Alternate Class - Fleshcrafter

by Michael Mearls, Dragon #312

In most cultures, the living honor the dead. But while others grieve for the fallen and honor their memory, the dark magi see them as convenient tools awaiting exploitation.

The dark magi lurk at the edges of society, carrying out their abhorrent work where the prying eyes of others cannot see them. These foul wizards, and those desperate or foolish enough to work with them, must generally cultivate their trade on their own. No arcane academies (at least none that are easily found) offer coursework in such depraved magic. Occasionally a young aspirant to this path can find a mentor, but most study alone. For this reason, numerous specialties have developed that center around the dark acts of animating and controlling the dead.

The dark magi character classes are variants of the wizard. Each focuses on a different aspect of the necromantic arts.

Death is the converse of life. The same forces that can drain a creature's life force can also channel that energy and forge it into useful tools. Thus, although necromancy delves into the power of death, the fleshcrafter can use it to gain control over life, manipulating it to his own ends. His black magic creates unholy abominations - mockeries of life built from the blood and bone of his countless victims. He sees living creatures in the same light that an artist sees a canvas and paints, but his "art" consists of twisting and forming those raw materials into whatever shapes suit his foul goals.

The fleshcrafter lurks at the edge of society, picking off the weak and those unlikely to be missed. His lab might feature still-beating hearts kept alive in a vat of demonic ichor, furniture crafted from creatures' limbs that moves and adjusts itself on command, and half-formed jigsaws of body parts that vaguely resemble humanoid forms. Many fleshcrafters seek out victims who have particular features - innocents with the perfect arms, feet, or other body parts - for their experiments. To the typical fleshcrafter, such victims are like apple trees with fruit ripe for harvest.

Class Skills

The fleshcrafter's class skills are Concentration, Craft, Heal, Knowledge (all skills taken individually), and Spellcraft.

Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at each additional level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the fleshcrafter.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Like most arcane spellcasters, a dark magus receives only minimal training with weapons and none with armor. He is proficient with the club, dagger, heavy crossbow, light crossbow, and quarterstaff, but not with any type of armor or shield. Armor of any type interferes with a dark magus's movements, which can cause spells with somatic components to fail.

Spells: A dark magus casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. He must choose and prepare his spells ahead of time, like a wizard. To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, a dark magus must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a dark magus's spell is 10 + the spell level + the dark magus's Intelligence modifier.

Like a wizard, a dark magus can cast only a certain number of arcane spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on the table for his class (see below). In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Intelligence score.

All dark magi function as necromancer specialist wizards for the purpose of spellcasting. They must specialize in necromancy and choose prohibited schools as per the standard rules for specialist wizards.

Spellbooks: A dark magus must record his spells in thick books. Each morning, he pores over these tomes to prepare his spells for use later in the day. The dark magus can prepare read magic from memory, but all other spells must appear in his spellbooks before he can prepare them. A dark magus gains all 0-level wizard spells (except for those from prohibited schools) at 1st level. In addition, he gains three 1st-level spells and an additional number equal to his Intelligence bonus. Thereafter, each time the dark magus achieves a new level, he gains two new spells of any level or levels that his new level allows him to cast.

Spell Mastery: Like a wizard, a dark magus may select the Spell Mastery feat.

Craft Construct: A fleshcrafter gains Craft Construct as a bonus feat.

Stitched Flesh Familiar: While other spellcasters summon familiars to do their bidding, the fleshcrafter forms his own. He can build a construct familiar with a value of 300 gp by gathering the necessary body parts from three Medium humanoids that he has killed, and making successful DC 18 Craft checks. He must then donate a portion of his own life force to grant his construct the spark of life. This portion of the process costs an additional 100 gp in components. (Failing the Craft check uses up this last 100 gp as well as any other wasted materials and money.) This shared life force creates such a deep bond between the two that the fleshcrafter cannot create another such familiar until his current servant dies.

A stitched flesh familiar gains the abilities indicated on the Stitched Flesh Familiar Abilities table, based on its master's level. It also gains all the abilities described under "Familiar Basics". Many of the abilities below are standard familiar abilities, but the stitched flesh familiar gains them at a slower rate. A few are unique to the familiar.

Uncanny Likeness: The close link that the stitched flesh familiar has with its master alters its physical appearance. Anyone who sees the familiar and has already seen its master may make a DC 20 Spot check to note the similarity between the two.

Sustained Spirit ; When the fleshcrafter reaches 9th level, his link with his stitched flesh familiar becomes strong enough to survive after death. If a fleshcrafter creates a new stitched flesh familiar to replace a lost one, the newly created servant has all the memories of the previous one, as well as the same personality. Thus, a stitched flesh familiar created to replace one that was killed under mysterious circumstances can remember the details of its predecessor's death (including the killers, if it saw them).

Reaper's Touch (Ex): At 1st level, the fleshcrafter gains such an intimate knowledge of living things that he can increase the chances of a creature's death while appearing to heal it. When using the Heal skill to treat another creature, he may instead double any hit point or ability score damage his patient takes due to any conditions from which it already suffers. The Heal DC decreases by 5 when he uses the skill for this purpose, and the effect lasts for 24 hours. Thus, a creature with fewer than 0 hit points loses 2 hit points per round rather than 1. Furthermore, the affected creature cannot check to stabilize as long as the creature is taking extra damage from this ability. An observer may make a Heal check opposed by the fleshcrafter's Heal check result to notice the latter's sabotage of the patient. A successful Heal check opposed by the fleshcrafter's Heal result or the application of any sort of healing magic is sufficient to halt the accelerated loss of life.

Brink of Life and Death (Ex): At 5th level, the fleshcrafter gains the ability to more rapidly pinpoint the critical veins and organs he must destroy to slay a creature. Thus, he can make a coup de grace attack as a standard action. Furthermore, the fleshcrafter can extend this ability to his stitched flesh familiar as long the latter is within range of its empathic link with him. To share this ability, the fleshcrafter must concentrate on the stitched flesh familiar as a full-round action, but the coup de grace remains a standard action for the stitched flesh familiar.

Forge Flesh: At 10th level, the fleshcrafter unlocks the basic secrets of mimicking life. He may gather body parts to produce custom-designed animated creatures that have a vague semblance of life, such as chairs with elf legs, or racks built of outstretched arms. Such creatures count as animated objects, although they are crafted from organs, bones, and flesh taken from the fleshcrafter's victims.

For each 2 HD of the animated object to be created, the fleshcrafter must harvest body parts from one Medium creature, make a successful Craft check (DC 20), and devote 200 gp worth of chemicals, noxious fluids, and rare herbs to the creation process. When complete, the animated object obeys the fleshcrafter to the best of its ability without question. A fleshcrafter may create and control animated objects whose total HD are no more than twice his fleshcrafter level.

Master of Life and Death (Su): At 15th level, the fleshcrafter perfects his understanding of life, death, and magic. His spells are so attuned to the patterns and energy of life that they are difficult for living creatures to resist. When the fleshcrafter affects a living creature (that is, any creature other than a construct or undead) with a spell, the DC for the saving throw (if any) increases by +1.

Forge Life (Ex): At 20th level, the fleshcrafter can use his knowledge of arcane magic and biology to create a flesh golem using special, rare methods that only he and others of his class can access. The fleshcrafter need spend only 5,000 gp to produce the golem, although he must still meet all the remaining prerequisites, and spend the standard amount of time and XP based on the value of the flesh golem listed in the Monster Manual. In addition, he must collect body parts from the equivalent of at least twenty different Medium humanoids that he personally killed to assemble the golem. The fleshcrafter can create any number of flesh golems in this manner.

FleshcrafterHit Die: d4
CLBABFortRefWillSpecialSpells per Day
1st+0+0+0+2Craft Construct, reaper's touch, stitched flesh familiar31--------
5th+2+1+1+4Brink of life and death4321------
10th+5+3+3+7Forge flesh444332----
15th+7/+2+5+5+9Master of life and death444444321-
20th+10/+5+6+6+12Forge life4444444444
*The number of spells per day listed for each level does not include the character's bonus necromancy spell at each level for specializing in the necromancy school.

When an ability requires humanoid bodies, the fleshcrafter can substitute corpses of different size categories, according to the following equivalences.

One Corpse of
This Size Equals ...
Number of
Medium Corpses
Stitched Flesh Familiar Special Abilities
Master Class LevelNatural ArmorInt Adj.Special
1-2+16Empathic link*, improved evasion*, uncanny likeness
3-4+27Alertness* share spells*
5-6+38Speak with master*, deliver touch spells*
9-10+510Sustained spirit
11-12+611Spell resistance
13-14+712Scry on familiar*
*This trait is identical to the standard familiar ability of the same name, as given in Familiars.

Source: Dragon #313

Alternate Character Classes
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