I am about to join in on a game that is starting at 6th level. When I had the opportunity to start this high it made me want to do something I have never done before. Necromancy!!! So I got to looking and found what seems to be a fun Prestige class, Agent of the Grave. Being sixth level I could enter into it with 5 levels of something then going with my first level of AotG. I have a few questions.
1) Is Agent of the Grave worth it? I have found old post, 2016 being the newest, and there were split decisions on it.
2) What is a good way to get into Agent of the Grave? There are three main classes that seemed like logical choices; Cleric, Orical, and Wizard. Cleric seemed to stand out the most for me personally.
3) Going with Cleric how not recommended is the “Undead Lord” archetype? I know I lose a whole domain, but what you gain is really cool. At least is flavorwise the undead guy you get seems rather cool.
I am not looking for “Break my character” advice. I am just looking for a little guidance down the path to the dark side. This is the first time I have ever dabbled with necromancy.
Thanks in advance!!
1) Everything about the class seems pretty good. There are two points that hurt the class a little IMO. The first is that you lose caster level when you enter the class. This can be fixed (as I'll talk about later) but it is a consideration. The 2nd is the 4th level ability. Being able to heal via negative energy is nice. Getting harmed by positive energy however can be a real pain for you and the rest of the party. This means that now the normal avenues of healing won't work on you and for the most part you'll have to provide your own healing. If you're the healer of the group it's pretty minor, if you're not the healer it becomes a bigger issue.
2) This really depends on what else you want to do. Wizard and Cleric are both classics with cleric typically being slightly better since you'll be able to heal yourself and your minions by channeling negative energy (wizards get channel energy but only for purposes of command undead, they can't heal with it). Other classes you might consider
Alchemist(though admittedly this one takes some finagling)
Sorcerer (there's a bit of overlap with abilities with Agent of the Grave)
3) It's not terrible, it is a choice though. You're giving up a domain in exchange for a single minion and a feat. The other abilties it gives you, you won't see unless you stay cleric and I'm not sure that they are worth it compared to taking a prestige class like Agent of the Grave or Pathfinder Savant. To be fair IMO it's a choice between this archetype and picking up the Inevitable domain, since this will give you the command undead spell (something clerics don't normally get).
I understand you're not looking for some super powerful necromancer build but honestly most necromancer builds are pretty straight forward since there aren't a lot of feats that support it. In the end it comes down to how you build your undead and less how the character making said undead is built.
Edit: i posted and completely forgot to come back around to the missing caster level. This can be corrected by taking the feat Prestigious Spellcaster.
Agent of the Grave is a pretty good Prestige Class. I'd recommend Cleric rather than Wizard or Oracle since you will probably want to be in the fray with your minions for Lich Touch and channel healing and losing a spell casting level is less painful with a cleric then with an oracle.
You will want to make sure that the party you are joining is happy with having a necromancer as part of the group and clarify with the GM how they feel about multiple minions. If either of those is an issue you probably need to rethink your concept.
The trait Magical Knack also helps make up lost caster levels.
Tiefling's have an alternative racial ability that allows you to heal from negative and positive energy. That might be useful.
Cleric is probably the preferred route.
Shaman gets animate dead at level 5, and is also a 3/4 BAB class. The Spirit Warden archetype and either Bones or Lore spirit might be of interest.
Make sure you take the Craft Wondrous Item feat and save all your money, craft a Phylactery and become a Lich. Just for fun and flavor.
If I remember right Magical Knack only improves your caster level though, not your spell progression. If it actually adds to spell progression it's a lot better than I thought it was.
On a side note. The death domain ability you get at 8th level lets negative energy heal you. The interesting thing about this one is that unlike every other iteration of this kind of ability there isn't any mention about positive energy harming you. In my gaming group this was interpreted that now the character gets to heal from both positive and negative energy.
I was already looking to take Magical Knack to help with the lost caster level. It doesn’t give you the spell level that you lose, but it is still nice to help keep spells where they should be.
One thing I was thinking is if I were to go Undeal Lord Cleric (IMO) it would be because of the undead minion you have following you around. The downside is that going into AotG you lose the progression at keeping it strong.
So many things to do, so many choices to make.
Agent of the Grave allows you to use Charisma to determine health points gained during that class, if you were an Oracle this could be a nice bonus. And, Summoners use Charisma, if you wanted take up summoning after completing the Prestige Class. Any time something kills one of your summoned monsters, you simply reanimate it as undead minion to serve you in life and in death.
3rd lvl Witch with Gravewalker Archetype can deliver touch spells through her Poppet at a range of your Aura of Desecration (25ft +5ft/2lvls) - this would synergize nicely with Lich's Touch, and Gravewalker gets Bonethrall, which is basically Command Undead. They get Animate Dead at lvl 6, so you could enter AotG at lvl 7. Negative Energy Conduit from Agent of the Grave casts a Desecrate spell that would synergize well with the Aura of Desecration ability of the Gravewalker witch. You can keep your caster level high with Magical Knack trait when you take your first lvl in Agent of the Grave.
After you've finished with AotG 5, you could probably continue with Witch and take the Hex Channeler archetype if you want. Hex Channeler and Gravewalker can coexist quite nicely. Going as an Intel-based caster has a significant benefit for the lvl 5 ability for AotG
"At 5th level, an Agent of the Grave gains new insights into the dark arts of necromancy. At the time he gains this ability, the character may add a number of necromancy spells that are not normally a part of his class’s spell list to his spell list. The number of spells that the character may add is equal to his Intelligence modifier. For example, an Agent of the Grave with levels of wizard might choose to add spells like death watch, inflict critical wounds, and slay living to his spell list, while an Agent of the Grave with levels of cleric might choose to add spells such as enervation, magic jar, and vampiric touch. An Agent of the Grave may choose to add spells he cannot yet cast—this does not allow the Agent of the Grave to cast spells of a higher level than he normally could, but rather merely grants him access to those spells when he reaches the level required to cast them."
With a high Int, you can benefit from this greatly. I'd recommend Create Greater Undead from the Sorc/Wiz list, maybe Epidemic if you're into taking out entire cities at a time.
I would be hesitant to go with Witch or Oracle if I was planning on going into Agent of the Grave. Cleric and Wizard don't lose much, but Oracle and Witch have a lot more class level dependent stuff (Curses, Mysteries, Hexes.)
As a Gravewalker/Hex Channeler, you wouldn't necessarily be depending on hexes. And you'd still have the freedom to take Extra Hex feat.
Alright, forget what I said earlier. I was scrubbing the forums and found this build from Cartmanbeck:
Human, max out Int and Wis.
1: Wizard (Necromancy(Undead)) 1: Arcane bond(bonded object, Necromancer's Athame when you can afford it), Feat: Spell focus (necromancy), Skill focus (Knowledge religion)
2: Wizard 2
3: Wizard 3: Feat: Spell Specialization (animate dead, lesser)
4: Cleric (Undead Lord) 1: Command Unead
5: Cleric 2: Feat: some metamagic feat
6: Cleric 3
7: Mystic Theurge 1: Feat: some metamagic feat
8: Mystic Theurge 2
9: Mystic Theurge 3: Feat: Undead Master, change Spell Specialization to animate dead (at this point you can create up to 48 hit dice of undead as a wizard and 48 hit dice as a cleric using animate dead spells! Caster level for each is equal to 3 + 3(Mystic Theurge) + 2(Spell Spec) + 4(Undead Master))
10: Mystic Theurge 4
11: Mystic Theurge 5: Feat: some metamagic feat
12: Mystic Theurge 6
13: Mystic Theurge 7: Feat: ?
14: Mystic Theurge 8
15: Mystic Theurge 9: Feat: Spell Perfection (animate dead) (at this point you can create up to 96 hit dice of undead with each of your classes, since Spell Perfection doubles all the numerical bonuses from your other feats. Caster level is 3 + 9(Mystic Theurge) + 4 (Spell Spec) + 8 (Undead Master))
16: Mystic Theurge 10
17: Cleric 4
18: Cleric 5
19: Cleric 6
20: Cleric 7
He's actually wrong about the Undead Master feat. It doesn't increase your HD pool by 4, but it does increase the max amount of HD you can summon in a single casting by 4. This feat is essentially obsolete though as long as your carrying material components for casting Desecrate before you Animate Dead for a high HD creature (and shame on you if you don't :P).
Also, Juju Oracles with the Spirit Vessels revelation can have 6 HD per level and always maxes out the HP of Zombies when using Animate Dead or Create Undead.
So, here's how I would do this:
Human, max out Int and Cha. Get Magical Knack Trait (Choose Oracle)
1: Witch (Gravewalker) Feat: Spell focus (necromancy), + any feat you want from the Human Bonus Feat, Bonethrall acts as Command Undead feat, Familiar becomes Poppet for touch attacks at 25ft (at lvl 3).
2: Witch 2
3: Witch 3: Feat: Spell Specialization (animate dead, lesser)
4: Juju Oracle 1: Spirit Vessels
5: Juju Oracle 2: Feat: some metamagic feat or extra hex
6: Juju Oracle 3: Pick any revelation
7: Mystic Theurge 1: Feat: some metamagic feat or extra hex
8: Mystic Theurge 2
9: Mystic Theurge 3: Feat: Varisian Tattoo (Necromancy), change Spell Specialization to animate dead (at this point you can create up to (6+2+1)CL*4= 36HD of undead as a Witch and (8+2+1)*6= 66HD as a Juju Oracle using animate dead Caster level for each is equal to 3 + 3(Mystic Theurge) + 2(Spell Spec) + 1(Varisian Tattoo) and +2 Magical Knack for Oracle)
10-14: Agent of the Grave1-5, increase your Oracle Level, Make sure you have 3 metamagic feats before you get Spell Perfection at 15. **Question to everyone: What Metamagic feats would work well with a build like this? My first thought would be Heighten Spell and Persistent Spell (so your offensive magic doesn't suck)
15-20: Mystic Theurge 4-9 Feat: Spell Perfection (animate dead). Spell Spec and Varisian Tattoo CL bonuses are doubled with Spell Perfection.
At lvl 15:
Caster level is 3Witch + 3(Mystic Theurge) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 12*4 = 48HD Undead
Caster level is 3Oracle + 3(Mystic Theurge) +5AotG (counts as +10) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 22*6 = 132HD Undead
=180HD total Undead
At lvl 20:
Caster level is 3Witch + 9(Mystic Theurge) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 18*4 = 72HD Undead
Caster level is 3Oracle + 9(Mystic Theurge) +5AotG (counts as +10) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 28*6 = 168HD Undead
=240HD total Undead
This is without items that increase CL, like orange prism ioun stone.
You lose 4 lvls of spell progression from 3 lvls of witch and 1 lvl of AotG, but magical trait brings it back up +2. So at lvl 20, you’ll cast with spell progression of a lvl 18 oracle and of a lvl 12 witch, 240 HD Animate dead army, total Caster Level of HD with Bonethrall, and you can juggle additional Undead with the spell Control Undead. With lvl 3 witch, you can make touch attacks at range with your Poppet, so that’s huge survivability.
You can actually mix and swap levels of Mystic Theurge and AotG as you see fit. You can even start lvl 7 with AotG if you want and it still works well.
Also, with AotG capstone, you can choose up to your total Int Mod in Necromancy spells from spells that are not on your Oracle list. So you could choose Create Greater Undead from Wiz/Sorc, if you want.
If you really want to get filthy with CL bonus, take the Coven Hex somewhere in there and have them Aid Another for +2 CL per witch.
Actually, I made a couple of mistakes earlier. Witches do not get animate dead, lesser. Oracles do though. Basically swap the Oracle/Witch lvls at 1-6 so go Juju Oracle at lvl 1-3, and Gravewalker Witch 4-6. Keep the same feat progression. The OP is starting at lvl 6 though, so it is a non-issue at this point. But if you were starting at lvl1, you'd need to swap them to make it all turn out right.
Also, Magical Knack doesn't help with lost spell progression... so, you'll have 16lvls worth of Oracle and 12lvls from Witch at lvl 20.
Unfortunately, this build doesn't even start to get good until level 9 once you can Animate Dead from both Witch and Oracle, but it's an absolutely massive jump in effectiveness literally overnight. Lvls 1-8 are going to be a little shaky because that's when you're the most vulnerable, your spells suck, and you only have a =CL HD Bonethrall and anything you can animate with Animate Dead, Lesser to guard you. You’ll have lvl 2 spells from both Witch and Oracle though, so can support your group well until lvl 9. But at level 9, you're an absolute powerhouse with a 102HD undead army and lvl 3 spells from both oracle and witch, and then at lvl 10 you can go into AotG with serious confidence. At some point in your journey while leveling in Agent of the Grave, you should probably try to gain Lich-hood.
As far as gameplay tips, always always always desecrate before you Animate Dead because you get huge bonuses to the max HD you can create AND anything you animate within a desecrate spell range has an additional +2 HP per HD, AND you always create Zombies with Max HP as a Juju Oracle. For funsies, zombify a flyer for a flying mount. Whenever you create skellies, always choose to make Bloody Skeletons. They'll reanimate for you because of the Deathless feature, so you'll save a ton on Onyx costs - just watch out for paladins and good clerics. Another way to save on Onyx costs is to get the spell Blood Money from the Witch spells. You'll take strength damage each time you do it, but you'll heal it back over 1-2 days naturally or you can use lesser restoration, but it can seriously reduce a lot of GP cost over the course of a campaign.
A bloody skeleton is destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points, but it returns to unlife 1 hour later at 1 hit point, allowing its fast healing thereafter to resume healing it. A bloody skeleton can be permanently destroyed if it is destroyed by positive energy, if it is reduced to 0 hit points in the area of a bless or hallow spell, or if its remains are sprinkled with a vial of holy water.
That is the problem with mystic theruge. You take such a huge hit to spellcasting that it is often not worth it since you never get 9th level spells. There was a work around using the arcane discovery faith magic to let you qualify for Mystic theruge using wizard levels, which then allows you to just take a one level dip in the divine casting class of your choice. In the end you still end up losing 6 levels of casting, but instead of them being split between both classes You lose 5 caster levels on the divine class and only 1 in wizard.
As for Undead Master, I always assumed it increased your HD pool, but reading it again.... well, now it just seems poorly worded.
When you cast animate dead or use the Command Undead feat, you are considered to be four levels higher when determining the number of Hit Dice you animate. When you cast command undead, your duration is doubled.
I understand your interpretation and it's not nessisarly incorrect. However, if I remove the words "cast animate dead or", It should still read correctly. But what I'm left with makes zero sense.
"When you use the Command Undead feat, you are considered to be four levels higher when determining the number of Hit Dice you animate."
The command undead feat does not create undead. It only lets you control undead. So either the feat does nothing for command undead or it increases the HD pool for command undead. If it increases the HD pool for command undead then it must do the same for animate dead since you have the same wording applying to both abilities. It doesn't make sense that it would increase the HD pool of one and not the other.
Also, while gravewalker witch's ability to deliver touch spells at range is nice, it won't work with lich's touch because that is a supernatural ability not a spell like ability. The best way to use this ability is to take the elements patron. This gives you shocking grasp at 2nd level which is quite nice being able to do at range.
As for feats, I would look at the feat Charnel Soldiers. This works nicely with the betrayal teamwork feats like ally shield.
Alright, after lots of proper research, I found many mistakes with my build, and I also found some cool stuff too; here's how I would do this:
Firstly, you need 4 levels of Oracle to get to 2nd lvl Oracle spells, and 6th levels of Oracle to get to 3rd lvl Oracle Spells, and secondly, once you have the Spirit Vessels revelation, it applies to all castings of Animate Dead, even while casting Animate Dead as a Witch, and thirdly, Undead Servitude revelation and Bonethrall from Gravewalker stack. So you essentially have 2 "buckets" of Animate Dead, and 2 "buckets" of Command Undead. Let's remember that Command Undead and Bonethrall both are based off Caster Level at the time of casting, and that it is permanent (essentially no end in duration unless the Undead in question is Intelligent).
Any race, max out Int and Cha. Cha is key ability modifier in this build, so pump this higher than Int. Get Magical Knack Trait (Choose Oracle)
1: Juju Oracle 1: Undead Servitude Revelation (Command Undead as a bonus feat), Feat: Spell focus (necromancy), + any feat you want if you go Human
2: Juju Oracle 2:
3: Juju Oracle 3: Revelation: Spirit Vessels, Feat: Spell Specialization (animate dead, lesser)
4: Juju Oracle 4: 2nd lvl Oracle Spells
5: Witch1 (Gravewalker Archetype) Bonethrall acts exactly as Command Undead feat, but isn't the feat. Feat: Metamagic or Extra Hex
6: Witch 2: Hex: Coven
7: Witch 3: Familiar becomes Poppet for touch attacks at 25ft within Aura of Desecration. 2nd lvl Witch spells. Feat: Metamagic or Extra Hex
8: Mystic Theurge 1:
9: Mystic Theurge 2: Feat: Varisian Tattoo (Necromancy), change Spell Specialization to animate dead (at this point you can create up to (3+2+2+1)CL*6= 48HD of undead as a Witch and (4+2+2+2+1)*6= 66HD as a Juju Oracle using animate dead
At lvl 9:
Caster level is 3Witch + 2(Mystic Theurge) + 2(Spell Spec) +1(Varisian Tattoo)= 8*6 = 48HD Undead
Caster level is 4Oracle + 2(Mystic Theurge) + 2(Spell Spec) + 1(Varisian Tattoo) + 2(Magical Knack) = 11*6 = 66HD Undead
10-14: Agent of the Grave1-5, increase your Oracle spellcasting progression, make sure you have 3 metamagic feats before you get Spell Perfection at 15.
My recommendations are Heighten Spell, Persistent Spell, Quicken Spell or Dazing Spell, or anything else you might want.
15-20: Mystic Theurge3-8 lvl15Feat: Spell Perfection (animate dead). Spell Spec and Varisian Tattoo CL bonuses are doubled with Spell Perfection. Lvl17 & 19 feats can be anything.
At lvl 15:
Caster level is 3Witch + 3(Mystic Theurge) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 12*6 = 72HD Undead
Caster level is 4Oracle + 3(Mystic Theurge) +5AotG (counts as +10) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 23*6 = 138HD Undead
=210HD total Undead
At lvl 20:
Caster level is 3Witch + 8(Mystic Theurge) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 17*6 = 102HD Undead
Caster level is 4Oracle + 8(Mystic Theurge) +5AotG (counts as +10) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 28*6 = 168HD Undead
=270HD total Undead
This is without items that increase CL, like orange prism ioun stone or beads of karma.
Highlights: You will suck til level 8; the best you can be between lvls1-8 is moderate/good support and campaign flavor. You have Command Undead and a Bonethrall, and 2nd lvl spells, and Animate Dead, Lesser until lvl 8. So play conservatively and highly supportive until lvl 9. At level 9, you become a powerhouse with an immediate 114HD army, you're essentially the Night King from GoT at this point, and it only get's worse from here.
Bonethrall and Undead Servitude stack, so you have two bodyguards/generals instead of one (btw, these are the stud Undeads you want to use Coven's +CL on, I strongly suggest a Flyer Mount(get a F&^%ing DRAGON.... AAAAAASAP!) and a General of sorts, but obviously choose for your own availability and playstyle). By lvl 20, you will end with a spell progression of 16th lvl Oracle and 11th lvl Witch. You will have a 270HD army of Undead, plus your CL in both Bonethrall and Command Undead (Use Coven to maximize both of these, because it's essentially permanent with no further saving throws - unless you're doing Intelligent Undead, and that's a big no-no). You can also do the weekly juggle of the Command Undead spell, if you so choose, and I highly recommend that you do.
Anywho, a normal lvl 20 Necromancer is going to have 80HD worth of undead, and that's quite frightening already considering the spells that a necromancer of any class can do. A slightly optimized Necro with Spell Spec/Varisian Tattoo will be 23*4HD, so 92HD army, without +CL items.
With this build, you walk around with a Coven of Witches who boost your CL whenever you want, a 270HD army (again, without items to boost CL), and a Bonethrall=CL HD, and a Command Undead=CL HD, and whatever you can juggle within a week with the Command Undead Spell.
You're like a mix between the Night King, Khaleesi, and Voldemort (because frankly, if you go AotG and don't become a Lich, that's party foul on you bro.)
A 270HD army of undead, considering that many undead are 1/2 or even 1/3 HD, is a continental sized army. You give up hexes and revelations to have a continental-sized army.
I'm going to say it again.
Two hundred and seventy HD worth of undead. With 16th lvl Oracle and 11th lvl Witch progression. And Coven.
I'll say it once more for emphasis for lvl 20 progression:... 16th lvl Oracle spell progression, 11th level Witch spell progression, Animate Dead is 270HD, Bonethrall and Undead Servitude Command Undead (Juju) both garner you an =CL HD bodyguard/flyer/general of your army. Let's just for funsies say that your CL is only 20 at level 20.
Your straight stock 20CL amount is this: 270HD from Animate Dead, 20Cl Bonethrall, 20Cl Command Undead, + whatever you can juggle in a week with the Command Undead spell. So this is essentially a guaranteed 310HD Undead without Command Undead juggling.
This doesn't include the massive amount of utility of spells from both classes.
I dunno if you've ever seen a 310HD army of undead, but it is continental-sized. Many undead are only 1/2 or 1/3 HD. Obviously you can accent this army with 8HD, 10HD, 12HD, or even 20HD units. But you have... a grand total of... without items, just straight up stock.. of.. <drum roll>........
310HD... WITHOUT ITEMS OR WITCHES IN YOUR COVEN THAT INCREASE CL
ok, well lets start with animate dead.
The undead you create remain under your control indefinitely. No matter how many times you use this spell, however, you can control only 4 HD worth of undead creatures per caster level. If you exceed this number, all the newly created creatures fall under your control, and any excess undead from previous castings become uncontrolled. You choose which creatures are released. Undead you control through the Command Undead feat do not count toward this limit.
Since this is a limit, I'm not sure that it would give you 2 "pools" of animate dead. I would think it would just allow you to use whichever is highest. What is the delimiting factor on this? is it class? If that's the case then I could have a lot of undead under my control just by using scrolls of animate dead created by 10 different classes.
Additionally, magical knack for the most part doesn't stack with feats like varisan tattoo and spell specialization. As soon as those feats raise your caster level to be equal your HD or more magical knack adds 0.
So, it looks to me that at 9th level you would be at 9*4 = 36HD from animate dead.
I agree with you that bone thrall and command undead do not stack and so they would be separate from each other. However, command undead (unlike bone thrall) is based on your "cleric" level not your caster level. So it would be stuck being equal to your actual oracle level. Also, you seem to be combining bone oracle with juju oracle, undead servitude is something bone oracles get and spirit vessels is something juju oracle gets.
So, at 9th level Bone thrall would be +8 and undead servitude would be +4. Which puts me at 48 HD of undead at 9th level, not 114.
Continuing this trend, I'm guessing you would be at roughly half the numbers described above which makes it only slightly better then a 20th level cleric casting animate dead and using command undead. Which works out to 110 HD worth of undead. 80 of which is regulated to mindless undead ala skeletons and zombies.