View Full Version : Dread Necromancer Fine Here?

2010-09-13, 10:02 PM
I'm running an evil campaign with a level 7 party consisting of: favored soul, barbarian / warblade, rogue / assassin, and a scout. They're all unoptimized (the warblade even spent all his feats on archery to expand his versatility in combat).

We left off with the scout in a situation where death is highly likely. The player wants to roll up a dread necromancer in case the character bites the dust. He wants to make an army of undead.

I looked over the class and I love the flavor, but I've never had any experience with a character summoning an army of undead.

I've had bad experiences in the past with a druid poorly handling multiple summoned monsters plus animal companion and a similar issue with a malconvoker. Not only did those characters slow combat to a crawl, but I also had to always go out of my way to mercilessly counter them just so that the other characters didn't feel useless.

While I have a plan to speed up combat (aka throw books), game balance is a concern for me. This person wants to focus on undead armies. He'll be focusing his feats on it and he's one level away from Undead Mastery ability. Will he outshine the rest of the party, or will it turn out just fine? Are there any limitations to this tactic that I should know about that the player might forget?

2010-09-13, 10:08 PM
Keeping one or two big brutes is a way not to slow down combat, Not outshining people might be hard, you could look at doing silly things like throwing undead rats with destructive retribution ect.

2010-09-13, 10:09 PM
Most of all remember the hit die limit of the undead he can control. While armies are sweet in and of themselves he likely won't have enough hd controlled to have a terribly effective army. 1 hd skeletons and zombies just aren't that much of a threat to creatures that will be a challenge for a level 7 party. If he does turn around and decide to sink most of the hd he can control into one undead creature, watch out for the ones that can create spawn when they kill an enemy as those are the ones most open to abuse.

2010-09-13, 10:11 PM
Well, if he reads these two handbooks:



And follows their advice, he has a good chance of outshining the party. Maybe you should read them, in order to understand WHAT options make the Dread Necromancer more powerful than the 'core' of the class might indicate? As you are the DM, you might decide that, yes, doing a good chunk of the options in those threads is worthwhile, but you might want to make some of the options require roleplay, or that no, you aren't going to enable the more powerful stuff. Regardless, getting effective necromancy in 3.5e rules is DIFFICULT, but it can be done, AND it is generally *more effective* to get fewer strong monsters than an army of crappy ones. So read the handbooks, and talk to the player about what you like and don't like about the class and it's options, and what you will enable or not enable.

Maybe even send him the handbooks with comments saying what things you like and don't like, and would and would not be okay in your games, and which creatures are rare or not in your campaign setting, and which necromancy augmenting tools exist in your campaign setting, and such. The basic idea is that both of you are on the same page.

Keld Denar
2010-09-13, 10:13 PM
I'd limit him to 1, or maybe 2, minions at a time. This should help. Make sure you supply a decent source of nice corpses so the player doesn't have to resort to animating a whole gaggle of 1/4 HD geese. Work with the player to find out what he would like to have as a body guard, approve it, and then make it happen off screen if required. At each level, repeat, with different hooks (whether they fight the monster, or they find it dead at the hands of an even bigger plot hook monster).

You might want to avoid things like Hydra zombies though, since they are kinda a bit high on the power curve with the ability to attack with all heads as a standard action. Unless that kinda thing fits your campaign power level. Just something to keep in mind.

2010-09-13, 10:20 PM
I do not have any experience with the class, so I can only throw out a few guesses, from what I read, it looks like a Warmage who lost the martial abilities for some spell attacks a limited number of times a day, then focused on Necromancy, so I'd say look out for the usual necromancy problem spells.

The big issues I see with the class (if these are really all that big) is its ability to gain quite a few actions and maybe some nasty effects depending on the undead the player has access to. Don't feel pressured as a DM to let him have anything too extreme of course, so long as you explain it to him, it's a fair warning, I'd ask what he intends to control with it before moving forward.

Also, Divine Metamagic can be used with the class, and it looks a bit tough to kill for a caster.

Edit* Nevermind, Arcane caster.

Keld Denar
2010-09-13, 10:23 PM
Also, Divine Metamagic can be used with the class

No...no it can't. Its Divine Metamagic. DN's cast arcane spells. Its explicitly called out in the text of DMM that it only works with Divine spell. Unless you have some way to make your Arcane spells count as Divine?

2010-09-13, 10:25 PM
Oh... that's right, sorry, I was looking at the Rebuke Undead requirement. Didn't occur to me to check what kind of casting he had.

2010-09-13, 10:32 PM
No...no it can't. Its Divine Metamagic. DN's cast arcane spells. Its explicitly called out in the text of DMM that it only works with Divine spell. Unless you have some way to make your Arcane spells count as Divine?

There's a feat for that...

Seriously, though, DN can be bad, or it can be not bad, depending.

Being a summon-mancer is going to suck. HD to CR slides horridly against his favor, even if he does go for the Incorporeal types. He works on HD, in a medium which has the worst HD to CR ratio. In other words, his minions will be little more than speed bumps without a heck of a lot invested in boosting them. All of which is completely negated by a single cleric with the Sun domain.

So yes, focusing on the undead minions aspect of the class is a good way to remain sub-optimal, and in balance with the rest of the party.

Heck, his minions might actually be valuable to the party as a whole by providing Flanking opportunities and acting as speedbumps.

2010-09-13, 10:33 PM
Southern Magician, from Races of Faerun, lets you count arcane spells as divine (and vice versa) a few times per day. That lets you do Divine Metamagic on Dread Necromancer spells.

Dread Necromancer is stronger than most of those classes, and a well-built one will likely outshine them.

2010-09-13, 10:38 PM
Southern Magician, from Races of Faerun, lets you count arcane spells as divine (and vice versa) a few times per day. That lets you do Divine Metamagic on Dread Necromancer spells.

Dread Necromancer is stronger than most of those classes, and a well-built one will likely outshine them.

I disagree. Favored Soul is about on par with Dread Necro, due to better spell list, even though limited access. Barb/Warblade is a powerful combination, and Rogue/Assassin is kind of expected in any precision-based damage dealer.

Dread Necro is around Tier 3, which is a bit higher than the rest of the group, but his idea of playing with minions will shortly bring him down to their level of power.

Dread Necros only get broken when combined with Rainbow Servant or UrPriest.

2010-09-13, 11:00 PM
Okay, so it sounds like the dread necro can potentially outshine the rest of the group if he googles some handbooks, but otherwise he'll be roughly in the same league as the rest. I think I should be fine allowing it then.

I read a good chunk from those guides, thanks for posting them.

I'd like to pre-emptively ban anything that might be too crazy for this group. Zombie hydras are out, undead that spawn probably too. Anything else?

EDIT: In regards to power level, the warblade only really uses one of his feats, Power Attack. The rest are archery feats that he doesn't really use. He's still the strongest fighter in the group though, always hits and does around 30-40 damage.

The assassin is a new player. He gets really into the RP but still learning the ropes of the mechanics. Easily the worst combatant, misses alot and does the least damage. I helped him out by dropping a rogue blade (MiC) and some other minor goodies. He's more in line with the rest of the group now.

Favored soul likes to heal and support with some minor bashing. His most useful moments actually come from clutch skeletal owlbears that have become a running gag in the campaign. They're the ultimate pin-cushions, clearing the deadliest trap-filled hallways or becoming pinatas for angry reinforcements while blocking doorways.

That's the type of group this dread necromancer will be fitting into.

2010-09-13, 11:04 PM
There is a feat i believe that everyone in the party can take that lets them be healed by negative energy... so it could make him a useful party healers as well... so that way they feel like he's assissting them as well

2010-09-14, 12:41 AM
Having some undead meatwalls (or bonewalls) around to flank with will probably help out the newbie rogue. Suggest that he consider his minions as a battlefield-control tool: threaten enemies to cut off their movement, big guys to grapple them, and so on. It's a reasonably effective use of animated minions and it won't make everyone else redundant.

Also, point out that crappy chaff that dies fast costs just as much per HD as a few big beefy guys. The prospective money sink may do a fair amount to curb his huge swarm ambitions - or at least help him keep them off the front line clogging up the turn order.

2010-09-14, 07:22 AM
zombie hydras arnt that big an issue... remember he eats the party loot everytime he raises an undead... second, he isnt level 8 yet and therefore doesnt have undead mastery (which is awsome) and animated dead are fragile, with barely half the hp of a fighter (at least as far as i've noticed in the story my group were running recently)
the summoning list currently caps at - troll skeletons and Ogre zombies (cr2?) and he can control via rebuke undead with 3hd or less... so no shadows, no wights etc.
also, cant animate dead till 8th level unless he burns Advanced learning picking up animate dead from the cleric list at level 3... but at that level he picks it up anyway. also, animate dead requires a body. so if you are worried about hydras, then dont throw them at the party (even though the DN isnt great against them, melee touches vs reach anyone?)

when he hits level 8 it'll be different, as he then has an incorporeal summon. (allips) but if he spamms those, then he looses access to the rest of his decent spells.

for controling the spawning summons, theres a couple of passages in the LM that help (sorry, afb, cant link them) that suggest undead minions aquired via undead leadership be denied their spawning abilities. this can be extended to summoned and controlled undead too, preventing the ever-growing shadowswarm situation from occuring.