From the Ashes looks at making reincarnation special and strange in your 5E D&D game.
Want to develop a backstory that goes all the way back? Tome of Heroes has hundreds of options to make characters of every sort. Even past lives!
Some characters see reincarnation as an opportunity to reinvent themselves. Others use it to escape their past. And others still come out from the ritual blind to their past deeds. Velibohr the Immortal is a little of all three, though he couldn’t tell you why.
Velibohr has been subject to reincarnation more times than he can remember. He knows he is ancient, but cannot remember why. Currently, he appears as a healthy middle-aged man with a seasoned physique and an unpredictable temperament. For those lucky enough to speak to a calm Velibohr, he shares that he is driven to visit places where in his dreams he has met death.
In actuality, Velibohr has been many creatures other than a human man. In his first life, he made an immortality pact with a devil. His dreams are the memories of his past lives made incoherent by five devil-wrought curses that ravage his body and soul. These hidden memories drive Velibohr. He is a force of nature on the battlefield at the high cost of a haunted existence.
Velibohr can be be found at the intersections of main roads or the various battlefields, religious sites, and ruins near them. Though he cannot say why he is drawn to these places, he is often nearby when a conflict takes place. Which side of a conflict Velibohr takes in any scenario is little more than a coin flip, though he has a soft spot for the underdog and would rather not kill.
When using Velibohr in early-tier games he simply uses gladiator statistics. Additionally, you can add one of his cursed actions or features without changing his CR.
Velibohr the Immortal makes a handy recurring NPC, rival, or adversary who could easily be all three across a campaign. His cursed existence mean that if he dies, he can come back into the game whenever it is convenient for the story.
It is not uncommon for cultists and cult fanatics to follow Velibohr. Despite their reverence for him, he doesn’t understand why or respect them. He is as likely to turn on them as fight alongside them.
At this point in his travels, Velibohr has pieced together clues hinting an evil cost his first life paid in exchange for immortality. Understanding and reconciling this truth, and deciding whether to embrace or reject it, becomes Velibohr’s motivation.
Velibohr the Immortal
Medium Humanoid (Human), Chaotic Neutral
Armor Class 17 (studded leather armor, shield)
Hit Points 150 (20d8+60)
Speed 30 ft.
|20 (+5)||16 (+3)||16 (+3)||10 (+0)||12 (+1)||16 (+3)|
Saving Throws Str +9,Dex +7, Con +7
Skills Athletics +9, Intimidation +7
Senses passive Perception 11
Languages Any one language (usually Common)
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP) Proficiency Bonus +4
Brave. Velibohr has advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
Brute. A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when Velibohr hits with it (included in the attack).
Curse of Spilt Blood. When Velibohr drops to half hit points, he becomes weak to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
Curse of Undying Embers. When Velibohr drops to 0 hit points he can choose to be instantly subjected to a reincarnation spell, regaining consciousness, any spent features or actions, and half his hit points. His ability scores and actions remain the same, though he may gain any racial features of his new form at the GM’s discretion. Then roll a d6. On a result of 4 or higher, Velibohr suffers from short term amnesia and remembers only his name, the language he speaks, and what he is capable of in combat. Once this feature is used, it cannot be used again until Velibohr has taken a long rest. After each long rest, there is a 10 percent chance that Velibohr will remember something from his past.
Multiattack. Velibohr uses Channel Curse if it is available, then makes three melee attacks or two ranged attacks.
Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft. and range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) piercing damage, or 14 (2d8 + 5) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.
Ringing Shield Bash. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 10 (2d4 + 5) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target fails their save by 5 or more they are also deafened for 1 minute.
Channel Curse (Recharge 5–6). Velibohr taps into the curse that has haunted him for ages, using it to take charge of his own fate. Choose one of the following effects.
- Curse of Fortune’s Wheel. Velibohr ends one condition or spell affecting him, then takes 5 (1d8) psychic damage or 1d8 psychic damage times the level of the spell affecting him.
- Curse of Ygg’s Roots. Velibohr reduces his speed by half to gain immunity to the prone, incapacitated, grappled, and restrained conditions until the end of his next turn.
These plots can hook Velibohr into your game. Remember that Velibohr is driven to discover the truth of his existence. That makes him unscrupulous and motivated.
Killing at the Crossroads. The PCs are asked to investigate after a murder victim is found buried beneath a busy intersection’s signpost. Velibohr soon arrives and seeks to assist in the investigation. Velibohr is more interested in what the clues add up to, and to the devilish presence they reveal. What will the PCs do when the clues implicate someone who bears a strong resemblance to Velibohr?
The Battlefield That Time Remembers. A trek through an old battlefield and an encounter with a chronalmental (see Creature Codex) takes the PCs to the moment where a previous incarnation of Velibohr the Immortal committed a heinous forgotten deed. When the PCs return, Velibohr meets them, following a dream-born hunch of his own.
Bloodsport and Subterfuge. A devil worshipping cult hails Velibohr as their new figurehead. The cult members engage in bloodsport by night and live as normal civilians during the day. The cult garners PC attention after a series of antiquities thefts suggest the cult, or rather Velibohr, is searching for something buried in the past.