I was thinking of a new playable race, based off of the Soul Reaper's ability to imprint lesser undead (skeletons & zombies). Please take a look at let me know if it seems balanced. Any suggestions welcome. Thanks!

First, a review of the Soul Reaper. A wizard variant that specializes in Necromancy, at 5th level they gain the ability to trap the spirit of a dying creature in a gem. At 15th level they gain the ability to imprint this spirit onto a skeleton or zombie, which they can then control or free, as normal. The imprinted skeleton gains the mental ability scores of the spirit, along with BAB, all Skill Ranks, Weapon/Armor Proficiencies, and Feats. It also gains the alignment of the Reaper doing the imprinting. The spirit is freed in the process.

I was thinking of outlining the rules as follows:

First step, select the base creature (the physical body that the undead was created from). This will be used for:

Physical Ability Scores
Hit Dice (which by the end of the process, will equal ECL)

Second, select type of undead. This will be either skeleton or zombie. Apply the normal modifiers (e.g., skeleton gets +2 Dex, DR 5/Bludgeoning, undead traits), and calculate saves (high is Will, as per MM). Note that if zombie is selected, the fewest HD possible is 2, which means that you would be starting with a 2nd level character, minimum.

Third, select spirit. This will be used for:

Mental Ability Scores
Base Attack Bonus
Skill Ranks
Weapon & Armor Proficiencies

Later I may make rules for level adjustment in case of mismatch, but for now I'm saying that when created as a PC, the BAB must equal the Hit Dice of the undead creature. This gives us a nice easy situation where ECL equals HD. I use BAB as the base instead of level, because it's a better judge of what the undead is getting from the imprinting. True, it means that a 1 HD skeleton could be imprinted by a 3rd level wizard, but what is the skeleton getting? Some high mental stats, a BAB of 1, a few skills at rank (6), almost no weapon/armor proficiencies, and 3 feats (one of which is by definition Scribe Scroll). Alternatively, a 1HD skeleton imprinted by a 1st level fighter would get (probably) lower mental stats, a BAB of 1, a few skills at rank (4), a ton of weapon/armor proficiencies, and 2 feats. Roughly equivalent.

It is important to note that the imprinted undead does /not/ gain any actual levels in the class of the spirit, only some stats from it. Thus, a wizard imprinted skeleton could not cast spells, and a rogue imprinted zombie doesn't get evasion or trapfinding, etc. This also means that the PC starts out as a monster, with monster levels only. Advancement would be by character class, which may or may not have anything to do with the skills and feats obtained by the imprinting.

I'm thinking this shouldn't have any level adjustment (in addition to the monster levels, that is), because at first level you'd have a character who has a few abilities that an ordinary character wouldn't (undead traits are more powerful than your average racial traits), but who wouldn't have any class's special abilities...only the skills, feats, and BAB from the class. This hurts in the short run, because they won't be as effective in their class, and even more in the long run, because it effectively puts them a set number of levels behind the rest of the group, since they aren't "building on" their monster levels, instead their starting a new class as gameplay progresses (if that makes sense).

The one situation I where I think this might be broken is if the imprinting spirit is a fighter, since they don't really have any special abilities. Hence, the undead is getting everything from the class except for the saves. There would be a slight disadvantage at 4th level, since it would delay the undead PC qualifying for Weapon Specialization (along with the later feats that also use fighter level as prereq). Not sure this is enough of a disadvantage to counter the advantages the undead PC gets, though.

Anyway, thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks in advance!