Dread Necromancer

(Heroes of Horror variant, p. 84)

A practitioner of vile and forbidden arts, the dread necromancer roots about in graveyards, searching out moldering components for her obscene spells.

Hit die


Skill points

2 + Int

Class Features

Spellcasting is your greatest strength, although your rate of spell acquisition is closer to that of a sorcerer than a wizard. You make up for slower spellcasting progression with a wide array of special abilities, including a touch attack that uses negative energy to harm your foes. This attack increases in strength and gains additional effects as you gain levels. Because many of your abilities rely on your entering melee, you are proficient with light armor and have the ability to cast your spells while wearing light armor. You also gain a resilience to damage that wizards or sorcerers do not possess.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A dread necromancer is proficient with all simple weapons and with one martial weapon of her choice. Her choice of martial weapon is made when the character takes her first level of dread necromancer and cannot be changed.

Dread necromancers are also proficient with light armor, but not with shields. The somatic components required for dread necromancer spells are simple, so members of this class can cast dread necromancer spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. She still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells derived from other classes. In addition, if a dread necromancer wears medium or heavy armor, or uses a shield, she incurs the same chance of arcane spell failure as any other arcane caster if the spell in question has a somatic component (and most do).

Spellcasting: A dread necromancer casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the dread necromancer's spell list (see page 87). Like a sorcerer, she can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time. When a dread necromancer gains access to a new level of spells, she automatically knows all the spells for that level given on the dread necromancer's spell list. Dread necromancers also have the option of adding to their existing spell list through their advanced learning ability as they increase in level (see below).

To cast a spell, a dread necromancer must have a Charisma score of 10 + the spell's level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a dread necromancer's spell is 10 + the spell's level + her Charisma modifier. Like other spellcasters, a dread necromancer can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given in Table 5—2: The Dread
Necromancer. In addition, she receives bonus spells for a high Charisma score (see Table 1—1 on page 8 of the Player's Handbook).

Charnel Touch (Su): Negative energy flows through a dread necromancer's body, concentrating in her hands. At will, but no more than once per round, she can make a melee touch attack against a living foe that deals 1d8 points of damage, +1 per four class levels. This touch heals undead creatures, restoring 1 hit point per touch, +1 per four class levels. A dread necromancer can use the spectral hand spell to deliver this attack from a distance.

Rebuke Undead (Su): A dread necromancer can rebuke or command undead creatures by channeling negative energy through her body. See the cleric class feature described on page 33 of the Player's Handbook.

Lich Body: Starting at 2nd level, a dread necromancer begins her journey into undeath. The first symptom is her body's increased resilience to physical harm. She gains DR 2/bludgeoning and magic. As the dread necromancer increases in level, this DR increases in effectiveness, to DR 4 at 7th level, DR 6 at 11th level, and DR 8 at 15th level.

Negative Energy Burst (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, a dread necromancer gains the ability to emit a burst of negative energy from her body, harming living creatures within 5 feet of her. This burst deals 1d4 points of damage per class level. A successful Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 her class level + Cha modifier) reduces damage by half. Undead creatures within this burst are healed the same amount of hit points as the damage she deals to living creatures. A dread necromancer can use this ability once per day at 3rd level, and one additional time per day for every five levels she attains beyond 3rd (2/day at 8th level, 3/day at 13th level, and 4/day at 18th level).

Advanced Learning (Ex): At 4th level, a dread necromancer can add a new spell to her list, representing the result of personal study and experimentation. The spell must be a cleric or wizard spell of the necromancy school, and of a level no higher than that of the highest-level spell the dread necromancer already knows. Once a new spell is selected, it is added to that dread necromancer's spell list and can be cast just like any other spell she knows. If a spell is both a cleric spell and a wizard spell, use the lower of the two spell levels (when different) to determine what level the spell is for a dread necromancer. A dread necromancer gains an additional new spell at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th level.

Mental Bastion: Starting at 4th level, a dread necromancer gains a +2 bonus on saving throws made to resist sleep, stunning, paralysis, poison, or disease. This bonus increases to +4 at 14th level.

Fear Aura (Su): Beginning at 5th level, a dread necromancer radiates a 5-foot-radius fear aura as a free action. Enemies in the area must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 her class level + her Cha modifier) or become shaken. A creature who successfully saves cannot be affected by that dread necromancer's fear aura for 24 hours.

Scabrous Touch (Su): Starting at 6th level, once per day a dread necromancer can use her charnel touch to inflict disease on a creature she touches. This ability works like the contagion spell (see page 213 of the Player's Handbook), inflicting the disease of her choice immediately, with no incubation period, unless the target makes a successful Fortitude save (DC10 + 1/2 her class level + her Cha modifier). The DC for subsequent saving throws to resist the effects of the disease depends on the disease inflicted; see page 292 of the Dungeon Master's Guide for details.

Activating this class feature is a swift action. The effect lasts until the dread necromancer makes a successful charnel touch attack. The spectral hand spell enables a dread necromancer to deliver a scabrous touch attack from a distance.

A dread necromancer can use this ability once per day at 6th level, twice per day at 11th level, and three times per day at 16th level.

Summon Familiar: At 7th level or anytime thereafter, a dread necromancer can obtain a familiar. The familiar she acquires is more powerful than a standard wizard's or sorcerer's familiar, but it is unequivocally evil. The player of a dread necromancer character chooses one of the following creatures: imp (devil), quasit (demon), vargouille, or ghostly visage. All these creatures are described in the Monster Manual except for the ghostly visage, an undead symbiont described on page 221 of the Fiend Folio.

A dread necromancer's familiar gains the usual familiar benefi ts given on pages 52—53 of the Player's Handbook, with two exceptions. Its type does not change, and it does not gain the exceptional ability to speak with other creatures of its kind.A dread necromancer's familiar can use its ability to deliver touch spells such as its master's charnel touch, scabrous touch, or enervating touch attack. The master must use a standard action to imbue the touch attack into her familiar.

Undead Mastery: All undead creatures created by a dread necromancer who has reached 8th level or higher gain a +4 enhancement bonus to Strength and Dexterity and 2 additional hit points per Hit Die.

In addition, when a dread necromancer uses the animate dead spell to create undead, she can control 4 + her Charisma bonus HD worth of undead creatures per class level (rather than the 4 HD per level normally granted by the spell).

Similarly, when a dread necromancer casts the control undead spell, the spell targets up to (2 + her Cha bonus) HD/level of undead creatures, rather than the 2 HD/level normally granted by the spell.

Negative Energy Resistance: Beginning at 9th level, a dread necromancer gains a +4 bonus on saving throws made to resist negative energy effects, including energy drain, some ability drain, and inflict spells.

Light Fortification: Starting at 10th level, a dread necromancer gains 25% resistance to critical hits; this is the equivalent of the light fortification armor special ability described on page 219 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. At 17th level, this fortification increases to 50%.

Enervating Touch (Su): When a dread necromancer reaches 12th level, she gains the ability to bestow negative levels when she uses her charnel touch attack. Each day, she can bestow a total number of negative levels equal to one-half her class level, but no more than two negative levels with a single touch. The saving throw to remove the negative levels has a DC of 10 + 1/2 her class level + her Charisma modifier.

Activating this class feature is a swift action. The effect lasts until she makes a successful charnel touch attack.

A dread necromancer can use the spectral hand spell to deliver this attack from a distance.

Beginning at 17th level, the number of negative levels a dread necromancer can bestow per day increases to equal her class level.

Craft Wondrous Item: At 19th level, the dread necromancer gains Craft Wondrous Item as a bonus feat. This helps her prepare the phylactery required to become a lich.

Lich Transformation: When a dread necromancer attains 20th level, she undergoes a hideous transformation and becomes a lich. Her type changes to undead, and she gains all the traits of the undead (see page 317 of the Monster Manual). She no longer has a Constitution score, all her existing Hit Dice become d12s, and she must reroll her hit points. A dread necromancer need not pay experience points or gold to create her phylactery.

A dread necromancer who is not humanoid does not gain this class feature.


Class Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special ———Spellcasting———
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Charnel touch, rebuke undead 3
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Lich body DR 2 4
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Negative energy burst 1/day 5
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Advanced learning, mental bastion +2 6 3
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Fear aura 6 4
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 Scabrous touch 1/day 6 5 3
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 Lich body DR 4, summon familiar 6 6 4
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 Advanced learning, negative energy burst 2/day, undead mastery 6 6 5 3
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 Negative energy resistance 6 6 6 4
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 Light fortification 25% 6 6 6 5 3
11th +5 +3 +3 +7 Lich body DR 6, scabrous touch 2/day 6 6 6 6 4
12th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 Advanced learning, enervating touch 6 6 6 6 5 3
13th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 Negative energy burst 3/day 6 6 6 6 6 4
14th +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 Mental bastion +4 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
15th +7/+2 +5 +5 +9 Lich body DR 8 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
16th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 Advanced learning, scabrous touch 3/day 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
17th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 Enervating touch, light fortification 50% 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
18th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 Negative energy burst 4/day 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
19th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 Craft wondrous item 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
20th +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Advanced learning, lich transformation 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5

Class skills

Skill name Key ability Trained only Armor check penalty
Bluff CHA no no
Concentration CON no no
Craft INT no no
Decipher Script INT yes no
Disguise CHA no no
Hide DEX no yes
Intimidate CHA no no
Knowledge (arcana) INT yes no
Knowledge (religion) INT yes no
Profession WIS yes no
Spellcraft INT yes no

Spells for Dread Necromancer