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Trekkin
2011-01-10, 02:16 AM
Everyone I've asked has said that it's a poor choice for a necromancer, but I can't figure out why; it has a single dead level, yes, but other than that it looks like it does exactly what it's supposed to do.

So what, if anything, makes it a poor class?

Vangor
2011-01-10, 02:39 AM
Provided this is the Libris Mortis version, the only real negative is the loss of a spellcasting level and usage of a feat on skill focus (religion). As for being an actual necromancer, he focuses more on becoming undead'esque than commanding undead, and clerics are better necromancers as far as I know.

To note, the Tome and Blood version is terrible, thus people might be commenting on that.

Coidzor
2011-01-10, 02:45 AM
It's better than the True Necromancer, that's for sure. I think its main draw is the ability to have uncapped zombies from punching people to death, which might be a little underwhelming to certain peoples' idea of what a necromancer should be.

MammonAzrael
2011-01-10, 02:46 AM
The main problem is that Pale Master is an arcane PrC. Unfortunately, Clerics and other divine spell casters make far superior necromancers.

With that noted, I think it's a decent enough necro class for arcane classes.

Necrus Philius
2011-01-10, 02:51 AM
If you're playing gestalt (that's the one where you have to multiclass right and essentially get 2 levels?) it makes a fun and balanced option for monk.

You go Pale master on one side and monk on the other. Between all the bonuses to each, and your spellcasting to up your stats because of monk being MAD, you can make a great durable melee pet class.

Zaq
2011-01-10, 02:58 AM
It's not that it's awful in the way that, say, True Necromancer is awful. It's just really not worth the price of entry. It has an unfortunate feat prereq and perhaps the deadest level you'll find in a PrC, and in exchange, what do you get? Not really that much. The ability to bypass the costly component of Animate Dead is OK, but not that big of a deal, really (at ECL 7 / CL 6, which is the earliest you can get this without shenanigans, you can create a maximum of 24 HD of undead, which requires onyx with a whopping total cost ofóget ready for itó600 GP. Even if you boost your caster level a bit, say to 9, that's only 900 GP saved. It basically can save you 100 GP per caster level, which honestly is pocket change by the time you get it. So while it's not bad, it's not really special even for a Dread Necromancer. (Also, with the feat that you burned getting into this class, you could have just taken Fell Animate and, with a little bit of effort, gotten a very similar effect.) After that, the class takes on this weird melee focus, giving you a strength bonus, a few touch attacks (which aren't terrible in and of themselves, but still, why are you in melee? You don't belong in melee. Note also that these are SLAs, not spells, so Spectral Hand doesn't work.), and some defensive abilities. The defensive abilities, once again, aren't bad, but I'd rather have the feat and the caster level. The Leadership thing is pretty nice, I'll grant, especially since it seems like it doesn't interfere with taking Leadership normally, so you can possibly get two cohorts.

It's not wretchedly bad, though I'd be wary of the melee focus. It's got good flavor, and I think it would make a really fun NPC (preferably an uncomfortable ally, though it could work as a villain if that's your thing), but the things it gains generally aren't worth the feat and the caster level that you sacrifice to get in it. It's certainly playable, and if you think that it fits the flavor that you want, then you're not going to be GIMPED INTO OBLIVION to take it. It's just not really an optimal choice.

MeeposFire
2011-01-10, 03:47 AM
It makes a great enemy NPC! Just think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where th bad guy takes the heart out of the poor guys chest, except after doing that (complete with chanting) he also turns them into zombies! Show it to your captured PCs and then aproach them and let them get worried!

Amphetryon
2011-01-10, 08:12 AM
Pale Master is a good choice for an arcane necromancer who focuses mostly on his minions. Its main drawback - aside from concerns listed above - is that Pale Master 1 is the worst dead level ever. I think Fighter 5 points at it and laughs.

Malbordeus
2011-01-10, 08:32 AM
hmm, its actually pretty awsome. its got some great points. the touches are all pretty good appart from the one that deals Con drain. but thats only a little turd because it allows a save. str damage, negative levels and save or zomby are fun to play with. +4 strength is a good class bonus. especially for a arcane necromancer who uses a lot of touch spells (also as a side note, its just about plausible to duskblade into this) and then you get undead leadership... leadership being busted.

so yeah... pretty awsome for one CL loss.

Psyren
2011-01-10, 09:07 AM
The Tome and Blood version, which made it into NWN, gave this class a lot of bad press it doesn't deserve. It's decent for what it does.

The problem, as others have said, is that what it does is usually done better by clerics. Free animate dead is nice though.

And yeah, that dead level is absolutely horrible :smallyuk:

Coidzor
2011-01-10, 09:08 AM
(also as a side note, its just about plausible to duskblade into this)

With a d4 HD and requiring command undead? :smallconfused:

Trekkin
2011-01-10, 09:18 AM
How hard is it to replicate their free animate dead ability outside of the class? I know the Rod of the Dead can do it in a limited way, but how expensive is, say, a custom item that allows it without an HD limit, given that the material cost is different for each casting of the spell?

dsmiles
2011-01-10, 09:27 AM
I just don't like the flavor. I prefer divine necromancers anyways. Mechanically, it's ok, I guess, but I just don't care for it.

Duke of URL
2011-01-10, 09:54 AM
How hard is it to replicate their free animate dead ability outside of the class? I know the Rod of the Dead can do it in a limited way, but how expensive is, say, a custom item that allows it without an HD limit, given that the material cost is different for each casting of the spell?

The general rule for creating such a custom magic item would be to make the extra material cost based on the maximum benefit the device would give. So, if the device were based on CL 10, for example, it could animate up to 20 HD at a time -- the material cost would then be based on a single-use cost of 20 HD/use x 25 GP/HD = 500 GP/use.

So, a CL 10 item (based on the clerical form of animate dead) allowing 1/day usage would be:

Command word item: 1,800 * 3 * 10 = 54,000
1/day: 54,000 / 5 = 10,800
Plus materials: 500 * 50 = 25,000
Total cost: 35,800 GP

More generally, it woks out to 3,580 GP times the caster level.

---

Back to the original topic. For some reason, I always thought that Pale Master was a 5/10 casting class, not 9/10. Flavor-wise, it would make a nice PrC for Dread Necromancers (after level 8), but there are two problems with that:

1) The bonuses and immunities mimic what DNs already get, all the more so if they went the (quite logical) Necropolitan route.
2) Boy, that first level really does bite. Move the animate dead ability the 1st level and maybe we're talking...

JellyPooga
2011-01-10, 09:59 AM
Oddly enough, the Pale Master is a godsend for Undead arcanists. The dead level is forgivable when you're already behind the caster-curve as an Undead anyway (what with Racial HD and LA) and the various "make you more undead" class abilities are totally wasted. However, for Undead such as Necropolitan (undoubtedly the best spellcasting Undead type) or ghouls (quite a common PC-Undead given their nature) it grants the Supernatural Ability to cause Strength Damage (and later Con Drain, but that's not important).

This then allows you to take the Necrotic Reserve feat, which in turn gives you (a relatively fragile creature due to d4 class HD from the majority of arcane classes) the ability to survive -ve HP. Better yet, with this feat you can survive an infinite number of -ve HP, so long as it was all dealt at one go! This means that Mr.Power Attack the Barbarian, dealing 200-odd HP of damage in a single blow can go shove it because you can sit there on your Necrotic Reserve with minus 200-odd HP, quite conscious and very much still (un)alive (and whilst it might take a while to heal it all back without taking strenuous action, it's certainly doable). All it takes is to keep a bag of rats (or other convenient container of living things) handy to Strength Drain one every morning.

VirOath
2011-01-10, 10:14 AM
Remember, the quality of being undead is that all HD, past, present, and future, become D12s.

JellyPooga
2011-01-10, 10:22 AM
Remember, the quality of being undead is that all HD, past, present, and future, become D12s.

This is not the case! Read the rules and what they say, not what you expect them to say. Certain methods of becoming Undead specify that all future HD become d12 (e.g. Lich). Others do not (e.g. Necropolitan). Undead Racial HD are d12. Undead Class HD are as per the Class. There is nothing in the description of the Undead Type that says that all HD become d12.

As proof of my claim I reference as an example the Mummy Lord (MM, pg.190) which clearly has a number of d12 Racial HD and a separate number of d8 Cleric Class HD. This is not altered in the Errata and as such I can only assume that it is therefore not a typo or an oversight.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-01-10, 04:01 PM
Generally, what everybody is saying is right. Wizards and sorcerers, which are the typical entry to Pale Master, make poor Necromancers. However, where everybody is wrong is the fact that their are NO arcane classes which are as good as divine casters at Necromancy. Going purely by Wizards material, the Dread Necromancer is a darn good Necro and can have even more undead under their control then a cleric can. However, DN/Pale Master is not that great since the DN's best ability, undead mastery, which allows them to have so many undead in the first place is dependent on class levels and thus to get the maximum benefit from undead mastery you want to take as many DN levels as possible.

However, a good candidate from Dragon Magazine compendium(I know, not the best source in the world and one that's often banned) is the Death Master. The Death Master is basically what a necro specialized wizard should be. He still uses int as his casting stat and learns spells in the exact same manner as a wizard, but unlike a wizard his spell list is full of key Necromancy spells including the ever coveted desecrate and the Animate Dead spell as a Level 2, meaning he gets it before even a cleric dose. His list also includes some nice spells that are usually cleric exclusives. Stuff like destruction, slay living, blasphemy, word of chaos, unholy aura and a few others I'm not going to name for the sake of length. In addition, the Death Masters get Rebuke Undead, an undead servant, some other minor special abilities and at level 20 automatically become a lich, much like a Dread Necromancer.

So, the Death Master is a good candidate for Pale Master because unlike a Wizard he's actually good at necromancy and while he dose get a few abilities for staying in class none of them are all that spectacular and thus PrCing out of Death Master won't hurt you all that much. The only downsides are that your undead minion will be weaker and your rebuking will take a serious hit, but control undead can be a fine substitute for Rebuke. As for your undead minion, he's better then a standard familiar, yes, but you can animate things that are better then him, so having the guy be weak is really not that much of a loss. As for lichdom, if you want it that badly you can just grab craft wondrous item and shell out the gold and XP for the traditional lich transformation. Yes, getting it for free is nice, but you can still get it the old fashion way if your dead set on becoming a lich so, again, it's not the biggest loss in the world.

Also, a tip about Death Masters....while his list is FAR smaller then the wiz/sorc list, by RAW(Though most likely not RAI) his spellbook functions "identical to that of a wizard" which means that he can learn spells from the wiz/sorc list that are not on his own provided he has them in written form. If your party happens to have a wizard getting them to learn a few good necromancy spells that you don't have(such as Avasculate, Shivering Touch, ect..) is VERY good for you...and while said wizard may not be a necromancer, one of the best ways to convince him/her to learn specific necromantic spells you want is to "trade" spells since, even if their not a necromancer, you have some great cleric-list exclusive spells that any wizard would want. Save or dies like destruction and slay living as well as Blasphemy and Word of Chaos. Unholy Aura is another nice one they may want to trade for. At lower levels you have stuff like Command, Enthrall, Doom and other cleric list spells that your friendly wizard will never get otherwise, but he can get all of these spells from you because, again, by RAW, your spellbook works exactly the same as a wizard's so if you can learn wizard/sorc spells in written form a wizard can likewise learn death master spells in written form. So "trading" spells with the party wizard can get you a lot of stuff you would not normally have access to without shelling out lots of gold or being lucky enough to find.

Akal Saris
2011-01-10, 08:41 PM
I like that idea Maho - Pale Master is indeed well-suited to a Death Master, though I've never seen a player choose that class before. And it reminds me that I should update my master of shrouds guide to include the dragon magazine base classes as possible dips :P

Benly
2011-01-10, 09:02 PM
Pale Master is a perfectly good PrC. The difference between wizards and clerics as necromancers is honestly not that big - you don't get domains and you wait two levels longer to start your army, but the difference is seriously not huge, and definitely not as big a deciding factor as "which spell list do I want access to". If you want to play a wizard necro, you'll play a wizard necro and do fine.

Free Animate Dead really depends on how you play it. Pointing to animation as a one-time cost is misleading, because zombies and skeletons die incredibly easily. If you want to use your minions effectively, they will be destroyed sometimes. If you have some form of free Animate Dead, you can treat minions as expendable in a way you just can't if every fallen skeleton is sucking down your WBL. You can do this through Spellstitching, but that's a LA - template with the most bizarre cost calculation around. You can do it through a custom item, but the rules for pricing an item with variable-cost components are pretty much nonexistent. Fell Animate is nice but (a) only gets you zombies which are largely inferior minions and (b) is much finickier about how you get the corpse - if it dies to anything other than your Fell Animating coup de grace, no minion for you. So getting free Animate Dead from Pale Master is a pretty decent ability, even if it's not gamebreaking.

So taking Pale Master as a whole, we have a 9/10 casting class with free Animate Dead, interesting abilities at every level after the first, and a capstone that lets you break your control limit. The requirements are a speedbump feat, an easy skill req, an easy spellcasting req and a flavor req. In those terms, the Pale Master is an eminently respectable PrC: not an absolute powerhouse, but a solid choice for characters who want to go towards its strengths.

The big problem, though is that Pale Master 1 is the worst level of any non-NPC class and worse than most NPC class levels. Pale Master 1 is only better than Commoner 1 by virtue of its Will save and slightly better skill list, and that is just ugly even though the class taken as a whole is quite good. They really should have put some kind of class feature there. Personally, I would lean towards giving PM1 the Undead Graft at level 1 but leaving its special attacks where they are. That way PM1 doesn't feel entirely like a dead level (even if +4 strength for a lost caster level is a bad deal for most would-be Pale Masters) and it gets its most distinctive feature right at the start.

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-10, 09:04 PM
The only thing I can think of that would make Pale Master a 'good' class is if you went through DN to at least 8th level before going into it, meeting all prerequisites, and taking some Corpsecrafter type feats, which are then applied to undead created by Deathless Master's Touch, effectively uncapping the HD of undead you control, and making them fairly nasty by having them, for example, able to blow up and do negative energy damage in the area.

That's about the only thing I can think of, but hey, if you are in an evil party who doesn't care, you can simply go into a village and come out with a couple hundred HD worth of zombies after a month or so.

Alternately, Undead Cohort should be something that makes more of itself that is under it's control, so you have an army under your lieutenant.

Doug Lampert
2011-01-10, 09:28 PM
Provided this is the Libris Mortis version, the only real negative is the loss of a spellcasting level and usage of a feat on skill focus (religion). As for being an actual necromancer, he focuses more on becoming undead'esque than commanding undead, and clerics are better necromancers as far as I know.

To note, the Tome and Blood version is terrible, thus people might be commenting on that.

Clerics would make better necromancers if they got command undead.

As is, the only way for a core character to directly command an actual undead horde is a Sor/Wiz only spell.

And it's such a good spell that it more than makes up for all the cleric's alleged advantages, command undead isn't just slightly better than Rebuke, it knocks rebuke out of the ballpark, mugs it, and takes it stuff then laughs at the feeble power that's pretending to be useful for a necromancer.

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-10, 09:36 PM
Clerics would make better necromancers if they got command undead.

As is, the only way for a core character to directly command an actual undead horde is a Sor/Wiz only spell.

And it's such a good spell that it more than makes up for all the cleric's alleged advantages, command undead isn't just slightly better than Rebuke, it knocks rebuke out of the ballpark, mugs it, and takes it stuff then laughs at the feeble power that's pretending to be useful for a necromancer.

Rebuke/Command is permanent. Command Undead is not. Command Undead also has a very strict limit to a single undead per casting, therefore it also has a very realistic limit to how many you can keep going like this. Furthermore, any intelligent undead get to make Will saves, which Rebuke/Command don't allow.

So no, it's not as cool as you think it is.

Benly
2011-01-10, 09:41 PM
Rebuke/Command is permanent. Command Undead is not. Command Undead also has a very strict limit to a single undead per casting, therefore it also has a very realistic limit to how many you can keep going like this. Furthermore, any intelligent undead get to make Will saves, which Rebuke/Command don't allow.

So no, it's not as cool as you think it is.

On the other hand, above low levels Rebuking isn't going to let you control much of anything you'd actually want to control (barring a "flood the world with darkness" spawner pyramid scheme), whereas Command Undead can be used as a control-pool extender for arbitrarily large mindless undead. It's not the be-all end-all but it's a rather useful spell especially for its level.

Edit: That said, it's not what "makes up for the cleric's advantages as a necromancer". What does that is the wizard spell list in general, combined with the cleric's advantages honestly not being all that big. I suppose you could argue that Command Undead makes up specifically for the increased control pool from Deathbound domain in that both pretty much just extend the HD value of zombies and skeletons you can have.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-10, 09:42 PM
Clerics would make better necromancers if they got command undead.

As is, the only way for a core character to directly command an actual undead horde is a Sor/Wiz only spell.

And it's such a good spell that it more than makes up for all the cleric's alleged advantages, command undead isn't just slightly better than Rebuke, it knocks rebuke out of the ballpark, mugs it, and takes it stuff then laughs at the feeble power that's pretending to be useful for a necromancer.

As Shneeky noted...Command undead sucks. Badly. It's the Charm Person of undead, so it gets you either a single mindless undead per cast, or a intelligent one who both gets a save and only is friendly towards you, not obedient. Clerics with Rebuke Undead have total control over their targets, which arcane casters can't get until Control Undead at level 13 (which also sucks, as it grants a Will save even to Mindless undead).

EDIT: Though Benly has a valid point - Command Undead is HD-uncapped, so it can be used to get a giant zombie bruiser or something to follow you around.

Vangor
2011-01-10, 10:08 PM
Clerics would make better necromancers if they got command undead.

Divine Magician ACF from Complete Mage says, "They do". Lets you drop a domain to gain an abjuration, divination, or necromancy spell from the Sorc/Wiz list of your choice each spell level.

To note, wizards are not bad necromancers, but clerics are merely better. Amassing hordes of them is fairly common practice, and you can still get quite powerful undead through mere rebuke usage, especially with feats. The ACF rather seals this for when necessary.

Coidzor
2011-01-10, 10:18 PM
EDIT: Though Benly has a valid point - Command Undead is HD-uncapped, so it can be used to get a giant zombie bruiser or something to follow you around.

Which is basically what it's for, other than stealing someone's guard zombies and marching them into traps.

Rebuke is limited by requiring an investment in optimizing it for it to stay more than occasionally relevant, or only useful when one is completely revamping the ranks of one's undead servitors (since animate dead is typically used to animate heavies, which would be lost if one was using animate dead to make critters to control by rebuking unless one lessened the HD of the heavies in order to have a buffer.

Still wondering where those "positive energy levels," are from that Frank and/or K mentioned in the Revised Necromancy handbook...

Doug Lampert
2011-01-10, 10:24 PM
Rebuke/Command is permanent. Command Undead is not. Command Undead also has a very strict limit to a single undead per casting, therefore it also has a very realistic limit to how many you can keep going like this. Furthermore, any intelligent undead get to make Will saves, which Rebuke/Command don't allow.

So no, it's not as cool as you think it is.

It can control HUNDREDS of undead at non-epic levels, trivially and without any cheeze.

You get MANY slots per day, and the spell lasts for MANY days. That's not one undead at a time.

Nor is there any problem with permanence, mindless undead don't even get a save against recasting.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-10, 10:48 PM
It can control HUNDREDS of undead at non-epic levels, trivially and without any cheeze.

You get MANY slots per day, and the spell lasts for MANY days. That's not one undead at a time.

Nor is there any problem with permanence, mindless undead don't even get a save against recasting.

...time to run some numbers here.

A 20th level sorcerer (the most favorable scenario), has 48 spells per day of 2nd level or higher barring stat mods. With a Charisma of 36 (18 PB, +2 racial, +5 from levels, +5 tome, +6 item), he gets an extra 20 spell slots of 2nd level or higher. That's...68, not 'hundreds'. And to do so, you're giving up...say...Shapechange and Gate. No mindless undead is worth that flexibility.

Zaq
2011-01-10, 10:52 PM
Are we certain that we're not mixing up Command Undead (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/commandUndead.htm) and Control Undead (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/controlUndead.htm)? Just checking.

Benly
2011-01-10, 11:00 PM
...time to run some numbers here.

A 20th level sorcerer (the most favorable scenario), has 48 spells per day of 2nd level or higher barring stat mods. With a Charisma of 36 (18 PB, +2 racial, +5 from levels, +5 tome, +6 item), he gets an extra 20 spell slots of 2nd level or higher. That's...68, not 'hundreds'. And to do so, you're giving up...say...Shapechange and Gate. No mindless undead is worth that flexibility.


A level 20 sorcerer gets a 20-day duration from Command Undead. Five level 2 slots per day are required for him to maintain control over one hundred mindless undead of arbitrarily high HD. Can he spare that?

The Glyphstone
2011-01-10, 11:04 PM
A level 20 sorcerer gets a 20-day duration from Command Undead. Five level 2 slots per day are required for him to maintain control over one hundred mindless undead of arbitrarily high HD. Can he spare that?

Fair enough - and that explains how Doug_Lampert was claiming hundreds of undead...technically, a sorcerer that did nothing but Command Undead himself could control 68x20=1,360 undead. That's kind of impressive...though a single Disjunction or Greater Dispel Magic would be made of disaster and hilarity.

Benly
2011-01-10, 11:12 PM
Fair enough - and that explains how Doug_Lampert was claiming hundreds of undead...technically, a sorcerer that did nothing but Command Undead himself could control 68x20=1,360 undead. That's kind of impressive...though a single Disjunction or Greater Dispel Magic would be made of disaster and hilarity.

Well, this is one of many reasons why you don't spend every single slot you have on The Horde. On the other hand, spending one level 2 slot per day for your level in extra zombie hydras is a lot of rotting hydra for a pretty minimal magical-resource investment - it is actually quite plausible for that one slot per day to be giving you hundreds of extra HD of controlled undead. At level 7 when a wizard first gets Animate Dead you can pop out 14-HD zombies, free and Command them, and extend your control limit by 98 HD for one level 2 slot per day. That increases geometrically with your caster level as you create bigger undead and control them for longer.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-10, 11:20 PM
Well, this is one of many reasons why you don't spend every single slot you have on The Horde. On the other hand, spending one level 2 slot per day for your level in extra zombie hydras is a lot of rotting hydra for a pretty minimal magical-resource investment - it is actually quite plausible for that one slot per day to be giving you hundreds of extra HD of controlled undead. At level 7 when a wizard first gets Animate Dead you can pop out 14-HD zombies, free and Command them, and extend your control limit by 98 HD for one level 2 slot per day. That increases geometrically with your caster level as you create bigger undead and control them for longer.

Yeah, but the # of HD was never in question. The claim was that it was 'trivial' to obtain 'hundreds of undead' without cheese. Though I had failed to take into account the long duration of the spell, I was trying to point out how little undead can actually be controlled without hampering the sorcerer's ability to be anything except a glorified commoner with a good will save and a pet toad.

Benly
2011-01-10, 11:28 PM
Yeah, but the # of HD was never in question. The claim was that it was 'trivial' to obtain 'hundreds of undead' without cheese.

Five level 2 slots per day is pretty easy for a level 20 character, especially if you decide to get wacky and stick a Ring of Wizardry on. Not cheesy, just using the spell as intended with slots that aren't getting much mileage otherwise . And again, even with one slot per day and no other special effort it's probably getting you more undead than Rebuking short of some serious investment in pumping up your rebuking level, and certainly getting you beefier ones. The real prize with Rebuking is divine feats.

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 12:03 AM
...time to run some numbers here.

A 20th level sorcerer (the most favorable scenario), has 48 spells per day of 2nd level or higher barring stat mods. With a Charisma of 36 (18 PB, +2 racial, +5 from levels, +5 tome, +6 item), he gets an extra 20 spell slots of 2nd level or higher. That's...68, not 'hundreds'. And to do so, you're giving up...say...Shapechange and Gate. No mindless undead is worth that flexibility.

And in addition to blowing every single spell slot available to yourself, you're also getting particularly crappy undead. At least with Pale Master, you can apply Corpsecrafter feats so that you create actually useful undead.

Heck, with Fell Animate, you get more and better undead than you can with Command Undead.

Also, the Command Undead usage requires... oh, I dunno... something to CONTROL. If all you're facing is average, run-of-the-mill undead, well then it's not too useful, now is it? Wheras with something like Fell Animate, you make your own minions, HD cap free, and give them actually useful abilities.

So no, Command Undead really isn't all that spectacular, unless you want to effectively be a commoner with a pet toad and a swarm of useless minions.

Benly
2011-01-11, 12:08 AM
Also, the Command Undead usage requires... oh, I dunno... something to CONTROL. If all you're facing is average, run-of-the-mill undead, well then it's not too useful, now is it? Wheras with something like Fell Animate, you make your own minions, HD cap free, and give them actually useful abilities.

So no, Command Undead really isn't all that spectacular, unless you want to effectively be a commoner with a pet toad and a swarm of useless minions.

As I suggested, you can create your own undead past your control limit and use Command Undead to take control of them. One second-level slot per day gets you your level in whatever the strongest mindless undead is you can create, which is almost certainly more than you'll get out of rebuking without serious effort to increase your rebuking level. The real value of rebuking lies in divine feats, which are awesome; as a way of extending your control limit, Command Undead is superior.

MeeposFire
2011-01-11, 12:38 AM
Dread necro is probably the best for plain old necromancy. Not as brutal as a wizard but it has the flavor and enough power to be useful.

Trekkin
2011-01-11, 12:48 AM
Dread necro is probably the best for plain old necromancy. Not as brutal as a wizard but it has the flavor and enough power to be useful.

The Death Master pointed out earlier in the thread gets my vote for the best expression of the necromancer archetype, although DN/PM might make a good undead leader from the front; I don't know why you'd want to be out on the front lines fighting instead of surfing a zombie porpoise through a wave of skeletal swarms well behind the front, but if anything the Str bonuses and touch powers would seem to synergize well.

Benly
2011-01-11, 02:18 AM
Oh, yeah, one last bit with Command Undead before I head to bed and forget about it in the morning: a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Chain Spell for that hypothetical 20th-level sorcerer or wizard will let you use a single daily second-level slot to maintain control over 400 undead of however high HD you can manage to create. Not a bad deal at all and hardly a massive investment for a 20th-level character; you'll probably end up spending more animating all those corpses than the cost of the rod unless you've got a source of free Animate. (Which, as I've suggested, you'll probably want.)

Kobold-Bard
2011-01-11, 02:29 AM
I like that idea Maho - Pale Master is indeed well-suited to a Death Master, though I've never seen a player choose that class before. And it reminds me that I should update my master of shrouds guide to include the dragon magazine base classes as possible dips :P

Death Master is amazing, and is in the Dragon Compendium so even paranoid DMs who ban Dragon Magazine have no reason not to allow it. They can vaporise undead and absorb the dust/goo to gain temp HP, which kicks ass. And apparently (I haven't looked at it in a while) if you're already a Lich when you enter the class it's capstone (which gives you lich bonuses but not the Lich template) things like the DR stack, which is nice.

Tvtyrant
2011-01-11, 02:31 AM
You could always do the Vampire trick; be a Dark Cleric and become a Vampire. Turn a number of other Dark Clerics into vampires. Now order them to do the same down the line until everyones Vampire pyramid ends with you. Then have them (all being rebuking clerics) create a small army of Megaraptor/Ettin skeletons each inside a Desecrated area. Now you have a fair sized army of Vampires riding bone raptors; for extra hilarity use Hydras for zombies instead.

Coidzor
2011-01-11, 05:43 AM
And in addition to blowing every single spell slot available to yourself, you're also getting particularly crappy undead. At least with Pale Master, you can apply Corpsecrafter feats so that you create actually useful undead.

Heck, with Fell Animate, you get more and better undead than you can with Command Undead.

Also, the Command Undead usage requires... oh, I dunno... something to CONTROL. If all you're facing is average, run-of-the-mill undead, well then it's not too useful, now is it? Wheras with something like Fell Animate, you make your own minions, HD cap free, and give them actually useful abilities.

Fell Animate doesn't count against the Animate Dead HD control cap and applies things like Corpsecrafter? :smallconfused:

Or just without the HD control cap but you choose what you're animating as opposed to suborning what was animated by someone else?

Trekkin
2011-01-11, 07:24 AM
Corpsecrafter has an odd description: the undead have to be created by a necromancy spell for it and its child feats to apply. Thus, Fell Animate creates Corpsecrafted undead only if the base spell is a necromancy spell.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 07:40 AM
Clerics are better necros. And here's why.

1 - They Animate Dead sooner. 2 levels sooner. Not a huge advantage but it goes on the list.
2 - They can, via Divine Magician, gain access to Control/Command Undead.
3 - They get access to Desecrate. +2 hit points to every undead created? Yes please.
4 - Rebuking/Command. Unoptimized, not spectacular. Optimized? Pick up a Shadow or an Allip with this, and you can kill virtually everything up until ECL 15. Plus everything your Shadow kills comes up as a new Shadow under your Shadow's control. Infinite control of Shadow undead? Why not? (This is kind of cheesy, and if your original Shadow gets spanked, then you have the problem of trying to control the remaining Shadows. I destroy every Shadow after the third one created by my pet. Just easier to manage.)
5 - Enervation. Since you're taking Divine Magician, you get to make Wights, just like Wizards do. You still have to control them, but hey...it's more undead, and it's variety. They'll keep you going until you can find a Shadow or an Allip to Rebuke/Command. Bear in mind that you have your Cleric Caster Level in HD as a control limit for Rebuke/Command. Wights don't have a lot of HD, so go crazy.
6 - Domains. Deathbound adds one HD to your create limit. Desecrate doubles it. Now you can create 6HD at a time per CL. Animate Dead, by RAW, lets you arbitrarily control the first undead you create with it which means you can have crunchier undead well before you'd normally be allowed. And all of these 6HD/caster level have +2 HP.

If you're making a necromancer, there aren't a lot of better choices than this.

Trekkin
2011-01-11, 08:05 AM
Clerics are better necros. And here's why.
<excellent reasons>
If you're making a necromancer, there aren't a lot of better choices than this.

This is true if the only thing, or the primary thing, you want to do as a necromancer is control a physically powerful undead army, which is one of the more fragile necromancer builds in the sense that it's easily foiled by comparatively subtle DM fiat in the form of sensible choices of foes for the party, both as corpse sources and as zombie-shredding enemies. It's viable, to be sure, but it's also vulnerable, and the Pale Master seems to help make that vulnerability less damaging by making those zombies free.

Personally, I like the Death Master better as a leader of undead, but that's partially because I just like arcane casters.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 09:00 AM
This is true if the only thing, or the primary thing, you want to do as a necromancer is control a physically powerful undead army, which is one of the more fragile necromancer builds in the sense that it's easily foiled by comparatively subtle DM fiat in the form of sensible choices of foes for the party, both as corpse sources and as zombie-shredding enemies. It's viable, to be sure, but it's also vulnerable, and the Pale Master seems to help make that vulnerability less damaging by making those zombies free.

There are ways around some of this. The problem with saying that undead-leader is a weak necromancer is that a cleric is NEVER just a specialist in one field. My necromancer uses no-save Necromancy ray debuffs with Zen Archery as well. Deaths caused by level-drain results in Wights. As for Shadows, Summon Undead V lets you summon Shadows, and as long as that Shadow can make a kill, then, by RAW, the spawn that arises doesn't disappear when the spell ends. Rebuke/Command the new shadow and voila.

If you can buy a scroll of Summon Undead V, you can get access to this much earlier. In terms of skeletons and zombies for animate dead, you are at the discretion of the DM.

Again though, have lots of options. Clerics can fill a lot of different roles including summoner-necro all at the same time, without losing effectiveness or optimization. Again, my necro creates undead, drains energy and also is a counter-spell master. One of my portfolios has a fiat weakness. The others, not so much. It's not the BEST Cleric build overall, but it's a great necro build and a lot of fun to play.

If Pale Master was a Divine PrC, it would be far more worthwhile IMHO. But I don't have access to Death Master as a base class, so I can't really judge it on its own. Either way, Dragon Magazine isn't usually allowed in a lot of games (mine included) so my advice is only good inside that limit.

Benly
2011-01-11, 09:57 AM
Clerics are better necros. And here's why.

1 - They Animate Dead sooner. 2 levels sooner. Not a huge advantage but it goes on the list.


As you say, not a big deal.



2 - They can, via Divine Magician, gain access to Control/Command Undead.
3 - They get access to Desecrate. +2 hit points to every undead created? Yes please.


Wizards can get Desecrate via Arcane Disciple, or just get a Deadwalker's Ring. They can also use Arcane Disciple to get the cleric's early spell access if they feel like it. When it comes to "there's one key spell on the other's list" it's not hard to grab that one spell you want, and each is going to want to poach a key spell or two off the other list, so I would call these two a wash.



4 - Rebuking/Command. Unoptimized, not spectacular. Optimized? Pick up a Shadow or an Allip with this, and you can kill virtually everything up until ECL 15. Plus everything your Shadow kills comes up as a new Shadow under your Shadow's control. Infinite control of Shadow undead? Why not? (This is kind of cheesy, and if your original Shadow gets spanked, then you have the problem of trying to control the remaining Shadows. I destroy every Shadow after the third one created by my pet. Just easier to manage.)


Shadows are in a kind of weird place. They do not kill "virtually everything up until ECL 15". Rather, they make some fights trivial and get nigh-instantly demolished in others, and as you go up the levels you're going to get more of the latter and less of the former. There are still fights where Shadow = I Win at ECL15, but there are a lot more fights that will annihilate your shadow so don't expect to hold on to it that long. You can flood the world in darkness, as mentioned, but you're acknowledging that this is fairly niche and not a great idea since it relies on your 19-HP shadow surviving for you to survive the apocalypse.



5 - Enervation. Since you're taking Divine Magician, you get to make Wights, just like Wizards do. You still have to control them, but hey...it's more undead, and it's variety. They'll keep you going until you can find a Shadow or an Allip to Rebuke/Command. Bear in mind that you have your Cleric Caster Level in HD as a control limit for Rebuke/Command. Wights don't have a lot of HD, so go crazy.


See 2 and 3 above regarding poaching one spell off the other list, and 4 regarding flooding the world with spawning undead.



6 - Domains. Deathbound adds one HD to your create limit. Desecrate doubles it. Now you can create 6HD at a time per CL. Animate Dead, by RAW, lets you arbitrarily control the first undead you create with it which means you can have crunchier undead well before you'd normally be allowed. And all of these 6HD/caster level have +2 HP.


Since we're assuming every cleric who's interested has Command Undead through Divine Magician, we might as well assume that every wizard who's interested has Desecrate through Arcane Disciple or one of the other available means, which makes Deathbound the only actual advantage here. It's nice, but not huge.



If you're making a necromancer, there aren't a lot of better choices than this.

The cleric has two real advantages, as I had already mentioned: early Animate Dead and domain access, both of which are nice but do not make a big difference in the end. The advantage is real, but it is small. Whether you play a wizard-necro or a cleric-necro is not going to make a big difference to how effective you are at rustling up zombies and skeletons and stomping around with them. The big difference will be what you as a caster are going to be doing while your skeletons stomp around, which is to say whether you want to be, other than being a necromancer, a cleric or a wizard.

Both clerics and wizards are pretty awesome. The cleric needs to invest slightly more of his class resources in necromancy (your suggested layout has Divine Magician dropping one domain and Deathbound covering the other) but ultimately either way necromancy isn't stopping you from doing whatever else you like as a cleric or wizard with the rest of your free time. So would you rather be casting the wizard list or the cleric list? They're both great spell lists, both valid choices, and which one you think fits you better will have a much bigger effect on how the character plays than the fairly small advantages a cleric confers as a necromancer. Which is what I've been saying all along.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 10:14 AM
The cleric has two real advantages, as I had already mentioned: early Animate Dead and domain access, both of which are nice but do not make a big difference in the end. The advantage is real, but it is small.

Both clerics and wizards are pretty awesome. The cleric needs to invest slightly more of his class resources in necromancy (your suggested layout has Divine Magician dropping one domain and Deathbound covering the other) but ultimately either way necromancy isn't stopping you from doing whatever else you like as a cleric or wizard with the rest of your free time. So would you rather be casting the wizard list or the cleric list? They're both great spell lists, both valid choices, and which one you think fits you better will have a much bigger effect on how the character plays than the fairly small advantages a cleric confers as a necromancer. Which is what I've been saying all along.

My point is that it's really easy for a Cleric to be a great necromancer. They don't NEED command/control undead either. Strictly speaking, Rebuking is better. A lot better. The lack of will saves for intelligent undead is fantastic. And it's unlimited control. No resisting suicidal or obviously harmful commands. Nothing.

Turning/Rebuking gives you great undead controlling options (including commanding, disabling and bolstering). That's the true deciding factor. The fact is that the majority of the benefits an arcanist can get out of being a necromancer are just as easily replicated by a cleric AND they get turning.

Bottom line is that either will work (Better than everyone else in their game barring other Tier 1's). Tier 1 is Tier 1. Pale Masters are 9/10th casting. Sub-optimal, but still Tier 1. If you want to optimize a necromancer, outside of the Uttercold necro, then cleric is strictly better.

Benly
2011-01-11, 10:27 AM
My point is that it's really easy for a Cleric to be a great necromancer. They don't NEED command/control undead either. Strictly speaking, Rebuking is better. A lot better. The lack of will saves for intelligent undead is fantastic. And it's unlimited control. No resisting suicidal or obviously harmful commands. Nothing.

Turning/Rebuking gives you great undead controlling options (including commanding, disabling and bolstering). That's the true deciding factor. The fact is that the majority of the benefits an arcanist can get out of being a necromancer are just as easily replicated by a cleric AND they get turning.

Turning/Rebuking is mostly better within the HD range where it works, yes. The problem is that the HD range you can control is "things with half your turning level in HD or less without turn resistance". It takes a lot of turning-level bonuses to get it up to the point where you can control things that are useful for any purposes other than the spawning flood-the-world shenanigan, which is a rather specific trick. If you PrC out of cleric, your rebuking is going to be even worse. Rebuking as a control method is just not that useful in practical terms beyond low level, which is why you generally pick up some divine feats to make the feature useful instead.

(There's also the problem that commanding rebuked undead is a move action, but that can be worked around. The big problem is that you can mainly only rebuke things that suck.)



Bottom line is that either will work (Better than everyone else in their game barring other Tier 1's). Tier 1 is Tier 1. Pale Masters are 9/10th casting. Sub-optimal, but still Tier 1. If you want to optimize a necromancer, outside of the Uttercold necro, then cleric is strictly better.

Correction: if you want to optimize the specific function of having a large number of beefy undead, the cleric who devotes both domains to it is strictly better at this function than the wizard but probably worse than the Dread Necromancer. (Edit: And any of them will be controlling so many undead with Command Undead that you'll want free Animate Dead somehow to avoid bankrupting yourself.)

If, on the other hand, you want to optimize a character as a whole who also happens to be an army-leading necromancer, the cleric and wizard are about equal and the DN falls far behind.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 10:48 AM
Turning/Rebuking is mostly better within the HD range where it works, yes. The problem is that the HD range you can control is "things with half your turning level in HD or less without turn resistance". It takes a lot of turning-level bonuses to get it up to the point where you can control things that are useful for any purposes other than the spawning flood-the-world shenanigan, which is a rather specific trick. If you PrC out of cleric, your rebuking is going to be even worse. Rebuking as a control method is just not that useful in practical terms beyond low level, which is why you generally pick up some divine feats to make the feature useful instead.

This is untrue right up until you mention PrCing out. PrCing out is a terrible idea for a Rebuking focused cleric for exactly the reasons you mentioned. What you really need is not increases to turning level, but penalties to turning resistance. Every point of penalty to turn resistance effectively increases your turning level by 2 (HD 10 undead requires CleL 20, 9 requires CleL 18). Libris Mortis and the Lyre of Restful Souls specifically state that you can decrease a targets turning level to below its HD. So an undead with 4 HD and Turn resistance 2 that receives a -4 to its turn resistance is treated as an HD 2 undead. Given that you can apply a -8 to turn resistance using items from LM, it's not THAT difficult to make turning effective. Although PrCing out is Rebuking suicide.

The real kicker here is that there's nothing, by RAW, stating that you can't improve the intelligent undead you Command. So let it start gaining class levels. Have fun with it.


Correction: if you want to optimize the specific function of having a large number of beefy undead, the cleric who devotes both domains to it is strictly better at this function than the wizard but probably worse than the Dread Necromancer. (Edit: And any of them will be controlling so many undead with Command Undead that you'll want free Animate Dead somehow to avoid bankrupting yourself.)

If, on the other hand, you want to optimize a character as a whole who also happens to be an army-leading necromancer, the cleric and wizard are about equal and the DN falls far behind.

The Dread Necromancers suffers from lack of Desecrate and Domains. Desecrate is easy enough to gain access to, mind you. Clerics specialize in controlling a handful of big undead, on top of being good at everything else clerics are good at. Arcanists suffer in the former...but are still good at being Arcanists.

Also, bankrupting yourself via animate dead is pretty unlikely. If you're tactical about your undead, then you'll be fine. Keep the beefy ones healed and the little ones out of combat, and you can go from level 5-20 without ever cycling through more than a handful of undead.

Benly
2011-01-11, 11:24 AM
Also, bankrupting yourself via animate dead is pretty unlikely. If you're tactical about your undead, then you'll be fine. Keep the beefy ones healed and the little ones out of combat, and you can go from level 5-20 without ever cycling through more than a handful of undead.

You'd think so, but the amount of undead you can control with Command Undead is ludicrous if you do the math.

Now, I'm not talking about the doofy thing where you blow every slot on animated critters - I'm talking about a couple of level 2 slots per day, an absolutely trivial investment for a level 20 character. And I'm talking about adding a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Extend and a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Chaining (Extend is cheap and your party will want a Chaining rod for Greater Magic Weapon anyway).

I'm going to assume you can find enough corpses to do this. Ideally, enough dragon corpses so you can break the cap, but let's leave it at 20-HD undead.

So, okay. 20 HD undead. Using the Rod of Chaining makes each casting affect 20 undead. Extending it lets you get 40 daily castings before it needs to be refreshed on the first ones again.

20 x 20 x 40 = 16,000 HD of undead. Multiply that by 25 GP worth of onyx per HD and you are controlling 400,000 GP worth of undead at a time. That's more than half a 20th-level character's WBL on one slot. Two slots (or dragon zombies) and you're talking about more zombies than are possible on pre-epic WBL.

So, yeah. Once Command Undead figures into things, you do indeed want free Animate Dead somehow.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 11:55 AM
You'd think so, but the amount of undead you can control with Command Undead is ludicrous if you do the math.

Now, I'm not talking about the doofy thing where you blow every slot on animated critters - I'm talking about a couple of level 2 slots per day, an absolutely trivial investment for a level 20 character. And I'm talking about adding a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Extend and a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Chaining (Extend is cheap and your party will want a Chaining rod for Greater Magic Weapon anyway).

I'm going to assume you can find enough corpses to do this. Ideally, enough dragon corpses so you can break the cap, but let's leave it at 20-HD undead.

So, okay. 20 HD undead. Using the Rod of Chaining makes each casting affect 20 undead. Extending it lets you get 40 daily castings before it needs to be refreshed on the first ones again.

20 x 20 x 40 = 16,000 HD of undead. Multiply that by 25 GP worth of onyx per HD and you are controlling 400,000 GP worth of undead at a time. That's more than half a 20th-level character's WBL on one slot. Two slots (or dragon zombies) and you're talking about more zombies than are possible on pre-epic WBL.

So, yeah. Once Command Undead figures into things, you do indeed want free Animate Dead somehow.

I suppose if your DM gives you that many corpses to animate then so be it. On that note if you want that many HD of undead running at a time, then you SHOULD be paying 400,000 gp for it. In which case, to answer the OP's question, what's wrong with the Pale Master is that it's free to create undead to command.

But that's a case of broken mechanics. If you want to get into levels of optimization like that, then Pun-Pun is a better Necromancer then a Cleric or a Wizard.

Benly
2011-01-11, 12:02 PM
I suppose if your DM gives you that many corpses to animate then so be it. On that note if you want that many HD of undead running at a time, then you SHOULD be paying 400,000 gp for it.

But that's a case of broken mechanics. If you want to get into levels of optimization like that, then Pun-Pun is a better Necromancer then a Cleric or a Wizard.

Levels of optimization like a level 2 spell and two lesser metamagic rods are unfair and we should stick to simple, common stuff like negative turn resistance and Divine Magician, right. :smallwink:

I mean, you can't have it both ways. Command Undead can't be strictly inferior to Rebuking and theoretical optimization worthy of invoking Pun-Pun. Free Animate Dead can't be a crappy benefit and something that gets you out of "well you SHOULD be paying tons for it".

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 12:03 PM
Levels of optimization like a level 2 spell and two lesser metamagic rods are unfair and we should stick to simple, common stuff like negative turn resistance and Divine Magician, right. :smallwink:

I mean, you can't have it both ways. Command Undead can't be strictly inferior to Rebuking and theoretical optimization worthy of invoking Pun-Pun. Free Animate Dead can't be a crappy benefit and something that gets you out of "well you SHOULD be paying tons for it".

Sure it can. Master of Many Forms is both sub-par, and the height of optimization. Witness Pun Pun. We should stick to not breaking the game with cheese. Easy to achieve cheese is still cheese. :smalltongue:

But I do take your point. You have to limit yourself (on occasion) to optimizing within RAI. You know cause RAW is frequently dumb.

EDIT: After a moment of reflection, it's really not that free Animate Dead is broken. The best RAW fix is probably to limit Control Undead's duration to 1 min/level. Not to nerf Pale Master. Control Undead is just a spell with a lot of potential for abuse.

Urpriest
2011-01-11, 12:20 PM
I'd like to point out one of the main advantages of Rebuke Undead over Command Undead: Slaymates.

Benly
2011-01-11, 12:25 PM
Sure it can. Master of Many Forms is both sub-par, and the height of optimization. Witness Pun Pun. We should stick to not breaking the game with cheese. Easy to achieve cheese is still cheese. :smalltongue:

But I do take your point. You have to limit yourself (on occasion) to optimizing within RAI. You know cause RAW is frequently dumb.

Well, in practical terms you're not going to end up with a billion HD of undead by Command Undead just because of the logistical problems. On the other hand, it's great for party tricks like animating an entire elephants' graveyard to lay siege to a city.

Being "tactical about your undead" means treating their HP as more valuable than yours or your living allies', because your allies are sturdier and your poor widdle skeletons can't take a hit worth a damn. Arguably this is valid, but what's the point of unliving, untiring zombie legions that know no fear if you take on the fear for them? What's the point of expendable meat shields that you never expend and don't use to shield your meat? If you want to zombie-master it up right, you need some method that lets you throw zombies at a problem without worrying about your pocketbook. Pale Master is my favorite of these. Spellstitching works great if your DM allows it, but it's a LA - template with completely and obviously borked pricing so don't hold your breath on that. Fell Animate is okay, but you need to be very careful about how things die when you use it and you'll miss out on some great corpses, plus you can't make skeletons (which are usually better than zombies).

Now, all that said, I do want to point something out: you don't have to be a Necromancer to be a necromancer, even if you're a wizard. Even being a pale master doesn't mean all or even most of what you cast is going to be necromancy. You can make a perfectly respectable necromancer out of your favorite battlefield-control conjurer, know-it-all diviner, or even blaster master evoker. To be honest, battlefield control is probably the best path for a pale master, because even optimizing your minions, that's not going to be all or even most of what you do with your spells in a day. The Uttercold Assault Necromancer is just a somewhat specialized iteration of this philosophy. So the logical comparison isn't so much "cleric necromancy vs. wizard necromancy" as it is "cleric + a pile of undead vs. wizard + a pile of undead" - which means you can validly subtract "pile of undead" from both sides and end up with what the argument, as I've been saying all along, has boiled down to, which is "do you want to be a cleric or a wizard".

Edit because I took so long to type:


EDIT: After a moment of reflection, it's really not that free Animate Dead is broken. The best RAW fix is probably to limit Control Undead's duration to 1 min/level. Not to nerf Pale Master. Control Undead is just a spell with a lot of potential for abuse.

If you make it 1min/level then it is indeed a worthless spell. The fix is "players, don't be an *******; DMs, enforce logistical concerns". Moving an army that big around is a PITA even when they're not all mindless.


I'd like to point out one of the main advantages of Rebuke Undead over Command Undead: Slaymates.

Serious question: Have you ever seen a slaymate used in a campaign with a PC necromancer where the player didn't outright tell the DM "hey, I'm going hunting for a slaymate"?

Did the player then follow up with "you know, slaymates? From Libris Mortis? Here, let me look up the page number for you.. yeah, no, seriously, I'm going hunting for them until I find one, screw the Chalice of the Ancients or whatever we're looking for."

Basically my point is: you can't make Slaymates. You have to hope the DM drops one in your lap. It's like marking paladins up a power level because they can find and use Holy Avengers, except that your DM's probably heard of Holy Avengers so he might actually give your paladin one.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 01:01 PM
Being "tactical about your undead" means treating their HP as more valuable than yours or your living allies', because your allies are sturdier and your poor widdle skeletons can't take a hit worth a damn. Arguably this is valid, but what's the point of unliving, untiring zombie legions that know no fear if you take on the fear for them? What's the point of expendable meat shields that you never expend and don't use to shield your meat? If you want to zombie-master it up right, you need some method that lets you throw zombies at a problem without worrying about your pocketbook. Pale Master is my favorite of these.

Undead HP are more valuable than allies HP. Undead follow orders. :smalltongue:

Seriously though, the point is that the fear is different. Without undead, the fear is that I will die, and lose a character. With undead, the fear is that I will lose some gold. You shift the risk to a much more acceptable target. This is true for your allies as well. You now have something that can open doors, absorb traps, and soak HP in battle without a problem. Bigger Undead are better at surviving this, and therefore better at being useful again later.

It follows then that a few big undead are better than lots of mook undead. And in that regard, Clerics do it better. Better animate dead via Domains and Desecrate.

Rebuking is still, as always, fantastic. Not because you get better mook undead. It's because you get the ability to control intelligent undead. What's great about this is you can issue complex instructions, meaning that the one move action you spend to issue orders, can easily translate to unbalancing the action economy for enemies. Creativity can turn a Commanded undead into a HUGE asset.



So the logical comparison isn't so much "cleric necromancy vs. wizard necromancy" as it is "cleric + a pile of undead vs. wizard + a pile of undead" - which means you can validly subtract "pile of undead" from both sides and end up with what the argument, as I've been saying all along, has boiled down to, which is "do you want to be a cleric or a wizard".


The problem is the question is not Cleric Necromancy vs. Wizard Necromancy. The question is what's wrong with a Pale Master. The answer, is that it's not a Divine PrC and it has a wicked dead level. It's an inferior undead controller to a straight cleric. The reason the debate centers around undead controlling at all is that for all other Necromancy, Wizard and Cleric are pretty well even, so if you want to make the BEST possible Necromancer, you will be a Cleric. (Uttercolds aside)

Benly
2011-01-11, 01:32 PM
It follows then that a few big undead are better than lots of mook undead. And in that regard, Clerics do it better. Better animate dead via Domains and Desecrate.


Via domains, anyway. Well, one domain. Deathbound only. Because, well, any wizard who wants Desecrate will have it.



Rebuking is still, as always, fantastic. Not because you get better mook undead. It's because you get the ability to control intelligent undead. What's great about this is you can issue complex instructions, meaning that the one move action you spend to issue orders, can easily translate to unbalancing the action economy for enemies. Creativity can turn a Commanded undead into a HUGE asset.


But you're issuing those orders to crappy undead. Unless the DM hands you a Slaymate, the two useful options for it are "flood the world with spawn" or "use it with Undead Lieutenant (SpC) to manage the army I formed with Command Undead". Granted, the latter is nice, but it's not the only option in that regard.




The problem is the question is not Cleric Necromancy vs. Wizard Necromancy. The question is what's wrong with a Pale Master. The answer, is that it's not a Divine PrC and it has a wicked dead level. It's an inferior undead controller to a straight cleric. The reason the debate centers around undead controlling at all is that for all other Necromancy, Wizard and Cleric are pretty well even, so if you want to make the BEST possible Necromancer, you will be a Cleric. (Uttercolds aside)

You're putting the cart before the horse here. Pale Master is a perfectly respectable PrC for a wizard. Is it the best possible class taken solely as an undead-leadership platform? No, that would be Dread Necromancer 20 (Necropolitan Spellstitched for free Animate Dead, naturally). Is it a good PrC for a wizard who wants to add "high-end necromancer" to the rest of his portfolio as a wizard? Yes. The question which Pale Master answers is not "how do I make a character who is optimized as an undead-creation platform", but "how do I make a wizard who can do all his wizard stuff and is also a great zombie-master character".

That dead level is a brutal one, no denying. It creates an illusion of a bad class by unfortunate arrangement of the features within the class. If the features were slightly reordered with none added or taken away in order to cover up that dead level, nobody would deny that Pale Master is about as good as a non-broken 9/10 casting class can be - which is to say "respectable, not ueber tier", which in turn is better than you can say about any other minion-necromancer-focused PrC I know of. (Possible exception: Lord Of The Dead (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/dx20021031x), which is unupdated 3.0, entirely lacking in class features, and has "undead" as a prerequisite, but offers 5/5 spellcasting with its free Animate, which is something.)

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 02:03 PM
1. But you're issuing those orders to crappy undead. Unless the DM hands you a Slaymate, the two useful options for it are "flood the world with spawn" or "use it with Undead Lieutenant (SpC) to manage the army I formed with Command Undead". Granted, the latter is nice, but it's not the only option in that regard.

2. "how do I make a wizard who can do all his wizard stuff and is also a great zombie-master character".

3. That dead level is a brutal one, no denying. It creates an illusion of a bad class by unfortunate arrangement of the features within the class. If the features were slightly reordered with none added or taken away in order to cover up that dead level, nobody would deny that Pale Master is about as good as a non-broken 9/10 casting class can be - which is to say "respectable, not ueber tier".

1. Not even a little bit crappy. Phylactery of Undead Turning is +4, Lyre of Restful Souls and, there's another Rod in LM that I can't recall the name of (AFB), both of which subtract 4 points of turn resistance from the target undead means an overall effective turning level of Cleric Level +20. With those three items, I can command an undead of twice my Cleric level at level 20. Now I can't maintain control of that undead, since I get 1 HD/Cleric Level, which is a constant 24.

Still, a 24HD undead can be plenty useful, without being overpowered. You're still waiting for the DM to throw something worth commanding at you, but to command ONE relatively high level undead is not game breaking by any means. If I were the DM, I'd consider putting something in my PC's way if it'd make the game more fun for them.

2. If that's the question, then you're right. Cleric or wizard is fairly irrelevant to the discussion.

3. I'm not arguing that Pale Master is a throw away class. I think it's just fine. It's actually fairly balanced (especially when comparing vs. the number of classes that offer far worse class features and 5/10 casting). It's just sub-optimal. And for a board full of optimizers, that results in a lot of people crapping all over a relatively well designed PrC.

Benly
2011-01-11, 02:30 PM
1. Not even a little bit crappy. Phylactery of Undead Turning is +4, Lyre of Restful Souls and, there's another Rod in LM that I can't recall the name of (AFB), both of which subtract 4 points of turn resistance from the target undead means an overall effective turning level of Cleric Level +20. With those three items, I can command an undead of twice my Cleric level at level 20. Now I can't maintain control of that undead, since I get 1 HD/Cleric Level, which is a constant 24.

Still, a 24HD undead can be plenty useful, without being overpowered. You're still waiting for the DM to throw something worth commanding at you, but to command ONE relatively high level undead is not game breaking by any means. If I were the DM, I'd consider putting something in my PC's way if it'd make the game more fun for them.


Granted, negative turn resistance does make things more viable. I'm still not happy with the "wait for the DM to throw something worth commanding at you", though, especially since while commanded undead will be obedient, there's no guarantee that they're going to like it or behave well when you give them nebulous commands. Rebuking is a nice bonus, but I'm not convinced it's really a huge deal on its own merits (divine feats, on the other hand, really are potentially huge.)



3. I'm not arguing that Pale Master is a throw away class. I think it's just fine. It's actually fairly balanced (especially when comparing vs. the number of classes that offer far worse class features and 5/10 casting). It's just sub-optimal. And for a board full of optimizers, that results in a lot of people crapping all over a relatively well designed PrC.

The thing is, it's not even really suboptimal: it's the best option available for undead-mastery as a wizard, and thus is only suboptimal insofar as undead-keeping is inherently less AMAZING than incantatrix nonsense. Since practical optimization is all about deciding what you want to do and doing it as well as possible within whatever restrictions are present, pale master is frequently the optimal choice for a wizard-necromancer who wants to get serious about his undead hordes on top of his whole "look at me I have the best spell list ever" thing.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-01-11, 02:40 PM
I am happy to see the Death Master mentioned but it really deserves more credit then it's getting. It's MUCH better then a wizard at necromancy and depending on your views is either equal to or slightly worse then a cleric. While the death master lacks any way to get the deathbound domain power sans planar touchstone it has EVERYTHING else a cleric gets as far as necromancy gose and, by RAW gets EVERYTHING a wizard gets in not just necromancy but spellcasting entirely, provided it has the right scrolls, spellbooks ect.. So lets compare Death Master to a cleric, head to head, in all the categories that make up being a good necromancer.

Rebuke Undead: Both the Death Master and the Cleric get it. Looks like a tie in this category. DM: 1, Cleric: 1

Animate Dead Access: A Cleric gets it as a level 3, A Death Master as a level 2. The Death Master wins out in this catigory. DM: 2, Cleric: 1

Desecrate: Again, both classes obtain it and at the same level. We have a tie in this field. DM: 3, Cleric: 2

Deathbound Domain(Because domains in general don't make a cleric a better necromancer, just the deathbound domain dose.): The Cleric gets it, DM dose not. DM can only get the Deathbound Domain power through a feat which requires an annoying sidequest.(Planar Touchstone.) and gets none of the spells from it even with that feat. The Cleric wins out here. DM: 3, Cleric: 3

Control/Command Undead: Death Masters have these spells on their spell list, Clerics have to give up a whole domain to get them on there's. If an existing domain has them that means a cleric can only prepare it once per day while a Death Master can prepare them however much he wants provided he has the slots open. The Death Master takes this one. DM: 4, Cleric: 3

Enervating/Debuffing: Again, the best spells for this are on the DM spell list and a cleric can only get it on theirs by losing a whole domain. If it's on a domain then it can only, again, be prepared 1/day while a DM can use it as many times as he wants provided he has the slots. In addition, many cleric debuffs are also on the DM list(Doom, ect..) and the BEST debuffs are on the wiz zorc list which the DM can thus just get via buying(or finding) scrolls, spellbooks ect.. while a cleric has to give up a whole domain to be able to prepare such spells more then 1/day. This one goes to the DM. DM: 5, Cleric: 3

Negative Energy Healing: Death Masters get all inflict spells on their list and so do clerics. Clerics also can spontaneously cast inflicts. Death Masters are better at the uttercold thing but that costs two feats. Overall this one goes to clerics. DM: 5, Cleric: 4

Save or Dies(Literally): The Cleric gets quite a few nice ones. The Death Master gets the most well known of those nice ones(Destruction, Slay Living). The DM also gets save or dies that a cleric can only get via domains or divine magician. The Cleric gets some obscure ones the DM will never get his hands on, even with the whole wiz/sorc list available to him by RAW. The Cleric takes this category. DM: 5, Cleric: 5

Becoming Undead: Clerics do not become undead on their own. They have to shell out a feat, XP and gold to do it...not to mention having to make a craft check or two(Though that's still kinda easy.) DMs get lichdom for free at 20th level and if they are already a lich get stacked bonuses. Clerics have an "ace in the hole" here with the fact that they can enter into the Walker of the Wastes PrC and get the dry lich template that a death master can never get. However, walker in the wastes has some stiff requirements such as needing to take a feat which is useless outside of desert settings and having to take a sup-par domain(Sand or Thirst.). Likewise, Walker in the wastes' Dry Lich template may be ruled by some DMs to give you a very nasty +4 LA while the DM's ability dose not actually give you the Lich template meaning you get no LA out of the deal no matter what your DM thinks about lichdom and LA. While this is a tough one to call, I think it's a tie yet again. DM: 6, Cleric: 6

So, overall, it looks like a solid tie between the Death Master and the cleric here. While I know a few people may come out disagreing with me, I personally believe that the Death Master and Cleric both are even when it comes to being a good necromancer.

Also, to whoever said that the Deathbound Domain increases a Cleric's control pool you are absolutely wrong. I used to think the same thing until I found out Wizard's had errated it/made it clear that the domain only increases the HD you can ANIMATE. It dose not incenses the HD you can control. Thus, if you create more then your normal HD control limit you will have to find another way to control the extra undead like Rebuking. So yeah, a Cleric can still use the Deathbound Domain to animate more undead at once then a death master can but both of them have the same control limit so all the Deathbound domain allows a cleric to do is spend less money on getting undead since the domain dose not allow you to control more undead. It just lets you animate more undead at once. Just thought I should clear that up.

Benly
2011-01-11, 02:46 PM
The Death Master is mechanically pretty decent, I just hate the "must be a baby-eating thrall to Orcus whose sole goal is to spread undeath for its own sake" fluff. Every dang class feature entry even feels the need to go on about how much you love Orcus and setting kittens on fire. Personally, I find that the least interesting possible approach to a necromancer, and the rules text hard-selling that as the dominant aspect of the class makes it kind of hard for me to get into.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 02:47 PM
Granted, negative turn resistance does make things more viable. I'm still not happy with the "wait for the DM to throw something worth commanding at you", though, especially since while commanded undead will be obedient, there's no guarantee that they're going to like it or behave well when you give them nebulous commands. Rebuking is a nice bonus, but I'm not convinced it's really a huge deal on its own merits (divine feats, on the other hand, really are potentially huge.)

The thing is, it's not even really suboptimal: it's the best option available for undead-mastery as a wizard, and thus is only suboptimal insofar as undead-keeping is inherently less AMAZING than incantatrix nonsense. Since practical optimization is all about deciding what you want to do and doing it as well as possible within whatever restrictions are present, pale master is frequently the optimal choice for a wizard-necromancer who wants to get serious about his undead hordes on top of his whole "look at me I have the best spell list ever" thing.

The thing about Rebuking is that it's permanent. It doesn't take away from one's ability to pursue divine feats. In my experience, commanded undead have been VERY useful. Extra actions are always good. Especially if the commanded undead have class levels.

Keep in mind a level 11 Human Wizard Lich counts as a level 15 undead. Siphon off eight levels of turn resistance and you only need to be a level 14 cleric to command it. Tack on Improved Turning and Phylactery of Undead Turning and you can command that undead at cleric level 9. Vampires are even easier.

I wasn't assessing Pale Masters in the narrower vacuum of Arcane Necromancy, because in general, most people who want to play Necromancer types want to know what the best option is, and I default to Divine on that. If your bottom line is wanting to play Arcane, then Pale Masters are fine...barring the dead level. But the other class features are pretty decent.


I am happy to see the Death Master mentioned but it really deserves more credit then it's getting.

-snipped for length-

So yeah, a Cleric can still use the Deathbound Domain to get a few more undead then the Death Master the Death Master can get the same amount a Cleric with the Deathbound Domain can for more gold and spell slots(or for no costs, including spell slots, if he's a Pale Master) since the Deathbound Domain dose not actually allow the cleric to CONTROL more undead. It simply lets him make more at once.

Just thought I should clear that up.


I don't have access to Death Master. It's in Dragon Magazine and my group doesn't use Dragon, hence I haven't included it in my discussion.

And if you read what I wrote, I didn't suggest that Deathbound increases your control pool. It allows you to create more undead in a single casting. What THAT allows is, based on a RAW reading of Animate Dead, you control all the undead you create with a single casting.

Which means that if you could create undead at level 1 (just using level 1 for simplicity of calculations), you could create one 6HD undead, and it would remain under your control.

If you tried to create a 3HD undead, and then a second 3HD undead later, you would lose one of your undead. Again, whatever you create in a SINGLE casting belongs to you. Everything else, does not.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-01-11, 02:58 PM
For Benly: Just because the fluff says they are baby-eating servants of Orcus dose not mean you have to play them that way. Fluff is just that, fluff. It can be changed, altered or taken away any time you want. I mean, if fluff is treated in the same manner as crunch then that means everybody who plays a setting specific class outside of that setting would be breaking the rules and such a thing would be unexceptionable. Yet I have seen countless games where Bone Knights and Incantatrixes where played in a world that was not Farrune or Ebberon. Classes are, in the end, an abstraction and if you like the mechanics of a class but hate it's fluff all you have to do is strip it of said fluff and make your own since fluff as no mechanical effect in the game and thus it makes no difference to how a class plays if you change it's fluff.

I mean, Death Masters don't have to be CHAOTIC evil. They can be of any evil alignment. So nothing is stopping you from making a neutral evil or even lawful evil Death Master. The only downside to making on would be that you can't use Cloak of Chaos and Word of chaos but that's HARDLY a major drawback since you also get Blasphemy and Unholy Aura.

Trekkin
2011-01-11, 03:00 PM
Also, to whoever said that the Deathbound Domain increases a Cleric's control pool you are absolutely wrong. I used to think the same thing until I found out Wizard's had errated it/made it clear that the domain only increases the HD you can ANIMATE. It dose not incenses the HD you can control. Thus, if you create more then your normal HD control limit you will have to find another way to control the extra undead like Rebuking.

Minor nitpick: [EDIT: as Benly pointed out]because of the way the spell is worded, technically you can control any one casting of Animate Dead's worth of undead, even if it's over your listed cap. This will, of course, render everything else you've animated uncontrolled, but in theory Deathbound and Desecrate can effectively increase your cap assuming you find something big enough to fill it and more in one go.

That said, there are ways like Undead Lieutenant and General of Undeath that are less cheesy and more flexible ways of increasing your actual cap to the same level, assuming you can get them made continuous, and without the aforementioned giant corpse you're absolutely right that Deathbound doesn't do anything for how many undead you can have unalive at any one time.

Benly
2011-01-11, 03:00 PM
Keep in mind a level 11 Human Wizard Lich counts as a level 15 undead. Siphon off eight levels of turn resistance and you only need to be a level 14 cleric to command it. Tack on Improved Turning and Phylactery of Undead Turning and you can command that undead at cleric level 9. Vampires are even easier.

And liches and vampires totally won't scheme about ways to undermine the guy who bound them into service, right? :smallwink: I'm fully acknowledging that once you pile on enough negative turn resistance it can be useful. I just don't think it's the Greatest Thing Ever and I think it's risky to assume "welp, I just got a second PC for free, awesome" when you rebuke a lich into service.


I wasn't assessing Pale Masters in the narrower vacuum of Arcane Necromancy, because in general, most people who want to play Necromancer types want to know what the best option is, and I default to Divine on that.

If you want to play the best necromancer, defined as "best at creating and commanding undead minions", the default is Dread Necromancer. You get rebuking, you can get the few key minion-master spells you're missing from both classes via Arcane Disciple and Advanced Learning, and you get a ludicrous control limit that the cleric and wizard have no way to match. You don't get Deathbound, but because Deathbound doesn't remove the 20-HD limit on creating skeletons and zombies via Animate Dead, that doesn't matter in practical terms after level 10. In the specific regard of creating and commanding undead minions, the Dread Necromancer does everything the Tier 1s do, and then adds a bonus that they have no way of matching. Thus, if you're arguing about wizard vs. cleric, you've already given up on being The Best Undead Command Platform and are instead deciding how you can pile undead mastery onto the tier 1 class you've decided to play.

Edit: To Maho-Tsukai: I'm aware that classes can be refluffed. It's just that how hard they hammer on the ORCUS ORCUS ORCUS NOW TO BURN DOWN THE PUPPY ORPHANAGE throughout the entire class listing makes it downright headache-inducing to read and turns me off the class. It's like if there were a prestige class named Dread Baby-Eating Rapewolf: I don't care how good its features are, at the end of the day I'm going to have to explain to the DM "I'm playing a Dread Baby-Eating Rapewolf, but not a _bad_ one."

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 03:13 PM
And liches and vampires totally won't scheme about ways to undermine the guy who bound them into service, right? :smallwink:

If you want to play the best necromancer, defined as "best at creating and commanding undead minions", the default is Dread Necromancer.

Diplomacy checks are your friend.

I'm not defining necromancer as "best at creating/commanding undead". I'm simply saying that Clerics are better than Wizard/Sorc in that role. If you open up the broader definition of Necromancer to include the whole Necromancy school of spells, then Clerics are on par with Wizards, except better at undead control, and they're better than Dread Necros except for undead control. Dread Necros are an admittedly high Tier 3. But Clerics are Tier 1. DN's are solidly outclassed. Better and undead control than Clerics, true...but still outclassed.

The only reason I use best at creating/commanding undead as a basis for debating Cleric Necro vs. Wizard Necro is that in all other regards, both classes are pretty evenly matched.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-01-11, 03:16 PM
For Trekkin: You are correct, in some regards, but Death Masters also get Desecrate. Thus, even with the Deathbound domain a Cleric cannot control more undead then a death master of the same level until he gets spells like General of Undeath. The reason for this is that the Deathbound Domain, as I said, dose nothing for how many undead you can control, just how many you can animate. Therefore, a Cleric who uses Desecrate and the Deathbound domain can control no more undead then a Death Master using Desecrate can.(Barring evil domain and specific spells.) While he can rebuke the uncontrolled undead he animates, Rebuke is it's own control pool and Death Master also get Rebuke.

Thus, since both classes get desecrate and both classes get rebuke, prior to a cleric getting stuff like General of Undeath the Death Master and the Cleric both have the same exact control pool. The only advantage the cleric has over the death master is effiency as he can animate more undead then a Death Master can at once but ultimately can control no more then him, even with Rebuke. All Deathbound means for a cleric is that he can spend less(Both gold and spell-slot wise.) then a Death Master needs to to reach his control limit, but ultimately can't control any more then a Death Master can until he gets to a high enough level to obtain certain spells(Ex: General of Undeath.)

Also, a Death Master can get General of Undeath on his list if he really wants to. All he has to do is take the Extra Spell Feat at level 18. Sure, he gets it long after a cleric dose, but he still gets his hands on it despite and thus a Death Master 20 can STILL match a cleric 20 in the undead controlling department if he really wants to.

Benly
2011-01-11, 03:17 PM
Diplomacy checks are your friend.


It's gonna take some serious diplomacy chops to convince Zaxxar The Imperishable that he should be happy about following you around as your underling. And if your DM allows that kind of diplomancy in the first place, why are you bothering with undead? Just "diplomatically suggest" that your enemies stab themselves in the neck.



I'm not defining necromancer as "best at creating/commanding undead". I'm simply saying that Clerics are better than Wizard/Sorc in that role. If you open up the broader definition of Necromancer to include the whole Necromancy school of spells, then Clerics are on par with Wizards, except better at undead control, and they're better than Dread Necros except for undead control. Dread Necros are an admittedly high Tier 3. But Clerics are Tier 1. DN's are solidly outclassed. Better and undead control than Clerics, true...but still outclassed.

So we're arguing which is a better class overall when it comes to cleric vs. DN, and which is better at undead control when it comes to cleric vs. wizard, got it. Basically, we choose the argument that the cleric will win. :smallwink:

That might come off as a bit harsh, but first you say "well, if you want to play a necromancer you'll pick the best option for necromancy", and then when I point out it's not the best option for necromancy you say "well, clearly you'd rather pick a Tier 1 class". So, yeah. Like I said, at that point you're not going for the best necromancer, you're going for a way to put necromancy on the tier 1 class you chose.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 03:23 PM
For Trekkin: You are correct, in some regards, but Death Masters also get Desecrate. Thus, even with the Deathbound domain a Cleric cannot control more undead then a death master of the same level until he gets spells like General of Undeath. The reason for this is that the Deathbound Domain, as I said, dose nothing for how many undead you can control, just how many you can animate. Therefore, a Cleric who uses Desecrate and the Deathbound domain can control no more undead then a Death Master using Desecrate can.

That's false, unless the Death Master can gain access to the Deathbound domain. Cleric and Death Master can create 4 HD in a Desecrate field. With Deathbound, a Cleric can create up to 6 HD in one casting.

"The undead you create remain under your control indefinitely. No matter how many times you use this spell, however, you can control only 4 HD worth of undead creatures per caster level. If you exceed this number, all the newly created creatures fall under your control, and any excess undead from previous castings become uncontrolled." PHB. 199

Emphasis added for relevance. By RAW, if your single casting exceeds your control pool (Create 6HD/Caster Level/Control 4HD/Caster Level), they STILL fall under your control. If a Cleric creates 6 HD with one casting, he controls them all. If he creates them with two castings, he controls only the ones created by the first casting.

If a Death Master has a method of getting his Create number up to 6 HD, then he can command as many undead as a Cleric. Maybe he can, I'm not sure, I haven't read the class.



So we're arguing which is a better class overall when it comes to cleric vs. DN, and which is better at undead control when it comes to cleric vs. wizard, got it. Basically, we choose the argument that the cleric will win. :smallwink:


This is fallacious. We're arguing which class is better at necromancy with Cleric vs. Wizard, but the only thing worth debating is undead control, because everything else is on par. There's nothing else that sets the two classes apart.

We're comparing overall Cleric Necromancy vs. Wizard Necromancy. All else is equal. Clerics are better at Control. Therefore cleric is a better necromancer.

When comparing Cleric Necromancy vs. Dread Necromancer, Cleric is better at Necromancy spellcasting, Dread Necromancer is better at Control. At this point, if you want one over the other, then you pick that class. If you want the more effective character, you pick the Cleric, because, despite being better in only one of the two big components of necromancy, they're better at everything else.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-01-11, 03:28 PM
I see. I was not aware of that loophole. In that case the Death Master would need to go on a sidequest for the Planar touchstone feat since that's the only way he could obtain the deathbound domain power without a 1 level dip into cleric.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 03:37 PM
It's gonna take some serious diplomacy chops to convince Zaxxar The Imperishable that he should be happy about following you around as your underling. And if your DM allows that kind of diplomancy in the first place, why are you bothering with undead? Just "diplomatically suggest" that your enemies stab themselves in the neck.


Your Diplomacy in this case is strictly by RAW. If you can make the DC, you can improve Zaxxar the Imperishable's disposition. It's going to be harder since his starting disposition toward you will be noticeably decreased based on the domination, but if you can improve his disposition to friendly, then you issue your commands and he'll respond favorably.

Benly
2011-01-11, 03:41 PM
Your Diplomacy in this case is strictly by RAW. If you can make the DC, you can improve Zaxxar the Imperishable's disposition. It's going to be harder since his starting disposition toward you will be noticeably decreased based on the domination, but if you can improve his disposition to friendly, then you issue your commands and he'll respond favorably.

Well, yes, and RAW diplomacy is incredibly broken. Hence my suggestion about diplomancing your enemies to death.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-01-11, 03:50 PM
Also, while the Death Master is not as innitially good as I assumed, Arcane still dose Necromancy better then Divine dose for the simple reason that a Dread Necro 20 will always be better then a cleric 20 at necromancy. A Dread Necro gets Undead Mastry(which kicks the crap out of the Deathbound Domain as far as having lots and lots of undead gose.) and due to advance learning can get General of Undeath. In addition, at level 6 a Dread Necromancer can get Desecrate with Extra Spell and he can get it at level 4(as a level 2 spell) Via Arcane Disciple though if he dose that he can only cast it 1/day and has to have at least 12 wisdom. Likewise, with advance learning he can get Animate Dead as a LEVEL 2 provided your DM excepts Death Master as a usable class in your game.

Also there is the fact that a Dread Necro will be able to rebuke more and will have stronger rebuking then a cleric will because of Cha sinergy. In addition, if you want to bring epic levels into this debate a Dread Necromancer, due to, again, cha synergy will have a MUCH easier time qualifying for the epic feats Undead Mastery(The epic feat, not the DN class ability.) and Zone of Animation. Simply put, a Cleric is not going to have an easy time getting the 25 Charisma needed for Zone of Animation without items(Or spells) and the 21 Charisma for Undead Mastery won't be that easy without items(or spells) either.

Of course, items/spells may allow a cleric to qualify for said feats but I am not sure if using items and spells to get the Cha scores needed to obtain those feats is legal. In my group we homebrew that those feats, as well as any epic feats which have ability score requirements require you to have that ability score(s) naturally rather then getting them from items/spells since that's most likely what was RAI when those feats where made. We also rule that DNs who level past level 20 count levels of any PrC class which advances arcane spellcasting as DN levels for the purpose of determining the control HD increase of Undead Mastery since if you don't rule that DNs become WORSE Necromancers then wizards at epic levels...or conversely you can just make an epic progression for DNs and call it a day.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 04:04 PM
Also, while the Death Master is not as innitially good as I assumed, Arcane still dose Necromancy better then Divine dose for the simple reason that a Dread Necro 20 will always be better then a cleric 20 at necromancy.

-snipped for length-


DN does indeed do MUCH better at CONTROLLING undead. But they have a limited spell list. Whereas a cleric's spell list is HUGE and they can borrow up to nine spells from the Sorc/Wiz necromancy school with the Divine Magician ACF.

If you assert that Undead control is the sum of a Necromancer's power then you're entirely correct. If you include Necromancy School spells like Consumptive Field, and it's Greater big brother, then you've got an entirely different conversation going on.

Also, CHA doesn't do much for you for turning. If your turning level is high enough to command a creature, then barring negative CHA, you can't actually roll low enough to fail the Turning Check. You get Rebuking more OFTEN, but if you're getting enough Command worthy undead thrown at you to need to Rebuke more than once, then your problem is not having too little CHA, it's that your Command Limit is only 1:1 HD.

On the Epic side of things, I'm going to let you have this one because I don't know Epic well enough. That being said, getting a 25 CHA isn't that hard for a cleric. Especially by Epic levels. A DN may get there first, but a cleric's not gonna have any trouble getting there. Not an argument, but...food for though.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-01-11, 04:15 PM
That is true but so far this entire debate has been based on solely controlling undead. If you include other brands of necromancy then a wizard is actually not all that bad compared to a cleric seeing as while a wizard is very sub-par at controlling undead he's actually VERY good at a lot of the other things necromancy is known for, such as debuffing, enervating, soul snatching ect.. It, to me, just seemed like the focus of this whole thing was on controlling undead since that's the main point most people where using to claim the wizard/pale master is an inferior necromancer to the cleric. He IS inferior on the front of controlling undead but on other fronts he's about even with a cleric. The only thing making the wizard/pale master inferior to a cleric in the necromancy department is his ineptitude when it comes to controlling undead because he's about even with a cleric in all other fields and that fact means he's technically inferior to a cleric. (Since being equal in all but one field to a cleric makes you inferior to him since he's good in all fields while the wiz/pm is good in all but one.)

MeeposFire
2011-01-11, 04:45 PM
Why are tiers being brought up? If you want to control undead be a dread necro. If you want what clerics offer go cleric. If you want what wizards offer go wizard. What makes the best necromancer really is about what you want. If I want the horde of undead I am going to be a dread necromancer. If I want the ability to create a horde but destroying souls and having unbeatable cosmic power I will go Wizard. Clerics will allow me to have more undead control than a wizard but less than a DN. Clerics also give me brutal cosmic power but if full on cosmic power is not my #1 concern but being the best undead maker/controller is my primary concern I will go DN as that is its niche regardless of the fact wizard and cleric are tier 1.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 04:49 PM
That is true but so far this entire debate has been based on solely controlling undead. If you include other brands of necromancy then a wizard is actually not all that bad compared to a cleric seeing as while a wizard is very sub-par at controlling undead he's actually VERY good at a lot of the other things necromancy is known for, such as debuffing, enervating, soul snatching ect..

No no, by no means do I mean to suggest a Wizard is a bad Necromancer. It's just that their Necromancy spells (Enervation etc.) can be duplicated by Clerics AND Clerics have better undead controlling. Not by far stretches mind you, but by enough to count. Clerics get to be best at being Necromancers (Overall). Wizards are just best at other things.

Both are entirely playable Necromancers though. All three, I should say. DN's are good in their own right. Homebrew to balance everything is easy enough, although IMHO, Wizards don't need any help. If you absolutely want to go the Arcane route though, and your group is open to it then as with all things DnD, homebrew away :smallsmile:

Drynwyn
2011-01-11, 04:52 PM
It works real well when combined with dread necromancer. Stick it out with DN until you get Master of Undead.

Maho-Tsukai
2011-01-11, 04:57 PM
Also, with a small bit of homebrew, a Wizard 20 can match a cleric 20 in all fields, EVEN undead controlling. The way you do it is simply a matter of feats and succeeding a diplomacy check against your DM in regards to homebrew. Desecrate can be obtained at level 6 via the Extra Spell feat OR at level 3 via arcane disciple. While most people prefer Arcane disciple I personally prefer Extra Spell as a means to get desecrate for the following reasons: Arcane Disciple requires you to have at least 12 in an otherwise dumb stat(wis) and makes it so you can only cast your spells 1/day. Extra Spell, while unable to nab you desecrate until level 6, requires no investment in an otherwise dumb stat and while you have to wait, your not going to get animate dead until level 7 so you don't really need Desecrate at lower levels anyway. Likewise, Extra Spell can be taken again at level 18 for General of Undeath.

As for the deathbonud domain, there is an ACF for wizards that allow them to swap bonus feats for cleric domain powers. There you go, free deathbound domain power without having to blow a feat and go on an annoying sidequest. The only thing missing is thus Rebuke and if you want Rebuke that badly then the easiest way to get it is to ask your DM if you can homebrew an ACF that allows a necromancy specialist wizard to lose their familiar(and perhaps some other things if your DM fears you want to use Rebuke for DMM cheese.) and exchange it for Rebuke Undead. Most of the Necromancy specialist ACFs suck anyway so other then potential DMM shenanigans such a homebrew ACF would be fine with most DMs and if they are that worried about DMM then he/she's most likely banned it anyway. There you go, a Necromancer wizard who can match a cleric's control pool. The only downsides are that you take longer then a cleric to get to his level with controlling undead and that you needed to use homebrew to get rebuke.

The necro wizard's best friend, however, is third party content. There are plenty of 3rd party classes out there that can slap Rebuke on a wizard and some are better then others. Hallowfaust, City of Necromancers has the best one for the job in the form of the Animator PrC. While you can't take it until level 6 at the earliest, it gives you Animate Dead, and Create Undead as SLAs. In addition Control Undead as an SLA, the ability to be a master of making necromantic golems(Flesh golems ect..), a capstone that lest you destroy undead and the best part, Rebuking equal to that of a Cleric of the same level as yourself. No stunted Rebuking like almost every other 3rd Party Necromancy class for arcane casters. The best part is that this rebuking can ALSO be used as turning instead.(So you basically get turn undead and rebuke undead but they share the same pool of uses/day.) Oh, and the class also gives you Extra Turning as a Bonus Feat.

The BIG downside to this class, however, is it's entry. It requires a grant total of 3 feats, two of which are kinda crappy.(Skill Focus in a 3rd party knowledge skill found in the same book and spell mastery.) In addition, it also requires you to have 8 ranks in 3 knowledge skills, two of which are 3rd party(again, from the same book) and also 8 ranks in Craft(Alchemy). It also demands that you know 3 specific 3rd party spells. So, like I said, very good class with a very harsh entry, but worth it since you get animate dead one level behind a cleric, full rebuking and with the feats that I mentioned above, as well as the ACF that gets you the death bound domain, an Animator can be a darn good Necromancer that matches a cleric.

Add in the Dark Channeller from the 3rd party book Dark Arts of Necromancy and you can pimp out your rebuking and since it's a five level class it makes a perfect capstone for a Wizard 5/Animator 10.

So, a Human(Or any other race with a bonus feat at 1st level.) Wizard 5/Animator 10/Dark Channeller 5 with the Domain powers for Bonus Feats ACF to get the Deathbound Domain power and two uses of the Extra Spell Feat to get Desecrate and General of Undeath to their list has everything that makes a cleric 20 a good controller of undead plus everything else that makes wizards so great. Also, you lose no CLs because Animator is a 10/10 CL progression while Dark Channeller is a 5/5 CL progression class.

Coidzor
2011-01-11, 05:28 PM
You'd think so, but the amount of undead you can control with Command Undead is ludicrous if you do the math.

Which is largely irrelevant because after a certain point the undead bog down the game too much for them to be allowed on the playing field. And yet you take it as a given that the DM is obligated to attempt to kill you with your own rebuked undead. :smallconfused:

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 05:51 PM
Also, with a small bit of homebrew, a Wizard 20 can match a cleric 20 in all fields, EVEN undead controlling.

The necro wizard's best friend, however, is third party content.

3rd Party and Homebrew are not welcome in every game. Given 3rd Party and Homebrew you can realistically play with the balances for any classes, so I'm not really going to engage that debate...

If you're set on an Arcanist for undead for flavor, and your DM is flexible enough though, then this does merit exploring.

Benly
2011-01-11, 05:53 PM
Which is largely irrelevant because after a certain point the undead bog down the game too much for them to be allowed on the playing field. And yet you take it as a given that the DM is obligated to attempt to kill you with your own rebuked undead. :smallconfused:

I don't think he's obligated to try to kill you, I just think it's a risk you run when you decide to enslave extremely powerful and intelligent evil beings into your service. If the DM ignores that, I feel he's missing a potential narrative hook.

As for actually Commanding that many undead into service, you're right that it's entirely impractical; if you use it, it'll be for set pieces rather than actual combat. However, the tone of posts at that point was "lol command undead = charm person but crappy", which... it's not. I wanted to establish that Command Undead is a solid control-pool extender, did the math, and was surprised by just how far it can stretch your control pool.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 06:06 PM
I don't think he's obligated to try to kill you, I just think it's a risk you run when you decide to enslave extremely powerful and intelligent evil beings into your service. If the DM ignores that, I feel he's missing a potential narrative hook.

I thought about this and I don't believe Rebuking/Commanding works the way we seem to think it does. Rebuking puts undead in a state of awe, such that they're paralyzed and can do you no harm.

Commanding gives you mental control over the undead in question. I believe this is meant to reflect that you are in control of the negative energies from which they derive the ability to live and think. Regardless, the RAW states that the undead is under your mental control. I don't think a creature bound thus is capable of subversion or mutiny.

Benly
2011-01-11, 06:16 PM
I thought about this and I don't believe Rebuking/Commanding works the way we seem to think it does. Rebuking puts undead in a state of awe, such that they're paralyzed and can do you no harm.

Commanding gives you mental control over the undead in question. I believe this is meant to reflect that you are in control of the negative energies from which they derive the ability to live and think. Regardless, the RAW states that the undead is under your mental control. I don't think a creature bound thus is capable of subversion or mutiny.

All that's stated is that you can take a standard action to give mental orders to a commanded undead (which, presumably, they follow). While the undead will presumably obey your mental orders, it does not say or imply that the undead's general attitude towards you changes, nor that it ceases taking any action other than that ordered of it - and given that there is a core effect that explicitly changes such a creature's attitude towards you (one which has been maligned earlier in this thread), it's a fair assumption that if this were one of the benefits of commanding it would be explicitly mentioned. It's reasonable to assume that "do me no harm" is an implied command, but there's no reason to believe that a lich will not scheme behind your back to whatever limits your orders allow, nor is there any reason to believe it won't carry out your orders in whatever way most benefits it.

Personally, I think using rebuking to command a lich is a neat plot idea and would try it in a heartbeat - but I would also be disappointed if the DM didn't have the lich scheme resentfully at the control. Liches are by definition smart enough to figure out a way to cheat death, powerful enough to pull it off, and egotistical enough to think they deserve it. In any good story, trying to enslave a creature like that to your service is playing with fire.

Gullintanni
2011-01-11, 06:30 PM
All that's stated is that you can take a standard action to give mental orders to a commanded undead (which, presumably, they follow). While the undead will presumably obey your mental orders, it does not say or imply that the undead's general attitude towards you changes, nor that it ceases taking any action other than that ordered of it - and given that there is a core effect that explicitly changes such a creature's attitude towards you (one which has been maligned earlier in this thread), it's a fair assumption that if this were one of the benefits of commanding it would be explicitly mentioned. It's reasonable to assume that "do me no harm" is an implied command, but there's no reason to believe that a lich will not scheme behind your back to whatever limits your orders allow, nor is there any reason to believe it won't carry out your orders in whatever way most benefits it.

Personally, I think using rebuking to command a lich is a neat plot idea and would try it in a heartbeat - but I would also be disappointed if the DM didn't have the lich scheme resentfully at the control. Liches are by definition smart enough to figure out a way to cheat death, powerful enough to pull it off, and egotistical enough to think they deserve it. In any good story, trying to enslave a creature like that to your service is playing with fire.

Page 159 PHB, "A commanded undead creature is under the mental control of the evil cleric. The cleric must take a standard action to give mental orders to a commanded undead."

Emphasis mine...this doesn't really leave a lot of room for interpretation. If my mental order is, "Serve me with absolute loyalty.", then that's it. Game over. You can hate me all you want, but betrayal is no longer in your vocabulary.

For all intents and purposes, your will is this creature's command. It doesn't have the capacity for rebellion.

Benly
2011-01-11, 06:43 PM
Page 159 PHB, "A commanded undead creature is under the mental control of the evil cleric. The cleric must take a standard action to give mental orders to a commanded undead."

Emphasis mine...this doesn't really leave a lot of room for interpretation. If my mental order is, "Serve me with absolute loyalty.", then that's it. Game over. You can hate me all you want, but betrayal is no longer in your vocabulary.

For all intents and purposes, your will is this creature's command. It doesn't have the capacity for rebellion.

The last sentence is not true. It has the ability to rebel against you, it just can't do it in a way that is not serving you with absolute loyalty.

Your lich minion can kill someone he thinks is looking at you funny - much better to have a thousand corpses than one unexpected attacker coming after Beloved Master, after all.

Your lich minion can keep bad news away from your ears and attend to problems in his own way, so that Beloved Master need not trouble himself. Beloved Master doesn't need to hear nasty rumors when Beloved Master's lowly lich servitor can kill the rumormongers in their sleep.

Your lich minion can choose to take no actions at all until explicitly commanded to, because if he took action he might accidentally do something that displeased Beloved Master. How should your lowly lich servitor know that Beloved Master wants him to help kill these orcs, when the last time he killed a peasant for looking at Beloved Master, Beloved Master was angered? Better far to wait for Beloved Master to spend a standard action ordering him and be sure not to offend.

And so on. This isn't a DM screwjob, this is how stories work. If you bind a powerful, intelligent evil being into slavery, it remains a powerful, intelligent evil being and you need to be careful with it. This is pretty much universal.

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 06:45 PM
Fell Animate doesn't count against the Animate Dead HD control cap and applies things like Corpsecrafter? :smallconfused:

Correct and Correct.

It's not the Animate Undead spell, and it's not Rebuke/Command Undead, and has no specified HD cap, and are considered to be under your control.

And, as they are then undead you create, all Corpsecrafter feats apply.

There's even ways to mitigate the +4 CL boost, so you can use it more easily. It also works excellently in pairing with Fell Drain so that you get to kill a bunch of lower-end mooks, and have them all get back up the next round under your control, with all the corpsecrafter feats applied to them. if you do this in a desecrated area, it gets even better.

Trekkin
2011-01-11, 06:45 PM
Actually, a blanket command like "serve me with absolute loyalty" is rather easy to subvert. The first thing that came to my mind was to kidnap new sub-servants with excellent combat capabilities, install them in the lair of the necromancer while mentioning how this is at his behest (which it is), then arrange to be out serving said necromancer more distantly.

Even Aasimov's three laws are breakable, and this is just the second law. Technically, the undead under such a command could decide his master would be better served by having a sword at his disposal, delivering it into his chest cavity for easy reach. With enough rationalization, all things are possible.

Another silly example: people, like the necromancer, get blood-borne diseases. If they lacked blood, they would not get blood-borne diseases. Begin the exsanguination!

EDIT: benly said it better than I could. Also, Corpsecrafter applies to any necromancy spell that makes undead; killing something with a Fell Animated necromancy spell will apply the feat...which you were saying. My apologies, SchneekyTheLost.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-11, 06:52 PM
Actually, a blanket command like "serve me with absolute loyalty" is rather easy to subvert. The first thing that came to my mind was to kidnap new sub-servants with excellent combat capabilities, install them in the lair of the necromancer while mentioning how this is at his behest (which it is), then arrange to be out serving said necromancer more distantly.

Even Aasimov's three laws are breakable, and this is just the second law. Technically, the undead under such a command could decide his master would be better served by having a sword at his disposal, delivering it into his chest cavity for easy reach. With enough rationalization, all things are possible.

Another silly example: people, like the necromancer, get blood-borne diseases. If they lacked blood, they would not get blood-borne diseases. Begin the exsanguination!

EDIT: benly said it better than I could. Also, Corpsecrafter applies to any necromancy spell that makes undead; killing something with a Fell Animated necromancy spell will apply the feat...which you were saying. My apologies, SchneekyTheLost.

So, the same school of DM screwery that makes even the safest Wishes a death sentence. You can Wish for a sandwich, but you didn't specify that the sandwich should not be on fire.

Benly
2011-01-11, 06:52 PM
Correct and Correct.

It's not the Animate Undead spell, and it's not Rebuke/Command Undead, and has no specified HD cap, and are considered to be under your control.

And, as they are then undead you create, all Corpsecrafter feats apply.

You're only half right here.

Fell Animate specifically refers you to the text of Animate Dead for the control of the zombies created, which includes the text about the maximum number of undead under your control at once. Thus, Fell Animated zombies do count against the Animate Dead control pool.

Corpsecrafter does boost Fell Animated zombies, if the Fell Animate was on a necromancy spell (Corpsecrafter specifies "any undead you create with any necromancy spell").

Fell Animate is great for what it is, and with the right build it will get you zombies starting at extremely low levels, but it's not quite as overwhelmingly amazing as you seem to think.

Benly
2011-01-11, 06:54 PM
So, the same school of DM screwery that makes even the safest Wishes a death sentence. You can Wish for a sandwich, but you didn't specify that the sandwich should not be on fire.

This isn't a DM screwjob, this is a narrative theme that is literally older than any language still spoken by mankind. I hate Wish screwjobs as much as anyone, but I would be genuinely disappointed if an enslaved lich did not strain against his bonds and plot behind my back.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-11, 06:57 PM
This isn't a DM screwjob, this is a narrative theme that is literally older than any language still spoken by mankind. I hate Wish screwjobs as much as anyone, but I would be genuinely disappointed if an enslaved lich did not strain against his bonds and plot behind my back.

Plotting against you is one thing, that's classic narrative. I was talking about 'Oh, my master wants to be safe. I'll make him safer by giving him a sword, and by giving it to him, I mean stabbing him in the chest with it'. That's a DM screwjob. Plotting to betray would be, say, anonymously tipping off a group of greedy adventurers with the password to your Magnificent Mansion or the coordinates of your demiplane.

Coidzor
2011-01-11, 06:58 PM
Correct and Correct.

It's not the Animate Undead spell, and it's not Rebuke/Command Undead, and has no specified HD cap, and are considered to be under your control.

And, as they are then undead you create, all Corpsecrafter feats apply.

There's even ways to mitigate the +4 CL boost, so you can use it more easily. It also works excellently in pairing with Fell Drain so that you get to kill a bunch of lower-end mooks, and have them all get back up the next round under your control, with all the corpsecrafter feats applied to them. if you do this in a desecrated area, it gets even better.

Huh. I'm surprised I haven't seen this played up more by Frank and K or the other necromancy handbooks. Though reading the feat it does refer to animate dead, so it seems there's probably RAW vs. RAI issues there. And it's a spell level 3 levels higher than normal, not a +4 spell level adjustment if I'm interpreting what you meant by +4 CL boost correctly. Unless I need to look at errata as well.

What's the lowest level necromancy spell it can be attached to that'll off someone?


This isn't a DM screwjob, this is a narrative theme that is literally older than any language still spoken by mankind. I hate Wish screwjobs as much as anyone, but I would be genuinely disappointed if an enslaved lich did not strain against his bonds and plot behind my back.

You'd let a lich get behind your back while also assuming that it's going to turn on you? :smallconfused:

The Glyphstone
2011-01-11, 07:00 PM
Huh. I'm surprised I haven't seen this played up more by Frank and K or the other necromancy handbooks. Though reading the feat it does refer to animate dead, so it seems there's probably RAW vs. RAI issues there. And it's a spell level 3 levels higher than normal, not a +4 spell level adjustment if I'm interpreting what you meant by +4 CL boost correctly. Unless I need to look at errata as well.

What's the lowest level necromancy spell it can be attached to that'll off someone?

Chill Touch is the lowest-level necromancy spell I can find that deals damage. You could always try a Snowcasting Flash Frost Touch of Fatigue for a damaging cantrip or something.

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 07:04 PM
Huh. I'm surprised I haven't seen this played up more by Frank and K or the other necromancy handbooks. Though reading the feat it does refer to animate dead, so it seems there's probably RAW vs. RAI issues there. And it's a spell level 3 levels higher than normal, not a +4 spell level adjustment if I'm interpreting what you meant by +4 CL boost correctly. Unless I need to look at errata as well.

What's the lowest level necromancy spell it can be attached to that'll off someone?



You'd let a lich get behind your back while also assuming that it's going to turn on you? :smallconfused:

Well, when you pair Fell Animate with Fell Drain, a whole host of opportunities arise. If it dies from the negative level, then it raises, as per Fell Animate language. So what you are looking for is a low-level necromancy spell which is an area-effect. Like, for example, Cause Fear. I believe there's a few others you can get if you go out of core which might be better for these purposes.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-11, 07:05 PM
Well, when you pair Fell Animate with Fell Drain, a whole host of opportunities arise. If it dies from the negative level, then it raises, as per Fell Animate language. So what you are looking for is a low-level necromancy spell which is an area-effect. Like, for example, Cause Fear. I believe there's a few others you can get if you go out of core which might be better for these purposes.

Doesn't Fell Drain require a damage-dealing spell?

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 07:06 PM
Doesn't Fell Drain require a damage-dealing spell?

d'oh... forgot about that.

So yea, like you said... Snowcasting Flash Frost on some AE spell.

Benly
2011-01-11, 07:06 PM
The most efficient option I know of for Fell Animate with necromancy is Chill Touch: it has an attack roll so you can coup de grace with it, and it lets you make several attacks so at the end of a fight you can find anyone still bleeding out and use it to zombie them up. Honorable mention goes to Kelgore's Grave Mist, which creates an ongoing damaging cloud and so is likely to automatically mop up anyone who gets defeated in it during the fight, as well as sticking around for you to throw the bleeders into afterwards.

In either case it's best if you can mitigate the metamagic adjustment; my favorite party trick for that is the Illumian sigil combination that works like Divine Metamagic, but honestly even with its full adjustment it's an okay deal given that you get no-cost zombies. The big problems with it are that you can't get anything that manages to die to something that isn't your spell and that you can't make skeletons which are generally better than zombies.


Plotting against you is one thing, that's classic narrative. I was talking about 'Oh, my master wants to be safe. I'll make him safer by giving him a sword, and by giving it to him, I mean stabbing him in the chest with it'. That's a DM screwjob.

Oh, yeah, that's just clumsy. On the other hand, "My master would be much better off if he were an immortal undead like me! I'll just kill him and raise him as a Bone Creature so he keeps all his knowledge and powers" is a little more plausible, and once you die there's no longer magical control enforcing Step 2 of the plan. :smallwink:

(The big mark against this plan, and why I wouldn't use it as a DM, is that there's too much chance he'll fail and get caught.)

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 07:10 PM
The most efficient option I know of for Fell Animate with necromancy is Chill Touch: it has an attack roll so you can coup de grace with it, and it lets you make several attacks so at the end of a fight you can find anyone still bleeding out and use it to zombie them up. Honorable mention goes to Kelgore's Grave Mist, which creates an ongoing damaging cloud and so is likely to automatically mop up anyone who gets defeated in it during the fight, as well as sticking around for you to throw the bleeders into afterwards.

In either case it's best if you can mitigate the metamagic adjustment; my favorite party trick for that is the Illumian sigil combination that works like Divine Metamagic, but honestly even with its full adjustment it's an okay deal given that you get no-cost zombies. The big problems with it are that you can't get anything that manages to die to something that isn't your spell and that you can't make skeletons which are generally better than zombies.



Oh, yeah, that's just clumsy. On the other hand, "My master would be much better off if he were an immortal undead like me! I'll just kill him and raise him as a Bone Creature so he keeps all his knowledge and powers" is a little more plausible, and once you die there's no longer magical control enforcing Step 2 of the plan. :smallwink:

(The big mark against this plan, and why I wouldn't use it as a DM, is that there's too much chance he'll fail and get caught.)

No, but you can make exploding zombies that heal the rest of your zombies when they explode. That's probably better than out-of-the-box skeletons, I'd say...

Coidzor
2011-01-11, 07:12 PM
(The big mark against this plan, and why I wouldn't use it as a DM, is that there's too much chance he'll fail and get caught.)

To you. That just sounds like the aforementioned exploding sandwich of death from wishing for a sandwich routine to me.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-11, 07:16 PM
Oh, yeah, that's just clumsy. On the other hand, "My master would be much better off if he were an immortal undead like me! I'll just kill him and raise him as a Bone Creature so he keeps all his knowledge and powers" is a little more plausible, and once you die there's no longer magical control enforcing Step 2 of the plan. :smallwink:

(The big mark against this plan, and why I wouldn't use it as a DM, is that there's too much chance he'll fail and get caught.)


To you. That just sounds like the aforementioned exploding sandwich of death from wishing for a sandwich routine to me.

Likewise. It'd take some serious twisting to turn 'serve me loyally and do me no harm' into 'please kill me and reanimate me as a Bone Creature'.

Benly
2011-01-11, 07:19 PM
No, but you can make exploding zombies that heal the rest of your zombies when they explode. That's probably better than out-of-the-box skeletons, I'd say...

Honestly, probably not. I mean, they're great Skelly Snacks for your other minions, and since they're free I'd gladly mix them in, but the fundamental problem with zombies is the "only one action per turn" shambling thing. A zombie with natural attacks can never use its full attack sequence because it only gets one attack action per turn (it may or may not retain pounce, depending on how you interpret the "special qualities that improve its melee or ranged attacks" text.) It can't move and attack without charging which is easy to foil, it may not get AoOs depending on how you read its Single Actions Only quality... the only thing zombies have really going for them is sheer bulk of HP. They are a complete non-threat offensively.

There are a few exceptions, of course. Hydras are great zombies because their multiheaded super attacking thing is a Special Quality and not a Special Attack. Cats are fine if they're ruled to retain Pounce, dragons are awesome because dragons are arbitrarily awesome and get special zombie rules. Unfortunately, this doesn't play nicely with the other problem of Fell Animate, which is that it's harder to get the corpse you want: you have to kill it specifically with your Fell spell and if something else kills it you're SOL.

Fell Animate is great. Free zombies are free zombies and I won't look a gift horse in its decaying, vile mouth. But it is not a full-on substitute for proper Animate Dead.


Likewise. It'd take some serious twisting to turn 'serve me loyally and do me no harm' into 'please kill me and reanimate me as a Bone Creature'.

Well, if you meant "do me no harm" you should've said so, Beloved Master! You just asked poor old Lichypoo to serve you with absolute loyalty, and I can imagine no greater loyalty than giving the gift of immortality!

Boci
2011-01-11, 07:27 PM
Well, if you meant "do me no harm" you should've said so, Beloved Master! You just asked poor old Lichypoo to serve you with absolute loyalty, and I can imagine no greater loyalty than giving the gift of immortality!

And clearly, absolute loyalty means not telling your master your plans to kill him to make him stronger. I see it now, it makes so much sense...oh wait...

Yes, a lich would raise the point to its master, and probably insist, but when ordered to stand down it would do so unless it can break the command.

Benly
2011-01-11, 07:30 PM
And clearly, absolute loyalty means not telling your master your plans to kill him to make him stronger. I see it now, it makes so much sense...oh wait...

Yes, a lich would raise the point to its master, and probably insist, but when ordered to stand down it would do so unless it can break the command.

Beloved Master would worry so much about it! It should be done with a single blow in Beloved Master's sleep so there will be no pain or worry.

(Of course, with most adventurers, it couldn't practically be done with a single blow so easily, which is why Lichypoo isn't actually going to try this plan.)

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 07:31 PM
Honestly, probably not. I mean, they're great Skelly Snacks for your other minions, and since they're free I'd gladly mix them in, but the fundamental problem with zombies is the "only one action per turn" shambling thing. A zombie with natural attacks can never use its full attack sequence because it only gets one attack action per turn (it may or may not retain pounce, depending on how you interpret the "special qualities that improve its melee or ranged attacks" text.) It can't move and attack without charging which is easy to foil, it may not get AoOs depending on how you read its Single Actions Only quality... the only thing zombies have really going for them is sheer bulk of HP. They are a complete non-threat offensively.

There are a few exceptions, of course. Hydras are great zombies because their multiheaded super attacking thing is a Special Quality and not a Special Attack. Cats are fine if they're ruled to retain Pounce, dragons are awesome because dragons are arbitrarily awesome and get special zombie rules. Unfortunately, this doesn't play nicely with the other problem of Fell Animate, which is that it's harder to get the corpse you want: you have to kill it specifically with your Fell spell and if something else kills it you're SOL.

Fell Animate is great. Free zombies are free zombies and I won't look a gift horse in its decaying, vile mouth. But it is not a full-on substitute for proper Animate Dead.

You're more likely to run into a selection of things which make good zombies than run into a selection of undead which are worth blowing Command Undead on a regular basis to keep under your thumb without risking a will save because it's not mindless...

And it makes even common run-of-the-mill medium-sized zombies fairly effective with a couple of Corpsecrafter feats, because if nothing else, they cost you nothing to make them, so you have no problems with them BEING a meat-shield which blows up and deals negative energy damage to opponents when they die. Suicide bombers at it's finest. Furthermore, while they are out there blowing themselves up on your opponents, you are also distracting said opponents so that you can use the spells that press win buttons.

As for making sure your fell animate spell is the one that kills it? Simple. You're a *WIZARD*. You go first, last, and every other turn between them. And yes, even then, thanks to Celerity. In addition to your specialty of also making undead. If you can't figure out how to kill things, you need to rethink your career.

Boci
2011-01-11, 07:32 PM
Beloved Master would worry so much about it! It should be done with a single blow in Beloved Master's sleep so there will be no pain or worry.

Now your cluching at straws. You may as well argue that the lich would amputate his masters head in his sleep, because it got cut and it must not become infected.

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 07:35 PM
Now your cluching at straws. You may as well argue that the lich would amputate his masters head in his sleep, because it got cut and it must not become infected.

*snerk* This reminds me of a con-man, and a touted 'Head of Vecna'...

Benly
2011-01-11, 07:36 PM
You're more likely to run into a selection of things which make good zombies than run into a selection of undead which are worth blowing Command Undead on a regular basis to keep under your thumb without risking a will save because it's not mindless...

You mean other than the zombies and skeletons you make via Animate Dead?


As for making sure your fell animate spell is the one that kills it? Simple. You're a *WIZARD*. You go first, last, and every other turn between them. And yes, even then, thanks to Celerity. In addition to your specialty of also making undead. If you can't figure out how to kill things, you need to rethink your career.

You have a million ways to kill things, yes, most of which are not Fell Animated Chill Touch. Any of the other ones will render it ineligible for the Fell Animate treatment.


Now your cluching at straws. You may as well argue that the lich would amputate his masters head in his sleep, because it got cut and it must not become infected.

I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about a being of great intelligence and enormous ego chafing under the bonds of magically enforced control. He is not under any dictate to avoid stretching his definitions and logic, and it's in his best interest to. Obviously it's bad for the narrative to have him kill the players in their sleep, which is the real reason a DM shouldn't do it, but interpreting your commands in the most favorable possible light for him, even if it stretches what you said far from what you meant, is what this kind of creature does in this kind of situation.

(Unless, of course, you order him not to stretch his interpretations of your orders, in which case prepare to spend a lot of time answering nitpicking questions about how you're defining your terms.)

Keld Denar
2011-01-11, 07:45 PM
In either case it's best if you can mitigate the metamagic adjustment; my favorite party trick for that is the Illumian sigil combination that works like Divine Metamagic

NaenHoon is the sigil combo. A Dread Necromancer gets Rebuke Undead at level 2 (and is Cha focused for moar RU attempts), which is when you get your second Illumian sigil, so thats the earliest you could play the trick. The simplest way is to have one of your allies deal some non-lethal damage mixed in with their lethal damage, then sexecuting your foe with a 1st level NaenHoon'd Fell Animating spell. I'm pretty sure you can CDG someone with a touch spell.

Benly
2011-01-11, 07:51 PM
NaenHoon is the sigil combo. A Dread Necromancer gets Rebuke Undead at level 2 (and is Cha focused for moar RU attempts), which is when you get your second Illumian sigil, so thats the earliest you could play the trick. The simplest way is to have one of your allies deal some non-lethal damage mixed in with their lethal damage, then sexecuting your foe with a 1st level NaenHoon'd Fell Animating spell. I'm pretty sure you can CDG someone with a touch spell.

You can. I felt very clever when I was the first one to post that trick for level 2 zombies on the Wizards Of The Coast CharOp board back in the day even though I'm sure other people thought of it before me.

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 08:00 PM
You mean other than the zombies and skeletons you make via Animate Dead? Why bother with Animate Dead when you can get better quality for no cost?


You have a million ways to kill things, yes, most of which are not Fell Animated Chill Touch. Any of the other ones will render it ineligible for the Fell Animate treatment. Perhaps you misunderstand what I said, or you are deliberately misconstruing it. At this point, I really don't know.

Wizards choose when they go. They have too many resources at their disposal to not guarantee they go exactly when they want to. Thus they can time their Fell Animate <necromancy spell of choice> perfectly to BE the one that lands the killing blow. It doesn't have to be Chill Touch. In fact, there's a couple of others that are likely better suited for the task. However, it is handy for being able to CDG with.

The true power of Wizards is not that they have a million and one ways of killing things. It's that they basically tell the action economy to bend over and spread 'em. I apologize if you find this concept difficult to comprehend, but damage is generally sub-par, as there are far more efficient methods of killing opponents than raw damage.

Trekkin
2011-01-11, 08:04 PM
I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about a being of great intelligence and enormous ego chafing under the bonds of magically enforced control. He is not under any dictate to avoid stretching his definitions and logic, and it's in his best interest to.


This was what I was going for in my admittedly hyperbolic post. Wish doesn't get to be resentful until you overuse it; it could be considered poor characterization to turn a lich, particularly one built up as a paragon of arcane might too great even for death to conquer, to be suddenly docile due to the very forces he exists by mastering, although having a sword delivered by stabbing is, as you say, a sign of an unimaginative and vindictive DM.

YMMV widely, of course, but the principle is as old as Benly indicates. That said, in actual gameplay rather than forum-based theorizing I'd probably favor just treating the lich as loyal until a really dramatic moment came up; call it the patience of the ageless combined with a talent for duplicity, if you like, that in metagame terms is easy bookkeeping without totally destroying the efficacy of the spell.

Benly
2011-01-11, 08:06 PM
Why bother with Animate Dead when you can get better quality for no cost?

Did I miss the part where somehow Corpsecrafter doesn't apply to Animate Dead?


I apologize if you find this concept difficult to comprehend, but damage is generally sub-par, as there are far more efficient methods of killing opponents than raw damage.

Most of the non-damage necromancy spells that actually kill a creature outright are high enough level that unless you have Naenhoon or another way of actually canceling the metamagic cost, you're not really saving yourself much work with Fell Animate. If you have a good spell in mind, I'd honestly like to know what it is. It sounds to me like you're just sort of assuming that there must be an appropriate one somewhere.

If you are rolling with Naenhoon, this is a bit more convincing, but you only get two shots at it per day.

ShneekeyTheLost
2011-01-11, 08:11 PM
Did I miss the part where somehow Corpsecrafter doesn't apply to Animate Dead? No, but you missed the part where Fell Animate can affect more than Medium sized corpses, and is much faster.




Most of the non-damage necromancy spells that actually kill a creature outright are high enough level that unless you have Naenhoon or another way of actually canceling the metamagic cost, you're not really saving yourself much work with Fell Animate. If you have a good spell in mind, I'd honestly like to know what it is. It sounds to me like you're just sort of assuming that there must be an appropriate one somewhere.

If you are rolling with Naenhoon, this is a bit more convincing, but you only get two shots at it per day.

Enervation would like to say hello. Snowcast Flashfrost + any AE spell works perfectly well as well. Particularly if your current undead minions are disabling your opponents for you.

Benly
2011-01-11, 08:21 PM
No, but you missed the part where Fell Animate can affect more than Medium sized corpses, and is much faster.


Where are you getting the notion that Animate Dead only affects Medium corpses? There is no such restriction in the spell or in the zombie or skeleton descriptions.


Enervation would like to say hello. Snowcast Flashfrost + any AE spell works perfectly well as well. Particularly if your current undead minions are disabling your opponents for you.

Enervation is awesome for killing things with only a couple of hit dice, which do not exactly make the most inspiring zombies. The main strength of the spell is that it's a wicked debuff, but it's not much good at outright killing anything you'd particularly want to reanimate. Snowcast Flashfrost is the damage you claim sucks for killing, is not very much of it, and brings your total metamagic adjustment up by another level. As for your minions disabling your opponents for you, that's going to be a lot harder with zombies' one action per round than it would be if you had skeletons.

I mean, if you're going to go with snowcast flashfrost hilarity, you might as well just cut out the two extra feats and put Fell Animate on Kelgore's Grave Mist as I suggested earlier in the thread: it sticks around, deals ongoing damage, and has a nice AoE, and essentially works exactly the same as your suggested flashfrost snowcasting idea. Of course, then either way you're obliged to kill things with hit point damage, and specifically make sure you land them in the "dying but not dead" sweet spot between 0 and -10 so that the mist is what kills them off. It's almost certain to pick you up some free zombies by the end of the fight, but it mandates killing with hit point damage specifically and it has a decent chance of not getting you the corpse you want. With Animate Dead these are not concerns.

Trekkin
2011-01-12, 01:13 AM
Incidentally, the srd command undead explicitly says it treats your commands in the most favorable way possible, so I was wrong about the ease with which the spell's strictures could be perverted into inefficacy. Then again, the subject wont do anything obviously harmful, and you could make the case that serving a violent necromantic hobo is harmful...

AtomicKitKat
2011-01-13, 11:04 AM
Beloved Master has suffered a grievous head wound. I must remove his brain into an adamantine jar for safe-keeping!:smallbiggrin:

Trekkin
2011-01-13, 11:08 AM
Beloved Master has suffered a grievous head wound. I must remove his brain into an adamantine jar for safe-keeping!:smallbiggrin:

Assuming you have as an undead servant one of the necromancers who can actually make brains in jars, this might not be a bad thing; they get rebuking and selected psionic abilities, after all. Then again, Beloved Master being unable to cast spells without Still Spell, Silent Spell, and Eschew Materials would probably make the concept considerably less appealing to a necromancer--and considerably more so to the minion who now simply has to wait out Command Undead.

Benly
2011-01-13, 11:10 AM
Assuming you have as an undead servant one of the necromancers who can actually make brains in jars, this might not be a bad thing; they get rebuking and selected psionic abilities, after all.

How bad it is depends on how quickly you can pick up Surrogate Spellcasting. Without that feat, being a brain in the jar makes life pretty hard for career necromancers.

Trekkin
2011-01-13, 11:13 AM
How bad it is depends on how quickly you can pick up Surrogate Spellcasting. Without that feat, being a brain in the jar makes life pretty hard for career necromancers.

Surrogate Spellcasting requires that you still have suitable appendages, iirc; I suppose such a necromancer could think in varied ways and hope phrenology is valid science in the campaign setting.

Benly
2011-01-13, 11:17 AM
Surrogate Spellcasting requires that you still have suitable appendages, iirc; I suppose such a necromancer could think in varied ways and hope phrenology is valid science in the campaign setting.

Clearly you'll cast spells by waving your brainstem around.