Returned Champion (Paladin)

June 7th, 2016

Alex Riggs

Best in Class Archive

Today marks the second day of Returned Week, in which we present a brand new player race, the returned. Naturally, that means that today’s archetype is made for the skeletal returned, and, surprisingly, we felt that paladin was the best fit for these undead creatures.


New Paladin Archetype
Returned Champion

Though it seems unintuitive to some, the undead known as the returned are often drawn to the paladin class, as they feel a responsibility or call to duty which is so strong that it can cause them to rise even from the grave. These deathless champions are paragons of virtue, and though they may have frightening visages, all who know them are glad to fight by their side.

The following archetype is available only to paladins of the returned race.

Divine Purpose: A returned champion has a specific purpose for which she has risen from the dead, and this purpose is the guiding force of her existence. Choose a specific task, such as recovering or destroying an artifact, or bringing justice to a specific villain for a specific deed. The task must not be one that would conflict with a paladin’s code of ethics. If the returned champion completes her chosen task, or if circumstances align themselves so that it is impossible for her task to be completed, then she must make a Will saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 her class level + her Charisma modifier + 1 for each previous time she has been forced to make a saving throw of this kind). If she succeeds, she may select a new task, which should be related in some way to her previous task. If she fails, she is destroyed. If the task is open-ended (such as protecting a person or place from harm, or slaying evil outsiders), the returned champion must make a Will save in this way periodically: a new save must be made after a number of weeks equal to her Hit Dice have passed since her last save (1 week for a 1-HD returned champion, 2 weeks for a 2-HD returned champion, and so on).

If the returned champion goes for a full week without making any progress towards completing her divine purpose, her Charisma score is reduced by 1. This penalty increases by 1 for each subsequent week that she fails to make progress on her divine purpose, but the penalties are removed automatically as soon as she makes progress towards her purpose. If the returned champion takes any action that actively works against her divine purpose, she loses all benefits from the paladin class, as though she had violated her paladin code of conduct, until she receives the benefits of an atonement spell, or makes enough progress towards her divine purpose as to undo whatever she did.

Strength of Conviction (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, as an immediate action, a returned champion can add her Charisma modifier to any single roll she makes, provided that that roll is for an action that in some way, either directly or indirectly, relates to her divine purpose. She may choose to use this ability after seeing the result of her die roll, but must do so before learning the result, if applicable (so, in the case of an attack roll, she could use the ability after learning that she rolled a 3, but would need to do so before learning if that resulted in a hit or miss, while in the case of a damage roll, she could do so after learning that she rolled a 7, but before learning if the resulting damage was enough to kill her target, etc.). This bonus stacks with all other bonuses on the roll. The returned champion can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 1 + 1/2 her class level.

This ability replaces the divine grave class feature.

Soothing Aura (Su): At 3rd level, when a returned champion gains the aura of courage class feature, the range of her aura is 60 feet, not 10 feet. Additionally, the aura radiates calm and serenity, naturally reassuring all good creatures within range of the returned champion’s benevolence. Such creatures never mistake the returned champion for any kind of evil undead, and the returned champion gains a +4 bonus on Diplomacy checks made against such creatures.

This ability modifies the aura of courage class feature.

Divine Protection (Su): At 3rd level, a returned champion adds her Charisma modifier on saving throws made to resist channeled energy, as well as any other effect that specifically targets undead, or affects them differently, such as command undead. Additionally, whenever she would suffer damage from positive or negative energy, she suffers 5 less damage than she otherwise would. At 10th level, she suffers 10 less damage than she otherwise would, and at 17th level she suffers 20 less damage than she otherwise would.

This ability replaces the divine health class feature.

Return from the Grave (Su): Beginning at 5th level, a returned champion is all but impossible to permanently destroy. Whenever she is destroyed for any reason other than having her Charisma score reduced to 0 or failing a Will save after completing or failing to complete her divine purpose, she automatically returns to life as a returned champion 1d4 days later, with full hit points. If any of the returned champion’s bones are removed from her body, she cannot return to life until those bones are returned (any bones within roughly 20 feet of each other count as being together for this purpose). Destroying one of her bones completely can also prevent this rejuvenation, but doing so requires concentrated effort beyond simply breaking them, and either requires special magic (such as a disintegrate spell), or one full hour of effort.

At 11th level, the returned champion rejuvenates after only 24 hours, and can rejuvenate even if a number of bones equal to or less than her Charisma modifier have been removed or destroyed, provided that none of those bones are her skull.

At 17th level, the returned champion rejuvenates after only 1d4 hours, and she needs only her skull to rejuvenate.

This ability replaces the divine bond class feature.

Fast Healing (Su): Beginning at 8th level, a returned champion gains fast healing 1. At 14th level, and again at 20th level, this fast healing increases by 1 (to a maximum of fast healing 3 at 20th level).

Sanctified Dead (Su): Beginning at 8th level, a returned champion is immune to all effects that control or compel undead specifically, such as command undead, the Command Undead and Turn Undead feats, and so on. As a standard action, she can touch any creature affected by such an ability to grant them a new saving throw to resist the effect (even if they were not entitled to a saving throw initially). The creature adds the returned champion’s Charisma modifier as a bonus on this check. If the touched creature succeeds on its saving throw, is mindless, and is of evil alignment, its alignment shifts to neutral. At the GM’s discretion, mindless undead who are freed of control in this way may go to rest (effectively destroying them), may turn on their previous controller, or may follow the returned champion and do their best to aid her. Intelligent undead freed from control in this fashion act normally, and cannot have their alignment changed in this way.

This ability replaces the aura of resolve class feature.