Author Topic: Immortality: A Guide to Eternal Life  (Read 22825 times)

Offline nijineko

  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • ****
  • Posts: 2349
  • two strange quarks short of a graviton....
    • View Profile
    • TwinSeraphim
Immortality: A Guide to Eternal Life
« on: November 14, 2011, 10:31:22 PM »
Immortality: A Guide to Eternal Life - by MasterVerhoffin/Retrokinesis (& nijineko)

(Handbook discussion)

This is a guide to achieving immortality. More specifically, it is a compilation of every way to obtain an unending or eternal lifespan in D&D. Please note that this is not a guide on how to become un-killable, merely immune to the passage of time. This is a work-in-progress and I will be updating it in order to keep it as current as possible. This is my first handbook so any suggestions, comments, or criticisms are welcome and appreciated. I don't claim to know everything and, while I have access to most books, there are a few that I don't have. So if you know of a method of immortality not listed here please post it and I'll add it (credited to you, of course).
- MasterVerhoffin/Retrokinesis



Changelog
10/10/09: Initial posting by MasterVerhoffin
10/11/09: Initial posting completed, template section added
14Nov2011: Edited, updated, ported to Minmaxboards. -- nijineko
23Jul13: Corrected some errors in text and description, added new method. -- nijineko
03Mar14: Added link to discussion, noted new user name for MasterVerhoffin = Retrokinesis
26OCT2020: Updated some new material posted since the last update.


Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Races
3. Feats
4. Classes and Prestige Classe
5. Magic Items
6. Spells/Psionic Powers
7. Other Paths


Abbreviation Key
(click to show/hide)




Introduction

Before we get to the process of becoming immortal, let's talk about what immortality is and what it means for your character.

1. What is immortality?
I define immortality as "being unphased by the turning of the ages". Less poetically, it is simply never dying of old age. Some immortals suffer the penalties from aging whereas others don't, but none of them will ever perish without being killed.

2. Why would I want my character to be immortal?
That's up to you. Maybe she's a powerful wizard who feels she can't possibly learn everything about magic in just one lifetime. Or maybe he's a relic from another time, stoically enduring the ages and the changes that come with them. The reasons for pursuing immortality are as varied as the characters that seek it and there's really no catch-all reason. Mechanically, there's little benefit from being immortal so this is perhaps not the best option for you if you detest roleplaying.

1. Will being immortal wreck my game?
No! As I said earlier, being immortal has few if any mechanical benefits; most of those will be derived from the class or feat or whatever that grants you immortality anyway.

1. Ok, I'm sold. How big a commitment is this?
That depends on which path you choose. It can be anything from one feat to your entire character progression. Generally, it's easier and quicker to become an immortal if you start as one due to race or feat choices.


Without further ado, let's move on to the first decision you have to make: What race will my immortal character be?



Races

Many, many races have some form of immortality. What I will not be including here are:
1. Races with extended, but not eternal, lifespans.
2. Outsiders, undead, fey, or characters that are otherwise difficult to convince your DM to allow.

1. Elans (XPH, here (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/psionicRaces.htm#elans))
Pros: Aberration type, good racial abilities, naturally psionic.
Cons: Racial abilities dependent on power points, -2 Charisma, no stat bonuses.
Elans are a good choice if you want to be a psionic immortal since their abilities require you to expend power points. Even with just the two you get from being naturally psionic, you have enough to live without food and water indefinitely. The Charisma penalty hurts some classes, however, so there are better options if it's an important stat for your build. In the XPH, elans were listed as having a maximum age, which was removed in the errata.

2. Warforged (ECS)
Pros: Tons and tons of immunities, +2 Constitution, inherent armor bonus, excellent feat and PrC options.
Cons: Receive 50% from healing spells, vulnerable to certain things normal characters are not, -2 Wisdom and -2 Charisma, inherent 5% arcane spell failure.
Warforged are an excellent choice for any immortal character. They have an absolutely huge list of immunities. Their bodies count as armor that can be enchanted regularly or improved through feats. Warforged Juggernaut is a good PrC for melee characters, granting even more immunities. Although they can't wear normal armor or robes, they can take the Unarmored Body (RoE) feat to avoid the 5% spell failure. An all-around good choice.

3. Killoren (RotW)
Pros: Fey type, immunity to magic sleep, low-light vision, minor bonus vs. enchantment, minor bonuses they can change 1/day.
Cons: Penalty when wielding cold iron weapons, no stat bonuses.
Killoren are a balanced choice: they have no great abilities but no real penalties either. Each morning they can use Manifest Nature's Might to give themselves minor stat bonuses. This costs them nothing and they can do it every day. Killoren are a good choice if you're not sure what type of immortal you want to play.



Templates

These are templates that grant some form of respite from aging. Templates with unplayable level adjustments (vampires, etc.) will not be included.

1. Ghost (MM, contributed by Agita)
Ghost is an awesome template with both undeath and incorporeality. It's not good for most builds due to its +5 level adjustment, though. There is a way you can pull it off in almost any build with minimal investment: the ghost Savage Progression class located here (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sp/20040117a). If your DM will allow you to not finish the entire class, you get incorporeality and undeath at 1st level. You'll miss-out on Rejuvenation (3rd level) but it's a dip that doesn't interfere with your build too much. If you do go this route, be sure to pick-up the Ghostly Grasp feat from Libris Mortis so you can use items without needing them to all be Ghost Touch.

2. Necropolitan (LM, contributed by Archmage Joda)
Necropolitan, another undead template, is unusual in that it doesn't have a level adjustment. Instead, you lose enough XP to cost you a level. After that, you gain XP as though you had no level adjustment at all. It's fairly scare on features compared to most undead, but you do get the ever-useful undead traits and you naturally heal like living creatures. A good choice if you don't mind being undead and being behind the curve for a little bit.

3. Gravetouched Ghoul (LM)
Gravetouched Ghoul isn't bad as far as templates go, clocking in at +2 level adjustment. You get undead traits, three natural attacks that paralyze, and some decent stat bonuses. It costs a little more of your build than necropolitan but it might be worth it for a non-spellcaster with two levels to spare. Be sure to invest in some form of healing (negative energy) as you lack a ghost's incorporeality and a necropolitan's natural healing.

4. Lich (contributed by magic9mushroom)
Ye olde standby of evil wizards and evil clerics, the LA is borderline, but at least you're now allowed to continue to learn spells. Keep in mind that some of the literature of D&D indicates that a lich is NOT immortal, so check with your DM first.



Feats

There are few feats that offer immortality but one is of particular note. Let's start with the bad one.

1. Extended Life Span (ELH)
This feat is pretty much terrible. Might be decent if it wasn't an epic feat but, frankly, if you can't become immortal by level 21 then you're not trying. In any case, it's certainly not worth wasting a feat on.

2. Wedded to History (Dragon 354)

[Editor's Note: This feat does not grant immortality, but the associated though separate trait 'Endless', does.]
[Editor's Note: Struck text refers to the Endless trait, not this feat. ]

This one, however, is incredible. Not only is it available at level one, you gain a few side benefits. Some of these are pretty nice, like using trained-only skills untrained or immunity to favored enemy damage. Each of the different background options gives you a different benefit and you can take another feat if you want even more benefits. You don't take ability score penalties for aging but you don't gain the bonuses either. If your DM allows Dragon Magazine content and you have the feat to spare, this is an excellent way to create an immortal character. It has to be taken at first level, however, so you'd have to rebuild (using the rules from PHII) if you're higher than that. *This is my personal favorite path and the one I recommend.*

3. Epic Destiny (here (http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/drfe/20080428), contributed by cru)
Another epic feat. Taken at 21, it costs you your 24, 27, and 30 feats as well but you gain an ability from a thematic set at each point. Every one has some form of immortality at 30 but several of them imply that you are no longer a playable character. This is an option if your game goes this high and your DM will let you keep playing after 30. If not, there are better, easier, and quicker ways to do it.



Classes and Prestige Classes

Most immortal character will probably become such because of class choices. For some classes it's impossible to avoid; taking the class to completion grants some form of immortality. Here are all the ones that grant any type of immortality.

*Note on Timeless Body*
Timeless Body is a terrible ability for a dedicated immortal. Let's do a quick analysis of it:
"A druid no longer takes ability score penalties for aging and cannot be magically aged. Any penalties she may have already incurred, however, remain in place. Bonuses still accrue, and the druid still dies of old age when her time is up."

"Still dies of old age" is bad. It doesn't extend your life at all, merely prevents you from suffering aging penalties. It's not a bad ability to have IF you're a.) already immortal and b.) not immune to aging penalties but it's practically worthless in all other cases.

To help you avoid this trap, here's a list of every class that grants Timeless Body. Remember, these are BAD classes for a character you want to be truly immortal.
Druid (PH), Monk (PH), Alienist (CA), Eldritch Disciple (CM), Dragon Prophet (MoE), Tattooed Monk (CW, Crane tattoo), Contemplative (CD), Sapphire Hierarch (MoI), Initiate of the Draconic Mysteries (Drac), Holt Warden (CC).

That being said, there are a few classes that grant actual immortality:

1. Dread Necromancer (HoH)
The Dread Necromancer is a spontaneous caster focused on necromancy spells. You get some interesting abilities, a good spell list, and the 20th level capstone turns you into a lich. The problem is taking Dread Necro levels past eight is generally a bad idea and it's extremely suboptimal to go all the way to 20 just for lichdom.

2. Cloud Anchorite (Frost, contributed by nijineko)
This is a monk-ish PrC that grants a climb speed and some other abilities, but the real benefit is the capstone. 10th level Cloud Anchorites no longer have a maximum age. The only problem is no class really complements this PrC very well.

3. Beloved of Valarian (BoED)
Unusual in that it grants immortality at level 1, this PrC has fairly strict requirements. You have to be a good (exalted, specifically) female with Vow of Chastity and you lose your immortality if your unicorn mount ever dies. You need +7 BAB and the class has its own spell list, so its clearly designed for martial characters.

4. Green Star Adept (CA)
5/10 casting transformational class that eventually turns you into a construct. The 10th level ability specifically makes you ageless and you pick up a host of immunities on the way. The only problems are the +4 BAB entry requirements and the half spellcasting progression. Probably better suited for a melee-focused gish.

5. Walker in the Wastes (Sand)
This is a very nice 8/10 divine spellcasting class. The class features are nice if not great, but the real prize is the (you guessed it!) 10th level ability that transforms you into a Dry Lich. This is kind of like being a normal lich except you have Unholy Toughness (extra HP based on Charisma) and FIVE phylacteries. You also get fast healing while in a desert (and you spontaneously create deserts due to your aura) and a Constitution-draining touch that gives you temporary HP.

6. Thief of Life (FoE)
It's a rogue PrC that requires you to be a humanoid or monstrous humanoid that worships the Blood of Vol, so it might not be available in your campaign. In addition to a few immunities, the 10th level ability stops you from aging for one year every time you kill someone with a sneak attack. They have to have at least as many Hit Dice as you, however, so you can't just run around ganking commoners.
NOTE: You can actually qualify for this class at 1st level. Take a level of Generic Expert (here (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/genericClasses.htm#expert)), choose Heal, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), Hide, and Move Silently as class skills, and Sneak Attack +2d6 as your bonus feat. Instant qualification at level 1 (thanks to awaken DM golem for the early-entry trick).

7. Incantifier (Dragon 339, contributed by Archmage Joda)
This one is kind of unusual. You need 6th level arcane spells and it costs the same as becomming a lich (120k gp, 4,800 xp) but there's no level adjustment. You don't become undead so much as static; alive, but without any of the requirements of a living creature. You get immortality at 1st level but lose the ability to heal naturally. You eat magic to heal, either by draining items or absorbing spells through your spell resistance. 3/5 arcane spellcasting.

8. Grim Psion (Here (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/psm/20030628b), contributed by Jelvoden)
This is an old 3.0 psionics class from The Mind's Eye series of articles. It was never updated to 3.5, though, so you'll have to do some (minimal) conversion work if you intend to use it. One level will give you undeath and upgrade all your hit dice to d6's at the cost of one manifester level. Taking the rest of this 10-level PrC will net you several lich-like traits (damage reduction, paralyzing touch, d12 hit dice, even a pseudo-phylactery) at a grand total of 4 lost manifester levels. One level is a good choice for immortality-seeking psions, and all 10 are good if you care more about being hard to kill than getting 9th-level powers. Your choice.

Those are the classes that specifically state that you become immortal. However, there are many others that might grant immortality depending on how your DM interprets them. These are transformational classes that change your type into something that is usually immortal but don't have that listed as a feature. Talk to your DM before you take one of these:

1. Rimefire Witch (Frost)
10/10 divine spellcasting class that turns you into a fey at 10th level.

2. Winterhaunt of Iborighu (Frost)
Another 10/10 divine spellcasting class. You become an elemental with the (evil) subtype at 10th level.

3. Acolyte of the Skin (CA)
5/10 arcane progression. You become an Outsider at 10th level in exchange for sucking as a wizard/sorcerer.

4. Elemental Savant (CA)
8/10 spellcasting focused on energy-themed powers. You become an elemental of your energy type at 10th level.

5. Swanmay (BoED)
Female-only exalted PrC for druids/rangers. 9/10 spellcasting, Wildshape only into a swan, and transformation into a fey at 10th level.

6. Renegade Mastermaker (MoE)
8/10 arcane progression. Become a living construct (like a warforged) at 10th level.

7. Fleshwarper (LoM)
A nearly-full (9/10) progression class focused on aberrant grafts. Transforms you into an aberration at 10th level.

8. Elemental Archon (FP)
The divine version of Elemental Savant with 7/10 spell progression. Elemental of your energy type at 10th level.

9. Heartwarder (FP)
Full spellcasting class focusing on Charisma increases and enchantment spells with a fey transformation at 10.

10. Divine Agent (MotP)
Divine spellcasting class with 5/10 progression. Becomes an Outsider at 9.

11. Athasian Dragon (Athas.org or Dragon 339, contributed by magic9mushroom)
You'll have to compete with the existing ones and hope to survive, and it's in the Epic range minimum, plus being unique to Athas, but it might work for some.

I'm sure I missed a few so if anyone knows of one not listed please mention it.

Two Special Mentions
If complete immortality isn't important, you can stack Ruathar (RotW) and Dragon Prophet (MoE). Ruathar increases the length of all your age categories by 50% and Dragon Prophet quadruples your maximum age. This would make you long-lived but not immortal; an elven Ruathar/Dragon Prophet would have a maximum age of around 4400 years.



Magic Items

There are no where near as many magic items that grant immortality as there are classes, but the few that do are worth mentioning.

1. Unnamed Ring/Amulet/etc. (Dragon 354)
This is the piece of jewelry used in the Kissed By the Ages spell. Any piece of jewelry works, as long as it costs at least 4,000gp and takes-up an item slot. You become completely ageless as long as you wear it and suffer penalties if you lose it. The real advantage to it comes if you combine it with the Item Familiar feat. The ring/necklace/whatever is impossible to destroy without deific intervention and you always know where it is, practically guaranteeing you'll never lose your item familiar and anything you invested in it.

2. Tasmia's Heart (PGtF)
This item, in addition to acting like two other fairly expensive items, doubles the duration of each of your age categories. Our hypothetical elf Ruathar/Dragon Prophet from before would now have a maximum age of 8800 years. It's expensive but combines two other fairly expensive items, and any 10th level wizard can make it for about 66k.

3. The Gray Portrait (CoR)
Ok, you probably won't be able to get your hands on this one (it's a major artifact) but it's good if you can manage it. All you have to do to activate it is own it for one uninterrupted week. After that, you never age and are immune to negative levels and ability drain. Keep it well guarded, though, because you instantly suffer all the effects its been blocking if it is destroyed.

4. Elixir of Immortality (Dungeon #112, p80) (***added by nijineko)
An epic level potion which grants immortality. This immortality is of the unaging but killable sort. However, every 100 years one continues to gain aging penalties and bonuses, as defined in the description. Combine this with a method of negating aging penalties for maximum effectiveness.



Spells/Psionic Powers

Note: this is not where spells that can unintentionally make you ageless are. They go in the next section.

1. Steal Life (BoVD)
An 8th level Sor/Wiz spell, this is fairly impressive on its own. It has a duration of Concentration and, every round, you drain 1 point from one of the target's abilities. If you drain someone on the night of a full moon, you regain 1 week of your life for every point drained. If you take an average subject with 10 in everything you get 60 weeks of life from draining them to death. You could keep them Dominated and use Restoration to keep them as a life battery or just capture new people once they die. In case it wasn't obvious, this is an [evil] spell.

2. Kissed By the Ages (Dragon 354)
See entry #1 in the magic items section for details. This is the spell you use to create the link between that item and someone. Note, however, that you can't cast it on yourself. Nothing says two spellcasters can't trade casts of it though.
(*** added by nijineko) this spell grants the endless quality:
Quote
Originally Posted in Dragon Magazine #354, pg 52.
Endless (Ex): A creature with this special quality ceases to age once it achieves a certain point in its life cycle, most often sometime after reaching adulthood but prior to its equivalent of middle age. These creatures exist in a special kind of physiological stasis, counteracting all the consequences of advancing years that usually lead to frailty and eventually death. While they must still perform all the necessary sustaining actions (eating. sleeping, breathing, and so on) normally demanded of their type, they never suffer from any sort of physical deterioration or consequent reduction in Strength, Dexterity. or Constitution. Lacking this special insight into their own mortality and the incentive to find new, less taxing ways to deal with challenges, they also never gain any improvements to their Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma due to advancing age.

3. Reincarnate (PH, contributed by Viletta Vadim)
This is the quickest way to immortality through spells. Reincarnate works like Raise Dead, except you roll the dice to see what race you come back as. Since the text specifically states that it creates a new young adult body of your new race you can keep dying and reincarnating yourself, essentially resetting your age categories every time. If you come back as something with a longer lifespan than your original race you can extend your life even further. The only limit to this is, like all resurrection spells, it doesn't work on anyone who died of old age so you'll have to have the druid's bear eat you or something first. If only there was a way to get the same effect without the level loss. . .

4. Last Breath (SC)
Oh wait. There is. Last Breath is basically Greater Reincarnate. It has the same effects (including the new body) but it doesn't cause level/Constitution/spell loss upon resurrection. The only disadvantage is it only works within one round of your death. As long as you have a druid willing to cast this on you a bunch of times you can keep dying and being reincarnated every time you hit venerable age to erase your physical penalties while keeping the mental bonuses. And if you don't like the body you come back in, just kill yourself and try again. There's no level loss so the only cost is the material component and a 4th level spell slot. Note that if you are a druid you can pull this off on yourself with Craft Contingent Spell from CA, and if you're a sorcerer/wizard you can duplicate Last Breath using Limited Wish (thanks to PhaedrusXY for the Limited Wish trick).

5. Ioulaum's Longevity (LEF, contributed by pinewoodpine)
This is an epic spell with a Spellcraft DC of 152. It's basically Disintegrate in a 120 ft. radius but your current age category is extended by one year for every living creature it kills. Unlike Thief of Life it doesn't have HD requirements on the target, so (if you don't mind being evil) go raid the nearest village and disintegrate everyone to extend your life. If your morality can't handle that, I'm sure you could get the same results from kobolds (or whatever passes for the "always evil" creature in your campaign). The only difficulties with this are the Spellcraft DC and the fact that you need Epic Spellcasting to cast it. If your DM will let you, drop the Spellcraft DC down to almost nothing by building a crippling XP expenditure into the spell and then using a Thought Bottle (CA) to get it all back. Note that this trick is most definitely not RAI so ask your DM before you try it.

6. True Mind Switch (XPH, contributed by Prime32)
True Mind Switch is the easiest way for a psionic character to gain immortality (besides being an elan, of course). You can use it to steal someone's (preferably young and healthy) body while trapping them in yours. You could do this indefinitely as long as you have the power points to expend and it's completely untraceable (good if you current body is wanted for crimes or something). The only major hurdles are the 10k XP cost and the fact that killing your old body (now inhabited by the person you stole this one from) causes you to lose a level. Again, try the Thought Bottle trick from above if your DM will let you get away with it.

7. Living Zombie Cocktail (CoR)
No, it's not actually called that. Creating a living zombie takes Command Undead, Dominate [type], False Life, Feeblemind, and 1,000gp. You can have one living zombie at a time for every modifier from your primary spellcasting stat (Intelligence for wizards, etc.) which is good because you want as many as you can get. Every one you have makes you age half as quickly as you usually would. This effect is cumulative if you have multiple living zombies, so create as many as you can to greatly increase your lifespan. The only problem is they still age as they usually would so you'll have to replace them every 100 years or so (less if they're elves).

8. Steal steel (Wyrms of the North - WotC web article, also Dragon #237, contributed by nijineko) (***added by nijineko)
A particular psionic dragon invented some new powers, one of which is the Steal steel power. This power allows you to leave your body unconscious for the duration of the power, and possess any metal blade. Your body still ages and needs air and sustenance, however. After leaving your body, you can place it in stasis by any of several available means, and so long as you do not run out of power points ever or are prevented from manifesting the power, you have effectively become immortal. The following method is one way to become immortal using this power:
(click to show/hide)

9. Hide Life (Tome and Blood, p.91, contributed by BBJimmy)
This 9th level wiz/sor spell costs 5000xp, and turns a small portion of your body (which must be cut off/out, and presumably hidden somewhere) effectively into a phylactery of sorts. So long as the piece remains undamaged, you cannot be killed. However, it does not prevent aging, so you will need to take additional measures, unless you like being super old for some reason.

10. True Reincarnation (Master's of the Wild p96, 3.0, contributed by The_Laughing_Man)
No level or constitution loss and you get to roll twice for the new form. There is 1000xp cost.
(Note by nijineko: amusingly enough, if you can figure out how to Maximize a 9th level spell, it should apply to the random roll for a new body, making the result automatically 100 - Other (DM's Choice), if the options listed on the table do not suit.)



Other Paths to Immortality

This is the section where all the atypical, unusual, and (mostly) un-optimal paths to immortality go.

1. Suspended Animation
Suspended animation is my term for any effect that causes you to be immobile and possible insensate. These are acceptable if you only need to be in hibernation for a few years/decades/centuries but, as a path to long-term survival, they are a bad idea. While in stasis you are usually extremely vulnerable and unable to defend yourself. Plus, there's no guarantee whoever put you IN stasis will remember to take you OUT (if even if they'll still be alive) when the time comes. A partial list of effects that do this follows:
Flesh to Stone (PH), Temporal Stasis (PH), Imprisonment (PH), Crystallize (XPH), or coating someone in Quintessence (XPH).

2. Planes With Unusual Time Traits
Certain planes of existence have time traits other than the standard. What this means is, on some planes, time flows differently than how it does on the material plane. You could live forever or at least greatly extend your life based on which plane you go to, but there's one major problem; your immortality is (usually) contingent on you remaining on THAT plane or one with a similar time trait. Some, like the Astral Plane, are fairly decent ideas (just don't leave, ever). Others, such as the Far Realm, as good only in very specific cases, such as Far Realm + Alienist (where you're already cripplingly insane).

3. Divine Rank 0+
Almost certainly requiring DM fiat or a seriously high level campaign, somehow obtaining at least divine rank 0 grants the basics of the ideal state of immortality. Note that it is possible to steal enough of whatever the stuff/power is that constitutes divine rank in order to gain 1 or more divine ranks (see Greyhawk sources, the most recent of which is "Expedition to Castle Greyhawk" for details on how this was/can be accomplished. Alternatively, see Forgotten Realms sources regarding "The Time of Troubles".)

4.
The Timeless Fountain from Secrets of Xen'drik page 143. If you visit it annually, you essentially age 1 day every year essentially multiplying your lifespan by 365 if done so. It cost 5,000gp in terms of ability value.
While the Timeless Fountain location does not grant one immortality, assuming one is able to visit frequently, it can certainly give one more time to find a way to become immortal.

5. Stasis clone (Lord's of Darkness p189, 3.0, contributed by The_Laughing_Man) Clone yourself multiple times and stash your clones somewhere safe.
(Note by nijineko: This is mostly to ensure that you don't die before your lifespan is up while you search for immortality, since the clones are still subject to your natural maximum age. )
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 02:22:53 PM by nijineko »

Offline nijineko

  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • ****
  • Posts: 2349
  • two strange quarks short of a graviton....
    • View Profile
    • TwinSeraphim
Re: Immortality: A Guide to Eternal Life
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2020, 02:23:15 PM »
Added a few missing entries.