Character concept: the Undertaker


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Character concept: in a city, there's a gnome who works as the local undertaker. But he's also a necromancer -- with a side business as an information broker.

A necromancer? Hey, who's going to do a better job? And his alignment is LN -- he's a bit eccentric, but absolutely trustworthy. He has a very rigid code: if you give him a body to prepare for burial, he does that. (And very well, too). He's not turning any bodies into undead unless he pays for them first -- that side of the business is related, but separate.

He gets plenty of raw material for necromancy by dealing with the poor. Grandpa's dead, and the family has no money for a proper funeral? The gnome will do him up right, so that the whole neighborhood admires it... and then take Grandpa's corpse as payment, to be rendered into pieces for a skeleton, carrion golem, or what have you. But only if that's the deal! If you're paying full price, he'll prepare your corpse properly, give them a decent burial in a good coffin, and never look back. In fact, being a necromancer means he can make /sure/ the dead stay properly dead -- he knows all about vengeful spirits, how to drive off ghouls, you name it.

Going in another direction, Lawful Neutral means you'll do business with anyone who pays cash and keeps their side of the deal. In an urban area, that may mean criminals. Because sometimes people just need to dispose of a body, you know? And when that's the case, don't you want to deal with someone of proven trustworthiness? So he has contacts with both organized crime and the authorities -- hence the "information broker" sideline.

In appearance he's a severe little guy, black garments, white hair, mustache and beard trimmed to the millimeter. He's not suffering from that Bleaching thing, though. Quite the opposite; he's fascinated by the endlessly variations of death. Every corpse is a new story! (Give him someone killed in a really unusual way and watch his mustache tips quiver with excitement.) He's a respected member of the community who thoroughly enjoys his work.

And, yeah, he's got a back room full of undead.

I'm thinking something like Bard 1 / Exp 1 / Necromancer 7. (He started down the common-for-gnomes bard track before finding his true calling. And Perform [Oratory] and inspire courage are actually pretty useful for someone who has to deal with grieving families all day long.) Max ranks in Profession [undertaker]. Spells would be built around information and defense rather than combat per se. The Undertaker is not intended to be an antagonist for the PCs... more of a recurring NPC and a potential source of useful information. You can guess what sorts of payment he'll want, but then PCs do tend to produce a lot of dead bodies...


Doug M.

Sovereign Court

Sounds real cool.

Two comments on the background: I'd be happy to play in a game with this as a NPC, and that this feels like an NPC I'd put in Kaer Maga if I was running a game in Golarion.

Have you considered Dirge Bard 2/Necromancer 7 instead of the level in Expert? The necromancy angle of Dirge Bard only kicks in at level 2 when the NPC was flavour-wise shifting professions to his current, anyway, and the benefits are very in tune with the character...

Sorry but he's gonna have to be evil, summoning undead is a decidedly evil act

Neutral characters can commit evil acts, they just have to base them on "the ends justify the means" grounds. If you do as much good as you do evil, then you're neutral.

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My understanding is that casting a spell with the "evil" indicator does not require the caster to be evil-aligned, nor does it automatically turn the caster evil. If anyone knows otherwise, I welcome correction.

@Leandro, this guy was an NPC in my Crimson Throne campaign. The PCs liked him a lot. The bard/exp/necro thing is because he's deliberately not optimized -- I liked the idea of a guy who took a while to figure out what he wanted to do-- and also to crank up his Will save, because I had one PC who liked throwing enchantments at NPCs. (Oddly, that turned out not to be an issue in this case; the PCs gave him respect, right off. Go figure.)

Doug M.

Full Dirge Bard. Do eet.

Everyone says that. But honestly, if you're going dirge bard? Two levels gives you pretty much everything you'll want from the class... +4 on saves against undead-type effects and a modest bonus on identifying them. He wouldn't get anything else really useful until 10th level.

Necromancer is, for me, thematically more interesting and also gives a much bigger spell list to play around with. YMMV, of course.

Doug M.

We jokingly call PC's 'murder hobos', but in all seriousness, they're a whole lot of one with a bunch of options on the second.

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