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2014-12-16, 08:03 PM
The Ebon Initiate Handbook

http://i.imgur.com/SVYhxpY.png

Things to do:
Italicize spells and invocations
Bold emphasized words
Stuff in brackets needs to be added
Need a "thank you" section
Alphabetize feats and such

The Ebon Initiate (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?163297-3-5-The-Ebon-Initiate-warrior-necrolock-Base-Class) is a homebrew class created by ErrantX. You may know him as the guy that won the Altar of Naught (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?153960-Base-Class-Challenge-The-Altar-of-Naught&p=8575214&viewfull=1#post8575214) and You've Been PUNK'D (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?206927-Base-Class-Challenge-VII-You-ve-Been-PUNK-D!) base class contests, as the lead designer of Path of War (http://dreamscarredpress.com/dragonfly/Store/product/pid=139.html) from Dreamscarred Press, or as a contributor to the Avatar d20 Project (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?67493-Avatar-d20-Project-Setting-Main-Hub). I am a fan of his work, but my biggest obsession is the Ebon Initiate. So I did a handbook.

Color Coding
Purple is excellent
Blue is good
Black is OK
Red is bad


Get Initiated: The Basics

This class is a fantastic creation that allows players to master incredible dark power without feeling ineffective, breaking the game (most of the time...), or having to wait for cool abilities. Where the dread necromancer falters, the ebon initiate stands proud. Where the warlock may feel dull, the ebon initiate shines. This class can make you any kind of necromancer, whether you want to raise armies or shoot death lazers or wreath yourself in shadow and suck the life out of fools.

For the rest of this guide, I am abbreviating the Ebon Initiate as EbI to save effort and character count.


A Quick Look at Crunch

You may have heard something about the tier system. I don't like using it as a metric, but most people will peg the EbI at tier 2. Truth is, you can play an EbI with wizards better than most sorcerers, because the class is designed to encourage flexibility. Unlike most other characters in tier 1 / tier 2, the optimization floor for the EbI is high. Even if someone inexperienced picks feats and invocations willy-nilly, they'll still find themselves useful. You would have to try very hard to make an EbI look worse than a rogue of equal level. Additionally, the optimization ceiling of an EbI is lower than most tier 1 / tier 2 classes because there isn't as much crazy stuff to abuse like infinite power loops or infinite wishes or whatever. I think this makes the class awesome for an up-and-coming optimizer, because it's easy to find combos, but it's hard to break the game.

So let's do a super-quick overview:
Pros:

d8 hit die is great as a ranged character. You donít need to focus on your HP.
Lots of bonus defense. AC, Saves, Fortification, HP.
Invocations tend to be strong overall, and you get a lot of them (almost 2x the warlock)
Competitive damage, melee or ranged
All the proficiencies you really care about
Good Will Save
Skill list has UMD
Imbue Item cheese
PrC support that doesn't suck


Cons:

d8 hit die is weak for a melee character. You will need to focus on HP.
Potentially MAD.
3/4 BAB limits your iterative attacks
Bad Ref and Fort.
2 + Int skill points. Disappointing.
Penalties to party face. Small ones, though.
Not good at beating undead, especially if you canít rebuke them.


As you can see, the EbI has some awesome advantages and only a few really glaring weaknesses. If you're melee, you will feel like more of a glass cannon. If you focus on utility, you're going to rely on invocations. If you want to kill things, you're going to have trouble against undead. That said, your party members will probably always be happy to have your around. If they don't, it's probably because you made them into zombie slaves.


A Note on Roles
One of the great things about the EbI is that there are so many different paths you can take, and most of those paths donít suck. Whatís even better is that those paths require very little investment for high payoff, so you can take multiple at once. This means that the ďrolesĒ here are fairly fluid. If youíre worth your salt as an adventurer, youíll probably have your fingers in everything. Thatís fine, but certain characters options are good for certain roles, so this guide is divided accordingly.

From here on out, the abilities will be rated on a per-role basis. If something is particularly good for a melee EbI, it will be marked with an M. For a blaster, B. For a Caster, C. Those roles are explained below. If something has a letter next to it, that means the option is evaluated for the role. For example, wraithtouch (M) is evaluated blue for melee EbI and is probably useless for a caster or blaster. If an option has no letters listed, the rating is for all roles.

Blaster EbI: B
The name ďblasterĒ is kind of misleading but I couldnít think of a better one. Itís less like a traditional blaster and more like the mailman. This is a role that focuses on using the nether spear and necrotic blast for those delicious ranged touch attacks. Necrotic blast specifically is great because itís an attack action, so it can be combined with ranged attack tricks like rapid shot and manyshot. Ranged combat is very feat-intensive, so either dip your toes in for mediocre attacks or go all out.

Pretty much all the standard ranged fighter optimization options apply here. Extra attacks and nether essences synergize really well, so rapid shot / manyshot is a great choice. If you plan on using nether essences that inflict saves, you should consider keeping your Int high.

Caster EbI: C
EbI casters are ones that focus on forcing saving throws. All of the EbIís saving throws are Int-based, so maxing Int is priority #1 for casters. Casters can inflict damage with abilities like void arc, mortisphere, and stygian snow, but the damage tends to be a lot lower and less guaranteed.

Unlike the melee and blaster EbI, the caster absolutely cannot afford to use armor that incurs ASF, and doesnít need to invest as much into a to-hit stat. This makes putting points in Charisma a lot more attractive and leaves them overall more SAD.

Melee EbI: M
The melee EbI is very straightforward. At low levels, you play pretty much like the fighter by wearing armor and hitting things with a greatsword. As you gain levels, you definitely should invest 50gp in the netherchannel ritual so you can hit things for bonus damage. Alternatively you can choose to use touch attacks instead, which is a pretty good choice at high levels but itís not that effective around levels 1-4.

Weapon Finesse is a viable life choice for melee EbI, especially if youíre making touch attacks. Because of the bonus damage from netherchannel, you can dump Strength and still hit pretty hard.

Because youíre going to be in melee all the time, the d8 HD is going to hurt. I recommend investing in AC and HP because youíre going to need it, especially at low levels when a crit can end your life easy.


Class Abilities

Here's a quick look at the class abilities EbI get. A couple of them (invocations, rebuke undead) are a lot more than I want to go over just now. I'll talk about them later, and/or link you to the appropriate discussion.

Proficiencies: The EbI gets fantastic proficiencies. The only things you canít use are shields and heavy armor, which you probably donít care about. Maybe shields, but eh. In this section, itís noted that an EbI can use their invocations in light armor without ASF which is awesome.
Invocations: Invocations for the EbI are pretty much all fantastic. Even if they arenít your central focus, you will always find something good here to pillage. Invocations function the same as a warlock. There are a lot and they fit into different categories, so weíll take a deeper look at these later.
Aura of the Dead: Unless you regularly deal with people used to death, youíre probably not going to be a good party face. But you do get a bonus to Intimidate, which is cool. Awesome flavor, but pretty minor mechanically.
Detect Undead: This has some uses, but on the whole youíre not going to be jumping for joy at the ability to sense undead. Even in undead-heavy campaign this is only blue. Good thing itís free and at-will.
Netherchannel: Hnnnnngh so freaking awesome. Melee EbI love this, ranged EbI love this, caster EbI love this, EbI with armies of death love this. There is no way you won't love this. Netherchannel is normally a Su ability (thank god) so if you donít apply a nether essence or nether shape invocation, it isnít subject to spell immunity or SR or whatever. Of course, nether shape and nether essence invocations are so freaking awesome that it makes vanilla netherchannel look paltry in comparison, but weíll get to that. One of the biggest things that makes netherchannel better than the warlockís eldritch blast is that it can be used as part of an attack action, which means you can combine it with things like TWF, Rapid Shot, or iterative attacks for tons of damage.
Rebuke Undead: Most of the EbIís abilities arenít very good against undead creatures, so this ability is very helpful to have (at least at low levels before the huge HD bloat). If youíre interested in the applications of rebuking/commanding undead, you should check out the Revised Necromancerís Handbook (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=5584).
Dark Grace: This is the first place you really notice how great Charisma is. +Cha to all saves is fantastic, and whatís better is itís a profane bonus so it stacks with most other Cha-to-X benefits. Charisma stacking ahoy!
Black Banner: Increases your undead army capacity by 50%, and doubles the HD of undead you can command with Rebuke. Undead HD scale like crazy right off the bat, so despite black banner you will still feel underwhelmed by your rebuked minions, but this is still a fantastic class feature. The undead army capacity is less than that of a Dread Necromancer, but you get it 5 levels earlier and youíre way better anyways.
Aspect of Death: Free bonus feats are always nice, but most of the feats here are related to commanding armies of minions or the TTS line. If your DM doesnít want to deal with your hundreds of zombie servants, the feats from this are a lot less attractive. But you can take Tomb-Tainted Soul for free if youíre willing to wait until level 4, so youíve got infinite healing from here on.
Armored Invoker: Using invocations in medium is nice. You can wear mithral full-plate now.
Shroud of Death: Lots of great things come out of this. Cha to AC at level 8, Cha to HP-per-level and Concentration at level 13, and 50% fortification at level 18. The higher your level, the more attractive of an option Charisma becomes.
Imbue Item: Another awesome feature for EbI. You can optimize your spellcraft check and become an off-artificer for your party.
Deathspeak: Talking with dead bodies is nice, which lets the EbI play detective. Unfortunately it comes pretty late and, depending on your DMís interpretation of ď[you] may only ever question a single corpse onceĒ, you will either get 5-10 questions or just 1 question off.
Deathís Hand: The only bad feature in this entire class. Upon hitting level 20, you become weaker. Not explicitly (+2 Str/Wis/Cha is nice), but the benefits granted by this ability donít outweigh the new vulnerability you get to turn undead. Thankfully you canít be destroyed, rebuked, or commanded, but your low HD means you are a prime target for good-aligned clerics. This is level 20, so youíll probably never care, but Iíd recommend taking LA +1 or a 1-level dip to avoid this if you want to be safe.
Killing Power: This ability feels great. It feels great to roll a bunch of 6ís and go ďOh look at all the extra dice I get!Ē But in the end it turns the average damage-per-die from 3.5 to ~4.2, or about +7 damage per netherchannel. Even if youíre going crazy with extra attacks, youíre not getting more than +70 damage out of this each round. However, I cannot emphasize how awesome this ability feels.


Attributes

Strength (M): If you plan on playing a melee EbI without stat-replacement effects, Strength is important because you need to hit your enemiesí AC. It also gives you a noticeable damage buff at low levels, but as an EbI youíve got plenty of damage to go around. If youíre not planning on playing a melee fighter, just get enough strength so enemy shadows donít one-shot you.
Dexterity (B): Dexterity boosts your AC and Initiative, both of which are fairly important. It also boosts your Reflex Save, which you might find important because your d8 hit die is fairly low. If youíre a ranged EbI, youíre making ranged touch attacks so your Dex just needs to be high enough to reliably hit. Donít bother putting an 18 in this.
Constitution (M): Hit points are always good, though as a ranged character you might not find this very important. As a melee character, this is one of the most relevant stats for you because that d8 hit die is going to hurt.
Intelligence: If you plan on using abilities that inflict saves (including those from Netherchannel shapes/essences), Intelligence is going to be a primary attribute for you. If you plan on using save-less/buff/utility invocations, you donít need to bother as much... however, the EbI is stuck with 2 + Int skill points, which is more like 1 + Int skill points because youíre going to max out UMD. If youíd like a little more freedom to use skills, it would be wise to keep this decently high.
Wisdom: Before dumping Wisdom, consider that it affects your Will Save and perception skills. Then realize you have a good will save and spot/listen arenít on your class list so it doesnít matter. This isnít to say that putting points in Wisdom is bad, but a high score in any other attribute will give you greater benefits.
Charisma: Charisma dictates the benefits of your UMD checks, social skills, Rebuke Undead, Dark Grace, and Shroud of Undeath (most of it). A high Charisma also helps cancel out the social penalties you get from Aura of the Dead. The defensive benefits Charisma provides are very important, including a bonus to saves, AC, and hit points at high level. You can choose not to specialize in it, but it wouldnít hurt to get a positive modifier.


Skills
It's harder to suggest what skills a player should take. While combats tend to be fairly sensible in the way they play out, skills are a lot more DM-dependent. I've put some broad suggestions here, but take them with a grain of salt.

Concentration: You're probably not going to need to make concentration checks, except maybe if you're a caster.
Craft: Does anyone put points in this except for flavor?
Decipher Script: A very niche skill. I usually don't rank it.
Heal: This could be useful for stabilizing allies at early levels, but its benefits fall off and it relies on Wisdom (your least favorite stat).
Hide: Stealth is useful, and if you plan on multi-classing with rogue, ninja, etc you'll want ranks in this. There's good synergy between this skill and the at-will darkness effects the EbI can produce.
Intimidate: Intimidate is always fun, with a wide variety of uses.
Knowledge: Useful for Knowledge Devotion and fishing for plot hooks.
Move Silently: Where you want hide, you probably want move silently.
Profession: Ha ha no
Ride: If you plan on getting a mount (like with the dead shall walk or the Ashen Knight PrC), this is important. Otherwise forget it.
Sense Motive: This is a very useful skill for social interactions, but Wisdom is probably your dump stat.
Spellcraft: Great for Imbue Item, but fairly lackluster before that.
Use Magic Device: The greatest skill there is. Max it.

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2014-12-16, 08:04 PM
Races
Despite the many paths you can take as an EbI, race choices are pretty common across. I'll go over the races you're probably going to play with (PHB races) and some of the more interesting ones that synergize with the EbI. Things not mentioned are likely black or red.

Player's Handbook Races
Human: Bonus feat, yassssss. This class isnít as feat-starved as a warlock because of its high invocations known and bonus feats, but feats are pretty much always good. Especially on blasters. Knockoffs of humans like Silverbrow Humans (for chameleon) and Azurin (MoI dips/feats) are also good if youíre interested in particular character options.
Dwarves: More constitution is good, less Charisma is usually bad. Dwarf land speed is also bad, which might be important for you. But dwarves also get lots of cool goodies. Iíd say there are certainly better options, but you can do well as a dwarf.
Elves: As a general rule, elves are a bad choice because losing Constitution sucks. But +2 Dex can serve you well in a lot of places, and elven sleep immunity and automatic searching are great options.
Gnomes, Halflings, and other small races: Small size gives you bonuses to hit, AC, and hide. But it makes you easier to grapple and you move slower. Most of the small racesí miscellaneous benefits are cool but not mind-blowing. An obligatory call-out goes to the strongheart halfling because bonus feats.
Half-Elves and Half-Orcs: Whatever youíre looking for, another race does it better for less.

Nonstandard Races
There are a lot, I picked the ones that would probably get mentioned the most often. This is only for particularly noteworthy races Ė things that are good on their own like Daelkyr half-blood or Elan arenít getting a description. Books are mentioned after the race name.

Hengeyokai [OA]: This 3.0 race has a variety of awesome forms. It was updated in Dragon Magazine to 3.5, so donít expect it to fly without permission. Speaking of flying, sparrow form is fantastic.
Warforged [ECS / MM3]: Benefits are on a similar order of magnitude as the dwarf. It has a Wisdom penalty (who cares?) and awesome abilities like light fortification. Warforged donít need to sleep, so you can take watch all night, every night. Itís worth noting that the fortification from the warforged stacks with the EbIís because shroud of death is just a 50% chance to negate precision damage instead of Medium Fortification.
Tibbit [DC]: The stats on this cat are insane. Between size modifier and Dex, you get +4 AC and +10 Hide. Unlike most sub-medium creatures, tibbits have 30í move speed (only in cat form). You take a -10 to Strength but you also get 3 natural attacks, so even melee EbI can pick this race up and do well with it.
Kobold [RotDr, SRD]: The kobold usually gets a mention in every handbook because you can take the Dragonwrought feat, treating you as a true dragon and removing aging penalties so you get +3 Int/Wis/Cha if you just say youíre a thousand years old. Chances are your group wonít let that fly because itís cheesy as hell, but if you can get this by your DM is makes for good non-melee builds. Without dragonwrought, the kobold race is pretty much crap. If you can, go for Desert Kobold to get rid of that Con penalty.
Raptoran [RotW]: Bonus on jump checks and some cool adventuring abilities. At high levels, you get some limited flight. Very fun race.
Mongelfolk [RoD]: You might consider these guys if you want lots of HP. They get a myriad of interesting benefits, chief among them being +4 Constitution and the ability to mimic other races for the purpose of noises and magic items. The -4 Cha penalty is hefty, however.
Petal [MM3]: A flying fey with +2 LA. Youíre going to be very squishy if you play a petal, but they get DR 5/cold iron, tiny size, weapon finesse, and a 60í fly speed (perfect). They have one hit die, which is replaced as normal with your first class level. I donít feel like the benefits here are worth getting invocations 2 levels late, but itís not a terrible option for ranged EbI. Great with buyoff or E6.
Pixie [SRD]: This is similar to the petal, with +4 LA and several more benefits. They have persistent greater invisibility, DR 10/cold iron, SR 15, weapon finesse, and 60í fly speed (good). I wouldnít want to sacrifice the 4 levels, but the benefits are pretty snazzy. Also great with buyoff and E6.

Templates
You can get templates! Yay for variety. You can get undead-ifying templates or templates that optimize you for some role. You can stack them if you want.

Dragonborn [RotD]: The Con-for-Dex trade is nice and stacks with any other racial attribute modifications you have. You lose your racial traits, but you can get awesome vision, a breath weapon, or flight. I find flight to be the most useful, but this is really up to you.
Necropolitan [LiMo]: Being undead is great for an EbI because you get infinite healing. In a lot of games youíll just have a wand of lesser vigor anyways or your DM will handwave healing (or theyíll freak out and spot nerf you) but there are times when infinite healing is very useful. Being undead has its benefits and its detriments which you can read up elsewhere, but the EbI can add their Charisma to their HP instead of Con at level 13 which circumvents one of the big problems people have with being undead. The necropolitan template makes you an undead that heals like a mortal. It costs money, a level, and an additional 1000XP, but it doesn't affect your ECL so judge the cost on a DM-by-DM basis. If you're looking for another way to be undead on the cheap, check out the multiclassing at the end.
Gravetouched Ghoul [LiMo]: Another way to get the undead type, but itís +2 LA. This gets you 3 natural attacks, a Cha-scaling paralysis ability, and bonuses to every stat except Con. You also turn chaotic evil. If youíd like, you can destroy civilizations with an optimized ghoul fever save DC.
Mineral Warrior [online somewhere] (M): One of the strongest LA +1 templates in the game. The DR 8/adamantine, +3 NatArmor, +4 Con definitely make up for your lowered HP. This is nothing to sneeze at, regardless of your chosen role.
Magic-Blooded [Dr #306]: +2 Cha, -2 Wis is quite good for the EbI. Unfortunately this is from Dragon Magazine and itís 3.0 material. So if your DM is the least bit stingy youíre not going to get to use this.

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2014-12-16, 08:07 PM
Feats for the EbI
Unlike the warlock and dread necromancer, the EbI isn't quite so feat-starved. That's partly because of their free feats and partly because EbI abilities don't need as much to supplement them.

General Feats
Ability Focus: Some invocations you may want to use for a long time. Like crushing channel. This is great for those invocations. Just donít use it on ones that wonít last you (like frightening channel).
Able Learner: Get this only to qualify for chameleon or if you really want to keep your class skills.
Planar Affinity: Unlike some, I think this can be pretty useful. There are quite a few invocations out there that are awesome (or at least decent) at low levels but fall off really hard at high levels. This will let you use those cool invocations without sacrificing too much long-term power.
Weapon Finesse (M): If you donít want to invest in Strength, this is a good choice. Unlike other Dex-focused attackers, you can dump Strength and still pump out reliable damage because of the bonus from netherchannel, so there's no need for feats like Shadow Blade.
Shadow Blade: As mentioned above, this isnít particularly necessary. But the flavor is nice and the +Dex damage is synergizes with your multiple attacks.
Obtain Familiar: People tend to like this, but I donít think itís the bees knees or anything. Donít pick it up unless youíre planning on using it for a specific purpose, like wand-wielding or quasi-cohorts with Improved Familiar.
Point Blank Shot (B): You might need this for prereqs. It sucks as a feat, but thatís the ranged attackerís life.
Precise Shot (B): Also might need this. Itís not too bad because -4 for attacking into melee isnít fun.
Maximize SLA: Put a nether essence and/or nether shape on your netherchannel (nether, nether, nether) and go to town on the damage. Unfortunately only 3 times a day and it only works on one netherchannel combination.
Quicken SLA: Invoke Word of Power is strictly better because it kicks in earlier, has less-stringent requirements, and can be stacked on a single invocation. The only advantage Quicken SLA has is that it works on full round action SLAs, and thereís only one of those (corpse explosion) which requires you to be level 20 to quicken. SoÖ thereís basically no reason to use this feat.
Broken Oath Renewed: This is not a good feat. You must be an ex-paladin to take and use this feat, which means you get chassis, caster level, netherchannel, and shroud of death. Even with better BAB and extra saves, youíre still better off just taking levels in EbI instead.
Extra Invocation: This is specifically the feat listed in the EbI thread. I think itís good because invocations are strong, but you have quite a lot of invocations so itís not as fantastic as it would be for the warlock. In an E6 game is this amazing.
Invoke Word of Power: Swift action invocations are awesome, because you usually donít have anything to do with your swift actions. Unfortunately this only works 3/day and you choose the invocation when you pick the feat, meaning it canít be reassigned later. If you want good swift action invocations you need to burn feats throughout most of your career. As a general rule I recommend getting some buff-based invocations and quickening them so they feel useful no matter what.
Opportunity Channel (M): This is a solid feat if you plan on using attacks of opportunity. Works well with stand still.
Stand Still (M): Only if you get Opportunity Channel (above). Bonus damage goes straight to the DC and youíre pretty much guaranteed to stop enemies from moving when it gets high enough.
Deformity Ė Tall (M): Reach is good for melee
Inhuman Reach (M): Reach is still good for melee.
Pierce Magical Concealment (M, B): This is nice on its own for circumventing annoying enemy buffs like blur, which tend to be staples at high levels of play.
Power Attack (M): Bonus damage is nice, but the EbI already gets bonus damage and has only medium BAB so you shouldnít plan on using this unless youíre also investing in things like wraithtouch.
Crafting Feats: All of these are pretty good on the EbI once they have Imbue Item.
Heavy Armor Proficiency (M, B): If you load up on nothing but utility and long-duration spells, this is OK. Otherwise you should not gimp yourself with the ASF. Naturally caster EbI should never take this.
Death Pact: This is a Binder / EbI multiclass feat, and a prereq for Margrave of the Black Gate. You need to be at least EbI 8 / Binder 1 to get it which sucks because it delays your entry to the PrC, but your EbI levels stack with binder for EBL/Vestiges and your binder levels stack with EbI for caster level / shroud of death. This one feat is a huge power spike at level 9 and has minimal cost.
Improved Toughness (M): +1 HP/HD is nice for melee EbI, because that d8 HD stings.
Undead Leadership: This is great for the same reason the regular Leadership feat is strong. It's normally not allowed by DMs because armies are a pain and cohorts are way too strong. You could consider taking it, but the EbI gets so much awesome stuff anyways that I don't think it's worth making your party hate you.
Quicken Turning: You normally don't need to rebuke as a free action, so this is a waste. In an undead-heavy campaign, it could find some use.
Corpsecrafter: This is a great feat if you plan on having undead armies. It's especially nice for zombies which have tons of hit dice.
Bolster Resistance: This is nice if you only plan on controlling undead without rebuking/command. However if you want a truly large undead army, you're going to raise a bunch of zombies, command them to follow you, and raise some more, which makes Bolster Resistance detrimental.
Deadly Chill: This makes your army a lot stronger against other armies, but it's pretty mild against level-appropriate opposition. You don't even get the bonus damage.
Destructive Retribution: This is a fun feat, especially if you're fighting in groups. Have a bunch of minions gang up on an enemy -- If they kill the mooks, they take damage and heal other mooks. The Reflex Save is flat and the damage is 1d6 + 1d6/2HD, so you're encouraged to throw lots of 1HD creatures around. This trick is a lot less effective as you go up in level.
Hardened Flesh: If you fight a lot of hordes this could be useful, but I don't recommend it.
Nimble Bones: This is nice, particularly if you like zombies. If only you could get that +4 Initiative bonus on yourself too.
Tomb-Tainted Soul: Healing from negative energy is a nice deal. I like getting it at level 1, but you can wait to pick it up with Aspect of Death. TTS and all feats requiring it are bad if you become an undead.
Tomb-Born Fortitude: This is yet another form of fortification that stacks with other forms of fortification.
Tome-Born Resilience: This gives paltry benefits and applies a role-playing penalty. Don't take it unless there's really nothing else you want.
Tomb-Born Vitality: This allows you to always keep watch, avoid poisoned food, and gives you a bit of a resistance to sleep-happy casters.
Necromantic Presence: This is to Bolster Resistance, except it applies to any undead you control instead of ones you raise. If you plan on using command undead at all, I don't recommend it.
Necromantic Might: Better attacks and saves is always good for minions, because they tend to be behind the curve numerically. But the prereq feat doesn't sit well with me, so this is rated lower than it would be without the prereq.
Profane Lifeleech: This is a terrible feat. The damage is untyped, but it can hit your allies, doesn't affect undead, can hurt you, and requires 2 uses of rebuke undead. Don't pick this up, no matter how cool it is.

Moar Attacks
The melee and blaster EbI do well with extra attacks, but extra attacks are only good as damage multipliers, so I've separated them. Don't take these unless you plan on full-attacking with netherchannel.

Two-Weapon Fighting (M): This and its derivatives. Normally the feat isnít that good, but you can play the EbI as an evil rogue knockoff a TWFíer to maximize netherchannel bonus damage. Because of the high Dex requirements, you either need to dip ranger or pump Dex.
Multiattack (M): Same as two-weapon fighting, except with natural attacks and you donít need high Dexterity.
Dragon Tail (M): Only for dragonblooded. Silverbrow human is probably the way to go here.
Snap Kick (M): More attacks! More damage!
Staggering Strike (M): Only works if you can sneak attack, so it requires rogue/EbI multiclassing. But this is a nice use of your bonus damage.
Rapid Shot (B): This and derivatives. Standard ranged attacker fare. I recommend it.
Manyshot (B): God no, this is terrible. Not worth.

Darkness Feats
The following are all darkness-related feats. There are apparently a lot of them in Drow of the Underark.
At Home in the Deep: You can see through darkness as though it werenít there. Requires that you have darkvision. Considering this only lets you see in the most modest form of magical darkness (and it doesnít help your allies), Iíd say this isnít worth it, but you can get darkness at will using darkness of death so the synergy is OK.
Blend Into Shadows: HiPS near magical darkness is pretty swanky. It even gives you something to do with your swift actions. This feat makes EbI (and warlock I suppose) a fairly attractive dip for rogues and ninjas. It works even if your target can see in magical darkness, which makes no damn sense but is very useful.
Fade Into Darkness: Only mentioned because itís another DotU darkness feat. It is pretty sub-par compared to most feats, so I wouldnít bother unless youíre really freaking out about your hide check.
Instinctive Darkness: More uses for swift actions! This with at-will darkness lets you turn the battlefield into inky smoke. But without the ability to let your allies see through the darkness, this is probably not a good idea.
Intensity Darkness: You shouldnít care about deeper darkness. You have infinite casts of the regular version available, so you can make do with the lower duration and area.
Gloom Strike: Not bad for a rogue/EbI multiclass. This gives you concealment every time you hit an opponent with a sneak attack, so you can always hide.

Just to Browse
2014-12-16, 08:19 PM
Invocations for the EbI
EbI invocations are very similar to warlock invocations, but with a few key differences. First, the nether essence / nether shape invocations turn your supernatural netherchannel into a spell-like ability, giving it a spell level equal to the sum of your essence and shape invocations (max 9). The DC for any effects is also based off of that summed spell level, so it is in your favor to stack essences and shapes in order to get abnormally large save DCs. This is also useful for bypassing things like globe of invulnerability earlier.

The second thing is that some invocations have cooldowns. After using these invocations, you canít use them again for 3 rounds.

The third thing is that some invocations are (Aura) effects and others are (Summon) effects. Auras are passive abilities centered on you and you may only have one (Aura) at a time, while summons are effects that call up beasties to fight for you and you can only have 1 (Summon) per four caster levels.

Like most invocation-using classes, EbI invocations are elegantly laid out in a single column. Unfortunately this makes it a pain to figure out how many invocations you have at any given level and the retraining paragraph isnít the easiest to find, so hereís a table for convenience. You may notice that the EbI has more than twice as many invocations as a warlock, which is fantastic because it means not every invocation needs to be really strong. You can pick up some strong fallback abilities and then get a bunch of not-so-synergistic choices without feeling bad.

http://i.imgur.com/flSu5B5.png

You can, of course, put lower invocations in higher slots, but as a general rule thatís not very good. You have 5 invocations known by the time you pick up the next tier, so you should probably have everything you need by the time the next benchmark rolls around.

I guess itís time to go through the invocations now. Buckle up, because thereís a lot.


Nether Essences
You can only apply one nether essence per turn, and it affects all netherchannels you use for that turn. So pick wisely because you canít customize your blasts.

Least
Focused Channel: You could do worse, but you could do better. At low levels this is not worth a slot, but as your caster level increases it becomes much better. You could also combine this with any of the save-based nether shape invocations for a higher save DC than a 1st-level invocation. I recommend skipping this early and picking it up around level 6 with your free retraining.
Frightening Channel: On-hit Will Save or the enemy is frightened as per cause fear, which means you get a save-or-suck with a 1d4 round duration, and if it fails the enemy is still shaken. Unfortunately creatures with 6+ HD (and undead, and constructs, and verminÖ) are immune, so it outlasts its usefulness after you pick up lesser invocations. But still awesome to have for scaring off dire rats and goblins.
Icy Channel: Half cold damage helps you fight undead (though skeletons are still a problem) and gives you the option to hurt [Fire] creatures. The dazzle effect is forgettable.
Osseous Channel: Piercing damage is also good for circumventing undead immunity (skeletons still laugh at you with their DR 5/bludgeoning, at least theyíre not immune to it). The bonus damage is enough to let you one-shot most enemies at low levels, but it falls off really hard at high levels. I recommend picking this up early and then trading it out for something else at level 6.
Sickening Channel: This invocation is analogous to Frightening Channel. Because itís not a [Fear] effect, you can affect a wider variety of targets, and its duration is 1d4 instead of 1d4/1. However the debuff on a failed save is equivalent to what frightening channel applies on a successful save, so itís a lot less awesome. I recommend picking up frightening channel first and switching it out for this later.

Lesser
Crushing Channel: Fantastic ability. You can easily dazelock an opponent if you can reliably target them, otherwise youíre still getting a decent debuff off.
Deathfreeze Channel (M, B): This is the only invocation that changes all your damage to a type other than negative energy (skeletons are still laughing at you :smallfrown:). It also inflicts 1d6 Dexterity damage which is awesome. Stack a bunch of attacks and paralyze people.
Doomwind Channel (C): A pretty solid invocation for battlefield control. This doesnít synergize well with multiple attacks becauseÖ well, it pushes people away from you. I suppose youíre technically allowed to bull rush people sideways with this ability, but for the sake of not getting books thrown at your head I donít suggest trying it.
Enervating Channel (M, B): Another ability that works great with multiple attacks. If you can three attacks and three failed saves, your opponent will pass out for hours. Doesnít work on skeletons (damn you skeletons!)
Felfire Channel: Suck it skeletons! This nether essence isnít the strongest thing out there, but I find damage variety to be very important. And 4d4 extra fire damage isnít so bad for wiping out hordes of nameless goblins. You can't pick this up if you plan on becoming a frostwrought scion, which might suck.

Greater
Desiccating Channel: Half-acid damage is nice, but I find enemies that are immune to negative energy and cold and fire damage tend to also be immune to acid. Blinding is pretty much worse than dazing, fatigue, or dexterity damage, but if you didnít pick up felfire channel this is worth a look.
Ghastly Channel: Nausea-locking is also cool! Still not as good as daze, so Iíd pass.
Maddening Channel: Confusion is OK, but thereís a 20% chance the enemy will get to do what it wants (kill you) so itís generally not that good in comparison to dazing.
Netherlightning Channel: Lightning damage is also good, but see Desiccating Channel. You could get the stun ability in case your enemies are immune to dazeÖ but I doubt it.

Dark
Calcifying Chanel: On-hit SoD. Yes please. As a bonus, you can make statues out of all the enemies you destroy.
Ghoulish Channel: Paralysis is generally weaker than stunning and dazing, but it does leave the opponent open for a coup de grace if youíre into being brutal like that. Duration is 1d2 instead of 1d4 as well so this isnít usually something you want to go for.
Hoarfrost Channel (M, B): ďIrresistableĒ damage doesnít cover immunity so skeletons are still laughing at you. But this gets you 1d6 Dex and 1d6 Str damage, which is awesome. Use this, then deathfreeze channel, and youíre bound to turn someone into flesh jelly.
Void Chanel (M, B): Pretty good ability, even with a 3 round cooldown. Stack this up with multiple attacks and prevent your enemy from using any level-appropriate abilities.


Nether Shapes
Nether shapes are probably the least attractive category of invocation that the EbI gets. If you're a caster or you want to abuse the save DC progression of netherchannel, you will still want to pick up some of these. Some of the effects make it easier to apply nether essences, since those proc if you deal any damage at all.

Least
Necrotic Blast (B): The bread and butter of blaster EbI. Do not go beyond level 1 without it. Also, attack-action RTAs is worth a mention for rogue dips and other classes that use bonus damage dice.
Nether Spear: Anybody can use this. Itís got a range longer than you can usually see. At level 1, you can snipe at max range with a -20 to hide and your opponent has a -44 to spotÖ now if you can just find a way to see them and aim.
Void Arc (C): If youíre looking to throw down some of those tasty debuffs from the nether essences, this is your first opportunity to do so. The cone puts you in walking distance of enemies and you might hit allies, but if an enemy takes any damage from your nether shape you apply your nether essence. This is basically a guaranteed AoE debuff chance against enemies that donít have evasion.

Lesser
Death Grip (C): This is one of the few debuffing nether shapes. Itís unfortunately a ranged touch attack and a standard action, so itís not well-suited to blasters or melee. The duration is solid if youíre investing in DCs anyways.
Mortisphere (C): Long range blasting! The damage isnít bumped up so itís not that useful for killing things, but as long as you can deal any damage with this you can get a nether essence off and thatís the important part.
Necrotic Bolt (C): Basically as mortisphere, except youíre aiming in a different shape and itís a bit shorter. Iíd pick one or the other.

Greater
Necrotic Burst (M): This a 30í burst centered on yourself, so you need to be a melee dude to use it and you need to be undead or TTS to not hurt yourself. However, itís also a standard action so youíre giving up your attacks in order to do so. Plus youíre probably going to hit any allies hanging around. It also requires a Fort Save, which tends to be the highest save for enemies.
Nether Cone: Better than necrotic burst, but I wouldnít spend a greater invocation on this. Youíre still in most creaturesí charging range. If you want to stack a nether shape for higher save DCs, this is probably the better choice of the two.

Dark
Death Chain: This deals weak damage and allows for a Reflex Save. But it allows you to selectively choose who you want to hit with your nether essences, unlike nether cone, necrotic burst, and whatnot. It also bumps your DCs, so itís definitely worth a look!
Doom Lance: You only hit one target as a non-attack but itís within medium range and it canít miss. If you really absolutely gotta hit someone, this could be useful. Itís also got a cooldown so donít expect to use it every turn.


Necromantic Invocations
These invocations are going to do the heavy lifting for you. You'll find almost every possible necromancy application here, from undead minions to blood magic and creepy things made from bones. There are also some strangely non-necromantic effects, like speed boosts and walking on walls.

Least
Allure of the Dead: You pretty much win social situations. Even with only 2 + Int skill points, this and a little Charisma makes the EbI the default party face until magic supersedes his. If you focus Cha and dip warlock for beguiling influence and you can separate yourself by an entire RNG with the average level 2 opponent. Once you get lesser invocations you can learn vampireís call and make this obsolete, so consider retraining it.
Blood Lash (M): This isnít terrible, but itís not good. For some reason itís a medium whip only (it doesnít resize to the user) and youíre not automatically proficient in it. It also comes with all the boons and banes of whips. You could use this for a free magic whip and deliver melee attacks through it, or you could just buy a whip and not worry about your weapon being dispellable.
Bone Armor: If you can supply the material component, this is pretty much in all ways better than getting a shield except for the fact that itís dispellable. Note that the ability calls out ďnon-magical missile weaponsĒ, which doesnít mean magic missile but any missile with magic properties, like +1 arrows. Still, a +4 shield bonus at will is solid.
Breath of the Freezing Night: This is a pretty fun ability, but itís not as useful the way obscuring mist and grease are normally useful. Grease is normally used to throw an opponent off so you can get ranged attacks on them (you canít because you canít see them), while obscuring mist is popular as a way to get into range with ranged attackers without being hurt (you canít because youíll fall on the ice). Since the ice effect leaves after 1r/lvl and the mist leaves after 1min/lvl, you can still use this for the latter with a little patience (ďWHATíS THAT!?Ē asks the party barbarian). But this is probably best for defensive battlefield control. Also, that ice slick happens under your feet, so you should be investing in balance or plan on using it only in advance.
Call the Walking Dead: (Summon) At low levels, the duration on this effect makes it pretty worthless. But around level 4+ this becomes a fairly attractive options. You basically get a free trapspringer and short-duration butler. You can only have one per 4 levels, but you probably only care to have one at a time anyways.
Darkness of Death: Can your whole party see in magical darkness? If not, do not get this. There is some synergy thanks to Drow of the Underdark and its darkness feats (see above).
Deathís Messenger: Youíre probably not going to use this very often, but the flavor is so awesome that Iíd recommend it anyways. If youíre fighting regularly, youíll probably have the bonuses at the start of every combat after your first fight of the day. Definitely falls off as you level up.
Deathís Swiftness (M): Another huge skill-boosting item. Jump and Tumble arenít that great by the time people start flying regularly, but itís quite useful before then (and maybe if you want to leap attack?). This also lets you make that DC 40 tumble check from OA that lets you take a 10í step instead of a 5í step. Make sure you OK that with your DM first. Also combines with the warlockís leaps and bounds.
Deathsight: Nothing particularly interesting. Most DMs usually let their party members know if an enemy looks weak, and most PCs know each othersí HP. This is basically useful for detecting if something is undead or a construct, and EbI already get detect undead for free.
Desecration Aura: This is fantastic for making undead, synergizing with invocations like summon undead and animate dead. Plus the idea of radiating desecration is freaking awesome. If youíre undead, this will make you harder to turn. On the downside, it technically also hurts your rebuking (because rebuke undead checks are ďequivalent to turn undeadĒ), so make sure youíre using it wisely.
Fearsome Glare: At will frightening powers are pretty cool, but this is a single-target ability much like frightening channel and canít be jacked up to crazy levels the way the aforementioned invocation can be. I love the idea of an EbI just staring at someone to scare them away, but this is pretty ineffective.
Graveís Grasp: Much like the warlockís earthen grasp, this isnít very useful. It has low HP, low duration, low grapple mod, and the counter to it involves taking a 5í step away and forgetting the thing even exists. That said, it could still find some use as BFC or tanking if your enemies are dire rats and mindlessly attack one target until it dies.
Mortify: Maybe at higher levels if you want your skeletons clean, but I think the useful benefit this provides is easily emulated with an axe and several minutes of work. God that sounds disgusting.
Miasmic Cloud: This one is pretty funny if you have the cloud-to-butt browser extension. You donít want to accidentally catch the melee members of your party in it, so you drop it on a line of enemies before they close ranks with you. Fairly limited, but I can see a reason to pick it up.
Preservation: The range of uses for this ability is fairly small. I donít recommend it.
Speed of the Dead (M): Not to be confused with deathís swiftness, this is basically a passive +30í move speed since you have no reason not to cast it every time the duration ends. Put on the heaviest armor you can carry and run as fast as the barbarian.
Spiderwalk (B, C): Flight is better, but at the levels you donít have flight this is pretty good. Youíre basically immune to anything that canít fly, climb, or attack at rangedÖ which is a surprisingly large number of creatures. Consider retraining this if/when you get wraith form.
Spiritual Sight: Much like see the unseen, this is an amazing invocation at high levels when invisible enemies can instagib you. I donít think I would go past level 10 without this.
Touch of the Dead: YAY INFINITE HEALING. It might be slow and arduous (and useless for anything else) but youíll be saving your party the 750g theyíd spend on wands of lesser vigor.
Wraithtouch (M): This is wraithstrike with a cooldown, but it only works on ďthe characterís wielded melee weaponĒ so natural attacks donít benefit. Very good if you like to power attack.

Lesser
Aura of Decay (M): (Aura) If your allies are within range, theyíre going to get hurt. You are always in range of yourself, so if youíre not using this for healing you are going to also take damage. Other than that, this is basically only useful for killing the weakling monsters you donít want to waste attack rolls on. It has a place, but that place is fairly niche.
Bloodmoteís Feast: (Summon) Swarms are nice for the nauseate effect, and this one will get you free 1d2 Constitution damage. I donít think itís as good as dazlocking someone with netherchannel, but you can stop a few people from acting and just cast this every round to make them either split up or lose 1.5 Con per round. Also good for terrorizing peasants. The nausea DC is stuck at 15 forever, so eventually this wonít be useful.
Call the Restless Dead: If your DM allows the Libris Mortis version of this spell, itís absolutely amazing and game-breaking. If they only allow the Spell Compendium version (they probably should), itís really not worth it. The creatures are CR 3 or lower and you canít even use the best of the three until level 7. Forget this.
Curse of the Damned (M): This is a great invocation, especially in fights with very few enemies. Thereís also no reason you canít stack it if you choose different curses. Also great for terrorizing peasants. The thing that makes it bad is that it requires a melee touch attack, so you canít run around using this willy-nilly.
Deadly Contagion: This one is basically only good for terrorizing peasants. I recommend passing on it.
Ghost Step: This mobility is great. Despite mentioning dimension door, it doesnít make you lose actions. Use it to circumvent puzzles and other obstacles.
Osseous Armory (M): If youíve got some dead bodies lying around, this is pretty good. The only problem is that you canít get extra weapon properties on your bone weapons and youíre not guaranteed to have them around in a tight situation. If youíre not too worried about enemies playing smart, this is fun and effective. But I think the weaknesses it gives you are worse than the money you save on a weapon.
Phantasmal Steed: (Summon) Free mounts are nice, but a horse is just about as useful and by level 6, you can spare the gold.
Poisonous Touch (M): 1d10 Constitution damage on hit is a good effect, but you need to use it with a melee touch attack (provoking an attack of opportunity) and it allows for a fort save so youíre probably going to kill people faster with netherchannel.
Reach of the Damned (M): Pretty good for closing gaps with enemies that try to run away. If you can get an extra 5í of reach, you might be able to lock them down when they try to run/teleport/fly away. Combine with wall of bones and anything medium or larger wonít escape.
Stygian Snow: This is fairly cool ability, though it has a cooldown to stop unavoidable damage spam (sad day). If you donít hit your allies, youíre dealing 5d6 damage and reducing enemy speed by half in the area. If you do hit allies, they wonít like you.
The Dead Shall Rise: This is your one stop shop to raising an army of zombies. Easily the strongest invocation here.
Unhallowed Consumption: Itís free healing, but unlike most other methods itís instantaneous. If youíre pretty squishy, you can keep a couple beefcakes that youíve animated/rebuked around and use them to almost full-heal. This is even better if youíre melee, because those beefcakes will also probably soak a couple hits for you and their healing is based on max HP instead of current HP. But you probably need a reliable source of HP before you pick this invocation up, like the dead shall rise.
Vampireís Call: Oh man, you pretty much win all social situations until mind blank and similar effects become a regularity. Not as useful if youíre just dungeon crawling, but a great invocation to have on hand.
Void Sense: This is pretty good for foiling people that hide (unless they have Darkstalker ) or use invisibility. Itís not as good at countering invisibility as spiritual sight which comes a whole tier lower, but you donít need to be looking in order to notice your target and you can avoid other obfuscatory techniques. Very useful for a class that generally canít afford to invest in perception skills.
Vicious Dispelling: This isnít too bad if youíre going to encounter a decent number of spellcaster-types, but if youíre not fighting any this is obviously bad. It also gets more useful if youíre fighting NPCs decked out in magic items. Unfortunately the caster level cap is +10 so it starts to fall by the time youíre getting greater invocations. Consider switching it out.
Walk Unseen: This is personal Greater invisibility at will. If you canít think of how to abuse this, youíre not trying hard enough.
Wall of Bones: In addition to being totally metal, this invocation gives you some insane battlefield control. The duration is a flat 10 minutes (no concentration) so you can just fill a fight with bone walls if you want to troll everybody. Itíll probably get in the way of your other party members, so consider just using this to seal off particularly dangerous, less-mobile enemies. Strong monsters can break the wall as a standard action, but you can just make another one and seal them in next turn. You could alternatively use it to make a coliseum and face off against enemies one a time. God thatís so brutal.
Wraith Form: Iím not sure whatís up with the letter W, but thereís not a single one that isnít fantastic. You have a 20% miss chance, making this a solid defensive buff (but your attack-based offense is also weak). You can also fly as per the spell for most of combat, which lets you kite better than ever before. Even though the combat benefits are best for a mage, the out-of-combat mobility is greater for any EbI.

Greater
Blighting Plague: This might have been useful as a least invocation. As a greater invocation? No way.
Call the Hungry Dead: The previous two versions of this were fairly weak, but this is a good choice. Thatís because you get shadows and wights. Both shadows and wights can kill their targets fairly quickly, spawning further shadows and wights that hand around even after call the hungry dead ends. The low HD on that creatures means you wonít have a hard time controlling them with rebuke undead, and their spawning abilities specifically indicate that the killer controls their spawn. You can release one minion into a village and turn everyone there into an army of death that you control. This is commonly referred to as The Shadow Over The Sun and is used for doomsday scenarios, but now you are the harbinger of that doom. Of course your undead are still piddly and can be wiped out in short order by high-level opposition with area attacks, but so are most armies.
Cannibalize Magic: Youíre probably not using this for the healing, just like youíre not using vicious dispelling for the damage. Use this if youíre in the same situations vicious dispelling is useful in, but you need a higher check.
Corpse Explosion: This is basically a situational, at-will fireball. Itís certainly cool, but I donít think itís worth a greater invocation.
Curse of Deathly Despair: If youíre wondering what book this spell is from, itís Complete Divine. Unlike its lesser cousin, greater bestow curse can reduce a monsterís ability score to 1 or gives only a 25% chance of action, which makes it an awesome counter to certain kinds of monsters. In combat you can make up a quest that an enemy canít possibly accomplish in 10 rounds so that the effect never wears off. Again, it requires a melee touch so you need to make sure you wonít get squished if the monster makes its save. Still a very good choice.
Frozen Wall: Another good BFC invocation. Itís easier to break, it can be melted, and enemies can straight-up cancel the spell if theyíre adjacent, so itís not awesome in a greater slot. However, unlike wall of bones, this stops a creature of any size and can prevent flight if you use the hemisphere form.
Moilian Tentacles: The material component is a pain and the HP cost is annoying, but this is one of the strongest BFC invocations you will ever get. Remember that it can still hurt your allies, so donít throw it in anybodyís way.
Create Undead: The monsters you make this way are pretty much inferior to what you could get by turning people into shadow or wight armies (see call the hungry dead), and the listed creatures are too weak to be anything except speedbumps for appropriate opposition. But if you want somebody to staff your hotel of death, this could find a use.
Shadow Calling: (Summon) Just like call the hungry dead, this can give you an infinite army of shadows. Itís also a legitimately useful (Summon) at the earlier levels (11-13) because you greater shadows have decent defense and offense and you get them for over a minute. This is one of the only (Summon) spells I would actually use in a combat.
Vampiric Aura: (Aura) this is like aura of decay, but itís bigger (youíre more likely to hurt your allies), kills everything, and doesnít allow a save. It would have been a solid lesser invocation, but the enemies that show up in droves have around 50 HP and this just isnít going to cut it.

Dark
Avasculate: As the spell of the same name, this is a fine ability for wearing down those huge walls of meat you will inevitably come to face. Itís a death effect and has a cooldown so itís a little ineffective, but still quite useful.
Boneweird: (Summon) As an undead with 120 HP, DR 10/-, fast healing 10, and SR 24, the boneyard is a decent creature. Itís probably smarter than most of the party, which is funny. It speaks common, it has crowd control with its grapple, and decent offense with its ability damage. You need a lot of corpses on hand to bring the thing out, but at level 17+ Iím sure you can find the bodies somewhere. Despite being available as an invocation at level 16, you shouldnít use boneweird until you have a high enough caster level to actually summon this thing (via deathís messenger, ioun stones, or whatever). You can only have one at a time.
Call to the Void: (Summon) You can get this at level 16. The nightwalker is CR 16. This is obviously amazing. The spell-like abilities on this are amazing, and on top of that it can destroy magic items, paralyze people with a gaze attack, and summon free scouts. Even if youíre not abusing The Shadow Over The Sun, this is a great choice for short-term undead armies. You can only have one at a time.
Howl of the Damned: Wail of the banshee is great, even on a cooldown. Get rid of hordes of enemy minions this way.
Killing Touch: This is like a worse version of howl of the damned. It requires touch and only works on one creature. Only pick this if you really need to kill someone so they canít easily be revived. Also has a cooldown.
Presence of Death: When a single-target death knell isnít really worth picking, an area death knell that can accidentally kill your allies and takes up your aura slot is definitely not worth it.
Shun the Mortal Coil: You can become a ghost with copies of all your mortal equipment in ghost form. This lets you adventure as a ghost without the ECL problems so long as your mortal body isnít in danger (find a way to survive without sleep, food, and water). You could alternatively just forget about your mortal body and live your life as a ghost, which is a viable option. The invocation can be forcefully ended by dispel magic or a similar effect so you could do that if you wanted.
Stygian Rain: The damage is low, enemies get a reflex for half, and you canít pierce resistance or immunities. No thanks.
The Dead Shall Rule: Shadows and Spectres let you do that infinite army thing, but if you wanted that you could have done it five levels ago. Devourers have a myriad of useful spell-like abilities, but they require a caster level of 20+ so unless you can boost your CL pretty high this isnít worth it.

Just to Browse
2014-12-16, 08:55 PM
Multiclassing and Dipping
Everyone likes dipping. Iíll go through the standard PHB classes because those are the most likely to be at your table, and Iíll add a few that stand out to me. As a general rule, straight EbI is better than any dip or multiclass, but sometimes you canít get what you want with just levels in EbI.

Core Classes

Barbarian: You canít use invocations while raging, because theyíre spell-like abilities. However you can use your standard netherchannel, so if youíre just going for tons of damage you could pick this up. Whirling Frenzy ACF is nice for extra attacks, Spirit Lion Totem ACF is good for pounce at higher levels, Wolf Totem ACF is always solid but that takes 2 levels. I think itís better to dip EbI as a barbarian than vice versa.
Bard: The bard doesnít synergize with your action economy, so itís not usually that good. However bards can work well in Cha-focused builds with things like Snowflake Wardance, and since the EbI has a lot of Cha-based defensive abilities, there is potential for some decent synergy.
Cleric: This is a good pick, but not because of any particular synergy. The cleric is just a very strong class, and it remains a strong dip because of its inherent power. However it falls off significantly, so you should switch to utility as you grow in level. It wouldnít hurt to take a look at Cloistered Cleric ACF for the Knowledge domain. Everybody seems to like Knowledge Devotion nowadays.
Druid: As the cleric. An animal companion is a solid, but falls off like most things if you donít advance it. I recommend the Natural Bond feat, but you could just start with a combat monster and switch to some sort of scout later on. If youíre looking for druid casting, youíre probably better off picking up Spirit Shaman so you can take the Deathspirit Acolyte PrC.
Fighter: Fighter feats can be nice sometimes, particularly for blasters and melee EbI. I usually content myself with sucking it up, but you might really want PBS, Precise Shot, and Rapid Shot at level 1, this is a good place to get it. Outclassed by the warblade and crusader normally, but especially so here since the PrC Ashen Knight exists.
Monk: I recommend avoiding this. You could find something useful in the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, or potentially abuse Martial Monk for bonus feats, but emphasizing wisdom and not using armor really hurts.
Paladin: There is a feat dedicated to paldin/EbI multiclassing. I donít think itís worth it, because to be an EbI you need to lose everything thatís remotely useful or interesting about the paladin. No special mount, no spellcasting, no divine grace. However if you pick an alignment that jives with one of the UA variants (Paladin of Slaughter or Paladin of Tyranny) then you can get some benefits like twice your Cha to saves.
Ranger: The ranger is primarily used for the nice chassis and a 2-level dip to pick up Rapid Shot or TWF without prereqs. If youíre interested in those feats and youíre willing to sacrifice your awesome EbI class features, you can go ahead.
Rogue: Prepare to throw tons of dice. Sneak attack damage stacks with netherchannel damage. At low levels getting both of those bonus dice to proc makes people explode. However netherchannel has separate requirements from sneak attack, so as you grow in levels youíll feel the pain of that 1-level dip pretty badly. Multiclassing rogue also opens quite a few options like [Ambush] feats (see Gloom Strike). Iíd say that EbI is a better dip for rogue than rogue is for EbI Ė you can pick up at-will darkness and +10 Bluff, rely on the bonus damage at low levels, and get some cool darkness-related drow feats as you go up.
Sorcerer: Charisma-based casting is cool because it synergizes with class features. However sorcerers donít let you re-pick your spells every day, so you either need to pick spells known for low levels or high levels and the dip will feel weak in the other area. Also grants a familiar, woo.
Wizard: Int-based casting is also cool because it synergizes with invocation DCs. Your spell re-selection is more limited than the druid and cleric, but itís still nifty. I recommend it about as much as I recommend those classes. Also grants a familiar and scribe scroll.

Other Classes of Interest

Warblade: This is pretty much Fighter++, but with the added bonus of potentially qualifying you for the Ashen Knight PrC. I think the warblade is better than the Crusader if youíre just going for a dip or Twixil Night Blade, but the crusader is a better choice if you plan on becoming an Ashen Knight.
Crusader: Itís got good things like the warblade does, but slightly less consistent. If youíre going to be an Ashen Knight, crusader is probably better in the long run.
Binder: Unlike the warlock, the EbI doesnít need to hurt his Con to deal competitive damage in a fight, so binding Naberius is less useful. However the binder is a solid choice and brings a lot of flexibility. Even at later levels you can Death Pact feat and you wonít feel bad about losing that one level of EbI. An early dip in binder lets you pick up Favored Vestige (Ahriman) so you can qualify for Margrave of the Black Gate.
Totemist: This class loads up on tons of natural attacks. A 2-level dip can get you 4 claw attacks which you can ostensibly enchant for 200g, letting you make 4 netherchannel attempts. This is one of the few classes I would personally dip for, which means itís pretty damn good. Definitely better than the incarnate (which is just okay) and the soulborn (which is terrible). Iím honestly surprised thereís no PrC for this, but you gotta just deal with that.
Swashbuckler: Free weapon finesse is all this guy has going for it. Take it if you really want to save a feat.
Channeler: Youíre using ErrantXís homebrew, right? Unlike the EbI, channelers can be any alignment (even evil). In addition to being freaking amazing on their own, channelers are pretty good for EbI. The holy lasers arenít that great if youíre a blaster or caster, but you can get bonus damage as a melee dude. Invocations are also divine so no ASF. You can dip for some useful invocations like angelic acumen, benediction of the celestial host, golden goblet of rise-moker, hymn of celestial aid (only prevents divine invocations), martyrdom, or war chant of the red blade. Itís also good if you want to play an angsty holy death mage who canít get over his inner conflict between life and death. Maybe someday there will be a handbook for this class to.
Spirit Shaman: Normally a dip in Spirit Shaman is inferior to a dip in Druid, but the Deathspirit Acolyte PrC may make you reconsider your choice. You get semi-flexible casting and some interesting (if not powerful) class features early, but once you enter Deathspirit Acolyte you become a head and shoulders above a straight SS or EbI. This is a good investment for higher-level characters, and it doesnít suck on its own.

Undead Classes
Because being a death monster with necromancy powers is so cool (even if it sucks to get turned by clerics) there is a way you can do it with one level and no LA. According to Libris Mortisís Monster Classes, p. 34:


When a living characters becomes one of these forms of undead [Ö] he loses one class levelómuch as if he had died and been raised [Ö] he then gains one level of the appropriate undead class. Effectively, the undead class level replaces another class level.

If the character has no class levels, he simply gains one of the appropriate undead class and may multiclass freely between that undead class and the normal class levels.

This means that if your character becomes a ghoul, mohrg, mummy, etc before youíve taken any class levels, they donít need to complete their undead class before they start multiclassing. If you take this after any other level, you donít get the benefit. So take your first level in an undead class for no LA, incorporate it into your backstory, and try not to go to 0 HP. These also stack on top of your racial traits, so pick another race with them.

Ghoul/Ghast: The important things here are +2 Dex, a bite attack, and turn resistance. This is a solid choice.
Mohrg: +2 Str instead of Dex, but otherwise this is inferior to the ghoul.
Mummy: +2 Str, -4 Int, so you need to avoid save-inflicting invocations. Youíre also 10í slower than normal and vulnerable to fire, only getting a slam attack and +2 natArmor out of the deal. I donít think itís worth it.
Vampire Spawn: +2 Str and Cha, +2 Bluff, blood drain, turn resistance, and a slam attack. Vampire Spawn are nice.
Wight: +2 Dex and a slam make these guys pretty close to ghouls, but they also get +8 Move Silently which is pretty darn good if youíre playing a sneak.

Prestige Classes
A lot of the old warlock PrCs require warlock-specific stuff so theyíre not included here. Thankfully there are quite a few custom-made prestige classes for the ebon initiate, most of them designed for EbI multiclass combos.

Some of these classes are PF-specific or have PF options. I can't comment on their particular interactions with the PF system, but ErrantX has kindly included some conversions to 3.5, and I've got a handy guide for you in case some things are missing:
Prereq "Necromantic Affinity" changed to "Tomb-Tainted Soul"
Skill "Acrobatics" changed to "Balance" and "Tumble"
Skill "Linguistics" changed to "Speak Language"
Skill "Perception" changed to "Spot" and "Listen"
Skill "Stealth" changed to "Hide" and "Move Silently"

Ashen Knight: Prestige class for Crusader / EbI multiclassing. Almost every prereq except power attack can be taken through the multiclass if your Int is good enough. Youíll have to be level 5 minimum, and I recommend Ebi 4 / Crusader 1 or Crusader 4 / EbI 1 because itís better to have a strong primary schtick than be mediocre at two things. This class gets a watered down rage, a cool undead mount, crits on undead, and heavy armor invocation use. Itís cool, but like most gish PrCs youíre going to suffer early for the benefits that show up later. Also you might have a hard time getting into the PrC because the flavor is so restrictive.
Frostwrought Scion: This follows the same casting progression (1/1 SL) as the Ur-Priest and Beholder Mage, so your spells suck early (especially with the level 7 minimum entry) and you come out awesome at the end. This is on top of 8/10 invocation use, bonus metamagic feats, an aura of cold that can make you and your allies die if you suffer weather effects, and some flavor abilities (like Alertness as a bonus feat. Weeee). Itís pretty much better than straight EbI, and whatís great is that you donít really need anything except straight EbI to qualify. The only thing that sucks about the prereqs is the feats.
Deathspirit Acolyte: For Spirit Shaman 3 / EbI 1 multiclassing, but at a minimum entry level of 6 for the skill ranks. Again I recommend putting those 2 levels into the same class (SS 5/EbI 1 or SS 3/EbI 3). This gets 10/10 spellcasting and 10/10 invocations so itís quite strong, but it suffers from the usual theurge problem of screwing you early and making up for it in force later. You get every Necromancy spell on your Spirit Shaman list from level 1, Legion of the Damned lets you save money on undead hordes, Seek/Open the Gate is free minions with no HD cap, he gets decent non-attack blasting at level 7 with Nether Overchannel, can imbue his important minions with invocations/spells, and at level 10 (ECL 16) he gets a costless SoD. The big problem with this is that itís very MAD, requiring Wisdom to cast spells, Charisma for spell DCs and EbI abilities, and Int for EbI invocation DCs. Itís still stupid good.
Margrave of the Black Gate: You canít fulfill the prereqs for this until ECL 9 minimum because thatís when you get shroud of death, so you wonít be entering this until late in your career. This gives 9/10 invoking and 10/10 binding and gives you quite a few awesome benefits like permanently binding Ahriman. However there are serious drawbacks to playing a Margrave, and unlike most classes you get punished more as you take levels in the class. You get tied to magical macguffins that will kill you or no-save-screw-you if theyíre deactivated, lost, whatever. You draw torment for Ahriman by using class abilities, which will force you to make a will save or be sickened, and if you are too tormented youíll be stunned for Ĺ level rounds. Despite all that, you may still want to take the class for awesome arcanoi (veil of wraiths for example), free desecrate, or dread wraith servants. Because of the feat prereqs, warlocks are a much better candidate for this class, but itís still awesome and full of flavor.
Chameleon: This is good on an EbI for the same reasons itís good on a warlock. The incredible flexibility offered by Extra Invocation as a floating bonus feat day-to-day makes the EbI / Chameleon good at solving problems if you give them some time, and an feat is solid with the Imbue Item class feature. Remember the restrictive race/feat prereqs.
Demonbinder: You canít get into this without using Extra Invocation, which means you get in 1 level later than most warlocks. The demonbinding is okay, but its limited duration and full-round cast time make it less than awesome. You get 9/10 invoking, but the text is specific in that it advances warlock invocations, so make sure your DM isnít going to screw you over.
Necromera: It's built to come from an EbI, so there's no way it can suck. But this is probably my least favorite of the prestige classes for the EbI. Your invocation access, shroud of death, and netherchannel advance, but half the invocations you gain from these levels must come from the necromera-specific Striga list. Striga are okay (I don't want to list them all) but they're not fantastic. In addition, you gain a set of vampiric weaknesses which become more and more severe up until you get them all at level 10. I'm not a big fan. The two real winners here are at will [I]dominate monster at level 8, and easy access to infinite blood points which can give you infinite healing, regeneration, and all-day strength bonuses. If you want that "power at a price" feeling and you can wait until level 10, I recommend going with Margrave of the Black Gate instead.
Death Marshal: This is a gunslinger / EbI PrC. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the gunslinger to comment on that, but I'm confident it's less awesome than the EbI. The prestige class is awesome, giving you free mundane stuff (or magic stuff on rental), an undead-killing coffin that lets you trap people inside instead of pinning them, and some much-needed synergy between shooting guns and netherchannel. In exchange you can't use any [Evil] or undead-creating effects, so you lock yourself out of potential armies and such.
Twixil Night Blade: This is a class that can be accessed by EbI 6 / X 1. Other than requiring one of the worst feats in the game as a prereq, it's pretty good. It gives some ToB maneuvers which stack with IL of previous initiating classes, plus the ability to netherchannel with any ranged weapon, a little sneak attack, and some anti-undead abilities. It feels like the theme is all over the place, but it's a good class that helps you kill things and you can get in with a wide range of different builds.

Just to Browse
2014-12-16, 09:04 PM
I shouldn't need any more posts. Go ahead.

ErrantX
2014-12-17, 09:35 AM
First off, wow, thank you very much for creating a handbook on this labor of love of mine! Very touched and honored that you went through all of this trouble for my class, so very cool!

Secondly, I'd just like to add that any of the other prestige classes could easily be reversed or altered easily using this handy document (http://paizo.com/products/btpy89m6/discuss?Pathfinder-Roleplaying-Game-Conversion-Guide). Its a free download. Only one that might be an issue is the Death Marshall.

I'd say Necromera and Frostwrought are the easiest to convert (just replace Necromantic Affinity with Tomb-Tainted Soul), and Twixil Nightblade has built in conversion as well.

-X

Just to Browse
2014-12-17, 02:46 PM
Sounds good! I'll 3.5-ify the classes and run any modifications by you if they're really big. Then I'll add reviews in my next content pass.

Just to Browse
2015-02-15, 08:44 PM
I think there's a little conceptual and gameplay space that is yet to be explored by this premium necromancy class. In the interests of giving players the most possible options, I'll be adding some stuff of my own. This isn't included in the handbook above, because it's not part of the original work.

Variant Ebon Initiate Classes

Initiate of Orcus
With the power of the prince of demons, I too can escape from death.
Gain
You gain the Undead Minion class feature of the Death Master, as though you had a Death Master level equal to your Ebon Initiate level. Any time you would advance Rebuke Undead, instead advance Undead Minion equally.
Lose
Rebuke Undead, 1 invocation at level 1.

Some people want automatic undead minions, and sometimes rebuke undead is too situational or too much of a pain to use. This is designed to address both of those concerns. I removed one of the invocations at level 1 because Undead Minion is really damn strong at low levels. More so when you have infinite heals to give it.

Ebon Soldier
Death does not compromise. It does not falter.
Gain
Your hit die increases to d10. You become proficient in light, medium, and heavy armor. At level 1 you can use invocations in light and medium armor without incurring arcane spell failure, and at level 4 you can also use invocations in heavy armor without incurring arcane spell failure.
Lose
All netherchannel damage you deal is reduced by 1d6 (+1d6 at level 3, +2d6 at level 5, etc). These values are changed for all purposes except prerequisites.

The d8 hit die is painful as a regular EbI, and not getting heavy armor casting (or heavy armor proficiency at all) means you can't have effective EbI death knights. If you're a heavy knight, you probably have high strength and a big sword so you can live without the netherchannel damage. Combine this with Initiate of Orcus and you can play a Naz'Gul.

Just to Browse
2015-02-22, 10:42 PM
New Prestige Classes

The Twofold Initiate
Between the holy avenger that is the channeler, and the master of death that is the ebon initiate, there is a rare and dangerous path that few walk down. This is the path of the twofold initiate. Characters who set upon mastery of this awful pairing are gifted with strengths of both sides.

Prerequisities:

Dark Grace
Healing Light
Netherchannel +2d6 or Celestial Light +2d6


Hit Die: d8
BAB: 3/4 (as cleric)
Fort: Poor
Ref: Poor
Will: Good


Level
Special
Invocations


1
Invocations (least, lesser), twin channel
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


2
Greater channel
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


3
Imbue Item
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


4
Aspect of the endless, greater channel
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


5
Manipulation of life
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


6
Greater channel, invocations (greater, lesser, least)
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


7
Aura of devastation
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


8
Greater channel
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


9
Aspect of the endless
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


10
Greater channel
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


11
Invocations (dark, holy, greater, least, lesser)
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


12
Greater channel
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


13
Mastery of life
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


14
Aspect of the endless, greater channel
+1 level of existing invocation-using class


15
Deathless
+1 level of existing invocation-using class



Proficiencies: The twofold initiate gains no new weapon or armor proficiencies.

Invocations: At each level, the twofold initiate gains invocations and increased caster level as though he had taken a level in an invocation-using class to which he belonged before. This does not improve the character's other class features, such as their ability to use eldritch blast, celestial light, or netherchannel.

The character may choose to advance different invocation-using classes at different levels, but may not advance a given invocation-using class twice in a row.

Twin Channel: Twofold initiates channel the power of two disparate and seemingly-incompatible forces, and they pick up a few tricks to help with this. The twofold initiate no longer has a separate caster level for multiple invocation-using classes -- instead, sum the levels of all invocation-using classes or classes that advance invocations, and consider that to be the caster level of all such classes.

In addition, a twofold initiate can add his netherchannel and celestial light damage together when making an attack with either.

Michael is a Channeler 3 / Ebon Initiate 2. His caster level is 2 for Ebon Initiate invocations, and 3 for Channeler invocations. When he takes a level in Twofold Initiate, he sums the levels of each class (3 + 2 + 1 = 6) so now his caster level is 6 for both Ebon Initiate and Channeler invocations.

Samael is an Ebon Initiate 3 / Channeler 2 / Twofold Initiate 1, with the necrotic blast invocation. When he makes an attack with his necrotic blast, he can cause it to deal 2d6 negative energy + 1d6 good-aligned energy damage, even though celestial light normally could not apply to the attack.

Greater Channel: At level 2, and every 2 levels thereafter, a twofold initiate can choose to improve the damage of his netherchannel or celestial light by +1d6.

Imbue Item (Su): A twofold initiate of 8th level or higher can use his arcane and divine power to create magic items, even if he does not know the spells required to make an item (although he must know the appropriate item creation feat). He can substitute a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + spell level for all spells) in place of a required spell he doesnít know or cannot cast. If the check succeeds, the channeler can create the item as if he had cast the required spell. If it fails, he cannot complete the item. He cannot retry this Spellcraft check for that spell for one week.

Aspect of the Endless: A twofold initiate gains smaller measures of power or physical alterations that reflect his roots. At levels 4, 9, and 14 he may choose an ability from the Angelic Aspect of the channeler or a feat from the Aspect of Death of the ebon initiate.

Manipulation of Life (Su): A level 5 twofold initiate sees into the hearts of others. He can instantly identity a creature's type and alignment as a free action. He also no longer ages (though current aging penalties and bonuses still apply).

Aura of Devastation (Su): At level 7, a twofold initiate has gained powers reserved only for the great archons and the terrible nightshades. Allies within a 30 feet emanation from him gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls and save DCs. Enemies within 30 feet of him take a -2 penalty to AC and saves. All targets are considered enemies, unless a twofold initiate uses a free action to consider them allies. Creatures can negate the penalty for the next 24 hours by dealing damage to the twofold initiate.

Mastery of Life (Ex): Reaching a power nearly unheard of, a level 13 has complete control over life itself. He can communicate telepathically with any creature within 100' regardless of language or intelligence, though he still must compensate for mindlessness or low intelligence when sending a message.

Deathless: At level 15, a twofold initiate changes his type to Deathless (BoED p.157). Do not change hit dice, BAB, saves, or other hit die-dependent benefits. A twofold initiate also does not lose his Constitution score and cannot be turned or destroyed. In addition, he gains a +2 bonus to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.


Mechanically, this is a class for people who want to optimize their use of ebon initiate and channeler invocations or explore the concept beyond level 5. At low levels, you can just take levels in both classes, but you'll be knocking your access to lesser, greater, and dark/holy invocations back several levels. That plus the fact that your netherchannel / celestial light features don't stack very well makes the multiclassing very unappealing. The twofold initiate is made to open up this pairing of flavor and mechanics at every level of play. You give up some benefits like free flight, medium armor invoking, and Cha-to-X bonuses, but hopefully the benefits are worth it.