20th level Necromancer: wtf?


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Not all necromancers WANT to be undead. Many of those who do would probably prefer something jazzier, like full lichdom.

Seriously, the 20th level necromancer power is just wrong. And not even wrong in an overpowered and awesome way.

The Exchange

I agree on that. The Necromancer has been assumed Evil with a focus on that path. The Necromancer (and Death Priest) have roles in certain societies that have deep spiritual rolls in their cultures and communities. Even in Africa the Necromancer (witchdoctor) has more public acceptability to the one who can work Iron (Ironworkers are considered Sorcerers).


I like it but i too think there should be another option or 2


Along a similar note, the entire emphasis on raising undead is extremely one-sided. Yes, the traditional necromancer may be evil and intending to raise an army of slavering minions to do his or her bidding. But there has always been other sides to these specialists, which are cut out of this model at a basic level. My favorite type of necromancer, a guardian of the dead ensuring peace rather than bestowing unlife, is severely hindered and underpowered by fault of nothing else than atypical goals.

The traditional necromancer should be a part of the school, but not the defining example; I feel the schools of magic themselves should be neutral, rather than fall along specific alignments.


you know having a white and a black necro school list could salve a lot of the issue u chose white or black school at 1st.


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Necromancy in D&D doesn't make a lick of sense. Before a coherent discussion on the subject can be held, we have to get everyone on the same page as to the moral implications of Necromancy and Negative Energy. Unless and until the source material is consistent on what is actually meant (that is, whether using Necromantic power is irredeemably naughty or merely another power source no different from any other), no individual set of class features is going to be consistent or unobjectionable.

K and I have written a number of essays on exactly this subject that can be found Here and Here.

-Frank


I personally have no problem with the undead cap that necromancers recieve. There is no alignment restriction and many native american and african culturs has myths of immortal or near-immortal shamans who protect and serve the clans by summoning and communing with spirits. It is an oddity of western culture, probably informed by the bubonic plague that death and reanimation are viewed as such evil occurances.


There is necromancy in the Book of Exalted Deeds. So, necromancy isn't an evil school.
Be undead is an evil act.
So, the power must change to stay neutral.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:

Not all necromancers WANT to be undead. Many of those who do would probably prefer something jazzier, like full lichdom.

Seriously, the 20th level necromancer power is just wrong. And not even wrong in an overpowered and awesome way.

Elvith Gent wrote:
Be undead is an evil act.

What is so wrong about it? There are plenty of "Good" Undead. You gain no special powers (other than those that come with being undead, and even then you gain some downsides). I really do see it as a reward in this kind of sense if you are good:

Rhavin wrote:
I personally have no problem with the undead cap that necromancers recieve. There is no alignment restriction and many native american and african culturs has myths of immortal or near-immortal shamans who protect and serve the clans by summoning and communing with spirits. It is an oddity of western culture, probably informed by the bubonic plague that death and reanimation are viewed as such evil occurances.

Of course if you are Evil, then of course there are going to be "jazzier" options such as lichdom. It is still a reward for them as well though if they choose not to become some other form of undead.


flash_cxxi wrote:
Of course if you are Evil, then of course there are going to be "jazzier" options such as lichdom. It is still a reward for them as well thouhg if they choose not to become some other form of undead.

Not to mention the heavy LA lichdom entails.

The Exchange

Frank Trollman wrote:

Necromancy in D&D doesn't make a lick of sense. Before a coherent discussion on the subject can be held, we have to get everyone on the same page as to the moral implications of Necromancy and Negative Energy. Unless and until the source material is consistent on what is actually meant (that is, whether using Necromantic power is irredeemably naughty or merely another power source no different from any other), no individual set of class features is going to be consistent or unobjectionable.

K and I have written a number of essays on exactly this subject that can be found Here and Here.

-Frank

About 4 years back I was involved in a conversation regarding the role of the Paladin in primitive cultures (only a slight topic change but still conceptually related).

The Paladin was seen as this semi-outcast position. While the cleric was critical to the Tribe, he reaches to the boundary of what is part of the living world and what is the supernatural (with the occasional ability to reach into that other world). The Cleric is a Go-between linking the Paladin to the tribe. The Role of the Paladin is to dwell beyond the living in the world of the Supernatural. As a consequence he is an outcast even though he is their warrior in the Spirit world battling spirit things (as well as outcasts of the tribe).

Now the Necromancer is functioning on that line between worlds. Either Necromancy is part of the tribal tradition and the Necromancer has a role in society, or Necromancy is not part of the tribal tradition and the Necromancer is considered an outcast functioning beyond the world of acceptability.

I hope that helps.


Elvith Gent wrote:

There is necromancy in the Book of Exalted Deeds. So, necromancy isn't an evil school.

Be undead is an evil act.
So, the power must change to stay neutral.

The Book of Exalted Deeds is an invalid thing to draw reasoning from. First of all, it's completely self contradictory and cannot stick to a defensible moral stance to save its life. There are great works on morals and ethics by people like John Stewart Mill and Immanuel Kant. The Book of Exalted Deeds is not one of those books.

But more importantly, the Book of Exalted Deeds is not Open Content and we literally can't use anything contained in its pages on this project.

-Frank


I'm not so keen about most level 20 abilities. But as I consider level 16 to be the "practical" maximum for non-epic themed campaigns, it's not something that would interfere with my game. But still...
Pathfinder is said to also be about the traditional RPG spirit and to me, that means abilities simply for coolnes sake.


Neithan wrote:

I'm not so keen about most level 20 abilities. But as I consider level 16 to be the "practical" maximum for non-epic themed campaigns, it's not something that would interfere with my game. But still...

Pathfinder is said to also be about the traditional RPG spirit and to me, that means abilities simply for coolnes sake.

This is dead true. If anything we should probably be capping these classes out at level 10 and forcing people to go out and pick a prestige class. If someone is a 14th level Necromancer I really want them to be a "General of Undeath" or a "Speaker for the Dead" or a "Soul Thief" or something. The higher end of "Necromantic Specialist" is basically a prestige class anyway, so that should be straight formalized.

-Frank

The Exchange

Frank Trollman wrote:
Neithan wrote:

I'm not so keen about most level 20 abilities. But as I consider level 16 to be the "practical" maximum for non-epic themed campaigns, it's not something that would interfere with my game. But still...

Pathfinder is said to also be about the traditional RPG spirit and to me, that means abilities simply for coolnes sake.

This is dead true. If anything we should probably be capping these classes out at level 10 and forcing people to go out and pick a prestige class. If someone is a 14th level Necromancer I really want them to be a "General of Undeath" or a "Speaker for the Dead" or a "Soul Thief" or something. The higher end of "Necromantic Specialist" is basically a prestige class anyway, so that should be straight formalized.

-Frank

Then you could have a Prestiege class that directs "Good" Necromancers into such fields as Crypt Tender, Crypt Builder, or Grave Warden: That Guy who animates your Clanchief's Dead Hounds to guard his burial Mound from being violated or checks for rats in the crypt or protects the Graveyard from violation.

Sabo the Grave Tender (13th level Lawful Good Necromancer)?

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

First off, Being undead has long lost its status as being a synonym for being evil. For example, there's the undying Court in Eberron and there are non-evil undead in the Forgotten Realms.

Besides, we already know that Paizo likes to do a bit of blurring with the Alignment System. There has been Alignment discussion regarding NSC from RotRLAP and regarding Korvosa and the Hellknights from CotCTAP. And each and every time it was because of said blurring.

Now I read that the deathless power makes the necromancer immune against positive energy. As this might mean one of the most important weapons against evil undead, I really doubt "undead" here necessarily meaning "evil".

Sorry if I don't comment on the hard rules at this moment. I have to do a bit of reading first but I'll probably return on topic later :)

Dark Archive

I think it is a good idea. It emphasizes their connection to the Negative energy plane,, but I do agree that there should be a second choice.

The Exchange

WormysQueue wrote:

First off, Being undead has long lost its status as being a synonym for being evil. For example, there's the undying Court in Eberron and there are non-evil undead in the Forgotten Realms.

Besides, we already know that Paizo likes to do a bit of blurring with the Alignment System. There has been Alignment discussion regarding NSC from RotRLAP and regarding Korvosa and the Hellknights from CotCTAP. And each and every time it was because of said blurring.

Now I read that the deathless power makes the necromancer immune against positive energy. As this might mean one of the most important weapons against evil undead, I really doubt "undead" here necessarily meaning "evil".

Sorry if I don't comment on the hard rules at this moment. I have to do a bit of reading first but I'll probably return on topic later :)

It may not be an evil being, but someone of undead status can be considered an outcast of spiritworld. If you are not in the acceptable circle of the tribe (in the land of the living) you are an outcast no matter who you are. A tribe with an undead leader (no matter how good) should find that the rest of the tribe revile the idea. That is why they have Paladins: To put the living dead to rest.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
yellowdingo wrote:
It may not be an evil being, but someone of undead status can be considered an outcast of spiritworld. If you are not in the acceptable circle of the tribe (in the land of the living) you are an outcast no matter who you are. A tribe with an undead leader (no matter how good) should find that the rest of the tribe revile the idea. That is why they have Paladins: To put the living dead to rest.

Agreed but this assumes that any society in Golarion functions this way. Which must not necessarily be the approach Paizo takes.

By the way, I'm not sure if I like this as well as I see this to be quite restricitive for players taking this path (I mean you can be a necromancer without wanting to become an undead). So I agree, I'd like more choices too

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

I think there is value in splitting the schools of magic into their component parts for building class progressions. This necromancer is a prime example where we can have one "white" version utilizing energy, speaking with dead, etc. and a "black" version creating undead servants and desiring lichdom.

The same could be true with conjuration/summoning where you could have a true "alchemist" style conjurer (who creates substances and materials) and a true "summoner" class whose whole life is spent calling things from the beyond.

Same thing with Illusion (phantasm) and Illusion (shadow). There are some opportunities here...

Just some musings.


Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Not all necromancers WANT to be undead. Many of those who do would probably prefer something jazzier, like full lichdom.

DON'T JUDGE US!

Maybe they want to get back to a more traditional necromancer, who doesn't care about all that negative energy crap. All he wants is to make undead and be undead.

No, I'll be serious now:

First of all, we need a statement on the undead alignment situation? Is creating undead considered evil in the Pathfinder RPG and/or on Golarion? If not, it could work for those negativophiles. The ultimate incarnation of negative energy: Being undead. For those undeadbeats who can't get themselves bitten by a nice vampire or afford the phylactery. Better than being a skeleton.

Okay, not quite serious at the end, but I think I had a good run.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

yellowdingo wrote:
It may not be an evil being, but someone of undead status can be considered an outcast of spiritworld. If you are not in the acceptable circle of the tribe (in the land of the living) you are an outcast no matter who you are. A tribe with an undead leader (no matter how good) should find that the rest of the tribe revile the idea. That is why they have Paladins: To put the living dead to rest.

There may not be any outward indication that the Necromancer is undead. They may retain their normal looks (maybe becoming a bit paler). There is nothing in the rules that says just because you are undead that you look like a rotting corpse or a skeleton!

Sovereign Court

This is an interesting option, as it makes lichdom less desirable. What do most necromancers want from lichdom? Immortality. Now you can stick to your base class with full caster progression and still attain that goal. I suppose I'm still a little concerned for those black-clad casters at level 20 who won't have lichdom as an option anymore; they're already undead, so they don't qualify for the template. Not a big fuss though. I really like the change.


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Not a big fan of becoming an undead, and also not a big fan of the lack of a "command undead" function anywhere on the list. Especially since Create Undead is on there, and if I'm making undead cooler than skeletons and zombies, then I kinda want them working for me longer and more reliablely than Command Undead spell allows. Just my 2cp, though.

Sovereign Court

On another tread I suggested tiered talent options for wizard specialists (as well as fighter talents). Here is what it would look like for the necromancer:

Necromancy School - Lesser Talents
At levels 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8, select one lesser talent from the list below. You can use each selected talent as a spell-like ability. Options:
--Grave Touch (as current alpha ability, at will)
--ray of enfeeblement (1/day per 2 caster levels)
--false life (1/day)
--detect undead (at will)
--hide from undead (extends to 4 other party members, 1/day)
--animate dead (limited to number of skeletons and zombies per day with a total number of HD equal to your caster level, effect lasts 1 hour)
--disguise self (at will, but only to appear as undead)

Necromancy School - Advanced Talents
At levels 10, 12 and 14, select one advanced talent from the list below. You can use each selected talent as a spell-like ability 1/day unless stated otherwise. Options:
--polymorph (undead form only, 1/day as swift action)
--Create undead (1/day)
--Finger of Death (1/day)
--Speak with dead at will (but subject to spell's limitations)
--Vampiric Touch (3/day)
--spectral hand (at will)
--magic jar (1/day)

Necromancy School - Archmagi Talents
At levels 16, 18 and 20, select one archmagi talent from the list below. You can use the selected talent as a spell-like ability 1/day unless stated otherwise. Options:
--Horrid Wilting (1/day)
--Energy Drain (1/day)
--Deathless (type changes to undead, permanent)
--Raise Dead (1/day)
--magic jar (at will, but subject to spell's normal limitations)
--Shapechange (undead form only, 1/day as swift action)

Sovereign Court

oops, double post... oy! the boards since the Pathfinder RPG

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

When did the good-aligned necromancer become such a cliche? I remember the first time I saw one I thought, huh, pretty cool, but now they're practically a novel away from becoming the outcast good-aligned drow swordsman.

Liberty's Edge

Evil necromancers? Woah. That would be scary.

Sovereign Court

Heathansson wrote:
Evil necromancers? Woah. That would be scary.

Bo!

(you scared yet?)

(you will be)

LOL

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

Heathansson wrote:
Evil necromancers? Woah. That would be scary.

Evil necromancers? That's like having evil drow.

Liberty's Edge

Sebastian wrote:
Heathansson wrote:
Evil necromancers? Woah. That would be scary.
Evil necromancers? That's like having evil drow.

Then, how about....a superhero that's Good, and isn't misunderstood and feared by people the world over?


Please note that my original post applies whether or not you consider necromancy to be innately evil.


I think the concerns about this in regards to lichdom are being overblown, particularly since (unless Paizo changes it) a wizard can become a lich as early as 11th level.

That however serves to create another problem will several of the school capstone abilities: What if said character already has the functional benefit?

A Necromancer who is already undead before reaching 20th level gains no benefit other than immunity to positive energy damage. And while that will be attractive, it's nowhere near as useful as the full benefits of undeath.

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

I'm not seeing a problem here. Not all undead are evil - see the Ghost template, for example, which has no alignment changes or restrictions.

And the Deathless power is a generic undead, something an iconic necromancer would probably aspire to. It is not the same thing as being a lich, or a mummy, or another specific undead "monster." Doesn't Eberron have deathless elves, that are not necessarily evil?

And seriously, it's a 20th-level power. If you are playing a necromancer who is so opposed to being undead, don't take that level. Take a level of something else instead, like a prestige class. Nothing forces you to take that one final level. Again, I think it represents an iconic necromancer.

And it does not invalidate a lich, either. It is possible to become a lich without being a specialist necromancer, and well before 20th level. And a 20th-level deathless necromancer is immortal with regards to aging, but can still be killed normally. It's much harder to kill a lich (what with the phylactery, and all).

I think it would be easier for DMs to house rule in something for non-evil necromancers that reach 20th level and don't want to become undead, rather than add an additional choice for every alignment possibility.

Frank Trollman wrote:


This is dead true. If anything we should probably be capping these classes out at level 10 and forcing people to go out and pick a prestige class. If someone is a 14th level Necromancer I really want them to be a "General of Undeath" or a "Speaker for the Dead" or a "Soul Thief" or something. The higher end of "Necromantic Specialist" is basically a prestige class anyway, so that should be straight formalized.

Except that Jason stated one reason for adding these abilities to the classes was to make them attractive to play to 20th level, the thought being in 3.5 that no class is good up to 20, so everyone ends up taking a PrC.


Heathansson wrote:


Then, how about....a superhero that's Good, and isn't misunderstood and feared by people the world over?

Wouldn't be a superhero then.

Liberty's Edge

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Please note that my original post applies whether or not you consider necromancy to be innately evil.

Sorry, dude. I was jes goofin.


SargonX wrote:


Except that Jason stated one reason for adding these abilities to the classes was to make them attractive to play to 20th level, the thought being in 3.5 that no class is good up to 20, so everyone ends up taking a PrC.

And why is that a problem? Maybe the problem is that these classes exist past the point where people take Prestige Classes?

Or to put it another way: if no one takes Wizard 16 in 3.5, then making Wizard 16 an attractive choice is actually reducing compatibility. To increase compatibility you should just accept the way things are and formalize it like in D20 Modern.

-Frank

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Frank Trollman wrote:
Or to put it another way: if no one takes Wizard 16 in 3.5, then making Wizard 16 an attractive choice is actually reducing compatibility.

Huh? Since when does "make an attractive choice" means "reduce compatibility"? I haven't seen anything indicating that they try to make the base classes superior to a PRC-combo. And Up to now, most players don't choose prestige classes because of the cool fluff (which fluff anyway) but because the builds are far superior to a base class only build.

The problem which you deny is that the d20 system is about giving players options. In 3.5 so far, taking levels in a base class through to lvl 20 is no real option in any campaign where other players are used to optimize their builds by prestige classes.

Making the base classes more attractive doesn't reduce compatibility. It just adds another option.

Liberty's Edge

Heathansson wrote:
Sebastian wrote:
Heathansson wrote:
Evil necromancers? Woah. That would be scary.
Evil necromancers? That's like having evil drow.
Then, how about....a superhero that's Good, and isn't misunderstood and feared by people the world over?

What, like most of the DC cast? Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash...


Heathansson wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Please note that my original post applies whether or not you consider necromancy to be innately evil.

Sorry, dude. I was jes goofin.

Oh, I wasn't aiming at you, just at the general shift of the discussion from "is this an appropriate power?" to "is necromancy innately evil?"

The Exchange

KaeYoss wrote:
Maybe they want to get back to a more traditional necromancer, who doesn't care about all that negative energy crap. All he wants is to make undead and be undead.

Um? Thats a Death Master...

Mind it seemed unfair for even a Death Master to wait so long to get animate dead so I changed it so Skeletons and Zombies were Lesser Bone Golems and Lesser Flesh Golems respectively and that a 3rd Level Deathmaster with create wonderous item could manufacture oil of Animation at third level if they had Animate Dead on a Scroll...and didnt have to be evil at this level of Undead - but the "lesser Undead" was vulnerable to dispel magic.

The Skeletons walked down the corridor toward them.
"Watch and Learn fellows." Tundra the Cleric presented his Holy Symbol and smiled.
"Begone Vile things!" Nothing Happened.
"Wha? Wait!" Tundra Again presented his Holy Symbol.
"In the Name of Pelor I smite You Down!" Again nothing Happened. Tundra Panicked and fled. What could he have done to anger Pelor?

Whereas A SaltMummy (A Mummy created in a huge Jar of Salt rather than the usual cloth bandage, brain pulled out of the nose, disease touch type) required the ability to cast Animate Dead.

The Villagers Carried the Salt merchant's Gifts of two huge Jars of Salt to their tiny Village to the Guildhall Storehouse.
"You Honour our Community Merchant Fariz." Heptman Jaro presented his hands open to a foreigner he considered a Brother (atleast until the Salt ran out).
"You Honor Me in granting me shelter and accepting my gifts Heptman Jaro." The Foreign Merchant bowed.


Having payed an Arcanist in 2nd ed Ravenloft and a White Arcanist in 3rd, I am also kinda sick of the whole "necromancy = evil" thing. For starters, it flies in the face of whole swaths of religious belief. To the Greeks, the Chinese, the Celts, and many others, being visited by a ghost or revenant was a time to honor your ancestors, not to grab for the stakes and torches.

Also, it totally overlooks the value of necromancy in a good way. In one campaign, someone played a necromancer who was called the "autopsist". She performed "autopsies" - that is, she examined the dead (speak with dead) to determine the particulars of how and why they died. She would also seance those who remained after death, and do other neat things that weren't wicked or evil at all, and certainly didn't make her undead at level 20.

I also don't like the fact that the only deities of Death who aren't evil are true neutral. On what account is there no good god watching over the dead?


I'm surprised noone's said anything about the 8 HD of undead/caster level the Necro gets from 1st level. That's conceivably up to a mummy running around with Necroboy.

Shouldn't there be some kind of limit like that a single undead can't have more hit dice than twice the Necromancer's level?

Also, wasn't the Druid initially overpowered in 3.0 because his animal companion could be so beefy at 2 HD/level. Now the necromancer gets 8 HD/level?


Stephen Klauk wrote:
I'm surprised noone's said anything about the 8 HD of undead/caster level the Necro gets from 1st level. That's conceivably up to a mummy running around with Necroboy.

No it isn't. That's just your control pool (which is normally 4HD/Level). It doesn't actually give you the ability to create undead or add any to your controlled list inherently. So you still have to learn animate dead as normal, and then you'll be getting Skeletons and Zombies.

Mummies are made with the later versions of Create Undead, and they don't go to the control pool when created by those means, so you won't get Mummy followers at first or any level.

-Frank

Paizo Employee Creative Director, Starfinder

Frank Trollman wrote:
SargonX wrote:


Except that Jason stated one reason for adding these abilities to the classes was to make them attractive to play to 20th level, the thought being in 3.5 that no class is good up to 20, so everyone ends up taking a PrC.

And why is that a problem? Maybe the problem is that these classes exist past the point where people take Prestige Classes?

Or to put it another way: if no one takes Wizard 16 in 3.5, then making Wizard 16 an attractive choice is actually reducing compatibility. To increase compatibility you should just accept the way things are and formalize it like in D20 Modern.

-Frank

That "problem" is your opinion. One of the stated design goals of PFrpg is to make all 20 levels of a core class attractive. So saying "end them at L10" is counter-productive. Pathfinder is built on the foundation of 3.5, which goes to 20. If you want to stop at 10, design your own successor to 3.5.

And I agree with Wormy'sQueue that more choice does not equal reduced compatibility.


Frank Trollman wrote:


Mummies are made with the later versions of Create Undead, and they don't go to the control pool when created by those means, so you won't get Mummy followers at first or any level.
-Frank

Okay, I see. I was confusing it with the 2nd level spell Command Undead. Silly me.


I think the deathless ability is appropriate whether the character is good or evil. Working with negative energy for that long is likely to have side effects, regardless of how you decide to use it.


I'm surprised that people assume that the 20th level power is bad.

As far as I can tell, you don't lose anything. From the hints in the Alpha release, being undead is just a tag and no longer has a bunch of weird immunities like being immune to crits.

So it might not be a bad deal. You become immortal and might get pale or something, and as a Necromancer you can't even be turned since you are immune to positive energy (though you could be Commanded or Rebuked, which is not a big deal since Will saves are your good saves and Commanding is an effect that lasts rounds).


Elvith Gent wrote:

There is necromancy in the Book of Exalted Deeds. So, necromancy isn't an evil school.

Be undead is an evil act.
So, the power must change to stay neutral.

Being undead is not an evil act in of itself. You can be a good aligned ghost or even a good lich (I have seen those somewhere - I think there are some good ones in the Forgotten Realms).

You can also use the example of "ghost" from the Ghostwalk Campaign - where you are more of an outsider or spirit.

You could also just skip the 20th level of necromancer OR just not take advantage of this power.

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