May 5, 2017

Flesh Sculptor

Arcane Tradition
Notes from the Nails: tales abound of master necromancers and their right-hand-monsters. Now you, too, can build an undead horror of your very own!

School of Flesh Sculpting

While other wizards use necromantic magic to gain power over death, you have always been more fascinated with the workings of unlife. Through years of experimentation, you have learned not only how to make zombies and bind them to your will, but also to preserve, train, and improve them far beyond the usual, meager abilities of the run-of-the-mill shambler. Perhaps one day, you will even learn to ignore the scornful looks and upturned noses of your more... conventional colleagues.

Zombie Minion
Starting when you choose this tradition at 2nd level, you learn to use your magic to create a powerful bond with a single zombie. With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 50 gp worth of rare oils and incenses, you call forth a spirit from beyond the veil to possess the corpse of a medium humanoid. This monster uses the statistics for a zombie. When complete, your zombie minion awakens and gains all the benefits of your Minion’s Bond ability. You can have only one zombie minion at a time.
     If your zombie minion is ever slain, the magical bond you share allows you to return it to unlife. With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of a further 25 gp worth of material components, you recall your minion’s spirit and use your magic to create a new body for it. You can return a zombie minion to unlife in this manner even if you do not possess any part of its corpse.
     If you use this ability to return a former zombie minion to unlife while you have a current zombie minion, your current minion crumbles to dust and is replaced by the restored companion.

Minion's Bond
Your zombie minion gains a variety of benefits while it is linked to you. The minion obeys your commands as best it can. It rolls for initiative like any other creature, but you determine its actions, decisions, attitudes, and so on. If you are incapacitated or absent, your minion acts on its own.
     Your zombie minion has abilities and game statistics determined in part by your level. Your minion uses your proficiency bonus rather than its own. In addition to the areas where it normally uses its proficiency bonus, a zombie minion also adds its proficiency bonus to its damage rolls. The zombie minion is immune to effects that would turn or destroy undead, thanks to the strength of their connection to you.
     Your zombie minion gains proficiency in two skills of your choice. It also becomes proficient with all saving throws.
     For each level you gain after 2nd, your minion gains an additional hit die and increases its hit points accordingly.
     Whenever you gain the Ability Score Improvement class feature, your minion’s abilities also improve. Your minion can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or it can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, your minion can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
     Your minion shares your alignment, and you are free to determine its personality traits and flaws. Your minion shares your ideal and its bond is always: “the wizard who created me is my unquestioned master in all things.”

Leathery Hide
Beginning at 6th level, your zombie minion's hide becomes tough and leathery. Its AC cannot be less than 14 and it gains resistance to lightning damage.
     Additionally, your minion is immune to damage from spells you cast of 3rd level or lower.

Zombie Warrior
At 10th level, your zombie minion gains proficiency with all simple and martial melee weapons and has one attunement slot that it can use to attune to a magical item.

Ultimate Minion
When you reach 14th level, you begin to tinker with your minion, customizing it to suit your tastes. With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 50 gp worth of gold dust, you can improve your minion with one of the following upgrades. A zombie minion can only have one of these at a time, but it can be reconfigured through another 8 hours of work and 50 gp of materials.
     Agile Hunter. The minion's base walking speed is increased to 40 feet and it can take the Disengage action as a bonus action.
     Multiattack. The minion makes two attacks on its turn.
     RegenerationThe zombie regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point. If the zombie takes radiant damage or damage from holy water, this trait doesn't function at the start of the zombie's next turn.
     Zombie Mage. The minion gains the Magic Initiate feat. It uses half your wizard level and its own ability score for spellcasting.



Changelog: 5/9/17: Ultimate Minion: Zombie Mage: Uses half your wizard level

27 comments:

  1. This is almost exactly the concept of a refluffed warlord one of my players ran. Very nice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like this a lot, I do find something lacking though. Is there any method to heal your minion or repair it? Wizards dont have much sustainability anyways

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the minion can roll hit dice on a short rest and fully heal on a long rest, like any other creature. I would have thought that was implied without having to spell it out.

      As for healing magic, well, a wizard can't cast any of that anyway. It may be a minor drawback as compared to the beastmaster ranger, but I figure undead minions have other advantages to make up for it.

      Delete
  3. Second paragraph under 'Minion's Bond' uses "animal minion" instead of zombie.
    Looks great, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gah, I thought I go them all! It's fixed in the main body of the post; we'll have to wait for the Finger to wake up to fix the pdf.

      Delete
  4. Once again, top notch work guys. This is awesome. Now I can make Visa (Pale Master Sorcerer) and Geralt (This)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow. Great job, this seems really fun to play.

    I'm pretty sure damage form holy water is radiant, so that's a redundancy in the regeneration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i dont believe so, i think it is just 1d6 untyped damage. i may be wrong, dont have access to the PHB atm

      Delete
    2. i dont believe so, i think it is just 1d6 untyped damage. i may be wrong, dont have access to the PHB atm

      Delete
  6. I like these passive benefits, but I wish that there were ways to customize the zombie before 14th level. The minion is really powerful, and considering that's the only benefit this subclass get, it should be that way.

    But I just wanna make a really custom minion through weird-ass necromantic stuff. Not necessarily ASI's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you can appreciate why I've gone for simplicity here - any more customisation than this in a subclass would make it too long and confusing, not to mention the increased potential for loopholes and edge cases. You've already got 5 ASIs, an attunement slot and a re-configurable capstone to think about, after all.

      But I hear you! Have you considered playing our craftsman base class? That has endless customisation options, and one of the subclasses even deals in pets... you could easily re-fluff that as necromantic.

      Delete
    2. My party's craftsdwarf, and their favorite NPC, is currently using the Craftsman. One character has said he would die to save him.

      Craftsman's going over pretty well, and that's a good point about the subclasses. I'll shell out for it.

      Delete
  7. I'm assuming this is a no, but given that animal companions add your proficiency bonus to their AC, does this not gain that bonus as well? I figure Leathery Hide makes up for this, it was just something I thought to ask.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, leathery hide replaces this. I didn't want to copy the ranger wholesale! Especially because this one gets its minion a level earlier than the ranger does.

      Delete
  8. Question, how does the zombie interact with the cantrips it learns? Like does the cantrip still scale with your level or does it stay at level 1?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good question. For balance reasons, I suspect this will have to be a case of 'the cantrips stay as if the zombie were a level 1 character.'

      Delete
    2. I don't think that's balanced - I think that makes Zombie Mage much worse than any of the other options, in fact. Consider how poor a zombie's mental stats are, you'd have to spend your whole career pumping your zombie's INT or CHA or whatever and it would still be severely suboptimal in terms of both to-hit and damage over the greatsword it picked up at level 10 and Multiattack at level 14. It has the advantage of range but I don't really think it matters when you're missing much more frequently and doing at most 1d10 or 1d12 damage, vs the melee zombie's 4d6 + 2xMod.

      I assumed Zombie Mage scaled and thought it was a fine option in that context. Now it just seems bad.

      Delete
    3. I'm inclined to agree with Nick over the Nails in this case. It's just not worth it to include a non-scaled cantrip here -- I'll edit in the ability for it to scale with the wizard, so it's in the RAW.

      Delete
    4. The zombie mage isn't meant to be competitive in damage; the multiattack zombie is the damage option. Magic initiate is about flexibility and utility - you could pick from the cleric list, give it Guidance, Resistance and Bless. You wouldn't even need to pump its Wis!

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    6. But even if the intention is to use the zombie for support, shouldn't the option for you the wizard to be the support and instead you use the Zombie for some power to make up for it. That said, I really do adore this archetype, and I feel like Nails has done a great job regardless. I just want to have the zombie like a worth while partner by the point you get to 14.

      Delete
    7. We've amended the ability so that the zombie's effective level scales as half its master's. That means the zombie's attack cantrips are about as effective as the melee attacks of an agile or regenerating zombie. Don't forget that most cantrips have useful riders! Vicious Mockery isn't useful because of the damage it deals, after all. You also have the advantage of range, you can bypass common damage resistances and can't be easily disarmed.

      What I want to emphasise though, is that the zombie mage is a value partner because it gives you a second action and a second concentration slot. Admittedly it only gets one spell slot per day, but that could still be hugely significant in a critical boss fight.

      If you want to play with the zombie as the main attacker and the wizard as the support, you should pick the multiattack option and buff it with Haste or something. That's what that option is *for*. Perhaps the issue here is that multiattack is too powerful, not that the zombie mage is too weak...

      Delete
    8. I love this subclass and while I think the scaling cantrips point was well enough made, I think there was a point missed which you've now touched on. You get a second concentration slot. Sure that's one spell of 1st level a day but at the same time think of the resources you have by 14th level, especially as a wizard. That zombie is now technically a caster (specifically arcane caster if you choose bard, wizard, or sorcerer) so they can use spell scrolls!! sure the spells become limited but you can spend your down time making scrolls using the enchantment and downtime rules in the DMG so it boosts your options massively.

      Delete
  9. I'm very excited for this. I'm using it as one of two big bads for a specific area for my new campaign I'm starting this week

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you're excited for it! It's really like 1.5 villains, since the zombie minion is a built-in lieutenant.

      Delete
  10. Nice, but...a 20' speed makes for a pretty slow adventuring party. Perhaps allow for a 30' move earlier on, or allow the character to make their zombie a "more life-like" zombie(stats, speed, and hit dice of a ghoul, with no further decay) instead, at 6th level. Also, how would they react to turning and Destroy Undead?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me, making it less zombie-like would defeat the point. Yeah it's a bit slow, but it's not that much slower than a dwarf or halfling.

      For the sake of simplicity (because this zombie doesn't have a level or a CR), I'll say it's immune to being turned or destroyed.

      Delete