View Full Version : D&D 3.x Class Avatar of Death [PEACH]

2014-04-24, 06:51 PM
I'm going to add this back in to Omnibus' Workshop eventually, but this is a project that has precedence over the DAII line that I am adding to that thread presently. As the fluff is very important to understanding this Prestige Class, I will be adding a good deal more of it than I normally do.

My main problem with this class (and thus why the fluff is, in this case, so important), is that I have a sinking feeling that it doesn't quite make sense. This came about as an idea to add Anubis, Osiris, Hel, and Hades to the mythology series that I produced, but also as a way to give rise to the idea of a 'reverse Pale Master'. Someone who gains power from the life aspect of necromancy, not death. Thus, by becoming the ultimate exemplar of a living being, you serve the cause of just and permanent death.

You can see how I have a problem with this not making complete sense.

Avatar of Death

"Death is just the first step toward a more complete life."

Any adventurer who knows clerics of a certain caliber can tell you that death isn't really something to be concerned over. You fall, you come back, and all you take is some diamonds and a slap on the wrist. But in some cases, dying can be used as a means to an end. Those who have died and returned to life can have power over the eternal cycle, and those who inhabit it.

Contrary to what most would think, gods who claim life and death as part of their portfolios do not abhor Avatars. In fact, most of them are the result of a death god infusing a recently-deceased individual with some semblance of their power. The whys depend on the deity, but the granted powers of their chosen remain the same.

The universal constant inherent in Avatars is that they are now-living beings who have experienced death. Much like Blood Magi, this experience has given them a new perspective on how precious life is, but the methods of the two classes tend to differ.

Deity: Must worship a deity that can grant either the Death or Repose domain
Feats: Turn or Rebuke Undead
Spellcasting: Able to cast at least one spell that uses positive energy and one spell that uses negative energy, of at least 4th level
Special: Must have died and been returned to life

Class Skills
The Avatar of Death's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Spot (Wis).
Skills Points at Each Level: 4 + int

Hit Dice: d12
Base Attack Bonus: 1/2
Saving Throws: Good Will, Poor Fortitude and Reflex

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The avatar is proficient with all simple weapons, with all types of armor, and with shields.

Spells Per Day: Every level, the character gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a divine or arcane spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained, except for an increased effective level of spellcasting. If a character had more than one spellcasting class before becoming an avatar, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day.

Tainted Soul (Ex): An avatar of death retains some of the corruption that occurs during the process of reanimation in exchange for his power. With the exception of spells he casts himself, he takes damage from spells that cure hit point damage, instead of being healed by them. As well, he loses his Constitution score, meaning that he no longer adds its bonus to bonus hit points, Concentration, or Fortitude saves. Instead, Fortitude and Concentration are determined by his Charisma bonus.

The Avatar of Death has a d12 hit die, as noted above. And as he loses his Constitution score, he also loses all previous hit point bonuses gained from that score. However, upon taking his first class level, he retroactively counts (and may reroll previous levels of, if he so desires) all previous Hit Dice calculations as though he had d12 hit dice for his entire career. Thus, a 7 Cleric/1 Avatar with 14 Constitution would lose 14 hit points, but (assuming averages are used) would gain 14 due to the Cleric's d8s being replaced by d12s.

Command the Dead: The avatar adds his class level to any other class levels that provide his Turn or Rebuke Undead ability, and gains another use of that ability at every level. As well, the avatar adds his class level to the initial turning check.
Regardless of alignment or root ability, the avatar can Turn OR Rebuke undead, at his discretion.

Wither (Su): At 3rd level, any creature that the avatar deals damage to with a negative or positive energy effect takes 1 point of Strength drain for every 10 damage that the effect dealt. Thus, if the avatar cast cure serious wounds on a vampire and the vampire took 40 damage, the vampire would also lose 4 points of Strength. Undead are not immune to ability drain for the purposes of Wither.

Negative Feed (Ex): At 4th level, the avatar takes no damage from negative energy effects, and is healed a number of hit points equal to half the damage that would be dealt if he is affected by one. In addition, he is no longer affected by nonmagical poisons or diseases, though he can still act as a carrier for either.

Blessing of Life (Sp): Once per week at 5th level, the avatar can cast raise dead, as the spell. However, he needs no material components to do so, and the raised creature does not lose a level from the process.

Positive Feed (Ex): At 6th level, the avatar no longer takes damage from positive energy effects. However, healing spells still only heal him for half their normal value. In addition, the avatar no longer needs to eat, drink, or sleep in order to remain alive; they will still physically wither, but suffer no ill physical or mental effects. Standard rules for rest periods as they apply to regaining spells still apply.

Curse of Mortality: A 7th level avatar ignores any and all immunities granted by the undead creature type whenever he casts a spell or makes an attack against an undead creature. Note, however, that nonsentient undead remain immune to mind-affecting spells.

Brain Dead (Ex): A 8th level avatar is immune to mind-affecting spells as though he were an undead creature.

Unquenchable Life (Su): Once per month at 9th level, if the avatar dies of unnatural causes (virtually anything but old age), he can immediately reform himself as though resurrection had been cast upon him, even if nothing of him remains. He still loses a level as per normal, but does not need to pay the material component costs.

Master of Death (Ex): At 10th level, the avatar has become the ultimate balance between life and death. He gains all immunities that an undead creature would possess if he did not already possess them, and his maximum age before dying of natural causes doubles. It is important to note, however, that he is still alive, and any affects that target exclusively undead do nothing to him. For all intents and purposes, treat his creature type as per normal, but with all of the undead racial immunities.

A spellcaster immune to most of the debilitating effects that other spellcasters can manage is a potent foe, but an Avatar's true strength lies in matters beyond the veil. Few undead can stand up to his might, and those who make the attempt will surely think twice about doing so again...if they survive.
Combat: All avenues of strategy available to a normal caster similarly apply to the Avatar, though he fears significantly fewer threats at higher levels. Given the ability to heal himself with negative or positive energy, as well as his advanced hit point progression (though the lack of a bonus from Constitution may put him behind stouter colleagues), he can fight as long as he has spells to cast.
Avatars tend to focus on detrimental, but not immediately lethal effects to soften up their opponents. They are unique in that these abilities will also work against their undead foes, making them invaluable assets against a superior enemy whose heart does not beat to the same tempo as their own, if at all.
Advancement: It behooves an Avatar to take as many levels in this prestige class as possible quickly, to finalize their immunities or grant the ability to strip them from hostile forces. For an Avatar who focuses on threat control, improving their ability to weaken adversaries by way of nonlethal but horrendous spells such as enervation (which can, at a certain point, even affect undead) is a must. Classes and feats that advance undead summoning and control can also be useful, assuming the Avatar's god does not disapprove.
Resources: Given their cordial (if not actively friendly) relationship with whichever death god they have chosen to place their faith in, Avatars of Death can gain resources from almost any part of the afterworld, whether it be simply calling up information from those who have passed, or summoning an unliving army. Despite their penchant for anti-undead combat, Avatars are equally adept at summoning and controlling the ceaseless hordes as a necromancer of the same stripe would be.

"He's fairly grim, but then, he has a right to be. Being on the other side...bet he knows how bad death is more than any of us. Tell you this, though; he won't go down so easy a second time."

Avatars tend to fall into two categories; ceaselessly energetic hedonists who have made it their mission to experience everything their new life has to offer, and brooding knights who take up their mantle in stoicism and silence.
Daily Life: If time permits, an Avatar will generally spend restless hours scouting the surrounds of wherever they happen to find themselves, noting the locations of any graveyards, mausoleums, or battle sites of note, so that if a necromantic problem crops up (or they need a little immortal aid), they know where to look.
Notables: Moran Akos, an Avatar of Anubis, serves the gods of the dead as something of a supernatural hitman. Whenever a particularly notable crime against life arises, or a suitably annoying necromancer makes themselves known, Moran is sent to track them down. Not above utilizing the tricks of his foes, Moran prefers to go into battle with allies at his back, and whether those allies are living or dead matters little to him.
Organizations: Every notable church of a death god has at least one Avatar of Death among their ranks, though some may prefer this be kept a secret. As gateways between the world of the living and the world of the dead, they have an almost priestly clout exclusively borne of either respect or fear. That said, while all Avatars are recognized as instruments of the given deity, few (if any) are trusted, as they delve too close to the dark side of necromancy for the good churches to fully tolerate them, and walk too often in the light for evil ones to give them support.

NPC Reaction
Depending on the Avatar in question, most NPCs may not even recognize one for what they are. 'Outed' Avatars are usually shamans or mystics to towns or villages; someone to seek help from if a departed relative cries out for vengeance, or to indulge in some of the peculiar activities common to psychics, such as sťances and tarot readings, except that an Avatar actually can communicate with the nonliving.
That said, an Avatar rarely stays in the same place for very long, and must tread carefully in civilized areas, to avoid persecution from the narrow-minded. Whether they are good or evil, an Avatar indisputably has contact with undead, and this does not endear them to many.

An Avatar's place in a group largely depends on their base class. Clerics will often retain their role as support caster, while Dread Necromancers largely operate as summoners or a destabilizing element against their foes. An Avatar will always, however, retain the ability to wreak havoc on undead creatures, and this tends to be their major strength regardless of their other capabilities.
Adaptation: This class tends to work best in a setting with more than one deity who has control over the underworld. The contrast between churches who use them to destroy undead and those who prefer their gifts go towards simply being a better 'classical' necromancer can be used as a starting point for a religiously-themed campaign, and one that does not necessarily have to include a PC Avatar.
Encounters: Determining what type of Avatar you're facing at a glance is a crucial skill for a party to have should they meet one. Evil Avatars will not take kindly to moralizing, and Good ones will often attack a party on sight if they harbor undead. It isn't exactly easy to tell them apart from looking at them, either - Good Avatars can be found lurking in shadows, bearing death totems and dark robes, just as Evil Avatars may be loud, bright, and outgoing.