View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Sorcerer Origin: Pale Master (Revised)

2017-10-19, 09:49 PM

"The Blackest Night falls from the skies, The darkness grows as all light dies, We crave your hearts and your demise, By my black hand — The dead shall rise!" — Black Hand, Blackest Night #0

Necromancy. Few other magics inspire as much revulsion, dread...and fascination, as this black art. The ability to command the forces of death and animate shambling armies of rotting undead is a temptation that lures a many depraved individuals, and of them the Pale Master is perhaps the most foul. While Necromancy specialist wizards spend years devoted to the study of undeath, the Pale Master is an individual who seeks a quick and easy route to necromancer power, gaining power over the undead comparable to the most learned wizard in one, terrible act of depravity. To be a Pale Master is to become undeath, willingly tainting yourself with necrotic energies so you may bend them to your will through sheer force of personality. How you assumed this taint is something intimate and personal to you; many aspiring Pale Masters actively seek out undead, locking themselves in desecrated tombs for days on end in the hope that the foul necrotic energies within forever corrupt them into a being of necromantic power. Others may take the more gruesome road, such as pledging themselves to Orcus in a depraved act or evil or consuming the flesh of a particularly powerful or tainted undead.

While most Pale Masters are twisted individuals seeking an easy route to necromantic power, there are an unlucky few who are instead cursed with the powers of a Pale Master against their will. Such an individual could be the child of adventurers, born on one of their many quests into a desecrated or undead infested location. Or perhaps they could be somebody cursed by Orcus, Velsheroon or another deity of Undeath, or somebody who's family line carries a necromantic taint. However, regardless of whether you sought out your powers or where cursed with them, they are fundamentally twisted and corrupting; while you may not be a villain, you constantly struggle against depraved, morbid urges that fester within your psyche. Whether you end up a tortured anti-hero or foul villain depends largely on whether or not you let the taint of your magic consume your mind completely....whether you gain control of your dark magics or let them control you. However, no matter your origin or outlook, you are a living font of necrotic energies and a master reanimator, able to effortlessly channel necrotic power and raise the dead to serve you.


Macabre Lore

Due to the twisted origin of your powers, you can cast necromantic spells beyond the scope of traditional sorcery. Starting at 1st level, when your Spellcasting feature lets you select a Sorcerer cantrip or Sorcerer spell known, that spell can be any necromancy spell of a level to which you have access, or a spell chosen from the sorcerer spell list.

Additionally, you learn how to harness your sorcererous powers to command the undead. When you gain your metamagic feature at 3rd level, you only gain one metamagic talent instead of two. However, in place of that lost metamagic talent, you gain the following special power described below:

Rebuke Undead. As an action you can target any number of undead you can see within 30ft whose total combined CRs do not exceed your Sorcerer level. The targets then make a Charisma saving throw vs. your Sorcerer spell save DC. On a successful save, they cannot be targeted by this feature for 24 hours. On a failed save they grovel before you, effectively being knocked prone and incapacitated for 1 minute, or until they take damage. At the end of each round, all undead groveling before you may re-attempt their Charisma save and on a successful save are no longer under this feature affects.

Starting at 5th level, you can spend 2 sorcery points when you use this feature to command those undead instead of rebuking them. When you do this, instead of falling to their knees, you may command any undead who fail their saves as-if they where created by an Animate Dead spell cast by you for 1 hour. When undead you have controlled instead of rebuked take damage, they do not get to re-attempt their Charisma save to resist this feature's effects.

Regardless of whether you rebuke or command undead with this feature, you can only use it once per short or long rest.

Animate Minion

Also at 1st level, you can channel the necrotic energies within you to animate the dead. As an action, you can expend a spell slot to raise an undead creature from a corpse you can see within 30ft. The creature you create can be any type of undead (including an incorporeal undead), as long as it’s CR doesn’t exceed 1/4th the level of the slot you expended. (rounded to the nearest CR.). Undead you animate this way cannot create spawn or other undead.

These undead remain reanimated for 1 hour, or until you dismiss them with a bonus action. When an undead you create with this feature dies or is dismissed, it crumbles to dust or discorporates, leaving it unable to be reanimated again. The undead you create cannot create spawn or other undead, and you can command them and any other undead under your control with a bonus action. These undead always act immediately after your initiative in combat.

No matter how many times you use this feature, you can only control a number of undead equal to or less than your Charisma modifier. Undead created that exceed this limit are uncontrolled and hostile to all living creatures (including you). Upon reanimation, such undead will try to attack the nearest living creature.

Your animation abilities also improve as you grow in power. Starting at Sorcerer level 5, the undead you animate with this feature remain reanimated indefinitely instead of for 1 hour. Also starting at Sorcerer level 5, you can spend 1 sorcery point when you use this feature to increase the maximum CR of the creature you can create to the level of the expended slot. (instead of the usual 1/4th level.)


At 6th level you become a walking font of necrotic power, dealing more damage with necrotic magics and eminating a vile aura that empowers your undead and reanimation spells. Spells you cast that deal Necrotic damage deal additional damage equal to your Charisma modifier. Any undead under your control within 30ft of you that would take necrotic damage from a spell of 1st level or higher that you cast heal hit points equal to half the damage they would be dealt (rounded down) instead. Undead under your control also add your proficiency bonus to their weapon damage rolls (if they would not already) while they remain within 30ft of you. When you cast a spell that creates undead (such as Animate Dead or Create Undead.) within the range of this aura, that spell gains the following additional benefits:

If that spell is Animate Dead, it can target 1 additional corpse or bone pile and create additional skeleton or zombie.
The undead that spell creates increase their hit point maximums by your Sorcerer level.

General of Undeath

Starting at 14th level, your mastery of necrotic energies allows you to control more undead and bypass defenses against those energies. Sorcerer spells you cast ignore resistance to Necrotic damage. Additionally, every day you may upkeep a limited number of spells that normally require a daily recasting to keep control over undead (Such as Animate Dead or Create Undead) without recasting them. The spells you can upkeep this way must have spell levels whose sum is less than or equal to ˝ your Sorcerer level + your Charisma modifier. So for example, at 14th level with a Charisma of 16, you could upkeep a casting of Animate Dead at 3rd level and a casting of Create Undead at 7th level.

Undead Graft

At level 18, You have given into horrible necrophilic urges and removed one of your arms. You replace it with an undead appendage that can either be a skeletal arm or a zombie arm. As an action, you can make a melee spell attack with your undead arm. If the attacks hits, you can spend sorcery points to use one of the following special powers (You cannot use multiple powers with the same attack):

Paralyzing Touch. You may spend 2 sorcery points to force your opponent to make a Constitution saving throw vs. your Sorcerer Spell Save DC. On failed save, they are paralyzed for one round, but they can make a saving throw with advantage whenever they are damaged to end this effect on themselves.

Degenerative Touch. You may spend a number of sorcery points up to 5 and deal a d8 of necrotic damage per point spent to a foe. When you do this, they also make a Constitution saving throw vs. your Sorcerer Spell Save DC. If they succeed, they take half the damage they would be dealt. If they fail, they take the full amount of damage and their hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage dealt.

Deathless Master's Touch. You may spend a number of sorcery points up to 5 and deal a d6 of necrotic damage per point to the target. When you do this, they also make a Constitution saving throw vs. your Sorcerer Spell Save DC. If they succeed, they take half the damage they would be dealt. If you slay a Medium humanoid in this way, they rise 1 round later as a zombie under your control.

This archetype is still VERY BETA and very much a work in progress. As a result, some features may be unbalanced, which is why I'm posting this up. I am not all that great with 5e balance, and would HIGHLY appreciate any and all help at balancing this enough where it could see actual play in a 5e game. Either way, the main goal of this class is to provide an alternative to the wizard when a player wants a fullcaster focused on undead minion-mastery. While the School of Necromancy wizard is fine at minionmancy already, I feel that the idea of "undead reanimator" should not be class-locked to one class, and that there should be more than one option for undead minionmancers. I especially wanted a charisma-based necro pet master option for 5e (in no small part due to 3.5e's Dread Necromancer being one of my favorite classes in the history of D&D) and Sorcerer was just an easier base for that to work with than Warlock.

That being said, I wanted this class to be 100% ON PAR with the Wizard when it comes to pet mastery. Not worse. That means it hasd to have a way to control undead, and it has to hand out bonuses to it's undead comparable in power to what the wizard gives their undead. That being said, since the Wizard is by and large a superior spellcaster to the sorcerer, I wanted to make this sorcerer slightly better at Necromancy than the School of Necromancy wizard by design; the Pale Master will be better in his narrow field of specialty (Necromancy) , but since he gets so few spells compared to the school of necromancy wizard the fact he is better in his narrow specialty is balanced out by the fact that specialty is basically all he can do; as a sorcerer he just doesn't get the spells known to be versatile, and as a result I felt that if he was just as good as the wizard at his specialty then there is no mechanical reason to take this over wizard due to the fact that the wizard does it's job just as good, while also being super-versatile.

As a result, I carved out several mechanical niches' for this class that a Necro Wizard just can't achieve, at least not without some esoteric multiclass build. The first is I wanted it to "feel" like a Necromancer, and be able to do the "I command undead" gimmick right from level 1. As you'll see, you start the game with a single undead companion, and are able to command undead as soon as level 3. Combined with the fact you can select any necromancy spell from any list as a spell known and you definitely feel and play like a Necromancer much sooner than the School of Necromancy wizard does. The second niche' beyond "can play with undead at low levels" is something that was more a natural extension of the sorcerer class than the necromancer side of things; being a powerful necrotic blaster.

While the wizard excels at animating the dead and the death domain cleric excells at blasting people with negative energy, this archetype eventually excels at doing both those things. Now the cleric and wizard can do other things beyond their main gimmick of necromancy, but as I said this was desgined to be the true necromancy specialist, and as a result blending the "necrotic blaster" and "minionmaster" (represented by the death domain cleric and school of necromancy wizard) into one archetype felt like a unique mechanical niche' for this class to have that is in line with the base class, in a sense. As a Pale Master, you can have your cake and eat it too, being competent at both animating/commanding the dead and wielding necrotic energies. However, the price to pay for that is a ton of lost versatility compared to the sheer utility that wizard or cleric casting brings to the table.

With that being my general goal for the archetype, I would appreciate any and all help, particularly in relation to balance. So please, comment away!

2017-10-20, 07:11 AM
I see a bunch of things in here that are overpowered, but the thing that stands out the most is the Undead Cohort. I get what you are trying to get at here, it's bascially a Beast Master Ranger's pet. However, being able to get an CR under you level is WAY to much. If I'm level 15, I can literally get a Dragon fighting along side me. Or at level 8 you can get a mind flayer.

Beyond that at level 2 you could have a Brown Bear that has the following stats
2 attacks
Bite: +8 to Hit, 1d8+7 damage
Claw: +8 to Hit, 2d6+7 damage
Immune to Poison

This would rule the battlefield on it's own, but it even gets worse that this. At level 1 I could pick an Undead Pixie cohort at level who can Polymorph me into a Tyrannosaurus Rex at first level.

If you are going to do this, fine, but limit it more. Make it so that you can choose a < CR1 creature from a list you provide (or the DM can add to it on a case by case basis) and have it get more powerful as you level. Model it after the Revised Ranger Beastmaster.

I get what you are getting with Necropotance, but again it's to much. If they are within 30ft of you, they always have advantage? That on it's own is to powerful, but then you add two more abilities. The additional damage as necrotic damage is decent, but turning all damage to necrotic basically makes them bypass all resistances.

2017-10-20, 10:37 AM
Thanks for all the advice! I changed the cohort to work more like the rangers and also altered Necropotence and General of Undeath to not grant the resistance bypass for undead (which new was not intentional dragon. I intended for only the extra damage they deal to bypass resistance, and not all their damage.) Also, Necropotence a bonuses have been scaled back a bit to hopefully be more in-line with the ones the wizard grants while still being a tad bet better to make up for yourclwck of versatility. Please let me know what you think of the changes after looking at them!

EDIT: decided to give them back their original undead animation feature at 1st level that they had in the first version, instead of the companion. I think this is starting to look like its in better shape, now!