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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Everyone I've asked has said that it's a poor choice for a necromancer, but I can't figure out why; it has a single dead level, yes, but other than that it looks like it does exactly what it's supposed to do.

    So what, if anything, makes it a poor class?

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Provided this is the Libris Mortis version, the only real negative is the loss of a spellcasting level and usage of a feat on skill focus (religion). As for being an actual necromancer, he focuses more on becoming undead'esque than commanding undead, and clerics are better necromancers as far as I know.

    To note, the Tome and Blood version is terrible, thus people might be commenting on that.
    Last edited by Vangor; 2011-01-10 at 02:41 AM.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    It's better than the True Necromancer, that's for sure. I think its main draw is the ability to have uncapped zombies from punching people to death, which might be a little underwhelming to certain peoples' idea of what a necromancer should be.
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    The main problem is that Pale Master is an arcane PrC. Unfortunately, Clerics and other divine spell casters make far superior necromancers.

    With that noted, I think it's a decent enough necro class for arcane classes.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    If you're playing gestalt (that's the one where you have to multiclass right and essentially get 2 levels?) it makes a fun and balanced option for monk.

    You go Pale master on one side and monk on the other. Between all the bonuses to each, and your spellcasting to up your stats because of monk being MAD, you can make a great durable melee pet class.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    It's not that it's awful in the way that, say, True Necromancer is awful. It's just really not worth the price of entry. It has an unfortunate feat prereq and perhaps the deadest level you'll find in a PrC, and in exchange, what do you get? Not really that much. The ability to bypass the costly component of Animate Dead is OK, but not that big of a deal, really (at ECL 7 / CL 6, which is the earliest you can get this without shenanigans, you can create a maximum of 24 HD of undead, which requires onyx with a whopping total cost ofóget ready for itó600 GP. Even if you boost your caster level a bit, say to 9, that's only 900 GP saved. It basically can save you 100 GP per caster level, which honestly is pocket change by the time you get it. So while it's not bad, it's not really special even for a Dread Necromancer. (Also, with the feat that you burned getting into this class, you could have just taken Fell Animate and, with a little bit of effort, gotten a very similar effect.) After that, the class takes on this weird melee focus, giving you a strength bonus, a few touch attacks (which aren't terrible in and of themselves, but still, why are you in melee? You don't belong in melee. Note also that these are SLAs, not spells, so Spectral Hand doesn't work.), and some defensive abilities. The defensive abilities, once again, aren't bad, but I'd rather have the feat and the caster level. The Leadership thing is pretty nice, I'll grant, especially since it seems like it doesn't interfere with taking Leadership normally, so you can possibly get two cohorts.

    It's not wretchedly bad, though I'd be wary of the melee focus. It's got good flavor, and I think it would make a really fun NPC (preferably an uncomfortable ally, though it could work as a villain if that's your thing), but the things it gains generally aren't worth the feat and the caster level that you sacrifice to get in it. It's certainly playable, and if you think that it fits the flavor that you want, then you're not going to be GIMPED INTO OBLIVION to take it. It's just not really an optimal choice.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    It makes a great enemy NPC! Just think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where th bad guy takes the heart out of the poor guys chest, except after doing that (complete with chanting) he also turns them into zombies! Show it to your captured PCs and then aproach them and let them get worried!

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Pale Master is a good choice for an arcane necromancer who focuses mostly on his minions. Its main drawback - aside from concerns listed above - is that Pale Master 1 is the worst dead level ever. I think Fighter 5 points at it and laughs.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    hmm, its actually pretty awsome. its got some great points. the touches are all pretty good appart from the one that deals Con drain. but thats only a little turd because it allows a save. str damage, negative levels and save or zomby are fun to play with. +4 strength is a good class bonus. especially for a arcane necromancer who uses a lot of touch spells (also as a side note, its just about plausible to duskblade into this) and then you get undead leadership... leadership being busted.

    so yeah... pretty awsome for one CL loss.

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    The Tome and Blood version, which made it into NWN, gave this class a lot of bad press it doesn't deserve. It's decent for what it does.

    The problem, as others have said, is that what it does is usually done better by clerics. Free animate dead is nice though.

    And yeah, that dead level is absolutely horrible

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by Malbordeus View Post
    (also as a side note, its just about plausible to duskblade into this)
    With a d4 HD and requiring command undead?
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    How hard is it to replicate their free animate dead ability outside of the class? I know the Rod of the Dead can do it in a limited way, but how expensive is, say, a custom item that allows it without an HD limit, given that the material cost is different for each casting of the spell?

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    I just don't like the flavor. I prefer divine necromancers anyways. Mechanically, it's ok, I guess, but I just don't care for it.
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trekkin View Post
    How hard is it to replicate their free animate dead ability outside of the class? I know the Rod of the Dead can do it in a limited way, but how expensive is, say, a custom item that allows it without an HD limit, given that the material cost is different for each casting of the spell?
    The general rule for creating such a custom magic item would be to make the extra material cost based on the maximum benefit the device would give. So, if the device were based on CL 10, for example, it could animate up to 20 HD at a time -- the material cost would then be based on a single-use cost of 20 HD/use x 25 GP/HD = 500 GP/use.

    So, a CL 10 item (based on the clerical form of animate dead) allowing 1/day usage would be:

    Command word item: 1,800 * 3 * 10 = 54,000
    1/day: 54,000 / 5 = 10,800
    Plus materials: 500 * 50 = 25,000
    Total cost: 35,800 GP

    More generally, it woks out to 3,580 GP times the caster level.

    ---

    Back to the original topic. For some reason, I always thought that Pale Master was a 5/10 casting class, not 9/10. Flavor-wise, it would make a nice PrC for Dread Necromancers (after level 8), but there are two problems with that:

    1) The bonuses and immunities mimic what DNs already get, all the more so if they went the (quite logical) Necropolitan route.
    2) Boy, that first level really does bite. Move the animate dead ability the 1st level and maybe we're talking...
    Last edited by Duke of URL; 2011-01-10 at 09:58 AM.


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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Oddly enough, the Pale Master is a godsend for Undead arcanists. The dead level is forgivable when you're already behind the caster-curve as an Undead anyway (what with Racial HD and LA) and the various "make you more undead" class abilities are totally wasted. However, for Undead such as Necropolitan (undoubtedly the best spellcasting Undead type) or ghouls (quite a common PC-Undead given their nature) it grants the Supernatural Ability to cause Strength Damage (and later Con Drain, but that's not important).

    This then allows you to take the Necrotic Reserve feat, which in turn gives you (a relatively fragile creature due to d4 class HD from the majority of arcane classes) the ability to survive -ve HP. Better yet, with this feat you can survive an infinite number of -ve HP, so long as it was all dealt at one go! This means that Mr.Power Attack the Barbarian, dealing 200-odd HP of damage in a single blow can go shove it because you can sit there on your Necrotic Reserve with minus 200-odd HP, quite conscious and very much still (un)alive (and whilst it might take a while to heal it all back without taking strenuous action, it's certainly doable). All it takes is to keep a bag of rats (or other convenient container of living things) handy to Strength Drain one every morning.
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Remember, the quality of being undead is that all HD, past, present, and future, become D12s.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by VirOath View Post
    Remember, the quality of being undead is that all HD, past, present, and future, become D12s.
    This is not the case! Read the rules and what they say, not what you expect them to say. Certain methods of becoming Undead specify that all future HD become d12 (e.g. Lich). Others do not (e.g. Necropolitan). Undead Racial HD are d12. Undead Class HD are as per the Class. There is nothing in the description of the Undead Type that says that all HD become d12.

    As proof of my claim I reference as an example the Mummy Lord (MM, pg.190) which clearly has a number of d12 Racial HD and a separate number of d8 Cleric Class HD. This is not altered in the Errata and as such I can only assume that it is therefore not a typo or an oversight.
    Last edited by JellyPooga; 2011-01-10 at 10:23 AM.
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  18. - Top - End - #18
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Generally, what everybody is saying is right. Wizards and sorcerers, which are the typical entry to Pale Master, make poor Necromancers. However, where everybody is wrong is the fact that their are NO arcane classes which are as good as divine casters at Necromancy. Going purely by Wizards material, the Dread Necromancer is a darn good Necro and can have even more undead under their control then a cleric can. However, DN/Pale Master is not that great since the DN's best ability, undead mastery, which allows them to have so many undead in the first place is dependent on class levels and thus to get the maximum benefit from undead mastery you want to take as many DN levels as possible.

    However, a good candidate from Dragon Magazine compendium(I know, not the best source in the world and one that's often banned) is the Death Master. The Death Master is basically what a necro specialized wizard should be. He still uses int as his casting stat and learns spells in the exact same manner as a wizard, but unlike a wizard his spell list is full of key Necromancy spells including the ever coveted desecrate and the Animate Dead spell as a Level 2, meaning he gets it before even a cleric dose. His list also includes some nice spells that are usually cleric exclusives. Stuff like destruction, slay living, blasphemy, word of chaos, unholy aura and a few others I'm not going to name for the sake of length. In addition, the Death Masters get Rebuke Undead, an undead servant, some other minor special abilities and at level 20 automatically become a lich, much like a Dread Necromancer.

    So, the Death Master is a good candidate for Pale Master because unlike a Wizard he's actually good at necromancy and while he dose get a few abilities for staying in class none of them are all that spectacular and thus PrCing out of Death Master won't hurt you all that much. The only downsides are that your undead minion will be weaker and your rebuking will take a serious hit, but control undead can be a fine substitute for Rebuke. As for your undead minion, he's better then a standard familiar, yes, but you can animate things that are better then him, so having the guy be weak is really not that much of a loss. As for lichdom, if you want it that badly you can just grab craft wondrous item and shell out the gold and XP for the traditional lich transformation. Yes, getting it for free is nice, but you can still get it the old fashion way if your dead set on becoming a lich so, again, it's not the biggest loss in the world.

    Also, a tip about Death Masters....while his list is FAR smaller then the wiz/sorc list, by RAW(Though most likely not RAI) his spellbook functions "identical to that of a wizard" which means that he can learn spells from the wiz/sorc list that are not on his own provided he has them in written form. If your party happens to have a wizard getting them to learn a few good necromancy spells that you don't have(such as Avasculate, Shivering Touch, ect..) is VERY good for you...and while said wizard may not be a necromancer, one of the best ways to convince him/her to learn specific necromantic spells you want is to "trade" spells since, even if their not a necromancer, you have some great cleric-list exclusive spells that any wizard would want. Save or dies like destruction and slay living as well as Blasphemy and Word of Chaos. Unholy Aura is another nice one they may want to trade for. At lower levels you have stuff like Command, Enthrall, Doom and other cleric list spells that your friendly wizard will never get otherwise, but he can get all of these spells from you because, again, by RAW, your spellbook works exactly the same as a wizard's so if you can learn wizard/sorc spells in written form a wizard can likewise learn death master spells in written form. So "trading" spells with the party wizard can get you a lot of stuff you would not normally have access to without shelling out lots of gold or being lucky enough to find.
    Last edited by Maho-Tsukai; 2011-01-10 at 04:28 PM.
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    I like that idea Maho - Pale Master is indeed well-suited to a Death Master, though I've never seen a player choose that class before. And it reminds me that I should update my master of shrouds guide to include the dragon magazine base classes as possible dips :P
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Pale Master is a perfectly good PrC. The difference between wizards and clerics as necromancers is honestly not that big - you don't get domains and you wait two levels longer to start your army, but the difference is seriously not huge, and definitely not as big a deciding factor as "which spell list do I want access to". If you want to play a wizard necro, you'll play a wizard necro and do fine.

    Free Animate Dead really depends on how you play it. Pointing to animation as a one-time cost is misleading, because zombies and skeletons die incredibly easily. If you want to use your minions effectively, they will be destroyed sometimes. If you have some form of free Animate Dead, you can treat minions as expendable in a way you just can't if every fallen skeleton is sucking down your WBL. You can do this through Spellstitching, but that's a LA - template with the most bizarre cost calculation around. You can do it through a custom item, but the rules for pricing an item with variable-cost components are pretty much nonexistent. Fell Animate is nice but (a) only gets you zombies which are largely inferior minions and (b) is much finickier about how you get the corpse - if it dies to anything other than your Fell Animating coup de grace, no minion for you. So getting free Animate Dead from Pale Master is a pretty decent ability, even if it's not gamebreaking.

    So taking Pale Master as a whole, we have a 9/10 casting class with free Animate Dead, interesting abilities at every level after the first, and a capstone that lets you break your control limit. The requirements are a speedbump feat, an easy skill req, an easy spellcasting req and a flavor req. In those terms, the Pale Master is an eminently respectable PrC: not an absolute powerhouse, but a solid choice for characters who want to go towards its strengths.

    The big problem, though is that Pale Master 1 is the worst level of any non-NPC class and worse than most NPC class levels. Pale Master 1 is only better than Commoner 1 by virtue of its Will save and slightly better skill list, and that is just ugly even though the class taken as a whole is quite good. They really should have put some kind of class feature there. Personally, I would lean towards giving PM1 the Undead Graft at level 1 but leaving its special attacks where they are. That way PM1 doesn't feel entirely like a dead level (even if +4 strength for a lost caster level is a bad deal for most would-be Pale Masters) and it gets its most distinctive feature right at the start.

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    The only thing I can think of that would make Pale Master a 'good' class is if you went through DN to at least 8th level before going into it, meeting all prerequisites, and taking some Corpsecrafter type feats, which are then applied to undead created by Deathless Master's Touch, effectively uncapping the HD of undead you control, and making them fairly nasty by having them, for example, able to blow up and do negative energy damage in the area.

    That's about the only thing I can think of, but hey, if you are in an evil party who doesn't care, you can simply go into a village and come out with a couple hundred HD worth of zombies after a month or so.

    Alternately, Undead Cohort should be something that makes more of itself that is under it's control, so you have an army under your lieutenant.
    Last edited by ShneekeyTheLost; 2011-01-10 at 09:07 PM.
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vangor View Post
    Provided this is the Libris Mortis version, the only real negative is the loss of a spellcasting level and usage of a feat on skill focus (religion). As for being an actual necromancer, he focuses more on becoming undead'esque than commanding undead, and clerics are better necromancers as far as I know.

    To note, the Tome and Blood version is terrible, thus people might be commenting on that.
    Clerics would make better necromancers if they got command undead.

    As is, the only way for a core character to directly command an actual undead horde is a Sor/Wiz only spell.

    And it's such a good spell that it more than makes up for all the cleric's alleged advantages, command undead isn't just slightly better than Rebuke, it knocks rebuke out of the ballpark, mugs it, and takes it stuff then laughs at the feeble power that's pretending to be useful for a necromancer.

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    Clerics would make better necromancers if they got command undead.

    As is, the only way for a core character to directly command an actual undead horde is a Sor/Wiz only spell.

    And it's such a good spell that it more than makes up for all the cleric's alleged advantages, command undead isn't just slightly better than Rebuke, it knocks rebuke out of the ballpark, mugs it, and takes it stuff then laughs at the feeble power that's pretending to be useful for a necromancer.
    Rebuke/Command is permanent. Command Undead is not. Command Undead also has a very strict limit to a single undead per casting, therefore it also has a very realistic limit to how many you can keep going like this. Furthermore, any intelligent undead get to make Will saves, which Rebuke/Command don't allow.

    So no, it's not as cool as you think it is.
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    Rebuke/Command is permanent. Command Undead is not. Command Undead also has a very strict limit to a single undead per casting, therefore it also has a very realistic limit to how many you can keep going like this. Furthermore, any intelligent undead get to make Will saves, which Rebuke/Command don't allow.

    So no, it's not as cool as you think it is.
    On the other hand, above low levels Rebuking isn't going to let you control much of anything you'd actually want to control (barring a "flood the world with darkness" spawner pyramid scheme), whereas Command Undead can be used as a control-pool extender for arbitrarily large mindless undead. It's not the be-all end-all but it's a rather useful spell especially for its level.

    Edit: That said, it's not what "makes up for the cleric's advantages as a necromancer". What does that is the wizard spell list in general, combined with the cleric's advantages honestly not being all that big. I suppose you could argue that Command Undead makes up specifically for the increased control pool from Deathbound domain in that both pretty much just extend the HD value of zombies and skeletons you can have.
    Last edited by Benly; 2011-01-10 at 09:45 PM.

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    Clerics would make better necromancers if they got command undead.

    As is, the only way for a core character to directly command an actual undead horde is a Sor/Wiz only spell.

    And it's such a good spell that it more than makes up for all the cleric's alleged advantages, command undead isn't just slightly better than Rebuke, it knocks rebuke out of the ballpark, mugs it, and takes it stuff then laughs at the feeble power that's pretending to be useful for a necromancer.
    As Shneeky noted...Command undead sucks. Badly. It's the Charm Person of undead, so it gets you either a single mindless undead per cast, or a intelligent one who both gets a save and only is friendly towards you, not obedient. Clerics with Rebuke Undead have total control over their targets, which arcane casters can't get until Control Undead at level 13 (which also sucks, as it grants a Will save even to Mindless undead).

    EDIT: Though Benly has a valid point - Command Undead is HD-uncapped, so it can be used to get a giant zombie bruiser or something to follow you around.
    Last edited by The Glyphstone; 2011-01-10 at 09:42 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    Clerics would make better necromancers if they got command undead.
    Divine Magician ACF from Complete Mage says, "They do". Lets you drop a domain to gain an abjuration, divination, or necromancy spell from the Sorc/Wiz list of your choice each spell level.

    To note, wizards are not bad necromancers, but clerics are merely better. Amassing hordes of them is fairly common practice, and you can still get quite powerful undead through mere rebuke usage, especially with feats. The ACF rather seals this for when necessary.
    Last edited by Vangor; 2011-01-10 at 10:14 PM.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    EDIT: Though Benly has a valid point - Command Undead is HD-uncapped, so it can be used to get a giant zombie bruiser or something to follow you around.
    Which is basically what it's for, other than stealing someone's guard zombies and marching them into traps.

    Rebuke is limited by requiring an investment in optimizing it for it to stay more than occasionally relevant, or only useful when one is completely revamping the ranks of one's undead servitors (since animate dead is typically used to animate heavies, which would be lost if one was using animate dead to make critters to control by rebuking unless one lessened the HD of the heavies in order to have a buffer.

    Still wondering where those "positive energy levels," are from that Frank and/or K mentioned in the Revised Necromancy handbook...
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2011-01-10 at 10:18 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Keld Denar View Post
    +3 Girlfriend is totally unoptimized. You are better off with a +1 Keen Witty girlfriend and then appling Greater Magic Make-up to increase her enhancement bonus.
    Homebrew
    To Do: Reboot and finish Riptide

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    Rebuke/Command is permanent. Command Undead is not. Command Undead also has a very strict limit to a single undead per casting, therefore it also has a very realistic limit to how many you can keep going like this. Furthermore, any intelligent undead get to make Will saves, which Rebuke/Command don't allow.

    So no, it's not as cool as you think it is.
    It can control HUNDREDS of undead at non-epic levels, trivially and without any cheeze.

    You get MANY slots per day, and the spell lasts for MANY days. That's not one undead at a time.

    Nor is there any problem with permanence, mindless undead don't even get a save against recasting.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Eldritch Horror in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    It can control HUNDREDS of undead at non-epic levels, trivially and without any cheeze.

    You get MANY slots per day, and the spell lasts for MANY days. That's not one undead at a time.

    Nor is there any problem with permanence, mindless undead don't even get a save against recasting.
    ...time to run some numbers here.

    A 20th level sorcerer (the most favorable scenario), has 48 spells per day of 2nd level or higher barring stat mods. With a Charisma of 36 (18 PB, +2 racial, +5 from levels, +5 tome, +6 item), he gets an extra 20 spell slots of 2nd level or higher. That's...68, not 'hundreds'. And to do so, you're giving up...say...Shapechange and Gate. No mindless undead is worth that flexibility.
    Last edited by The Glyphstone; 2011-01-10 at 10:49 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: What is wrong with the Pale Master?

    Are we certain that we're not mixing up Command Undead and Control Undead? Just checking.
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Roc View Post
    Gentlefolk, learn from Zaq's example, and his suffering. Remember, seven out of eleven players who use truenamer lose their ability to taste ice cream.
    Come join the Iron Chef Optimization Challenge in the Playground E6 Appetizer Edition! We're currently judging for round 23. Everyone is welcome! Wanna be an instant authority? Just come judge, even if it's your first time!

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