View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Sorcererous Origin: Pale Master (Revised)

2017-11-29, 05:04 PM

"The Blackest Night falls from the skies, The darkness grows as all light dies, We crave your hearts and your demise, By my black hand — The dead shall rise!" — Black Hand

Necromancy. Few other magics inspire as much revulsion, dread...and fascination, as this black art. The ability to command the forces of death and animate shambling armies of the dead is a temptation that lures a many depraved individuals, and of them the Pale Master is perhaps the most foul. While Necromancy specialist wizards spend years devoted to the study of undeath, the Pale Master is an individual who seeks a quick and easy route to necromancer power, gaining mastery over the undead comparable to the most learned wizard in one, terrible act of depravity. To be a Pale Master is to become undeath, willingly tainting yourself with necrotic energies so you may bend them to your will. How you assumed this taint is something intimate and personal to you; many aspiring Pale Masters actively seek out undead, locking themselves in desecrated tombs for days on end in the hope that the foul necrotic energies within forever corrupt them. Others may take a more gruesome road, such as pledging themselves to Orcus in a depraved act or evil or consuming the flesh of a particularly powerful or tainted undead.

While most Pale Masters are twisted individuals seeking an easy route to necromantic power, there are an unlucky few who are instead cursed with the powers of a Pale Master. Such an individual could be the child of adventurers, born on one of their many quests into a desecrated or undead infested location. Or perhaps they could be somebody cursed by Orcus, Velsheroon or another deity of Undeath. However, regardless of whether you sought out your powers or where cursed with them, they are fundamentally twisted and corrupting. While you may not be a villain, you constantly struggle against depraved, morbid urges that fester within your psyche. Whether you end up a tortured anti-hero or force of evil depends largely on whether or not you let the taint of your magic consume your mind completely....whether you gain control of your dark magics or let them control you. However, no matter your origin or outlook, you are a living font of necrotic energies and a master reanimator, able to effortlessly channel necrotic power and raise the dead to serve you.

Fundamentals of Necromancy

Due to the twisted origins of your magic, you learn how to wield necromantic spells beyond the scope of traditional sorcerery. Starting at 1st level, when your spellcasting feature lets you select a Sorcerer cantrip or Sorcerer spell known, you can choose that spell from all Necromancy spells of levels to which you have access, or the Sorcerer spell list. Any spells you select this way become Sorcerer spells for you.

Additionally, you gain a basic understanding of undead animation, allowing you to raise simple skeletons to act as your personal servants. As a 10 minute ritual, you can create up to two skeletons from corpses within 30ft. These skeletons have an AC of 10, a Strength score of 8 and 1 HP, and cannot attack or speak. You can only have two such skeletons accompanying you at any time.

Once on each of your turns as a bonus action, you can order these skeletons to move up to 15ft and interact with objects. They can perform simple tasks that a humanoid servant could do, such as fetching things, serving food or pouring wine. These skeletons performs the task to the best of their ability, or until they completes the task, and then wait for their next command. If you give them a command that would cause them to move more than 60ft away from you, they wait at the edge of that 60ft for another command.

Starting at 5th level, you can command these skeletal servants and all other undead under your control with the same bonus action. Starting at 17th level, you can raise 4 of these skeletal servants, and may be accompanied by 4 of them at once.

Taint of the Grave

Also at 1st level, your innate necrotic power warps you physically, making you more like an undead creature. You gain resistance to poison damage and cannot have your hit point maximum reduced. However, when you would be healed by a spell that normally cannot target undead (such as Cure Wounds), you only heal 1/2 the damage you would heal normally. Additionally, starting at 2nd level, when you or undead under your control would be dealt necrotic damage by a Sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher you cast, you can spend 1 Sorcery point to have those creatures heal damage equal to 1/2 the damage they would be dealt instead


Starting at 6th level, you master the art of undead animation. You gain Animate Dead as a bonus spell known. For you, Animate Dead is a Sorcerer spell, and does not count against your maximum Sorcerer spells known. (as-per the spells known column of the Sorcerer table.) When you cast the spell Animate Dead, it targets 1 additional corpse or bone pile and creates 1 additional skeleton or zombie. (as applicable). Additionally, when you cast a spell that create one or more undead creatures (such as Animate Dead or Create Undead), that spell gains the following additional effects:

The undead this spell creates add your Sorcerer level to their hit point maximums.
The undead this spell creates add an additional d4 to their weapon damage rolls. At 15th level, this increases to an additional d8.
If you spend 2 sorcery points when you cast this spell, the undead it creates add your Charisma modifier to any saving throws they make.
Necrotic Burst

At 14th level, you gain the power to harvest the necrotic energies that animate your undead minons and combined them with your innate magic in violent explosions of negative energy. As a bonus action on your turn, you can spend up to 5 sorcery point to target an undead creature under your control and make it explode, reducing it to 0 hit points and killing it instantly. When an undead explodes as a result of this feature, all non-undead creatures within 5ft of that undead must make a Constitution save vs. your Sorcerer Spell Save DC.

On a failed save they gain vulnerability to Necrotic damage for 1, and take Necrotic damage equal to 4d6 + the number of hit points the undead had before it exploded, plus an additional 1d6 necrotic damage for each Sorcery point spent. On a successful save they take half as much damage and gain no vulnerability from this feature. Any undead under your control who would take damage from this feature gains temporary hit points equal to 1/2 the damage they would take instead. These temporary hit points last until you finish a long rest.

If an undead creature under your control would be lowered to 0 or less hit points, you can use this feature as a reaction instead of a bonus action if you target that undead. Once you use this feature, you cannot do so again until you finish a short or long rest.

Command the Dead

Starting at 18th level, you can use your innate necrotic power to bring undead under your control, even those created by other spellcasters. When you do this, you force one undead creature you can see within 60ft to make a Charisma saving throw against your Sorcerer spell save DC. If it succeeds, you can’t use this feature on it again. If it fails, it becomes friendly to you and obeys your commands until you use this feature again.

Intelligent undead are harder to control in this way. If the target has an Intelligence of 8 or higher, it has advantage on the saving throw. If it fails the saving throw and has an Intelligence of 12 or higher, it can repeat the saving throw at the end of every hour until it succeeds and breaks free.

In addition, once per short or long rest, you can use this feature without losing control of an undead creature you've already used it on, but you may only do this once until you either voluntarily give up control of one or one of them is destroyed (So, you'll never have command of more than two creatures).

The following feats where desgined specifically for Pale Masters. The aim of these feats is expanding the versatility and power the Pale Master has with undead minion-mastery and general necromancy, making it the "strongest", but also most specialized/limited/focused necromancer option in the game. Since sorcerers are generally worse casters than wizards and clerics, thes options should hopefully make it excell at necromancy in ways wizards and clerics can't, making it an appealing option as a necromancer despite it's severely limited spells known. It also allows for the old, flavorful Undead Graft feature of the Pale Master class to exist in 5e as an option, but not something all Pale Masters decide to take, as not all those who wield innate Necrotic power would automatically decide to replace one of their limbs with an undead one. So without further hesitation, the feats!

Aura of Desecration

Prerequisites: Pale Master sorcerer origin, ability to cast Animate Dead as a Sorcerer spell.

Benefits: You learn how to draw upon your own life force to unleash the necrotic energies within you, creating a foul aura that empowers and augments the undead under your control. You gain the following benefits:

As an action, you can activate your Aura of Desecration. When you do this, you select any of the Desecration Powers listed below; as long as your Aura of Desecration is active, undead under your control within 30ft gain the benefits of your selected Desecration Powers. You can dismiss any active Desecration Power, or your entire Aura of Desecration, at any time without using an action of any kind. Your Aura of Desecration demands a sacrifice of life force to maintain; at the start of each of your turns, you must pay the listed hit point cost of each active Desecration power.

Desecration Powers

Aura of Vengence
Hit Point Cost: 2 HP
Benefit: All affected undead may make attacks of opportunity against creatures within touch range when they make melee weapon attacks or melee spell attacks.

Aura of Dread
Hit Point Cost: 2 HP
Benefit: All affected undead become more terrifying to your enemies. Any hostile creature that starts its turn or moves within 5ft of an affected undead must make a Wisdom saving throw against your Sorcerer Spell Save DC or become frightened of that undead for 1 minute. They may repeat this save at the end of each of their turns or whenever they take damage. If they succeed on their save, they become immune to this effect for 24 hours. Any creatures that are frightened when this aura ends or is dismissed stop being frightened.

Aura of Bloodlust
Hit Point Cost: 3 HP
Benefit: All affected undead have advantage on their non-spell attack rolls.

Undead Graft

Prerequisites: Pale Master Sorcerer origin, at least 15 levels of Sorcerer.

Benefits: You give into your horrible necrophilic urges and remove one of your arms, replacing it with an undead appendage that can either be a skeletal arm or a zombie arm. This undead graft grants you the following benefits:

You increase your Strength score increases by 1, to a maximum of 20.
You gain several touch attacks. As an action, you can make a melee spell attack (using your Sorcerer spell attack bonus) with your undead arm. If the attacks hits, you can spend sorcery points to use one of the following special attacks:

Paralyzing Touch. You may spend 2 sorcery points to force your opponent to make a Constitution saving throw vs. your Sorcerer Spell Save DC. On failed save, they are paralyzed for one round, but they can make a saving throw with advantage whenever they are damaged to end this effect on themselves.

Degenerative Touch. You may spend a number of sorcery points up to 5 and deal a d8 of necrotic damage per point spent to a foe. When you do this, they also make a Constitution saving throw vs. your Sorcerer Spell Save DC. If they succeed, they take half the damage they would be dealt. If they fail, they take the full amount of damage and their hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage dealt.

Deathless Master’s Touch. You may spend a number of sorcery points up to 5 and deal a d6 of necrotic damage per point to the target. When you do this, they also make a Constitution saving throw vs. your Sorcerer Spell Save DC. If they succeed, they take half the damage they would be dealt. If you slay a Medium humanoid in this way, they rise 1 round later as a zombie under your control.

This has gone through several revisions and now I feel it is in somewhat of a good place. However, while that may be the case, I also am unsure still on it's balance. The idea behind it is that I wanted a way to play a charisma-based minionmaster Necromancer in 5e D&D, and the sorcerer seemed like the most fit platform. Since the sorcerer's casting is strictly worse than the wizard's, the idea behind the archetype is that when all its options come togther, it should be a better necromancer than the wizard. It trades the versasatility of the necro-wizard for more raw power when it comes to necromancy and hoard-mastering, much like the Dread Necromancer of 5e.

However, as I said, I am unsure of the balance on some of the features and feats, so any/all advice is appreciated!