View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Undead Master: Homebrew Required?

2017-03-23, 06:21 AM
Allow me, good readers, to take you back through the mists of time, into the ancient 1990s. TSR published a sourcebook called The Complete Necromancer's Handbook, a splat aimed at providing new ways to expanded upon D&D's most iconic of "black magus" type casters, with new options for both wizards and clerics.

One of the wizard kits featured in that book was the Undead Master. Despite its name, this kit was actually aimed more at the "minion lord" flavor of necromancer. In addition to the usual spell-bonuses for being a necromancy specialist wizard, the Undead Master gave up the ability to cast Alteration, Divination and Illusion spells, and the ability to hve more than one Weapon Proficiency slot. But, what it got in return made it immediately recognizable.

Undead Masters could cast Enchantment spells, which at the time were prohibited to necromancers of any stripe.

Furthermore, they had an ability exclusive to clerics at the time; the ability to use Command Undead as an inherent class feature, for which they were treated as clerics of equivalent level.

Finally, because they frequently consorted with fiends, fae and elementals, they had the unique power of "Command Outsiders", which basically let them use Command Undead on extraplanar beings, treating the Outsiders as if they were Undead of equivalent Hit Dice.

Now, we can argue about its power levels for ages, but I loved this class on flavor alone. It's something I've enjoyed in almost every edition. So, naturally, I want to try and re-use this class's flavor in 5e, and I'm prepared to homebrew to do it.

The thing is... do I really need to homebrew it, in this edition?

After all, prohibited schools are a thing of the past, so any necromancer can learn all the Conjuration and Enchantment spells they want. Similarly, they finally bludgeoned the cleric over the head and gave Command Undead to the necromancer wizard, where it rightfully belongs. There's no "Command Outsider" sort of ability, but really, 5e's not huge on the minion master thing anyway.

So, if folks are interested, I'd love to discuss how to pull this concept from AD&D over into 5e. Does it need any homebrewing? If yes, how much? I mean, I don't know if it can handle being an Arcane Tradition - maybe it just needs some feats to augment a wizard or necromancer's prowess with charming, conjuring and reanimating. Whatever it takes, I'm interested in hearing what people think on the topic.

2017-03-23, 07:08 AM
Does it need any homebrewing?

I'm not familiar with the original but, from your description, I don't think it does. The necromancer and conjurer traditions in the PHB do a good enough job as minion-mancers and it's hard to see how you could improve them without moving away from the balance curve. For commanding extraplanar monsters, Dominate Monster does that, which all wizards can cast.

There is some room in 5e for more necromancy, I think, but I feel that the main issue is at low levels, where there aren't enough spells (http://mfov.magehandpress.com/2017/02/necromancy-spells.html) to support the minion-mancy playstyle. I've also looked at raising the ceiling (http://mfov.magehandpress.com/2016/12/epic-boons-path-to-lichdom.html) for necromancers, though that's something you could do for all classes.