Grave Knight

More than a soldier, this creature is the result of a specifically chosen mortal’s conversion to the ranks of the deathless. They maintain a great deal of the martial abilities of their former life, as well as the tactical prowess of a well trained knight or soldier. They tend to be brilliant commanders and dangerous strategists, leading legions of the undead in terrible sieges against the enemies of the Lich. While individual style and areas of expertise will reflect who they were in life, the Champion is always a terrifying match on the battlefield. They have been chosen and entrusted with the physical protection of the Lich and their interests, and in doing so, entwined their soul with that of their maker. As long as the Lich’s phylactery survives, the Champion cannot truly be killed, following the same method of returning as their master.

Basic Information

Anatomy

While a Grave Knight, just like the Lich that made them retains most if not all of its former knowledge gained in life, the act of becoming one, no matter the way it happens, requires the stripping away of humanity. Time moves in a different manner for the undead, seasons and years passing without much notice at times, and the lives and spans of the mortal world quickly become trivial for the creature. It is only a matter of time before the trappings of life become more of an exhaustive act to maintain than anything to be held on to out of endearing memory. These quirks manifest in the following ways:    
  • The skin of the undead is always cold to the touch. It retains a soft but underlying rigidity not typical to the living. No matter the disguise, a successful perception check upon touching bare skin may alert the observer that something is amiss.
  • While able to control the manifestation of the façade of being alive (provided they have consumed a soul recently enough), the eyes of the undead in their normal state show as an eerie, green glow, often referred to as the ghostlights or ghostfire. When allowing their true form to be visible, their vision sharpens, nearly highlighting the living in their field of view.
  • The undead are not actually reliant upon the physical body they inhabit to speak. While holding the façade of being alive, they are able to engage the vocal cords, tongue, and respiratory organs to produce true speech, but if needed or desired, they can let the façade drop and allow their true voice to manifest, issuing forth as a hollow, spectral emanation of their true form.
  • In the Lich in particular, this true voice is a culmination of all the voices of all the souls they have devoured speaking at once.
  • When the body of the undead is prepared or created, it is exsanguinated and the blood replaced with a specially prepared ichor that is dull, greenish brown. It is created using a mixture of animal ichor, resins, oils, black lotus, demon blood, and a powerful alchemical base, making it toxic if imbibed by humans and causing nausea and vomiting in supernatural creatures.
  • This does allow the undead to still be susceptible to bleeding out, however they will go dormant if they lose all their ichor this way rather than “die”.
  • This ichor causes the skin and hair of the undead to lose the natural pigment over time, turning the hair and skin lighter and lighter until they are eventually stark white. By this same process their eyes slowly turn green as well, a side effect of the ichor’s preservation of the physical form.

Growth Rate & Stages

Aqua Mortis: The Grave Knight is able to repair the damage done to their bodies by soaking in a vat of the ichor that runs in their veins, the Aqua Mortis. This substance is extremely toxic to the living, and if the undead that soaks in it has not already lost the pigment in their skin and hair, it will be gone following the first soak. This practice will completely repair a damaged body.

Ecology and Habitats

Animals are spooked by the undead, and riding an animal that is still living will require an animal handling check, all rolls are made with a -2 penalty. If the undead fails, the animal is spooked and either runs home, or freezes up and refuses to move.

Dietary Needs and Habits

The undead no longer require the need to eat food. They do not hunger for it or crave it, and the ability to even enjoy it fades rapidly after the change occurs. If, in order to maintain the façade of being alive, they do eat, the food will sit inside of them and rot. In order to combat this, most maintain a large enough degree of control over the muscles in the body to bring the food back up, effectively vomiting it out, however, those that do not, will need to remove it via incision in the belly, or suffer the effects of having a mass of rotting matter inside them creating an obvious smell that cannot be hidden.

Behaviour

While generally, as a rule, the Grave Knight is unwaveringly loyal to their creator, they remain an independent and more often than not, intelligent entity all their own. Their loyalty can stem from many factors, depending on the one that made them, and should the Lich push them too hard in a direction they do not wish to go, it is not impossible for them to scheme against and try to destroy their maker, and themselves in the process.

Abilities

 
  • The Grave Knight does not breathe and is therefore immune to drowning and gas effects. They are also not susceptible to poisons and disease. The negative reactions of Void energy can still affect their physical form, but they are much less susceptible to it and can exist in a saturated location without ill effects.
  • The Grave Knight radiates both a fear aura when the façade is not employed, one that can cause the living to flee or, in a worst case scenario, freeze in terror, and a cold aura, that can cause enemies to react slower in combat.
  • The Grave Knight's ichor is a deadly poison, and even the slightest amount entering the bloodstream or digestive system of a target is enough to cause death and the infection of the Breathless Plague.
  • The Breathless Plague. The undead carry with them the ability to infect a mortal with a wasting sickness that slowly turns them into one of the undead.
  • Unnatural strength and agility. The Grave Knight is unhindered by things such as pain and fatigue, and can push their bodies far beyond mortal limits allowing them to move faster and endure more strain. This makes them lethal combatants.
Genetic Descendants
Scientific Name
Undead
Origin/Ancestry
Any humanoid creature can be selected by the Lich that makes them.


Cover image: Grave Knight by Midjourney

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