View Full Version : The Dread Necromancer, reworked and fixed (plus accessories).

2013-05-09, 03:01 PM
Dread Necromancer Fix

Introduced in Heroes of Horror, the Dread Necromancer is probably the most viable of the three specilialized spontaneous casting classes (the other two being Warmage and Beguiler), due to both having valuable class features (to an extent) and focusing on an aspect that clerics and wizards can only do so well . . . the zambies. Unfortunately, the way the class was designed causes various bizarre jumps in the power progression and renders the class very rigid in how to approach it and makes it difficult to compete with necromancy-dedicated wizards and clerics in several aspects. After seeing T.G. Oscar's Warmage fix (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=131346), it inspired me to remake the Dread Necromancer as attractive, too. Also credit goes to Mako-Tsukai and his fix of the spell list (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=162358) that first put in my head that I don't have to accept bad design.

Dread Necromancers have the following game statistics.
Abilities: Charisma is the most important stat, determining spells per day and the DCs of those spells and other class features. Constitution is important for Dread Necromancers to gain more hitpoints, but becomes irrelevant at the end of the class when it becomes a nonability. Dexterity makes the Dread Necromancer more able to land ranged spells and weapons, while increasing armor class. Strength is useful for Dread Necromancers who choose to fight at close range.
Alignment: Any Non-good.
Hit Die: d6
Starting Age: As base DN.
Starting Gold: As base DN.

Class Skills
The Dread Necromancer's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Disguise (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha) Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge(arcana) (Int), Knowledge(religion) (Int), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int)

Skill Points at First Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier

2 skill points per level makes sense for a regular caster, who doesn't need to focus on much else beyond Concentration and Spellcraft. The Dread Necromancer ends up with more useful and relevant skills, with Bluff, Disguise and Hide being important for being indirect and just generally getting by in life as someone who is dedicated to the dark practices of animating the dead. Thus, I increase the base skill points by 2 so that there's more room to work with the skills you want.

Added Diplomacy as a class skill since it makes sense for a caster using undead to have to win over a person if they can't lie or threaten their way through, and fits great for social aspect of the class.

LevelBase Attack BonusFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecial0lvl1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th
1st+0+0+0+2Charnel Touch, Rebuke Undead53
2nd+1+0+0+3Lich Body DR 264
3rd+1+1+1+3Negative Energy Burst 1/day65
4th+2+1+1+4Mental Bastion +2, Advanced Learning, Charnel Reflex, Fear Aura663
5th+2+1+1+4Undead Mastery (Minor), Lich Body DR 3664
6th+3+2+2+5Scabrous Touch 1/day6653
7th+3+2+2+5Summon Familiar, Lich Body DR 46664
8th+4+2+2+6Advanced Learning, Negative Energy Burst 2/day, Charnel Critical66653
9th+4+3+3+6Negative Energy Resistance, Light Fortification, Lich Body DR 5, Mental Bastion +466664
10th+5+3+3+7Undead Mastery (Lesser)666653
11th+5+3+3+7Scabrous Touch 2/day, Lich Body DR 6666664
12th+6/+1+4+4+8Advanced Learning, Enervating Touch, Charnel Aim6666653
13th+6/+1+4+4+8Lich Body DR 7, Negative Energy Burst 3/day6666664
14th+7/+2+4+4+9Mental Bastion +666666653
15th+7+5+5+9Undead Mastery, Lich Body DR 866666664
16th+8/+3+5+5+10Advanced Learning, Light Fortification 50%, Scabrous Touch 3/day, Charnel Threat666666653
17th+8/+3+5+5+10Negative Energy Burst 4/day, Enervating Touch (Improved)666666664
18th+9/+4+6+6+11Craft Wondrous Item6666666653
20th+10/+5+6+6+12Lich Transformation, Undead Mastery (Greater), Advanced Learning, Improved Charnel Critical6666666665

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the Dread Necromancer.

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies:
The Dread Necromancer is proficient with all simple weapons and one martial weapon of her choice. Her choice of martial weapon is made when the character takes the first level of Dread Necromancer and cannot be changed.
Dread necromancers are also proficient with light armor, but not with shields. The somatic components required for dread necromancer spells are simple, so members of this class can cast dread necromancer spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. She still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells derived from other classes. In addition, if a dread necromancer wears medium or heavy armor, or uses a shield, she incurs the same chance of arcane spell failure as any other arcane caster if the spell in question has a somatic component (and most do).

Dread Necromancer actually has appropriate abilities, though the shortage of martial proficiencies could pose a diversity problem to the regular Dread Necromancer, this becomes less problematic with the modifications to Charnel Touch to lessen the need for a go-to melee weapon (still have one on hand for those few cases where negative energy doesn't cut it).

A dread necromancer casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the dread necromancer's spell list. Like a sorcerer, she can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time. When a dread necromancer gains access to a new level of spells, she automatically knows all spells for that level given on the dread necromancer's spell list. Dread necromancers can also add spells to their spell list through the advanced learning ability as they increase in level (see below).
To cast a spell, a dread necromancer must have a Charisma score of 10 + the spell's level. The Difficulty Class for saving throws against a dread necromancer's spell is 10 + spell level + Charisma modifier. Like other spellcasters, a dread necromancer can only cast a certain amount of spells each day (detailed in the above table).

Only change is that this class now gets cantrips, which means that spells like detect magic don't take up valuable first level spell slots.

One big note is I was tempted to make the DN's spells count as Divine for applying divine feats to them (in order to make use of rebuking, and would make sense due to their partially divine spell list). I didn't go through with it since the Dread feat section below I feel does a better job of addressing that. If you or your DM doesn't like those feats, then I recommend making DN spells count as divine for divine feats, as the DMM abuses for this class are not near as bad as a Wizard persisting his best abjurations, so that change in the errata is arguably not meant to nerf the Dread Necromancer.

Charnel Touch (Su):
Negative energy flows through a Dread Necromancer's body, concentrating in her hands. At will, but no more than once per round, she can make a melee touch attack that deals 1d4 negative energy damage. This attack can be used at range using the spectral hand spell.

At 4th level, the Dread Necromancer threatens attacks of opportunities with her Charnel Touch, if not armed with a melee weapon and possessing a free hand. She cannot make an attack of opportunity with this ability if she already used Charnel Touch during her last turn. The damage done by Charnel Touch also scales to 1d8.

At 8th level, the Dread Necromancer's Charnel Touch becomes more unstable with power. Her Charnel Touch attack can threaten critical hits on a natural 20, using her Charisma modifier instead of her Strength or Dexterity modifier on the critical confirmation roll. She can also perform a Coup de Grace using her Charnel Touch as the weapon. She also adds her charisma modifier to her Charnel Touch damage.

At 12th level, the Dread Necromancer can add half of her Charisma modifier on top of the regular attack roll of her Charnel Touch ability.

At 16th level, this ability gains 5' of reach on top of the normal reach for the Dread Necromancer. Critical threat range increases to 19-20

At 20th level, the critical damage of the Dread Necromancer's Charnel touch increases to x4 and the critical threat range increases to 18-20.

Big overhaul here, mainly to make it a more viable attack as time goes on. First off, wording is changed so it's straight negative energy damage, for simplicity's purpose, and Charisma is added to damage instead of 1/4th of class levels so it becomes less pathetic and is more reflective of the Dread Necromancer's inherent power with dark forces.

But what's with the upgrades? Well the Charnel Touch is an important ability for the Dread Necromancer, and giving it boosts increases its usefulness. First two upgrades turn the attack into a proper weapon, minus iterative potential (natural weapon might be a better term), which decomplicates melee fights and executions. The next two help keep it viable and decently strong, while the capstone turns it into a frightening attack, indicative of the Dread Necromancer's mastery of negative energy.

Rebuke Undead (Su):
A Dread Necromancer can rebuke or command undead by channeling negative energy through her body. See the cleric class feature described on page 33 of the Player's Handbook.

No change, rebuking is by no means a bad feature and doesn't require modification in itself.

Lich Body:
Starting at second level, a dread necromancer begins her journey into undeath. The first symptom is her body's increased resilience to physical harm. She gains DR 2/bludgeoning and magic.

At 5th level, the damage reduction increases to 3. At 7th level to 4. At 9th level, to 5. At 11th level, to 6. At 13th level, to 7. At 15th level, to 8.

Giving out DR in sets of two sets up jagged bumps in power, which for the most part we want to avoid, especially at the lower levels. To solve this, each point is given individually while attempting to even out how this is given out in conjunction with the other features (DR is a big deal, and what the DN gets is arguably better than what a Barbarian gets).

Negative Energy Burst (Su):
Beginning at third level, the dread necromancer gains the ability to emit a burst of negative energy from her body, harming creatures within an area up to 5'/level around her. This burst deals 1d4 points of negative energy damage per class level. A successful Will Save (DC 10 + 1/2 class level + Cha modifier) reduces the damage by half. The Dread Necromancer can use this ability once per day at third level, gaining an additional daily use every five levels after third (2/day at 8th, 3/day at 13th, 4/day at 18th).

NEB was ok in its original form, but beyond emergency self-healing there wasn't much combat use. Now it's buffed so it doesn't become weak compared to the new Charnel touch, with heavily increased range (with the "up to" clause so you can have it shorter if it means not killing your party members). This will make it formidable as a tide-turning ability, especially when your battle involves undead you are attempting to maintain and living creatures that you need to soften up for them.

Advanced Learning:
At fourth level, and every four levels after, a dread necromancer can add a spell to her spell list. This may be any necromancy spell, or any spell with the evil descriptor (spells that sometimes have that descriptor can only be cast in a way that adds the evil descriptor, should the spell be added via this feature (e.g. Any Summon Monster spell can be added this way, but only evil creatures can be summoned by them), and of a level no higher than the highest spell level the dread necromancer can currently cast. Once selected the spell cannot be changed. If a selected spell's level varies depending on which class is using it, take the lowest of the listed levels.

Ok, you can now cherry pick from ALL necromancy spells, and since that's not necessarily a large or great list when factoring in the new spell list for the class, all evil spells are up for grabs, too. It opens new possibilities, including role expansion without being too broken.

Mental Bastion:
Starting at 4th level, the dread necromancer gains a +2 bonus to saving throws against sleep, poison, paralysis, disease and stunning. This bonus increases to +4 at 9th level, and +6 at 14th level.

This feature is supposed to represent the whole aspect of inching toward undead immunities, but it is one of the heavily ignored features, despite it providing resistance against many save-or-lose conditions. It gets a respectable buff around mid-level, though, as it doesn't feel like something that needs to be awesome.

Fear Aura (Su):
Beginning at 4th level, a dread necromancer radiates a 5-foot-radius fear aura as a free action. Enemies in the area must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 her class levels + Cha modifier) or become shaken until they are no longer in the presence of the dread necromancer, requiring them to be over 10'/level away from the dread necromancer before the effect wears off. A creature who successfully saves cannot be affected by that dread necromancer's fear aura for 24 hours. The fear aura can be used to escalate an existing fear effect applied by a different source (you can't stack fear from your own fear aura) and the shaken effect it applies can be escalated by other sources (though the duration of the new effect ends when either source's duration ends, reverting back to the lesser fear level).

Bumped down to 4th level to help avoid problematic power clashing at level 5, but left unchanged except for a duration clause to help deal with that grey area in how long it lasts, while clarifying the way it stacks.

Undead Mastery:
All undead creatures created by a dread necromancer of at least 5th level gain a +2 enhancement bonus to Strength and Dexterity and 1 additional hit point per Hit Die.
In addition, the dread necromancer's limit for controlling creatures created by the animate dead spell changes from 4 Hit Die per caster level to (4 + 1/2 of her Charisma modifier) HD per caster level.

At 10th level this bonus increases to +4 Strength and Dexterity, +2 hitpoints per hit die and the dread necromancer adds her entire Charisma modifier to each caster level of her control limit instead of half. The Dread Necromancer also counts as having the Corpsecrafter feat for the purpose of qualifying for other feats in the Corpsecrafter line, but the effects apply to all undead creatures created, not just those created by necromancy spells. A Dread Necromancer that already has Corpsecrafter immediately replaces it with another feat from that feat line upon reaching level 10.

At 15th level this bonus increases to +6 Strength and Dexterity, +3 hitpoints per hit die and the dread necromancer adds 1.5 times her Charisma modifier to each caster level of her control limit.

At 20th level this bonus increases to +8 Strength and Dexterity, +4 hitpoints per hit die and the dread necromancer adds twice her Charisma modifier to each caster level of her control limit.

So this ability is the biggest issue with the dread necromancer class, being the effective "capstone" people would reach for before forever hiding in a pile of prestige classes. It was also a very sudden jump that combined with gaining Animate Dead made it the single most important level in the class. To mediate this problem, I've made it so that half of that power is given out every five levels, which makes each of those points decent spots to jump out of the class from without being definitively too powerful (and the progression is actual incentive to stay with the class, which the original lacked).

Level 10 also has clauses to solve the issue with the Corpsecrafter feat line and its conflicts with Undead Mastery and casters who like Fell Animate.

Scabrous Touch (Su):
Starting at 6th level, once per day the dread necromancer can use her charnel touch to inflict disease on a creature she touches. This ability works like the contagion spell, inflicting the disease of her choice immediately, with no incubation period, unless the target makes a successful Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 class level + her Cha modifier). Should the target fail the save, it immediately takes the initial ability damage of the disease, adding the dread necromancer's charisma modifier to the ability damage inflicted. The DC for subsequent saving throws to resist the effects of the disease depend on the disease inflicted, and secondary damage of the disease is unchanged.
Activating this feature is a swift action. The effect lasts until the dread necromancer makes a successful charnel touch attack. The spectral hand spell enables a dread necromancer to deliver scabrous touch from a distance.

At 11th level, a dread necromancer can use this twice per day. At 16th, this increases to three times per day.

Scabrous touch came off a bit weak to me, partially because it's just an odd contagion ability which doesn't really excel against much except animals and anyone who dumps the wrong stat, but it makes for good fluff and is thematic to the class. Adding the dread necromancer's charisma modifier to the ability damage makes this ability far more potent, becoming real debilitation against opponents, not just for putting down bears and wolves with mindfire.

Summon Familiar:
At 7th level or anytime thereafter, a dread necromancer can obtain a familiar. The familiar she acquires is more powerful than a standard wizard's or sorcerer's familiar, but is unequivocally evil. The play of the dread necromancer chooses one of the following creatures: Imp (devil), Quasit (demon), varguoille, or ghostly visage (221 of the Fiend Folio).
A dread necromancer's familiar gains the usual familiar benefits listed in the Player's handbook with two exceptions. Its type does not change, and it does not gain the ability to speak with other creatures of its kind (unless the creature chosen automatically possesses the ability to speak with a verbal language).
A familiar can use its ability to deliver touch spells with the master's Charnel Touch, Scabrous Touch and Enervating Touch attacks. The master must use a standard action to imbue the touch attack into her familiar.

Another powerful ability just for giving access to one of the best familiars in the game (ghostly visage can give you mind-affecting immunity AND free paralysis), but it still suffers from a bad case of having one amazing option to rule them all. I will probably look into other thematic creatures that could compete in viability but for now it shall remain unmodified. At least it doesn't get feats, otherwise you could get its paralyze DC a +5 immediately.

Negative Energy Resistance:
At 9th level, a dread necromancer gains a +4 bonus to saving throws made to resist negative energy effects, including energy drain, some ability drain and inflict spells.

Eh, crazy saves vs stat loss and the like are decent, and I don't really see it as a priority ability to modify currently, though that may change later.

Light Fortification:
Starting at 9th level, the dread necromancer gains 25% resistance to critical hits. This increases to 50% at level 16.

Again another ability I think is fine, I'm just bumping it down a level so that level 10 doesn't get bloated.

Enervating Touch (Su):
When a dread necromancer reaches 12th level, she gains the ability to bestow negative levels with her Charnel Touch attack. Each day, she can bestow a total number of negative levels equal to her half of her class level, but no more than two with a single touch attack. The saving throw to remove the negative has a DC of 10 + 1/2 of her class level + Cha modifier. Activating and applying this class feature is identical to Scabrous touch. Scoring a critical hit with the Charnel Touch attack delivering the negative levels does not bestow additional levels on the target.

At 17th level, the number of negative levels that can be bestowed per day becomes equal to her class level.

Enervating Touch is good, being able to hand out a daily allotment of negative levels that increase as you level is actually strong, and useful. Overall I feel it should be unchanged, and most change is either "I'm not typing this stuff verbatim anymore" or clarifying how it works with other modified abilities.

Craft Wondrous Item:
At 18th level, the dread necromancer gains Craft Wondrous Item as a bonus feat. This helps her prepare the phylactery required to become a lich.

CWI is moved to level 18, and not counting it both 18 and 19 are now dead levels, in order to offset the benefits gained at level 20. Those levels basically serve as level adjustment with Hit Dice and caster levels as I feel the strength of the earlier levels no longer sacrifices enough to balance the power of getting a "free" template as a capstone. If you don't want that capstone for whatever reason, 18 is your level to enter a prestige class unless you REALLY want to craft items and don't want to spend your 18th level feat on CWI.

Lich Transformation:
When a dread necromancer attains 20th level, she undergoes a hideous transformation and becomes a lich. The lich template (see the the Monster Manual, page 167) is applied to the dread necromancer, but without Paralyzing Touch, the level adjustment normally associated with the template, nor the forced alignment change (she still cannot be good). She must reroll her hitpoints for her new Hit Die. A dread necromancer who is incorporeal, or is an undead, elemental or construct, does not gain the benefit of this template, while all other non-humanoid types do, gaining the Augmented subtype. Dragons who reach level 20 of Dread Necromancer recieve the Dracolich template instead (from Draconomicon), but with the same modifications (no LA or paralyzing touch and you can still be neutral).

Now THIS is what makes a person want to complete a class to its capstone. The original version was awful, as it only affected humanoids and didn't actually give the template. Justified by two dead levels and some nullified class features (from redundancy), this should prove to be a worthwhile step for the class. Combined with advanced learning and another step of Undead Mastery, you are now undeniably better at necromancy than other caster class that tries to build that way. Sure, your abilities beyond that aren't especially great, but at least now that's a balancing factor instead of more bullets in your foot.

Good to note that I removed Paralyzing Touch from this method of becoming a Lich, because otherwise almost every other touch-based class feature or spell is considered useless. Besides, you're already overflowing with ways to disable everything.

2013-05-09, 03:03 PM
Spell List:

0th: Arcane Mark, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Disrupt Undead, Touch of Fatigue, Minor Disguise (SpC)

1st Level: Backbiter (SpC), Bane, bestow wound, cause fear, chill touch, Detect Undead, Deathwatch, doom, hide from undead, inflict light wounds, ray of enfeeblement, Reaving Aura (CM), summon undead I, undetectable alignment

2nd Level: Animate Dead, Blindness/Deafness, command undead, darkness, death knell, Desecrate, Disguise Undead (SpC), false life, gentle repose, Ghoul Glyph (LM), ghoul touch, inflict moderate wounds, Ray of Weakness (SpC), scare, spectral hand, summon swarm, summon undead II

3rd Level: Crushing despair, death ward, halt undead, Incorporeal Enhancement (SpC), inflict serious wounds, Magic Circle against Good/Evil/Law/Chaos, ray of exhaustion, speak with dead, summon undead III,Undead Lieutenant (SpC), Undead Torch (SpC), vampiric touch

4th Level: Bestow curse, Burning Blood (SpC), contagion, dispel magic, enervation, Evardís black tentacles, fear, giant vermin, inlfict critical wounds, phantasmal killer, poison, summon undead IV

5th Level: Blight, cloudkill, create undead, fire in the blood, greater dispel magic, insect plague, lesser planar binding, magic jar, mass inflict light wounds, Miasma of Entropy (SpC), nightmare, oath of blood, slay living, Spirit Wall (SpC), summon undead V, undeath to death, unhallow, waves of fatigue

6th Level: Acid fog, Animate Dread Warrior (UE), Aura of Terror (SpC), Awaken Undead (SpC), circle of death, eyebite, geas/quest, harm, Mass Contaigon (SpC), mass inflict moderate wounds, planar binding, Revive Undead (SpC), Spectral Touch (SpC), waves of exhaustion

7th Level: Avasculate (SpC), Control undead, destruction, finger of death, greater harm, mass inflict serious wounds, song of discord, vile death

8th Level: Avascular Mass (SpC), Blackfire (SpC), Create greater undead, Chain of Sorrow (HoH), Energy Ebb (LM), Ghostform (LM), horrid wilting, mass inflct critical wounds, Greater Planar Binding, Skeletal Guard (SpC), symbol of death

9th Level: Energy drain, imprison soul, mass harm, plague of undead, Power Word Kill, wail of the banshee

So first off, the spell list is a bit larger now, including plenty more necromancy spells and the like to make sure the class doesn't fall behind other full-list spellcasters in their specialty. Almost all spells involved in creating or improving undead are now on there, as are a few spells that continue the debuffing aspect of necromancy, and a few items to make social stealth much more viable (i.e. operating with disguises and crowds, because now you actually have the tools to do elaborate things without alerting anyone if you're in public. Death Ward appears at both 3 and 4 in the original list, so it's been changed to 3, and Magic Circle vs X is now present because how can you be expected to actually USE planar binding without it?

Animate Dead is level 2 and Create Undead is level 5 now, to make sure that they don't get shafted on access before other do-everything classes and makes it so that instead of having seven levels being a tank that has good debuffs, now it's just three before you can get into the actual necromancy.

Cantrips: sure there isn't much of them that are thematically appropriate, but having Detect Magic as a 1st level spell is unfair, and bad. Added minor disguise from the bard cantrips as it helps those who want to operate with a heavier disguise focus, without giving them anything crazy like Alter Self or Disguise Self.

Do note that if a spell that you think I'm missing a spell that's too good to not have, remember that there is Advanced Learning which allows you to grab hold of the stronger spells (Shivering Touch, ect) without necessarily running with the cheese of a Necromancy-focused wizard.

2013-05-09, 03:04 PM
Dread Feats

I feel the big rough spot in the Dread Necromancer class was that it couldn't properly utilize rebuking in the full extent of divine casters via divine feats, due to anti-arcane measures in place to keep a wizard from dipping cleric in order to persist his 9th-level spells. Dread feats operate in a similar manner to divine feats, except they exclusively run on rebuking, not turning, and some require class features only offered in this revision of the Dread Necromancer class. Some can be utilized by other class, but it's meant to be solidly balanced by the fact that the Dread Necromancer has less to break, and the fact that rebuking is now a valuable resource when these feats are considered, so there isn't full incentive to ride the only good one to victory.

Dread Metamagic [Dread]
Prerequisites: Ability to rebuke undead.
When you take this feat, choose a metamagic feat. As a free action, you can spend a number of rebuking attempts equal to the spell-level modifier of the metamagic feat plus one (so quicken would require 5 rebuking attempts, and extend would require 2) to apply that metamagic to a spell you're casting on that turn. You can only use this feat to apply metamagic to spells from a spellcasting class that grants rebuking (so a Wizard 2/Cleric 1 could not take this feat and apply it to her wizard spells). The metamagic feat chosen can only be applied in this manner unless you take the metamagic feat separately.
Special: This feat may be taken multiple times. Each time you take this feat, pick a different metamagic feat to apply to it.

Divine Metamagic is infamous for its value among wizards and sorcerors that can get the errata ignored, but with this version the restriction is changed from "divine spells only" to only working on classes that grant rebuking. That way the Dread Necromancer can have this cake instead of being stopped halfway into the cakeshop unless he takes southern spellcaster. Still strong? It would be so if this was the only available use of rebuking that's worthwhile with the introduction of this feat set.

Dread Undeath [Dread]
Prerequisites: Ability to rebuke undead, Minor Undead Mastery or Minor Undead Puppeteer class feature.
When casting an undead creation spell such as Animate Dead or Create Undead, you can reduce the per-HD gold cost by spending rebuking attempts. Each rebuking attempt spent reduces the material component cost by 5 gold per HD (so spending three rebuking attempts on Animate Dead means that the casting only costs 10 gold per Hit Die of the undead created, and Create Undead can have no cost if ten rebuking attempts are spent, etc).

So undead creation spells have a material cost that scales not by a factor of your own ability, but an external one, namely the Hit Die of the dead person you're casting the spell on. This creates an issue with creating undead cheaply, as besides getting Animate Dead as an SLA or take Ignore Material Components (an epic feat so usually out of the question), other options can be messed up by the complexity (just HOW do you price the focus you use in Innate Spell, when the spell in question has a varied cost?). My solution is to make it so you can spend rebuking attempts to reduce the per HD cost. Now a Dread Necromancer can come home from work and use her remaining rebuking attempts to get her new zombies cheaper, if not free. This also serves as the balancing factor to keep Dread Metamagic from being frivolously used, as you may want to conserve your rebuking so you can make that ghoul you've been meaning to have and end up thinking twice about quickening Phantasmal Killer again.

Pulse of Dread [Dread]
Prerequisites: Ability to rebuke undead, Fear Aura class feature.
You can expend rebuking attempts in order to temporarily amplify you Fear Aura. As a standard action, your Fear Aura range doubles and inflicts Panicked instead of Shaken upon anyone who becomes affected or is already under the effect of your Fear Aura. This boost lasts for 1 round per rebuking attempt spent, and the Panicked effect lasts an extra number of turns equal to half of your Charisma modifier rounded down before the normal effects of the Fear Aura resume.

Desert Pulse [Dread]
Prerequisites: Ability to rebuke undead, Desert Aura class feature.
You can expend rebuking attempts in order to amplify your Desert Aura. As a standard action, the Dessication damage inflicted by Desert Aura doubles, and the Heat level change is increased by one level per rebuking attempt spent (applies to both sections of the Desert Aura). This boost lasts for a number of rounds equal to your Charisma modifier, and you must wait a number of rounds equal to that after the boost ends to use this feat again. If this raises the outer range of your Desert Aura to Unearthly or Burning Heat, the damage inflicted by those effects applies each turn as normal for the condition.

2013-05-09, 03:05 PM
Alternate Class Features

City Necromancer:
Some Dread Necromancers have different priorities when developing their power. Those that eat, sleep, breath and generally thrive in the urban setting adapt some different techniques. They don't overtly flaunt undead, but instead make special use of the other aspects of necromancy magic, to manipulate a city through fear, exhaustion and assassinations that don't leave the mark of a blade. The few undead they do command are often utilized as tools that can pass as people surprisingly well.

The City Necromancer has the following changes:
-Hide from Undead is replaced with Disguise Self on her list of spells known.
-Gather Information and Sleight of Hand are added as class skills. Sleight of Hand can be used to land touch effects on unalerted targets without being detected (DC varies with the situation, but a good base DC is 15 since it is similar to pickpocketing but without actually taking anything). Do note that abilities that cause distress to the target will get their attention, making them suspicious and increasing subsequent Sleight of Hand DCs by 5.
-Does not gain Undead Mastery, and instead gains the following:
--At level 5, she gains Minor Undead Puppeteer (Su). By concentrating, she can mentally give directions to an undead under her control. She must be able to see the targeted undead, whether through line of sight or through some form of divination, and can only maintain control for a consecutive number of rounds equal to her charisma modifier. When the puppeteer effect ends, she must wait a number of rounds equal to 20 minus her class level to resume the effect. Activating the ability is a standard action and requires concentration in the same manner as spells that require maintained concentration. If the ability is ended by failed concentration check against a distraction, the controlled undead makes erratic movements for one round, which can draw attention and ruin the disguise. She also gains Disguise Undead as a spell-like ability usable a number of times per day equal to half of her Charisma modifier (rounded up).
--At level 10, she gains Lesser Undead Puppeteer (Su). This works as Minor Undead Puppeteer, except she can now use the ability to control the fine movements of an undead under her command. The undead can make complicated and specific actions, and can act human (which is most useful for enhancing the result of Disguise Undead). The duration of the ability is now a number of rounds equal to twice her charisma modifier. She also gains Disguise Undead as a spell-like ability usable a number of times per day equal to her Charisma modifier.
--At level 15, she gains Undead Puppeteer (Su). This works as Lesser Undead Puppeteer, except she can now see and hear through the controlled undead, and even speak through it. The voice that comes from the undead is still her own though, and speaking through the undead on a round that she is distracted increases the concentration DC by 5 in order to maintain the puppeteer effect. She can also now control two undead simultaneously, though this increases any concentration DCs by 5 also.
--At level 20, she gains Greater Undead Puppeteer (Su). This works as Undead Puppeteer, except now there is no duration or cooldown, and any commanded undead can be controlled regardless of location. There is no limit on how many undead can be controlled in this manner, but each additional undead beyond the first increases any concentration check DCs by 5 cumulatively. She also gains Disguise Undead as an at-will spell-like ability.

Something for those who want something more covert-friendly. City Necromancer removes the concept of a large horde of unusually powerful undead, and instead introduces the idea of fine manipulation and subtlety. The various touch effects available to the Dread Necromancer can now be conferred on targets without detection via Sleight of Hand (you can now kill, cripple or do other things to people in public areas, think of it as pickpocketing their soul). The big one though is the steadily-improving ability to control your undead without having to resort to simple verbal commands, allowing for a greater deal of precision and making disguised undead viable to use.

Desert Necromancy (Sandstorm-friendly variant):
While most associate negative energy with death, the people that wander the deserts feel that desiccation is the force of death. For their existence, water is life and the lack of it represents death, as do fire and heat which burn away the water. This affects the practice of necromancy as well, as many dread necromancers who hail from a desert or similar hostile wastes bear this power more prominently, influencing their undead, spells, aura and finally their own transformation. While they are powerful in their element, dread necromancers of the desert find themselves at a disadvantage when faced with the cold and water.

-Lost Class Features: Scabrous Touch, Mental Bastion and Craft Wondrous item.
-Spell List Changes (refer to Sandstorm pg. 106 for information on new spells):
--Lose: Bestow Wound, Cause Fear, False Life, Scare, Contagion, Aura of Terror, Mass Contagion, Avasculate, Avascular Mass
--Gain: Parching Touch (1st), Black Sand (2nd), Desiccate (2nd), Desiccating Bubble (2nd, Spell Compendium), Protection from Desiccation (3rd), Wither (4th), Choking Sands (5th), Ashen Union (6th), Mass Desiccate (6th), Mummify (6th, mummified creatures can be made into Mummies with Animate Dead).
-Desiccating Touch (gain at level 1): Your Charnel touch can be used to inflict desiccation damage instead negative energy damage at your choosing. If used against a plant or water subtype creature, the attack deals double damage.
-Desert Aura (Replaces Fear Aura): You emanate an aura of heat, burning away the environment around you. This aura is activated and suppressed as a free action. Within 5 ft per four class levels of you, the temperature is raised by three stages to a minimum of Warm (see Sandstorm pg. 12 on heat-based hazards and their mechanics) and creatures within this range take desiccation damage equal to your Charisma modifier (or twice that for Plant and water subtype creatures). Additionally, at each round they must make a fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 class levels + Charisma modifier) or be subjected to the effects and damage of the current heat level (potential save penalties listed in the specific heat level apply). At an extra 5 ft per four levels beyond the original range, the heat level is raised by two stages to a minimum of Moderate, and saves against the Heat level are made every odd consecutive turn spent within that part of he aura. You and your equipment are not subjected to the negative effects of the Heat Level generated. Characters with protection against heat treat the Heat level as one stage lower for each level of Heat resistance they have. You cannot use this ability in Extreme Cold or Unearthly Cold, and Desert Aura has no effect on such conditions. You can designate one ally per class level to be immune to your use of this ability when you activate it.
-Desert Mastery: As Undead Mastery, but in addition undead you create gain fire and dehydration resistance (5 at Minor, 10 at Lesser, 15 at normal and Immunity at Greater). Additionally, undead you create lose any cold immunity or resistance if they have it, and cannot gain it magically through direct buffs or magic items. Undead that did not have cold immunity originally gain cold vulnerability (they take 50% damage from all cold effects). Finally, your created Undead gain protection against heat equal to (Class levels/5 rounded down).
-Dry Transformation: At level 20, you undergo the transformation into a Dry Lich (Sandstorm pg. 157) with the following changes. You still perform the Sere Rite, though you do not need levels in the Walker of the Wastes prestige class. Unholy toughness only applies half of your Charisma modifier as per-HD bonus hitpoints. You gain vulnerability to cold, and taking cold damage negates fast healing, turn resistance and Aura of Despair granted by the template for that round. You must meet the creature type requirements of becoming a Dry Lich and cannot be Incorporeal.

Sandstorm takes an interesting twist with necromancy, focusing on death through the means of desiccation. It makes good grounds for a necromancer who brings these tools to the same or moderate environments, though its effectiveness suffers drastically up against colder settings and foes. Rebalancing the Dry Lich template proved to be more challenging, as fast healing and charisma to hit points makes it invariably better than the standard lich, but that's where the cold weakness, minor nerfing and some extra lost class features come in. Disease and fear lose focus in this version's spell list along with a few other items to make more room for the desiccation package in order to make this ACF hold up to its theme while avoiding being absolutely better than the base Dread Necromancer in every way.

2013-05-09, 03:07 PM
Changelog, Overall Notes and FAQ

12/12/2013: Added the Desert Necromancy ACF and Desert Pulse dread feat.

10/14/2013: Changed Dread Undeath to allow Undead Puppeteer to qualify for it, that way City Necromancers aren't left out of the discount undead.

7/26/2013: Added the City Necromancer ACF.

7/13/2013: Added Pulse of Dread to the Dread Feats section.

5/15/2013: Delayed full Charnel Touch damage to level 8 in order to prevent strong dipping abuse. Added Greater Planar Binding, for sake of having the other two spells of that family.

Overall Notes:
My main intention with this homebrew is to make the class more viable, kicking it into tier 2 while making the ride less bumpy. Some of this direction is also to help the class embrace its potential as an urban assassin, someone who can kill a man in broad daylight in a crowd, using deception and his specialty of necromancy to avoid being caught or even suspected. In the end I want this to be strong, but not overpowered, while still making sure that other casters can't exceed its ability with necromancy simply because they have a couple of good spells. I'm sure a lot of these changes will go back and forth until I find the right balance, but at the very least I have something that isn't seven levels of Dread Tank, 1 level of Dread Necromancer and then a diving board into the Prestige class pile.

Empty as no questions have been frequently asked yet.

2013-05-09, 09:44 PM
This is an even better two level dip for a tank. Charnel touch made sense only healing 1 HP per round... as cure light wounds at will is really, really nice a lower levels.

2013-05-09, 11:49 PM
This is an even better two level dip for a tank. Charnel touch made sense only healing 1 HP per round... as cure light wounds at will is really, really nice a lower levels.

Oh god, I forgot about the dipping aspect. While I do feel that Charnel Touch should be stronger and grant more than it originally did, that is a lot to give early. I'll have to consider giving Tomb-Tainted Soul as a first-level bonus feat in order to fix this :smalltongue:

2013-05-15, 01:35 PM
Modified Charnel Touch, halving the damage die until level 4 and withholding the Charisma modifier to damage until level 8. Hopefully this makes dipping less broken for tanks than it originally was.

2013-05-15, 09:57 PM
A remake of my most favoritest class ever! Permission to love you forever you amazing person?

2013-05-15, 10:07 PM
A remake of my most favoritest class ever! Permission to love you forever you amazing person?

Platonically, yes. Glad to see people like it!

2013-05-16, 04:48 PM
Very very nice, planning on any Alternate Class Features for this re-write?

Maybe something to thematically fit the necromancer that isn't a undead legion raiser?

2013-05-16, 08:04 PM
Very very nice, planning on any Alternate Class Features for this re-write?

Maybe something to thematically fit the necromancer that isn't a undead legion raiser?

I do love the concept of the urban necromancer, the aspect of using the powers of death and decay to act as an assassin that doesn't operate with shadows and daggers, but disguises and magic. I could probably whip up a proper ACF for Undead Mastery down the road to accommodate that.

2013-05-16, 08:36 PM
What are you aiming for with the rebuild?

2013-05-16, 11:50 PM
What are you aiming for with the rebuild?

See the Overall Notes section below the changelog, I've written my general thoughts on this homebrew.

2013-05-17, 02:48 PM
I haven't actually gotten a chance to play the Dread Necro, but I liked the flavor I saw. I also like the fact that you managed to fix a few things without killing that flavour.:smallbiggrin:

2013-07-09, 07:27 AM
Illumian -> Naenhoon
DN 8 / HH 10 / (?)2 ------------- HH = Horned Harbinger (Faiths and Phanteons)

lv 20 = 36 Cha (13 mod) (18 + 2 (old) + 5 tomo + 6 cloak + 5 lv4,8,12,16,20)

3.0 rules of HH = (10+13)*(33) HD = 759HD with animated dead
Rebuke/Command = 100HD

With Rod of Undead Mastery = 1518 / 200 HD

If your DM double the HH bonuses to update to 3.5...

(20+13)*33 = 1089 -> with the ROD -> 2178 HD

- Take Apprentice Feat DMGII - Bunch of bonuses and spells...
- Necropolitan at level 3 (Your master is a lv 15 Illumian DN - so... Lots of Bonuses + Desecrate and Myrkul's altar)
- Kelgore's Grave Mist + Fell Drain + Feel Animated -> Naenhoon!
- Destruction Retribution with thousands of 1/4HD Rats = Thousands of D6 of damage.
- Free Animate/Create/Create Greater Undead...

Tons of bonus feats due to Taint and HH Prc... well if u can, just take Undead Leadership too...
That's it Pink, That's how we're gonna take the world! "Brain's quote"

2013-07-10, 04:58 AM
Why is there no paralyzing touch? It stacks with other touch attacks (in the lich's entry, you deal the negative energy damage and the paralysis with the same touch attack). It doesn't make them useless: it actually makes them more powerful! Also, it's the lich's most fun class feature, so it deserves to be in there.
If I've misread the lich's entry (which I often do), ignore this post, but for once in my life I'm pretty sure that this is right.

2013-07-13, 02:20 PM
Illumian -> Naenhoon
DN 8 / HH 10 / (?)2 ------------- HH = Horned Harbinger (Faiths and Phanteons)

lv 20 = 36 Cha (13 mod) (18 + 2 (old) + 5 tomo + 6 cloak + 5 lv4,8,12,16,20)

3.0 rules of HH = (10+13)*(33) HD = 759HD with animated dead
Rebuke/Command = 100HD

With Rod of Undead Mastery = 1518 / 200 HD

If your DM double the HH bonuses to update to 3.5...

(20+13)*33 = 1089 -> with the ROD -> 2178 HD

- Take Apprentice Feat DMGII - Bunch of bonuses and spells...
- Necropolitan at level 3 (Your master is a lv 15 Illumian DN - so... Lots of Bonuses + Desecrate and Myrkul's altar)
- Kelgore's Grave Mist + Fell Drain + Feel Animated -> Naenhoon!
- Destruction Retribution with thousands of 1/4HD Rats = Thousands of D6 of damage.
- Free Animate/Create/Create Greater Undead...

Tons of bonus feats due to Taint and HH Prc... well if u can, just take Undead Leadership too...
That's it Pink, That's how we're gonna take the world! "Brain's quote"

Yeah, there's a lot more to optimize with this build. It still doesn't hold to the other tier 1 classes but gives you the option of power without conforming to the usual selection. Exploding rats are great, especially since they can be triggered with fall damage.

Why is there no paralyzing touch? It stacks with other touch attacks (in the lich's entry, you deal the negative energy damage and the paralysis with the same touch attack). It doesn't make them useless: it actually makes them more powerful! Also, it's the lich's most fun class feature, so it deserves to be in there.
If I've misread the lich's entry (which I often do), ignore this post, but for once in my life I'm pretty sure that this is right.

Free paralyzing touch is way too strong for an integrated no-level-adjustment version of the lich, and I meant that it made any other touch-based ability almost useless in comparison because why use disease or negative energy damage when paralysis and a coup de grace can be so much easier?

I may throw it back in as restricted to X-times per day, but at-will is too much.

EDIT: Also just added a new feat to the Dread Feats section, Pulse of Dread.

eliza the lich
2013-07-16, 01:42 AM
ok to me the undead mastery was already great you making it more is kinda making it broken cause here's what I do every time I now come across humanoid enemies. Kill them...... nah dip. Bring them back with animate dread warrior cause it has no hd limit and more bonuses to str so why not. Corpse Crafter of course so lets look at everything this now does without your knew version. +12 str +4 dex +4 hp per hd -6 to int - 4 to cha lets say you get a monk with this, lets say he has a nat 18 str, he now has a 30 str. with yours that increases to +16 to str +8 to dex +6 hp per hd. just good god if you get anything barbarian cause dread warriors still have all their class features.

2013-07-16, 08:40 AM
Alright, a chunk of that was incoherent to me...but it seems you are trying to figure out how balanced a level 20 mage who can create minions is compared to other characters.

The fast response is "It isn't." The fact that Corpsecrafter is blocked by this version of Undead mastery seem to escape you as well, but more on that later.

What really matters is the progression up to high levels where you are comparing the base power of this class to the base power of other classes, the optimized power of this class to the optimized power of other classes and finally the role this class plays in a group that could have other classes...especially when you consider combat and non-combat, immune enemies and non-immune enemies.
At level 6 this character is a fornt-line melee character with solid debuffing, good self-healing and the potential to make 'Ok' minions relative to his CR

So...little has changed between the base Dread necromacner and this one. This one IS more veratile and slightly more powerful earlier...but the difference is minor

Because of the options of undead available to you, it is pretty likely that you compose your team's front line if you start at this level since you and your undead are all basically tanks that heal quickly and easily.

Losing one of them hurts though. A lot of people ignore this, but animating Undead actually has a cost and, if you let them die, you just lost two or three hundred GP. So...you have disposable tanks, but they aren't that disposable.
At level 12 (just like the base Dread Necromancer) this necromancer has started picking up the barbarians and whatnot you talked about in your post. Once again this is an investment; you pay XP.

Now...the best you can get is the strongest monster your DM throws at you...but you'll only have one of those. Maybe two.

That's to Create Undead, you have a solid option for making spellcasters...but controlling them takes an investment in spells/feats/etc. The gold cost for creating undead is still there, but it doesnt really matter compared to standard wealth by level.

The most important thing is how all of your abilities synergize...and that hasn't changed between that standard DN and this version. Create soemthing strong. Get it items and buffs. magic Jar to ride around in it. Tank, debuff and spank as needed.
At Level 20 things don't really matter anymore. They never have for any class, what with all the silliness that has finally come to pass

2013-07-27, 12:24 AM
Added the first ACF for this homebrew. The City Necromancer variant introduces a viable set of abilities for someone who wants to use necromancy for something more precise and less blunt, like for stealth or social stealth. For those of you who have played in or heard about Rizban's sandbox game Aldhaven's Vicious Betrayals, well that's the sort of setting this was made for. Hopefully people will gladly utilize this for a level of coordinated stealth, infiltration and assassination that can't be single-handedly accomplished by other classes that have a similar focus.

I'm still on the fence on whether or not this is strong enough to make up for losing Undead Mastery, and if not I may throw in some bonus feats to help buff this style of play.

2013-12-12, 11:44 PM
Second ACF, Desert Necromancy is now out, along with the Desert Pulse dread feat. Made specifically for the Sandstorm supplement and its fans, be the master of the desert or bring the desert with you.*

*Desert may not function as intended if brought into environments featured prominently in Frostburn. The author is not responsible for desert malfunctions resulting from exposure to excessively wet or cold areas.