Abhorsen (3.5e Class)

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The Abhorsen[edit]

Just as his slimy, corrupted fingers stretched forward, Sabriel opened her eyes and demonstrated the stop-thrust that had earned her second place in Fighting arts and, later, lost her the first. Her arm and sword straightened like one limb to their full extent and the sword point ripped through Thralk's neck, and into eight inches of air beyond.

Thralk screamed, his reaching fingers gripping the sword to push himself free- only to scream again as the charter marks flaired on the blade. White hot sparks plumed between his knuckles and Thralk suddenly knew what he'd encountered.

"Abhorsen!" he croaked, falling backwards as Sabriel twisted the blade free with one explosive jerk.

Already, the sword was affecting the dead flesh Thralk inhabited, Charter Magic burning through reanimated nerves, freezing those all-too-fluid joints. Fire rose in Thralk's throat, but he spoke, to distract this terrible opponent while his spirit tried to shuck the body, like a snake in its skin, and retreat into the night.

"Abhorsen! I will serve you, praise you, be your hand... I know things, alive and dead,... I will help lure others to you..."

The clear, deep sound of Saraneth cut through the whining, broken voice like a foghorn booming above the shriek of seagulls. The chime vibrated on and on, echoing into the night, and Thralk felt it bind him even as his spirit leaked out of the body and made for flight. The bell bound him to paralyzed flesh, bound him to the will of the bell-ringer. Fury seethed in him, anger and fear fueling the struggle, but the sound was everywhere, all around him, all through him. He would never be free of it.

—Garth Nix, Sabriel

This class is inspired by and based on the books Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix. This is a very specialist class and should only be allowed in a campaign if the DM tailors the campaign specifically to fit the Abhorsen class within it. The Abhorsen class will not work in pre-published campaign settings.

Adventure: Abhorsens adventure to put the dead back to rest, and to protect the living from of dead. For this is not their path.

Characteristics: Abhorsens are morbid, thinking of death far too often for normal people. Other than this, they are likable people, with varied personalities, just like other humans.

Alignment: Abhorsens MUST be good, because an evil Abhorsen would simply be a necromancer. Most Abhorsens are Chaotic Good.

Religion: Abhorsens do not worship any deity, and do not believe in their existence. While many have delusions of life after death, the Abhorsen knows better, having experienced the realm of death in person. After entering the realm of death, you find yourself in a river, in the first precinct of death. You follow the river, through the first gate, into the second. In this way you pass through the nine precincts, and past the final gate. This is true death, and none know what comes after. The gates form as different water features (waterfalls, most often), and each precinct has its own danger. In the final precinct, there are strange lights that draw those who are supposed to die past the final gate. The living may only pass these gates by speaking the required free-magic command, and only necromancers and the Abhorsen know these words.


Five great charters knit the land
Together linked, hand in hand
One in the people who wear the crown
Two in the folk who keep the dead down
Three and Five became stone and mortar
Four sees all in frozen water
—Garth Nix, Sabriel

This simple rhyme holds all that is known on the origins of the charter and the abhorsens.

Races: Only humans may become the Abhorsen- it is a title passed through blood relatives. Once an Abhorsen falls, there is always another to take her place. There is only ever one Abhorsen. Note that there is always an "Abhorsen-in-waiting" to take the Abhorsen's place if she dies. This "Abhorsen-in-waiting" is assumed to be an NPC who is elsewhere (training to become the Abhorsen). If two players want to be Abhorsens, one is the Abhorsen, and the other is the "Abhorsen-in-waiting". Both will have the Abhorsen starting Equiptment, as there are usually spares for the "Abhorsen-in-waiting" to train with. If the Abhorsen dies, the "Abhorsen-in-waiting" gains the title (the sword, bells and armour are magically teleported to them). If you plan on taking levels in Abhorsen, you must take the Abhorsen class at first level.

Other Classes: Abhorsens hate necromancers and free-magic sorcerers (those who cast magic without the charter). Abhorsens don't tend to judge people on what class they have. Most people tend to look up to Abhorsens to keep the dead down.

Role: The Abhorsen takes the role as an undead stalker, free-magic spellcaster slayer, and construct destroyer. The Abhorsen also knows much magic, which can be useful when it comes to slaying the dead.

Game Rule Information[edit]

Abhorsens have the following game statistics:

Abilities: Wisdom and Charisma is required for charter magecraft, and Strength and Dexterity are useful for fighting undead who get too close. Constitution is useful for withstanding the attacks of the dead.

Alignment: Any Good, though most are chaotic Good.

Starting Age: Complex: There is only ever one Abhorsen, the next taking their place once the one before is dead. Therefore, add +5 to the starting age.

Starting Equipment: The Abhorsen possesses the The Bells of the Necromancer: Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth, and Astarael the Sorrowful, The Book of the Dead, and a Charter-spelled Longsword (Masterwork Longsword) passed down from their order.

Starting Gold: 2d4 gp

Table: The Abhorsen[edit]

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Spells per Day
Fort Ref Will 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Charter Magic, Flow of Magic 3 1
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Put the Dead Back to Rest +2, Enter Death 4 2
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 Bane of Undeath, Bells of the Necromancer (Use Ranna and Dyrim) 4 2 1
4th +3 +1 +1 +4 Send the Dead Back, Increase the Flow 5 3 2
5th +3 +1 +1 +4 Bells of the Necromancer (Use Saraneth and Belgaer), Put the Dead Back to Rest +4 5 3 2 1
6th +4 +2 +2 +5 +1 Blade, Vow of Undeath Slaying 5 3 3 2
7th +5 +2 +2 +5 Bells of the Necromancer(Use Mosrael and Kibeth), 6 4 3 2 1
8th +6/+1 +2 +2 +6 Identify Undead, Wallmaker 6 4 3 3 2
9th +6/+1 +3 +3 +6 +2 Blade, Bells of the Necromancer(Use Astarael the Sorrowful) 6 4 4 3 2 1
10th +7/+2 +3 +3 +7 Put the Dead Back to Rest +6 6 4 4 3 3 2
11th +8/+3 +3 +3 +7 Swift Bells, Improved Wallmaker 6 5 4 4 3 2 1
12th +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 +3 Blade 6 5 4 4 3 3 2
13th +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 Stand Tall 6 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
14th +10/+5 +4 +4 +9 Limitless Flow 6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +5 +9 Put the Dead Back to Rest +8, +4 Blade 6 5 5 4 4 4 3 2 1
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 Paragon of Undeath 6 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 2
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 6 5 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 1
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +6 +11 +5 Blade 6 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 3 2
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +6 +11 6 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 3 2
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Put the Dead Back to Rest +10 6 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 3 2

Class Skills (4+Int modifier per level; ×4 at 1st level)
The Abhorsen's class skills are: Balance, Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge Planes, Knowledge Arcana, Knowledge (Geography), Listen, Sense Motive, Survival, Spellcraft, Swim, Use Rope, Use Magic Device, and Perform (Percussion, Wind Instruments and Sing).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Abhorsen:

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The Abhorsen is proficient with longswords and light and medium armor but not with shields. The Abhorsen is proficient with bells and pipes.

Put the dead back to rest

At 2nd level, the Abhorsen gets +2 to her attack and damage rolls against undead and constructs (except if the construct was created with charter magic). This improves by +2 every 5 levels (5th, 10th, 15th and 20th). They also gain the ability to halt and turn undead.

Bells of the Necromancer[edit]

These are magical bells that a necromancer can use to aid his evil deeds. They are also the tools of the Abhorsen, used to put the dead back to rest.
There are seven different bells, fastened into pouches on a bandoleer (worn across the chest) to silence the noise. One must be proficient with the bells to use them, otherwise the bells will affect the ringer rather than their target. Proficiency can be gained with the exotic weapon proficiency feat (bells), or by having levels in the Abhorsen class. These both let you gain proficiency with all the bells.

The seven bells are: Ranna, Mosrael, Kibeth, Dyrim, Belgaer, Saraneth and Astarael the Sorrowful.

To use a bell, the ringer must remove it from the bandoleer (standard action, requiring 2 hands). Alternatively, a bell can be removed from the bandoleer one-handed (standard action). If the bell is removed single-handedly, the ringer must pass a DC 15 Dexterity check to prevent the bell ringing of its own accord. If this happens, resolve the affect of the bell as if the wielder was not proficient with bells.
To ring the bell, the ringer must make a Perform (percussion) skill check. The target(s) of the bell must then make an opposed Will save against the result of the ringer's Perform (percussion) skill check. If they fail, resolve the effects of the bell. Note that Astarael the Sorrowful is an exception to these rules. Also note that, if this bell functions as a spell follow all its rules, but ignore casting time and spell components. These is replaced with the bell (ringing the bell is a swift action).

Ranna is the sleepbringer, the high-pitched tinkling bell that brings the silence of sleep. Ranna causes the target(s) to be affected by the Sleep spell (maximum target HD 4x ringer's level). Note that the sleep effect does not allow the saving throw of the spell (this is replaced with the bell ringing rules above), and DOES affect undead.

Mosrael is the waker, a harsh, rowdy bell that throws the ringer further into death while restoring life to the listener. the Abhorsen should rarely, if ever. use this bell. The dead (in death) immediately disappear and the corpses are affected by an Animate Dead spell. The ringer immediately disappears and then reappears in the middle of a precinct of death d4 precincts deeper into death (closer to the ninth gate). If the wielder can go no farther than the ninth precinct in this way. The ringer is not in control the dead she animates with this bell.

Kibeth is the walker. It can give freedom of movement to the dead, or walk them past the next gate. The ringer may give the listener (an undead creature) freedom of will (it gains a Charisma and Intelligence score of 10 if it is not free-willed undead (this includes zombies and skeletons) and removes the control over the target undead from the character or NPC that controls them. Alternatively, it can cause a death affect on the target undead, sending them into the first precinct of death (if they are in life), or send them to the next precinct of death (if they are in death). If affected by this bell herself, the ringer will walk one precinct deeper into death. Other than this, Kibeth only affects undead.

Dyrim is a very musical bell, ringing a clear and pretty tone. Dyrim is the lost voice of the dead. An undead who hears Dyrim gains the ability to speak and understand common. It If the ringer wishes, she can remove the ability to speak all spoken languages from the undead listener. If the listener is alive, the ringer can use this bell to temporarily (5 minutes x ringer's level) remove the ability to speak all spoken languages from the listener, or to reverse any such affect.

Belgaer is a very trickysome bell that seeks to ring of its own accord. Most necromancers scorn to use this bell, as it is the thinking bell that restores independent thought to the listener. An undead that hears Belgaer regains the Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores it had in life. It also regains all its memories. When used on an intelligent undead or non-undead, the listener forgets all its memories, and has Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma of 0. This reverses in 1 minute x ringer level. The bell can be used to reverse this.

Saraneth is the deepest and lowest bell. Anyone who listens to this bell is under the control of the ringer. The save to negate is the ringer's will check added to the ringer's effective caster level. The ringer can command up to 4HD x ringer's level at any one time.

Astarael the Sorrowful
This is the final bell. When it is rung (even by accident or by someone who is not proficient with bells) the ringer's body is killed as if by a death effect, and they are sent into the d4+5 precinct of death. Everybody (and everything, undead or living) within 30 ft must pass a DC 25 Will save or be affected by the same fate as the Ringer. Everything between 30 ft-60 ft must pass a DC 20 Will save or be affected by the same fate as the Ringer. Everybody between 60 ft and 100 ft must pass a DC 10 Will save or be affected by the same fate as the Ringer. Everybody who suffers the death effect loses control of themselves in death and will go as fast as possible to the ninth gate moving through the gates of death automatically (they are not affected by the dangers of death).

Feats of an Abhorsen[edit]

The Charter Magic feat allows the Abhorsen to casts spells and magic using their Wisdom attribute instead of Intelligence. They gain this knowledge through the ability to use the charter stones using charter marks- drawn from the pool of charter marks networked around charter stones- to cast spells. To gain the benefit of the Charter Magic feat requires the Abhorsen to cast all spells with verbal and somatic components- speaking the names of the marks and directs the flow with her hand. The knowledge of the charter mark's names comes to the Abhorsen intuitively, so she does not need to memorize them beforehand. The Abhorsen casts divine spells in the same manner as a sorcerer casts arcane spells, and knows as many spells as she gets spells per day. For example a 1st level Abhorsen knows 3 level 0 spells, and 1 level 1 spell. The Abhorsen must have Wisdom and Charisma of at least 13 plus the spell's level in order to cast spells with this feat, as it requires one to use a magic device(charter stones) and also to intuit the flow of magic from the charter marks.

The Flow of Magic feat means an Abhorsen must be within 120 miles of a charter stone to harness the power of magic most effectively. If more than 40 miles away from a charter stone, she counts as being one level lower for determining spells per day and spell effects. If within 40 miles of a charter stone, the Abhorsen counts as being two levels higher for determining spells per day and spell effects.
Spells without the charter marks are drawn from residual power naturally around them, leading the Abhorsen to use regular sorcerer spells. In order to find out your bonus spells, you must take the average of your Wisdom and Charisma scores (rounding down) to apply it to Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells.

Increase the Flow feat allows the Charter stone to be further away and for the Abhorsen to feel the more subtle marks that could not be felt before, allowing them to be twice as far from a Charter Stone to be able to use the flow of magic feat bonus.

Wallmaker The wallmaker ability allows the Abhorsen to take 4 points of Constitution drain to create a charter stone in a ritual that takes one hour

Improved Wallmaker The improved wallmaker ability allows the Abhorsen to take 1 point of Constitution damage to create a charter stone.

Limitless Flow allows the Abhorsen to feel the subtlest charter marks and the power flowing from the Great Charter Stones. She no longer needs to be near a charter stone to be able to use her Flow of Magic feat

Identify Undead

The Identify Undead feat allows Abhorsen to sense the presence of the undead from up to 100 ft. away. In addition, she can instantly identify anything that is undead just by looking, ignoring all magical effects and preventative spells. This ability is always active.

Stand Tall

The Stand Tall feat allows Abhorsen to resist the flow of the currents in the death realm better, reducing the difficulty of the DC checks for the currents in the realm of death by 10 + the number of the precinct the Abhorsen is in. Once pulled downstream by the river, they are pulled downstream half the normal distance.

Send the Dead Back

While in the realm of death, the Abhorsen can see the souls of all of the dead that are currently in the plane of the living. In combat, she takes her turns from the planes of death, while her body is unconscious in the plains of the living. She can use her bells from the planes of death, and when she does, the dead automatically fail their Will save. The bell's effects are always desirable and instant. Her sword also gains a +2 sacred bonus to attack and damage rolls while in a precinct of death.

Paragon of Undeath

The knowledge of the realm of death allows the Abhorsen to transform into a wraith when she is in the realm of death. She gains incorporeal traits, Can fly 90 ft. per round, and still has the ability to use all of her bells.

Enter Death

The Abhorsen may enter the realm of death as a free action. While in death, the Abhorsen may not move her body (which is in death). Her body in life loses 10 AC, and is always flat-footed. The Abhorsen's soul is separated from her body and she enters death. If the Abhorsen's body is slain while she is in death, she loses control and walks towards and into the ninth gate, automatically ignoring all of the perils of death, and the gates automatically open to her as she approaches them.

In the realm of death the Abhorsen may travel east or west as far as she likes, and with a successfully knowledge planes check (DC 20), she may travel to an area of death layered on any point in life relative to where her body is by traveling the distance away from her body east or west. For example, if she wants to travel 10 miles north, she may travel to the same point in death by passing a DC 20 knowledge planes skill check and travel east or west. If she leaves death she ends up back in her body in the place where she entered death (but alive) even if she went far west or east in death.

She may only enter the next or previous precinct of death through a gateway- commonly a waterfall but always some water feature- by speaking the required free magic command (a free action) while within 20 ft of the gate and walking through it while it is open. The gate closes after 4 rounds. Inside there are 9 precincts each with their own dangers. The gateways extend on the north and south side as far as you can see. It takes 4d4 minutes to travel through a gate.

The precinct widths (south-north), type of gate and dangers are summarized on the table below. While in the realm of death the Abhorsen is in water as if she where wading in a river (the depth varying from ankle depth in the first precinct, to waist deep in the ninth precinct), and must pass a swim check each round in death or be pulled downstream by the river (DC 15+ the number of the precinct the Abhorsen is in). Once pulled downstream by the river, they are pulled downstream 30x the number of precinct they are in ft a round (northwards), and must pass a swim check (same DC as before) in order to regain their footing.

While in the realm of death, there is a 5% chance of an encounter with an undead monster every hour spent in undeath (make the rolls 5 minutes after the Abhorsen enters death). Incorporeal creatures are considered to be corporeal in death. Also, each precinct from 2nd onwards has its own unique danger, summarized below:

Table: The Precincts of Death

Precinct Dangers Gate Width
1st Stronger Current a waterfall 150ft
2nd Underwater Pits A Whirlpool 50ft
3rd Waves a Waterfall 150ft
4th Stronger Current a Waterfall 300ft
5th Metamorphic Waters a Reverse Waterfall- a Waterclimb 300ft
6th no current lots of dead a circle of water* 300ft
7th Stronger Current a Wall of Fire 300ft
8th Pillars of Fire a Wall of Darkness 300ft
9th the Light of Death the Veil of Stars 150ft

Stronger Current The swim check DC for this precinct of death is 5 higher than normal.

Underwater Pits For every 5ft traveled in this precinct of death, the Abhorsen must pass a spot check (DC 20) or fall into a hidden underwater pit. She may make a reflex save (DC 15) to avoid this, but if she fails, she falls into the pit and begins drowning. The Abhorsen is considered to be in difficult terrain in this precinct of death.

Waves Every 5 rounds in this precinct, a wave sweeps the whole precinct. When this happens, the Abhorsen must pass a swim check (DC 25) or be swept away as if she were pulled underwater.

Metamorphic Waters For every minute spent in this precinct the Abhorsen must pass a Will save (DC 20) or take d6 permanent Wisdom and Charisma damage. This cannot be reversed by anything short of a wish or miracle spell.

Pillars of Fire Every round, the Abhorsen must pass a Reflex save (DC 15) or take 6d6 points of Fire damage.

the Light of Death Once someone (or something...) enters the ninth precinct, they see a light. When they see this light, they loose control of their body and walk through the ninth gate. People are only affected by this light if they have died, are undead, are a necromancer, or if it is time for them to die. This requires the DM to make a decision to whether or not this affects someone (but on the whole, an Abhorsen will be unaffected). It is possible to avert your gaze from the glare if you were aware of the danger before you entered the ninth precinct. If so, you must make a Reflex save (DC 20) each round to avoid seeing the light.

The Ninth Gate The ninth gate is the final gate of death. If you walk through it, you die (and cannot come back in any way short of two wish or miracle spells (the first to bring her back to the ninth precinct, the second to bring her back from the precinct)).

Bane of Undeath (Su)

At third level, The Abhorsen's charter-spelled longsword becomes the bane of the undead. Whenever an undead creature is struck, the undead must pass a will check of DC 10 + The character's Abhorsen level or be shaken for 1d4 rounds. This ability is not a mind-affecting or fear effect.

+x blade

At sixth level the Abhorsen's longsword becomes a +1 undead bane longsword. This increases to by +1 every third level hereafter.

Vow of undeath slaying

The Abhorsen cannot accept more than half her share of gold from winning combats, and cannot earn money by working or owning a business etc. If creating an Abhorsen above first level, halve the starting gold the character receives.

The Epic Abhorsen[edit]

Table: The Epic Abhorsen
Hit Die: d8

Level Special
25th Puts the dead back to rest +12
30th Puts the dead back to rest +14

Skill Points Per Level
4+ Int modifier per level).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Epic Abhorsen:

Puts the dead back to rest

At 25th level, the Abhorsens competence bonus to attacks against undead and constructs becomes +5, and increases to +6 at 30th level. It does not increase beyond this point.

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