Necromancer PC for Animating Non-Sentient Undead


Ok, so I'm working on a back-up character in case my current PC dies. (Seems like a serious possibility.) We are running through the Giant Slayer campaign, though it will likely have a fair amount of modifications. Extra players that have a wealth of experience in the system, so the GM is likely to need to beef things up a bit to give a proper challenge. I am confident he is up to the task.

No SPOILERS about the campaign please, we have only just begun and I want to learn it as it comes.

I know, by PF RAW, animating is evil. However, this PC (calling him Bob for now) has convinced himself that it is ok when it is just non-sentient undead. Since there is no thoughts, no soul, so nothing wrong with it. Yes, some people find it icky, but they are just ignorant of the realities of the situation.

So I'm thinking he would have some simple skeletons to carry his sedan chair around town and to clean his house. When adventuring, he could animate the first few things we kill. In this campaign, I'm guessing there will be plenty of big HD creatures to make at least fairly impressive zombies or skeletons. When you add in flaming skeletons or fast zombies ...

I've mostly got his personality and backstory down, but I'm not sure how best to build him. Dhampir or Fell Gnome seem like obvious choices for race. Certainly need to be a full caster to keep up reasonably decent undead. Divine gets animate dead sooner, but it seems like arcane get some more spells to go with them. Negative channeling would do an excellent job of keeping them up, but the arcane spells have a lot more combat buffs to put on them.
Wizard, arcanist, sorcerer, cleric, or oracle. I'm slightly leaning toward arcanist, but not sure. Which would you use to do this?

Gravewalker-Hex Channeler Witch comes to mind. Spirit Warden Shaman might work, as well. Granted, neither suggestion is on your list.

Oh I totally forgot about the witch that can animate. I will have to look at that shaman archetype. I thought I remembered what it was, but must not.

The spirit warden shaman is more for wrecking undead. Though it does add the the command and control undead spells to the list. It can't channel negative to heal them.

The gravewalker though ... that has some serious possibilities.

Sorry, you're right. Spirit Wardens are SUPPOSED to kill Undead... not make them. I kind of forgot that my Spirit Warden had lost her way... she ended up Shaman 5/Agent of the Grave 5. She bats for the visiting team now.

Gravewalker Witch 6/Agent of the Grave 5 is pretty legit, too.

Undead Lord Cleric can be pretty awesome at having a plethora of undead at his beck and call. IIRC, 3 or 4 times his level in HD of undead.

Dang, Agent of the Grave is pretty powerful. Getting pretty dark though. I think I would have to check if my GM is ok with that.

Agent of the Grave isn't especially powerful... it's actually just the standard baseline of any halfway serious necromancer.

JuJu Oracle/Gravewalker Witch/Mystic Theurge/Agent of the Grave is what starts getting stupid powerful...

VoodistMonk wrote:
Agent of the Grave isn't especially powerful... it's actually just the standard baseline of any halfway serious necromancer.

"Halfway serious" is... forum speech for "pretty powerful"? :D

Another approach to narrow down class choice(s) could be the following questions:

How willing are you to wait until you finally get animate dead?

And related: How interesting are weaker versions for you, to bridge the levels until you finally get the spell? There are at least:

a) Lesser animate dead, Available two character levels earlier

b) Bones oracle revelation Raise the Dead, possible at level 1

c) Occultist's necromancy power Necromancy Servant, possible at level 1; note that the class can learn animate dead at class level 7, like a wizard, despite not being a full caster


Random further things:

Desecrate is important, but usually restricted to divine casters.

Wildblooded sorcerer (undead, sanguine) gains +1 CL to necromancy spells.

Wizard with undead subschool can bolster undead - more worth it if you focus on fewer creatures.

Dhampirs are humanoids, so their powerful wizard FCB can be picked up by any human / half-human by spending a feat on Racial Heritage.

Duskwalkers get the same FCB, but also for arcanist and witch. You can sneak it from them with Planar Heritage.

The Varisian Tattoo feat boosts your CL for the whole necromancy school.

The Vile Domain faith trait can be applied to the Death domain, boosting the CL of animate dead, among others.

The Gifted Adept magic trait is a classic CL boost for a chosen spell. Doesn't stack with Vile Domain, though. Alternatively there is the Secret of the Impossible Kingdom regional trait, doing the same.

The tiefling race trait Dark Magic Affinity boosts your CL, too.

Thassilonian wizard also gives you +1 caster level to necromancy school.

Undead Master gets you more undead levels.

The Hex Channeler only does 1d6 of undead healing but if you take the Command Undead feat for channeling, you can try to take over any encountered undead.

There are so many things! I WANT ALL OF IT!

Revolving Door Alternate wrote:
There are so many things! I WANT ALL OF IT!

Well, many of them are supposed to be alternative paths to the same goal, but of course you can squeeze a lot into the same build.

For practical purposes you don't have to go bonkers: One animated big creature makes a difference in combat. A second one also, but to a lesser extent - victory might already be ensured or terrain might limit space. Depending on encounters, you probably won't notice any effect by fielding three such creatures instead of two. Etc..

Either way, if you have the itch to try everything related to minionmancer, you could talk with your GM whether you can join subsequent sessions with different builds. As long as other mechanics and your roleplay are affected as little as possible, it's probably an option.

Ok, here's a quicky version using acanist as the base. Would be better with Duskwalker race. Don't have that in Herolabs yet.

Necro-Nice - Arcanist:

Dhampir agent of the grave 4/blood arcanist 5/necromancer (undead[APG]) 1 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Class Guide 8, 77, Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide 147, Pathfinder RPG Adventurer's Guide 63, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2 89)
Medium humanoid (dhampir)
Hero Points 1
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +12
AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 10 (+3 Dex)
hp 65 (10 HD; 6d6+4d8+19)
Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +8 (-2 vs. Charm or Compulsion effects if there's a promise of wealth or power); +2 bonus vs. fear effects, +2 vs. disease and mind-affecting effects
Defensive Abilities negative energy affinity; DR 5/lethal; Resist cold 5, undead resistance
Weaknesses light sensitivity
Speed 30 ft.
Melee cestus +2 (1d4-2/19-20)
Special Attacks arcane reservoir (3/8), arcanist exploit (school understanding[ACG]), command undead (DC 15, 8/day), consume spells
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 1st; concentration +3)
. . 3/day—detect undead, touch of fatigue (DC 14)
Bloodline Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +13)
. . 5/day—grave touch (2 rounds)
Blood Arcanist Spells Prepared (CL 8th; concentration +13)
. . 4th (3/day)—animate dead
. . 3rd (5/day)—lesser animate dead[UM], vampiric touch
. . 2nd (5/day)—brow gasher[UC], lipstitch (DC 19), spectral hand
. . 1st (6/day)—chill touch (DC 18), interrogation[UM] (DC 18), ray of enfeeblement (DC 18), ray of sickening[UM] (DC 18), unlock flesh (DC 18)
. . 0 (at will)—acid splash, mage hand, mending, message, open/close (DC 15), prestidigitation, ray of frost, touch of fatigue (DC 17)
. . Bloodline Undead
Necromancer Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +6)
. . 1st—decompose corpse[UM] (DC 18), repair undead[ACG], restore corpse[UM] (2), sculpt corpse[APG] (DC 18)
. . 0 (at will)—bleed (DC 17), detect magic, detect poison
Str 7, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 20, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +4; CMB +2; CMD 15
Feats Command Undead, Glimpse Beyond, Greater Spell Focus (necromancy), Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (necromancy), Undead Master[UM], Varisian Tattoo[ISWG]
Traits deathtouched, forbidden knowledge (geb), gifted adept
Skills Appraise +9, Bluff +8, Fly +8, Heal +4, Intimidate +15, Knowledge (arcana) +18, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +9 (+11 to identify vulnerabilities and powers of aberrations, this check can be made untrained), Knowledge (engineering) +9, Knowledge (geography) +9, Knowledge (history) +14, Knowledge (local) +9, Knowledge (nature) +9, Knowledge (nobility) +9, Knowledge (planes) +9 (+11 to identify vulnerabilities and powers of evil outsiders, this check can be made untrained), Knowledge (religion) +18 (+22 to identify vulnerabilities and powers of undead, this check can be made untrained), Linguistics +18, Perception +12, Spellcraft +18, Stealth +13, Use Magic Device +15; Racial Modifiers +2 Bluff, +2 Perception
Languages Common
SQ arcane bond (cestus), bloodline (undead), bloodline arcana (corporeal undead affected by humanoid-affecting spells), bolster, death's shroud, hero points, inspired necromancy, lich's touch, negative energy affinity, negative energy conduit, power-hungry, resist level drain, undead manipulator, unholy fortitude
Other Gear cestus[APG], arcanist starting spellbook, wizard starting spellbook
Special Abilities
Arcane Reservoir +1 DC or CL (8/day) (Su) Pool of points fuel exploits, or can expend to add +1 CL or DC while cast spell.
Bloodline Arcana: Undead (Ex) Formerly humanoid corporeal undead are humanoids for your mind-affecting spells.
Bolster (+2, 3 rounds, 8/day) (Sp) As a standard action, touched undead gains desecrate spell benefits for duration.
Command Undead (8/day, DC 15) Stnd act, 1 channel energy, undead in 30 ft. obey your commands as per control undead (Will neg).
Consume Spells (2/day) (Su) As a move action, expend a spell slot to add its spell levels to arcane reservoir.
Damage Reduction (5/lethal) You have Damage Reduction against non-lethal damage
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Death's Shroud (1/day) (Su) As an agent of the grave gains power within the organization, he often must infiltrate other groups to gain further knowledge. At 4th level, he learns how to cloak his true intentions, gaining the ability to use nondetection or undetectable
Energy Resistance, Cold (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Glimpse Beyond +2 to save vs. fear, bonuses to ID certain monsters.
Gluttony (Undead) Associated School: Necromancy
Grave Touch (2 rds, 5/day) (Sp) Melee touch attack leaves target shaken for 2 rounds or frightened for 1 round.
Greater Spell Focus (Necromancy) +1 to the Save DC of spells from one school.
Hero Points Hero Points can be spent at any time to grant a variety of bonuses.
Inspired Necromancy (Ex) When determining the maximum number of Hit Dice of undead he can control with spells like animate dead, a character counts his agent of the grave levels twice. This ability does not factor into how many undead he can create with a single casti
Lich's Touch (5/day) (Su) At 1st level, the agent of the grave becomes a conduit for negative energy and the chill powers of death, allowing him to make a melee touch attack dealing 1d6 points of damage from negative energy per level of the agent of the grave class he attains
Light Sensitivity (Ex) Dazzled as long as remain in bright light.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in dim light, distinguishing color and detail.
Negative Energy Affinity (Ex) You are alive, but react to positive/negative energy as though you were undead.
Negative Energy Affinity (Ex) At 4th level, the agent of the grave, while still technically alive, reacts to positive and negative energy as if he were undead - positive energy harms him, while negative energy heals him. If the agent of the grave is already undead, this ability g
Negative Energy Conduit (1/day) (Ex) At 3rd level, an agent of the grave bolsters undead around him. As a standard action, an agent of the grave manifests an aura identical to the desecrate spell, except this foul aura has a duration of 10 minutes per level. An agent of the grave
Power-Hungry -2 vs. Will saves if the effect's creator promises wealth or power
Resist Level Drain (Ex) Negative levels don't impose penalties or become permanent, but still kill if exceed HD.
School Understanding Use 1 reservoir as a swift action to treat school ability at full level & gain other ability for 2 rds.
Spell Focus (Necromancy) Spells from one school of magic have +1 to their save DC.
Undead Manipulator At 2nd level, the agent of the grave gains great insight into the minds and necromantic forces controlling undead creatures. An agent of the grave's spells and spell-like abilities with mind-affecting effects treat undead creatures as their original
Undead Master Animate and command more undead
Undead Resistance +2 bonus to saves vs. disease and mind affecting effects.
Unholy Fortitude (Su) At 1st level, the agent of the grave can tap into his conviction and bolster his health. Starting with the hit points he rolls for gaining his first agent of the grave level and every time he gains a level in any class thereafter, the character may c
Varisian Tattoo (Necromancy) Spells from chosen school gain +1 caster level

I'll try to throw together a divine version tomorrow.

Here is Ryze Kuja's breakdown of the JuJu Oracle/Gravewalker Witch/Agent of the Grave/Mystic Theurge... this is a pretty powerful necromancer build. This is what I use as an example of someone that is more than halfway serious about being a necromancer. There is no "trying" to be a necromancer in this build. This is not a half-measure.

"So here's the build order:

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*4= 32HD 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*4 = 32HD Undead
Caster level is 4Oracle + 2(Mystic Theurge) + 2(Spell Spec) + 1(Varisian Tattoo) + 2(Magical Knack) = 11*6 = 66HD Undead
=98HD 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, Extend Spell, Persistent Spell, Quicken Spell, or Dazing Spell.

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*4 = 48HD Undead
Caster level is 4Oracle + 3(Mystic Theurge) +5AotG (counts as +10) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 23*6 = 138HD Undead
=186HD total Undead

At lvl 20:
Caster level is 3Witch + 8(Mystic Theurge) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 17*4 = 68HD Undead
Caster level is 4Oracle + 8(Mystic Theurge) +5AotG (counts as +10) + 4(Spell Spec) +2(Varisian Tattoo)= 28*6 = 168HD Undead

=236HD total Undead

This is just for Animate Dead. Get CL boosting items like Orange Prism Ioun Stone and all those numbers will go up. This is merely a "peek under the hood" for how much HD Undead you can get stock with the classes and feats. You still have Bonethrall and Undead Servitude, as well as the Command Undead spell for juggling. If you get the Undead Master Feat and use Extend Spell, you can juggle quite a bit.

By level 20, you'll cast spells like a level 17 Oracle and a level 11 Witch, and you'll have a total of 236HD Animate Dead, ~20HD Bonethrall (whatever your total CL is + items), 4HD Undead Servitude (Oracle class level), and whatever you can juggle with Command Undead spell. And you'll have a Coven of Witches :D Throw the Leadership feat in there for additional follower shenanigans and you'll have quite the zoo following you around :P"

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