Baron of the Grave (3.5e Prestige Class)
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Baron of the Grave
|“||Come, rise from the tomb to your knees.||”|
|—Talimna Aulor, Lizardfolk Baron of the Grave|
A baron of the grave is someone who, while still being alive, fills their body with negative energy and ties their body with the forces of undeath. These demented individuals tend to have either an unnatural love for the dead, a certain infatuation with the way that an undead will follow someone without a second thought, or a deep seated hatred of the living and all things that aren't as calm and collected as the dead.
Becoming a Baron of the Grave
The baron of the grave is a useful class for anyone who wishes to amass an army of undead to fight for them while still putting aside some power for themselves. Most people who intend to take levels in this class tend to be particularly depraved individuals, not minding if someone suffers if it means that they become stronger through it.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+3.|
|Spells:||The character must be able to cast animate dead.|
|1st||+0||+2||+0||+2||Undead Refinement +1||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|2nd||+1||+3||+0||+3||Necrosis (Ex)||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|3rd||+2||+3||+1||+3||Command Undead (Sp), Ghoul Touch (Sp)||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|4th||+3||+4||+1||+4||Undead Refinement +2||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|5th||+3||+4||+1||+4||Vile Incarnate (Ex)||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|6th||+4||+5||+2||+5||Create Undead (Sp), Slay Living (Sp)||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|7th||+5||+5||+2||+5||Undead Refinement +3||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|8th||+6/+1||+6||+2||+6||Thick Blood (Ex)||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|9th||+6/+1||+6||+3||+6||Control Undead (Sp), Create Greater Undead (Sp)||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|10th||+7/+2||+7||+3||+7||Stygian Anatomy, Undead Refinement +4||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
|11th||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|12th||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|13th||Undead Refinement +5||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|14th||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|15th||Bonus Feat||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|16th||Undead Refinement +6||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|17th||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|18th||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|19th||Undead Refinement +7||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
|20th||Bonus Feat||+1 level of existing arcane/divine spellcasting class.|
All of the following are class features of the baron of the grave.
Spellcasting: At each level, a baron of the grave gains new spells per day and an increase in caster level (and spells known, if applicable) as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class to which he belonged before adding the prestige class level. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If he had more than one arcane or divine spellcasting class before becoming a baron of the grave, he must decide to which class to add each level for the purpose of determining spells per day, caster level, and spells known.
Undead Refinement: Barons of the grave are indeed, very twisted creatures. For they are beings who would dare to pervert their own body and soul by letting undeath course through their veins and poison their very existence. Though, by poisoning their body in this way, they become in tune with energies of undeath, and can actually bring forth these energies in undead beings. At first level a baron of the grave gains a +1 bonus to caster level for the spells animate dead, create undead, and create greater undead (even as spell-like abilities).
A baron of the grave may sit down with an undead creature for a single hour and focus the negative energies that animates them (given that the undead does not attempt to do them harm). When a baron of the grave focuses the negative energy inside an undead creature, he may grant that creature a permanent insight bonus to either AC, attack rolls, or damage rolls equal to three times the bonus to caster level that this class feature grants. A single undead creature may only have one of these three stats being affected by this class feature at a given time, and this insight bonus can be changed from one stat to another freely, given that an hour is spent to focus for energies again. The bonus to caster level granted by this class feature increases by +1 every three levels after first (4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, etc.).
Necrosis (Ex): A baron of the grave is one who is so deeply intertwined with undeath that they eventually begin to actually become somewhat similar to the undead, both in soul and physiology. Starting at second level, a baron of the grave gains immunity to disease, sleep effects, paralysis, and poison and is not at risk of death from massive damage. Additionally, the baron may choose to substitute his Charisma modifier for Concentration checks and no longer needs to breathe in order to survive.
The baron also is considered part of the undead favored enemy group in addition to any other favored enemy group they may have had for all intents and purposes.
Command Undead (Sp): Those who are bound to undeath are also bound to a baron of the grave's will, and the baron sees this clearly. At third level a baron of the grave gains the ability to cast command undead as a spell-like ability three times a day with a caster level equal to his own caster level.
Ghoul Touch (Sp): A baron of the grave can channel the forces of undeath through his very flesh, letting him impart a portion of those forces into another person's body. At third level a baron of the grave gains the ability to cast ghoul touch as a spell-like ability three times a day with a caster level equal to his own caster level.
Vile Incarnate (Ex): As a baron of the grave's body steadily becomes more and more saturated with evil powers and energies, he eventually reaches a point where the forces of undeath actually seem to leak from his very pores. At fifth level, a baron of the grave gains an evil aura as if he were a 10th level cleric. If the baron already project an evil aura due to a class feature, then he is considered 10 levels higher for the purposes of determining the strength of this aura.
If someone looks at the baron while under the effects of a true seeing spell, then the baron appears to have black smoke rising from his body. Once the baron has reached this degree of corruption, he begins to emanate powerful negative forces inherently, making all damage that he inflicts (from any source) count as evil for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Create Undead (Sp): Undeath is an art to a baron of the grave; one that he quickly realizes needs unending practice. At sixth level a baron of the grave gains the ability to cast create undead as a spell-like ability twice a day with a caster level equal to his own caster level.
Slay Living (Sp): A baron of the grave's mind eventually begins to actually ooze with the very essence of undeath, letting him focus it into an almost tangible force. At sixth level a baron of the grave gains the ability to cast slay living as a spell-like ability twice per day with a caster level equal to his own caster level.
Thick Blood (Ex): As a baron of the grave slowly fills his very existence with the forces of undeath, he begins to become more and more like an undead creature in his physiology to the point that his blood actually begins to flow slower and grow thick. At eighth level a baron of the grave gains immunity to ability drain, energy drain, and damage to his physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution). Additionally, for any effect that requires a Fortitude save in order to avoid fatigue or exhaustion, the baron may attempt a single re-roll per check he is required to make. This re-roll must be made before the baron learns if the first roll was successful or not, and must be accepted, even if it is worse than the first roll.
Control Undead (Sp): None who are dead would ever dare to stand against the will of a baron of the grave once he has truly begun to master his power, for it is almost like turning against undeath itself. At ninth level a baron of the grave gains the ability to cast control undead as a spell-like ability once per day with a caster level equal to his own caster level.
Create Greater Undead (Sp): A baron of the grave eventually develops such control over forces of undeath that creating powerful undead becomes almost second nature to him and he can bring forth terrors that few others could bear to even see. At ninth level a baron of the grave gains the ability to cast create greater undead as a spell-like ability once per day with a caster level equal to his own caster level.
|Size|| Speed Bonus
| Speed Bonus
| Natural Attack |
|Fine and Fine−||+10 feet||+20 feet||1d2|
|Diminutive||+20 feet||+40 feet||1d3|
|Tiny||+20 feet||40 feet||1d4|
|Small||+30 feet||+60 feet||1d6|
|Medium||+30 feet||+60 feet||1d8|
|Large||+30 feet||+60 feet||2d6|
|Huge||+40 feet||+80 feet||3d6|
|Gargantuan||+40 feet||+80 feet||4d6|
|Colossal and Colossal+||+50 feet||+100 feet||6d6|
Stygian Anatomy: A baron of the graves body reaches a point where it is so overwhelmed by the forces of undeath that it actually begins to change on the most basic scale, charging each of his individual cells with negative energies. When the baron has reached this point, his body and soul become more like that of an undead creatures than any living beings should. At tenth level, a baron of the grave gains immunity to stunning, is no longer subject to nonlethal damage, and no longer needs to eat or sleep in order to survive. In addition to these bonuses, the baron gains an enhancement bonus to his speed based on his size (as shown on Table: Stygian Anatomy Effects) as his body begins to unleash the forces that it has harbored for so long, and two claw attacks that deal damage based on his size (as shown on Table: Stygian Anatomy Effects) as his body contorts and fingers turn into talons. The baron is automatically proficient with these claw attacks. Damage inflicted by these claw attacks does not heal naturally or with rest, requiring a healing spell of some sort in order to be undone. If the baron does not have hands or some other appendage that could be changed into a claw, then he does not gain any claw attacks.
The epic baron of the grave gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic baron of the grave feats) every 5 levels after 10th.
Epic baron of the grave Bonus Feat List: Additional Magic Item Space, Automatic Quicken Spell, Automatic Silent Spell, Automatic Still Spell, Bonus Domain, Efficient Item Creation, Energy Resistance, Enhance Spell, Epic Spell Focus, Epic Spell Penetration, Epic Spellcasting, Extended Life Span, Fast Healing, Ignore Material Components, Improved Alignment-Based Casting, Improved Combat Casting, Improved Heighten Spell, Improved Metamagic, Improved Spell Capacity, Intensify Spell, Multispell, Negative Energy Burst, Spell Opportunity, Spell Stowaway, Spellcasting Harrier, Spontaneous Domain Access, Spontaneous Spell.
Ex-Barons of the Grave
A baron of the grave who becomes non-evil cannot gain new levels as a baron of the grave and loses all baron of the grave class abilities (except for Undead Refinement) until he returns to an evil alignment.
Playing a Baron of the Grave
Combat: A baron of the grave can have many roles in a battle. A particular baron may choose to remain in the back, sending his undead "pets" out to fight, while he heals those who have fallen weak, or possibly raises even more undead. Another baron may choose to run amongst his friends, feeling as one of them, and ripping through those who would dare to harm them. Yet another baron may choose to stand far away from battle, and devastate it from afar, calling down bolts of lightning and summoning winds of unparalleled ferocity to rip through the battlefield.
Advancement: A baron of the grave usually has many options to take on the path of their advancement. A particular baron may seek to take levels in hierophant in order to progress the forces of undeath that drive him. A baron may also begin to progress in levels in loremaster to attempt to discover the inner workings of the undeath that they are so enticed by. A baron of the grave who is enthralled by the arcane may even take a few levels in mystic theurge. In epic levels, a baron of the grave who has a deity may dip into high proselytizer for the potential power that is held in that position.
Resources: In most civilizations, barons of the grave are feared and avoided at all costs, and so, finding help from living people may be particularly difficult for a baron. Though this is not a problem, for a baron of the grave has resources within their reach that no one else has. A baron of the grave can inherently control undead, allowing him to have pet liches if he so wishes it. A baron of the grave needs no connection to the outside world, all the power they could ever wish for lies with a tomb or a set of catacombs.
Barons of the Grave in the World
|“||In death, there is perfect silence, perfect tranquility, and perfect order, and only in death, can anything be perfect.||”|
|—Harn Agolast, Wild Elf Baron of the Grave|
Barons of the grave tend to dwell in graveyards, catacombs, or any other place where they can gain access to dead bodies to raise, whether it be for good company, or for an army of minions. A baron of the grave also, after they have begun lacing their bodies with negative energies, may actually begin to become drawn to nexi of negative energy, congregating around temples of evil gods, or within dungeons that link to the plane of negative energy.
NPC Reactions: The first reaction a common NPC will most likely have to a baron of the grave is outright fear, for a baron of the grave will always have an almost palpable aura of evil about them. Of course, there is the off chance that a baron of the grave may come across an evil NPC, such as the leader of a cult, or a wandering necromancer. In these cases, the NPC is actually tilted towards enjoying the company of the baron, and actively reaching out a warm (or cold) hand to them.
Baron of the Grave Lore
Characters with ranks in knowledge (religion) can research barons of the grave to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|11||A baron of the grave is someone who can raise and control undead.|
|16||Barons of the grave pervert their bodies with the forces of undeath.|
|21||The longer a baron of the grave lives, the more horrible and like the undead they become.|
|26||Characters who get this result can know the names and locations of specific barons of the grave and items related to them.|
Barons of the Grave in the Game
Barons of the grave most commonly find themselves in the role of the grave-keeper or the madman. Though, it has been known for them to also find themselves seeking the path to eternal life through finding the perfect balance of negative and positive energies in a body. It has also been known for barons of the grave to seek dominion over everything, by commanding other, undead barons of the grave, who in turn, command legions of undead armies for the original baron.
Adaptation: Barons of the grave can be adjusted to fit any world. If they are intended to be a major factor in the whole of existence, then, possibly, their connection with negative energy could allow them to sense things about the world before they happen, turning them into dark prophets. Controversially, if they are intended to have practically no influence what so ever in the world, then it could be that their connection with negative energy slows down their mind, and diminishes their will to live, making them regress, and dwell amongst the dead as they finish out their lives.
Sample Encounter: Sylvia had never been completely sound of mind, often complaining about voices whispering in the night, and when she was a child, sitting up in bed, screaming from a nightmare as she tore (literally tore) her sheets apart. Though, as she grew, she learned to adjust herself to normal life, eventually even getting married to a respectable merchant named Fredrick Linth. A short while later in her life, as her new husband went farther and farther way from home due to his line of work, she began to relapse, not having anyone around to steady herself on seemed to drive her back into the pits of madness that she had pulled herself out of as she grew up. Local rumors say that, during these years of her life, sounds could be heard coming from the basement of her house during the night, and every now and then, lights would seem to spring into existence, merely floating around her home. Eventually Sylvia completely snapped, and, one night, when her husband had returned after a particularly long time away, she removed his spine. Many things happened that night. First, Sylvia vanished, with her husband's body. Second, many well known, and quite friendly people went missing. Thirdly, a plague began, spreading outward from Sylvia's home. Sylvia's whereabouts are currently unknown, though she is considered to be a disturbed and dangerous individual by most who once knew her.
|Fredrick Linth, 6th-level Zombie Fighter|
|Hit Dice:||12d12+3 (81 hp)|
|Speed:||30 ft. (6 squares)|
|Armor Class:||26 (+4 armor, +3 Dex, +6 insight, +2 natural), touch 19, flat-footed 23|
|Attack:||Longsword +10 melee (1d4+6/19-20) or Slam +10 melee (1d6+4)|
|Full Attack:||Longsword +10/+5 melee (1d4+6/19-20) or Slam +10 melee (1d6+4)|
|Space/Reach:||5 ft./5 ft.|
|Special Qualities:||DR 5/Slashing, Single Actions Only|
|Saves:||Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +8|
|Abilities:||Str 18, Dex 16, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 1|