Herald of the Fourth Horseman (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Herald of the Fourth Horseman
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Herald of the Fourth Horseman[edit]

I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
—John, Apostle, Book of Revelations 6:7

As the Apocalypse draws near, evil is gaining power in the Material Plane. Even before the four Seals have been broken, its darkness is still seeping out into mortal souls. Where it creates great taint, it also instills great power to make sure that nothing stops the arrival of the Horsemen. This particular individual felt the Calling of evil and returned with unspeakable potential and magical connections to Hades himself. Now his sole purpose is to spread disease and undeath to innocent souls in the world in the name of the Fourth Horseman, Death. (This prestige class was mostly formatted based on the Thrall of Orcus class in the Book of Vile Darkness).

Becoming a Herald of the Fourth Horseman[edit]

Characters might purpue this class if they are involved in a campaign centered around the end of the world, or if they just like using undeath and disease and demonic power. Mostly evil clerics will take this class, but it's not unheard of for sorcerers, or wizards to take this class.

Entry Requirements
Alignment: Any evil.
Base Attack Bonus: +4.
Skills: Knowledge (arcana) 2 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 2 ranks.
Feats: Lichloved, Thrall to Demon.
Special: Must be able to cast a spell from the Necromancy school.
Special: A character must feel the Calling and leave the party to complete a complex ritual of initiation to power. The ritual requires the initiate to abstain from intercourse, to fast, and to sleep as little as possible for a quarter of the moon. Before his two meals each day, he must pray to Hades for power. In order to prevent Hades' power from overwhelming him, he will carry a magical item called a Blood Stone on his person. On the third day of the moon's quarter, a virgin goat with a garland and green ribbon around his neck must be sacrificed and skinned with a fine steel knife; its remains burnt in a fire of birch wood. It's ashes are to be cast to the rising sun. A wand of virgin hazelwood, 19.5 inches long, and carved using the ritual knife which sacrificed the goat. Then weld the steel of the blade into two pointed caps to affix to the ends of the wand and use a lodestone to magnetize the ends. Finally, cut the remaining goatskin into four strips and arrange them in a circle on the ground, affixed in this position by four nails from a dead child's coffin. Then draw a triangle inscribed in the circle using the Blood Stone, as well as a capital "A" surrounded by "a," "e," and "j." Place two vervain crowns around two candles of virgin wax made and blessed by a virgin girl. At the top of the triangle, whose point should face East, the initiate burns blessed incense and camphor in a brazier. As Hades appears, the initiate uses the wand to protect himself while asking him for his demonic blessing with offerings of gold and silver and promises of disease and death throughout the land. (Or something to that effect. The DM might opt for all this to happen outside gameplay, or even conversely, force the ritual into gameplay.)

Table: The Herald of the Fourth Horseman

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Spellcasting
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +0 +2 Carrion Stench Bonus feat or +1 level of existing class
2nd +2 +3 +0 +3 Contagion 2/day
3rd +3 +3 +1 +3 Demon Wings
4th +4 +4 +1 +4 Skeletal Visage Bonus feat or +1 level of existing class
5th +5 +4 +1 +4 Summon Minor Undead
6th +6 +5 +2 +5 Spew Vermin
7th +7 +5 +2 +5 Demon Wings (at will) Bonus feat or +1 level of existing class
8th +8 +6 +2 +6 Pestilence Touch
9th +9 +6 +3 +6 Summon Major Undead
10th +10 +7 +3 +7 Summon Demon Lord Bonus feat or +1 level of existing class

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level)
Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (any) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Scry (Int), Spot (Wis).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Herald of the Fourth Horseman.

Carrion Stench (Ex): A Herald of the Fourth Horseman, when desired, emits a terrible smell in a 10-foot radius. Living creatures in the radius (excluding the herald) must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 10 + herald's class level + herald's Con modifier) or take a -2 penalty on all attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks for 1 round per class level of the Herald of the Fourth Horseman. Furthermore, mindless undead creatures within the radius of the stench believe the herald to be undead.

Contagion (Sp): Two times per day, a 2nd-level Herald of the Fourth Horseman can produce an effect identical to that of the Contagion spell cast by a 10th-level caster.

Demon Wings (Su): Once per day, a 3rd-level Herald of the Fourth Horseman can bring forth massive black wings from his back. These wings allow the herald to fly at his normal land speed with average maneuverability. The demon wings last for up to one hour and are dismissable with a standard action. At 7th level, the herald can use his demon wings at will, and they last as long as needed.

Skeletal Visage (Su): At 4th level, a Herald of the Fourth Horseman must become gaunt like an undead creature in homage to his patron. The herald gains the Deformity (Gaunt) feat as a bonus feat.

Summon Undead (Sp): Once per day, a 5th-level Herald of the Fourth Horseman can summon 1d4 ghouls, 1d3 shadows, 1 wight, or 1 wraith as the Summon Monster spell cast by a caster of his class level. At 9th level, the herald can summon 1d3 mummies, 1 spectre, 1 mohrg, 1 vampire, or 1 ghost instead. If she chooses a vampire or a ghost, its character level is one less than the herald's class level.

Spew Vermin (Sp): Once per day, a 7th-level Herald of the Fourth Horseman is able to spray out a swarm of vermin from his mouth, as a breath weapon in a 30-foot cone. Anyone in this area takes 1d6 points of damage per Herald level, with a successful Reflex save reducing the damage by half (DC 10 + herald's class level + herald's Con bonus). The vermin then remain as if a Summon Swarm spell had been cast at the herald's class level. The vermin are under the command of the herald.

Pestilence Touch (Sp): An 8th-level Herald of the Fourth Horseman may cast the spell Pestilence at will. This spell does not count against the herald's daily allotment of spells.

Summon Demon Lord (Sp): A 10th-level Herald of the Fourth Horseman can summon 1 glabrezu once per week, as the Summon Monster spell cast by a 15th-level caster. However, there is a 1% chance that the herald will instead summon Hades himself to the scene. Use the game rules for the demon Orcus (listed in the Book of Vile Darkness) for this powerfully lucky summons.

Ex-Heralds of the Fourth Horseman[edit]

Those who lose their evil alignment or their desire to spread contagion and undeath throughout the land lose all abilities granted by this class. They may, more than likely, choose to keep their party members alive and healthy, however, to help them in their quest to kill everyone.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Herald of the Fourth Horseman[edit]

Combat: Heralds will almost always cast some sort of debilitating spell on the enemy before rushing into combat. Then he will send his undead minions in to fight. The herald himself may either fight alongside his minions, or else cast more spells from the sideline.

Advancement: A Herald of the Fourth Horseman might choose to become a lich once he has become a high enough level, and provided he has the Craft Wondrous Item feat. This would greatly benefit his spellcasting ability and allow him to stand strong in melee combat as well. Another good option for feats would be those from the Libris Mortis that improve the statistics of one's undead creations. A good example might be the Corpsecrafter feat.

Resources: Heralds of the Fourth Horseman don't really have too much organization. They were sent into the world individually, only rarely banding into small groups of 2-3 other heralds. They might ally with evil temples or syndicates, but only if they seek nihilism and destruction rather than control and manipulation.

Heralds of the Fourth Horseman in the World[edit]

You will die a slow, agonizing death. Then you will be fit for my army.
—Cyrus Dauthi, Yuan-Ti Herald of the Fourth Horseman

Characters of this class fit into a campaign where the objective is to raid castles and kill innocents with plagues of disease and undeath. Basically, these characters are not always looking for money (unless it leads them to more magical power). All that they want to do is kill.

NPC Reactions: They may not have time to react before he kills them, unless the herald is a more subtle breed that acts outwardly cordial while he spreads disease throughout an entire town.

Herald of the Fourth Horseman Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (religion) can research Heralds of the Fourth Horseman to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (religion)
DC Result
11 Heralds have undead minions.
16 Heralds use disease to spread destruction.
21 Initiates mysteriously disappear before they become heralds.
26 Heralds are meant to cleanse the earth and portend Judgement Day.



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