Nightlord of Moil
(Large picture spoilered to avoid width issues.)
"You look pretty. You'd be prettier with your flesh torn off and deep gouges in your bones pulsing with necromantic fire. I suggest you cooperate." Lord Sarnat, Nightlord of Moil, to a captured elven assassin.
Little is known about the ancient Kingdom of Moil, and those who know the most speak about it in hushed tones. All the whispers and legends speak of the kingdom's feared Nightlords, who gained power through carving runes on bones. And they speak of the Black Lore of Moil that remains, which some necromancers have mastered. However, even most of those who have studied the Black Lore don't realize that there are far worst remnants of Moil, and that one who studies them thoroughly can become a true Nightlord, a master of bones, runes and necromancy.
Becoming a Nightlord
Knowledge(Arcana) 10 ranks, Knowledge(Religion) 10 ranks
Black Lore of Moil (from Complete Arcane), Greater Spell Focus(necromancy)
Able to cast animate dead.
The Nightlord's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Knowledge (History) (Int), Knowledge (Religion) (Int), Knowledge (the Planes) (Int), and Spellcraft (Int)
Skills Points at Each Level:
2 + int
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Spells|
|Flexible Crafting, Bone Spells, Carved Animation, See the Lore, Runebone Modification||-|
|Improved Carved Animation, Bone Casting||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Runebone Modification, Carve the Secrets, Additional School||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Improved Carved Animation, Bone Scrolls||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Runebone Modification||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Improved Carved Animation,Additional School||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Runebone Modification,Soul Carving||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Improved Carved Animation||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Runebone Modification, Additional School||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
|Improved Carved Animation, Nightlord Ascendant||+1 level of existing spellcasting class|
: A Nightlord of Moil is proficient with the scythe but no other weapons or shields.
From 2nd level on, when a new Nightlord level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if she had also gained a level in whatever spellcasting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. This essentially means that she adds the level of Nightlord to the level of whatever other spellcasting class the character has, then determines spells per day and caster level accordingly.
If a character had more than one spellcasting class before she became a Nightlord, she must decide to which class she adds each level of Nightlord for the purpose of determining spells per day.
You may make your rune bones out of the bones of any humanoid or monstrous humanoid, not just humans. You may also make a runebone in just ten minute.
You add add the spells Boneblade and Boneblast (from the Book of Vile Darkness), and Arrow of Bone (from the Spell Compendium) to any casting class you have. Boneblade is added as a third level spell, Boneblast is added as a second level spell, and Arrow of Bone is added as a seventh level spell. If any of your casting classes usually uses spells known then you get these spells as additional spells known in that class. If you have any casting class that must prepare spells from a book or similar object then may prepare these spells from memory just as if you had Spell Mastery for those spells. Additionally, you treat your caster level as one higher for any spell that has some form of bone as a material component or focus.
At first level, Nightlords gain a unique, albeit time-consuming method of raising undead legions.
Given the skeletal remains of living being, and a knife or similarly sharp object, a Nightlord can carve runes into the bones. This process takes 10 minutes. When you complete these runes, the runes begin to glow a sickly green color, and the remains animate as a skeleton under your control.
Skeletons animated this way do not count as part of your usual control pool, but a separate control pool that may have no more than 5*class level hit die total. Also, you may not use this ability to animate a skeleton of more hit die than twice your class level.
If one has any Corpsecrafter feats, one may apply their benefits to skeletons created using this ability.
Note: If a body has a substantial amount of flesh on it one should assume that it takes generally 1 hour to strip off enough flesh in order to be able to carve the runes.
Runebone Modification (ex):
As a Nightlord progresses, they learn subtler and subtler ways of using the runebones granted by the Black Lore. At each odd level, a Nightlord learns a new way of modifying their runebones. Runebones modified this way have increased cost due to the additional special inks needed to make them, but they have the same construction time as a usual runebone. A modified spell cast with the Black Lore using a modified runebone has the usual effects of the Black Lore as well as the additional effects from the modification. You may not make runebones with more than one modification on them until you reach tenth level where you can make runebones with two modifications.
Runebone modifications available:
See the Lore(ex):
At first level, a Nightlord already understands the Black Lore far better than those foolish, weak necromancers who think they have mastered it. A Nightlord can recognize instantly on sight if a spell has been modified by the Black Lore. Moreover, for any such spell, a Nightlord gains a bonus equal to their class level on all spellcraft checks to recognize spells modified by the Black Lore, and similarly gets a +2 bonus on any save against such a spell.
Improved Carved Animation (su):
As a Nightlord gains in power, they learn additional runes that can be carved into their skeletal minions, giving them even more power. At every even level, a Nightlord learns one additional set of runes that they can carve into a skeleton. These runes must be applied as part of the animating process. A skeleton may not have more additional runes than its total hit die /3. And each set of runes adds an additional 10 minutes to the carving time. Additional runes also require special inks costing 10 gp per a hit die of the skeleton to be animated.
Skeleton rune choices:
Bone Casting (su):
Corrupting Rune: Skeletons with this rune have their claws surrounded in a black flame. Skeletons with this rune do 2d6 vile damage with every claw attack, as undead flesh forms in the wounds.
Explosive Rune: Skeletons with this rune explode in a green flash when they die, dealing 1d6 negative energy for every hit die it has to every being within 20 feet of the skeleton (DC 20 reflex save for half damage).
Fire Rune: Skeletons with this rune have their eery green flames glow more brightly. The skeleton created gains fire resistance 10 and its melee attacks deal an extra fire 2d6 damage. Additionally, any creature that makes a melee attack with a natural weapon or unarmed strike against the skeleton takes 1d6 fire damage.
Sight Rune: Skeletons with this rune can have their master see through their empty eye-sockets. You may as a standard action see what the skeleton sees. To use this ability the skeleton must be within 100 feet per a class level of you, and you only retain this sight
until the end of the next round (although you may on your next turn take a another standard action to continue watching) . This additional sight does not in any way interfere with your usual sight, you simply see both. However, while this is active, any being looking at your eyes will see empty sockets with green flame, while anyone looking at the skeleton's eyes will see your eyes. Even if you control more than one skeleton with this rune, you may not use under any circumstances activate this ability for one skeleton when you have it active for another skeleton.
Regenerating Rune: Skeletons with this rune gain fast healing 1. Additionally, when such a skeleton is destroyed there's is a 75% chance that it will reform itself 2d4 rounds later in a completely undamaged form. Skeletons with this rune may not also have the explosive rune.
Rune of Arcane Resistance: Skeletons with this rune gain spell resistance equal to your character level. Whenever they successfully resist a spell, their runes all briefly brighten.
Strength Rune: Skeletons with this rune are unusually strong and have bones which are surprisingly difficult to break. Skeletons with this rune get a bonus copy of the Toughness feat and a +4 bonus to strength.
Blasphemous Rune: Skeletons with this rune are particularly disturbing to religious individuals. They are likely to see within the green flames the shapes of holy symbols of their religion, but with the symbols damaged or turned upside down. Skeletons with this rune get +4 turn resistance (this stacks with other sources of turn resistance) and a +2 bonus on all saves against divine magic.
At 2nd level, a Nightlord learns a dark form of divination, using the bones of his enemy. A Nightlord may carve a set of dice from the bones of an intelligent creature that the Nightlord has personally slain. As a standard action, a Nightlord may throwing the dice down and read the patterns they formed. In these patterns, a Nightlord can see glimpses into the future. This effect duplicates the spell Augury as a caster of your hit die. You can use this ability up to half your class level times daily.
Carve the Secrets(su):
At third level, a Nightlord learns a unique way of interrogating the dead. This ability functions similarly to the spell Speak with Dead with effective caster level equal to their class level. However, rather than targeting a dead body, it instead targets the intact skull of the remains, which must be held by the Nightlord. Rather than give spoken answers, the answers are spelled out in small spidery cracks on the surface of the skull. When this ability terminates, the cracks from the letters spiral outwards and become deeper, causing the skull to fragment into thousands of pieces. This ability can be used half your class level times daily.
At third level, you gain the ability to apply the Black Lore to a school of magic other than necromancy. Spells modified this way are treated as being dual school spells (necromancy and the chosen school). You may only use this ability on spells that deal damage and allow saves. At sixth level and ninth level you again get an additional school.
Bone Scrolls (su):
At 4th level, a Nightlord learns how to carve scrolls into pieces of bone. These function just like normal scrolls except that they can only be read by a Nightlord.
At 7th level, when a Nightlord makes a coup de grace attack they may sacrifice a spell slot or prepared spell. If they do, they add that spell's level to the DC of the coup de grace. Furthermore, if the creature in question fails the save, then the necromantic energy runs through the body painfully destroying the flesh, peeling it off, and and carving runes into the exposed bone, finally causing all the flesh to fall off as the creature tries helplessly to scream. It becomes animated as a skeleton under the Nightlord's control just as if they had used their Carved Animation ability.
At 10th level, you become a true master of all the horrific knowledge of the ancients Nightlords. You gain three benefits from this:
First, the negative energy from when you use Black Lore becomes so potent that it can penetrate defenses against negative energy. If a being has some form of immunity or reduction in negative energy damage due to a spell or spell-like ability (such as a Death Ward effect) you can make a caster level check with a DC of 10 + the caster level of the effect. If you succeed, the negative energy damage still penetrates.
Second,you may use the Black Lore to modify a spell from any school (although again, if the spell is not a necromancy spell, it still needs to allow a save and deal damage).
Third, you get one extra spell slot of every level but your highest level. (You get more extra spell slots as your spell level continues to progress). If you have multiple spell casting classes you must choose which one this applies to. These extra spell slots can only be used to cast spells modified by the Black Lore.
Playing a Nightlord of Moil
There are those who have studied dark necromantic magic, and then there's you. You've studied forbidden lore from ancient terrible times that frightens even powerful wizards. Everyone else? They're just small fry. But if they don't seem to realize that, well they'll always make very nice skeletons.
Since Nightlords have few hit points, and weak direct combat capability, they are most effective when they send their undead minions into combat while the Nightlord uses their magic from far away.
Nightlords should be interested primarily in magic that boosts the power of their undead, or boosts the save DCs for their spells. Picking up Greater Spell Focus and possibly some of the Corpsecrafter feats can work well.
While some Nightlords may be involved in large mage guilds or the like, but the level of sheer devotion required by the path of the Black Lore prevents many from developing deep connections with guilds and the like. Some may be members of organizations that are more directly focused on necromancy and other unsavory aspects of magic. Nightlords will thus rarely have any special resources due to their class. It is possible if they learned the Black Lore from from another mage, that they might be somewhat allied with them, at least when it suits their purposes.
Nightlord's in the World
"The terror and blasphemy that they represent is mitigated by one thing: They are rare. But even one in the world is more than we need." - Telfana Silverblade, an elven paladin.
Nightlord's have been around for the many centuries since the fall of Moil. Since then, they have hidden themselves, and practiced their dark magic. The remaining Nightlords are hidden amongst the world's necromancers. You have little reason to tell people about the horrid nature of your power, and it would only be a disadvantage. Some wizards who are not specifically necromancers also have delved into the Black Lore, and have become Nightlords when they found the power involved to be too tempting. Most NPCs will not be able to distinguish between a Nightlord and a general necromancer, and won't have much reason to react different. Wizards and other spellcasters may understand the difference. Necromancers, especially those who have knowledge of the Black Lore, will likely react with either jealously or fear.
Nightlords are like many dark wizards and thus spend most of their time searching for power. You might stay inside your tower or tomb, researching arcane lore, or you might adventure to uncover long-forgotten tomes.
Lord Sarnat is a dread necromancer and Nightlord. A few years ago he took over a small barony which he now rules with an iron first. So far, there have been only minor attempts to dislodge him as he has not attempted any obvious aggressive actions and he fulfills his feudal obligations such as paying taxes.
Aman Det is a wizard and archaeologist who is one of the few Nightlords who is not evil. Aman became fascinated by rumors he heard of the ancient Nightlords, and carefully studied the few remaining ruins of Moil, from which he learned the Black Lore and so much else besides, coming to understand not just the ways of the Nightlords but also glimpses into the ancient Moilian culture. While initially he had wanted to announce his findings, it did not take long for him to realize that widespread knowledge of what Nightlord's could do would have unacceptable consequences. He now spends him time tracking down relics of Moil, learning what he can about them, and then destroying them so they cannot be used for evil.
Nalara Dekarn is attempting to create a new order of Nightlords, who will create a new empire of darkness with her at the throne. So far, she has only a handful of apprentices, and although they are all powerful necromancers, the apprentices have barely progressed along the path of the Black Lore. Currently, Nalara is studying to become a lich so she can extend her plans out even further. She is also currently studying ways in which it might be possible for multiple Nightlords to work together to combine their abilities to make more powerful skeletons. If she succeeds, she and her apprentices may control nearly unstoppable undead.
Since the fall of the Kingdom of Moil millennia ago, there has been no large organized collection of Nightlords. Occasionally, a Nightlord attempts to make a new organization of Nightlords. These have generally fallen to adventurers when they get to ambitious or have fallen amongst themselves as backstabbing, betrayal, and paranoia have their usual impact on evil mages.
Few have heard of anything about Nightlords other than vague legends of the damned Kingdom of Moil. Even many who have heard rumors of the surviving Black Lore do not realize that true Nightlords exist. Practitioners of the Black Lore are by themselves seen almost all good and neutral individuals as horrific beings. They are likely to be extremely hostile if they find out someone is a Nightlord. Even many evil necromancers will react negatively for they will be jealous and fearful of the power that Nightlords wield.
Nightlords in the Game
A Nightlord will generally function similarly to a necromancer. They will be able to construct large armies of undead while staying back and using their magic to assail their foes. The DM can probably treat them as they would any other spellcaster.
The Nightlord can be easily put into many settings with few changes. One might connect them to specific religions or groups. In the Eberron setting, one might have the Nightlords be members of the Blood of Vol, while in Forgotten Realms, Myrkul and similar deities might be patrons. One can also broaden or alter the types of magic allowed. Thus for example, one could with minimal change make a Black Lore of Moil metashadow feat and replace the requirement to animate dead with the ability to use a fourth level mystery. One could also change the class to allow warlocks to enter, again using a modified version of the feat.
Good PCs are most likely to encounter a Nightlord as a major villain. Evil PCs might find work with a Nightlord, or could encounter a Nightlord as an antagonist if they have different goals.