Alright, firstly, I see you’re wondering what a ‘flavor-class’ is – well, it’s a new class which uses the mechanics of an old one! This is so for two reasons: firstly, the folks at WOTC have done a great job with their classes already in my opinion – the mechanics are sound and I don’t want to mess with them too much. Secondly, making a class like this means that any tight-fisted DMs will be more likely to let you use the class in game!
The following class is based off of the paladin class, found in the PHB1. This means that, unless otherwise noted, you’ll be using the stats for that class. There are some mechanical changes found herein, but this is an example of how a class can be very different with just a change of flavor.
So, without further adieu, introducing….
“I am the omega, champion of life’s conclusions. Your vitality is forfeit, your death is my pleasure.”
Power source: Necrotic. You are a life-drinker, your very touch can weaken and corrode.
Key abilities: Intelligence, Charisma, Wisdom.
Armor profiencies: Cloth, leather, hide, chainmail, scale, plate*; light shield, heavy shield. *(see special)
Weapon proficiencies: Simple melee, military melee, simple ranged.
Implements: Maces, wands.
Bonus to defense: +1 Fortitude, +1 Reflex, +1 Will
Hit Points at 1st level: 15 + Constitution score
Hit Points gained level: 6
Healing surges per day: 10 + Constitution modifier
Trained Skills: Religion. From the class skills list below, choose three more trained skills at first level.
Class skills: Arcana (Int), Bluff (Cha), Endurance (Con), Heal (Wis), History (Int), Insight (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Perception (Wis).
Special: A necromancer’s armor may not be of the conventional sort – instead of spending money to buy unreliable metal armaments, a necromancer may purchase or find certain regents or spell components that allow them to create hardened bone armor, or encase their bodies in swirling spirits who’s incorporeal nature passes much damage coming their way off into the shadowfell or some forgotten realm. Of course, this special armor would have the same cost and benefits of its more mundane counterparts, but fits with the character idea much more readily.
Students of death and the dying arts, necromancers are feared opponents on the battlefield, excelling in pain, weakness and the trade of life. To them, vitality is little more than a currency to be borrowed or stolen from enemies, and then utilized for their own ends. Often fearsome to behold, to see one wading through your front lines is often enough to sink even the most ardent hearts.
Though fuelled by necrotic energies, your real power comes from your own self-belief: not only are you strong enough of will to wield such potent, forbidden magic, but it is yours by right! Where others waver and wonder, your motivation is pure and simple, and your confidence is your strength. While others bicker and argue about sentiments like morality or virtue, you’re putting your not inconsiderable talents toward getting the job done; whatever it is you’ve decided that job entails.
Show the forces that oppose you the folly of their convictions for, just as death is inevitable, so too is your indomitable will!
Creating a Necromancer
Necromancers are intelligent, sly and willful individuals; as such, they rely most on the Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores, though a little Constitution will certainly help your necromancer stay in the battle for longer. Depending on what drives your necromancer, these dark exemplars often focus on besting their foes in the physical world, or calling on their allies from other realms.
Reaping Necromancer (as per Avenging Paladin)
Your foes fall before you like the chaff at harvest. Each enemy you end only spurs you onward to further victories!
Gravetongue Necromancer (as per Protecting Paladin, with bluff instead of diplomacy)
Though all necromancer’s may commune with the dead, you have a particular talent for commanding the spirits which surround us all.
Necromancers often use a physical focus to draw power from the shadowfell and other places. Like other spellcasters, necromancers may use a wand as such a focus, but it is the mace, a symbol of subjugation and raw power, that has come to represent this dark character more than any other weapon.
Necromancers and Deities
Necromancers are not usually born so, and many come to their unique talents through solo research, or at the guidance of a secretive cabal or lone tutor. Many serve more powerful beings such as Orcus, Vecna or Asmodeus, though some serve no deities, only themselves. These individuals, driven by their own wills and desires, are not bound by dogma or ritual, and as such often find themselves with power not possessed by their more subservient counterparts.
Good necromancers are fewer still, and more often fall under the category of ‘reformed’. These individuals seek to turn their talents against their former allies, or even against their past deities! Though often mistrusted by those they would adventure with, a necromancer is not unaccustomed to cold receptions, as well as overcoming great tasks alone.
Necromancer class features
Necrotic Surge (as per the Paladins ‘Channel Divinity’ power)
Oncer per encounter, the necromancer calls upon long dead spirits or pure necrotic energy which they then bend to their will.
Necrotic Surge: Dispell Afflictionas per ‘Divine Mettle’, with Intelligence subsituted for Charisma)
With a vast knowledge of things that cause pain and weakness, you put your talents into removing such an affliction, rather than causing it.
Necrotic Surge: Spirit Linked (as per ‘Divine Strength’, with Charisma substituted for Strength)
Incensed by your will alone, nearby spirits drive your next attack home.
Deathmark (as per the Paladins ‘Divine Challenge’ feature)
With a wave of your hand, a nearby enemy is seared with a symbol unique to each necromancer; no matter the creature’s ability to communicate or percieive the word around them, all beings understand the empty chill that means they have been chosen for death.
Transfer life (as per the Paladins ‘Lay on Hands’ feature)
Understanding that, on rare occasions, others may need to be relied upon, the necromancer siphons some of their own life to ensure an ally remains standing.
Necromancer powers are called siphons – that is, they siphon energy from elsewhere; either from the shadowfell, nearby corpses, or from their enemies themselves! They are also attuned to the echoes of life that surround us all. These ‘spirits’ can be used in a myriad of ways, and are often the source of some potent siphons.
When manifesting itself, a necromancer’s necrotic energy could be green and swirling, red and stark, purple, screaming skulls or whatever you like. As it is driven by the will of the caster themselves, most necromancers have their own, particular signature that emerges by itself.
Though based on the paladin prayers, anywhere you see the Strength modifier used in your PHB, substitute the Intelligence modifier for your necromancer. Furthermore, substitue ‘necrotic’ anytime you see ‘divine’ or ‘radiant’ used as a keyword.
Level 1 At-Will Siphons
Life Drain (as per Bolstering Strike)
As you beat your enemy into submission, you steal their life force, using it to remain standing long enough to beat them some more.
Sapping blow (as per Enfeebling Strike)
Your enemies are not only left bleeding from your attacks, they find you take a portion of their vitality as payment for the honor of standing against you.
Death seeker (as per Holy Strike)
Your weapon finds your enemy more readily, driven by your solemn promise to bring the creature peace eternal.
Vengeful guidance (as per Valiant Strike)
The fools think they have you trapped, but with so much raw life around you, it’s like being in a candy store… of death.
Level 1 Encounter Siphons
Softened resolve (as per Fearsome Smite)
With the touch of your weapon, your opponent feels the cold inevitability of their own grave; suddenly their own weapon feels heavier in their hands as their strength falters.
Incorporeal Attack (as per Piercing Smite)
Your weapon becomes momentarily etherieal, passing through armor as if it didn’t exist. As it collides with an enemy, it releases spirits trapped between words who seek out and inhabit the necromancer’s enemies.
Grave barrage (as per Radiant Smite)
Your weapon is driven forward by the presence of life-hating spirits who wish to share their burden of death.
Entrails’ armor (as per Shielding Smite)
As parts of your enemy are disjointed from the whole by your weapon, you use their essence to form a makeshift breastplate for a nearby ally.
Level 1 Daily Siphons
Bone talon (as per On Pain Of Death)
A crushing hand of bone rips through the ether and grasps one of your enemies, reaching deep into their flesh. The bone has but one command; bring the pain to those who seek you harm.
Vital transference (as per Paladin’s Judgment)
With the touch of your weapon, you steal the life force of an enemy, and send it to someone you deem more worthy.
Soul beacon (as per Radiant Delirium)
There are many malicious spirits in the world, and you convince them to turn their hatred toward an enemy; the feast is on. Flitting between corporeal and incorporeal forms, they stab, grab, bite and tear at your foe, and their horrible countenance remains with your enemy long after they have disappeared.
So, there you have it, the first level of a new flavor-class! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know. Perhaps there is another class you’d like to see rediscovered, or maybe you’d like some more of the paladin’s powers flavored-up this way? I’d love to know what you think if you’ve played this class in your own game.