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Is this necromancer class balanced, compared to a warlock or cleric? One of my players would like to use it.

The goal is for it to be roughly balanced compared to a cleric, since that’s what I believe it to be most similar to. The spell list has both healing and offense, but I think it has less utility, and is slightly worse at healing and offense. Therefore, the subclasses should be stronger - I don’t know how much stronger. Overall, I suspect that this class is slightly weaker due to the lack of a good spell list, but I’m not sure.

It should hold thematically to the idea of someone who controls life and death. I think most of the features do that already.

I see that the Creed of the Departed is difficult or impossible, to analyze, since it depends on exactly what monsters the DM sends at the party. If it has potential to be much stronger or weaker than the other subclasses, please explain why, but you don’t have to touch on it at all. I also notice that a player can drain all the undead’s health with Vitality Shift, then give it back at half price, but that’s not too powerful - spending two uses of Vitality Shift to gain no more than a few dozen HP.

I’m curious how the Creed of the Siphon compares to hexblade warlocks and combat-focused clerics, since it has both full casting and combat abilities. I see that it’s vulnerable to a bag-of-rats trick, stabbing rats to regain health or using Chill Touch - I want to know how it measures up to those classes without that.

I believe that the Creed of the Tome has mostly balanced abilities, a few abilities that are odd (Twinned Fate, Seance) and a few that are underpowered for their level (Galerider, Religious Familiarity) - I want to know if there’s something big that I’m not noticing.

If you have any suggestions for alterations that make this class better, either in theme or in power, feel free to say them! I don’t currently have a good idea for how to make sure the Creed of the Departed is balanced, but I’d love to have one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I know this is asking a lot, but it would be best if you could reproduce the class text here (assuming you’re allowed to do so), so that if the link to it goes down, the question is still preserved here. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 16, 2021 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't know about balanced, but the level 20 feature for siphon is off the page \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Oct 16, 2021 at 18:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I could try that. It would be about 18 pages, so I'm slightly hesitant to do so. I don't know how to set up tables, though. Could you link something that explains it? It's probably somewhere I should have noticed, but didn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Oct 16, 2021 at 22:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices Markdown tables are explained here, a totally non-obvious location, I’m not surprised you weren’t sure where to look lol. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 16, 2021 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can also reduce the text transferred over by only including the feature names and descriptions and none of the lore descriptions. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 16, 2021 at 22:42

2 Answers 2

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Summary

A Necromancer of the Creed of Tomes is balanced, any other is over-powered.

Base Class: Balanced

The base class is very similar to a Bard: it has the same number of Spells known, for example.

It has only one more Cantrip, at the cost of a lower hit die (d6).

Its Vitality Shift is interesting. The fact that it can transfer up to 400 Hit Points at level 20 may be scary, but on its own this feature is not a problem due to the limited number of uses per day -- up to 5 -- and the fact that it is a transfer: any Hit Point taken from another must still be healed, in the end.

There are a few potential for abuses. A horde of followers is the obvious one, but the DM should be able to curtail that quickly.

Eternal Youth is on the powerful side. Few classes gain Proficiency in a second major Saving Throw. If the character also takes the Resilient feat for Dexterity, this leads them to covering all 3 major ones, and therefore being a bit of a pain to deal with. It comes online at level 18, though, when the character already has access to 9th level spells...

Creed of the Departed: Overpowered

The Undead Minion feature is hard to judge, due to its open ended nature, although there are good limits in place:

  1. The Necromancer must expand its Hit Dice to create and maintain a creature.
  2. The number of Hit Points of the creature is rather limited: 40 + 1d6 at level 20.
  3. The abilities of the creatures are trimmed down, with penalties and restrictions.

Even the Conduit Walker feature is clearly copied from the Find Familiar Spell: same range, same use of Reaction.

The Sheperd's Resolve lifts the speed penalty, and adds another 1d6 of Hit Points to the Undead Minion. Both are minor gains.

The Animator Style is concerning, or at least 2 out of 3 options are:

  • Adept Awakener seems mild enough, just a few bonuses here and there.
  • Giant Rouser causes some concerns. Raising a Huge creature seems likely to open up some shenanigans, and the extra +5 to the CR of creatures one can raise doesn't help.
  • Undead Magnate also causes some concerns, in the Action Economy sense. The ability to have up to 6 creatures under the player's control is much more potent than having 1 creature with 2 attacks, and the reduction in Hit Points doesn't make up for it.

Still Life is a ribbon; little enough mechanical effect.

And Legendary Animator causes concern again, building upon Animator Style: 6 Huge Creatures will cause a lot of mayhem...

Creed of the Siphon: Overpowered

Sycophant is problematic. There is no other feature in the game which does not place a limit on the amount of Hit Points one can heal. For example, the Champion's capstone ability only heals them up to 50% of their Hit Points. Also, in combination with Vitality Shift it allows regenerating a significant portion of the party Hit Point pool.

Learned Siphoner is also problematic. First of all Necrotic is not as oft resisted as non-magical damage, or even Fire and Cold, so the ability to have a Fireball deal Necrotic damage is problematic in and out of itself. Worse, though, is that it compounds with Sycophant: 1/3 of the newly dealt damage heals the Necromancer after all...

The sub-features of Learned Siphoner are mixed:

  • Essence Weaver is overpowered: the extra damage doesn't matter, the problem is the healing. A limit of Sycophant + Vitality Shift is the number of uses of Vitality Shift: Essence Weaver does away with this limit, giving the entire party infinite health.
  • Vigor Thief is alright: once per Long Rest, so it's fine if it's a bit powerful.

Ascetic Dominion offers cheap resurrection. By level 10 some forms of resurrection are available already, and the level of exhaustion suffered prevents really jumping back into the fray. I could foresee mass-resurrection abuse: resurrecting an entire village, 1 Hit Point per villager. Whether that can really be exploited is less clear, however.

Everlasting is one of many abilities to thwart death available to players; once per Long Rest is definitely fine.

Blood Funnel is concerning due to its ability to steal Hit Points from foes; but given Sycophant it doesn't add much...

Note: I couldn't see all the text for Blood Funnel, due to formatting issues and apparently a "cut" copy/paste; I may have missed something.

Creed of Tomes: Balanced

Initiate of the Tome is fine. The Refined Spell is the only powerful feature, and it's a once per Long Rest one.

Arcane Shift is once again a transfer, so none too problematic, especially given the 1 Spell Slot per shift combined with the limited number of possible shifts.

Evercasting is a good capstone. It should not kick in too often, due to the (cumulated) CR 10 requirement, and its limitation to lower-level Spell Slots limits abuse: Action Economy dictates that again powerful foes, the higher-level Spell Slots will be the most necessary.

The Augur's Acumen really depends on the Acumen. Of interest, there is no possibility to switch a known Acumen for another, hence it is not possible to end up with all high-level Acumen and no low-level one.

I noted 2 interesting Acumen, which I think could be accidentally construed as more powerful than they are:

  • Channeler: This is essentially Blindsight to 10 ft. The limited range limits its power, fortunately.
  • Gale Rider: Abilities to ignore difficult terrain and walk across water (or lava) are rare, and spells have limited uses. The character has access to 7th level spells at this level, though, so can use Fly and similar for the occasional obstacle.

Overall, I find Augur's Acumen fairly balanced.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer! I don't see how a necroball is an issue - Learned Siphoner only applies to Necromancer spells. I'll agree that, say, sickening radiance could give ridiculous healing, though. What do you think of the spell list's power level? It doesn't look very strong to me, but I could be wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Oct 16, 2021 at 22:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices: You are correct that Fireball may have been a poor example here, though there are some ways to add spells to a spell-list already (Magic Initiate comes to mind) and more may appear as more content is added. I am more worried about weapon attacks, to a degree, though, since they provide "infinite" source of damage, and therefore "infinite" source of healing -- though I do note that for a sub-class supposed to hit with a weapon, the lack of Extra Attack is perplexing. I agree that the spell list is maybe on the light side -- few spells -- but most are thematic which is nice. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2021 at 10:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ If Siphoner played around with temporary HP instead of actual healing, I'd be a lot less worried about it. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2021 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you choose undead magnate, the health of your undead minions goes way down, because it’s only two hit dice (2d6+2*constitution modifier), which is low enough that one fireball will wipe out all of your minions (unless you do some shenanigans to get a ridiculously high constitution, such as tomes), so I don’t think it’s a problem. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 19, 2021 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EkadhSingh-ReinstateMonica: They are indeed fragile, however they can hit really hard, also known as the Glass Cannon. This does reward clever play -- getting the drop on the enemy, or good tactical position -- but it does mean that in the hands of even an average player they can do a lot of damage. Imagine a horde of 6 creatures with Hold Person ability in an ambush. Or a horde of 6 Stone Giants, equidistantly spread on a 60 ft. circle around a group, all throwing rocks. They'll pile on a lot of damage before their target escapes or drops them. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 19, 2021 at 15:41
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Rituals are an issue.

Others have already done a much better job of analyzing the class as a whole, but I want to point out one sneaky little problem that popped out to me. That there's a bit of missing text in the Rituals class feature. It may be an oversight, but it feels like it's trying to sneak something past the DM.

For reference, here's the Ritual feature for the Bard, Cleric, and Wizard:

You can cast any bard spell you know as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag.

You can cast a cleric spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell prepared.

You can cast a wizard spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell in your spellbook. You don't need to have the spell prepared.

Now compare to the Necromancer:

You can cast any necromancer spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag.

Notice what's missing? All the official classes require that, to use a ritual, you have to know or prepare the spell in question (or have it written in your spellbook, which is basically the same as knowing it for wizards).

The necromancer technically gives you access to any ritual spell on the necromancer list without having to learn it first. Like I said, maybe this is an oversight; maybe they meant to say "any necromancer spell you know". But that isn't what the rule actually says, so it makes me suspicious of the class as a whole.

If you allow this, you'll need to make a clarifying statement that the character can only use rituals they actually have learned; otherwise it's very broken indeed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell list is small, I wonder how many Ritual spells there are. It may not be that problematic if there's only a handful. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2021 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I never trust balance that's based on a class spell list. Class spell lists are easily altered at any time. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2021 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed, but that may explain the wording. Carelessness is the most logical explanation, of course, but if intentional I'd expect the author didn't consider spell list alteration. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 18, 2021 at 7:11

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