How to create several distinct, unique necromancers?


Advice

The Exchange

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One of the BBEGs in the campaign I'm running is a necromancer of immense power. The PCs keep running into (and foiling) some of his schemes, and whenever they do, they fight the minion he put in charge of the particular mission. Sometimes (not always) they manage to kill the minion, but the master necromancer has an annoying habit of reanimating his lost minions as more powerful, undead versions of themselves.

I am looking for ways to make each of those minions stand out as different from the others. Of course part of how I accomplish this is with roleplaying them as very different types of evil people, but all of them have to be wizards focusing on necromancy.

The problem, of course, is that a wizard necromancer has a somewhat limited pool of options to choose from - among the necromancy spells, some are pretty bad, so I guess my PCs are going to face the same spells many times in the campaign. To increase variety, I really downplayed the "necromancy" aspect of some of the minions - while they are capable of necromancy, it's not their main focus (for example, one minion is a rouge 3/ wizard (necromancer) 3/ arcane trickster 3 who focuses on creating mayhem with invisibility, and flanking with her zombie minions).

The situation is further complicated when the plot of the campaign (it's a Pathfinder AP by Paizo) requires even MORE necromancers, who don't work for the master necromancer...

Any idea on creating mechanically different necromancers?

Dark Archive

Though each may be a necromancy specialist, select a second school that they're also strong in and use that to influence their style -- one who favours evocation becomes very direct damage oriented; with conjuration focus on summoning fiends; enchantment lends itself to "curse"-style spells; divinations & illusions suit a creepy/manipulative villain.

Personally I tend to have a clear divide between those necromancers who use undead and those who don't -- either they're very geared towards using them, or they don't use them at all and are all about curses, debuffs, etc.


Try focusing on different aspects of necromancy? One might be focused on the spells that drain life, while another focuses solely on undead. Maybe try mixing and matching these with spells from other schools? Another thing that might help is looking up other necromancy spells from splatbooks. Ultimate Magic, Inner Sea Magic, Advanced Race Guide and other such books might help with giving more options for the necromancers (and other spellcasters) to use. The spells from those books can also be found in the online SRD.


Find some way to NOT just use Wizards? If you are running an official PF adventure path, it should provide all you need. If you are doing it for fun and arent limited, open yourself up for other options by allowing other classes such as the Cleric necromancer or the Gravewalker witch archetype. Otherwise do what Icyshadow suggests and create seperate builds focused on different traditional aspects of a Necro.. actually raising the dead, applying curses and debuffs, direct negative damage, or even make one who uses Summon Undead to create the same effect (though this requires dipping into 3.5, but if you do, check out the Dread Necro class while you are at it).


Read the 2E Complete Necromancers guide. (Just google it for the html version.) There are kits (archetypes) and NPCs in the back section which do very much paint different styles of necromancers.

Don't focus on "creating mechanically different" only. Give them differing personalities, agendas, looks and so forth.

d20pfsrd's NPC section has several different ready made necromancer NPCs. As has thegm.org here.


Clerics, Witches and Sorcerers can also make viable Necromancers.


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Necromancy can have varying flavors. Lots of classes other then wizards have necromancy flavored archetypes. Plus you have just plain ole spell selection and roleplay flavor.

You can have pain effect masters.
You can have fear effect masters.
You can have nature defilers/druids gone bad.
You can have negative energy specialists.
You can have zombie/skeletal horde masters.
You can have seekers of unlife who specialize in mixing transmutation with necromancy to one day become undead creatures.
You can dessication focused mummy/dry lich style necromancers.
You can have vampire lord types who mix enchantment with necromancy.
You could try to revive the old Uttercold Necromancer theme by mixing in cold and negative energy usage.

Silver Crusade

Methodology trumps mechanics.

You can make them different by simple expedient of showing how they do things differently, or who their minions are.

The stealthy necromancer who relies on thieves and shadow creatures presents a different feel then say the Sledgehammer type who relies on armored zombie legions and the like. And that differs even further from the one who cultivates diseases and toxins like children and delivers everything personally.

Scarab Sages

Why do they have to be a necromancer?

Why do they have to be a wizard?

Any caster with access to necromantic magic can be used.

A magus skeletal champion with spell blending could fake being a necromancer.

An enchanter whose control extends beyond death.

Other people have mentioned witches and clerics.


The gravewalker witch can be fantastic with a selection of zombies/minions for the whole marionette possession thing. When zombies start vomiting up swarms of rats etc. you know you're in trouble.

I also had a blood witch by reskinning a load of different water-themed spells (there was a sacrificial pit in the centre of the room filled with blood and organs that she would "animate" as water elementals or other spell effects) She also had a certain amount of enchantment spells for the whole blood bending aspect.

Golemancy can be a nice mechanical change from undead if you have too many divine characters in the party who are getting too used to undead enemies.
(I couldn't help going with a Weeping Angels feel, except that the statues instead had their eyes gouged out and rivulets of fresh blood trickled from their sockets and any wounds they received)

A disease spreader makes a great illusionist/spy for the party to have to root out from among the general populace.

You could make up rules for some kind of haunt binding necromancer? (Creating traps by using ghosts) Could combine well with a pain effect master, as a kind of trapping souls in endless torment thing.

The Exchange

All of the suggestions are excellent, but those about other classes make me feel very dumb. A brilliant, simple, awesome solution. Coupled with my efforts to make the necromancers feel different with a variety of personalities, this should mean I have enough necromancers for one campaign.

Time to get the creative juices going! (Also just remembered that the Juju Oracle mystery exists!)

Grand Lodge

If you want someone with some meat on their bones (so to speak), do an antipaladin with the knight of the sepulcher archetype (Ultimate Combat)

Grand Lodge

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Also as a follow up, a lot of people mentioned cleric necromancers, which are AMAZING. I wanted to add though, that the Undead Lord archetype for the cleric in Ultimate Magic takes it even further, give it a looksie

Edit: just to give a few more ideas without making a new post:

- Sorcerers with the undead bloodline
- Oracles with the bones mystery
- Antipaladins with the knight of the sepulcher archetype
- Clerics, either vanilla evil or with the Undead Lord archetype
- Any martial class with the skeletal champion template applied (bestiary 1) {Bonus for making them bloody and/or burning skeletons}
- Wizards with the focused arcane schools of necromancy
- A good ol' fashion lich
- Dhampir wizard with the Cruoromancer archetype (Advanced Race Guide)
- Druid with the blight druid archetype (Advanced Players Guide) {this one will take a little flavor-reinterpreting, but it's not a stretch}

Dark Archive

The Scarred Lands 'Hollowfaust' supplement detailed a Necromancer-run city that had six or eight 'high councilors' each focused on a different element of necromancy.

One faction was the Animators, focused on building skeletal constructs (they avoided zombies for aesthetic and hygiene reasons).

Another was a group that used necromancy primary for speaking with the dead and communing with ghosts and spirits, sort of 'divination by necromancy.'

Another was focused around fear. The Dread Witch PrC in Heroes of Horror might be a place to look for inspiration here.

One was led by the clergy of the local non-evil death deity (every setting has one, old hat, really).

One was focused on anatomy and the living body, and included some of the finest non-magical healers in the setting, as well as creators of (mundane) artificial limbs and such, and finding ways to use necromancy to heal (killing germs, parasites and tumors with negative energy, deadening pain with necromancy to make surgery easier, etc.).

One focused on death magic and harmful negative energy 'evocations,' using necromancy as battle-magic.

These are obviously ideas for non-evil necromancers, but with evil ones, the field opens considerably.

The focuses on fear spells and 'battle necromancy' (negative energy, cold (using negative energy to suck the heat and life out of people), acid (using negative energy to increase entropy and cause flesh to melt and bone to gelatinize), etc. work pretty well as straight conversions.

A fear-specialist might have a will o' wisp as willing and eager companion, thriving on the horrors its 'friend' creates as part of their work. Their signature spell is to so terrify a person that it tears the soul right out of them, leaving them dead on the ground, and with their tormented spirit flying around adding to the horror (stats as a shadow, but it only lasts a number of rounds).

A 'fleshcrafter' who focuses on hideous grafts, some of living tissue from different 'donors,' others just horribly grafted composite zombies with multiple limbs from different bodies, animal claws, etc. and the most gruesome of all, living creatures with undead grafted limbs, etc. like a half-mad Halfling rogue who has long spindly skeletal limbs anchored to an external ribcage (from a medium-sized donor) grafted to his own torso, giving him six spider-like limbs that can be used to scuttle up walls, or lash out with sharp serrated bone spurs with reach to lash out at foes. Grander constructs might include undead hydras or a skeletal dragon or bone crossbows that load and fire themselves, scuttling about on many bone legs like dog-sized scorpions.

Someone who regards fleshy and skeletal undead with some disdain, and works with the more rarified materials of pure spirit and souls, having shadows, wraiths, specters and / or ghosts as his minions and even, in some cases, willing allies. Here's the place you'd fine not only haunts, since he's not content to merely study them, he actually *creates* them (via torturous and horribly evil rituals), and creatures like 'ghost brutes' (the enslaved spirits of animals that he has bound to areas to serve as guards). His area is spotlessly clean. No blood. No gore. No macabre bone windchimes or skull-decorated furniture or tapestries of torment. He finds that sort of thing childish and off-putting. He's a researcher, not a fetishist. (Granted, a researcher who will dispassionately murder the hell out of a village full of people in the most gruesome, traumatizing and spectacular ways imaginable to see what sorts of haunts he can create in the process, but, science!)


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lord Snow wrote:

All of the suggestions are excellent, but those about other classes make me feel very dumb. A brilliant, simple, awesome solution. Coupled with my efforts to make the necromancers feel different with a variety of personalities, this should mean I have enough necromancers for one campaign.

Time to get the creative juices going! (Also just remembered that the Juju Oracle mystery exists!)

Dont forget the super genius guide to the Death Mage or the Death Knight. Both can offer alot of variety and uniqueness to the necromancy theme, with the Death mage being a full caster, and the death knight being a necro focuse anti paladin.

The Exchange

I can't speak for all of the "lesser boss" fights, but a necromancer who's used magic jar to give himself a very tough replacement body ought to be memorable. So - in a very different way - will the necromancer who uses magic jar to place himself in the body of, say, the abducted nine-year-old heir to the throne...

Or, as I mentioned before in another thread, it can be amusing to make it a two-stage fight by giving the necromancer an apparatus of the crab that the PCs must beat into submission before taking on the mage within.

Grand Lodge

Also, never underestimate the creepiness of the core spell clone. Especially if the PCs stumble upon the laboratory needed as the focus of the spell.


Consider a Dirge Bard, which adds necromancy spells to the bard list, and can affect undead allies with spells like Heroism, Rage and Good Hope. Stack Dirge Bard with the Sound Striker archetype for a scary buffer/blaster. All that charisma will make for a pretty tough undead when he or she gets reanimated.

Consider a Hexblade Magus who focuses on Chill Touch or Vampiric Touch or Bestow Curse the way most Magi focus on Shocking Grasp. (You can create a custom curse that does attribute damage rather than reducing an attribute...which means a critical can double the effect.)


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Why wizards at all? Fear is necromancy right? What about a bugbear torturer, infused with negative energy after all the pain he's wrought, who has gone blind and "sees" by the feats Keen Senses and Smell Fear. He also has Fear 3/day as an SLA. It's a necromantic effect but has NOTHING to do with a goth wizard with a skull.

You might also build an alchemist named Dr West. He has a green mutagen that reanimates dead tissue. He has no way of controlling them though. The adventure with him in it could be the doctor has been trapped in the morgue by one of the BBEG's other minions and he's barricaded himself in by animating a horde of corpses to duke it out w/said minion while he hides and slowly moves around the facility trying to escape.

A barbarian who channels multiple personalities of dead heroes during battle to re-flavor his "rage" - start with an innocent kid, then build an appropriate-level barbarian to challenge the party. Now show the kid getting angry, his flesh mutating and his speech becoming incoherent as he explodes into violence.

A poor unfortunate with a skull and spine of a powerful undead implanted in their shoulder and back. Give them levels of Sorcerer and a melee bite attack. Now have the primary face of the victim constantly begging for death while this thing rides them like a parasite.

Take a normal standard villain, add +2 CR and give them multiple channels of negative energy per day; a monster that generates a fatiguing aura and then feeds on other's lethargy; an APL appropriate adept with a unique magic item called a Bag of Curses; a corrupted priest that preserves all undead for study and attempts to redeem them using Gentle Repose and other spells.

At the end of the day there are SO many necromantic effects under Sorcerer/Wizard - Necromancy spells that it boggles the mind. Just throw it all out there and see what feels good.

Dark Archive

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Mark Hoover wrote:

Why wizards at all? Fear is necromancy right? What about a bugbear torturer, infused with negative energy after all the pain he's wrought, who has gone blind and "sees" by the feats Keen Senses and Smell Fear. He also has Fear 3/day as an SLA. It's a necromantic effect but has NOTHING to do with a goth wizard with a skull.

A barbarian who channels multiple personalities of dead heroes during battle to re-flavor his "rage" - start with an innocent kid, then build an appropriate-level barbarian to challenge the party. Now show the kid getting angry, his flesh mutating and his speech becoming incoherent as he explodes into violence.

A poor unfortunate with a skull and spine of a powerful undead implanted in their shoulder and back. Give them levels of Sorcerer and a melee bite attack. Now have the primary face of the victim constantly begging for death while this thing rides them like a parasite.

These three in particular are insanely hot.

I like thinking of the barbarian kid as being like the kid from How to Train Your Dragon, descended from a line of crazy awesome berserkers, who got locked in the tomb of their ancestors by more barbarian-acceptable-youths of his tribe, only to get quasi-possessed by the angry shades of a dozen old kings of his people, who are disappointed by their descendents lack of fire-in-the-belly and are using this scrawny kid to unleash their fury...

To go all Emerald Empress with the last one, an ambitious apprentice, convinced they'd learned everything they were going to from a cruel master, decapitated the fool and bound it's floating head via a cold iron chain to their wrist as a source of counsel and power. Decades have passed, and now a half-dozen heads float behind this powerful necromancer, each with a permanent spectral hand that it can use to cast spells at its masters direction (although at any given time, a couple of them are on 'counterspell duty').

A clan of hobgoblins raise goblins and kill any who fail to develop the talents to be an adept. Once they become adepts, those who show talent are cultivated and treated suspiciously nicely, with reverence and great deference, even, until they seem to have plateaued in their learning, at which point they are ritually sacrificed and their withered mummified bodies stretched on a wrack and 'shrunken' until they resemble bulb-headed leathery staves. With a command word, these mummified 'staves' cast whatever adept spells they prepared before their ritual sacrifice, stick thin arms folding out from their emaciated bodies (still gripped in the hands of the hobgoblin necromancer-priests who made them this way) and twitching like dying spiders as they cast their feeble magic on behalf of their murderers.

Back in the hobgoblin warrens, dozens of other chained goblins study and study to master the ways of the adept, knowing that slow students who fail to show progress are chopped up and fed to the others, while those who succeed are dressed in pretty robes and shiny jewelry and led out to live like kings!

The BBEG, a hobgoblin cleric-necromancer-chieftain wears an ornate backpiece to his breastplate made of two of these mummified goblin adepts, each having made it to level 5, and using their spells each round to buff or heal the master while he's in combat, if they are not 'sundered.' Between them, they've got a bull's strength, a bear's endurance, two cure moderate wounds, two cure light wounds, protection from good, bless, burning hands and sleep (and a bunch of cantrips), and, between them, can cast two spells a round, over and above whatever the BBEG is doing with his own actions!

Meanwhile, his own necromancer/'witch doctor' ally has necromantically preserved his last five toad familiars, and wears their corpses as a belt, so that he doesn't have to re-teach his new familiar all the spells he learned through the others, and also giving him the +3 hit points they would have if they were still alive. What seems like a bizarre affectation turns out to be worth 15 extra hit points, and, for a witch, insurance against having to blow a ton of money re-learning spells every time a familiar buys the farm.

Silver Crusade

Give each necromancer a focus or theme. You could have a Bone necromancer, a Flesh Necromancer, a Blood Necromancer, and a Soul Necromancer.

Bone: skeletons are obvious but almost any undead with a strong bone motif works and there are plenty.

Flesh: Zombies are the standard but any fleshy undead works.

Blood: you have Vampires and Vargouilles (not undead but fit the blood theme), this one is I little creepy and may depend on your behind the scenes GM creation skills.

Soul: Incorporeal things.

You can get really creepy with all these. And it sets up a good coven of necromancers who can work together without stepping on each other’s toes. It also lets you get a little creative. Like using water elemental calling it a “Blood Wraith” and treating it as undead. You also have distinct power levels if you want.

Dark Archive

TimrehIX wrote:
Give each necromancer a focus or theme. You could have a Bone necromancer, a Flesh Necromancer, a Blood Necromancer, and a Soul Necromancer.

I had an enemy necromancer who was studying a means of necromantically empowering and replacing every one of her bodily systems individually, with the goal of making herself into a lich, one part at a time.

She'd turn a single body into a bunch of undead;

Skin, peels off and becomes a slithering sheet that is weak, but can wrap around and entangle people, making them easier prey for the others.

Skeleton. Standard skeleton.

Musculature and vital organs, ooze like creature made of viscera that grapples with muscles and blorps digestive acid on foes.

Blood, another ooze like creature made of cold half-clotted blood that crawls all over a person and attempts to cover their eyes (blinding them) and crawl down their throat (drowning them).

You could make dozens of others, from individual organs and systems.

Flying clouds of eyes that mostly serve as scouts for the necromancer, but might be able to cause fear weakly.

A floating brain and nervous system that whips foes with it's spinal cord and nerves and can cause weak electricity damage and / or paralysis, perhaps even having a mental blast of some sort.

A crawling heart, dragged along by it's circulatory system, which hungers for blood and attaches and blood drains foes, with every 'beat' of the heart (1/round when it's blood draining) sending a pulse of negative energy damage out to heal other undead and harm living foes in the area.

A 'swarm' of teeth, pulled out of assorted animals and humanoids, that clatters along the ground and creates difficult terrain / caltrop like effects (all piercing, so no effect at all on skeletal undead, who can fight in the area of these 'swarms' unhindered), and also causes P damage to anyone who falls prone in the area.

All of these critters could be 1 HD, and come from a single humanoid corpse, for a GM who wants some low level threats that aren't goblins or skeletons.


Pick up a copy of the 3.5 Libre Mortis.

It's full of fun stuff, and amazingly easy to convert.

The Exchange

My bbeg is going to be a damphir undead lord gesalting with a grave witch. It will be a glorious one man army of undead


We played an party trying to become undead.

A corpsecrafter necromancer aiming for lich, a Knight of the Sepulcher aiming for deathknight, and a Dirge Bard aiming for vampire.

It was glorious, bardic buffs for the undead army and a negative energy healing anti-paladin in the middle, once the caster got negative energy ray, and the undead had the negative energy burst on being destroyed, we were pretty much... win.

Dark Archive

Alchemists ftw.... the dr Frankenstein feel. Except they are animated my lightning and chemicals so no channel muwhahahahaha..


TGMaxMaxer wrote:

Pick up a copy of the 3.5 Libre Mortis.

It's full of fun stuff, and amazingly easy to convert.

An excellent suggestion.

In my game, my players recently went up against some of the minions of an epic necromancer wizard with a strong secondary interest in conjuration, who herself was being dealt with by an epic NPC ally I wanted to eliminate from the game (both the ally and villain ended up going kaput in different ways when the god-making ritual the party was attempting to disrupt went sideways). The minions were powerful enough in themselves that had the party not done their part, there is no way their ally could have held his own long enough for the ritual to be successfully disrupted. Aside from various armies of lesser monsters, the party had to face several simulacra of the main villain (whose base material was apparently blood, not snow), as well as the villain's cohort, a high level juju zombie oracle of bones with the possessed archetype and the fiendish template.

It all worked out quite well, and the party was barely holding its own before it bugged out when it looked as if everything was about to go kablooey (as in fact it did).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Don't forget different templates and prestige classes can also help you customize your necromancers. The eldritch knight could work for a more martial based necromancer (coupled with the Undead Anatomy spells). The Bloatmage may also make for a particularly disgusting encounter.

Various undead templates are out there for the taking that might have been assumed by some necromancers willingly (the vampire, the lich, the penangallan, etc) or unwilling (say a ghostly necromancer that was murdered by his peers and still holds onto this life with a sense of vengeance). You can also use base monsters (wights, ghouls, advanced mummies, etc) and add class levels to them.

You may also further customize necromancers by giving them certain sets of minions. (A paleontologist necromancer may favor fossilized [skeletal] dinosaurs, for example).


A touch-attack-based 'Vampiric' Necromancer
A Gravewalker "Voodoo" Witch or JuJu Oracle
A Bones Oracle, ala the Diablo 2 necro
A reflavored Summoner with a horrific undead-templated Eidolon
A undead themed Conjuration Wizard
Uh, Dhampirs
A pestilence-spreading Ratfolk Alchemist
A Vivisectionist "Jack-the-Ripper"

Man I could do this for hours

Dark Archive

Lord Snow wrote:
Any idea on creating mechanically different necromancers?

About mechanics, the old 2nd edition Complete Necromancer's Handbook is an amazing resource, even if it's old, for necromancer characters. It includes some ideas for necromancers. Libris Mortis is a good resource too.

Once I faced my players against a necro cult in one of my adventures. The default cultists look similar (and mechanically equal), but for the leaders I made them every one with different look and spell style. As the necromancy spell list is limited you may need use your GM godly license and create some new (balanced) spells for the necromancers.

You can create effects and spells that focus in flesh, blood, bone, undead control, life drain, possession, destroy life, control ghosts, summon undeads, polymorph into undeads or gains undead powers, pain, and summoning of outsiders.

You can use other necro's associates as suggested here, special undead like liches, death/grave knights, vampires, more undead types, flesh golems, anti paladins, other class specializations (aka undead bloodline, etc), and even daemons, demons and devils.

I hope this be helpful. :)

Dark Archive

3.X stuff includes lots of fun inspirations, from Libris Mortis to Heroes of Horror (Dread Necromancer!) to Ghostwalk to Dragon Magazine's Death Master class.

Even 2nd edition had a Complete Handbook to Necromancers, that was really good. (Unlike the Complete Handbook to Any Other School, Ever, which was conspicuous by it's absence...)

Tons and tons of 3rd party stuff, too.

The Scarred Lands setting was very necro-friendly, with Animators, Mourners (a necro-*bard* PrC), Speakers of the Dead (necro-diviner working with spirits), Unfailing (fighters who gain undead-like resistances through service to necromancers), Slavers of the Dead (evil dwarves who animated hordes of undead), Voices of Sumara (sorcerers linked to a long-dead civilization, Crypt Lords (undead researchers who had necromancy version of most transmutation spells), Sons of Mirth (bayou-alchemist voodoo types), Shade-Touched (rogues with undead shadow themed powers), etc.

Secret College of Necromancy has a 20 level Necromancer class and a 20 level Death Knight class.

Necromancer's Legacy has a PrC based around devouring people to absorb traits, knowledge, attributes, magic and / or monster abilities from them. A little ghoulish flavor, and it's very necro-friendly.

Necromancy: Beyond the Grave has a Deathseeker who derives a rush of magical energy whenever someone dies in their immediate presence, encouraging them to surround themselves with expendable minions, who, when killed by attackers, give them boosts to their spellcasting. A BBEG using that technique would call for some different tactics, as killing his otherwise squishy minions just makes him harder to kill, as he binds their fleeing spirits to himself as temporary hit point buffs or healing or caster level / metamagic cost offset buffs to his necromancy spells.

Arcana: Societies of Magic has a group called the Moon Wraith Adepts, fighters and monks and barbarians who have been co-opted by the long dead spirits of an ancient culture (like, say, the Azlanti?) who want to rebuild their glorious empire by merging their spirits with warrior types they deem worthy, giving them some necromantic advantages (some of the bonuses of the undead type, or the ability to ignore and 'fight through' a certain amount of pain and physical injury, for instance).

Having a LE order of Monks who, instead of the 3.X notion of outsider-ifying themselves in the process of transcending mortal frailties, insead undead-ify themselves, would be very cool. A group of ninja who serve as the blood cult retainers of a vampire master, using their ki powers to become like shadow, to train animals to murder (or just serve as distractions), to enthrall their victims or make them forget their presence, or even to become mist for a round and slip under a door or through a barred window, all teachings from their vampire masters, could be thematic. They might occasionally only use bludgeoning or nonlethal weapons, because their masters don't want them to waste any blood...

Necromancy has a certain morbid fascination to it, making for evocative bad-guys (and assumption-challenging good guys!) and has benefitted from a lot of words written on the subject.

If you wanted to design a campaign around a bunch of very different Abjurers or Diviners, you'd have a much slimmer set of core and 3.X and 3rd party options available to work with. :)

Even Illusion, the school that used to have it's own base class, doesn't get a fraction of the love that Necromancy gets from third-party sources.

Super-simple ways to 'necro up' some variant spellcasters is to just give them necromancy versions of regular spells.

He casts bull's strength, only it's 'vampire's strength' and only works outside of sunlight and makes the target's skin pale white and eyes blood red. He casts fireball, only it's a shadowy maelstrom of moaning skull-spirits that spiral around the 'detonation' point and inflict negative energy or cold damage to everyone in the 'blast radius.' He casts summon monster, only the 'fiendish wolves' all have the skeleton or zombie template. The 'black tentacles' are actually skeletal arms, some so large they could only come from giants, that burst up from the earth and claw at and grapple those in the area. Wall of fire? No, wall of the howling damned, which lash out and inflict half cold and half negative energy damage instead.

Higher level variations on classic necromancy spells are also an option. Mass ray of enfeeblement. Mass false life. *Recurring* false life (only lasts 1 round per level, but resets each round). Vampiric ray (vampiric touch as a ranged touch). Vampiric ray of enfeeblement (target gains a Str penalty, caster gains an equal Str enhancement bonus).

Mix 'em all up for the biggest of big bads. Vampiric Recurring False Life. Every round, some living foe in 30 ft. must save or lose X hit points. You gain those hit points as temporary hit points. The higher level version of that draws hit points from *everyone* around the caster, and grants them to him as temporary hit points (up to a certain maximum).


Also read the Black Company and steal from The Ten Who Where Taken.


Some suggestions:
Mix up some classes with clerics, juju oracles, and the like
Change who follows them around, monks, wizards, cultists, brainwashed townsfolk....
Change what undead minions they favor, if any

Also, try having them use animate object on a corpse and mix it in with the zombies. It is a construct that looks undead.


Lamontius wrote:

A touch-attack-based 'Vampiric' Necromancer

A Gravewalker "Voodoo" Witch or JuJu Oracle
A Bones Oracle, ala the Diablo 2 necro
A reflavored Summoner with a horrific undead-templated Eidolon
A undead themed Conjuration Wizard
Uh, Dhampirs
A pestilence-spreading Ratfolk Alchemist
A Vivisectionist "Jack-the-Ripper"

Man I could do this for hours

I KNOW right? It's fun to brainstorm this stuff...


Set wrote:
The Scarred Lands setting was very necro-friendly, with Animators, Mourners (a necro-*bard* PrC), Speakers of the Dead (necro-diviner working with spirits), Unfailing (fighters who gain undead-like resistances through service to necromancers), Slavers of the Dead (evil dwarves who animated hordes of undead), Voices of Sumara (sorcerers linked to a long-dead civilization, Crypt Lords (undead researchers who had necromancy version of most transmutation spells), Sons of Mirth (bayou-alchemist voodoo types), Shade-Touched (rogues with undead shadow themed powers), etc.

If you can find it you might want to have a look at the Scarred Lands setting book for Hollowfaust which was a city run by a cabal of necromancers. The mechanics might not be much use but there is a whole host of useful material to mine.

Dark Archive

andreww wrote:
If you can find it you might want to have a look at the Scarred Lands setting book for Hollowfaust which was a city run by a cabal of necromancers. The mechanics might not be much use but there is a whole host of useful material to mine.

Yeah, that was a good one.

I do wish there had been a PrC or something for the Anatomists. A group of people who use necromantic studies of the body to augment mundane healing options, sounds really cool.

I'm always keen on healing techniques that don't involve, 'buy a wand of cure light wounds.' Plus *anything* that makes skills more relevant, as compared to spells, is a huge plus in my book.

When the APG came out and five of the six new classes were some sort of spellcaster, I was bummed.

An undead monk, taking advantage of a dangerous touch (such as a ghoul's paralysis or a wight's energy drain), could be a brutal boss mob that has no need for spellcasting. Some super-fast monkly movement rate and abundant step-page to get people who thought they were out of range into range, and he could be scary.

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