Yes, I know that there is both an official Necromancer "path" for the Mage class in Heroes of Shadow, and that there are other attempts at doing Necromancers as classes scattered across these boards, but... Well, though I don't think the Necromancer Mage is a bad kit perse, it's not really that appealing to me (feels too much like "wizard with necromancy tacked on"), and similarly I have my own visions and ideas for the Necromancer that, as far as I know, nobody else has tapped into.
I've gotten some positive feedback on my ideas, so I just wanted to start trying to flesh it out into an actual class.
These below are my basic thoughts about how the class "is"; what it can do, what kind of class it tries to be, etc.
Thematic Motif: The Necromancer is a character who wields the powers of death. They imbue corpses with a mockery of life to do their bidding, and snuff out the essence of life where they find it. Dark and sinister, they can serve the forces of good by turning their unholy powers against forces of evil that threaten the living - and their affinity with the undead actually makes them uniquely suited to snuffing out their perverse existence. Bitter cold and all-consuming void, disease and decay, poison and vermin, these bolster the Necromancer's ability to conjure spirits and command animate corpses.
Role: Controller. Necromancers summon minions and use them to blockade and harrass enemies, as well as using powers that weaken, cripple or otherwise debilitate their foes, impairing their abilities to fight or effectively counter the efforts of a PC party.
Secondary Role: Striker or Leader. Some Necromancy hexes are especially nasty; while they aren't guaranteed to kill a victim outright, they are able to leave an enemy severely weakened and ready to be picked off. Similarly, some Necromancy hexes are able to not only cripple a foe, but bolster an ally.
Primary Damage Type: Necrotic - this is the energy most associated with necromancy and the undead.
Secondary Damage Types: Poison/Acid - Both of these are damage types associated with corrosion, the slow death, the crippling effects of entropy, a life force being slowly eaten away. Cold - There's a reason we speak of the "chill of the grave"; cold is the element most thematically associated with entropy and oblivion.
Barred Damage Types: Radiant - Radiance is the power of light, the force of life incarnate. Necromancers draw their power from the deepest darkness of the soul; Radiance is their fundamental antithesis, the very opposite of the power that fuels them. Fire - Radiance's mundane relative, Fire is an element of life and transmutation, of change and energy. Necromancy deals with death and stasis. Lightning - Kin to Fire and Radiance both, Lightning is a dynamic force, a brilliant energy beyond the grasp of shadow magic.
Class Features: Necrotic Soul - A necromancer is adept at wielding necrotic energy above all else. This allows him to bolster himself from harm by necrotic energy - but it can also shield him from radiant energy; by enveloping himself in a cloak of purest Shadow, elemental Light is swallowed harmlessly. It also means that he can pierce and unravel the shadowy defenses of the Undead. This functions as per the various "Arcane Souls" of the Sorcerer class, except it provides a Necromancer with resistance to Necrotic and Radiant damage and lets him pierce Necrotic Resistance.
Dark Secrets - These are the selectable class feature, akin to Warlocks and their Pact. Lord of the Dead - Necromancer magic revolves heavily around the power to create and control the undead. Consequently, they learn how to require a lessened expenditure of life-force in their creations, and to mitigate the backlash of unexpected destruction. The Necromancer reduces the normal amount of hit points lost for having Summons destroyed by the enemy, if they choo.
Deadwalker - Some necromancers establish a particular bond with a singular undead creation, ensuring that they always have one stable, dependable, reliable minion at their beck and call. This is the Necromancer "pet" line, focusing on using a permanent companion, ala Beastmaster Rangers.
Destroyer - Necromantic magic is often considered fairly subtle, but it does have tis more overtly destructive side. A Destroyer is a Necromancer who focuses on bringing death to enemies through his magic; Withering cold, storms of necrotic energy, screaming rifts, tornadoes of souls, these are the powers a Destroyer commands. This form of Necromancer is better at straight-up attacking than either a Lord of the Dead necromancer or a Deadwalker necromancer - I'm thinking that they can perhaps do bonus damage and/or impose a penalty to "end effects" saving throws.
Black Grimoire - A necromancer learns many dark rituals in his or her quest to master the undead. A Necromancer has a ritual book containing three rituals chosen from the following list. Last Sight Talk to the Dead Gentle Repose (?)
Paragon Paths: Deathslayer - This is a necromancer who took to studying the black arts for one reason; know thy enemy. This is a necromancer whose speciality is destroying the undead. Class features include a bonus to defenses and attack rolls against enemies with the Undead keyword, and a strengthened form of Necrotic Soul that means they treat Necrotic Resistance as Vulnerability: Necrotic instead. Powers are an encounter attack hex that cripples an undead to make it easier to kill, an encounter utility that makes allies more resistant to undead attacks, and a daily attack that causes heavy ongoing necrotic damage - and if the initial target is undead, this damage can spread to other targets.
Pale Master - This is the classical necromancer who specialises in controlling multiple undead at once. Features make his summons better, while powers revolve around particularly nasty summons - this is the Necromancer equivalent of the Master Summoner (Bonded Summoner?) paragon path for Wizards.
Crypt King - This is a necromancer who invests the effort to create a permanent undead minion, stronger and more powerful than is usual. Features revolve around this necromantic "pet", as do its powers. This is the Necromancer equivalent of the Thrallherd paragon path for Psions.
Plague Master - Necromancers whose interests lie in the slow, creeping power of poison, plague, decay and rot take up this mantle, which gives them unparalleled mastery over venom and disease. Features include greater resistance to diseases and Poison Resistance, while powers revolve around Poison and Acid damage, typically slowing or weakening foes as well.
Sanguine Witch - Necromancy is not so much about death as it is about life; most turn to necromancy as a way to cheat death, to prolong life. And the most primal, vital symbol of life is blood. A Sanguine Witch learns to master blood, both her own and those of her enemies, clinging more stubbornly to life than every before. Features include gaining a low-level form of Regeneration, being able to immediately regain health by spending an Action point, and a bonus to "Death Saving Throws" and to rolls to come back when Raised (reflecting the necromancer's improved ability to cling to life). Powers include draining blood to heal themselves, being able to restore health to allies by sacrificing healing surges, and causing massive damage on enemies by trying to rip the blood from their bodies.
Animator - Necromancers are adept at investing a mockery of life where life once was, but some aren't satisfied with this. Animators are Necromancers who try to imbue life where life never flourished before, granting the ability to fashion not only undead, but constructs as well.
Epic Destinies: Primagen - Some Necromancers become so consumed with necromancy's apparent power over life and death that they turn to the most blasphemous of arts; attempting to create life. Not a false life, as is usually the case, but actual life itself. Whether they stitch together abominations from corpses or grow new lifeforms from alchemical equipment, they typically produce naught but perversions... but, sometimes, very rarely, a Primagen succeeds in her dark goal...
Undying One - Some Necromancers fear death so much that they do anything - anything at all - to cling to life, without having to make the sacrifices that becoming one of the undead would require. These are the Undying Ones, seekers of immortality at any cost. Some fail, settling for lichhood or some strange new form of undeath. Others, though, succeed, though rarely as they intended.
Lychking - Mastery over the walking dead is the most basic art of Necromancy, and yet there is always a limit to how many a necromancer can control at once. A Lychking seeks to expand their will and hone their powers until they can control a veritable army of the undead, all on their own.
And these are the suggestions for the basic "stat block" of the class... As is obvious, I really don't know what I'm doing, so I could use all the help I can get to make something out of this.
Hit Points at first level: 12 + Constitution score Hit points per level gained: 6 Healing Surges per day: 5 + Constitution modifier
Trained Skills: Religion or Arcana. From the class skills list below, chose three more trained skills at first level. Arcana, Dungeoneering, History, Religion, Nature, Heal, Intimidate, Streetwise, Bluff.
I love what you have so far, and I will gladely help. Luckily for me, I like formatting and class feature building but suck at fluff making and power making. I'll take care of the formatting if you take care of the fluff xD
Class Traits: Role: Controller. While your hexes aren't guranteed to kill a victim outright they do leave your foes severly weakened, and your summonings allow you to keep some foes isolated from your friends, you can even use the same techniques of imbuing corpses with energy to bolster your allies. Depending on your choice of class features and powers, you lean towards either Striker or Leader as your secondary role. Power Source: Shadow. You wield the powers of death, you have the ability to imbue corpses with a mockery of life to do your bidding and snuff out the essence of life where you find it. Key Abilities: Intelligence, Constitution, Charisma.
Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution Score. Hit Points per Level Gained: 5 Healing Surges per Day: 7 + Constitution modifier.
Trained Skills: Religion or Arcana. From the class skill list below, choose 3 more trained skills at 1st level. Class Skills: Arcana (int), Bluff (Cha), Dungeoneering (Wis), Endurance (Con), Heal (Wis), History (Int), Insight (Wis), Nature (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Streetwise (Cha)
Class features: Necrotic Soul, Lord of the Dead, Black Grimoire, Dark Secrets.
Necrotic Soul You gain resist 5 to necrotic and radiant damage. The resistance increases to 10 at 11th level and 15 at 21st level. Your Necromancer powers ignore any target's necrotic and/or radiant resistances up to the value of your resistances. Black Grimoire: You know the Last Sight and Talk to the Dead rituals and can use one of them for free once per day. Spoiler:Show
or you can use each of them for free once per day, whichever you choose. It's your class, after all
Dark Secrets Choice either the Deadwalker or Destroyer collection of class features.
Destroyer: You gain the..... class features.
Deadwalker: You gain the Lord of the Dead class feature.
Lord of the Dead: Your magic revolve heavily around the power to create and control the eundead. You've learned how to lessen the expenditure of lifefoce in your ceations, and how to mitigate the backlash of the destruction of your creations. Whenever one of your summonings dies you regain hit points equal to your Constitution modifier. If the amount of health regained cause you to have more hit points than your maximum hit points the excess is converted into temporary hit points. Spoiler:Show
If I remember correctly you lose a healing surge when your summoning is destroyed. The best way of lessening that cost is to grant either hit points or temporary hit points. This could be as small as a secondary modifier, or temporary hit points equal to "half your healing surge value".
Do you want to or should I make a mesh-up between the beastmastery pet and the sentinel companion and give it a Necromantic feel? I'll add inn more of the flavour when I know how each of the different builds will turn out.
What striker mechanic should we use? Something typical like +secondary modifier or do we want something cool and original, that's still easy to track?
Flavour thinking-outloud-ness What if his striker feature is a Zone? A tornade of clawing souls that draw the very life out of your opponents? We can also use it to make up for his low AC. This is what I've got so far:
You summon a zephir of writhing souls. You command them to disrupt your enemies and bolster your allies.
At-WillShadow, Implement, Zone
Minor Action - Area burst 2(?) within 10 squares
Effect: The burst creates a zone that lasts until the end of the encounter or until you use this power again. Enemies within the zone treat you as having partial concealment
Destroyer: Once per round, when you hit with an attack, you can deal necrotic damage equal to your Charisma modifier to one enemy within the zone
Deadwalker: One ally or summoning in the burst gains a +2 bonus to damage rolls. This bonus increases to +3 at 11t level and +4 at 21st level. Once per round you can grant an ally or summoning in the burst temporary hit points equal to your Constitution modifer as a free action.
Special: Using this power does not provoke an opportunity attack.
...:D I think that this is going to be a very good partnership. I can cook up flavor text with no problems, and I like to think that basic ideas (for example, this power called "Toll The Bells of Death" may work by creating a zone of cosntant necrotic & thunder damage, it can be sustained as a minor action and expanded with a standard action) aren't a problem, but actual rules work isn't my strong point (for example, I would have no idea if "Toll the Bells of Death" actually is feasible under the rules and, even if it is, what level it would be, how mch damage to make it inflict, etc).
The original idea was that Lords of the Dead would be part of the "Dark Secrets" line, so a player can officially choose to focus on whether their Necromancer is a summoner, always attended to by an undead minion, or focuses on killing directly. But given that a number of the Necromancer's powers will be Summons, it does make sense to make it a more generic class feature.
The "Soulnado" looks like a very good idea, to me; it makes the Necromancer better as a controller, a striker and a leader, it fits into his "theme", and it's distinct from other striker/striker-esque class features.
I think it might be better if you work on the "crunch" for the Necromancer's Minion. However, looking over Martial Power, I note that the Ranger has several different "beast categories" he can choose his pet from. Perhaps we, too, should give a selection of "archetypes" for a necromancer to create his Dark Minion from?
For example, in my mind's eye, I can see the rudiments for a Shambling Thing (big, slow, stupid, but tough and strong - this could be flavored as anything from an extremely tough zombie to a flesh golem or a fenbeast), a Feral Dead (quick moving and good damage, but can't take a lot of punishment; a "fast zombie", a feral ghoul, an undead hound, etc), a Grave Guardian (the "mario" of the Dark Minions, good in all areas but not exceptional; your basic smart zombie or skeleton bodyguard), and a Spectral Fiend (intangible undead servant, good for scouting).
Rules are what I exceed at. From now on you can post any idea of an ability, power, class feature, feat etc, and I will (probably before the next day) have made an "official"-sounding version of it. I've always felt that the "fluff first, mechanics second" way of creating powers is best. I however have shot myself in the leg by the fact that I've never played past heroic tier, so when it comes to balancing encounter powers and paragon paths you will have to find another partner in crime.
Regarding Lord of the Dead, I think it should be a Deadwalker feature. The stereotypical Destroyer will most likely stick to blasts (a la sorcerer) and conjurations rather than actual physical summons.
Usually I'm not the guy that gets the ideas, but I really do like my Soulnado xD I am however almost sure that I unconsciously stole it from another source, that I've just yet to reminded of.
How he will use his pet however might become a bit tricky. I'm thinking that each "build " gives you a static at-will power and the other at-will can be chosen from a list.
You go ahead and think of a few powers, I'm gonna go eat dinner and think about Ghouls and Feral Deads. I think two types is enough (one burly and one quick), but I might be mistaken. You start doing the fluff (does he summon them from another plane? Does he pick up the bones of his enemy and puts it together, piece by piece, with magic? etc) and, yeah... I'll go eat.
P.S. I just heard that the rules about Zones has just been updated, I'll look at that as soon as I can be bothered.
P.P.S. I had too:
Toll the Bells of Death
Necromancer Attack 1
*insert your flavour text here*
DailyShadow, Implement, Necrotic, Thunder, Zone
Standard Action - Ranged 10
Target: One creature
Attack:Intelligence vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d8 + Intelligence modifier necrotic and thunder damage and the target is dazed until the end of your next turn.
Effect: The attack creates a zone of *flavour* in a burst 2 centered on the target. The zone lasts until the end of your next turn. Enemies that enter or start their turn within the zone take 5 necrotic and thunder damage and is deafened until the end of your next turn.
Sustain Minor: The zone persists until the end of your next turn.
I think this is what you are thinking about. This can easily be scaled down to an encounter or even at-will attack, or to be an Area burst attack
The original writeup for Lord of the Dead ending like it does is because my mind wandered and I posted without realising. It was supposed to be, "if they choose this build-feature".
I was honestly thinking a power like that would be an Epic tier power. It just sounds so much like something you'd expect a master necromancer to do, you know?
As for the Dark Minion choices, the way I see it, if Rangers can have Bears, Boars, Cats, Lizards, Raptors, Serpents, Spiders and Wolves, well...
So, you want me to do some basic class fluff first? Alright, let's see what I can do...
Basic Class Fluff: Necromancy is an art practised by many. Arcanists call up rotting corpses and bind restless shades with their magic. Priests dedicated to gods of death or dark powers are given the authority to command those who once lived in the name of their patron. Some spirit-walkers go beyond the arts of calling upon the power of ancestors long gone to instead enslave the spirits of the once-living. Even some psionicists learn to use their mental powers to manipulate corpses as grisly puppets. But all of these pale in comparison to the true Necromancer. Whilst others merely dabble in shadow magic, inviting in only the tiniest sliver of its dark power, Necromancers throw open their souls to the darkness, becoming conduits for the energies of death and decay, walking with one foot amongst the living and another amongst the dead.
Necromancers are feared and shunned, for many turn to their path because of a dark nature, or are enslaved by the vices and dark impulses that their condition opens them to, but many other necromancers are darkly heroic figures. More than one necromancer turned to the corpse-arts because of tragedy; bereaved by the death of a loved one or, more rarely, a massive event of carnage, they seek to master a way to cheat death itself and bring back those who are lost. Others believe that one must fight fire with fire; in a world overrun by monsters of the worst sort, no power is too dark to wield against them. Of these, some claim that they are merely giving those who once lived a chance to fight on to protect the world for their living descendents, whilst others view their undead charges as merely cannon fodder; better that some mindless thing of dead flesh and bones be destroyed than another living being suffer.
Whatever their motivations, adventuring necromancers must work hard to prove themselves worthy of trust even by their own companions, and many will never be fully accepted.
Skeletal Archer: Either as a Daily Summon or a Pet.
Death Wisp A necromancer's version of Fire Hawk
Shadow Pack A huge close blast of conjured wolves.
Writhing Shadows Multiple powers. Shadows can grasp, claw, blind, push, trip and hamper in so many different ways.
Living Bones Boney arms come out of the ground and hold everyone in burst 1 stuck.
Raise the dead (encounter or daily, depending on its potency) Raises all creatures that have died in the last 30 minutes/5 minutes/since the start of the encounter as minions. These minions can't do anything really, but when adjacent to them enemies take a cumulitive penalty. This could be a penalty to speed, defenses, attack rolls or grant combat advantage. You can move the minions as a move action and can use a standard action to have anyone of them make an attack. We could even have it so that you can determine line of sight and effect from one of your minions, but you must have line of sight and vision to the minion.
Conjure Crushing Hand The hand is floating, so it doesn't immobalize, but It might affect the target's movement in other ways. The attack is vs. reflex and once you've hit you can sustain it as a standard action (keep crushing) without an attac kroll. A creature held by the hand takes an effect such as penalty to attacks/defenses, grant combat advantage or is slowed. Instead of sustaining it you can use a standard action to forcefully move the target x-squares, and the hand disappears. There are many ways to make this power, but it's pretty much always going to be a "sustain: standard". We just have to decide how strong and how big it is.
Transfer life The standard grant THP/true heal/next that attacks the target can spend a healing surge, or something. There are 1001 ways to make a power that is based on transferring life