Undead Priest (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Undead Priest[edit]

This Undead 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.

This particular prestige class focuses on creating undead, whether it be an army of undead, or perhaps a few bodyguards to fight their fights so the Undead Priest doesn’t have to. All references to Turn Undead are actually Rebuke or Command Undead.


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

Table: Undead Priest
Hit Die: d6
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells per Day/Spells Known
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Rebuke/Command 1d4 Additional Undead +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
3rd +2 +3 +1 +3 Rebuke/Command 2d4 Additional Undead +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
4th +3 +4 +1 +4 +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
5th +3 +4 +1 +4 Rebuke/Command 3d4 Additional Undead +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
6th +4 +5 +2 +5 Fashion Exceptional Undead +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
7th +5 +5 +2 +5 Rebuke/Command 4d4 Additional Undead +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
8th +6 +6 +2 +6 +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
9th +6 +6 +3 +6 Rebuke/Command 5d4 Additional Undead +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
10th +7 +7 +3 +7 Undead Type +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level)
Undead 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]

Evil clerics channel negative energy to rebuke (awe) or command (control) undead rather than channeling positive energy to turn or destroy them. An evil cleric makes the equivalent of a turning check. Undead that would be turned are rebuked instead, and those that would be destroyed are commanded.

Rebuked: A rebuked undead creature cowers as if in awe (attack rolls against the creature get a +2 bonus). The effect lasts 10 rounds.

Commanded: A commanded undead creature is under the mental control of the evil cleric. The cleric must take a standard action to give mental orders to a commanded undead. At any one time, the cleric may command any number of undead whose total Hit Dice do not exceed his level. He may voluntarily relinquish command on any commanded undead creature or creatures in order to command new ones.

Dispelling Turning: An evil cleric may channel negative energy to dispel a good cleric’s turning effect. The evil cleric makes a turning check as if attempting to rebuke the undead. If the turning check result is equal to or greater than the turning check result that the good cleric scored when turning the undead, then the undead are no longer turned. The evil cleric rolls turning damage of 2d6 + cleric level + Charisma modifier to see how many Hit Dice worth of undead he can affect in this way (as if he were rebuking them).

Bolstering Undead: An evil cleric may also bolster undead creatures against turning in advance. He makes a turning check as if attempting to rebuke the undead, but the Hit Dice result on Table: Turning Undead becomes the undead creatures’ effective Hit Dice as far as turning is concerned (provided the result is higher than the creatures’ actual Hit Dice). The bolstering lasts 10 rounds. An evil undead cleric can bolster himself in this manner.

Prestige Class Level 6[edit]

Once an Undead Priest reaches 6th level, he or she gains the ability to fashion exceptional undead; any skeletons or zombies which are animated (either by Skeletal Servant or Animate Dead spells) gain an additional +1 hit point per hit die.

Prestige Class Level 10[edit]

Once the Undead Priest reaches 10th level, he or she gains these undead traits:

  • Darkvision up to 60 feet.
  • Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects).
  • Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, and death effects.
  • Not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain.
  • Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution), as well as to fatigue and exhaustion effects.
  • Negative energy (such as an inflict spell) can also heal the Undead Priest.
  • Immunity to any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless).
  • Not at risk of death from massive damage
  • Not affected by raise dead and reincarnate spells or abilities.
  • Does not require to breathe, eat, or sleep.

Spell List[edit]

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

6th-Level Spells[edit]

Skeletal Servant
Necromancy [Evil]
Level: Undead Priest 6
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 Full-Round Action
Range: Touch
Targets: One or more corpses touched
Duration: 1 day per Undead Priest level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell temporarily animates the bones of a dead human, demihuman, or humanoid creature of man-size or less. The resultant skeleton will obey only simple commands until it is destroyed, turned, or dispelled, or the spell duration expires. As with the creations of the more powerful animate dead spell, a skeletal servant can be commanded to guard an area, follow the caster, carry heavy objects, and so on. The servant is not well suited to complex tasks (such as cooking, for instance) and is generally created to serve as a porter or temporary bodyguard. A priest may have only one skeletal servant per level of experience in service at once. The material component is a handful of graveyard dirt. As with the more powerful animate dead spell, the creation of a skeletal servant is not a good act, and only evil priests use it frequently.

Spectral Senses
Level: Undead Priest 6
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: 30 ft/level
Targets: One undead
Duration: 1 hour/Undead Priest level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell establishes a sensual link between the priest and an skeleton or a zombie within the spell's range. This link allows the caster to see what the undead sees as if the priest were looking through the creature's eyes. The link also enables the priest to hear any sounds that occur in the vicinity of the undead being. The priest can hear and see exactly as if he or she were standing at the same location as the undead creature. The spell also allows the priest to issue simple commands via this link. The spell ends abruptly if either the caster or the undead creature moves out of range or is somehow moved to another plane. Alternatively, the spell may be cast upon an (inanimate) corpse. In such a case, the spell transmits visual and auditory senses to the priest, but does not confer any ability to command or animate the body. The material components are the priest's unholy symbol and a black, hooded cowl which must be worn over the eyes and ears of the priest to benefit from the spectral senses.

Undead Alacrity
Necromancy [Evil]
Level: Undead Priest 6
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: One undead/Undead Priest level
Duration: 1 round + 2 rounds/Undead Priest level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell only affects skeletons and zombies, which temporarily gain the speed and agility of a living human in a peak, healthy state (a movement rate of 12). The undead also gain the same dexterity, initiative, and saving throws as the caster (providing, of course, that these attributes are better than those of the undead). Because of their alacrity, the armor class of the undead is automatically improved by 1 (and possibly further modified by the defense adjustment of the caster, if any). The material components are three drops of water, sinew of any mammal, and a drop of quicksilver.

7th-Level Spells[edit]

Resist Turning
Level: Undead Priest 7
Components: V, S
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: One object or creature
Duration: 1 round + 2 rounds/Undead Priest level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

While this spell is in effect, all undead within a 5 ft radius per Undead Priest level of the affected object or creature gain a resistance to being turned (or commanded) by the clerics and paladins of an opposing religion (compared to that of the caster). The base resistance of the undead to being turned is 45%, plus 5% for every Undead Priest level (50% at 1st, 55% at 2nd, 60% at 3rd, up to a maximum of 95% at 10th level). This resistance roll is made secretly by the DM before each turning attempt is made. A single priest can continue attempting to turn or command the resistant undead creatures each round until either the resistance is overcome or the turn roll indicates failure. The spell can be centered on a stationary object or upon any moving creature, including the caster.

8th-Level Spells[edit]

Spirit Bind (Necromancy) Reversible

Sphere: Necromantic Range: 10 yards Components: V, S, M Duration: Permanent Casting Time: 1 round Area of Effect: One corpse Saving Throw: Neg.

Spirit Bind
Necromancy [Evil]
Level: Undead Priest 8
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: 30 ft
Targets: One corpse
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: Will
Spell Resistance: No

When cast near the corpse of a newly dead individual, this spell binds an individual's life force to its physical remains, preventing a spirit's departure to the afterlife. The (presumably unwilling) spirit of the deceased is entitled to a saving throw vs. Will to resist the effect (made as if still alive), modified by a -1 penalty for every two levels of the Undead Priest (-2 penalty at 4th level, -3 at 6th level, to a maximum of -5 at 10th level). Spirit bind must be cast on the body of the deceased within one round of the individuals' death, for every level of experience of the caster. Thus a 10th-level priest may bind the spirit of an individual who was dead for up to 1 minute. If successful, the spirit bound corpse takes on a pale silvery or mauve radiance. Normal animals and even monsters of low intelligence will involuntarily shun this necromantic aura. While under the effect of this spell, a cadaver becomes immune to the normal effects of rot and decay. Spirit bind may thus be employed to preserve a body for a subsequent raising or resurrection, for which the spirit bound individual is considered to have been dead for less than a day. Furthermore, because of the strong, necromantic link already forged between the spirit and the body, the victim receives a 10% bonus on any Fortitude saves. However, this spell is more often put to much darker ends by Undead Priests. Note that, for the deceased, being spirit bound is not a pleasant experience. The spirit may not be aware of its current location or the passage of time, but it is most certainly aware of being trapped or constrained. Once bound to its body, a spirit is much easier to coerce with threats of permanent imprisonment and to interrogate with speak with dead spells. Some sages speculate spirit bind may be also involved in the loathsome creation of a flesh golem. While immune to normal decay and dissolution (and the ravaging of animals and dumb monsters), the spirit bound corpse is in no way protected from destruction by a sentient creature or individual. Should its body be destroyed, the spirit instead becomes bound to the last area resided by the physical remains. Such a restless, quasi-liberated spirit might become a non-corporeal undead (such as an apparition, banshee, haunt, poltergeist, wraith, ghost, or spectre). A spirit imprisoned in this manner may only be released by casting the reverse of this spell (see below) or dispel evil (dispel magic and reverse curse arc ineffective). The reverse of this spell, spirit release, severs a spirits ties with the material world and is a common practice at formal funerals. Unwilling, incorporeal undead are entitled to a saving throw to resist the spell's effects, subject to the same penalties as outlined for spirit bind. If failed, the undead spirit departs for the outer planes and is effectively dispersed. Note that neither version of this spell affects corporeal undead (such as ghouls, liches, and vampires), nor do they affect extraplanar creatures.

9th-Level Spells[edit]

Undead Spell Focus (Necromancy)

Sphere: Necromantic Range: Touch Components: V, S, M Duration: Special Casting Time: 8 Area of Effect: One undead Saving Throw: None

Undead Spell Focus
Level: Undead Priest 9
Components: V, S, M
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: One undead
Duration: Special
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

For the duration of this spell, the recipient undead becomes a magical focus for the caster, who can now funnel any chosen, currently-carried "companion" spell through the undead. Any companion spell is emitted from the undead, but all casting activity (including component use) is performed by the priest. Distance does not matter, so long as priest and undead remain on the same plane. However, unless other spells (such as spectral senses, reflecting pool, or magic font) arc employed to "sec" the undead's current surroundings (or it is in a known location), companion spells will be hurled blindly. An Undead Priest can cast multiple spells, one per round, through the undead, until it is destroyed or a maximum of one spell per Undead Priest level has been cast or the spell expires (it lasts up to 10 rounds per level). With this spell, a hidden Undead Priest can avoid direct combat, employing an undead as a spellcasting fighting-focus. This spell can be cast on an undead affected by spectral senses, undead alacrity, or resist turning, and the spells will function simultaneously. Finally, the undead may be controlled by clerical ability, spell, or magical item, without hampering the imbuement.

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