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Necromancer Build


Advice


I've had a fascination with necromancy since i was a kid, i'm not sure why, but ever since i started playing pathfinder i wanted to try to build one. However, when looking at some other messageboards, almost all of the advice that was given was for a horde-style necromancer (i.e. playing a juju oracle for the extra HD you can control). Which is all well and good, and something i definitely want to try to play, but i can see how having that many minions could cause problems for the flow of the game as my turn would be exponentially longer with all the actions of my minions.

In that regard, i was wondering if anyone had any advice for going about building a necromancer to have a few (like 2-4 or maybe even just 1) powerful undead minions as opposed to a horde of 100+ HD worth.

Some of the classes and items i've looked into are the Gravewalker witch, the Undead Lord cleric, the Juju Oracle, and items such as bone razor and voidsticks.

Any advice is appreciated, thanks.


Without taking a look at the guides you mention, I think they generally explain how to get the highest number of undead HD under your control. Those HD can be divided up among a horde of 1 HD skeletons, or they can account for a far smaller number of far more powerful undead - the only challenge is to find corpses of suitably powerful creatures to animate.

Sneaking into the local graveyard at night to cast your foul animating magics is the easy solution, likely resulting in the aforementioned horde of weak skeletons and/or zombies. But if you were to seek out, say, an elephant graveyard or the site where a dragon was slain by a hero of legend, you might find suitably high-HD remains to raise two or three powerful monstrosities instead.


Arkangel7th wrote:

I've had a fascination with necromancy since i was a kid (...)

Any advice is appreciated, thanks.

Be careful, my friend. Necromancy is not a toy

Maybe you would like the necrografts feats line (not only for your minions)


juju oracle into graveknight template makes one of the most powerful necromancers in the game


Have you tried looking at the occultist and the necroccultist archetype? The necromantic focus can increase the HD of the undead you can control.They can expend a point of mental focus to raise a single skeleton or zombie for 10 min/level. It increases in power with your level e.g. at level 5 you can use a point of focus to restore it to full hp and you don't have to spend gp on materials for it.

Can't say if the occultist necromancer is powerful but I do think it's interesting but then I do like the occultist concept so I'm a bit biased. I'm also fond of witches and I borrowed the ability to deliver touch spells at range from the gravewalker and it's been very useful.

I think somethings to consider are what do you do with your pets when you're not adventuring or while you're in a city, and how do you intend to deal with priests and other individuals who are anti undead?


Arkangel7th wrote:

I've had a fascination with necromancy since i was a kid, i'm not sure why, but ever since i started playing pathfinder i wanted to try to build one. However, when looking at some other messageboards, almost all of the advice that was given was for a horde-style necromancer (i.e. playing a juju oracle for the extra HD you can control). Which is all well and good, and something i definitely want to try to play, but i can see how having that many minions could cause problems for the flow of the game as my turn would be exponentially longer with all the actions of my minions.

In that regard, i was wondering if anyone had any advice for going about building a necromancer to have a few (like 2-4 or maybe even just 1) powerful undead minions as opposed to a horde of 100+ HD worth.

Some of the classes and items i've looked into are the Gravewalker witch, the Undead Lord cleric, the Juju Oracle, and items such as bone razor and voidsticks.

Any advice is appreciated, thanks.

I think you will enjoy reading This.

I too enjoy the Necromancy. It is my favorite school of magic and is also one of the most powerful in the game. It is one school that can actually get stronger as the adventure continues on.

I tend to not favor large hordes but only a few minions as needed. I tend to like magic jar + Reanimate tactics. And I favor the wizard as it suites my needs. You can easily control your horde size by creating undead yourself in your off days or Raise the first critters of the dungeon you slay and snowball the dungeon. You would have access to Command Undead both the Feat and the Spell. So if a dungeon already has a few undead in it then that is just fodder for you to throw back at the GM.

If you let us know what class your wanting then we can post up some helpful suggestions or builds we have used to good effect.


Arkangel7th wrote:

I've had a fascination with necromancy since i was a kid, i'm not sure why, but ever since i started playing pathfinder i wanted to try to build one. However, when looking at some other messageboards, almost all of the advice that was given was for a horde-style necromancer (i.e. playing a juju oracle for the extra HD you can control). Which is all well and good, and something i definitely want to try to play, but i can see how having that many minions could cause problems for the flow of the game as my turn would be exponentially longer with all the actions of my minions.

In that regard, i was wondering if anyone had any advice for going about building a necromancer to have a few (like 2-4 or maybe even just 1) powerful undead minions as opposed to a horde of 100+ HD worth.

Some of the classes and items i've looked into are the Gravewalker witch, the Undead Lord cleric, the Juju Oracle, and items such as bone razor and voidsticks.

Any advice is appreciated, thanks.

As a player in a campaign with someone who is playing a horde necromancer, I absolutely hate it. So while I can't say this to my friend because they just get super defensive about it, as a fellow player I really ask you not to do that and encourage you to go with your instinct to make one or two super-awesome undead.

I don't have any great tips on doing so...
But bloody-skeletons are a practical must. And look into necrocrafts.


Had a friend play a Necromancer a few times. The one method that worked was using hordes of one hitdie Burning skeletons. They die they explode for a d6 fire damage. Not much but you face monster without fire resistance the monster will get injured pretty badly from just smacking an easily killed skeleton. He added Bloody so they'd regenerate after being killed. He'd gather the remains into a Bag of Holding. The advantage of hordes of low level skeletons was they were combat control. You placed them between you and the monster forcing the monster to deal with them. In two campaigns his necromancer never got hit once he started creating undead,
After seeing and reading new and old material here's how'd I'd do a Necromancer. For race Assimer +2 to Wis and Chr no stat loss and darkvision. They also have racial feats allowing you to shape channel energy. Classes first take one level of Juju Oracle. A revelation allows you to control 6Hd instead of four. It also gives any Zombie you create max HP. While I prefer skeletons zombies do have their uses. Next Reliquary Occultist for six or seven levels. This arch type for a loss of an implement does two things, First your ability stat becomes Wisdom instead of Int. Second you get a clerical domain. The fact your spells become Divine instead of psychic is nice but unimportant really. Take this class up to sixth or seventh level. At sixth you get a third implement. At seventh you get a focus power and access to third level spells. Take Necromancy implement. Base power with every point of focus invested you can control 2 more HD of undead. So now you can control 8 HD worth of undead. Now take Undead lord Cleric the rest of the way up. You get only one domain Death or Undead. But you get Command Undead as a bonus feat and you also get an undead buddy. Eventually you can make it both a Burning Bloody skeleton. At tenth level another bonus feat. Depending on what level Occultist you stopped at means you end up as a 12th or 13th level. At 13th you gain access to seventh level spells and an increase in channeling.


dr Slurp wrote:
In that regard, i was wondering if anyone had any advice for going about building a necromancer to have a few (like 2-4 or maybe even just 1) powerful undead minions as opposed to a horde of 100+ HD worth.

If you only want a few powerful undead, you don't need a special build. Any class that learns the Animate Dead spell will do just fine. This is, in my opinion, the biggest strength of Necromancy: it's really solid even without a investing a single feat or class feature.

With that said the 100 HD Juju Oracle can be run with fewer undead, and in my opinion this is the optimal way to run it. All you need is to find a sufficiently powerful corpse to create an undead creature with around 25 HD total. Four those will fill your maximum HD threshold.


As for the Juju Oracle I have found that the Pfsrd and the Nethys version differ greatly.

Do you know which one is correct?


Louise Bishop wrote:
If you let us know what class your wanting then we can post up some helpful suggestions or builds we have used to good effect.

The main class i was looking into was the Undead Lord Cleric archetype and i would like to try to build a neutral necromancer as my GM is not allowing evil alignments and it's being built for the Ironfang Invasion adventure. I was doing the cleric so that i could also take the roll of a healer with the Undeath domain's Death's Kiss power and inflict spells.


If you're DM isn't allowing evil characters, then being a necromancer is kind of out of the question.

Making undead is evil, it's so evil that after a few times it makes you evil.


Claxon wrote:

If you're DM isn't allowing evil characters, then being a necromancer is kind of out of the question.

Making undead is evil, it's so evil that after a few times it makes you evil.

Under rules as written, yes for sure. But we have some house rules that make it possible. Basically, i'll be committing acts of evil but my necromancer will have stipulations as to who he can raise. Some examples are he only raises active combatants who have died and he won't raise children. Also, the acts of evil i'm committing would be counter acted by the acts of good i'd be doing, which would be stopping the Ironfang legion and protecting innocents etc. We've always been sort of lax with alignment shifting as well.


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Dalindra wrote:

As for the Juju Oracle I have found that the Pfsrd and the Nethys version differ greatly.

Do you know which one is correct?

The Juju Oracle was published twice, so there actually are two separate versions. The D20PFSRD seems to have the City of Seven Spears version and the Archives of Nethys seems to have the Faiths and Philosophies version. The Faiths and Philosophies version is the more recent of the two, and also is a bit higher up the totem pole in terms of sourcebook hierarchy. Which version is allowable depends entirely on your GM.

Arkangel7th wrote:
The main class i was looking into was the Undead Lord Cleric archetype

Undead Lord is a terrible archetype. I would strongly advise against it.

Death's Kiss doesn't even work until the 4th level since it only lasts 1 round for the first three levels of your career, meaning it expires before you can actually "heal" the target with your inflict spell. The Death domain is widely regarded as one of the worst domains; bad powers, bad domain spell list, and nothing in particular that stands out compared to better general-purpose archetypes.

The best Domain for a Necromancer Cleric is actually the Inevitable domain (a subdomain of Law) since it grants access to the useful Command Undead spell as a domain spell. It is otherwise very difficult for a divine spellcaster to get access to this spell.

Claxon wrote:
Making undead is evil, it's so evil that after a few times it makes you evil.

We already have more than a few 100+ reply threads on this topic and there's no broadly accepted answer on the matter. As has been pointed out countless times, the RAW has a loophole that makes it possible to change your alignment to anything you want, so pretty much no one runs the literal RAW. This is very much an "ask your GM" question. Casting animate dead may or may not be an evil act, and even then it may not merit an alignment shift.

Edit- based on Arkangel7th's last post he's in the clear. His GM seems to be okay with using monster corpses as undead minions, and that's the kind of corpse you want to be using. Raising humanoids is a waste of good onyx.


Claxon wrote:

If you're DM isn't allowing evil characters, then being a necromancer is kind of out of the question.

Making undead is evil, it's so evil that after a few times it makes you evil.

Heck by RAW you cast Protection from Evil 3 times and shift alignment.

So technically you can Cast animate dead (Evil) spell and then follow it up with Protection from Evil (Good) and do a balancing act. Playing a true N Necromancer.

OP wrote:
The main class i was looking into was the Undead Lord Cleric archetype and i would like to try to build a neutral necromancer as my GM is not allowing evil alignments and it's being built for the Ironfang Invasion adventure. I was doing the cleric so that i could also take the roll of a healer with the Undeath domain's Death's Kiss power and inflict spells.

Healer is not a "Role"

In Pathfinder a good majority of Healing is done out of combat. Usually the only In combat healing that is truly viable and worth the action economy is the Heal spell. Now Paizo did give Healers new toys to make In combat healing a bit better for those who wish to go the sub-optimal reactive healer route. But you will be much better off focusing on Necromancy than wasting feats trying to play "Healer". Typically the Support role does better trying to prevent damage than heal it or buffing your team to end the fights ASAP.


Dasrak wrote:


Claxon wrote:
Making undead is evil, it's so evil that after a few times it makes you evil.
We already have more than a few 100+ reply threads on this topic and there's no broadly accepted answer on the matter. As has been pointed out countless times, the RAW has a loophole that makes it possible to change your alignment to anything you want, so pretty much no one runs the literal RAW. This is very much an "ask your...

That's fair. I just wanted to make sure that the OP understood the situation.

If they didn't know that raising undead was normally considered an evil act it could cause problems, but the GM seems lenient so it looks like it wont be an issue.


Louise Bishop wrote:


Healer is not a "Role"
In Pathfinder a good majority of Healing is done out of combat.

That's when i planned to do healing, it was just nobody else in the party really had spellcasting for healing.

Claxon wrote:
That's fair. I just wanted to make sure that the OP understood the situation.

I appreciate that. As I said before, we never really were too rigid with alignment and i forgot a lot of other GMs are strict about it.

Dasrak wrote:
Undead Lord is a terrible archetype. I would strongly advise against it.

Yeah, i've read that in other threads. I just really liked the concept behind it and I lean towards concept over viability, which for min-maxing is terrible but is really fun for role-playing purposes. Cleric is also the spellcasting class that i understand the most and have the most experience with(i normally play barbarian or fighter types). That being said, the Gravewalker Witch or a juju oracle are definitely my next picks. The biggest problem with those was justifying the "necromancy is not evil, it's a tool" mentality with those classes as opposed to a cleric.


Oracles are like Sorcerers. In the sorcerer description they state just because you have what would be considered an evil bloodline doesn't mean your character is evil. Same thing with Oracles. You were born being a Juju Oracle. If you don't take it for more then a couple of levels the argument is valid.


Justifying necro not being evil with an oracle is easier, Oracles are born with their powers, it's quite harsh to say someone is evil from birth and they can just as easily use those powers for good as a cleric can.


Arkangel7th wrote:
Yeah, i've read that in other threads. I just really liked the concept behind it and I lean towards concept over viability, which for min-maxing is terrible but is really fun for role-playing purposes. Cleric is also the spellcasting class that i understand the most and have the most experience with(i normally play barbarian or fighter types).

You don't need to use an archetype to get that flavor. Clerics come equipped with all the spells and abilities necessary to be top-notch necromancers. This is what makes the Undead Master fail so hard; the vanilla Cleric is already a awesome as a master of the undead, so you have no need of an archetype to get the abilities and flavor you're looking for.


@Dasrak: Thank you very much!


Arkangel7th wrote:
That being said, the Gravewalker Witch or a juju oracle are definitely my next picks. The biggest problem with those was justifying the "necromancy is not evil, it's a tool" mentality with those classes as opposed to a cleric.

I think it's harder to justify 'animating the dead is not evil' the cleric since a non-good alignment is technically required to cast the spell. The witch and oracle don't have limitations of alignment.

Chromantic Durgon has already explained a way for the oracle to use the dead without being evil. An idea idea for the witch is that they really could just see the undead they raise and the malevolent spirits that inhabit their poppet as tools. Perhaps the witch trapped the spirits as punishment or perhaps they made a deal and the witch double-crossed them; now these evil spirits are forced to do good deeds.

How does the rest of your group view necromancy? My group seems to consider my witch evil just for casting Speak With Dead.


Decimus Drake wrote:
How does the rest of your group view necromancy? My group seems to consider my witch evil just for casting Speak With Dead.

I really don't know, as the party isn't finalized in any way as of yet. It may cause conflict at some point but if i'm effective and doing mostly good deeds and am being effective in fights, i think they'd come around.

Dasrak wrote:
This is what makes the Undead Master fail so hard; the vanilla Cleric is already a awesome as a master of the undead, so you have no need of an archetype to get the abilities and flavor you're looking for.

That is valid point. I just have a stigma with vanilla classes, not cause they're terrible or anything, i just like utilizing archetypes because they feel more unique to me. However, i have yet to play just the base cleric so i might give it a try.


I'm only building my first Necromancer (Occultist) right now and I stumbled across the Charnel Soldiers Feat; maybe that might help you as well.

Can't offer too much help, I'm pretty new to Necromancy


Charnel Soldiers does look nice.


Wizard Options

Wizard Necromancers take a log time to warm up. At first they'll essentially be collectors, controlling the undead they come across. Most minions will be temporary. That said, you'll still be a wizard. Your necromancy thing will be more like a theme than a full blown character focus.

If you are looking for the largest possible HD, it's hard to beat a Cruoromancer that x5 level command is really nice.

Pact Wizards are also extremely good Necromancers (because they're good at everything).

Wizards are pretty fantastic necromancers after 7th level (when they get animate dead). They are the top-tier when it comes to screwing people up with other kinds of Magic. Spells like Stinking Cloud, Cloudkill and Wall spells can significantly boost the effectiveness of your undead horde.

The Command Undead spell is what makes Wizard necromancers so insane. A wand of Command Undead is a no-save, long-term control for non-intelligent undead. It doesn't count against any of your pools either. Just remember to re-cast it before the duration is up.

Witch Options

Another very good option is a Witch (or any other class that gets Hexes) with Slumber Hex and a Bone Razor. Then, everything that fails a will save gets to be your minion of the hour. (note that Bone Razor's minion doesn't count against your limit, and it can be passed around the party so everyone can have one undead friend at a time.) Bone Razor also pairs well with anyone that specializes in non-lethal damage or Enchantments.

The Collar of the Unbound Coven is an amazing item that requires three Hex-users to work, so you'll need at least one party member to help you out and take the Coven hex. The benefits are well worth the feat though. You can round out your coven by creating or controlling a Witchfire.

Oracle Options

Bones Mystery is a trap. Don't take it. Juju is your mystery. If your GM doesn't allow it, don't play an Oracle.

Look into the Cyclopean Seer. They get mean when you have disposable minions. You can give allies (or yourself) big save boosts and give your minions the penalties.

Other Options

Do Not take Undead Lord or the Undead Mastery feat. They are traps.

Grave Knight is awesome and gives you a second pool of undead to command from. Lich is also great, but expensive and not as good for being a Zookeeper.

The Necrocraft rules. Know them. Love them.

Agent of the Grave is one of the few Pathfinder prestige classes that is actually good. It works well for pretty much any kind of Necromancer.

When it comes to having an undead horde, Caster Level is the key. Take the Signature Spell and Gifted Adept traits for Animate Dead. Take the Spell Specialization feat. Use Deathwine to boost your caster level.

For cutting costs, using Magic Jar to control someone and casting Blood Money while in their body is a great way for animating corpses on a budget (and is thematically awesome).

Swarms count as one creature. Undead swarms are terrifying. The rules for animating them are a little weird so talk to your GM.

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