destiny for the Revenant, which in an interesting turn, is all about being free of the shackles of predetermined destiny, and the idea is a Revenant who is free to chart the course of their own fate, no longer beholden to man or god. Sort of like the Mary Tyler Moore of unlife. The Free Soul offers players a number of interesting features, all flavored with the spice of freedom, such as "Destiny Claimed" which makes it so the character cannot be forced to re-roll (yay for exception based game design!) Other features allow Revenants to make savings throws as a free action, and reflect it back on the malicious bastard who attacked you. The Free Soul's daily utility allows it to re-roll failed saves. All in all pretty tasty stuff.

I think that the most interesting part of the Revenant race is that it allows for a number of interesting narrative hooks for your character, being that their story really starts after they die. The lone, dark figure on a mission of revenge or atonement is a popular archetype in fantasy and other genres of literature, and the Revenant fits this mold perfectly.

Also, if your DM ever TPK's the players, it will be easy for him to say "Whoops! Mulligan! You're all Revenants now!"

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