View Full Version : Pathfinder The Deathsinger (Bard Archetype) (PEACH)

2017-10-05, 09:28 PM
This is an archetype based off of Karthus, the Deathsinger from League of Legends. Gameplay-wise, it's meant to be a more blaster-oriented bard with a dab of dark necromancy magic. Interested in any and all thoughts regarding balance, fun and playability of the archetype.


Like many plucky adventurers, Deathsingers seek to right wrongs and alleviate suffering in the realms: by helping other creatures attain the joy of death. The cabal of the Deathsingers was dispersed long ago by the attacks of short-sighted zealots, but this has not stopped its scattered members from singing the joyous songs of the grave and espousing the deeds of those glorious, unholy creatures which dance upon the threshold of life and death. As they uncover forbidden lore and consort with the dead, a Deathsinger knows that to bring an end to wretched life is their art, calling, and purpose.

Deathsinger’s Vigil (Sp): The Deathsinger’s eyes reveal when those around him reach the edge of mortality. From 1st level onward, the Deathsinger benefits continuously from a Deathwatch spell effect.

Lay Waste (Su): Starting at 1st level, as a standard action that provokes an attack of opportunity, the Deathsinger can choose a single point within 30 feet and unleash a blast of destructive energy upon it. Creatures within a 5’ radius spread suffer 1d6 points of sonic damage; a successful Reflex save (DC 10 + ½ the Bard’s level + the Bard’s Charisma modifier) halves this damage. The damage of Lay Waste increases by 1d6 at every odd-numbered Bard level. The Deathsinger may use Lay Waste a number of times per day equal to his class level + his Charisma modifier.

This ability replaces all of the Bard’s spellcasting ability, including cantrips.

Superior Lay Waste (Su): At levels 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16, the Deathsinger improves the range of their Lay Waste ability by 30 feet and, furthermore, they may choose one enhancement for their Lay Waste ability from the list below. These enhancements are cumulative. A Deathsinger may choose to use Lay Waste without taking advantage of one or more enhancements available to them. Each time the Deathsinger gains a level, they may choose to exchange one of their chosen enhancements for another one which they qualify for.

Enhancements for Lay Waste
Concentrated Effect: Instead of targeting an area, you can make a ranged touch attack against a single target when you use Lay Waste. Instead of having a fixed range, this attack is considered to have a range increment of 30 feet (regardless of your Deathsinger level) and suffers range penalties as normal. When you use Lay Waste in this way, you add your Charisma bonus to damage and creatures do not receive a Reflex saving throw to reduce the damage; other saving throws (such as from other abilities) may still apply. This enhancement may not be combined with Increased Area-of-Effect.
Haunting Blast: Creatures damaged by your Lay Waste must also succeed on a Will save or become shaken for 3 rounds. This enhancement may not be combined with Sickening Blast.
Increased Area-of-Effect: The radius of Lay Waste increases to 10 feet. This enhancement can be taken up to three times; it doubles the radius each time (from 10 feet to 20 feet, then 20 feet to 40 feet).
Inferno Blast (requires 7th level): You may choose to deal fire damage with Lay Waste (instead of sonic damage); if you do, you deal an additional 1d6 points of damage. If your damage allows for a Reflex saving throw for half damage, then creatures who fail their Reflex saving throw against your blast also catch on fire.
Forceful Blast: Whenever you damage a creature with your Lay Waste, you can immediately attempt a bull rush or trip maneuver against them. This attempt does not provoke an attack of opportunity and you do not risk being knocked prone yourself. Instead of using your combat maneuver bonus for the attempt, you have a modifier equal to your Deathsinger level plus your Charisma bonus.
Quickened Blast (requires 10th level): You may use Lay Waste as a swift action; doing so expends two daily uses of the ability. This allows you to use Lay Waste twice in a single round by expending three uses in total.
Sheer Power: The saving throw DC of your Lay Waste ability increases by 2; this also applies to the saving throw DC of secondary effects, such as other Lay Waste abilities.
Sickening Blast: Creatures damaged by your Lay Waste ability must also succeed on a Fortitude save or become sickened for 3 rounds. This enhancement may not be combined with Haunting Blast.
Split Blast (requires 7th level): Each time you use Lay Waste, you may choose two different target areas; you deal damage to creatures within the appropriate radius (usually 5 feet) of either point of origin. Creatures in overlapping spaces (for example, if you target two areas close to each other) only suffer damage from your ability once. If you combine this enhancement with Concentrated Effect, you instead choose two different targets for the blast, both of which must be within 30 feet of each other.

Harmonies of the Grave (Su): Upon reaching fifth level, the Deathsinger learns how to weave potent death magic into their bardic performances. The Deathsinger chooses two spells drawn from the Deathsinger spell list; they may only choose spells up to a certain spell level, based on how many levels they have in Bard. Whenever the Deathsinger has a bardic performance active, they may spend a standard action to cast one of their chosen spells as a spell-like ability. The caster level for these spells is equal to the Deathsinger’s Bard level and the saving throw DCs are equal to 10 + the spell level + the Deathsinger’s Charisma modifier. If the Deathsinger ends their bardic performance (including if they end it to change to another performance), each spell with a duration that was cast during that performance also ends.

The Deathsinger may choose one additional spell from the Deathsinger spell list at each odd-numbered level in Bard (7, 9, etc). Each time they choose a spell, they may also exchange one of their chosen spells for another one which they qualify for (for example, a 7th level Deathsinger could exchange one of their 2nd level spells for a 3rd level spell).

Table: Deathsinger Spells Available

Bard Level Highest Spell Level Known
4-6 2
7-10 3
11-12 4
13-15 5
15-16 6
17+ 7

Table: Deathsinger Spell List
1st: Ray of Enfeeblement, Ray of Sickening
2nd: Command Undead, Ghoul Touch, Scare, Stricken Heart
3rd: Lesser Animate Dead, Howling Agony, Malediction, Vampiric Touch
4th: Animate Dead, Bestow Curse, Fear, Wall of Pain (new spell)
5th: Blight, Suffocate, Vampiric Shadow Shield, Waves of Fatigue
6th: Circle of Death, Deathsinger’s Defilement (new spell), Eyebite, Major Curse

This ability replaces Lore Master.

Alternative Performances
The Deathsinger learns some bardic performances which are not practiced by other bards, and which replace some performances that would otherwise be available to them.

Song of Quietus (Sp): At 6th level, the Deathsinger can use their performance to drain a dying creature’s life force, affecting them as per a Death Knell spell except that the range is 25 feet plus 5 feet per 2 Bard levels the Deathsinger has. This replaces Suggestion.

Mass Song of Quietus (Sp): At 12th level, the Deathsinger can use their performance to hasten all nearby, dying souls to oblivion. Each round that this performance is active, all living creatures within 30 feet of the Deathsinger who have been reduced to -1 or fewer hit points suffer 1 point of bleed damage, and must make a saving throw or die as though the Deathsinger had cast Death Knell on them. Furthermore, a living creature who is killed while this performance is active (through any means) automatically has their soul siphoned as though they had failed a saving throw against Death Knell spell cast by the Deathsinger. This replaces Soothing Performance.

Requiem (Sp): At 18th level, the Deathsinger can use their performance to call even distant souls to their grave, ensuring the demise of foes who would think to flee from the Deathsinger and their entourage. Using this ability requires three consecutive rounds of performance before there is any effect; after the third round, the Deathsinger creates an effect equivalent to the Deathsinger’s Requiem spell (featured below), using their Bard level as their caster level. The Deathsinger may only successfully use this performance once per hour; if it is interrupted before reaching the third round, they may attempt it again until the spell is successfully cast. This replaces Mass Suggestion.

Deathsinger Feats - More Ways to Sing About Death
The following feats are available for Deathsingers.

Arsenal of Desolation
Prerequisites: Deathsinger level 4th
Benefit: Whenever you rest and regain your daily bardic performances, you may exchange any one Lay Waste enhancement you know for another one which you qualify for.

Prerequisites: Deathsinger level 1st
Benefit: You may use your Lay Waste ability three additional times per day.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times; its effects stack.

Extra Harmony of the Grave
Prerequisites: Deathsinger level 5th
Benefit: Choose one additional spell from the Deathsinger spell list which you qualify for. You gain the ability to cast this spell using your Harmonies of the Grave class feature.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times, choosing a different spell each time.

Prerequisites: Deathsinger level 12th, Gravespeaker
Benefit: You can expend six rounds of your bardic performance to cast Create Undead as a spell-like ability. If you have 16 or more levels in Deathsinger, you can also expend eight rounds of your bardic performance to cast Create Greater Undead as a spell-like ability. These spell-like abilities still have verbal components and, furthermore, you must still provide the material components for them.

Prerequisites: Deathsinger level 3rd
Benefit: You can expend two rounds of your bardic performance to cast Gentle Repose as a spell-like ability. If you have five or more levels in Deathsinger, you can also expend three rounds of your bardic performance to cast Speak with Dead as a spell-like ability. These spell-like abilities still have verbal components.

Greater Songs of Reaping
Prerequisites: Deathsinger level 12th, Songs of Reaping
Benefit: Any temporary hit points you gain from the Death Knell spell stack, up to a maximum amount of temporary hit points equal to twice your character level. Whenever you use Mass Song of Quietus, it affects all living creatures within 60 feet of you (instead of 30 feet).

Prerequisites: Deathsinger level 1st
Benefit: Whenever you use Inspire Courage, Inspire Greatness or Inspire Heroics, you may choose to have your performance also affect undead allies who are immune to mind-affecting abilities (such as mindless ones). Instead of granting such creatures a morale bonus to saving throws against charm and fear effects, Inspire Courage grants them a profane bonus to saving throws to resist channeled positive energy; instead of granting such creatures a morale bonus to all saving throws, Inspire Heroics grants them a profane bonus to all saving throws. The effects of your bardic performances are otherwise identical and other creatures continue to receive the normal benefits.

Songs of Reaping
Prerequisites: Deathsinger level 6th
Benefit: Once per minute, you may use Song of Quietus without ending or interrupting another bardic performance which you have already started. Whenever you slay a creature using Death Knell, you gain a +2 profane bonus to Charisma.

Additional Spells
The following necromancy spells have been introduced to supplement this archetype.

Deathsinger’s Defilement
School necromancy [evil]; Level cleric 6, sorcerer/wizard 6
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range personal
Targets you
Duration 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw see below; Spell Resistance yes

An aura of wailing spirits and destructive energy surrounds you. The area within a 20’ radius around you becomes imbued with negative energy and affected as though under a Desecrate spell; each round, enemies within this area must succeed on a Will save or suffer 4d6 points of damage.

Deathsinger’s Requiem
School necromancy [death]; Level sorcerer/wizard 8, witch 8
Casting Time 2 rounds
Components V, S
Range 1 mile
Targets up to one living creature per three caster levels
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw Will half; Spell Resistance yes

You call down a dirge of profane, spiritual energy to ravage distant foes. Each target suffers 1d6 points of negative energy damage per caster level you possess (max 20d6); a successful Will save halves this damage. Creatures reduced to 0 hit points or less by this damage die instantly. If you have firsthand knowledge of a creature (you have met them), you do not need to be able to perceive them to target them with this spell; the spell simply fails to affect any target who is not in range at the time of casting.

Wall of Pain
School necromancy [pain]; Level sorcerer/wizard 4, witch 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Effect writhing shadowy barrier up to 20 ft. long/level or a ring of energy with a radius of up to 5 ft./two levels; either form 20 ft. high
Duration concentration + 1 round/level
Saving Throw see below; Spell Resistance yes

You conjure a wall of pain-inducing energy. One side of the wall, selected by you, projects waves of agony dealing 2d6 points of nonlethal damage to each creature that ends its turn within 10 feet of that side or inside the wall. A creature takes the same damage when it enters the wall for the first time on a turn or ends its turn there. In addition, any living creature damaged by the wall must succeed on a Fortitude save or become staggered and have its movement speed halved (round down to the next 5-foot increment); these effects last for 1 round.

If you evoke the wall so that it appears where creatures are, each creature within its area suffers damage and must make a Fortitude saving throw as though they ended their turn inside of it.

2017-10-05, 11:48 PM
Hello again!

Just some general thoughts, as I'm going to bed.

Lay Waste, while a good and appropriately scaling ability (including an elegant damage buff at 10th level), is not something the bard has traditionally done.
Losing spellcasting in exchange for it, unfortunately, is almost never worth the trade in terms of lost versatility. A bard is traditionally a skill/social powerhouse backed up by his spells, and this makes level 1-4 really hurt.
This change significantly alters the bard from a crowd control/buff/debuff caster to raw damage, and he still can't really keep up with a wizard past level 4. Overall, it's a loss for the bard, and a massive loss of versatility.

Harmonies of the Grave: This, on the other hand, pulls it in the other direction- it's a pretty impressive tool for dealing with undead. Standouts at level 5 include Command Undead... and maybe Skinsend?
Level 11: Animate Dead, maybe Curse Terrain, Earsend, possibly Flesh Puppet Horde, Magic Jar, Possess Object. Maybe Suffocation.
Level 17: The world is your oyster.
So. The thing is, it's moderately expensive to spend bardic music uses on spells, so you're incentivised to pick useful noncombat spells... the best of which generally create undead or have long lasting effects. This changes at higher levels, but you can always get a whole lot more bang for your buck by picking the longest-lasting spell.
I would suggest delaying acquisition to level 6, so that you can pick up Lesser Animate Dead when you first get it.

Alternative Performances:
I think you need to think about how the difference between combat and noncombat abilities relates to how long they take to use- this is mainly a concern for Enervating Performance.
It's unlikely that Song of Quietus will be used mid-combat, since you have to drop Inspire Courage for at least two rounds to use it, locks you down while you use it, and in general doesn't provide major benefits. Out of combat it's a different story, of course, but +2 Strength and 1d8 temporary hit points is not good value compared to the benefits
Enervating Performance is terrible. There is a faint argument for using it to heal undead, I suppose? It's pretty bad, though. 4 rounds of not-Inspire-Courage is a big price to pay in exchange for less damage than you get from Lay Waste.
Mass Song of Quietus is a very stylish ability that can finish off downed foes... except that damage totals can reach the point where creatures skip straight from alive to dead in one hit, and the bonuses from the ability don't stack.

My thoughts:
Attach some kind of rider to Lay Waste, like shaken or something, make the damage d4s to compensate.
Harmonies of the Grave at level 6, 11, and 16
Enervating Performance is either turned into something that activates before the end of a combat, or something you can usefully use out of combat. Either one.
Mass Song of Quietus also auto-Death Knells anyone who dies in the radius, and temporary hit points from it stack up to your level.
Extra Harmony of the Grave loses the extra hit points. I'm not sure why they were there in the first place, since the extra versatility is worth it on its own.

Last thought: This feels like a method of making a bard into a necromancer. Have you considered going the other way, e.g. some kind of bardic music sorcerer bloodline or wizard school? From there, you could use feats to let people "specialize" in one school or another.
Songs of Flesh and Blood(General)
Prerequisites: Bardic music or similar ability, Spell Focus(Transmutation), able to cast 1st level transmutation spells.
Benefits: You can weave a song which reaches past the mind into the primal center of the brain, mutating the body. When you use bardic music, you may weave in the Melody of Flesh. If you do, creatures affected by your bardic music gain a slam attack, dealing 1d6 bludgeoning damage, as well as +1 natural armor.
Special: Only one Melody can be woven into a bardic music attempt at a time.
Songs of Rot and Bone(General)
Prerequisites: Bardic music or similar ability, Spell Focus(Necromancy), able to cast 1st level necromancy spells.
Benefits: You can weave a song which calls to the inevitable future, where all is rot. When you use bardic music, you may weave in the Melody of Rot. If you do, creatures affected by your bardic music are shaken, and take 1d6 negative energy damage each round they are affected They are permitted a Fortitude saving throw each round that this persists; on a successful save, the damage ends, but not the shaken condition or the effects of the music.
Special: Only one Melody can be woven into a bardic music attempt at a time.
(Note that this doubles as healing for undead)

Lanth Sor
2017-10-06, 10:33 AM
I like it but If your going to take spell casting away the only real way to balance is add versatility, and based on how added things more performance rounds makes a lot of sense to instead add extra rounds past normal bad limits.

2017-10-06, 05:18 PM
Hello again indeed! Thanks for the taking the time to look at it.

A clarification I would like to add regarding Harmonies of the Grave: The ability allows you to repick a selection at each level. So gaining it at 5th level allows you to get a higher level spell at the next level.
Also it's designed so that, by the time you reach your 3rd selection at 17th level, your other two selections can already be a 7th and 8th level spell - and you can eventually even turn them into 9th level spells.

The feat for Extra Harmonies does not add hit points; it subtracts them, as a balancing measure for how useful the feat is.

With these two in mind, does that change your assessment of the ability? I might reduce the amount of bardic rounds they use so the Deathsinger can use them more.

I'm going to work on just about everything else that was suggested. Might even give Lay Waste an expanded list of possible upgrades for later levels. I may improve

2017-10-06, 06:22 PM
I did in fact spot the ability to change your selection every level, but my assessment stands that the effects it provides and the limited selection heavily bias it towards spells with long durations and great effects for their costs, pushing players into a narrow range of spells and effects.
One thing that could be done to combat this is add prespecified spells which can be used cheaply- perhaps discounted?
Basically, the current system heavily discourages picking combat-related, bursty spells, because you can just use Inspire Courage (or some other bardic music) and Lay Waste much more efficiently.
Or maybe:
Song of Destruction:
When you learn this song, choose up to three necromancy spells of up to 2nd level, each of which has a casting time of no more than a standard action. When you use this bardic music, you may cast one of them as part of the standard action used to begin the music. For each round you continue to play, you may cast another spell as a standard action. When your music ends, each spell with a duration that you cast in this way ends. At Nth level, you may choose another spell. At Nth level and each level thereafter, you may exchange one spell you have selected for another.

As a separate or alternative ability, there are a few main points to this:
-Limited to spells as a standard action
-Fits better in the paradigm of bardic music as a sustained ability rather than a cost for abilities.
-Effects are analogous to what a bard might be doing anyway- that is, casting a spell or attacking each round while maintaining bardic music. It's also similar to a sorcerer in that regard, who basically cast a spell every round.
-I was toying with only letting you cast a given spell once per song, encouraging versatility, and keeping you from just casting the same max-level spell over and over again.
-Intended progression is that you add a new "spell known" at levels where a new spell level is acquired (i.e. even levels), and trade out a previous spell at odd levels.
-Animate Dead can be cast as a standard action (TIL!). There's an argument that material components can be waived, given the sharply limited duration of the effect.
-Intended later upgrade to allow you to combine this with another music effect at the same time.`

Semi-unlimited spells might be a bit of a sticking point, of course. :smalltongue:
Feel free to ignore this feature- it started as an idea and snowballed.

I did in fact misread the feat re: hit points. Assessment is that it's a strange decision- rebalancing using hit points isn't something I've seen before, and I'm not convinced that it adds or subtracts much. This isn't a melee class, so this mainly affects how much damage it can survive in one turn, and not by a factor that matters much at higher levels. Perhaps a penalty to a saving throws? That would remain relevant later on, and

2017-10-08, 03:39 AM
Right on then. Here's what's new in this update:

* Lay Waste: The way that this ability scales has been reworked with choose-able upgrades/enhancements, which should add some much needed flexibility.

* Harmonies of the Grave: I liked your idea of Song of Destruction and initially almost used it as written, but it was more powerful than I wanted. I also wanted to specifically avoid replacing Lay Waste as the class' primary offensive tool. So I changed the nature of Harmonies to still allow for sort-of-spammable spells, even while being able to maintain Inspire Courage, etc. The Deathsinger only gets spells up to 7th level though and must choose from a preset list; the list is a little smaller than I'd like but, I tried to choose spells that would be useful but would not replace Lay Waste as the go-to for consistent blasting. The class feels a little bit like a 3.5 Warlock/PF Bard hybrid now, which I am OK with.
The way that Harmonies spell levels and Lay Waste enhancements scale is very close to the progression that Bards would normally gain new spell levels.

* Performances: Buffed all around. Made the Quietus songs better. The addition of Deathsinger's Requiem is a thematic one: the character this archetype is based off of has a signature long-range ability that is ideal for "cleanup" / picking off foes after the main battle has already ended. I attempted to recreate this ability in a way that would still, occasionally, be useful.

* Feats: Lots more of these.

* Spells: Changed Deathsinger's Requiem a little, and nothing else.