It’s October! And there’s more than just Pumpkin Spice Latte to this month: goosebumps and monsters are all around, along with horrors and undead. And it’s about these last ones that the RPG Blog Carnival’s home, «Of Dice and Dragons» brings us the topic for this month: «From Beyond the Grave», inviting us to «share an interesting encounter, character, story line, or fiendish event that includes the undead reaching through the fabric of space and time»… and to me, nothing screams undead reaching through space and time as the Eternals from Magic: the Gathering.
The Eternals have been part of Nicol Bolas’ endgame since its inception. When the Elder Dragon learnt of Amonkhet and lazotep, its strange metal and its relation to necromantic effects, he devised his plan. Upon his arrival, and even without his full power, he managed to overcome the eight gods of the world. They gathered in the city of Naktamun for a desperate last stand in defiance and resistance, but when the dragon broke through the protective barrier of the city, he cast a spell that killed every single adult on the plane, weakening the gods enough to subdue them and corrupting them to worshiping him instead. His intention: replace the history and culture of the plane with imagery and traditions of his own, instating a regime in which the best warriors are sacrificed and turned into undead killing machines, engrossing the numbers of his Eternal army.
Physically similar to skeletons, the Eternals form Bolas’ lethal undead fighting force, the Dreadhorde, that has transcended their mortal capabilities. They are elite soldiers with all the skill and prowess of living soldiers, but none of the disadvantages that arise in living beings, such as emotions, hesitation, or disloyalty. As they aren’t living beings, they can be deployed across planes with the use of a Planar Bridge. Not only winners of the Trials were transformed into Eternals: Several of the dangerous fauna of Amonkhet, such as hippos, manticores, crocodiles, and even demons were also eternalized and served in the Dreadhorde.
Bolas identified the five qualities he wanted his army to have, and designed the Five Trials precisely to cultivate those qualities. After passing these godly trials, every Eternal would be tactical, adaptable, resilient, ruthless and fanatical.
New Template: Eternal
- Additional type: Undead
- Resistance to necrotic energy
- Tactical Training: Proficiency in Athletics, Acrobatics and with Heavy Armor. If the base creature has two hands, it also has proficiency with the halberd.
- Adaptable Technique: Eternals treat halberds as if they had the Versatile (1d12) property. When using it with both hands, they can reroll any 1 it gets on the damage die.
- Resilient Physique: STR+4, DEX+2, INT+2 (minimum 11), Speed +5ft.
- Ruthless Frenzy: When making its first attack, the Eternal can get advantage on Strength-based melee attack rolls. Doing so gives advantage to its enemies until its next turn.
- Fanatical Obedience: Eternals have advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma saving throws against being charmed, paralyzed, stunned or unconscious. They have immunity against being frightened. Interaction skills have no effect on them.
- Lazotep Armor: Humanoid Eternals are equipped with lazotep breastplate armor.
Based on lapislazuli, a real world precious stone that was highly valued by Ancient Egyptians, for its aesthetic and supposed magical qualities, lazotep is a magical blue mineral exclusively found on the world of Amonkhet, and the strange and powerful way it interacts with necromancy is was the main reason Bolas turned his attention to it.
Originally used to seal the wandering dead in tombs, the mineral was mined extensively in the Broken Lands and then used in the creation of cartouches, pieces of jewelry imbued with control magic and the preservation of life force and a person’s deeds. Nicol Bolas used it in the Necropolis to encasing his Eternals with weapons and armor made of this material.
New material: Lazotep
The effects of items crafted in lazotep are as mysterious as its relationship to death. Most burial-related items are crafted in this metal just out of significance than practical purpose, but not so weapons and armor.
Lazotep weapons deal an additional 1d6 necrotic damage with a critical hit, and any creature dropping to 0 hit points with damage dealt by a weapon like this marks off a Death saving throw as a failure. Lazotep armor provides resistance to radiant energy, but only if the creature wearing it has already resistance to necrotic energy, which Eternals already have.
So that’s it, Amonkhet’s legacy is an army of very powerful undeads, and only the most dedicated and focused heroes can deal with such a threat. You may notice that the Eternal template doesn’t list a CR update, and that’s because I’m still not sure about how high should it be. Leave your thoughts in the comments below! (also, let us know if you’re planning to use this template for your Halloween session!)