Path of the Ash-Veined (5e Subclass)
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Path of the Ash-Veined
The Ash-Veined Cult is believed by many to be a simple myth, with no more substance than a fevered nightmare. This is exactly how the adherents of the cult would have things. Everywhere where societies form and people come together, the Ash-Veined skulk in the shadows. No two branches of the cult are quite the same, each with differing aims, means and associates. Indeed, they might be mistaken for different groups entirely if not for their ritual grey lines painted along the veins of their arms and their worship of a single, terrible god: the shadow which lurks at the edge of the light. Formed at the beginning of the universe in the reaction to the creation of 'everything', the shadow is a sentient nothingness. Its only desire is to extinguish the light of the universe: a stain on the beautiful nothingness that came before.
Members of the Ash-Veined Cult vary widely from true nihilists who share the shadow's desire for total destruction to opportunists, who use the cult merely as a source of power. The energy of the shadow can be used as a potent source of magic, so that clerics who 'worship' the deity and wizards who have make even less pretense of obeisance can tap into it to fuel dangerous and powerful spells. Of course it comes with a price, since the shadow is anathema to all life and its destructive force can often turn against its user. The shadow also creeps into the minds of all who use its power. Many it is content to merely observe, but others may be useful tools for it and it will whisper its temptations into their ears. Yet others will be sent mad, descending into murderous mania to sate the shadow's macabre desire for entertainment. A cultist of the ash-veined must be willing to risk everything for power, which many are.
By far the most infamous members of the Ash-Veined cult are the barbarians of the path of the Ash-Veined. They are the source of bedtime stories and many believe them to be undead monsters rather than living mortals, earning them the nickname 'ash vampires.' It is morbidly appropriate- those of the path of the Ash-Veined are those who allow the shadow into their own bodies. The stronger they grow, the less like living things they are and more like voids, the opposite of everything that lives. An Ash-Veined Barbarian destroys life not because it needs to feed on it, but because anything that draws breath becomes disgusting to it. It does consume flesh and drink blood, but only so it may fuel its unnatural powers.
Unlike many barbarians, those who are members of the cult of the Ash-Veined inhabit cities and towns, rather than making their existence in the wilds. Here there is plentiful life for them to snuff out and associates for whom they can work. Despite their increasing monstrous nature, such a barbarian still needs to eat mundane food to survive and they can serve as invaluable servants, bodyguards and even spies thanks to their enhanced abilities. An aristocratic member of the cult is likely to keep some barbarians around them, though their unnatural hunger for destruction must be consistently fed. As they grow stronger, the blood in the veins of an ash vampire is transmuted into a grainy grey substance, giving both their path and their cult their names.
- Aura of Ash
Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, the blood in your veins becomes a sluggish grey and a sickly aura surrounds you when you rage. Whenever a creature starts its turn within 5 feet of you while you are raging, it must succeed a constitution saving throw with DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your constitution modifier. If it fails the save, it becomes poisoned. If it's already poisoned, it suffers 1d6 necrotic damage and you gain temporary hit points equal to the damage dealt to it this way. If it succeeds a save the poison condition ends and it cannot be poisoned again in this way until 24 hours have passed. The creature continues to make saves outside of the effect of the aura, though it takes no damage if it fails the save.
- Imbalance of the Blood
Also at 3rd level, your body chemistry is dangerously imbalanced by the presence of the shadow in your blood, leading to a vulnerability to sudden shifts in health, especially when you rage. while you are raging, whenever a critical hit is scored against you, you gain a level of exhaustion.
- Puppet of Blood
At 6th level, you gain the ability to drink the blood of the dead, infesting their body and returning them to a semblance of life. By consuming the blood or flesh of a creature with challenge rating equal to or lower than your level as an action, you may expend one use of your rage to cause your mortal body to disintegrate, leaving behind only the items you were wearing and carrying. Your mind enters the body of the corpse, returning it to life at full hit points and reversing any physical damage to it, so that it looks healthy and alive. Your statistics become those of the reanimated creature, except for your intelligence, wisdom and charisma scores, which remain unchanged: further, you retain none of the reanimated creature's memories or personality and you gain the Aura of Ash class feature. This transformation lasts until you drop to 0 hit points in the new form- which occurs automatically after one hour has passed. Your body then claws its way from the deceased corpse, covered in its blood and guts. After this grisly reemergence you have your statistics restored exactly as they were before you reanimated the creature. Once you have used this ability, you can't use it again until you finish a short rest. You cannot reanimate undead, construct or ooze creatures with this feature.
- Speak with the Shadow
At 10th level, you can cast the commune spell, but only as a ritual. When you do so, you get in contact with the shadow that lurks at the edge of the light. The shadow is a tricky creature and is not necessarily inclined to be helpful. Indeed, your use of its power may well have raised its ire, so that it is deliberately cryptic and evasive. It will never tell a deliberate untruth, however.
- Monstrous Rage
At 14th level, you take on monstrous attributes when you are at your most dangerous. Choose one of the following benefits. whenever you enter a rage or reanimate a corpse with your puppet of blood feature, you gain that benefit.
Leathery Wings. You sprout a pair of monstrous, bat-like wings. For the duration of the rage or transformation, you have a flying speed equal to your current walking speed. This benefit works only in short bursts; you fall if you end your turn in the air and nothing else is holding you aloft.
Unnatural Vitality. Your flesh heals wounds and shrugs off damage in the heat of battle. For the duration of the rage or transformation, whenever you are hit with a weapon attack, you may use your reaction to regain hit points equal to 1d4 + your constitution modifier.
Serpent's Kiss. Your eyes become cold and serpentine and your strikes deliver a deadly poison. For the duration of the rage or transformation, your weapon attacks against poisoned creatures deal an additional 1d6 poison damage when they hit. Further, creatures affected by your aura of ash do not gain immunity from it if they succeed a saving throw against it.