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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Small guide to large finite Undead Armies

    Sources

    http://community.wizards.com/go/thre...g_Caster_Level
    Comprehensive list of caster level boosts

    Red Wizard Handbook
    Sources of Circle Magic

    Revised Necromancers Handbook
    The majority of my prior knowledge used to write this guide I learned from the Revised Necromancer’s Handbook


    Recently there has been an above average interest in necromancer and undead armies on the forum. There seem to be some misconceptions that I think it’s time to clear up. These misconceptions are that animate dead and rebuke undead are the important control pools, wizards do not have the ability to lead armies of undead, clerics are better necromancers and dread necromancers have a significant advantage over wizards in the undead army arena. Some of these are true if chain-spawning undead armies are the goal. However if armies with finite limits are the goal these assumptions turn out to be false.

    The main source of significant undead armies is the Command Undead spell. This spell is the seed from which great armies can grow. Being available at 1st level doesn’t hurt either. As many know, the easiest way to get large numbers is to use multipliers. Command Undead has 3 primary multipliers: Caster level, Spell Slots and Metamagic.

    Caster Level

    Items
    Ring of Arcane Might +1 - 20,000 MIC arcane only
    Ioun Stone (Orange Prism) +1 - 30,000 DMG
    Robe of Arcane Might +1 competence 21,000 MIC 1 school
    Ruby Skull of Wee Jas +1 - 350 CC necromancy, worship Wee Jas

    Feats
    Arcane Thesis +2 single spell (Command Undead)

    Other
    Bloodtouched Rite +1 - PGtE necromancy
    Spellgifted (trait) +1 - UA one school; -1 others

    Class Features
    Circle Magic (cl 40 max) Hathran, Halruaan Elder, Red Wizard

    Circle Magic
    Circle Magic is a ritual magic that originates from Faerun. There are three sources of Circle Magic: Halruaan Elder PrC [ShS], Hathran PrC [PGtF] and Red Wizard PrC [DMG]. Circle Magic has many benefits but for our purposes we are only concerned with the ability to increase caster level to a maximum of 40. This maximum can be reached almost immediately after achieving the ability to lead a circle through spell “donations” from your cohorts and their cohorts.

    Prerequisites:

    Halruaan Eldar
    minimum level 7th (10 ranks)
    Spoiler
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    Region: Halruaan
    Skills: Diplomacy 5 ranks, Knowledge (Arcana) 10 ranks
    Feats: Halruaan Adept, Spell Thematics, any metamagic feat, any item creation feat
    Spells: 4th level Arcane spells
    Note: metamagic reducing class features give back 1 of the feats lost

    Hathran
    minimum level 6th (leadership feat) with early entry trick
    otherwise 7th (4th level spells)
    Spoiler
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    Region: Rashemen
    Skills: Knowledge (Rashemen Local) 4 ranks
    Feats: Ethran, Leadership
    Spells: 4th level Arcane or Divine
    Deity: Chauntea, Mielikki, or Mystra
    Note: These Deities do not offer the Necromancer domain

    Red Wizard
    minimum level 5th (8 ranks)
    Spoiler
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    Region: Thay
    Race: Human
    Class: Specialized Wizard
    Alignment: Non Good
    Skills: Spellcraft 8 ranks
    Feats: Tattoo Focus, any 3 metamagic or item creation feats
    Spells: 3rd level Arcane spells


    It is difficult for a Cleric Necromancer to get Circle Magic and the Command Undead spell [only available to Divine casters through the Necromancer Domain or the Arcane Disciple alternate base class] due to the Patron Deity restrictions on the Hathran PrC. The Arcane Disciple class sacrifices Turn undead and its domain slots (in addition to other things) leaving it even further behind in spell slots per spell level. It is for this reason that I dismiss Cleric Necromancers.

    The Halruaan Elder PrC is inferior for our purposes because it requires a higher level and the metamagic reducer benefit is not sufficient to make up for the extra levels and extra feat.
    This leaves 3 builds each using all feats from 1st-15th with 2 flaws each. If using the taint bonus feat rules becoming a necropolitain would shave 6 levels off the feat chain if you conduct the ritual to become a necropolitian at or after 7th level. (I.e. finish as a 6th level necropolitian).

    Spell Slots

    There are two main ways to increase the number of spell slots.
    1) Increase the spells perday per caster
    2) Increase the number of casters (ie Leadership)

    The simplest way to increase spell slots per day per caster is to hike up the primary stat and use a base class with a high number of spell slots per spell level already. Through the Focused Specialist variant a Wizard can compete with a Dread Necromancer in this. The Focused Necromancer maxing at 3regular, 3specialist and some bonus spots due to high Intelligence compared to the Dread Necromancer 6 regular and some bonus slots due to high Charisma.

    The Leadership component is comprised of three feats

    Leadership
    Leadership gives you a cohort with a maximum level of 2 less than yours. It also gives you some number of followers. Followers are restricted to levels in Commoner, Warrior and Expert. More advanced followers gain a level adjustment when considered by the leadership feat.

    Undead Leadership
    Undead Leadership is identical to Leadership except it requires nongood alignment and 1 rank in Knowledge (Religion). It also allows you to gain undead cohorts and followers at +2 leadership score and living followers and cohorts at -2 leadership score. Since there is no cost to having all your cohorts be necropolitians, Undead Leadership practically gives away a +2 bonus to leadership.

    Improved Cohort
    Improved Cohort allows you cohorts from leadership feats to have a maximum level of 1 less than yours and gives a +1 leadership bonus. Improved Cohort is more beneficial the earlier it is taken by your cohorts and yourself.

    With each cohort also having these feats you create a chain of necromancers that all own some loyalty to the first leader. The number of these cohorts increases rapidly as you level. The effect will become more evident below when I make some calculations for sample builds below.


    Metamagic

    Extend Spell
    Extend Spell is a +1 metamagic feat that doubles the duration of Command Undead. The doubled duration increases the number of days in the control cycle and thus allows twice the Undead to be controlled.

    Chain Spell
    Chain Spell is a +3 metamagic feat that increases the number of targets to 1+caster level (maximum 21). Each Command Undead spell now controls up to 21 mindless undead per spell slot.

    Sanctum Spell
    Sanctum Spell is a +0 metamagic feat that increases the spells level by 1 if you are in your sanctum and reduces the spells level by 1 if outside you sanctum. This is useful to treat a 3rd level spell as a 4th level spell for early entry into prestige classes. When combined with Arcane Thesis this reduces the metamagic cost by an additional spell level.

    Cooperative Spell
    Cooperative Spell is a +0 metamagic feat that allows multiple casters to cast more potent spells when cast at the same time. Your DM might allow this to share the benefit of corpsecrafter feats when animating undead. When combined with Arcane Thesis this reduces the metamagic cost by an additional spell level.

    Slay Mate
    Slay Mates are 4HD undead. They have an aura that reduces total metamagic costs by a spell level for necromancy spells. 8th level rebuking is sufficient to control Slay Mates.

    Arcane Thesis
    Arcane Thesis reduces the final spell level by 1 per metamagic feat. Minimum level equal to the unmetamagiced version of the spell.

    Fell Animate
    Fell Animate is a +3 spell level metamagic feat that will animate slain foes as zombies with no additional material component cost.


    The Main Builds

    A) Dread Necromancer 8 / Hathran 5 / Fullcasting Prc 7
    Spoiler
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    Feats
    Spoiler
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    H Ethran
    F Sanctum Spell
    F Extend Spell
    1 Fell Animate
    3 Chain Spell
    6 Leadership
    9 Arcane Thesis (Command Undead)
    12 Improved Cohort
    15 Undead Leadership
    18 empty

    Pros:
    Spontaneous Cha Caster
    Rebuke Undead (1 Slaymate and some other Undead)
    SAD Cha focus boosts Leadership

    Cons:
    Gains Circle Magic 3 levels later than earliest
    1 level behind Wizard in gaining spell levels
    Gains Free Animate Dead at 7th level


    B) Focused Necromancer 6 / Hathran 5 / Fullcasting Prc 9
    Spoiler
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    Feats
    Spoiler
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    H Ethran
    B1 Scribe Scroll
    F Sanctum Spell
    F Extend Spell
    1 Fell Animate
    3 Chain Spell
    B5 Cooperative Spell
    6 Leadership
    9 Arcane Thesis (Command Undead)
    12 Improved Cohort
    15 Undead Leadership
    18 empty
    Pros:
    Pros:
    Spontaneous caster with an Acorn of Far Travel
    Gains spell levels at typical wizard speed
    Gains Free Animate Dead at 5th level

    Cons:
    Prepared Int caster
    Gains Circle Magic 1 level later than earliest
    DAD Int/Cha focus slows Leadership score


    C) Focused Necromancer 5 / Red Wizard 5 / Fullcasting Prc 10
    Spoiler
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    Feats
    Spoiler
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    H Tattoo Focus
    B1 Scribe Scroll
    F Sanctum Spell
    F Extend Spell
    1 Fell Animate
    3 Chain Spell
    B5 Cooperative Spell
    6 Leadership
    9 Arcane Thesis (Command Undead)
    12 Improved Cohort
    15 Undead Leadership
    18 empty

    Pros:
    Gains Circle Magic at the earlier level possible
    Gains spell levels at typical wizard speed
    Gains Free Animate Dead at 5th level

    Cons:
    Prepared Int caster
    DAD Int/Cha focus slows Leadership score


    Sample Army Calculations for 20th level

    For the following calculations I am assuming Venerable Magic Blooded Humans with 28pt buy with items of ___ +6 and tomes of ___ +5.

    SAD Cha: 18+3+2+6+5+5=39 [+14]
    DAD Int/Cha: 17+3+6+5+5=36 [+13] Int and 17+3+2+6+5=33 [+11] Cha

    Due to the cl increases and the metamagic we have 40cl and all 2nd+ spell slots have chain extended command undead.

    Build C:
    Spells Per Day 4/7+3/6+3/6+3/6+3/6+3/5+3/5+3/5+3/5+3
    Total 2nd+ slots = 68
    21 undead/slot * 68 slots/day * 80 days = 114,240

    Cohorts Available: 2-17th/4-16th/8-15th/16-14th/16-13th
    I am only including the 40cl cohorts

    Cohort Level: Spells Per Day: total 2nd+
    17: 4/6+3/6+3/6+3/6+3/5+3/5+3/4+3/3+3/2+3: 61
    16: 4/6+3/6+3/6+3/6+3/5+3/4+3/4+3/3+3: 55
    15: 4/6+3/6+3/6+3/6+3/5+3/4+3/3+3/2+3: 53
    14: 4/6+3/6+3/6+3/6+3/4+3/4+3/3+3: 47
    13: 4/6+3/6+3/6+3/6+3/4+3/3+3/2+3: 45

    Total Spell slots 2nd+
    68 + 2 * 61 + 4 * 55 + 8 * 53 + 16 * 47 + 16 * 45 = 2306
    21 undead/slot * 2306 slots/day * 80 days = 3,874,080

    Dread Necromancer 8 / Hathran 5 / Dread Necromancer 7 gets 4*cl+cha*class level undead with animate dead
    with 40cl, 15 class level and 39 cha we get:
    4*40+14*15=370 HD of Undead extra. This is a drop in the ocean compared to the undead controlled with Command Undead.

    In summary, it is easy to get large finite necromantic armies in D&D with the use of the Command Undead spell. While the Dread Necromancer still is the supreme Undead commander it is only by less than .01% of the total undead pool while Clerics must either chain spawn or get left in the dust.
    Last edited by OldTrees; 2010-05-29 at 02:24 AM.
    "The fool is marked by ignoring the wisdom of the wise. The wise are marked by their eagerness to heed the wisdom of the fool."

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