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I made a demigod race using my reverse engineered version of WOTC’s race design (see signature). The race is in my [Ostoria] thread.
Here it is again.
Demigodsby Karl David Brown
Annam was not the only diety to send avatars in the early ages of the world...
Death cannot hold them, they slip from her restful embrace to fight and love again for they have a spark of the divine within them, a spark that shows in their looks and deeds. Demigods, have a truly personal relationship with the divine and a desire to prove themselves heroes worthy other their birthright to win the approval of their divine parent while trying to avoid falling foul of the intrigues of the pantheon.
The Blood Tells
Born of the union of a mortal and a deity (or demigod) they look like extraordinary humans. Some are stunningly attractive, others incredibly tall and muscular, but all exude health, vigour, and confidence. Most have colouring to match the humans of their homeland but a few have unusual colouring, the smell of ozone, eyes that glow like embers, or other unusual features related to their innate powers. The hair of most demigods grows thick and fast leading to a tendency for long luxurious locks.
Demigods are immortal, maturing to about 30 yeas of age as mortals do then remaining as healthy ageless adults until killed by misadventure or lifted up to become a god by a potent relative. Despite this longevity, demigods do not have the cultural perspective of long-lived races like elves and dwarves because they grow up among humans at the same rate as human children and then quests and adventures are thrust upon them at an early age. Only after surviving many quests does a surviving demigod come to take a long view one would expect from an immortal being.
Born to human families demigods are as culturally variable as human s are, though in some worlds the deities of some cultures are more likely to become personally involved with mortals than others. In worlds visited by the Greek pantheon these gods are notorious philanderers who produce many demigods. Demigods share the ambition and adaptability of their human peers however from an early age most are also raised with the expectation that they will accomplish great things which amplifies their ambition beyond the human norm. In most worlds there is a rich history of demigods becoming heroes and earning great fame from their valorous deeds. With those around them relying on them to be protective champions, most grow into adults who value the common good and believe in the duty of the strong and gifted to protect those less fortunate.
Demigods are rare. There are no cities or villages of demigods. They live with their human families and have no culture of their own. This human life is often disrupted by interference by the demigod’s other family, the pantheon of gods. Whether by omens, prophesy, celestial messengers, or even avatar visitations the more potent members of the divine family seek to influence the growing demigod. Frequently, different gods have very different ideas about who the demigod child should become. Even more problematic are members of the divine family that consider the demigod a n enemy, often because conception was part of an extramarital affair. In some instances the murderous intentions of a betrayed divine spouse are so terrible that the young demigod must be raised in hiding. This exposure to the very human behaviour of the gods and being part god themselves makes holding deities in awe difficult and as a result few demigods are very devout.
The local temples also often take an interest in the young demigod whom they see as parochial evidence of the divine. The priests often try to control the child’s, education, vocation (they often want the child to be a cleric), and whom they marry. Most importantly the priests want the demigod’s behaviour to reflect well on the gods. This meddling and the typical impious attitude of many demigods to their divine relatives often puts the demigod at odds with organised religion.
Quests and Intrigues
Demigods are inescapably drawn into a life of adventure. Some crave the approval of their divine parent or the human community that expects so much of them. This desire for approval drives them to undertake challenging quests. Having a degree of invulnerability enables demigods to risks no mere mortal would and causes them to make light of terrible dangers mortal companions rightly fear. The more daring and dangerous the quest the better!
The gods play a game to win and we are but pieces on the board. The demigod is a valuable piece that has drawn the notice of the gods. As the gods plot and bicker their weaker relation is drawn into these disputes. Even if a demigod wanted a quiet life they would soon find themselves tossed into danger by the meddling of the gods. In some cases this meddling can drive a demigod to rebel against the divine family and side with mortals against the tyranny of the gods.
Demigods use the same naming conventions as the humans who raised them. Frequently, bards singing their praises add descriptors such as “the invincible” to the demigod’s name.
Ability Score adjustment: demigods tend to be outstanding in one ability score. Add +2 to one ability score of your choice but then choose two others which are adjusted by -1 each.
Age: Like humans demigods reach adulthood in their late teens. Unlike humans demigods cease ageing around thirty years of age and never die of old age.
Alignment: The upbringing of demigods tends to hold them into heroes of good alignment. Their uneasy relationship with the ultimate authority figures leads many towards chaotic philosophies of personal freedom and rebellion.
Type: You have the Celestial Type. For better and worse you are immune to magic that affects those of the Humanoid Type. However, you are affected by magic that targets Celestials.
Size: Though godlings can be very variable in appearance and range from 4 ft to 8 ft tall they are all Medium.
Speed: Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Languages: you can speak, read, and write Common and Celestial
Sphere of Influence: At 1st level you know one cleric or druid cantrip of your choice. At 13th level you choose one 1st level cleric or druid spell. You may cast this spell once. This spell is recharged by a long rest. At 15th level you may cast this spell at will. Also at 15th level you choose one 2nd level cleric or druid spell. You may cast this spell once. This spell is recharged by a long rest. At 17th level you may cast this 2nd level spell at will. At You do not need any material components to cast any of these spells, they are innate.
Immortal Spark: You share something of the undying nature of a true god. If certain conditions are met then this divine spark can breathe life back into your corpse. If you die your soul can choose one of the following effects as your action on your next turn or later to the usual limit of the spell. You must actually be dead, not just unconscious and making death saves. Regardless of the official spell description these effect only ever affect yourself, you cannot restore the lives of others. No components of any kind are needed to use these spell-like traits but all other limitations on the spell including time since death and condition of your corpse still apply. You cannot undertake a long rest while dead.
Level Spell Frequency
1 Revivify Once. May be used again after a long rest.
3 Revivify At will
7 Raise Dead Once. May be used again after a long rest.
11 Resurrection Once. May be used again after a long rest.
Divine Blood: the blood of a god in your veins gives you powers common to most divine beings. At 3rd level you gain the Telepathy trait as described in the Monster Manual. At 8th level you gain magical flight with a speed of 30 feet. At 13th level you can use the Planeshift spell on yourself only once. This spell is innate requiring no material components and can be used again after a long rest.
In your campaign world
The descriptive portions of this article are designed for fairly standard D&D worlds. However it is easy to make cosmetic changes to the appearance and backstory to suit your campaign world while leaving the rules unchanged. In a world with hundreds of gods perhaps with each generation divine power is diminishes, godlings are the next generation so weak as to be nearly mortal. Alternatively, perhaps they are diminished gods who have lost power as their faiths lose followers, an idea that appears in the folklore of the British Isles and elsewhere. In still other sources some cosmic upheaval is responsible. In D&D’s Forgotten Realms the gods walked among mortals during the Time of Troubles. You could also use these rules for Medieval saints and others upon whom a potent deity has bestowed a measure of divine power.
An extreme interpretation could use these rules with a modern or futuristic conversion of the 5e rules such as Hyperlanes (Scrivened LLC) or Ultramodern 5 (Dias Ex Machina Games) to create superheroes! Typical superheroes have a small number of thematic superpowers and a tendency to come back from the dead. For a superhero I would recommend that players can choose only one of the traits listed for Divine Blood.
This race is somewhat inspired by Greek mythology where the children born of a union of god and mortal, had incredible gifts. Unlike this race in the original sources Greek demigods were not immortal. In D&D the gods generally are marked by two core features. Firstly, they are immortal. Secondly, they have thematic powers related to a sphere of influence such as animals, love, thunder, or the Sun.
The challenge here is to include versions of these two iconic features that are on par with the traits of canon races. The obvious solution is to hijack existing spells to provide a broad choice of powers. Fortunately, my analysis of canon races produced both a point-based system for race design and methods of estimating the prices of spells as part of a race. As you may expect Revivify (self only) at 1st level accounts for 8 of the race’s 12 design points, the next most valuable trait is the cantrip. The other powers and spells are delayed until such higher levels that these are outstripped by class abilities at the same level and so are worth very little. The advantage of using existing spells is that they have already been thoroughly tested and have built in limits to prevent abuse. Note that even a character with Revivify at will can still be permanently killed by a terrible accident or careful enemy.
Despite her spark of divinity, a demigod should be able to play alongside PCs of other races without outshining her mortal companions. The main advantage of the race is being harder to kill, i.e. staying power. The majority of other races have advantages in damage dealing or exploration therefore the demigod has a unique feel in play. At the table demigods will suit players who enjoy heroic derring-do but hate to die.