Beyond The Shore: Legacy of the Golden Horseshoe
“Enlightened rule by the dead is preferable to the misguided failures of the living.”
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 breathe 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 Atlantis and remain there 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 Atlantis, 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 Dormin’s worshipers.
- Male: As original race.
- Female: As original race.
- Note: A character that dies and becomes one of the Drowned loses all traits of their former race and replaces them with the Drowned traits.
- Type: Undead: Undead races are once-living creatures animated by spiritual or supernatural forces. An undead race has the following features.
- Undead have no Constitution score. Undead use their Charisma score in place of their Constitution score when calculating hit points, Fortitude saves, and any special ability that relies on Constitution (such as when calculating a breath weapon’s DC).
- Undead have the darkvision 60 feet racial trait.
- Undead are immune to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms).
- Undead are immune to bleed damage, death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning. • Undead are not subject to nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain, and are immune to damage to physical ability scores (Constitution, Dexterity, and Strength), as well as to exhaustion and fatigue effects.
- Undead are harmed by positive energy and healed by negative energy. An undead creature with the fast healing special quality still benefits from that quality.
- Undead are immune to any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless).
- Undead do not risk death from massive damage, but are immediately destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points or fewer.
- Undead are not affected by raise dead and reincarnate spells or abilities. Resurrection and true resurrection can affect undead creatures. These spells turn undead creatures back into the living creatures they were before becoming undead.
- Undead do not breathe, eat, or sleep, unless they want to gain some beneficial effect from one of these activities. This means that an undead creature can drink potions to benefit from their effects and can sleep in order to regain spells, but neither of these activities is required to survive or stay in good health.
- Abilities: The Drowned have no Constitution score. They otherwise retain the ability scores they had in life.
- Size: As original race. The majority of the Drowned are medium sized.
- Slow Speed: The Drowned have a base speed of 20 feet. Regardless of their original form, the loss of fins, wing membranes, and connective tissue limits them to walking with a slow shuffling gate. A Drowned’s speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.
- Water Sense: The Drowned are so attuned to their watery graves that they can sense vibrations in water, granting them blindsense 30 feet against creatures that are touching the same body of water.
- Heart of the Sea: The Drowned are born in the sea and always drawn to it. They gain a +2 racial bonus on Profession (sailor) and Swim checks, and these are always class skills for them. Drowned spellcasters gain a +4 racial bonus on concentration checks when attempting to cast spells underwater.
- Focused Study: The Drowned have ages in which to perfect their craft. At 1st, 8th, and 16th level, members of the Drowned gain Skill Focus in a skill of their choice as a bonus feat.
- Shards of the Past: The Drowned retain the memories of their mortal lives. Each Drowned picks two Knowledge skills. The Drowned gains a +2 racial bonus on both of these skills, and those skills are treated as class skills regardless of what class the Drowned actually takes.
- Claws: Members of the Drowned can make two attacks per round with their bony claws. Each attack deals 1d4 points of damage.
- Resurrection Vulnerability: A Raise Dead or equivalent spell cast on one of the Drowned can destroy it (Will negates). Using the spell in this way does not require a material component. Luckily such spells are extremely rare.
- Languages: The Drowned speak whatever languages they knew in life.
Random Starting Ages: 1d100 (not counting their life among the living).
Random Height and Weight: As original race (but 1/2 normal weight due to loss of body mass)
Aging Effects: The Drowned lose 1 point from Strength, Dexterity, 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 (save Constitution) falls apart and ceases to function. Only the most truly remarkable individuals can extend their existence by more than a millenia by becoming one of the Drowned.
Regarding Other Undead
While joining the Drowned is viewed as a generally beneficent by those in the Catholic Church — a welcome passage into semi-eternal life — other undead are, for the most part, not afforded such acceptance.
Mindless undead, such as skeletons or zombies are pitied or ignored. Little more than tools, they are occasionally used as cheap labor. While the practice of using non-drowned corpses in this way is not considered immoral or criminal, it is considered to be in bad taste, and the Drowned themselves find it rather insulting.
Sentient and hungry undead, particularly those that spread their state to the living involuntarily, such as vampires, wights, mohrgs, or ghouls are viewed as aberrations by both the living and the Drowned. Seen as little more than a disease (as, indeed, so many of them propagate) these forms of undead are hunted and exterminated with prejudice.
Those sentient undead that are created willingly of their own accord such as liches or mummies are typically afforded the same respect as the Drowned themselves. Though the latter, especially, are considered somewhat quaint — an archaic remnant of a less civilized understanding of “natural” undeath.
Disembodied undead, such as spectres or shadows exist outside the generally accepted ideals of how death works. Both the Catholics and the Puritans view such creatures not as part of the mortal departed, but as demons, and treat them appropriately. Indeed, the very idea that a sentience could exist separate from a body or water is anathema, and only demon worshipers would go so far as to suggest such a gruesome idea as the existence of a “soul”.