Shipwrecked on Skull Island
Prime Requisites: Intelligence
Requirements: Intelligence of 12+, Willpower of 11+
Hit Dice d4
Save: As a magic user
Advance: As a magic user
Maximum level 9
The Empire branded so called “death masters” as heretics with a prominent with a death mark scoured into their flesh. Essentially anyone bearing such a brand can be freely killed without any legal repercussions within the bounds of the Empire. The branded were then loaded aboard prison ships bound for the Edge of the World with other criminals and plague victims. Heretics from privileged backgrounds sometimes were shown mercy and had their brand placed somewhere out of sight like on their ass but most heretics bear the death mark on their face.
The death masters that survived the ship wreck, and managed to make it to shore start with no weapons, or any equipment. A 1st level death master begins the game knowing 1d4 1st level spells, and may acquire more during their travels either by discovery or deliberate research. Assembling a lab to continue with their necromantic research is going to be a major pain.
Restrictions: Death masters shun all forms of armor. The nature of their magic prevents them from using weapons other than daggers, knives, sickles, and scythes. They literally cannot call upon their magic while carrying any other sort of weapon. The are also limited to learning no more spells than their Intelligence score.
Special Abilities: At 1st level death masters gain an additional reward each time they steal a corpse. The reward is XP equal to the half XP value of the creature stolen. They also full XP for burying a body of an intelligent humanoid with its possessions intact. If they later steal the body or allow it to be reanimated or stolen they lose half the XP that they gained from burying it. The death master can construct a laboratory this requires 300 gp worth of materials. While inside his laboratory, a death master can cast spells by using up 10 additional gp per spell level instead of spending an Intelligence Point. Death Masters can also harvest the organs of a deceased corpse that was buried, and substitute those organs for spell components worth 1 gp per XP the corpse was worth when alive.
At first level and ever subsequent death master level a death master who rolls his hit die gets a result of 3 or less gains a special ability from the following list:
3. You gain the death mastery ability to enslave a single undead creature by spending a Willpower Point as long as the creature’s Willpower does not exceed your own. Each time you roll this result, you increase the number of undead you can enslave by 1. The undead are enslaved until you release them, they are destroyed or some other magic breaks the magical compulsion. A death master is limited to enslaving a total number of undead creatures equal to his Willpower score, at 9th level this limit is surpassed.
2. The first time you roll this result, you gain fluency in the language of the dead. If you were already fluent or you roll this result a second time you gain the speak with dead ability that works just like the spell except that you don’t need to spend an Intelligence point as long as the corpse is intact. Each additional time you roll this result you gain a +2 bonus to save against one of the following effects: hold spells, level drain, paralysis, sleep spells, or strength drain, in whatever order you choose.
1. You gain zombie master ability to reanimate 1 zombie per month without spending any Ability Points as long as you have access to a fully stocked laboratory and access to corpses by expending a gold piece worth of materials for every hit die possessed by the zombie to be reanimated. Zombies always possess one hit die more than the dead creature had. Each time you roll this result, you increase the number of zombies by 1.
Spells: A 1st level death master begins the game knowing 1d4 1st level spells, and may acquire more during their travels either by discovery or deliberate research. As the death master increases in level he gains access to higher level spells, at 2nd level he gains access to 2nd level spells, and at 3rd level access to 3rd level spells etc.
A death master is limited to knowing no more spells than his Intelligence score. Once learned, they are with him forever. He can cast spells he hasn’t memorized if he has access to a scroll, spell book, or his laboratory. However casting a spell from a scroll, book, or his laboratory has a 2/3 chance of unwittingly unleashing dangerous magic that will destroy the scroll, spell book or the laboratory in the process, the chance can be reduced by 1 for each additional round and Intelligence Point spent to cast the spell.
A death master can cast any death master spell known by spending an Intelligence Point, or a Willpower Point if he has no Intelligence Points left. After the Intelligence Point is spent, if the death master has any Intelligence Points remaining his Intelligence is considered to have been taxed, if he has no Intelligence Points remaining then his Intelligence has been exhausted.
Abilities that are exhausted cannot be used, and any action that requires the ability score automatically fails. A Willpower Point can be spent either to allow for a successful casting or automatic success on a single action as normal.
Eight hours of rest and two meals are required to restore an exhausted ability. Each hour of rest restores 1 lost Ability Point to a taxed ability.
First Level spells: cause light wounds, comprehend languages, detect magic, detect undead, feather fall, identify, magic preservation, protection from good/evil, read magic, reanimate zombies, scare, shield, sleep, transfer injury, unseen servant, and ventriloquism.
Second Level spells: continual light, curse of ill omen, curse of wasting, darkness, death armor, detect invisible, ESP, false life, find familiar, knock, levitate, locate object, magic mouth, ray of enfeeblement, reanimate skeletons, stinking cloud, and wizard lock.
Third Level spells: attract undead, bestow disease, clairvoyance, circle of protection vs. good/evil, death grip, dispel magic, evil eye, feign death, fly, hold person, infravision, invisibility, ray of paralysis, speak with dead, tongues, wall of ice, and water breathing
Fourth Level spells: curse of misfortune, dig, dimension door, cloudkill, fear, ice storm, inscribe teleportation circle, mummification, phantom form, summon shadows, wall of slime, and wizard’s eye.
Fifth Level spells: cause serious wounds, create greater undead, cone of cold, contact outer plane, curse of bound fate, feeblemind, finger of death, hold undead, and magic jar
Sixth Level spells: anti-magic barrier, astral projection, circle of death, disintegrate, geas, harm, move earth, reincarnate, stone to flesh, summon undead horde, wall of iron, and weather control
Seventh Level spells: anchor ghost, curse of the vampire, lore, heal, magic door, power word stun, raise dead, reverse gravity, summon object, and teleport any object
Eighth Level spells: clone, death pact, ethereal form, force field, mind barrier, permanence, power word blind, planar travel, summon raiment of shadow, and symbol
Ninth Level spells: contingency, energy drain, gate, immunity, power word kill, summon death, time stop, and wish
At 8th level, a living death master who casts the curse of the vampire spell on themselves will become a vampire lord, gaining all the powers and weaknesses of a vampire, they lose their Constitution score, their hit die graduates to a d12, and their Strength and Willpower both increase by +2. They also gain the Silver Tongue ability with the exception that it can even convince the undead. Once per turn, you can charm, lie, or persuade a single creature that can understand you to do or believe anything you wish as long as they have less hit dice than you do, and neither your Intelligence or Willpower has become exhausted. This action is resolved during the spell phase of combat instead of the interaction phase.
At 9th level, a living death master learns to shed a sliver of their soul into a magical item so that if they should ever die, they rise again after 1d6 days as a lich and almost certainly goes into seclusion to begin construction of an undead army as there is no longer a limit to the number of undead a lich can keep under its control. Liches cannot be permanently slain unless the magic item that contains the sliver of their soul is also destroyed. They lose their Constitution score and triple the hit points they had in life.
Note: A death master is capable of creating variant undead by combining spells such as wizard’s eye with reanimate zombie to make a zombie that the death master can share his senses with at a distance. Or he could cast magic mouth and reanimate skeleton to create a skeleton capable of speech or a skeleton that acts as an alarm.
Titles by Level
1. grave robber
2. tomb haunter
3. zombie master
4. black mage
6. lord of shadow
8. vampire master
9. death master