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CheshireCatAW
2009-05-20, 09:43 AM
Hello,

I'm running my first 4th edition game and one of my players, who is new to pen-and-paper RPG's, wants to know if she can play a Necromancer of some type. I have the core books and the Forgotten Realms set, but I can't find anything in them about making a few skeletons for you to order about. Did I miss something? Is it in one of the books that I don't have yet? If so, which one?

Thank you in advance

The Rose Dragon
2009-05-20, 09:44 AM
I think there is going to be a Shadow power source book, which will also have Necromancy.

Or so people think.

Kurald Galain
2009-05-20, 10:01 AM
I'm running my first 4th edition game and one of my players, who is new to pen-and-paper RPG's, wants to know if she can play a Necromancer of some type. I have the core books and the Forgotten Realms set, but I can't find anything in them about making a few skeletons for you to order about. Did I miss something?
You can't do that. 4E makes the assumption that having one player control more than one character at a time is unbalancing, so this is not allowed. There are a few strict exceptions; on the one hand, characters like the ranger and shaman that can control one other creature but using their own actions (so either you attack OR your animal attacks, but not both). On the other hand, you can use magical effects like Unseen Servants, but they are not allowed to do anything in combat.

The 4E approach is to play a ranger and pretend that your animal companion is a skeleton, or to cast spells like Stinking Cloud and pretend that this is actually a mob of skeletons. There are a few wizard summon spells that you can pretend are actually skeletons, but they are not very effective at heroic tier, and generally limited to "one per day, for five minutes" rather than "a few to order about".

The Rose Dragon
2009-05-20, 10:06 AM
The 4E approach is to play a ranger and pretend that your animal companion is a skeleton, or to cast spells like Stinking Cloud and pretend that this is actually a mob of skeletons. There are a few wizard summon spells that you can pretend are actually skeletons, but they are not very effective at heroic tier, and generally limited to "one per day, for five minutes" rather than "a few to order about".

Which seems to be a common advice that you hand out. I've not really played 4th Edition and had only a brief glance at the core books, so I am not really in a position to argue against your opinion, but is it (it being using the mechanics as is and pretending it's something else than it's presented) the official stance?

CheshireCatAW
2009-05-20, 10:07 AM
Hmm.. that's unfortunate, although it's what I was beginning to suspect.

Thank you very much for the prompt replies.

Tengu_temp
2009-05-20, 10:21 AM
The 4E approach is to play a ranger and pretend that your animal companion is a skeleton, or to cast spells like Stinking Cloud and pretend that this is actually a mob of skeletons. There are a few wizard summon spells that you can pretend are actually skeletons, but they are not very effective at heroic tier, and generally limited to "one per day, for five minutes" rather than "a few to order about".

Ranger? Why not a shaman? You already have a spirit companion as one!

Kurald Galain
2009-05-20, 10:32 AM
Which seems to be a common advice that you hand out. I've not really played 4th Edition and had only a brief glance at the core books, so I am not really in a position to argue against your opinion, but is it (it being using the mechanics as is and pretending it's something else than it's presented) the official stance?
That's a good question. The point is that necromancy as featured in 3E relies mostly on mechanics that were intentionally removed from 4E: ability drain (too complex), save-or-dies (too unbalancing), "evil" effects (PCs are not supposed to be evil) and summoning/animating to generate allies (too time consuming). This comes from a variety of developer's articles.

"Take an ability and pretend it is something else" is indeed a common suggestion from the 4E developers. For instance, before the Monk playtest came out last week, the official stance on playing a monk in 4E was to take a ranger and pretend he's a monk; use your Hunterís Quarry and rename it to Monastic Battle Focus. Other classes get the same suggestion: ninja? Play a rogue. Beguiler or Duskblade? Take a warlock. Similar suggestions appear in e.g. martial power.

The official news on a necromancer class I could find (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4pod/20090112) was "maybe, I can't say that on air". On the one hand, most people expect the PHB4 (which is expected for 2010 or perhaps 2011) contains the shadow power source and will have a necromancer. On the other hand, just like illusionists can no longer use the Silent Image line of spells (or indeed, stay invisibile for more than a minute or two), I would not expect necromancers to be able to command a horde of minions.

Based on a recent Dragon article, 4E has four necromantic wizard spells. One creates a damaging cloud that impairs enemies but not allies, one lets you command a small number of undead for a few seconds, one takes an enemy out of combat for a while, and one actually animates one dead corpse, but the zombie is a rather ineffective combatant and lasts only for a few minutes.

The Rose Dragon
2009-05-20, 10:35 AM
Did they consider moving to an effects-based game if they give that suggestion? M&M did it and it's, IMO, a better game than D&D 4th Edition. Even though it still has the same grapple rules as 3rd Edition.

4th Edition does have grappling rules, right?

Tengu_temp
2009-05-20, 10:42 AM
Nope. You can only grab people and push them around.

The Rose Dragon
2009-05-20, 10:43 AM
Well, at least it is less likely to have nightmarish rules.

I still have nightmares about AD&D grapple rules.

kieza
2009-05-20, 10:45 AM
I would suggest making the raising of undead a daily power or ritual; in order to order the undead about once raised, it takes up all actions but your Move action (so you can still walk slowly). Limit her to a normal undead of up to her level, or four minions that she can control simultaneously. Don't base the undead's stats on what they were in life; just on what level they were, like so:

HP: 6 per level + 6 + Int mod
AC: 14 + level
Other defenses: 12 + level
Speed: 4 (zombie) or 6 (skeleton)
Basic Melee: 5 + level vs. AC; 1d8 + Int mod damage; increase to 2d8 + Int mod at 21st level
Zombie Grab (zombie): 3 + level vs. Reflex; zombies deal +1d8 damage to the target until it escapes.
Skeletal Agility (skeleton): Make a basic melee attack, then shift 1.

Kurald Galain
2009-05-20, 11:01 AM
Ranger? Why not a shaman? You already have a spirit companion as one!
Because spirit companions can't attack.


4th Edition does have grappling rules, right?
Not particularly. It has something which is called a grapple, but all it does is prevent the enemy from walking away.

Morty
2009-05-20, 11:04 AM
Weren't there summoning spells introduced in Arcane Power?:smallconfused: I could swear I saw someone mention them.

tbarrie
2009-05-20, 11:11 AM
Not particularly. It has something which is called a grapple, but all it does is prevent the enemy from walking away.

Also, it's not called a grapple.

Artanis
2009-05-20, 11:46 AM
Weren't there summoning spells introduced in Arcane Power?:smallconfused: I could swear I saw someone mention them.

Kurald Galain mentioned them a few posts up. The gist was that they're short and/or suck.

Holocron Coder
2009-05-20, 11:47 AM
A suggestion I would make is to look at the summoning mechanics of Arcane Power and homebrew some undead-summoning powers. Perhaps create an animal-companion sort of path for wizards and appropriate powers. Wouldn't take all that much to homebrew, really.

Tengu_temp
2009-05-20, 11:53 AM
Because spirit companions can't attack.


I'm afraid that either I have imagined all those Melee spirit 1 powers shaman has, then, or you are
http://i157.photobucket.com/albums/t64/Coyoteesharptongue/lex-luthor-wrong1.jpg

Burley
2009-05-20, 12:10 PM
Because spirit companions can't attack.

So... Defending Strike, Protecting Strike, Stalker's Strike, Watcher's Strike, Call of the Ancestral Warrior, Call of the Ancient Defender, and all the powers above 1st level are not spirit companion attacks?
Because, according to PHB2 page 220, under "Spirit", they are spirit companion attacks.

Edit: I refuse to acknowledge being ninja'd by a jpg.

NPCMook
2009-05-20, 01:41 PM
Kurald Galain mentioned them a few posts up. The gist was that they're short and/or suck.

Depends which ones you are talking about, Encounter Powers with the Conjuration Keyword seem to rely more on enemies moving by your temporary creature. The Daily powers have the Summoning Keyword which are a bit more powerful as they have special orders you may give them and can even make Opportunity attacks. Also Summoned Creatures usually last until they reach 0 HP, you fall unconscious, or till the end of the encounter. Conjured Creatures tend to last till the Beginning/End of your next turn.

hamishspence
2009-05-20, 02:06 PM
There are a few necromantic Rituals in Open Grave.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-05-20, 02:08 PM
Question: What does "Necromancer" mean to your player?

If it is having "dark powers" you can take the Cleric and flip all its Radiant powers to Necrotic. Or just play a Wizard and swap some of the damage types to Necrotic.

If it is having one undead flunky, the Shaman is your best bet.

If it is being able to create an army under your control - 4E is not your game.

In short - we need more information.

hamishspence
2009-05-20, 02:27 PM
what about Invokers- one of the most summon-heavy classes? Or Arcane Power Summon Wizards?

Behold_the_Void
2009-05-20, 02:40 PM
what about Invokers- one of the most summon-heavy classes? Or Arcane Power Summon Wizards?

I was going to suggest an Invoker myself.

KIDS
2009-05-20, 03:19 PM
Ranger? Why not a shaman? You already have a spirit companion as one!

Okay, I have to say this is an incredibly brilliant idea. One Mayan/Egyptian ancestor worship themed Shaman with a Wraith Spirit Companion coming up for the next game I play in. Thanks for sparking this!

Ninetail
2009-05-20, 07:20 PM
Another good option might be the vestige pact warlock, from Arcane Power. He doesn't have permanent minions to order about, but he does have the dark magic thing down, and calls on various spirits and fallen gods for his powers.

elonin
2009-05-20, 07:26 PM
Boy that sucks. There were a few reasons for not being into 4e and this confirms it. Lemme guess this system doesn't have mechanics for picking up someone and throwing them at someone else or using your "friend" to bludgeon your enemies either.

Artanis
2009-05-20, 07:27 PM
Sure there is. It'd fall under the "improvised weapon" category.;

Tengu_temp
2009-05-20, 07:51 PM
Boy that sucks. There were a few reasons for not being into 4e and this confirms it. Lemme guess this system doesn't have mechanics for picking up someone and throwing them at someone else or using your "friend" to bludgeon your enemies either.

Because if there are no mechanics for something, it means you can't do that. Suuure.

Mando Knight
2009-05-20, 08:11 PM
Boy that sucks. There were a few reasons for not being into 4e and this confirms it. Lemme guess this system doesn't have mechanics for picking up someone and throwing them at someone else or using your "friend" to bludgeon your enemies either.

I dunno... I played with a group where the Fighter ended up Gnome-chucking to bypass one trap and counter the Gnome's low Athletics later... it was done with either an Athletics check or a heavy-thrown ranged attack against AC 10...

tcrudisi
2009-05-20, 08:16 PM
Boy that sucks. There were a few reasons for not being into 4e and this confirms it. Lemme guess this system doesn't have mechanics for picking up someone and throwing them at someone else or using your "friend" to bludgeon your enemies either.

Actually, out of all the table-top RPG's I have ever played, D&D 4e is the best at improv. They dedicated a whole 2 pages to it. *chuckles* I know, two pages doesn't sound like much, but they did an incredibly good job with it and the rules are very easy to remember. Plus, they stack by level.

And please, let's not let this devolve into a "edition X is better than edition Y". They are two entirely different games. Just as you can't say that 3.x is the same as 2nd ed, you cannot say that 4e is the same as 3.x.

Decoy Lockbox
2009-05-21, 01:04 AM
During a game I ran, the party was given a trio of redshirt halberdiers to command. Naturally, the party's warlord gravitated towards that role, so I eventually gave him complete control over them. It made his turn take slightly longer than everyone else's, but he knew his stuff and it worked out. The halberdiers could be given orders from the other characters, but they preferred to listen to the warlord.

Perhaps a future necromancer will have an at-will that summons one or more minions? Even if it only lasts a few turns, it might still be worth it.

Giggling Ghast
2009-05-21, 01:31 AM
All of the fluff I've read concerning the undead points to re-animation being under the heading of Rituals. A specific ritual has not been spelled out anywhere, but the Monster Manual suggests that zombies and skeletons are raised via rituals. Ditto for vampire lords and liches.

If this player is keen on re-animating various forms of undead, I would suggest homebrewing some rituals.

Here's another piece of advice: I would suggest she try an infernal warlock. They don't re-animate the dead, but they do love draining the life energy of their enemies, which is fairly necromancer-y in flavour. The Life-Stealer Paragon Path actually does let them use the spirits of dead enemies as combatants, which is also in line with what a necromancer would do.

However, they do use a lot of fire, which I suppose is a bit different. It doesn't require a lot of work to re-flavour these attacks, however.

Thajocoth
2009-05-21, 08:13 PM
What is an at-will, encounter, daily or class feature?

At-wills are the reliable fall-back powers. They are not your best abilities, but they're always there.

Dailies are the class's signature moves. Like the barbarian's rage, for example... All the rages are dailies. You can only do each once per day. If spent, they always effect the battle.

Encounter powers are somewhere between. They're more powerful, but rarely do anything on a miss.

Class features are, obviously, what makes the class unique. They're always there.

So... If you want to raise some undead mid-battle... Which type of power would that be? Daily, as that's the only type that has definite effect on the battle. If you want to always have some undead around? Class feature.

Here's how I'd do it:
Necromancer - Arcane Leader
2xDark Word per encounter
As a class feature, you get a loyal undead servant that you can boss around. Summoning them into a space within 5 squares of you is a minor.
At-Wills - Simple energy beams that perfom some sort of crippling to enemies... Like Illusory Ambush.
Encounters - Abilities that command your undead servant to do something other than it's melee basic.
Dailies - Summon a more powerful undead. As a bonus, you can use your encounter powers on your summoned undead.

I'd look through existing powers for other classes to decide what to take for this class. Perhaps tweak the damage type... I'd keep in mind when choosing that such dark powers should be able to weaken the enemy and occasionally grant dark bonuses to allies.

And yes, I'd have them be a leader. They use minions to fight and play life itself. Necrotically, yes, but I'd still say it's close enough.

Perhaps the choice Necromancers would get for a class feature would be the type of undead servant. A simple skeleton might be the average choice, while the zombie might be hit a little harder, but move a little slower and have zombie weakness. Stuff like that. I'd look through the MM's undead types and decide from that what sorts of minions to make as options.

CheshireCatAW
2009-05-21, 08:45 PM
The question was asked which definition of "Necromancy" would be what my player had intended. It seemed to me as though she wanted to field a single, strong undead or perhaps three or four weaker ones. I could imagine her wanting to support them with either some way of buffing her undead friends, or negatively affecting the enemies with necrotic powers. I don't think I would give her the ability to raise dead mid-battle unless they were weaker spirits or perhaps just portions of bodies. I like the thought of making them rituals for her, so that she can appreciate them more as they took more time and effort to raise.

Am I giving her too much? I really like the ideas of making it so that she only gets a move action if she wants to control the undead during combat.

*sigh* It seems a bit more difficult to make this character than might be useful for a new person, however. I think she might get lost in the rules.

Thajocoth
2009-05-21, 08:53 PM
*sigh* It seems a bit more difficult to make this character than might be useful for a new person, however. I think she might get lost in the rules.
For a completely new player, I'd REALLY recommend an existing class.

However, addressing the first part of your post... If you look at beastmaster ranger, if their pet dies, if I remember correctly, it's not as simple as just saying they're back next fight. You might want to look at that.

Colmarr
2009-05-21, 09:36 PM
For a completely new player, I'd REALLY recommend an existing class.

Agreed, and summoner wizard seems the best bet to me.

There are already a few wizard powers that are heavily yuk-flavoured (Grasping Shadows, for example), and it'd be quite easy to reflavour the summon spells as undead rather than Thunderhawks etc.

If she absolutely must have a constant undead companion, then I'd recommend beastmaster ranger or shaman. Ranger (despite being a striker) actually has some promise, because the ritual to raise a dead pet can instead be reflavoured as calling a new one from the ground.

Hal
2009-05-22, 06:32 AM
The question was asked which definition of "Necromancy" would be what my player had intended. It seemed to me as though she wanted to field a single, strong undead or perhaps three or four weaker ones.

This sounds like the perfect reason to simply reflavor an Invoker. Their summoning abilities would be perfect as "You pull a zombie out of the ground to attack others." I realize I'm not the first person to suggest this, but it's a good idea which doesn't rely on trying to balance new powers or abilities with the rest of the party.

Artanis
2009-05-22, 09:02 AM
Reskinned Wizard or Invoker sounds like a good bet. I would suggest against reskinning a Shaman because, although they have a quick-summoned permanent minion, that minion does an awful lot of buffing. It doesn't seem very necromancer-like if standing next to your pet skeleton makes your allies more cheerful.

shadowmage
2009-05-22, 09:43 AM
Yes I would say go Summoner Wizard and just reflavor the spells. Instead of summoning a X creature just say it is a undead, or even just say it is an undead version of what ever it is. I do not have my arcane power in front of me right now but changing the flavor text is a suggested way of creating new classes. Also I think there was a skull familiar that would fit well.

CheshireCatAW
2009-05-22, 10:28 AM
Working the Summoner Wizard seems to be the best way to go, then. I can find it in Divine Power, yes?

Thank you all for the help, it's much appreciated.

Artanis
2009-05-22, 10:44 AM
Working the Summoner Wizard seems to be the best way to go, then. I can find it in Divine Power, yes?

Thank you all for the help, it's much appreciated.

Arcane Power

CheshireCatAW
2009-05-22, 12:11 PM
Gah, that is, in fact, what I meant.

Thanks all the same!

Artanis
2009-05-22, 04:56 PM
Anytime :smallsmile:

Asbestos
2009-05-22, 10:31 PM
There are a few wizard summon spells that you can pretend are actually skeletons, but they are not very effective at heroic tier, and generally limited to "one per day, for five minutes" rather than "a few to order about".

I have found the wizard summons quite effective in heroic tier, particularly the Abyssal Maw.

The Fire Warrior kinda pales compared to the Sphere, what with the lower damage and lack of auto-damage. But then again the Sphere is more action intensive and can't flank/make OAs.


Off topic question... can summons charge?

Asbestos
2009-05-22, 10:32 PM
Also I think there was a skull familiar that would fit well.

There is, it was in a recent issue of Dragon, it isn't too shabby as familiars go.