Pathfinder Dread Necromancer


Homebrew and House Rules


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I always liked the Dread Necromancer from 3.5 Heroes of Horror, and this is a fairly simple conversion to Pathfinder. Feedback and comments are appreciated.

Dread Necromancer Pathfinder Variant
HD: d8
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Bluff, Craft, Disguise, Stealth, Intimidate, Knowledge
(arcana), Knowledge (religion), Profession, Use Magic Device, and Spellcraft.

BAB: As Wizard
Good Save: Will
Bad Saves: Fort & Reflex
Spells per day: as Sorcerer

Class Features
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: Dread Necromancers and proficient with all simple weapons and the Scythe.
Dread necromancers are also proficient with light armor and medium armor and light shields as long as they are made of bone. The somatic components required for dread necromancer spells are simple, so members of this class can cast dread necromancer spells while wearing bone armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. He/she still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells derived from other classes. In addition, if a dread necromancer wears light, medium or heavy armor, or uses a shield that is not made primarily of bone, she incurs the same chance of arcane spell failure as any other arcane caster if the spell in question has a somatic component.

Spellcasting: A dread necromancer casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the dread necromancer’s spell list. Like a sorcerer, she can cast any spell he/she knows without preparing it ahead of time. When a dread necromancer gains access to a new level of spells, he/she automatically knows all the spells for that level given on the dread necromancer’s spell list. Dread necromancers also have the option of adding to their existing spell list through their advanced learning ability as they increase in level (see below). To cast a spell, a dread necromancer must have a Charisma score of 10 + the spell’s level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a dread necromancer’s spell is 10 + the spell’s level + his/her Charisma modifier. Like other spellcasters, a dread necromancer can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His/her base daily spell allotment is given in Table 5–2: The Dread Necromancer. In addition, he/she receives bonus spells for a high Charisma score (see Table 1–1 on page 8 of the Player’s Handbook).

Cantrips: Dread Necromancers learn a number of cantrips, or 0-level spells. These spells are cast like any other spell, but they do not consume any slots and may be used again.

Negative Energy Affinity: At first level the Dread Necromancer gains the Negative Energy affinity universal ability, meaning the Dread Necromancer is healed by negative energy and harmed by positive energy, as if it were an undead creature.

Charnel Touch (Su): Negative energy flows through a dread necromancer’s body, concentrating in his/her hands. At will, but no more than once per round,he/ she can make a melee touch attack against a living foe that deals 1d8 points of damage, +1 per three class levels. This touch heals undead creatures, restoring 1 hit point per touch, +1 per three class levels. A dread necromancer can use the spectral hand spell to deliver this attack from a distance. As a dread necromancer levels he/she can add additional affects to his/her charnel touch:
• Scabrous Touch: Starting at 6th level, once per day a dread necromancer can use her charnel touch to inflict disease on a creature she touches. This ability works like the contagion spell (see page 213 of the Player’s Handbook), inflicting the disease of her choice immediately, with no incubation period, unless the target makes a successful Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 her class level + her Cha modifier). The DC for subsequent saving throws to resist the effects of the disease depends on the disease inflicted; see page 292 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide for details. Activating this class feature is a swift action. The effect lasts until the dread necromancer makes a successful charnel touch attack. The spectral hand spell enables a dread necromancer to deliver a scabrous touch attack from a distance. A dread necromancer can use this ability once per day at 6th level, twice per day at 11th level, and three times per day at 16th level.
• Poison Touch: Starting at 9th level once per day a dread necromancer can use her charnel touch to inflict poison on a creature she touches. This ability works like the poison spell, requiring a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 her class level + her Cha modifier). Activating this class feature is a swift action. The effect lasts until the dread necromancer makes a successful charnel touch attack. The spectral hand spell enables a dread necromancer to deliver a poison touch attack from a distance. A dread necromancer can use this ability once per day at 9th level, twice per day at 14th level, and three times per day at 19th level.
• Necrotic touch: Starting at level 10, when a dread necromancer’s charnel touch kills a creature, he/she may, as a swift action, choose to reanimate the creature as an undead under his/her control, as Animate Dead. He/she may use this ability once per day at level 10, twice per day at level 15, and three times per day at level 20.
• Enervating Touch: When a dread necromancer reaches 12th level, she gains the ability to bestow negative levels when she uses her charnel touch attack. Each day, she can bestow a total number of negative levels equal to one-half her class level, but no more than two negative levels with a single touch. The saving throw to remove the negative levels has a DC of 10 + 1/2 her class level + her Charisma modifier. Activating this class feature is a swift action. The effect lasts until she makes a successful charnel touch attack. A dread necromancer can use the spectral hand spell to deliver this attack from a distance. Beginning at 17th level, the number of negative levels a dread necromancer can bestow per day increases to equal her class level.

Undead Servitude (Su): You gain Command Undead as a bonus feat. You can channel negative energy a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier, but only to use Command Undead. You can take other feats to add to this ability, such as Improved Channeling, but not feats that alter this ability, such as Alignment Channel.

Lich Body: Starting at 2nd level, a dread necromancer begins his/her journey into undeath. The first symptom is his/her body’s increased resilience to physical harm. He/she gains DR 2/ bludgeoning and magic. As the dread necromancer increases in level, this DR increases in effectiveness, to DR 4 at 7th level, DR 6 at 11th level, and DR 8 at 15th level.

Channel Negative Energy (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, a dread necromancer gains the ability to channel negative energy as a Cleric of her level -2. A successful Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 her class level + Cha modifier) reduces damage by half. Undead creatures within this burst are healed the same amount of hit points as the damage she deals to living creatures. A dread necromancer can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 1+ her Charisma modifier.

Advanced Learning (Ex): At 4th level, a dread necromancer can add a new spell to her list, representing the result of personal study and experimentation. The spell must be a cleric or wizard spell of the necromancy school, and of a level no higher than that of the highest-level spell the dread necromancer already knows. Once a new spell is selected, it is added to that dread necromancer’s spell list and can be cast just like any other spell she knows. If a spell is both a cleric spell and a wizard spell, use the lower of the two spell levels (when different) to determine what level the spell is for a dread necromancer. A dread necromancer gains an additional new spell at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th level.

Mental Bastion: Starting at 4th level, a dread necromancer gains a +2 bonus on saving throws made to resist sleep, stunning, paralysis, poison, or disease. This bonus increases to +4 at 14th level.

Fear Aura (Su): Beginning at 5th level, a dread necromancer radiates a 5-foot-radius fear aura as a free action. Enemies in the area must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 her class level + her Cha modifier) or become shaken. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected by that dread necromancer’s fear aura for 24 hours.

Undead Leadership: At 7th level a Dread Necromancer gains Undead Leadership as a bonus feat, he/she does not need to meet the perquisites. The Dread Necromancer may choose a Skeletal Champion as a Cohort.

Undead Mastery: All undead creatures created by a dread necromancer who has reached 8th level or higher gain a +4 bonus to Strength and Dexterity and 2 additional hit points per Hit Die. In addition, when a dread necromancer uses the animate dead spell to create undead, she can control 4 + her Charisma bonus HD worth of undead creatures per class level (rather than the 4 HD per level normally granted by the spell). Similarly, when a dread necromancer casts the control undead spell, the spell targets up to (2 + her Cha bonus) HD/level of undead creatures, rather than the 2 HD/level normally granted by the spell.

Energy Resistance: Beginning at 9th level, a dread necromancer gains a +4 bonus on saving throws made to resist positive and negative energy effects, including energy drain, some ability drain, channeled energy and cure spells.

Craft Wondrous Item: At 3rd level, the dread necromancer gains Craft Wondrous Item as a bonus feat. This helps her prepare the phylactery required to become a Lich.

Lich Transformation: When a dread necromancer attains 20th level, she undergoes a hideous transformation and becomes a Lich. Her type changes to undead, and she gains all the traits of the undead. She no longer has a Constitution score, all her existing Hit Dice become d8s. A dread necromancer need not pay experience points or gold to create her phylactery.

DREAD NECROMANCER SPELL LIST

The dread necromancer’s spell list appears below.
0 Level (Cantrips): bleed, disrupt undead, touch of fatigue, ghost sound, detect magic, ray of decay**

1st Level: Bane, bestow wound*, cause fear, chill touch, detect undead, doom, hide from undead, inflict light wounds, sculpt corpse, ray of enfeeblement, summon monster I, undetectable alignment, Animate Skeleton**

2nd Level: Blindness/deafness, command undead, darkness, death knell, desecrate, false life, gentle repose, ghoul touch, inflict moderate wounds, scare, spectral hand, summon swarm, summon monster II, Animate Zombie**

3rd Level: Crushing despair, death ward, halt undead, inflict serious wounds, ray of exhaustion, speak with dead, summon monster III, vampiric touch, Animate dead-lesser

4th Level: Animate dead, bestow curse, contagion, death ward, dispel magic, enervation, black tentacles, fear, giant vermin, inflict critical wounds, phantasmal killer, poison, summon monster IV

5th Level: Blight, cloudkill, fire in the blood*, greater dispel magic, insect plague, lesser planar binding, magic jar, mass inflict light wounds, nightmare, oath of blood*, slay living, summon monster V, undeath to death, unhallow, waves of fatigue

6th Level: Acid fog, circle of death, create undead, eyebite, geas/quest, harm, mass inflict moderate wounds, planar binding, waves of exhaustion

7th Level: Control undead, destruction, finger of death, greater harm*, mass inflict serious wounds, song of discord, vile death*

8th Level: Create greater undead, horrid wilting, mass inflict critical wounds, symbol of death

9th Level: Energy drain, imprison soul*, mass harm*, plague of undead*, wail of the banshee
*New spell (see Dread Magic, starting page 125, Heroes of Horror).
**New spell (see below)
Ray of Decay
Necromancy
Level: Clr 0, Sor/Wiz 0, Dread Necromancer 0
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect: Ray
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes
When this spell is cast, a ray of dark and sizzling negative energy shoots from the caster’s finger. The caster must succeed at a ranged touch attack, and if successful, this ray deals 1d3 points of negative damage. There is a slight stench of decay which extends from the new wound. If used on an undead creature this spell grants it a +2 to turn resistance for 1d4 rounds.

Animate Animal
Necromancy
Level: Sor/Wiz 0, Dread Necromancer 0
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Targets: One animal corpse touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
This spell turns the bones or body of one dead animal into an undead skeleton or zombie that follows your spoken commands. This spell will only animate dead animals of Tiny size. The skeleton or zombie can follow you or can remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place. The skeleton or zombie remains animated until it is destroyed. A destroyed skeleton or zombie cannot be reanimated again.
Regardless of the amount of times this spell is cast, only a single undead animal may be controlled at any one time by a single caster. If an undead animal is animated using this spell whilst another is already under your control, the original animal becomes uncontrolled.
An undead animal can be created only from a mostly intact skeleton or corpse. If a skeleton is made from a corpse, the flesh falls off the bones. The statistics for a tiny-sized skeleton or zombie may be found in the SRD.
Material Component: A small black onyx gem worth at least 10 gp per HD must be placed into the mouth or eye socket of the corpse. The magic of the spell makes this gem worthless.

Animate Skeleton
Necromancy
Level: Sor/Wiz 1, Dread Necromancer 1
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Targets: One corpse touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
This spell turns the bones or body of one dead creature into an undead skeleton that follows your spoken commands. This spell will only animate skeletons of Medium size or smaller. The skeleton can follow you or can remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place. The skeleton remains animated until it is destroyed. A destroyed skeleton cannot be reanimated again.
Regardless of the amount of times this spell is cast, only a single skeleton may be controlled at any one time by a single caster. If a skeleton is animated using this spell whilst another is already under your control, the original skeleton becomes uncontrolled.
An undead skeleton can be created only from a mostly intact skeleton or corpse. If a skeleton is made from a corpse, the flesh falls off the bones. The statistics for a skeleton depend on its size; they do not depend on what abilities the creature may have had whilst alive. See the SRD for details.
Material Component: A small black onyx gem worth at least 25 gp per HD must be placed into the mouth or eye socket of the corpse. The magic of the spell makes this gem worthless.

Animate Zombie
Necromancy
Level: Sor/Wiz 2, Dread Necromancer 2
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Targets: One corpse touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
This spell turns the bones or body of one dead creature into an undead zombie that follows your spoken commands. This spell will only animate zombies of Medium size or smaller. The zombie can follow you or can remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place. The zombie remains animated until it is destroyed. A destroyed zombie cannot be reanimated again.
Regardless of the amount of times this spell is cast, only a single zombie may be controlled at any one time by a single caster. If a zombie is animated using this spell whilst another is already under your control, the original zombie becomes uncontrolled.
An undead zombie can be created only from a mostly intact corpse. The statistics for a zombie depend on its size; they do not depend on what abilities the creature
may have had whilst alive. See the SRD for details.
Material Component: A small black onyx gem worth at least 25 gp per HD must be placed into the mouth or eye socket of the corpse. The magic of the spell makes this gem worthless.
Corpse Dance
Necromancy
Level: Dread Necromancer 2
Components: V, S, F, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: One corpse touched
Duration: 1 hour/per level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
You animate a single corpse into a skeleton or zombie. Due to the inefficient method of reanimation the undead is held together for only a short time, before it falls back into death. The zombie or skeleton is under your control but doesn't count towards your limit of undead controlled.
Material Component: a bit of raw meat (for Zombies), or bone (for Skeletons)
Focus: The corpse to be animated


I prefer the choice of martial weapon, more customization is always a good thing.


[EDIT - Forgot to say - I like this a lot!]All simple weapons and one martial weapon would be cool, more akin to the extreme-oldskool 1eADnD Necromancer from White Dwarf by Lew Pulsipher, though I think those guys wore plate armor and IIRC were more clerical than arcane...

Where can I find the info for bone as a material for armor? I like the concept and would want to use it for my dedicated ossuarite "undead" druid archetype...

[EDIT - I remember I used Lamellar Bone as a Lamellar Horn variant in a Pbp, but apart from that I'm drawing a blank for bone armor]

[EDIT 2]Just remembered the primitive weapons and armor. Found it: UC, p146. Phew!]


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I dont know if it interests you, but super genius games has the genius guide to the death mage. It is conceptually similar to the dread necromancer, and designed for pathfinder. Its actually a rather interesting class, and has a little more built in flexibility then the dread necro had.


Deuxhero: Thank you for the suggestion, I was aiming to make it a more focused Necromancer hence the scythe. Perhaps adding proficiency with all martial weapons as long as they are crafted from bone? (Do note that although although non-bludgeoning two-handed weapons cannot be made from bone, Magically crafted bone weapons should* bypass that restriction).
*subject to GM approve, as is everything.

Oceanshieldwolf: Thank you. An Undead Archetype for Druid? I rather like it. The Blight Druid can do a bit of that, but not to an impressive degree. I felt that Bone armor was more in tune with the character and makes their ability to cast in armor slightly mollified.

Kolokotroni: I have read up on it, unfortunately it relies on 3rd party sources a bit more than I like (So does mine, I guess but my group allows some 3.5 stuff). I do like the built in flexibility and it is very intriguing (especially with the separate paths and fetishes), not sure but I might have been influenced by it a little...hard to tell as I wrote this up a long time ago.

Thanks for the comments! Any other suggestions?


Hm...Filge shall be a happy caster this January...


I gave the dread necromancer a 3/4 BAB progression just like in 3.5. The spells were to limited to justify a 1/2 BAB in imho.


Eh, the dread necromancer has the same spells as the sorcerer--just a smaller selection--and many more handy abilities. The ability to wear armor makes a particularly substantial difference.

That being said, it is a bit silly to give them so many abilities to aid them in a fight and then give them the worst BAB in the game. Thoughts on that?


I agree with wraithstrike it should have 3/4 BAB, Pathfinder uses a progression for HD and BAB correlated

BAB - HD
1/2 - d6
3/4 - d8
Full - d10/d12


I think the dread necromancer is supposed to be sort of a cleric/sorcerer combo--weak spell selection, but a number of handy abilities and utility spells, and decent melee prowess. In that light, 3/4 BAB makes sense.


Did you make the adjustments?

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