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

2019-01-18, 11:53 AM
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 rotting undead 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 Un death, the Pale Master is an individual who seeks a quick and easy route to necromancer power. Not wanting to waste time studying musty old tomes, Pale Masters instead put themselves through the horrific ordeal or removing one of their limbs or organs and replacing it with a similar body part from a particularly powerful or corrupted undead. This depraved act grants them power over the undead comparable to the most learned wizard, but at the cost of leaving them forever tainted by their foul graft.

While most Pale Masters are twisted individuals seeking an easy route to necromantic power, there are an unlucky few who are instead given the powers of a Pale Master against their will. Many mad necromancers delight in the morbid possibilities that grafting undead body parts or undead organs onto or into their test subjects may hold, and you may have been one of these unfortunate lab rats. However, regardless of whether you sought out your powers or where given them against your will, they are fundamentally twisted and corrupting. While you may not be a villain, you constantly struggle against depraved, morbid urges that creep into your mind from the necrotic taint your graft pumps through your body. Whether you end up a tortured anti-hero or foul villain depends largely on whether or not you gain control of your dark magics, or let them control you. However, no matter your origin or outlook, you are a master reanimator who commands both the powers of both death and undeath.

Macabre Secrects

The Necrotic bile coursing through your body contains the power to produce necromantic effects beyond the scope of traditional Sorcery. 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 on the Wizard list of levels you can cast, or the Sorcerer list.

Additionally, you can also harness the taint contained within you to bring undead under your control. Once per short or long rest, you can spend 2 sorcery points to target an undead creature within 30ft and force it to make a Wisdom saving throw against your Sorcerer Spell Save DC. On a failed save, the target must obey your commands for 24 hours, or until you use this feature again. Undead whoes CRs equal or exceed your Sorcerer level are immune to this effect.

Undead Graft

The source of your power is your undead graft, a foul limb, organ, or other body part from a particular powerful or tainted undead that you have grafted into or into your own body. Typically, this is a skeleton or zombie arm that replaces one of your own, though it can take any form you wish (such as a vampire heart replacing your own, or one of your eyes being replaced by an undeadís eye).

Regardless of the form it takes, your graft corrupts your body, pumping necrotic bile through it and giving it the unnatural toughness of an undead creature. Starting at 1st level, your AC equals 13 + your Dexterity modifier as long as you are wearing no armor and carrying shield. Additionally, you have advantage on saving throws against spells and other effects that deal poison damage or inflict the poisoned condition.

Lord of the Dead

Starting at 6th level, you become a peerless master of the art of raising and controlling undead. When you cast a Necromancy spell to reassert control over undead you created (Such as Animate Dead or Create Undead), you can expend any number of sorcery points to cast it as if using a spell slot one level higher for each point expended, to a maximum of one spell level higher than the highest spell level to which you have access. Additionally, undead you summon, raise, or create gain the following additional benefits:

They add your Sorcerer Level to their hit point maximums
They add your proficiency bonus to their weapon damage rolls.
Pale Masterís Touch

At 14th level you learn how to Channel Necrotic Power from your undead graft into your touch, allowing you to kill enemies and raise them as undead minions. As an action, you can make a melee spell attack using your Sorcerer spell attack modifier. If the attack hits, it deals Necrotic damage equal to Ĺ your Sorcerer level level of d6ís + Charisma modifier. Any medium size humanoid that dies as a result of this touch attack rises as a zombie under your control. Once you use this feature, you cannot do so again until you finish a short or long rest.

Zone of Desecration

At 18th level, you gain the power to desscrate an area of land, making undead raised there stronger. Once per long-test, you may create a 20 foot radius area of desecrated land with a 10 minute ritual. For the next hour, any undead created there (such as with Animate Dead or Create Undead) has a Strength 2 higher than it had in life (to a maximum of 20) and treats itís weapon attacks as magical for the purpose of bypassing resistance.

2019-01-21, 02:57 PM
Necromancy is always fun, so lets unpack what we have here.

Macabre Secrects

A good start here, expanding the spell list is pretty much required for sorcerous necromancy and the undead control lets you start minionmancy right away.

Undead Graft

The flavor is a little wierd for sorcerers, who are all about cultivating innate talent. Perhaps it could read more that thier innate connection to necrotic forces are twisting thier body to closer resemble that of an undead? In any case, mechanically this is draconic resilliance by another name, so not all that interesting. Perhaps instead you could do the following to increase survivability;

As a Reaction to taking damage, you may gain Resistance to all Piercing, Slashing, Bludgeoning, Poison and/or Necrotic damage dealt by a single attack.

Lord of the Dead

This is basicly the wizard necromancy feature, but better. I would drop the bit about upcasting beyond your highest level, as it unbalances things and stops working once you unlock 9th level slots anyway (10th+ level spells plain dont exist in 5e). In any case, rather then copy what wizards can do, it'd be more flavorful to build off something like "your innate connection to death allows you to command your minions like an extension of your own body".

Perhaps the following;

"As an action you may select a single undead creature under your control and assume direct control of its body. While controlling a minion in this way, you effectively "become" that creature, using its statblock in place of your own, with the following modifications;

The creature gains bonus hp equal to 4 times your sorcerer level

You use the creatures physical ability scores, but retain your own mental ability scores.
You retain your own proficiency bonus and proficiencies, and gain proficiency with all attacks and equipment listed in the creature's statblock for the duration.

You retain the ability to speak, and can even cast spells if the controlled creature is of a humanoid body type.

Only mindless undead such as Skelletons and Zombies may be controlled by this ability. Your control lasts until you undertake a Long Rest, 24 hours pass, or you take another Action to end the control, whichever comes first.

When controlling a minion in this way, your actual body is left semi-conscious and vulnerable. Your body is treated as being both blind and deaf, and while you may not directly move or command your body until you drop control it can be physically guided by another character to perform simple tasks such as eating, drinking, sitting down or waliking at no more than half your normal speed.

Once you have used this ability, you may not do so again until undergoing a Long Rest."

This way, sorc necromancers have more numerous minions(thanks to sorcery point command refresh) plus the ability to more safely command them from a distance, wheras wizard necromancers have less numerous, but more powerful minions.

Pale Masterís Touch

Looks good as-is

Zone of Desecration

I would specify that the bonus is to the undead's strength, as 5e necromancy is limited to raising specific creatures that have statblocks for undead variants, as opposed to the tempates used in 3e/3.5. Otherwise it looks good.

2019-01-23, 11:58 AM
I donít like your idea for the 6th Level Feature; Sorcs actually donít get more undead than wizards even with the Sorcerery point conversion because they get 2 undead per-cast. So with your suggested change the Sorc would be STRICTLY WORSE than the wizard on ALL FRONTS, which is not where I want the subclass to be. That being said, I like your idea about having the Sorc be about numbers instead of power, so how would something like this look for a 6th Level Feature?

Lord of the Dead

At 6th level, you learn how to control more undead than other spellcasters and heal them with your necrotic magics. When you cast a spell to reassert control over undead you created (such as Animate Dead or Create Undead), you can spend sorcery points to have that spell reassert control over 2 additional undead for each point spent. When you gain this feature at 6th level you can only spend 1 point this way, however at each Sorcerer level you gain access to a new spell level this limit increases by 1, to a maximum of 6 points at 17th level. However, when using this feature with spells above 3rd level you reduce this point maximum by 1 for each level about 3rd. (So for example, at 7th level you could spend 2 points when casting a 3rd level Animate Dead, but only 1 when casting a 4th level Animate Dead.) Additionally, when an undead creature you control would be dealt necrotic damage by a spell of 1st level higher you cast, it instead regains hit points equal to half the damage dealt.
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If you like this concept of not only controlling more undead, but healing them with necrotic damage, then I thought of an alternative 14th level feature that replace the touch attack and pair nicely with this idea for a 6th level feature to make this archetype focused on being a pet lord + necrotic blaster hybrid, in true blaster sorc fashion. I have no idea how balanced it is, though, the the sorcery point cost on the self-heal side of it may be too much. I'd appreciate thoughts on both that point cost, and the feature's general balance. It would look something like this...

Master Debaser

At 14th level the undead taint within you swells to an all-time high, making necrotic magics deadly in your hands. When you cast a Sorcerer spell that deals necrotic damage, you can add your Charisma modifier to that spell's damage roll. If you do this, you can spend 1 sorcery point to regain hit points equal to half the damage dealt by that spell.