New Class for ACKS: Zaharan Necromancer

After the first fatality in our Adventurer Conqueror King System game the player of our sadly departed thief asked if there was any way he could play a necromancer. I did some experimenting with the ACKS Player's Companion and came up with the following class. It's balanced per the class creation rule but with only one session so far I can't yet vouch for how well it works in play, though we had no issues in that session. The Zaharan Necromancer has some inspiration from the Death Master of Dragon Magazine 76. by Lenard Lakofka. I might try an alternate version more alchemical in nature as was that class.  The background for this class is from the version of Zaharans I'm using in our game and differs slightly from the official Autarch version.

Zaharan Necromancer

Class Summary

Image credit: katalinks / 123RF Stock Photo

Prime Requisite: INT
Requirements: INT 9
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 11 (can continue advancing to 14 HD if becomes undead)








In ages past the dread Necromancers of the Zaharan Empire created hosts of guardians for their fell empire - undead legions, tribes of beastmen, and unspeakable abominations. After their defeat these dark magics were forbidden throughout the land. These Zaharan Necromancer is a descendant of the original Zaharan Order of Necromancers. They must be of Chaotic alignment in order to perform the necromantic rituals they learn at higher levels.

Zaharans have builds similar to those of humans but with very sharp-angled features which gives them a slight elven appearance. Their coloring tends towards extremes - skin tones of ebony, ivory, gold, etc., eye colors frequently violet or amber, and hair usually white. Zaharan Necromancers may initially be of more human appearance depending on the strength of their Zaharan blood. However as part of their initiation rituals they are transformed into a full Zaharan appearance.

Similar to human magi, Zaharan Necromancers receive limited combat training. At first level, they hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws only two points every six levels of experience (i.e., half as fast as fighters). They may only fight with quarterstaffs, clubs, daggers, and slings. They are unable to use shields, fight with two weapons, or wear any kind of armor. For these reasons, Zaharan Necromancers are quite vulnerable to physical danger, and in an adventuring group they should be protected.

In exchange for these weaknesses, Zaharan Necromancers can learn and cast many powerful arcane spells. The number and levels of spells the Zaharan Necromancer can use in a single day are listed on the Necromancer Progression Table. Due to their inheriting many of the secrets of the Zaharan Empire, Zaharan Necromancers tend to have more spells at a given time than the equivalent human mage would have at the same level.

A Zaharan Necromancer’s selection is limited to the spells in his repertoire. A Zaharan Necromancer’s repertoire can include a number of spells up to the number and level of spells listed for his level, increased by his Intelligence bonus. For instance, Aahz L, a 3rd level Zaharan Necromancer, is able to cast 3 1st level spells and 1 2nd level spell per day. If he has 16 INT (+2 modifier) he can have up to 5 1st level and 3 2nd level spells in his repertoire.

In addition to their magic knowledge, a necromancer’s eager embrace of chthonic secrets provides with a dark blessing, which provides them with a +2 bonus to all saving throws (included in their saving throw table). They are death speakers, able to cast speak with the dead once every eight hours with a casting time of one turn.

Their training includes secrets of the dark arts such that he can control undead as a Chaotic cleric of one half his class level. If the character casts spells that require a saving throw versus Death, his targets suffer a -2 penalty on the save. When the character casts necromantic spells (such as animate dead), the spell effects are calculated as if he were two class levels higher than his actual level of experience. He may also conduct necromantic research as if he were two class levels higher than actual. This is effectively the Black Lore of Zahar proficiency.

When a Zaharan Necromancer reaches 5th level (Corpse Lord), he may begin to research spells, scribe magical scrolls, and brew potions. When a Zaharan Necromancer reaches 9th level (Necromancer), he is able to create more powerful magic items such as weapons, rings, and staffs. A Zaharan Necromancer may also build a sanctum, often a great tomb or mortuary, when he reaches 9th level. He will then attract 1d6 apprentices of 1st-3rd level plus 2d6 normal men of Zaharan descent seeking to become Zaharan Necromancers. Their intelligence scores will be above average, but many will become discouraged from the rigorous mental training and quit after 1d6 months. While in the Zaharan Necromancer’s service, apprentices must be provided food and lodging, but need not be paid wages. If the Zaharan Necromancer builds a dungeon beneath or near his tower, monsters will start to arrive to dwell within, followed shortly by adventurers seeking to fight them. Additional rules for sanctums are detailed in the Campaign chapter of the core rules.

At 9th level a Zaharan Necromancer may create necromantic servants and become undead as if he were two levels higher (due to his secrets of the dark arts). At 11th level, a Zaharan Necromancer may learn and cast ritual arcane spells of great power (7th, 8th, and 9th level), craft magical constructs, and create magical cross-breeds.

Due to their background and training, all Zaharan necromancers speak four bonus languages: Ancient Zaharan, Goblin, Orc, and Kemeshi.

As true Zaharans, all necromancers also possess certain inhuman benefits and drawbacks from their near-extinct bloodline. Chief among these are the ancient pacts of service and obedience by which the lords of Zahar ensorcelled the dark powers of the world. Some creatures still remember these pacts and will aid Zaharans when commanded. All necromancers gain a +2 bonus to reaction rolls when encountering intelligent chaotic monsters. Intelligent chaotic monsters suffer a -2 penalty to saving throws against any charm spells cast by a Zaharan necromancer.

Secondly, necromancers are inexorable in the face of horrors that terrify normal men. They are immune to all natural and magical fear effects.

Finally, necromancers grow in power after the flesh. If transformed into intelligent undead, they retain their racial powers and any class abilities. Once transformed, the necromancer may continue to advance in Hit Dice without limit, even past his class’s maximum level. At 1 HD, it requires 4,500XP plus 500XP per special ability (*) to advance to 2 HD. The amount of XP required doubles with each HD (round values greater than 20,000XP to the nearest 1,000). All of the necromancer’s class abilities will continue to progress without regard to his class’s maximum level, to a maximum of 14th level.

However, because of their dark souls, the grim embrace of death holds special perils for Zaharans. Whenever a deceased Zaharan rolls on the Tampering With Mortality table, he suffers a penalty on the 1d20 roll of -1 per level of experience.


Tables

Class Progression



XP
Title
Level
HD
1
2
3
4
5
6
0
Grave Robber
1
1d4
1





3.525
Tomb Haunter
2
2d4
3





7,050
Necropolite
3
3d4
3
1




14,100
Bone Lord
4
4d4
3
3




28,200
Corpse  Lord
5
5d4
3
3
1



56,400
Ghoul Lord
6
6d4
3
3
3



115,000
Wight Lord
7
7d4
4
3
3
1


230,000
Death Master
8
8d4
4
4
3
3


430,000
Necromancer
9
9d4
4
4
4
3
1

630,000

10
9d4+1
4
4
4
4
3

830,000

11
9d4+2
5
4
4
4
3
1
*
(As Undead)
12
12d8
5
5
4
4
4
3
*

13
13d8
5
5
5
4
4
3
*

14
14d8
5
5
5
5
4
4

Saving Throws


Level
Petrif & Paralysis
Poison & Death
Blast & Breath
Staff & Wands
Spells
Attack Throw
1-3
11+
11+
13+
9+
10+
10+
4-6
10+
10+
12+
8+
9+
9+
7-9
9+
9+
11+
7+
8+
8+
10-12
8+
8+
10+
6+
7+
7+



Proficiency List

  1. Alchemy (G)
  2. Apostasy
  3. Battle Magic (G)
  4. Collegiate Wizardry
  5. Command
  6. Contemplation
  7. Craft (G)
  8. Diplomacy (G)
  9. Engineering (G)
  10. Familiar
  11. Healing (G)
  12. Illusion Resistance (G)
  13. Knowledge (G)
  14. Language (G)
  15. Leadership (G)
  16. Loremastery
  17. Magical Engineering
  18. Mapping (G)
  19. Mystic Aura
  20. Naturalism (G)
  21. Navigation (G)
  22. Profession (G)
  23. Prophecy
  24. Quiet Magic
  25. Righteous Turning
  26. Sensing Power
  27. Soothsaying
  28. Theology (G)
  29. Transmorgification
  30. Unflappable Casting
  31. Wakefulness

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