Death Priest (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Death Priest[edit]

This Death Priest is an adaptation from Necromancer’s Handbook. Because the classes within this handbook were designed only as NPCs and overpowered, I thought breaking the Death Priest into a couple of different prestige classes with strict guidelines, rules and focuses sounded like fun. I’m attempting to convert it into 3.5e, and thus converting it into 5e should be very simple.

Death Priests have a healthy respect, if not fascinated by death. Most societies are often very suspicious of Death Priests, but deem them as a "necessary evil", although most Death Priests believe that they or death are neither "good" or "evil", but simply a part of the circle of life. Death Priests often preside over funerals for royalty and wealthy families for helping loved ones find their way in the afterlife. Both the DM and Death Priest player can determine the funeral rites, length, and how much the Death Priest charges for performing these rites.

Requirements[edit]

To qualify to become a Death Priest, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

  • Ability Scores: Wisdom 16, Intelligence 12
  • Alignment/Deity: Lawful Neutral, (True) Neutral, or Chaotic Neutral, but must be within one step on the lawful-chaotic axis from their neutral deity.
  • Domains: Death Domain, and any other domains
  • Feats: Spell Focus (Necromancy), Spell Penetration
  • Skills: Spellcraft 10 ranks
  • Spells: Able to cast 5th level Cleric spells

Table: Undead Priest
Hit Die: d8

Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells per Day/Spells Known
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Greater Spell Focus (Necromancy) +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
3rd +2 +3 +1 +3 Greater Spell Penetration +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
4th +3 +4 +1 +4 +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
5th +3 +4 +1 +4 Metamagic Feat +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
6th +4 +5 +2 +5 +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
7th +5 +5 +2 +5 Metamagic Feat +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
8th +6 +6 +2 +6 +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
9th +6 +6 +3 +6 Metamagic Feat +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
10th +7 +7 +3 +7 Destruction Domain +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level)
Death Priest’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Profession (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).

Prestige Class Features[edit]

A Death Priest of a neutral deity no longer chooses whether his turning ability functions as that of a good cleric or an evil cleric and can cast spontaneous cure or inflict spells.

Prestige Class Level 1[edit]

At 1st level, the Death Priest automatically gains the Greater Spell Focus (Necromancy) feat

Prestige Class Level 3[edit]

At 3rd level, the Death Priest automatically gains the Greater Spell Penetration feat

Prestige Class Level 5[edit]

At 5th, 7th, and 9th level, the Death Priest gains and chooses any Metamagic feat

Prestige Class Level 5[edit]

At 10th level, the Death Priest gains the Destruction Domain

Spell List[edit]

In addition to cleric/domain spells, Death Priests also have access to these spells:

Zero-Level (0) Spells[edit]

Death's Door
Necromancy
Level: Death Priest 0
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: One human or demihuman
Duration: 1 hour/Death Priest level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No


When a Death Priest employs this spell, he or she touches a subject who is injured, unconscious and "at death's door" (-1 to -9 hit points). The spell immediately brings the wounded individual back up to 0 hit points, bringing the subject back from death's door. Although the victim remains unconscious, bleeding and deterioration are stopped for the duration of the spell. The subject (now at 0 hit points) can be brought immediately to consciousness by clerical spells or items that restore lost hit points.

The material components of the spell are the cleric's (un)holy symbol, a bit of white linen, and any form of unguent.

3rd-Level Spells[edit]

Ebony Hand
Necromancy
Level: Death Priest Priest 3
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: You
Duration: 3 rounds +1 per Death Priest level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No


This minor meditation focuses a baneful, necromantic aura in the caster's chosen hand, enveloping the fingers in a dark, flickering radiance. The aura of the ebony hand enhances the delivery of harmful, touch-related spells (such as cause light wounds or cause disease) by providing a +1 bonus on the Death Priest's attack roll for every three Death Priest levels of experience past the first (+2 to hit at 4th level, +3 at 7th level, to a maximum of +4 to hit at 10th level).

Once the ebony hand is cast, the magic of the touch- delivered spell is no longer conducted through physical contact with the caster's fingertips but through the flickering aura of the ebony hand. The companion touch-delivered spell(s) may be cast either before or after the creation of the ebony hand, which does not expire with a single, successful touch and may be used to deliver multiple attacks if the spell duration permits. Note that the ebony hand does not enhance attacks with weapons or other ranged spells.

The material component varies from religion to religion, but it is usually a piece of apparel or jewelry which is worn on the caster's hand to help focus the meditation (often a black glove or a simple silver or onyx ring). Regardless of the actual focus employed, the material component is not consumed by the spell and may be employed in multiple castings. As the spell description implies, the ebony hand may only be granted by malevolent deities to their evil priests.

4th-Level Spells[edit]

Hear Heartbeat
Divination
Level: Death Priest 4
Components: V, S
Casting time: 1 Full-Round Action
Range: 10 ft radius per Death Priest level
Targets: You
Duration: 1 round + 2 rounds per Death Priest level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No


In the duration of this spell, a Death Priest becomes completely deaf to all normal sounds and may hear only the noise of other creatures' beating hearts. The heartbeat of each person, animal, or monster in the area of effect is clearly distinct and may convey information about the being's proximity, direction, size, emotional distress, general health, and race or species. For instance, the heartbeat of a frail old wizard would be much softer and weaker than that of the invisible ogre bodyguard, standing behind him. This spell can provide quite confusing results if cast in the presence of numerous individuals (such as on a crowded city street) and is most effective when cast by a cleric in relative seclusion. A priest never hears his or her own heartbeat with this spell. It is effectively masked out by the power of the hear heartbeat spell. Obviously, this spell is of little use with creatures without functioning hearts (such as plants or undead). The spell's range is diminished if more than a one- inch thickness of wood, stone, or metal lies between the caster and a subject. Each inch of a barrier's thickness should be treated as 10' of open space.

The material component is beeswax mixed with a tiny drop of the priest's own blood (to block the sound of his or her own heartbeat). While casting the spell, the priest places the wax in his ears to blot out normal sound and trigger the magical effect. Note that the priest is completely oblivious to normal sounds (such as talking or music) while the spell is in effect.

5th-Level Spells[edit]

Life Drain
Necromancy
Level: Death Priest 5
Components: V
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: One living creature
Duration: Special
Saving Throw: Fortitude 1/2
Spell Resistance: Yes


By casting this spell and touching another individual, a priest may fortify another's life force at the expense of a victim. This spell enables the Death Priest to drain 1d8 hit points plus 1 hp per level of the caster from a living creature. The Death Priest may immediately bestow the hit points on him/herself, or transfer them to another individual within 1d4 rounds of the casting. The stolen hit points can increase those of the recipient beyond the normal maximum, and these extra hit points only last for up to one turn per the caster's level. Any damage suffered by the subject is first subtracted from these additional hit points.

Though predominantly employed by evil priests at the expense of innocents, the spell may be used by those of noble intent, but only if all participants act of their own accord. However, if the victim (the donor of the life force) is unwilling, a saving throw indicates that the spell was partially resisted and only half the hit points were drained. Undead can neither benefit nor be harmed by life draining. It is possible, however, for a Death Priest to drain hit points from a victim and bestow them on a living ally.

6th-Level Spells[edit]

Insanity
Enchantment
Level: Death Priest 6
Components: V
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: One living creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will
Spell Resistance: Yes


Same as the Sorcerer/Wizard 7 spell, except this spell requires touch.


Heart Blight
Necromancy
Level: Death Priest 6
Components: V, S
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: 10 ft per Death Priest's level
Targets: One living creature
Duration: Special, up to 3 rounds
Saving Throw: Fortitude
Spell Resistance: Yes


With this spell, a Death Priest may exert his or her will on the still-beating heart of any living victim, provided the target remains in clear view (line of sight) and within the spell's range. After casting the spell, the priest must focus his or her entire concentration on the victim's heart for three rounds, during which time the caster may not cast other spells or engage in melee. The priest may, however, walk, talk, and take ordinary defensive precautions while the spell runs its course through the victim.

During the first round of the spell, the victim must make a saving throw vs. death magic with a -2 penalty. This saving throw is modified according to the victim's hit point adjustment due to Constitution (+1 bonus for 15 Con, +2 for 16 Con, and so on; see page 15 in the PHB for more on this).

If the victim makes this first saving throw, the spell fails to take hold of his or her heart and has no further effect. If the victim fails the save, however, then he or she suffers a massive spasm of pain in the chest (similar to that felt in a heart attack), inflicting 1-8 points of damage on the victim and completely incapacitating the individual for one excruciating round. During the second round, the victim is entitled to another saving throw, this time with a -1 penalty (plus any bonuses for Con). As before, if the victim makes the save, the spell ends with no further effect. If failed, however, the victim's chest pain intensifies, as if a searing band of iron was being slowly tightened around the heart. The character experiences severe dizziness, disorientation, and terrible shooting pains in the arms, jaw, and left shoulder.

Meanwhile, the victim loses 25% of any remaining hit points, is paralyzed with pain for 2-5 rounds, and immediately loses 2-5 points of Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity. Providing the victim survives the final stage of the spell (see below), these lost points are regained at a rate of 1 point in each these three ability scores per day. On the third round of the spell, the target must make a (third, unmodified) saving throw vs. death magic or suffer a massive heart attack, resulting in immediate death (onset time is 1 round, during which time, the victim is completely incapacitated). Alternatively, a kind DM might decide that the final phase of the spell merely plunges the victim into a deep, death-like coma, lasting 1-4 days and resulting in the permanent loss of 1 point of Constitution.

This deadly spell may be thwarted in a number of ways. Successfully casting Dispel Magic on either the victim or the Death Priest will disrupt the heart blight, as will casting a simple Protection From Evil spell on the victim or wearing a Scarab Of Protection (this drains a charge, however). Furthermore, the victim may be entitled to repeat a saving throw with a +2 bonus if treated by another character with the Healing skill. Finally, the spell is immediately broken if the victim is transported out of range or removed from the Death Priest's line of sight.


Plague Curse
Abjuration, Conjuration
Level: Death Priest 6
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 full-round action
Range: Touch
Targets: Once living creature
Duration: See below
Saving Throw: Fortitude
Spell Resistance: Yes


By means of this spell, a necromancer bestows a powerful curse on a person or object which becomes a carrier for plague and contagion. Every person or animal that comes in direct physical contact with the cursed carrier must make a saving throw vs. Fortitude or contract a fatal disease (as described in the 3rd-level priest spell Contagion), resulting in a victim's slow, agonizing demise within 2d2 weeks. The living focus of a plague curse is completely immune from the effects of the disease he or she carries. In many cases, the carrier will be oblivious to his cursed condition especially if the carrier is a frequent traveler and does not remain in a single location long enough for the plague symptoms to surface in those he or she contacts.

The carrier of a plague curse displays no outward signs of disease and radiates only a very faint aura of necromancy (only a 5% chance of detecting per their character level). The curse may only be removed from an individual by a priest of higher level than the caster (dispel magic has no effect); alternatively, a cursed object may be cleansed by destruction in fire. Normally, the curse only expires after it has claimed one life for each level of the original caster. As for the deadly affliction caused by a plague curse, it may be successfully treated with a paladin's healing touch or with such spells as cure disease, heal, or restoration.

The secrets of this malignant incantation are known only to the scant few priests who serve the cold gods of Pestilence and Decay. It is rumored that some Plague Priests must willingly accept this curse for their religion. Invoking a plague curse ages the caster by one year. The material component is the priest's (un)holy symbol and a small ball of myrrh.

7th-Level Spells[edit]

Scourge
Conjuration
Level: Death Priest 7
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 full-round action
Range: 35 ft per Death Priest level
Targets: Once living creature per Death Priest level
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: Fortitude
Spell Resistance: Yes


This nasty spell causes a major disease and weakness in victims who fail a saving throw vs. spells at a -3 penalty. Afflicted individuals are immediately stricken with a sickening scourge that quickly spreads to cover their entire bodies. The blackened boils, magenta blotches, violet lesions, seeping abscesses, and malignant cysts are excruciatingly painful and highly debilitating. In the short term, the Strength, Dexterity, and Charisma of each victim are reduced by 3. Attack rolls are similarly decreased by 3. The agonizing symptoms persist until a victim receives a cure disease, heal, or restoration spell bestowed by a more powerful priest than the original caster. Dispel magic and remove curse are powerless to mediate the symptoms of a scourge, but a wish will eradicate the infection immediately. A scourge may also lead to a long-term, debilitating illness. Those ignoring the malignant disease resulting from the spell's effects for more than a few days may be susceptible to much worse afflictions (such as gangrene, plague, or leprosy) that ultimately result in the victim's untimely death within 1d4 weeks. Furthermore, if a victim of the spell enters an area of dense population, there is always a chance that the disease may spread (1% per caster level) into an epidemic of massive proportions. These long-term effects of the scourge are left to the discretion of the DM. The material component is a specially prepared, black whip or riding crop, which is cracked in the direction of the intended victims during the casting of the spell.

8th-Level Spells[edit]

Asphyxiate
Necromancy
Level: Death Priest 8
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 full-round action
Range: 35 ft per Death Priest level
Targets: Once living creature per two Death Priest levels
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: Fortitude
Spell Resistance: Yes


This spell asphyxiates individuals (chosen by the priest) who fail a saving throw vs. Fortitude. If fewer than six individuals are targeted with this spell, each receives a -1 penalty on their save (-2 for three creatures or less, -4 if the entire spell is focused on a single creature). This necromancy induces a victim's throat to constrict and his or her lungs to swell shut, similar to a severe allergic reaction, for so long as the subject remains within range of the spell. Each round, a victim must attempt a Fortitude check. If failed, the victim suffers 1 - 6 points of damage. If successful, the subject manages to gasp for enough air to reduce the damage to 1d4 points. During its struggles against asphyxiation, the affected creature becomes effectively slowed (as per the 3rd- level wizard spell). A victim who fails four consecutive Fortitude checks has been smothered and dies automatically on the following round. The effects of asphyxiate continue until either the spell expires, a victim withdraws beyond range of the spell, or a successful dispel magic is employed on a victim. Victims remain slowed for 1d4 rounds after the spell ends. This spell normally affects only humans or demihumans, though the DM may extend the dominion of the spell to include man-sized or smaller animals and monsters. Obviously, creatures (such as undead and plant creatures) that never breathe cannot be affected by this spell. The material component is an (un)holy symbol and a (symbolic) silken gag, which the priest loosely wraps around his or her own mouth after casting the spell.

9th-Level Spells[edit]

Death Pact
Necromancy
Level: Death Priest 9
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 full-round action
Range: One living creature (usually caster)
Targets: Once living creature per two Death Priest levels
Duration: Special
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No


By completing this ritual, a high priest forges a powerful pact with his or her deity. The covenant ensures that a chosen individual will survive an untimely death. A death pact is triggered whenever the protected individual is reduced to fewer than 0 hit points (mortally wounded) due to combat, spell, or accident. In the same round, the subject receives the following benefits: The individual (or his or her remains) and all possessions are transported immediately back to a religious sanctuary as if by a word of recall (the location of the sanctuary must be specified at the time of forging the death pact). Upon arrival, the individual receives a raise dead spell (if necessary) and automatically makes any required Fortitude roll. Any physical damage sustained by the individual is completely healed except for ld4+l points of damage. Any severed or amputated limbs are instantaneously regenerated. The body is cleared of lingering enchantments with a dispel magic (bestowed at caster's level), whether beneficial or baneful, and cleansed of all poisons, diseases, blindness, curses, and insanity. A death pact will remain in effect indefinitely until the conditions established at the time of its forging have been fulfilled. The pact may be established to benefit an individual other than the caster. However, in almost all cases, the chosen one must be in good standing with the caster's religion and agree to undertake a mission that will directly benefit the deity or dark power responsible for granting the spell. A dispel magic cannot end a death pact prematurely. This powerful spell is not without its costs, however. Forging a death pact is an exhaustively stressful process, drawing the Death Priest into draining audiences with extraplanar powers. As a result, establishing a death pact ages the caster five years and requires at least one week for complete recuperation, during which time the Death Priest cannot cast any spells or engage in any physically demanding activity. Furthermore, when the pact is invoked, the mystical transport and instantaneous healing exacts another toll, this time aging the recipient for five years (if the individual was raised, he or she also loses one point of Constitution permanently). Thus, if the Death Priest casts the spell on him- or herself, he or she must be prepared to sacrifice at least ten years of life! The spell's material components are an (un)holy sanctuary consecrated to the caster's deity and seven drops each of the caster's blood, the recipient's blood, (un)holy water, and dew. This powerful pact has enabled many "slain" Death Priests to return from the dead and eliminate their enemies. Wicked necromancers in the service of evil deities are rumored to have significantly reduced the terrible personal toll on the caster by some unspeakably foul sacrifice. Note that powerful wizard necromancers might achieve a similar effect with wish-fortified contingency spells.


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