Unholy Toughness for Undead

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The concept of Unholy Toughness was introduced in Monster Manual 3. Basically, since undead have no Constitution modifier, those that have this special quality gain extra hit points based on thier Charisma score.

I was thinking that several classic, intelligent undead from the primary monster manual (Vampire, Lich, Mummy, etc) as well as some Extraplanar Undead (Nightshades, etc) should have this special quality as well. It doesn't seem right that the classics should miss out just because nobody thought up the special quality yet.

So there you go...should any of the original Undead get the benefit of Unholy Tougness? If so then how much should it increase their CR? Or is it just a bad idea altogether and I should just nix the thought right now?
Isn't Unholy Toughness a feat? If it is, any undead (including undead PCs) can take it. No other modifications needed.

Standard Answer to all 5E rules questions: "Ask your DM."

The concept of Unholy Toughness for was introduced in Monster Manual 3. Basically, since undead have no Constitution modifier, those that have this special quality gain extra hit points based on thier Charisma score.

I was thinking that several classic, intelligent undead from the primary monster manual (Vampire, Lich, Mummy, etc) as well as some Extraplanar Undead (Nightshades, etc) should have this special quality as well. It doesn't seem right that the classics should miss out just because nobody thought up the special quality yet.

So there you go...should any of the original Undead get the benefit of Unholy Tougness? If so then how much should it increase their CR? Or is it just a bad idea altogether and I should just nix the thought right now?

well the MM say that if you going to give a powerful special ability to a monster you need Add +2 to the CR only but this ability are very powerful if the undead have many HDs (more that 20) you need considering this if the undead have a lot of HDs and then change the CR as example an undead gain +1 to her CR per 4 HDs with this ability you need change this to +1 per 2 HDs instead of only +2 to her CR
Pepe pecas pica papas con un pico con un pico pepe pecas pica papas si pepe pecas pica papas con un pico donde esta el pico con que pepe pecas pica papas.
Isn't Unholy Toughness a feat? If it is, any undead (including undead PCs) can take it. No other modifications needed.


It's not a feat, sadly, or it would be amazingly popular among Charisma based spellcasters. The only way a PC-controlled undead can take it, RAW, is through ten levels of Walker in the Waste, since that grants a template which has Unholy Toughness.

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Well, reasonably, the CR modification for adding Unholy Toughness to an undead creature should depend on how much it benefits that creature. Any undead with a 10 CHA is not going to benefit at all, whereas a high level lich with a 22 CHA or higher is probably doubling his hit points. You'll have to eyeball it, since you know what would challenge your party better than anyone else. There is no reliable formula to help you, unfortunately.

Standard Answer to all 5E rules questions: "Ask your DM."

Considering that 2 vampires only raises an Encounter CR by 2, I figured that giving this Special Ability to an Undead shouldn't raise its individual CR by any more than 1 or 2. It would be a longer fight but still only one set of actions each round versus the 2 vampires (twice the actions and twice the hps) with the 2 points higher difficulty. Also, in a longer fight, if the creature has limited use per day abilities then it becomes less of a threat as the rounds tick away.

Also, considering no change to its HD, the quality has no effect on a clerics ability to Turn said Undead. 
So there you go...should any of the original Undead get the benefit of Unholy Tougness? If so then how much should it increase their CR? Or is it just a bad idea altogether and I should just nix the thought right now?


My thought is simply NO.  To me the big reason that undead have such a huge HD size is because they don't have an ability score bonus (or penalty for that matter) to add to hitpoints.  Unholy Toughness would radically change that.  I'd also point out that many non-templated undead have a LOT of HD relative to their CR which can mean a huge boost in hitpoints.  Many undead templates (looking at Lich and Vamp here) also boost CHA which would mean more benefit to them.

Now if used how much should it increase CR?  I'll say it depends.  As Novacat mentions the effect is variable depending on HD and CHA so there is really no easy answer.

I'm not sure it's a bad idea but it isn't something I really support.  I mean I'd consider using Unholy Toughness for what was once a living creature with a high CON and big HD  (which seem like the often have lower CHA scores incidently) more then I would for some sickly little, small HD creature.  To put it another way I'd much rather see a Vampire Half Orc Barbarian 12 getting Unholy Toughness then I would seeing a Vampire Elf Sorcerer 12 getting it.  In all likelyhood that Barbarian would suffer a hp loss when transforming into a Vampire as it gives up its CON bonus (and potential CON from raging) but it's HD remains the same size.  That Elf Sorcerer on the other hand is trading in d4s for d12s (+4 or more hp per level increase) and may also be erasing a CON PENALTY which was also holding the HP back; also consider that CHA is likely the Sorcerer's top stat and transforming it into a Vampire with Unholy Toughness will probably increase its hp around x5.  Hopefully the difference in these two situations is obvious.
 

The dry lich template (Sandstorm) has LA and CR each one higher than a normal lich. The big difference between the two is that dry liches gain unholy toughness. Creating a template that can be added to any undead that doesn't already have unholy toughness that gives unholy toughness for +1 CR and +1 LA would probably be fine.


Pathfinder has an equivalent of unholy toughness as an inherent property of the undead type. They also reduced the hit dice for undead to d8s, and changed undead templates so they no longer change the hit dice from class levels. As a house rule, using the Pathfinder version of undead in a 3.5 game wouldn't be difficult to implement.

Have the undead created in by a Corpsecrafter in a Desecrated area with an altar of Nerull in it.

Bang, +6 HP/HD and some other little bonuses.

Also, Elf casters having a con penalty?
Every elf has con 12 and a +con item. All of them. 
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The CR have a base of 4 per HDs in undeads and with this ability need be changed to 2 per HDs in player and some epic monsters.

A example a NIGHTCRAWLER have 25 HDs this means that have +6 of CR for HDs with this ability he should have +12 to her CR for HDs then her current CR will be 24 but with this ability if you use him as normal instead of a powerful build this only let him 100 Hit Poins then her CR with +2 will be ok for 20 total.

Now a powerful Character with this ability is a problem because at level 20 he will have almost 30 of cha that are equal to almost 200 extra hit poinst at level 20 (336 total) while a normal undead have 136 in this case you should apply the CR per HD instead of only +2 for a plus of +5 to her CR at level 20.
Pepe pecas pica papas con un pico con un pico pepe pecas pica papas si pepe pecas pica papas con un pico donde esta el pico con que pepe pecas pica papas.
Have the undead created in by a Corpsecrafter in a Desecrated area with an altar of Nerull in it.

Bang, +6 HP/HD and some other little bonuses.

Also, Elf casters having a con penalty?
Every elf has con 12 and a +con item. All of them. 

Are you suggesting adding Unholy Toughness on top of all of that stuff specially designed to boost undead?

I guess you've never seen the DM who makes a min/maxed elf caster and dumps CON but then turns him undead?  Or the PC who thinks he can get away with doing the same thing.  I realize that with a d4 HD most spellcasters aren't so foolish to completely ignore CON when it comes to stats but if can happen especially if you know that caster is dying to become undead.
The CR have a base of 4 per HDs in undeads and with this ability need be changed to 2 per HDs in player and some epic monsters.

A example a NIGHTCRAWLER have 25 HDs this means that have +6 of CR for HDs with this ability he should have +12 to her CR for HDs then her current CR will be 24 but with this ability if you use him as normal instead of a powerful build this only let him 100 Hit Poins then her CR with +2 will be ok for 20 total.

Now a powerful Character with this ability is a problem because at level 20 he will have almost 30 of cha that are equal to almost 200 extra hit poinst at level 20 (336 total) while a normal undead have 136 in this case you should apply the CR per HD instead of only +2 for a plus of +5 to her CR at level 20.

ITT: No understanding of the CR system. Or of what makes something good or not.
Are you suggesting adding Unholy Toughness on top of all of that stuff specially designed to boost undead?

No, I'm saying that there's no need to contaminate your game with poorly-thought-out homebrew. 
I guess you've never seen the DM who makes a min/maxed elf caster and dumps CON but then turns him undead?

Which is simply less effective1 than a wizard with that extra CR put into useful things like wizard levels.

Also, it's douchey. Inefficient and douchey is not a winning combination.
Or the PC who thinks he can get away with doing the same thing.

Like what? Turning into "I get a soul-hidey-place, but lose basically a whole level and gain a crap-ton of LA?" Or the "I lose a couple thousand XP for a bunch of weaknesses and undead immunities that spellcasters can have anyways?"
I realize that with a d4 HD most spellcasters aren't so foolish to completely ignore CON when it comes to stats but if can happen especially if you know that caster is dying to become undead.

Then either they become a crappy undead, become an undead in such a way it makes them crappy through LA, or they die beforehand due to having no HP.

1Although, I must say, I did have some fun statting up a Sha'ir/Walker in the Waste build.
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Or the "I lose a couple thousand XP for a bunch of weaknesses and undead immunities that spellcasters can have anyways?"

Given the way XP gain normally works, a couple of thousand XP is a pretty reasonable trade for permanent acquisition of the undead type.

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Or the "I lose a couple thousand XP for a bunch of weaknesses and undead immunities that spellcasters can have anyways?"

Given the way XP gain normally works, a couple of thousand XP is a pretty reasonable trade for permanent acquisition of the undead type.

The undead type comes with too many weaknesses for my tastes. I'll stick with LA0 Outsiders and Aberrations, thanks.

I'm not questioning the costs, I'm questioning the results. 
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The undead type comes with too many weaknesses for my tastes. I'll stick with LA0 Outsiders and Aberrations, thanks.

They're certainly good for type-targeting effects (mostly the ones aimed at humanoids), but in the broader sense I'd generally say that it's easier to cover an undead creature's few weaknesses, rather than the many weaknesses possessed by most other creature types.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that Constitution shortage (bad for hit points and Fortitude saves); you end up with plenty of resources to invest in covering it since you don't need to worry about protecting them from everything else, but there aren't a lot of really convenient ways to handle it.

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The issue is, are the immunities worth the weakness? I don't think so. Think about it, what immunities do undead have that wizards don't all have anyways?

So, you give up a tiny bit of XP to get immunities, and the ability to be turned, rebuked, and can be vulnerable to a bunch of very powerful specific counters, plus no rezzing and the afforementioned saves problem. Undead is the second or third most targetted type. I really don't feel Necropolitan is worth it.
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The issue is, are the immunities worth the weakness? I don't think so. Think about it, what immunities do undead have that wizards don't all have anyways?

So, you give up a tiny bit of XP to get immunities, and the ability to be turned, rebuked, and can be vulnerable to a bunch of very powerful specific counters, plus no rezzing and the afforementioned saves problem. Undead is the second or third most targetted type. I really don't feel Necropolitan is worth it.

Wizards don't have access to all the undead immunities until much higher levels than you can be a necropolitan, and while there are specific drawbacks, such as more difficult rezzing, you're typically guarding that one line of attack instead of many (apart from the hit points and Fort saves, which are the main general downside).

One particular benefit is that it's not an irrevocable choice; you can always go back to being alive if you decide necropolitan isn't worth it later on, and the elastic nature of XP gain means you won't suffer much in the long run from the switch (while reaping all the benefits up until that point).

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Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
Meh. At low-ish levels, I admit it's close to godsend, but at mid levels, it's riskier, and by level 15 or so, Necropolitan is nothing but a liability

Necropolitan is only really worth it if Corpsecrafter and friends are on the table.
Customer Disservice of the House of Trolls Resident Secretly Ron Paul God of Spite and Sloth
Meh. At low-ish levels, I admit it's close to godsend, but at mid levels, it's riskier, and by level 15 or so, Necropolitan is nothing but a liability

Necropolitan is only really worth it if Corpsecrafter and friends are on the table.

There are certainly more ways to attack it at high levels, though you've also got more ways to defend against spell attacks, and you still have the benefit of it being dispel-proof against even the most determined enemy casters.  Your best option is usually hiding the fact that you're an undead so that people don't bother to target you as one in the first place.

You'd need the DM's approval for a necropolitan to gain Corpsecrafter benefits, since crucimigration isn't a necromancy spell, but you can easily get an extra hit point boost through desecrate (with an appropriate deity fixture in the area, of course).  If you're a sorcerer or wizard, you're already doing pretty well from the effective increase in hit points in switching to a d12, and desecrate bumps that up to an effective increase of +6 hit points per HD (so you're matching a d4 wizard with 22 Con).

It's definitely useful at lower levels, and you can always switch back for the higher ones.  You don't even need to decide on the switch ahead of time; one resurrection after you get destroyed and you're back in the land of the living.

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My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
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