It’s fairly rare that we make a new base class here at Necromancers of the Northwest. We prefer, most of the time, to work with archetypes, modifying and altering existing classes rather than creating new ones from whole cloth. As a result, when we do take the time to make a base class, we want to make sure that it gets fully supported, and we generally only do it when we know there’s a whole lot of design space to mine.
Back in May, we debuted the cultist class, an odd mix of arcane, divine, and martial might, thematically linked with secret societies, fraternal orders, and similar unseen and esoteric organizations. In the same way that sorcerers have bloodlines and oracles have mysteries, cultists belong to cults, and these cults inform a whole lot of how the cultist works and what it does. When we unveiled the class, we did so with two cults, but we knew that was hardly enough, and shortly thereafter, began work on a book to better support cultists.
The time for that book has come, and one week from today Esoteric Orders: The Cultist will be available for sale. Containing 13 brand new cults (for a total of 15 available cults), the book greatly expands the options available for this class. We’ll explore a bit more about cults and cultists later in the week, but today, we’re showing off what a powerful cultist looks like with an in-depth look at Druvella Norsk, leader of the Cabal of the Ebon Void, and a level 20 cultist.
Druvella Norsk, Cult Leader
This woman has long, raven-black hair, which floats slightly behind her, as though buoyed by magic. Her skin seems pale at first glance, but a second look reveals that she has dark skin, hidden under a layer of chalky white dust, giving her a pallid appearance. Her black lips curl, and she draws a blade wreathed in black fire.
DRUVELLA NORSK, CULT LEADER CR 20
Female human cultist (Cabal of the Ebon Void) 20
NE Medium outsider (daemon, evil, human)
Init +8; Senses Perception +0
AC 27, touch 16, flat-footed 23 (+9 armor, +2 deflection, +4 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 133 (20d8+40)
Fort +14, Ref +17, Will +19; +2 vs. compulsion, +4 vs. death effects
Immune acid, confused condition, death effects, disease, poison; Resist cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +2 keen vicious scimitar +22/+17/+12 (1d6+6 plus 2d6/15–20)
Special Attacks call of the grave, channel negative energy 10/day (DC 26, 6d6), cooperative spellcasting, death curse (DC 29), hexes (consume essence, death curse, evil eye [–4, 9 rounds], mixed channel [6/day], scar, stifle healing [23 rounds, DC 31]), sacrifice (blood), soul harvest (3/day), three curses
Cultist Spells Prepared (CL 20, concentration +26)
6th—circle of death (DC 22), disintegrate (DC 22), gate, harm (DC 22) (2), true seeing
5th—cloudkill (DC 21), dominate person (DC 21), planar binding (DC 21), slay living (DC 21), suffocation (DC 21), teleport
4th—black tentacles, dimension door, enervation, inflict critical wounds (DC 20), phantasmal killer (DC 20), stoneskin
3rd—dispel magic, inflict serious wounds (DC 19), fireball (DC 19), vampiric touch (3)
2nd—inflict moderate wounds (DC 18), invisibility, knock, mirror image, protection from arrows, resist energy, spider climb
1st—burning hands (DC 17), cause fear (DC 17), charm person (DC 17), disguise self (DC 17), erase, inflict light wounds (DC 17), ray of enfeeblement (DC 17)
0 (at will)—bleed (DC 16), detect magic, ghost sound (DC 16), light, message
Str 18, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 23
Base Atk +15; CMB +19; CMD 35
Feats Combat Reflexes, Extra Channel, Great Fortitude, Improved Channel, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Quicken Spell, Toughness, Weapon Focus (scimitar)
Skills Appraise +8, Bluff +29 (+31 against characters that know she is a cultist), Diplomacy +6 (+8 against characters that know she is a cultist), Intimidate +6 (+8 against characters that know she is a cultist), Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (religion) +8, Knowledge (planes) +8, Spellcraft +23, Stealth +26, Use Magic Device +29
SQ death mage, familiar (derghodaemon), gatekeeper, gatemaster, gatewatcher, maddened mind, spread the faith
Languages Common; telepathy 100 ft.
Entourage solitary, cabal (Druvella plus 4–7 15th-level cultists), or bodyguards (Druvella plus 2–4 purrodaemons summoned with greater planar binding)
Gear +2 keen vicious scimitar, +5 chain shirt, amulet of natural armor +2, belt of physical might +4 [Strength, Dexterity], cloak of resistance +5, headband of alluring charisma +4, ring of protection +2, 5 black sapphires worth 100 gp each.
Boons A staunch enemy of all things living, Druvella is unlikely to form any sort of alliance with the PCs. That said, if unusual circumstances occur, they may be able to count on her to ensure that certain foes are unable to be returned to life once they are slain, and she can certainly provide daemons and other evil outsiders as allies, provided that she sees a reason to do so.
Call of the Grave (Su): Whenever Druvella casts a spell with the death descriptor, she can choose a single creature targeted by that spell, or within the spell’s area. The chosen creature suffers a –1 penalty on saving throws made to resist the spell’s effects. Additionally, Druvella gains a +4 bonus on saving throws made to resist death effects.
Consume Essence (Su):Whenever Druvella casts a spell that kills one or more living creatures with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher, she siphons some of their soul’s essence, causing her to heal 1 hit point for every 2 Hit Dice the slain creature possessed. Druvella can only siphon energy from one soul per spell she casts, even if the spell kills more than one creature, though she automatically siphons the energy from the most powerful soul (the one with the most Hit Dice).
Death Mage (Su): Because of her choice of cult, Druvella has added the following spells to her spellbook at the indicated levels. For spells that do not appear on the sorcerer/wizard spell list, she treats them as though they were on her spell list at the indicated spell level. This also allows Druvella to use spell trigger and spell completion items that replicate these spells, as though the spells were on her class spell list.
1st: inflict light wounds, ray of enfeeblement
2nd: desecrate, inflict moderate wounds
3rd: inflict serious wounds, vampiric touch
4th: inflict critical wounds, phantasmal killer
5th: slay living, suffocation
6th: circle of death, harm
Derghodaemon Familiar (Su): As a particularly favored disciple of the Cabal of the Ebon Void, Druvella’s cacodaemon familiar has been replaced with a derghodaemon. It still gains all the benefits of an improved familiar.
Mixed Channel (Su):As a free action, when using channel energy, Druvella can channel a purer, unadulterated form of negative energy. This increases the damage dice for her channel to d8s, and causes her channel energy to both harm living creatures and heal undead ones. Druvella can use this ability a number of times per day equal to her Charisma modifier.
Soul Harvest (Sp): Druvella can use soul bind as a spell-like ability three times per day. Unlike a normal soul bind spell, she does not need a black sapphire to trap the soul in; instead, the soul coalesces into the form of a wriggling soul larva. These soul larvae are roughly six inches in length, have AC 10, and 1 hit point, and serve as a container for the soul. Additionally, Druvella can use captured souls (whether they are captured with this ability or gained in another way) to empower her magic. By consuming a captured soul as she casts a spell, she can apply one or more metamagic effects to the spell that she casts, without increasing the level of the spell slot that the spell uses up, or the casting time of the spell. She can apply any metamagic feat in this way, including ones she does not know, but the feat cannot be one that would normally increase the spell level by more than 1 plus 1 for every 5 Hit Dice the captured soul possessed (for example, the soul of a creature with 17 Hit Dice would allow for 4 spell levels worth of metamagic, while the soul of a creature with 4 Hit Dice would allow for only 1 level worth of metamagic). Souls used in this way are expended utterly, and the creature whose soul was consumed can only be resurrected if a wish or miracle spell is first used to restore their soul.
Stifle Healing (Su):As a standard action, Druvella can surround a living creature within 60 feet with necrotic energy that interferes with any attempt to heal him magically. For a number of rounds equal to 3 + her class level, any attempt to magically or supernaturally heal the target fails unless the caster succeeds on a caster level check (DC 31). This applies only to effects that restore hit point damage, and does not affect spells or abilities that remove ability score damage, ability drain, negative levels, harmful conditions, or similar effects.
Three Curses (Sp): Possessed of incredible hatred for all living things, when Druvella uses her death curse class feature, she can choose three spells that she had prepared, and cast each of them as part of her death curse, instead of choosing a single spell. If she does, the DC for each of those spells is reduced by 2 from the normal DC for spells made as part of a death curse.
Druvella Norsk is the leader of the main branch of the Cabal of the Ebon Void, an insidious secret organization devoted to the worship and service of daemons, and which strives to rid the multiverse of life in all its forms. Druvella joined the order as a child, and her story is common amongst the cult’s adult members: she was taken in off the streets at the age of 11 by one of the cult members, and was provided food and shelter in exchange for joining the cult. Though Druvella was an orphan when she was taken, many of the other children she met there were not, and many had been taken by force. Similarly, while Druvella was happy to pay lip service to the cult’s strange rituals and ideals in exchange for food and a warm bed, many other children attempted to escape, typically unsuccessfully.
As she grew up, she eventually began to internalize the teachings of the cult, which taught that those outside the cult lived decadent, thankless lives, wasting their existence in pointless and hedonistic pursuits, and that in order for this flawed multiverse to end and a new one to be created, first all life must be extinguished. She slowly began to rise through the ranks, and the further she rose, the more disgusted she became with not only the outside world, but even her worthless underlings and incompetent superiors. Eventually, the only creatures she still had any shred of respect or compassion for were the daemons that serve as the cult’s patrons and advisors, and she began to obsess over finding a way to become a daemon herself.
Now, Druvella serves as Dread Reaper, the mortal leader of the entire Cabal of the Ebon Void—or at least, all of the cabal that recognizes the official hierarchy; there are a few splinter cults, decried as heretical by Druvella, as well as by the powerful daemons who founded and maintain the cult. Druvella spends most of her time managing extensive schemes to foster war, pestilence, and famine, and to arrange for portals or gateways to summon large quantities of daemons into the Material Plane. She has proven surprisingly tolerant of the heretical splinter sects, reasoning that even if they do not follow the daemonic teachings perfectly, they are still closer allies to her cause than are nearly anyone else.
Druvella is an impatient woman, who expects nothing less than perfection, and thinks nothing of holding everyone she meets up to these impossible standards, and utterly dismissing anyone who fails to live up to them. By now, her contempt extends even to all but the most powerful of daemons, though she remains fanatically devoted to the four leaders of daemonkind.