The Ebon Initiate
Andreas iríKennon, an Ebon Initiate
ďI am not the master of death; I am but a humble servant to its mysteries. However, do not cross me. You would not like to know firsthand what I have learned.Ē
-Andraes iríKennon, moments before the massacre of Millerís Reach.
Those that follow the path of the ebon initiate are dark soul men and women who have come to embrace death through a terrible pact with the forces of Death. Through this pact, they come to wield powerful necromantic invocations and gain traits becoming of those who traffic with the dead. Wherever death is commonplace, an ebon initiate may often be found there studying the occurrence of being directly behind it.
Adventures: Ebon initiates adventure to increase their understanding of death and use the violence inherent in this lifestyle to experiment with it. Adventuring also keeps an ebon initiate on the move, reducing the chance of his rather unorthodox and unsavory practices from calling a witch hunt upon him.
Characteristics: For the men and women who are drawn to this shadowy road, a curious sense of detachment from the members of their community and race is often present, often times tinged with abuses or loss. Some feel perverse drives towards necrophilia, while others drawn by the power and allure of death as a way to try to escape their own.
Alignment: Ebon initiates tend to be drawn towards more lawful and disciplined alignments due to cold detachment many feel both before and after their pact is made, but this is not a hard or fast requirement. They also tend more towards neutrality, but due to the very nature of their bargain and their power, ebon initiates may not be a good alignment.
Religion: For the pious ebon initiate, some follow gods of death and undeath, some follow gods of darkness and night. Others still worship their pact maker, but many walk without a divine compass in their lives.
Background: Ebon initiates arise most in any society where there is either a great deal of emphasis on death in the culture, where deities devoted to death reign strongly, or a well educated and decadent society (coming from either the very rich or the very poor). Many are educated and knowledgeable people who often practice trade in the fields of either medicine or mortuary services. All share one common thread, and that is the touch of death somewhere vital in their lives.
Races: Humankind is most likely to take up the roll of the ebon initiate, with half-elves and half-orcs being close behind, due to their natures as perpetual outsiders and a likelihood of tragedy in their lives. Elves, haflings, and gnomes are very unlikely to take up this path, but dwarves sometimes take up this path. Of the more monstrous races, gnolls and goblinkind take up this path.
Other Classes: Ebon initiates get on well with necromancers of any variety first and foremost, and fighters appreciate how tough they are in a fight. Barbarians and rogues get on well with them as well, and bards find them melancholic. Paladins and clerics of goodly gods find themselves chafing in their presence to almost hostility towards them, and rangers and druids find the unnatural aura and works of the ebon initiate to be unsettling and disturbing. Warlocks have a strained relationship with ebon initiates, due to their similar styles and roles yet drastically different powers.
Role: Ebon initiates fulfill the role of a melee fighter well, due to their netherchannel abilities and invocations, but they cannot stand as long as the more martial classes. They are also well suited to the roll of scout in a pinch, and often find themselves in the role of knowledge seeker. Their invocations provide many additional uses for party support, but will not find themselves as useful in those roles as a full caster. Their unlimited spell power with their invocations, however, does provide them with longevity that full casters donít enjoy.
GAME RULE INFORMATION:
Abilities: Charisma is important for the ebon initiate due to its reliance with some class features, while Intelligence is important due to its factoring into invocation saving throw DCs. Strength and Constitution provide additional survivability in combat during earlier levels, but Constitutionís benefits eventually begin to wain.
Starting Age: As cleric.
Starting Gold: As cleric.
Hit Die: d8
Skills: Ebon Initiates have access to the following skills: Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (the Planes) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Intelligence modifier) x4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Intelligence modifier.
1st|+0|+0|+0|+2|Aura of the dead, detect undead, netherchannel +1d6|2
2nd|+1|+0|+0|+3|Rebuke undead, dark grace|3
3rd|+2|+1|+1|+3|Black banner, netherchannel +2d6|4
4th|+3|+1|+1|+4|Aspect of death, armored invoker (medium)|5
6th|+4|+2|+2|+5|Invocations (least or lesser)|7
8th|+6|+2|+2|+6|Imbue item, shroud of death (AC)|9
9th|+6|+3|+3|+6|Aspect of death, netherchannel +5d6|10
11th|+8|+3|+3|+7|Netherchannel +6d6, invocations (least, lesser, or greater)|12
12th|+9|+4|+4|+8|Improved aura of the dead|13
13th|+9|+4|+4|+8|Shroud of death (revenant), netherchannel +7d6|14
14th|+10|+4|+4|+9|Aspect of death|15
16th|+12|+5|+5|+10|Invocations (least, lesser, greater, or dark)|17
18th|+13|+6|+6|+11|Shroud of death (fortification)|19
19th|+14|+6|+6|+11|Aspect of death, netherchannel +10d6|20
20th|+15|+6|+6|+12|Death's hand, killing power|22[/table]
All of the following are class features of the ebon initiate.
Weapon and Armor proficiencies: Ebon initiates are proficient in the use of all simple weapons, all martial melee weapons, as well as the use of light and medium armor. They are not proficient in shields.
Because the somatic components required for an ebon initiate's invocations are relatively simple, an ebon initiate can use any of his invocations while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. However, like arcane spellcasters, an ebon initiate wearing medium armor or heavy armor or using a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure (all invocations have a somatic component). A multiclass ebon initiate still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from levels in other classes.
Invocations (Sp): An ebon initiate does not prepare or cast spells as other wielders of arcane or divine magic do. Instead, he possesses a repertoire of attacks, defenses, and abilities known as invocations that require him to focus the necrotic energy that suffuses his soul. An ebon initiate can use any invocation he knows at will, with the following qualifications:
An ebon initiate's invocations are spell-like abilities; using an invocation therefore a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity. An invocation can be disrupted, just as a spell can be ruined during casting. An ebon initiate is entitled to a Concentration check to successfully use an invocation if he is by an attack while invoking, just as a spellcaster would be. An ebon initiate can choose to use an invocation defensively by making a successful Concentration check, to avoid provoking attacks of opportunity. An ebon initiate's invocations are subject to spell resistance unless an invocation's description specifically states otherwise. An ebon initiate's caster level with his invocation is equal to his ebon initiate level.
The save DC for an invocation (if it allows a save) is 10 + equivalent spell level + the ebon initiate's Intelligence modifier. Since spell-like abilities are not actually spells, an ebon initiate cannot benefit from the Spell Focus feat. He can, however, benefit from the Ability Focus feat, as well as from feats that emulate metamagic effects for spell-like abilities, such as Quicken Spell-Like Abilities and Empower Spell-Like Ability.
The four grades of invocations, in order of their relative power, are least, lesser, greater, and dark. An ebon initiate begins with knowledge of two invocations, which must be of the lowest grade (least). As an ebon initiate gains levels, he learns new invocations, as summarized on the class progression table and described below. A list of available invocations can be found following the class description, and a complete description of each invocation can be found at the end of this document.
Every four levels when an ebon initiate learns a new invocation, he can also replace an invocation he already knows with another invocation of the same grade or of a lower grade. At 6th level, an ebon initiate can replace a least invocation he knows with a different least invocation (in addition to learning a new invocation, which could be either least or lesser). At 11th level, an ebon initiate can replace a least or lesser invocation he knows with another invocation of the same ore a lower grade (in addition to learning a new invocation, which could be least, lesser, or greater). At 16th level, an ebon initiate can replace a least, lesser, or greater invocation he knows with another invocation of the same or a lower grade (in addition to learn a new invocation, which could be least, lesser, greater, or dark). At 20th level, he can trade out any one invocation he has for any other invocation of any grade.
Finally, unlike other spell-like abilities, invocations are subject to arcane spell failure chance as described under Weapon and Armor Proficiencies above. Ebon initiates can qualify for some prestige classes usually intended for spellcasters, provided that the prestige class in question requires a caster level requirement, as opposed to a specific level of spells capable of being cast by the character.
Aura of the Dead (Su): The ebon initiate radiates an aura of death and decay that puts the living ill at ease. He suffers a -2 penalty to Diplomacy and Handle Animal checks when dealing with those unaccustomed to death. However, against the living he gains a +2 circumstance bonus to Intimidate checks. Consequently this aura of the dead shines pleasantly in the eyes and minds of the undead, gaining a +4 profane bonus to Diplomacy checks towards undead creatures. Unintelligent undead will ignore ebon initiate unless provoked, and intelligent undead have their disposition improved by one step towards the character. At 12th level, this aura improves, granting him a +4 circumstance bonus to Intimidate and a -4 penalty to Diplomacy and Handle Animal, and his Diplomacy bonus to undead creatures improves to a +8 profane bonus
Detect Undead (Sp): The ebon initiate has within him a strong connection to the negative energy plane, and may cast detect undead as a caster of their class level at will.
Netherchannel (Su): The ebon initiateís connection with the powers of death manifests in his ability to channel negative energy through his death pact. The ebon initiate may summon this necrotic energy to his hands at a momentís notice, allowing him to channel his necrotic power through a touch or through a specially anointed weapon (a short ritual taking 10 minutes and costing 50gp for materials). The character must make a touch attack (if unarmed) or a melee attack (if using a weapon) to use this ability and it can be added to any touch or melee attack the character makes as part of that action, including all attacks on a full attack action. Netherchannel may nto be combined with any other special ability (such as martial maneuvers) unless specifically mentioned (such as nether shape and nether essence invocations). Netherchannel inflicts 1d6 points of negative energy damage at 1st level, and it increases by 1d6 points of damage every odd level (to a maximum of +10d6 at 19th level). When used as a touch attack or as a ranged touch attack (through use of certain nethershape invocations), netherchannel scores a critical threat on a natural 20 and inflicts x2 damage on a confirmed critical. When channelled through a weapon, weapon damage is multiplied as normal, but netherchannel damage is never multiplied. This is a supernatural ability and is not subject to spell resistance. Creatures immune to negative energy damage are unaffected by this ability. This ability may be used to heal those beings to which negative energy is a boon (such as those with the Tomb-Tainted Soul feat), and if it used in this way, the ebon initiate lays his healing hands upon that creature as a standard action instead of as part of an attack action; normal netherchanneling is too potent and ravaging to do anything but harm. When used for healing creatures, the ebon initiate may not apply any nether essence or shape invocations.
Rebuke Undead (Su): The ebon initiate gains the ability to command and rebuke undead as a cleric equal to his class level.
Dark Grace (Su): The grace of death's blessing hangs upon the form the ebon initiate, granting the force of his personality to the protection of his being. The ebon initiate may add his Charisma modifier to all saving throws as a profane bonus.
Black Banner (Su): The potency of the ebon initiateís necromantic power is such that when he commands undead, he may command up to twice his hit dice in undead, and when using spells or invocations that duplicate the functions of animate dead allow you to control six hit die worth of creatures per caster level instead of the usual four.
Aspect of Death: At 4th, 9th, 14th, and 19th level, the ebon initiate gains a bonus feat from the following list: Improved Toughness, Undead Leadership, Quicken Turning, Corpsecrafter (Bolster Resistance, Extra Invocation, Deadly Chill, Destructive Retribution, Hardened Flesh, Nimble Bones), Tomb-Tained Soul (Tomb-Born Fortitude, Tomb-Born Resilience, Tomb-Born Vitality), Necromantic Might (Necromantic Presence), and Profane Lifeleech. The ebon initiate must meet the requirements of the feat.
Armored Invoker (Ex): Through training with their invocations and the rigors of battle, the ebon initiate gains the ability to utilize his invocations while wearing medium armor without suffering arcane spell failure.
Shroud of Death (Su): The pall of death that infuses and invigorates the ebon disciple hangs heavily about his crumbling frame. At 8th level, this shroud grounds itself in his flesh and bones, granting him a profane bonus equal to his Charisma modifier to his armor class. At 13th level, his body continues to deepen its connection with death, and as its life force fails the ebon initiate takes on some of the traits of the undead, a revenant. He may now use his Charisma modifier in place of his Constitution modifier to determine his hit points and Concentration check modifier. At 18th level, the spectre of death that the ebon initiate gains the resilience of the dead, having a 50% chance to negate critical hits and sneak attacks.
Imbue Item (Su): An ebon initiate of 8th level or higher can use his necromantic power to create magic items, even if he does not know the spells required to make an item (although he must know the appropriate item creation feat). He can substitute a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + spell level for arcane spells or 30 + spell level for divine spells) in place of a required spell he doesnít know or canít cast. If the check succeeds, the ebon initiate can create the item as if he had cast the required spell. If it fails, cannot complete the item. He does not expend the XP or gp costs for making the item; his progress is simply arrested. He cannot retry this Spellcraft check for that spell for one week.
Deathspeak (Su): At 10th level, the ebon initiate learns to speak to the body that the spirit leaves behind, gaining the ability to question the dead about their memories and knowledge. The ebon initiate may use the spell speak with dead at will as a supernatural ability upon any corpse, but may only ever question a single corpse once. Further attempts by the ebon initiate will fail.
Deathís Hand (Su): At 20th level, the ebon initiate becomes fully initiated into the mysteries of death. His knowledge is such that he gains a measure of power due to his connection to the negative energies of death and his knowledge seeking altering his basic make up. This grants the Ebon Initiate a +2 to Strength, Wisdom, and Charisma, a +2 to natural armor, and resistance to cold 5. This infusion of death-essence does bear the side effect of rendering the ebon initiate vulnerable to turn undead attempts, though he can never be destroyed by a turning attempt.
Killing Power (Su): The power of death flows through the ebon initiate, and with it brings the knowledge of ultimate fatality. When using his nether channel ability, whenever the die roll comes up 6, the character may reroll the die and add that result to the total. He may continue doing this until no more sixes are rolled.
PLAYING AN EBON INITIATE
Death is inevitability; one would do well to secure one's future accordingly.
You are a very focused individual, whether lawful or chaotic, your focus is on death and the power it possesses. You may use your knowledge of death to help people, working as a physician. You may use your knowledge for evil, killing in the dark and raising an army of the walking dead. You may use your dark power to liberate nations, enslave them, or simply use them for the acquisition of more knowledge.
Your path as an ebon initiate is your own. Some members of the class frequently gather to form covens, also known to them as Wraith Circles. These circles get together to talk, share knowledge, and participate in necromantic rituals. Others gather to train for more martial pursuits; they gather to build strength and learn how best to apply their talents. You may find that a different path suits you better; many ebon initiates live perfectly ordinary lives when they're not adventuring, albeit a normal life that is bit eccentric.
Your invocations help determine what sort of ebon initiate you wish to play, as they ultimately determine your focus. Some focus on ways to improve their control and command over undead, amassing a strong, personal army to conquer or adventure with. Others focus on learning how to best utilize their netherchanneling and their death's fury to become powerful combatants. Others learn to control the battlefield with their invocations so that allies may prosper. These choices will determine your general effectiveness in the role you choose to pursue in a group.
Combat: Common combat modes for the ebon initiate often involve copious and gratuitous use of your netherchannel ability or necrotic blast ability combined with nether essence and nether shape invocations, or channeling the use of this ability through melee attacks. Many invocations aren't well suited for direct combat effectiveness; it is up to you to determine the exact use of these abilities in a heated battle. Ranged combat is a standard method for the ebon initiate of a less martial bend; they can excel at it through the right choices of invocation and feat selection.
Advancement: The ebon initiate benefits most from staying single classed, or by making small dips into classes that accent its native abilities, most especially from classes that will improve upon casting advancement. Additionally, prestige classes specially designed to work in tandem with the ebon initiate, such as the Knights of the Ebon Blade and the Ashwrought take the abilities of the ebon initiate and build in a more specialized direction.
Resources: Depending on your choices in background, the ebon initiate may have a wraith circle to draw upon or he may have the resources of an entire order of initiates. Alternately, he may have the resources of a normal mundane person, or a single teacher.
EBON INITIATES IN THE WORLD
ďIt was terrible, milord, the men in the village tried to grab Ďem at the Fatherís request, and as they touched himÖ theirÖ hands just rotted off! Then he laughed and soon the rest of Ďem rotted off tooÖĒ
-a terrified peasant recounting the massacre of Millerís Reach
Ebon initiates are often perceived as being fel creatures, bound to the wills of death gods and their passing brings nothing but death and misery. Thatís only half true. Though they are bound to death, their wills are their own, and while death may travel with them, what they do with it is what may cause misery. Ebon initiates only motives are the mastery of death through whatever means they discover on their own.
Daily Life: The routine of an ebon initiate varies, but most begin their day with meditation upon the very nature of death and their purpose in it. Morbid practices of wrapping oneís self in funerary linens or in clothes of the dead, bathing in embalming fluids, or even copulation with the dead can find their way into the routines of an ebon initiate. The rest of their non-adventuring time is spent in study and practice of their techniques, both martial and mystical. Some spend their time in devotion; others study histories and treatises on long dead civilizations to discover the true purpose of death and their potential role in existence.
Notables: The ebon initiate known as Andraes iríKennon is widely regarded by all as a menace and serves to only reinforce the stereotype of ebon initiates as being evil, life-hating necromancers. His massacre of the people of Millerís Reach echo to this day as a grim reminder that death has servants and that they are not to be trifled with. His deep knowledge and will to animate the dead have always kept him well protected against assassination attempts, and his mastery of the blade has served him in more direct confrontations with those who survived his invocations. Another noteworthy initiate is Darius the Grey Witness, an ebon initiate who witnessed the deaths of hundreds in a plagued city of Anthenos, helping ease the suffering of the dying and treating those who were ill. Dariusí mercy in the face of death is particularly noteworthy due to the fact that he himself died from the plague and returned from the dead to continue aiding the sick as one of the living dead.
Organizations: One organization of ebon initiates of particular note is the Order of the Ashen Blade, a group of martial ebon initiates who have mixed their knowledge of death with the arts of the Sublime Way. The goal of this order of knights beyond the protection of their sanctuary is revenge against the cruel and powerful death knight that founded them and used them as soulless weapons against their nation. Once they were champions of their now fallen nation, and now as servants of death and darkness, the Knights of the Ashen Blade ride out to meet the forces of darkness and use its tools against them. Another group of ebon initiates are a cabal called the Frostwrought, ebon initiates who have transitioned from life into undeath to better understand its mysteries. The Frostwrought learn new ways to progress their icy powers and gain great might from this transition, but their very presence brings the essence of chill and decay where they tread. They are said to be keepers of ancient lore and are lead by a powerful lichlord who seeks to progress to demilich status. There is rumor that a group of spiritualist ebon initiate exists in the wilds of the world, practicing their dark arts through a more animistic medium. These Deathspirit Necrolytes learn to conjure forth the spirits of the dead and bind them to their will while marshaling the forces of the undead they create by ravaging the countryside around their eldritch domains.
Opportunity Channel [General]
You are capable of summoning necrotic power at a momentís notice to channel through your touch or weapon.
Prerequisites: Dex 13, ability to netherchannel.
Benefit: You may use your melee ability to netherchannel during attacks of opportunity. You may not apply your shape or essence invocations to this.
Normal: Netherchanneling may only be used on attack actions.
Invoke Word of Power [Metamagic]
Your skill and power allow you to bypass some of your invocational processes and use power words to accomplish your magic.
Prerequisites: Ability to use lesser invocations, Spellcraft 8 ranks.
Benefit: You are capable of bypassing the casting times and requirements for your invocations, boiling them down to swift action invocations that only require a vocal and material component. The invocation to be turned into a power word must have a casting time of 1 standard action or faster. This feat gives you the ability to turn any one invocation you can cast into a swift action power word 3/day.
Special: This feat may be taken multiple times for additional uses.
Extra Invocation [General]
You have studied and learned another deathly art.
Prerequisites: Ability to use lesser invocations, Spellcraft 8 ranks.
Benefit: You learn another invocation of any level of you capable of using.
Special: This feat may be taken multiple times for additional uses.
Broken Oath Renewed [General]
Your paladinhood may be lost, but by making a pact with the forces of death, you regain a dark semblance of your former power.
Prerequisites: Must have 1 or more levels in ex-paladin, must have the netherchannel class feature.
Benefit: Your levels in ex-paladin are counted as ebon initiate levels in regard to your caster level for using invocations, your ability to netherchannel, and your shroud of death class features.
Special: Once this feat has been taken, you may never again return to being a paladin as long as you also possess ebon initiate levels.
Epic Ebon Initiate
Darius, the Grey Witness, an epic ebon initiate
"Though my life has ended, my existence endures. I have borne the birth and death of centuries, and fully intend to discover the very secrets of why we live and why we die. If knowledge is power, than a god... am I." - Darius, the Grey Witness
Imbued with the very essence of the realm of the dead, an epic ebon initiate is a maelstrom of fell energies and dark hunger, his soul teetering on the very edge of oblivion.
Hit Die: d8
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Intelligence modifier
Invocations: The epic ebon initiate's caster level is equal to his class level. He does not learn additional new invocations.
Netherchannel: The epic ebon initiate's netherchannel damage continues to increase by 1d6 additional damage at every odd-level after 20th level.
Natural Armor: At every fourth level starting at 22nd level, the epic ebon initiate's natural armor bonus from Death's Hand increases by +1.
Cold Resistance: At every fourth level starting at 23rd level, the epic ebon initiate's cold resistance from Death's Hand improves by 5.
Bonus Feats: The epic ebon initiate gains a bonus feat every three levels higher than 20th level.