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Making a Necromancer, need advice


Advice


I'm planning to make a necromancer for a game and I'm wondering what my options are to pull this off, and what advantages they have over the other ideas.

By necromancer I mean someone who has a bunch of undead minions to do his bidding.

It won't be an evil character, he believes his actions actually serve a greater good. Yes, undead are evil and so are the spells. I know that, not the point of this thread.

The game will start at level 1, so getting undead minions at that level already would be nice :)

There's of course the two obvious ideas. Cleric (the Undead domain doesn't even seem so great for this) or the Wizard with the Necromancy/Undead school.

But I'm sure there must be more and maybe better things out there. So please, throw them at me.


cleric gets some really neat stuff for necromancer setups there's a good number of suggestions in this guide (links at the bottom), as well as the others in the 'guide to the class guides' topic.


Thanks, I'll look into that

Qadira

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

look into the undead lord cleric archtype

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Undead Lord Cleric is the only surefire way to start play at lvl 1 with an undead minion.

However, a necromancer wizard with a solid CHA or an Oracle of Bones, or ANY evil cleric with Command undead can get one in fairly short order using the Command Undead feat. As you level here are some tips:

As a non-evil necromancer, stick to mindless undead. Creating ghouls that actively want to feed on the living will not be easy for you to roleplay.

Command Undead (The spell not the feat) is an extremely long duration spell, and mindless undead get no save to resist it.

The size of a corpse and its hit dice are the most important things to consider when allocating the HD limit of your undead army. one skeletal dragon with 10 HD can be much more effective than 10 little 4 hp skeletons with d4 claws.

Undead are great against archers, but archers are great against necromancers. Invest in protection against ranged attacks and let the hordes shamble forth.


There's a book called Classic Horrors Revisted by Paizo. I would go as far as to say that to play a necromancer (of any class) as effective as they ought to be, it is a necessity. It contains a whole list of variant skeletons/zombies, including spellcasters (which can be incredibly useful if used correctly - allowing low-level, caster level-independent buffs to be handled by your horde).

Just a recommendation, if you're going to do it.


Stepping a little bit outside of the classic choices you could go with a Gravewalker Archetype Witch. You would have a nice mixture of Arcane and Divine Spells, an aura of desecration, the ability to both take over undead as well as posses them. It would also give you the ability to use your melee touch spells at range and still have good access to Witch Hexes as well.


Vendis wrote:

There's a book called Classic Horrors Revisted by Paizo. I would go as far as to say that to play a necromancer (of any class) as effective as they ought to be, it is a necessity. It contains a whole list of variant skeletons/zombies, including spellcasters (which can be incredibly useful if used correctly - allowing low-level, caster level-independent buffs to be handled by your horde).

Just a recommendation, if you're going to do it.

Bloody skeletons in particular, are great. They save you a ton of gold in onyx.


I played an undead lord cleric, neutral alignment, worshiper of Shyka (if playing a non evil cleric who worships a non evil god, you only have like 3 minor gods to choose from, this ones flavor interested me the most. Ofcourse you could bypass all the trouble if you just follow an ideal) my group sticks to low level campaigns so getting undead asap was important to me, at first level you start off with an undead companion, and you still have the cleric special ability command undead so if you come across one you can take control of it and have 2 undead minions at level one, or if your dm is nice he can let you say before the game starts you came across one and have taken control over it.

Also, in the 101 spell series there is a 1st level cleric spell that allows you to create and command a 1hd skeleton for twice the onyx it normally cost AND you could only controlled one skeleton with this spell so if it was cast a second time you loose control of the first skeleton you created, but at first level there is no other option as far as creating undead goes. What my character did was use the spell to create one skeleton, then use the spell to create a second one, releasing the first, then took control over the first one with the cleric special ability command undead. This gave me 3 skeleton minions at level 1 for a price of 100gp, very expensive at level 1 but not a bad trade off for already having 3 minions in your undead army


In addition to the Undead Lord Cleric archetype, also take a look at Agent of the Grave Prestige Class. It has a requirement of evil alignment, but you might be able to get your DM to create a homebrew version for neutral necromancers.

Andoran

Have you looked into the White Necromancer from Kobold Press? It is a non evil necromancer class and might work quite well for you! I'm on my phone now or I'd provide a link ... maybe someone else can hook you up. If not, I'll try to pop back in later and take care of it :)


As has been mentioned before the undead lord archetype will get you minions form level 1. But, I tend to find it lacking. You can get lesser animate dead as a second level spell. Plus of course there is command undead.


Is the undead bloodline sorcerer out of the question? I just really like their grave touch ability.

If you are dead set on undead minions right off the bat you do need to look at the undead lord cleric.


It would be cool to have undead minions from level 1 on, but seems the options there are really very limited, so don't give it too much weight when coming up with ideas :)


Look up Death Mage on the d20pfsrd.


Marc Radle wrote:
Have you looked into the White Necromancer from Kobold Press? It is a non evil necromancer class and might work quite well for you! I'm on my phone now or I'd provide a link ... maybe someone else can hook you up. If not, I'll try to pop back in later and take care of it :)

That class is awesome I just checked it out and if anyone plans to play a good necromancer this is perfect as well as an awesome npc to throw in

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wasnt the juju oracle the go-to for non-evil necromancers?


Oracles are a bit of a double edged sword for necromancers.

On the one hand, they use Charisma as their casting stat (which is used for your channels and Command Undead and whatnot), so they're even more SAD. Bones and Juju mysteries can get Command Undead as a revelation, which is pretty awesome.

On the other, they have to spend Spells Known to get their undead-creating spells, which is a precious resource to a spontaneous caster. Clerics or wizards can just prepare those when they need them, then move on (leaving any slots open they want for the unexpected need for castings).

Overall, I like versatility, so I tend towards clerics and wizards, but to each his own.


Coridan wrote:
Wasnt the juju oracle the go-to for non-evil necromancers?

This.

Half-elf JuJu Oracle is the way to go. Less MAD than a cleric, your Command Undead will be strong with your high Charisma, you'll have a ton more Undead with Lvl times 6 instead of lvl times 4 in undead Hit Dice.

Your high Charisma will also make Eldritch Heritage easy to qualify for. Animate Dead, Lesser is a lvl 2 spell so you won't reliably be able to create undead till then. Take your revelation that gives you Command Undead at lvl 1, however, and you make be able to take control of a non-intelligent undead sooner.


If its a home game, ask your GM if you can re tool the summoner to get an undead instead of outsider and have the summon monster spells summon undead. I haven't done the work to see if it's more or less powerful, but I think it could work. (a few of the other spells may have to change as well. Ymmv)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As long as you have access to Command Undead, Raise Dead and Create Undead it doesn't really matter what class you pick.

Being a necromancer isn't really about how you get your minions, it's what you do with them.

My recommendation- Find a theme and get creative. Are you a zombie lord who sews Area Effect Inflicts Wounds traps into their chests and bolts armor to them? Are you a piper with swarms of undead rats who spread plauge? Are you a Dwarf who uses Craft: Sculpture and Stone To Flesh to create custom corpses? Are you a shaman from an ancestor-worshiping tribe leading a host of his dead relatives?

The mechanics of necromancy are pretty basic. Have ability to make/control undead, and do it.

Necromancy is about style.


Any class that can summon monster can pick up the Skeleton Summoner feat (for 1st level you'd have to be human) to have on demand undead minions.

As a summoner you can make your Eidolon practically undead so combining the 2 you could be a master summoner with several undead at your command.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Joegoat wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Have you looked into the White Necromancer from Kobold Press? It is a non evil necromancer class and might work quite well for you! I'm on my phone now or I'd provide a link ... maybe someone else can hook you up. If not, I'll try to pop back in later and take care of it :)
That class is awesome I just checked it out and if anyone plans to play a good necromancer this is perfect as well as an awesome npc to throw in

Yep, it's awesome and the flavor is fantastic. While vanilla/stereotypical PF necromancers could be played as "ends justify the means/for the greater good" at best, White Necromancers could be played that way at their worst. They have a very interesting range of character possibilities to pull from because they have a very different way of dealing with the dead that vanilla necros hardly ever touch upon.


Mikaze wrote:
Joegoat wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Have you looked into the White Necromancer from Kobold Press? It is a non evil necromancer class and might work quite well for you! I'm on my phone now or I'd provide a link ... maybe someone else can hook you up. If not, I'll try to pop back in later and take care of it :)
That class is awesome I just checked it out and if anyone plans to play a good necromancer this is perfect as well as an awesome npc to throw in

Yep, it's awesome and the flavor is fantastic. While vanilla/stereotypical PF necromancers could be played as "ends justify the means/for the greater good" at best, White Necromancers could be played that way at their worst. They have a very interesting range of character possibilities to pull from because they have a very different way of dealing with the dead that vanilla necros hardly ever touch upon.

The only problem I see is it raises the "non-evil undead" problem that everyone was bringing up with the j-ju zombies. I don't really see a problem with having non-evil undead personally, especially when its "neutral" mindless undead (they do as directed not anymore evil than a trained dog) but having neutral good intelligent undead seems pretty odd to me

Silver Crusade

Vendis wrote:

Oracles are a bit of a double edged sword for necromancers.

On the one hand, they use Charisma as their casting stat (which is used for your channels and Command Undead and whatnot), so they're even more SAD. Bones and Juju mysteries can get Command Undead as a revelation, which is pretty awesome.

On the other, they have to spend Spells Known to get their undead-creating spells, which is a precious resource to a spontaneous caster. Clerics or wizards can just prepare those when they need them, then move on (leaving any slots open they want for the unexpected need for castings).

Overall, I like versatility, so I tend towards clerics and wizards, but to each his own.

Solution: get a staff for all of your undead creating needs.

(edited from scroll to staff cuz I derped)

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mikaze wrote:
Joegoat wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Have you looked into the White Necromancer from Kobold Press? It is a non evil necromancer class and might work quite well for you! I'm on my phone now or I'd provide a link ... maybe someone else can hook you up. If not, I'll try to pop back in later and take care of it :)
That class is awesome I just checked it out and if anyone plans to play a good necromancer this is perfect as well as an awesome npc to throw in

Yep, it's awesome and the flavor is fantastic. While vanilla/stereotypical PF necromancers could be played as "ends justify the means/for the greater good" at best, White Necromancers could be played that way at their worst. They have a very interesting range of character possibilities to pull from because they have a very different way of dealing with the dead that vanilla necros hardly ever touch upon.

Thanks everyone - really glad you like the class :)

The White Necromancer class has a pretty interesting way of dealing with any non-evil, intelligent undead that it creates (which, admittedly, only happens in cases of dire need)

You can check out Kobold Quarterly 19 for more info - here's the link:

Kobold Quarterly 19.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Marc Radle wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Joegoat wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Have you looked into the White Necromancer from Kobold Press? It is a non evil necromancer class and might work quite well for you! I'm on my phone now or I'd provide a link ... maybe someone else can hook you up. If not, I'll try to pop back in later and take care of it :)
That class is awesome I just checked it out and if anyone plans to play a good necromancer this is perfect as well as an awesome npc to throw in

Yep, it's awesome and the flavor is fantastic. While vanilla/stereotypical PF necromancers could be played as "ends justify the means/for the greater good" at best, White Necromancers could be played that way at their worst. They have a very interesting range of character possibilities to pull from because they have a very different way of dealing with the dead that vanilla necros hardly ever touch upon.

Thanks everyone - really glad you like the class :)

The White Necromancer class has a pretty interesting way of dealing with any non-evil, intelligent undead that it creates (which, admittedly, only happens in cases of dire need)

You can check out Kobold Quarterly 19 for more info - here's the link:

Kobold Quarterly 19.

I like the White Necromancer because of it's versatility. It can be built as a arcanist who uses undead to battle the same rasied by evil necromancers or as a totally Anti-Necromancer who focuses on defending against and putting undead down. It should also be noted that the class has considerable healing potential, the most I've seen in an arcane based class. Maybe even more so than the witch.


Riuken wrote:


Solution: get a staff for all of your undead creating needs.

(edited from scroll to staff cuz I derped)

Definitely the route you would want to go, but how long would it be before you can get a staff with the right spells on it?

Silver Crusade

Vendis wrote:
Riuken wrote:


Solution: get a staff for all of your undead creating needs.

(edited from scroll to staff cuz I derped)

Definitely the route you would want to go, but how long would it be before you can get a staff with the right spells on it?

It would be awhile, but it would go like this as an oracle:

1) Early levels you take the undead creation spells you need. You rely on the high dependence of rolls at this point to deal damage either in melee or ranged
2) As you level, you drop the old undead creation spells for the new ones (levels 4, 6, 8, etc.).
3) When you finally get a staff, you add the lowest level undead creation spell on the staff to your list.
4) The next time you can switch, you drop your high level undead creation spell and replace it with something else. You now use the staff exclusively to create undead and use your low level spell to recharge it.

Of course this requires you to custom make such a staff, which is up to GM approval, unless one exists already that I'm not aware of. You may be able to upgrade the staff as you level, adding the higher levels spells as you go. You learn the new spell, add it to the staff, then drop it at the next even level. To make a staff you'll need to be level 11.

EDIT: Because of spell replacement, an oracle is a good choice even without a staff. You only need one spell known as an undead creating spell.


Also, Half Elf Oracle Necromancer can use paragon surge to cast ANY undead-making spell without having to worry bout pesky things like having it on his spell list


Zolthux wrote:
Also, Half Elf Oracle Necromancer can use paragon surge to cast ANY undead-making spell without having to worry bout pesky things like having it on his spell list

That is a great point and a great tactic. You won't use any of those spells in combat anyway, so that's a great way to do it.


I suggested Death Mage (with the Corpse Mage Pale Road) because it will free up and expand on your total HD of undead created and controlled. You have plenty yourself, but eventually you'll have your undead army that won't need to be controlled. And there's nothing stopping you from having cleric or oracle minions who can essentially add their control HD to your own.


Ahhh... for the day's of crawling claws and Animate Dead Animal.


Genius Games Deathknight class dpdf includes a grave summoning I - IX spell chain. It is useable by clerics, wizard, witches.... and summoners =)

Andoran

LazarX wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Joegoat wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
Have you looked into the White Necromancer from Kobold Press? It is a non evil necromancer class and might work quite well for you! I'm on my phone now or I'd provide a link ... maybe someone else can hook you up. If not, I'll try to pop back in later and take care of it :)
That class is awesome I just checked it out and if anyone plans to play a good necromancer this is perfect as well as an awesome npc to throw in

Yep, it's awesome and the flavor is fantastic. While vanilla/stereotypical PF necromancers could be played as "ends justify the means/for the greater good" at best, White Necromancers could be played that way at their worst. They have a very interesting range of character possibilities to pull from because they have a very different way of dealing with the dead that vanilla necros hardly ever touch upon.

Thanks everyone - really glad you like the class :)

The White Necromancer class has a pretty interesting way of dealing with any non-evil, intelligent undead that it creates (which, admittedly, only happens in cases of dire need)

You can check out Kobold Quarterly 19 for more info - here's the link:

Kobold Quarterly 19.

I like the White Necromancer because of it's versatility. It can be built as a arcanist who uses undead to battle the same rasied by evil necromancers or as a totally Anti-Necromancer who focuses on defending against and putting undead down. It should also be noted that the class has considerable healing potential, the most I've seen in an arcane based class. Maybe even more so than the witch.

All great points!

Especially good observation about the healing potential of the white necromancer class. In fact, I will be doing a New Paths Expanded White Necromancer at some point (probably not until the beginning of next year though) and one of the white necromancer archetypes I plan do do will focus even more on the healing aspect of the class.


Vendis wrote:

Oracles are a bit of a double edged sword for necromancers.

On the one hand, they use Charisma as their casting stat (which is used for your channels and Command Undead and whatnot), so they're even more SAD. Bones and Juju mysteries can get Command Undead as a revelation, which is pretty awesome.

On the other, they have to spend Spells Known to get their undead-creating spells, which is a precious resource to a spontaneous caster. Clerics or wizards can just prepare those when they need them, then move on (leaving any slots open they want for the unexpected need for castings).

Overall, I like versatility, so I tend towards clerics and wizards, but to each his own.

Or the oracle can just spend some gold and buy scrolls.

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