Hey, I'm making my first attempt at homebrewing a class here, and I'm not sure how I've done for balance. The idea of the class is basically a semi-undead cleric with the ability to turn into a living shadow and drain the energy from its enemies to fuel its fairly-limited spellcasting. So, even though it has full spellcasting progression, it has the spells known of a sorcerer, and even at level 20 can only cast one 9th-level spell in combat before having to stop casting to recharge (barring special abilities that change that).
So that's the idea I had in mind, but seeing as it's my first attempt ever to homebrew a class, I'm sure I've made a bunch of mistakes. By all means, please feel free to point them out to me so I can make this work better.
Typically servants of a god of death, shadepriests give up their humanity to further their god's will.
Shadepriests are primarily spellcasters, with a natural ability to drain power from enemy creatures to fuel their spellcasting. They have undergone a terrible ritual to split their soul into two pieces, and the severed piece eventually gains the power to take their place and move about on its own. Wisdom is highly important to shadepriests, as their spellcasting relies on it, as well as Dexterity and Constitution.
Shadepriests worship a deity, most commonly those with the death domain. The shadepriest's alignment must be within one step of his deity's, and he may not serve good deities.
Shadepriests are frequently detested by clerics of good deities and paladins. They often get along well with other classes that have given up something for their power, especially warlocks, and are indifferent to most others.
Class skills (4+Int modifier per level, x4 at 1st level):
|1st||+0||+0||+2||+2||Split Soul, Essence Drain 1||3|
|2nd||+1||+0||+3||+3||Darkvision 60 ft.||3|
|5th||+3||+1||+4||+4||Essence Drain 2||6|
|10th||+7/+2||+3||+7||+7||Essence Drain 3||9|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+5||+9||+9||Essence Drain 4||13|
|20th||+15/+10/+5||+6||+12||+12||Essence Drain 5||17|
Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Disguise, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), Knowlege (the planes), Listen, Move Silently, Profession, Spellcraft, Spot
Weapon and Armor proficiency:
Shadepriests are proficient with all simple weapons, plus heavy picks, scythes, sickles, and shortswords. Shadepriests are proficient with no armor or shields (though wearing armor does not interfere with their ability to cast shadepriest spells).
A shadepriest casts divine spells drawn primarily from the cleric spell list. He knows a number of spells of each level indicated in the table, Shadepriest Spells Known (below). He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time, the way a wizard or cleric must. Each spell he casts subtracts an amount of essence from his essence total equal to the spell's level. He cannot cast spells he does not have enough essence for. He automatically receives cure and inflict spells of his highest spell level as bonus spells.
To cast a spell, a shadepriest must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a shadepriest’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the shadepriest’s Wisdom modifier.
A shadepriest's essence is restored to full after resting.
A shadepriest may not cast spells unless they are physically in contact with their token (see below).
A shadepriest may not cast a spell with a spell level more than the highest level spell he currently knows (for example, an 11th-level shadepriest could not cast a maximized searing light spell, because that would be equivalent to a 6th-level spell, and the highest-level spell he knows is 5th), though he may use scrolls and other magic devices as normal.
Shadepriest Spells Known
At first level, the shadepriest may undergo a ritual taking 24 hours to split his soul into an object called a token. Until he does so, his maximum essence total is 0, and he does not gain any shadepriest class abilities. A token can be any small nonmagical object that the shadepriest can carry around on his person, such as a ring, bracelet, or a bead on a necklace. The token faintly radiates magic, but is otherwise typical for an object of its kind.
If the token is destroyed, the shadepriest loses all shadepriest class abilities and his current and maximum essence become 0. The class abilities and maximum essence are restored when the shadepriest creates another token.
After undergoing this ritual, the shadepriest is healed by negative energy and harmed by positive energy, as undead are.
A shadepriest in possession of his token has the ability to gain essence by draining the life forces of other creatures. By default, this is a touch attack requiring a standard action which, if successful, causes the shadepriest to regain 1 essence and deals 1d4 damage to the target per essence gained. He gains his dexterity bonus as a bonus to this attack. The amount of essence regained increases by one at level 5 and again at every fifth level thereafter. This ability may be further augmented as the shadepriest levels up and chooses new special abilities (see below). The shadepriest may not gain more than his maximum essence with this ability.
At fourth level, the fragment of the shadepriest's soul inside the token gains enough power to take the shadepriest's place for a short time, in a form called a Shade. If carrying his token and no more than a medium load, the shadepriest and everything he carries may transform into a free-floating, shadowy wisplike creature for a number of rounds equal to 3 + 1/2 the shadepriest's level, rounded down. Taking this form is a standard action, and it cannot be dispelled. The shadepriest may dismiss the shade form as a free action before its time expires. After returning to its normal form, the shadepriest may not return to shade form for 1d4-1 rounds. If the shadepriest returns to a corporeal form while inside of a solid object, he is shunted to the nearest empty square and takes 1d6 damage per 10 ft. of movement this way. If he is in the air after returning to corporeal form, he falls. Make the following changes while in shade form:
Type changes to Undead (Incorporeal)
Undead and incorporeal traits, except that if reduced to 0 hit points, rather than being destroyed the Shade form immediately ends.
Lose ability to physically interact with non-incorporeal objects (including weapons)
Cannot cast spells or use spell-like abilities
Fly speed of 10ft. + base speed or fly speed (if any), whichever is higher
+10 hide bonus in dark environments
At 7th level, the shadepriest gains immunity to all mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, and death effects.
At 11th level, the shadepriest is no longer subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. It is also immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution). He no longer needs to eat, sleep, or breathe, and he may gain the effects of a full rest by meditating for four hours. He no longer suffers penalties due to aging.
At 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the shadepriest gains one of the special abilities from the list below. He may not select the same ability more than once unless specified.
: the shadepriest may use his Essence Drain ability while in Shade form (even against corporeal creatures).
Controlled Essence Drain
: the shadepriest's Essence Drain ability becomes a ranged touch attack with a +2 bonus and a range of 25 ft. +5 ft./level.
: Once per turn, whenever the shadepriest casts a spell that targets a non-willing creature in range of his Essence Drain, he may immediately Essence Drain the target as a free action, but draining two less essence than usual (minimum 1).
Empower Essence Drain
: the shadepriest's Essence Drain ability drains one additional essence (as well as increasing all effects based on amount of essence drained). This special ability may be chosen any number of times.
: the shadepriest may stay in Shade form for 1 minute/level. His Shade form also gains Improved Evasion and Energy Resistance equal to 1/2 his shadepriest level rounded down against one type of energy chosen when he takes Shade form.
: Once per turn, if the shadepriest makes a successful weapon attack against a target within range of his essence drain, he may immediately use his essence drain against that target as a free action. If successful, the target gains one negative level.
: the shadepriest's maximum essence increases by 3. This special ability may be chosen any number of times.
: every round, the shadepriest recovers one essence. This special ability may be chosen any number of times, and each time increases the amount of essence regained per round by one.
: the shadepriest may cast shadepriest spells while in shade form.
Vicious Essence Drain
: the shadepriest's Essence Drain deals 2d6 points of damage per point of essence drained.
Withering Essence Drain
: the shadepriest may choose to deal 1 point of constitution damage per point of essence drained instead of normal damage.
I like the idea of mix-and-match classes, where you're presented with a lot of options. I could probably also stand to have a few more options down there, but I ran out of ideas. Each one of these abilities should be a game-changer. So, for instance, a shadepriest might be an archer with controlled essence drain, enervating strike, and withering essence drain, to become an awesome constitution-damage-and-negative-level-dealing ranged guy. Or he could totally focus on the drain itself, and take, say, chilling shadow, empower essence drain, and vicious essence drain to become an incorporeal guy with a pretty decent damage output. Or, he could take enhanced essence, rejuvenating spirit, and drainspell devouring, to become a pretty good spellcaster. Chilling Shadow, Enduring Shadow, and Spellshade together makes him a fairly savvy combatant who is constantly incorporeal. I like that these are all pretty decent builds and they come from the same class. Though, I'm still in the air on whether I should rearrange the distribution of special abilities so that he gets 4, or if I should leave it at 3 like it is now.
EDIT: added drainspell devouring and rules to prevent unlimited metamagic cheese, but I'm not sure they're necessary. What do you guys think?