The Necromantic Master

October 29th, 2012

Alex Riggs

Best in Class Archive

            It’s Necromancy Week (which is a subtle but important distinction from Necromancer Week, from back in March of 2011). While necromancers are certainly welcome, this week is more about the school of magic than it is the idea of the grim, brooding, master of the undead.

            In theory, evil clerics are supposed to be about the best there is when it comes to necromancy, but for some reason, I’ve just never really felt it. I guess somehow it always seems more like wizard territory. Perhaps that’s the reason that of all the various archetypes for clerics that are out there, there only seems to be one devoted to the school of necromancy. Well, no more.



New Cleric Archetype
Necromantic Master

            Necromantic masters are adept at manipulating death, and they hold both death and undeath to be sacred states of being. Not only does this grant them some amount of power over undead creatures, and the ability to command undead servants, it also leaves undead creatures better disposed towards them. Only clerics with access to the Death domain (those whose god grants access to the domain, or who do not worship a god, but worship an ideal that allows them to take the Death domain) can take this archetype.

            Death Magic: A necromantic master must select the Death domain, or one of its subdomains, if she prefers. She does not gain a second domain. In all other respects, this works like and replaces the standard cleric’s domain ability.

            Corpsefriend (Su): A necromantic master is marked by a subtle aura that makes undead creatures less likely to attack her. Mindless undead creatures will not attack a necromantic master unless she attacks them first, or unless they are being controlled, and receive orders to attack the necromantic master, specifically (and even then, they suffer a -2 penalty on attack rolls made against the necromantic master). Intelligent undead creatures can attack the necromantic master without penalty if they desire, but the necromantic master gains a +5 bonus on Diplomacy checks made to influence undead creatures, and such creatures have an initial attitude towards the necromantic master that is one category higher than normal (so a vampire that would normally be indifferent towards her is friendly, instead, while one that would be friendly is helpful, and so on).

            Dread Commander (Su): Beginning at 1st level, as a standard action, a necromantic master can temporarily animate a nearby corpse to fight for her. The corpse in question must be mostly intact, and must actually be dead (undead, inorganic, and living things cannot be targeted with this ability). While animated, the corpse has the same statistics it had while it was alive, except that it is mindless, and loses all class features, feats, skills, and extraordinary, supernatural, and spell-like abilities. The corpse retains any weapon and armor proficiencies it may have had. The corpse is also treated as an undead creature for the purposes of positive and negative energy, and any effect that specifically affects (or doesn’t affect) undead. Despite this, the corpse retains a Constitution score and does not gain any other benefits or drawbacks of being undead.

            The animated corpse acts immediately after the necromantic master’s turn, and obeys her orders to the best of its ability. The necromantic master can give initial orders as a free action as part of using this ability, and can subsequently issue new commands as a swift action. The corpse remains animated for one minute, unless its Hit Dice exceed twice the necromantic master’s caster level, in which case it remains animated for one less round for every two Hit Dice it has beyond that amount (to a minimum of one round). At the end of this time, the corpse returns to lifelessness, and can never again be affected by this ability (although it may be able to be animated by other means).

            The necromantic master can use this ability once per day at 1st level, plus an additional time per day at 6th level and every 5 levels thereafter.