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!
Sazarul Gravetroll is just the sort of trespassing meddler you’ll find poking around in coffins, polling the dead for answers, and testing uncouth hypotheses. He is often heedless of the perils, to the chagrin of those around him.
Sazarul died too young, but a circle of druids resurrected him. They took in the trollkin youth, cared for him, and trained him as one of their own.
However, the life-changing experience of resurrection caused Sazarul to develop an obsession with death and life’s transformations. When the druids found Sazarul testing grotesque hypotheses on dead things, they cast him out, fearing he would threaten the natural order.
Excommunicated, Sazarul wandered graveyards and battlefields, disturbing the dead and upsetting the living with his macabre interests.
At low tiers, Sazarul is a druid whose personal mission is less about preservation of natural life and more the study of what takes place after it, making him curious in every sense of the word.
His interests keep him from civilized company. He is more likely to be found in a nooks of some dangerous locale than a tavern or town-based quest hub.
As he is a druid, he lacks certain spells and abilities like speak with dead or turn undead. Any character he comes across who can do those sorts of things is of great interest to Sazarul. He eagerly barters for their help.
Using Sazarul Gravetroll Later in Your Game
Later on, Sazarul has developed a rapport with spirits. They often come to his aid in unexpected ways and even protect him. Still interested as ever in the secrets of the afterlife, Sazarul has broadened his experiments to include phoenixes, certain insects, and other creatures who undergo transformations or have close significance with rebirth.
Due in part to his druidic prowess, Sazarul is often accompanied by death butterfly swarms (see Tome of Beasts), giant moths (see Creature Codex), and the odd troll who enjoys snacking on whatever Sazarul is finished experimenting with.
Allow an NPC Sazarul to use spells from the divination, necromancy, and transmutation schools, even if they cross class lines. Sazarul’s efforts in plundering the secrets of the dead have yielded powers that violate the laws of mysticism and nature!
Medium Humanoid (Trollkin), True Neutral
Armor Class 16 (hide armor, shield)
Hit Points 161 (19d8 + 76)
Speed 30 ft.
|10 (+0)||14 (+2)||18 (+4)||15 (+2)||20 (+5)||12 (+1)|
Saving Throws Int +7, Wis +9
Skills Intimidation +5, Medicine +9, Nature +7, Perception +9
Resistances cold, necrotic
Senses darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 19
Languages Druidic plus any two languages
Challenge 12 (8,400 XP) Proficiency Bonus +4
Karmacraft. Sazarul can cast the spells baleful reincarnate* and reincarnate using an action rather than the typical one hour casting time. Immediately afterward, Sazarul gains one level of exhaustion.
Regeneration. Sazarul regains 10 hit points at the start of his turn. If he takes acid or fire damage, this trait doesn’t function at the start of his next turn. Sazarul only dies if he starts his turn with 0 hit points and doesn’t regenerate.
Spellcasting. Sazarul is a 12th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 17, +9 to hit with spell attacks). He has the following druid spells prepared and uses his quarterstaff as a spell focus.
Cantrips (at will): druidcraft, guidance, poison spray, shillelagh
1st level (4 slots): cure wounds, entangle, healing word, longstrider, thunderwave
2nd level (3 slots): animal messenger, hold person, spike growth
3rd level (3 slots): dispel magic, seekrit’s soul regression*, speak with past*
4th level (3 slots): blight, freedom of movement
5th level (2 slots): antilife shell, baleful reincarnate*, reincarnate
6th level (1 slot): heal
*see previous From the Ashes entry
Spirit Scourge Aura. Ominous winds and wailing spirits surround Sazarul. Whenever Sazarul regains hit points, all hostile creatures within 30 feet of him take slashing damage equal to half of the hit points he regained.
Multiattack. Sazarul casts a spell and then makes one melee attack or one ranged attack. Alternatively, Sazarul can make two ranged attacks or two melee attacks, only one of which can be a Grave Bite.
Quarterstaff. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit (+9 to hit with shillelagh), reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage or 4 (1d8) bludgeoning damage with shillelagh or if wielded with two hands.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage.
Grave Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage and Sazarul regains hit points equal to half the damage inflicted.
Enervating Blast. Ranged Spell Attack: +9 to hit, reach 60 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (3d10) necrotic damage and the target must make a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or have disadvantage on death saving throws until they take a long rest. If a target succeeds on their saving throw they automatically succeed on any subsequent saving throws against Enervating Blast for the next 24 hours.
Remember that Sazarul’s curiosity and thirst for unknowable truths drives him. He lacks the scruples one would expect of someone who respects the dead’s final rest.
The Bargain. In the PCs’ darkest hour, Sazarul Gravetroll offers them help. A dark ritual that breaks both metaphysical and regional laws could make the difference in an upcoming conflict. The catch is, Sazarul wants to kill the PCs and study their deaths before swiftly reviving them.
The Invasion. The tosculi (see Tome of Beasts) swarm across the continent, and their numbers grow with each victory. The PCs’ best hope is to raise the undead to swell their ranks against the insectoid invasion. Sazarul Gravetroll can do this, but he needs the PCs to lead them into battle. What happens to the invaders’ bodies after the conflict is all Sazarul really seems to care about.
The Outrage. The PCs are approached by a representative of Mother Moth (see Tome of Beasts 3) with a proposition. Looking through the eyes of her subjects, the fey noble sees them—moths, butterflies, and the like—perishing at the hands of someone matching Sazarul Gravetroll’s description. Stop the Druid of Death and the fey noble’s reward will be generous.