Grave Knight (5e Class)
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Why, why, why?! Why was this monster, this seemingly frail thing in old armor, with the constitution of a skeleton... why wouldn't he die?! The warrior smashes blow after blow upon the skeletal looking knight, and the knight bears each blow with the fortitude of an unwavering wall. As the warrior's patience wears down, the knight's eyes flash green in mockery with malice and the warrior feels his fatigue increase exponentially, stilling his sword for a second. But that was all the knight needed, as he plunged his bastard sword into the warrior's chest. As the warrior's life faded from that one mortal wound, the knight breathes in the scent of blood and consumes the essence of life leaving that body. The knight's own seemingly mortal wounds sizzle and mend in a macabre fashion. He picks up his blade from the fallen warrior and continues walking into the night.
The grave knight is a stalwart being that verges always on the edge of death, teetering before its grasp. They are incredibly hardy and resistant, making them ideal tanks for front lines in armies. Like the undead, they do not like staying down and are tenacious in mind and body. Defeat is a word that has no meaning for them. As one delves further into the grueling ways of a grave knight's operation, they themselves feel stripped of their vivaciousness and mortal shortcomings, eventually becoming like an undead themselves.
Creating a Grave Knight
When making a grave knight, consider the character's rationale for choosing this path of undead chivalry. Do they vie for immortality, no matter the cost? Perhaps they have something they wish to protect, even at the cost of their own life. The grave knight remains one that guards and protects, rather than some meaningless zombie, no matter how their bodies change as they grow in power.
- Quick Build
You can make a grave knight quickly by following these suggestions. First, Wisdom should be your highest ability score, followed by Strength. Second, choose the Knight of the Order background from page 151 of the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.
As a Grave Knight you gain the following class features.
- Hit Points
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a suit of plate armor or (b) a shield
- a longsword
- (a) a dungeoneer's pack or (b) a priest pack
|Features||Thralls Rage||Undead Damage|
|1st||+2||Self Enthrall, Grave Aura||2||+2|
|4th||+2||Ability Score Improvement||3||+2|
|5th||+3||Undying Constitution improvement||3||+2|
|6th||+3||Grave Path feature||4||+3|
|8th||+3||Ability Score Improvement||4||+3|
|9th||+4||Undying Constitution improvement, Undying||4||+3|
|10th||+4||Grave Path feature||4||+3|
|12th||+4||Ability Score Improvement||5||+4|
|13th||+5||Undying Constitution improvement||5||+4|
|14th||+5||Grave Path feature||5||+4|
|16th||+5||Ability Score Improvement||5||+5|
|17th||+6||Thou Shalt Not Die||6||+5|
|18th||+6||Grave Path feature||6||+5|
|19th||+6||Ability Score Improvement||6||+5|
|20th||+6||Necro Bastion, Bone Shields improvement||6||+5|
Starting at the 1st level, you become a monstrous force due to your ability to inure yourself to pain. As a bonus action, you can enter a state of thrall, where no pain comes onto you, and you are savagely able to bear incredible amounts of pain, as well as ignore mental distractions. While in thrall, you gain the following benefits so long as you wear armor or have a shield:
- You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
- You are immune to being frightened and charmed.
Because you are utterly detached while enthralled, you cannot use any spells if you can cast them. Any spells active when you enter Self Enthrall are immediately cancelled. Your Self Enthrall lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven't taken damage since your last turn. You can also end your Self Enthrall on your turn as a bonus action. Once you have used this feature the maximum number of times for your grave knight level, you must finish a long rest before you can enthrall yourself again. You may self enthrall 2 times at 1st level, 3 at 3rd, 4 at 6th, 5 at 12th, and 6 at 17th.
Your aura as you enter the order of the grave knight slowly changes to one that can damage the living around you. When you make an attack against a creature within 10 feet of you, you may add necrotic damage to your attack's damage. The amount of damage you deal at 1st level is 2, increasing as shown under the Undead Damage column of the grave knight table.
You gain the powers of the most persistent creatures in the world, which even death could not keep down. The grave knight is naturally attuned to the allure of the grave, and this comes with powers that can enhance your very body and soul. Starting at 2nd level, your body becomes accustomed to slower blood flow, which prevents toxins from invading you. You gain resistance to poison damage and have advantage in saving throws against being poisoned.
Starting at 5th level, as your body ceases to rely on the same old biological processes, you gain immunity to poison damage, diseases, and being poisoned.
Starting at 9th level, the power of death cannot spread far within your body as you grow cold as death. You gain resistance to necrotic damage.
Finally, at 13th level, you attain a body perfect for playing rough over long periods. You no longer need to eat, drink, sleep, or breath.
At 3rd level, you pick a path that sharpens how you wield your skills of resilience. Choose either the Hypnotist or Grudge subclass, detailed at the bottom of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 6th, 10th, 14th and 18th levels.
Ability Score Increase
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 7th level, you can bind others to yourself to prevent them from escaping. May this bond do you til death. As an action, you may summon a tendril of necrotic energies woven from your own life force to ensnare a creature within 30 feet of you. You choose to lose a number of hit points, up to half your grave knight level (maximum 10), to construct this chaining appendage. The targeted creature must succeed a Dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + your Wisdom modifier or Strength modifier + your proficiency bonus) or become restrained by your tendril. While ensnared, they cannot move further than 30 feet from you. They may attack the tendril on their turn to try and escape. The tendil has an AC of 15 and has hit points equal to the amount which you lost to create it. You can dismiss the tendril with a bonus action. Until the tendril is broken or dismissed, you cannot regain the hit points lost by this feature. You may not regain hit points lost with this ability with magic effects. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier, regaining use upon finishing a long rest.
Starting at 9th level, you have the tenacity to crawl back from the brink of death. When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can't use this feature again until you finish a long rest.
Starting at 11th level, you call upon your squires of the grave as a grave knight. You may summon 3 hovering skeletal shields to unoccupied spaces within 10 feet of you. These shields follow you as you move and occupy the space of a Medium creature. They are constructed out of a haphazard mix of bones and have an AC of 13 and 13 hit points. When they drop to 0 hit points, they shatter and collapse into a pile of bones. You may use this feature once, regaining use after you finish a long rest.
Starting at 20th level, you can use this feature twice before requiring a long rest.
Starting at 15th level, you can make gory comments full of banalities and expletives cursing death onto another, forcing them to attack you. As an action, you target a creature within 60 feet of you that you can see. The target must attempt a Wisdom saving throw of DC 8 + your Wisdom modifier + your proficiency bonus. Creatures that are deafened automatically succeed this throw. On a success, they are immune to this feature's effect for the next 24 hours. On a failure, they have disadvantage on all checks and attack rolls targeting creatures other than you until the end of their next turn.
Thou Shalt Not Die
As a knight, you have a sworn duty to protect your allies. Starting at 17th level, you may spend part of a short rest bonding with a willing creature that is friendly to you. You become aware of the creature's state of mind and their health as long as you are on the same plane. As a reaction, if the bonded creature would be attacked, you can swap places with the creature, making yourself the target instead. You may only bond with one creature at a time. This bond can be dispelled by you with a bonus action.
At level 20, you have become a truly hardened creature, clinging to the cusp of life where others would fall. Your Armor Class permanently increases by 2. Those who wish to bypass your defenses do so at their peril. When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, the creature’s speed becomes 0 for the rest of the turn. When a creature within 5 feet of you makes an attack against a target other than you, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature.
The mind rules over the body. You can push yourself to the limit with your thrall, utterly ignoring physical difficulty even when they slash away at you.
- Unyielding Body
- Thralls Hold
Starting at 6th level, when you are in thrall and attacked successfully within the range of your Grave Aura, you may reduce the damage you receive by up to twice your Undead Damage amount.
- Hardened Bond
Starting at 10th level, you can shield your life force, even when it is extruded from you. Creatures that attack your Nemesis Tendrils roll with disadvantage. Your tendrils also gain additional hit points equal to twice your Constitution modifier.
- Spring Back
- Hold Ground
You are not going to let anyone past you. Starting at 18th level, you can summon up to three Nemesis Tendrils. You can target separate creatures within range or concentrate them onto one creature.
Your hatred manifests in an unbeatable force that you use to smite others and render them useless.
- Returning Hate
Starting at 3rd level, your aura can lash out in vengeance at those who hurt you. When a creature within the range of your Grave Aura successfully attacks you, you may focus your aura on them and deal necrotic damage equal to the Undead Damage for your level.
A grudge empowers your weapons. Starting at 6th level, your weapons gain a deathly dark sheen around them that extends their reach, making them longer. Your melee weapons now reach an additional 5 feet, and you can deal opportunity attacks from the same distance.
- Powerful Chain
Starting at 10th level, you can channel your immense strength to bind those to yourself. When you use your Nemesis Tendrils, you may add your Strength modifier to the AC and HP of the Tendril (This does not take extra HP to make).
- Cackling Bones
Starting at 14th level, when a creature strikes one of your Bone Shields, the grudge of the undead suddenly springs in their face and jeers at them menacingly with visions of their own death. If a creature hits one of your bone shields with a melee attack, they must pass a Wisdom saving throw (DC = 8 + your Wisdom modifier + your proficiency bonus) or become frightened until the end of their next turn.
- Drain Lash
You gain the power to drain from those you consider enemies that are within your grip. Starting at 18th level, at the beginning of a creature's turn that it remains trapped in your Nemesis Tendrils, it takes necrotic damage equal to your Undead Damage. You regain hit points equal to this amount.
Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the Grave Knight class, you gain the following proficiencies: martial weapons, all armor