When death becomes an all-too-sudden possibility and a Wizard needs more study time, he is invariably drawn toward the path of the Lich. Through foul rites he becomes undying, able to continue his life’s work through all eternity – at least until those pesky adventurers come knocking. But what of the other classes? What undead paths are open to them if they feel one lifetime just isn’t enough?
Like Wizards, Clerics can also become Liches (they have a specific name but it escapes me at the moment and I’m TLTG). This path is most common among followers of Deities with Death as a part of their portfolio. The idea of a small army of Lich-Clerics of Orcus battling against hot undead nun Lich-Clerics of the Raven Queen could easily make my head explode.
Fighters, should they choose to walk the Path of Undeath, become Death Knights. These powerful Undead warriors have their souls bound to their chosen weapon much like a Lich’s Phylactery. Unfortunately, destroying it doesn’t kill the Death Knight though – but it is quite likely to annoy him. A lot.
This is a change to previous editions of D&D where Death Knights were more closely associated with Paladins (though could come from any melee-minded class). It’s an alteration I approve of as it clears the field for other classes to have their own unique Undead subtype, and the Death Knight was always more martial than divine in style anyhow.
When it comes to Paladins, in our campaign we created the Eminence, as typified by Sir Guyse Preeminent. This is a fallen Paladin who has been eaten from the inside by unattainable love, becoming a hollow mockery following the Paladin Code to the letter with ever increasing cruelty and malice.
But what of the other classes? What do you call an Undead Ranger (apart from “Sir, stop pointing that scary black longbow at me”)? How about an undead wraith-like Rogue who can form throwing knives from shards of his own bone? Or an immortal Monk covered in wizened death-tight skin and flowing orange robes?
Picture a Lich-Warlord, commanding hordes of undead marching across the countryside, or a Lich-Barbarian (Conan the Undying ftw!) cutting his bloody swathe in a soulless silent rage. These guys need their own unique name (not Lich-this, or Lich-that). and they sure as heck need stating out.