Dragon 376 - Playing Revenants: A D&D Insider Exclusive Race

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Dragon 376
Playing Revenants: A D&D Insider Exclusive Race!

by Matthew Sernett

Created by the Raven Queen to further her own ambiguous ends, revenants wander the world seeking to find their unfulfilled purpose. Bring one of your dead characters back to life as a revenant, reborn with a destiny!

Talk about this Article here.

IMAGE(http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/376_revenants.jpg)
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Plenty of nice crunchy stuff here, but the feats bring more to the table than the race itself.
One of the sample adventurers is an assassin. A very small sneek peek at the class before it debuts in September.
One of the sample adventurers is an assassin. A very small sneek peek at the class before it debuts in September.

Almost infinitesimal, in fact. :D

Although, in her past life, it sounds like Nihil was Smaug.
Yeah, the feats are where to find the most interesting options for the revenant as a race.

The article didn't explain (to my satisfaction at least) why a deity like the Raven Queen would sponsor a race of undead (let alone one of her own creation). She's all about stamping out undead, after all. Having her name attachted to revenants just seems out of place. Ah well, easy enough to alter the fluff ;).

Not a bad start for Insider's first exclusive but I think the 'Playing Dhampyr' article should be identified as an 'exclusive' as well ;) (the articles kinda reminded me of each other).
/\ Art
The idea that the Raven Queen hates all undead is something that was based off just the PHB I think, and was taken as the whole truth. Everything related to her that's appeared since indicates that the reality is she only hates undead that don't follow her. She's a very jealous and possessive goddess.
Am I the only one who dislikes the whole fluff of this race? I think it would be better suited to bloodline feats than a whole new race.
The feats definitely let you feel like you're playing a member of this race for everything except the small races.

The article didn't explain (to my satisfaction at least) why a deity like the Raven Queen would sponsor a race of undead (let alone one of her own creation). She's all about stamping out undead, after all. Having her name attachted to revenants just seems out of place. Ah well, easy enough to alter the fluff ;).

From what I've heard the Raven Queen is all about people dying at their appointed time and not trying to extend that life unnaturally. If someone dies before their time, I can definitely understand the Raven Queen giving them a second chance at life. Although because of the nature of her powers, she's limited to placing them in an undead-like body.
Yeah, the literal quotes are the commandment "Bring down the proud who try to cast off the chains of fate", probably meaning those who voluntarily become undead, and the fluff bit "mourners call upon her during funeral rites, in the hope that she will guard the departed from the curse of undeath" which doesn't say anything about her own disposition towards the undead in general. Now, Orcus, who is the Demon Prince of the Undead, is her enemy but that doesn't necessarily mean she's against undeath as such.
Yep can't recall where it was stated but it is said that she has no problem with the 'soulless' undead since they're just animated bodies without a soul forced back, chained to the world, or cheating death's "final embrace".

I like the fact that they're both living and undead creatures at the same time unless they take a feat to make themselves fully undead (Death's Blessing).

What I found sad was the lack of a few soul feats: kalashtar and changeling (EPG which is out a day after the article so shouldn't have been a big deal to include) and the gnoll from Dragon. Also the shadar-kai references the MM writeup not the PC one in Dragon.

As for fluff they make it clear that's just default and they give a few examples of alternate fluff including a revenant being a self-returned soul and possibly hunted by the followers of the Raven Queen.

Personally I think they're equal to the other races at a base level. It's the concept behind the character's race that makes the races stand out. Without that they're all just words and stats with nothing to make them interesting. The feats are what makes each race truly stand out from other races.
Racial features and feats are really nice, but +2 to Con and Dex is a useless combination: no class uses both as primary attributes.
It's not useless for a Fighter going for a Dex weapon. Not as good as Str/Con or Str/Dex but not worthless either.
interesting ... i was disappointed when reading the fluff for it ... but the other stats make it not all that bad ... may have to give one a try after they are added to the char builder ...

with how they wrote the fluff ... sounds like the author was watching the Crow movies at the time ...
Racial features and feats are really nice, but +2 to Con and Dex is a useless combination: no class uses both as primary attributes.

Before PHB2 no class had Con/Wis as Primary/Secondary, and yet no one called the stats for Dwarves useless .....
Racial features and feats are really nice, but +2 to Con and Dex is a useless combination: no class uses both as primary attributes.

What about the Druid?
While I like the article, I was really disappointed to not see any sidebars for how to fit revenants into Forgotten Realms and Eberron.
Yes, fluff for those settings would have been nice.

All in all, I am very happy with the Revenant.
What about the Druid?

Its primary stat is Wis.

@ElJeffex: dwarves are full of racial features that scream "defender!" all around, so they didn't need a Strength bonus.
While I like the article, I was really disappointed to not see any sidebars for how to fit revenants into Forgotten Realms and Eberron.

Especially Forgotten Realms, as Kelemvor outright abhors undead. Let me give it a shot:

A paladin-prince from Impiltur found a cursed sword in the frozen north, which took over his soul and caused him to return to his home, kill his father the king and nearly destroy the world with his army of undead. Although defeated years ago, he has suddenly returned, bringing into Faerun revenants: the elite generals in his new, more powerful undead army.
Its primary stat is Wis.

@ElJeffex: dwarves are full of racial features that scream "defender!" all around, so they didn't need a Strength bonus.

Um .. when was I talking about dwarves? I think you confused me with someone else.
Um .. when was I talking about dwarves? I think you confused me with someone else.

Sorry, it was Celtic. :D :D
Especially Forgotten Realms, as Kelemvor outright abhors undead.

Though given how close conceptually Kelemvor is to the Raven Queen, I can see simply slotting him into the same place as her in their background.

For example: The vast majority of souls that make their way to Kelemvor are the False and the Faithless - those that did not worship the gods in life, or turned away from them. Yet occasionally, other exceptions fall into his midst - the Fractured. Mortals that, somehow, died before the proper time - and thus, have a tie back to the living realm, a tie that prevents their full soul from proceeding to its proper fate, either in his realm or that of another god.

For these souls, Kelemvor crafts a new shell, and returns them to the world of life - not so that they can live beyond their proper time, as with the undead he abhors, but so they can instead fulfill their proper fate, complete the tasks or destiny left unfinished in life, and return to the land of the dead when the true counting of their life has come to an end.

These rare souls, upon returning to the world, are called Revenants.
Rogues won't mind the CON -- they could use the surges and HP most of the time.
Archery rangers likewise, dex/wis is better but con is probably your third stat.

Monks might like the CON too, most melee characters tend to benefit from surges/HP.
Rogues won't mind the CON -- they could use the surges and HP most of the time.
Archery rangers likewise, dex/wis is better but con is probably your third stat.

Monks might like the CON too, most melee characters tend to benefit from surges/HP.

I think that's why CON/DEX make for a great racial combo. Pretty much every class can benefit from +2 HP, +1 Healing Surge, +1 Initiative. It's useful to everyone but not overpowered for any one class.
Its primary stat is Wis.

@ElJeffex: dwarves are full of racial features that scream "defender!" all around, so they didn't need a Strength bonus.

Yeah ... you seem to be missing the part where the Revenant is in the same boat ...
Mechanics wise, Revenant comes down to how awesome Unnatural Vitality ends up being. I'm optimistic.
...whatever
I like the class. It's an interesting twist of fate and a good way to keep the party going if say they don't have enough for a Raise Dead Ritual or Gentle Repose until they get Raise Dead ready.

I think however, it'd be interesting to see them with a small weakness to radiant.

Thoughts?
Racial features and feats are really nice, but +2 to Con and Dex is a useless combination: no class uses both as primary attributes.

Agreed. It wasn't until after reading the article, but now having had time to think about I have come to believe that any fixed stat pair is a mistake for revenants. Like humans, I feel that revenants should have had a single stat boost of the player's choice. This would play better with the concept that they might have been any race in their previous life, while also allowing revenants to perform equally well in almost any class (rather than favoring a select few).
I like the class. It's an interesting twist of fate and a good way to keep the party going if say they don't have enough for a Raise Dead Ritual or Gentle Repose until they get Raise Dead ready.

I think however, it'd be interesting to see them with a small weakness to radiant.

Thoughts?

I think being considered undead but lacking a vulnerability is a reasonable compromise between leaving them open to things that affect the undead, without actually causing them to lose additional hit points from those same things or from radiant effects (so, in other words, Turn Undead will hurt them and blow them back, but it won't totally shred them if they're unlucky).
Racial features and feats are really nice, but +2 to Con and Dex is a useless combination: no class uses both as primary attributes.

I'm willing to bet the Assassin has a dex/con build
Did anyone else notice that their racial power doesn't level up? Even at epic tier, it still deals 1d8 + Con mod damage...

Oversight??

TBP
So after reviewing some stuff, nothing Technically forbids you from mixing Deva heritage with RevanantX race...so you could be a Revanant, Half-elf, Deva...right?
Everything looks interesting except the racial power which seems both weak and boring. Yay, non-scaling extra damage.

The feats are really cool, though.
The damage at least pretends to scale if you boost Con as one of your two electives. And there are a lot of feats that make it more interesting (the ranger feat in particular seems to have potential in a party of multi-attackers).

I agree that +2 to a single stat of the player's choice would have been a better fit for this race, but that might have been a little strong, given the potential already inherent in having access to the best features of any other race. I mean, there are already builds out there that go half-elf for the off class at-will in paragon levels that wouldn't mind trading cha for dex.
I agree that +2 to a single stat of the player's choice would have been a better fit for this race, but that might have been a little strong, given the potential already inherent in having access to the best features of any other race. I mean, there are already builds out there that go half-elf for the off class at-will in paragon levels that wouldn't mind trading cha for dex.

Also, if they take Human Soul they get the human boost to NADs, leaving humans with only an extra skill (essentially a bonus feat) and an extra at-will (which is nice, but just gravy for many builds). Why be human then?
Also, if they take Human Soul they get the human boost to NADs, leaving humans with only an extra skill (essentially a bonus feat) and an extra at-will (which is nice, but just gravy for many builds). Why be human then?

Well, humans get a bonus feat, while Revs have to take a feat for the defense bonus, so that's a two feat difference.
Fair point, but the Revenants also get low-light vision, +2 to two fairly useful skills, Unnatural Vitality and Dark Reaping. I'd say that more than makes up for it.
Before I saw the Revenant, I assumed they would have +1 to two abilities of your choice. This means that you could have them as a slightly weaker version of any race you wanted. Not sure whether that would have been a good idea though.

I still think having them have +2 in Con and Dex is a mistake as it means that the "race" is far weaker for some classes than others.
Also, if they take Human Soul they get the human boost to NADs, leaving humans with only an extra skill (essentially a bonus feat) and an extra at-will (which is nice, but just gravy for many builds). Why be human then?

two feat difference, extra at-will is actually useful for several builds, don't get jayed by your own ally's turn-undead.

to me the biggest draw of the revenant is playing the revenant of a former PC. Revenants can cover any previous race well enough, but the classes this can fit are pretty heavily limited by the Dex/Con spread. My friend's murdered rogue can come back as an awesome Revenants. But my murdered warlord? I wouldn't use the word 'awesome',
My friend's murdered rogue can come back as an awesome Revenants. But my murdered warlord? I wouldn't use the word 'awesome',

There's no need for you to return with the same class. You can multiclass if you want to have the feel of your original character. But its clearly designed that revenants can and perhaps should be of a different class then their original owner.

This isn't raise dead. This is a rebirth. Its like with Devas. Just because you were a warlord in a past life, doesn't mean you have to be a warlord in this life.
This is a rebirth. Its like with Devas.

Now that i think of it...
What's more resurrecting than a Deva Revenant? :D :D :D
Actually Play'ng: Nothing. My old party is full of short-sighted racists and sexists (on their own admission), so I left.
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