Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

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Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by Sockss » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:53 pm

Since people keep bugging me about the PM aspect of a recent necromancy book I've written IG, I've popped some information here regarding Pale Masters in all their disgusting glory, with my own commentary. Featuring NWN adaptation, 3.5 LIbris Mortis and, the main point at the end so people can stop asking me, a FAQ.

If you've nagged me and want your specific question answered, and I, or someone else, has directed you here, skip to the bottom.
Libris Mortis wrote: Pale Master:
Virtually all pale masters are former wizards or sorcerers, due to the arcane talents required for entry into the class. Some have also dabbled in divine magic, perhaps multiclassing as clerics, before following this path. NPC pale masters head special strike groups containing lesser undead, supplemented as needed with more powerful summoned undead. Sometimes they serve or act in collusion with powerful evil characters, such as true necromancers or divine spellcasters with Death as one of their domains. Wherever pale masters go, undead follow. Often it is difficult to tell a pale master from the undead that he surrounds himself with.


Alignment: Any non-good.
Skill: Knowledge (religion) 8 ranks.
Feat: Skill Focus (Knowledge [religion]).
Spells: Able to cast command undead and vampiric touch as arcane spells.
Special: The candidate must have spent three or more days locked in a tomb with animate undead. This contact may be peaceful or violent. A character who is slain by the undead and later raised still meets the requirement, although the resulting level loss may delay compliance with other prerequisites.

RE: Alignment. This goes without much debate, although a lot of debate on Arelith for some reason!

Aside from the very act of turning yourself into a PM being pretty insane and very degenerate, as you are partly necromatic and draw constantly from the negative energy plane, you are essentially a constant source of evil; a conduit drawing negative and evil energy into the world. (Not your morale evil, but your FR actual can put in a bottle evil).

This is why it's, or it should be, exceptionally hard to be a neutral PM. Your entire existence is evil. So it wouldn't be enough to just 'exist' and not harm anybody (directly), you'd need to be out doing objectively good deeds a hell of a lot.

The sleepover party with undead isn't enforced on Arelith at all, but I believe it's to reflect the close bond that a Pale Master develops with undead.

Feats, next!
Bone Skin - NWN Feat
Undead Armor Affinity: wrote: A pale master has an instinctive feel for undead armor. At 4th level and higher, he treats the
undead armor as if its arcane spell failure chance were 10% less.
At 8th level, this reduction improves to 20%.
Deathless Vigor: wrote: Beginning at 5th level, a pale master’s body becomes more akin to the undying fl esh of his undead associates. The character gains a +4 bonus on Fortitude saves except against effects that also work on objects
There's no direct comparison between the NWN feat and Libris Mortis, but it can be considered a reflection of the Undead Armour Affinity a PM would otherwise gain, unfortunately undead armour doesn't exist in NWN!

It's also partly a reflection of 'Deathless Vigor' which states that "beginning at 5th level, a pale master’s
body becomes more akin to the undying flesh of his undead associates.".

A Palemaster's trade mark arm is actually quite a far way into the class and probably the least noticeable if covered up - their skin is the real giveaway! So the AC bonuses and, hp, in NWN that they receive are a direct reflection of this 'harder to pierce' undead-like skin
Various Summoning Feats wrote:
Of course, we have the summoning feats. Palemasters have a huge control over undead and can cause them to rise without any material components.
Control Undead: wrote:
Once per day, a pale master of 5th level or higher can gain control over an undead creature (with Hit Dice equal to or less than his highest arcane caster level) by making a successful touch attack against it. The undead creature receives no saving throw to resist this effect. The control lasts for 1 round per class level
Something that's not implemented in NWN, is something that really shows the power that PM's have over undead. A saveless dominate!
Undead Graft: wrote:
At 6th level, a pale master gives in to terrible necrophiliac urges. He cuts off his arm and replaces it with an undead prosthetic, which may be skeletal in form or preserved flesh stitched in place like that of a flesh golem. Regardless of its composition, the graft grants a +4 inherent bonus to the character’s Strength score. Additionally, the undead graft allows him to deliver horrible touch attacks
Something heavily associated with PM's, it's important to note that they don't actually lop their arms off till a fair way into the class. It's certainly not something that people do on a whim!
Tough as Bone: wrote:
On reaching 7th level, a pale master takes on even more of the qualities of an undead creature. He becomes immune to disease, nonlethal damage, and stunning.
Deathless Mastery: wrote: On reaching 10th level, a pale master gains the virtues of his deathless arts. His body becomes partly mummified (though he is not truly undead), and he becomes immune to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, death effects, critical hits, ability drain, and energy drain, as well as damage to his physical ability scores (Str, Dex, and Con). He still needs to breathe, eat, and sleep as normal for his type, and he still ages normally
Both of these feats, in combination with the Bone Skin, really show how undead-like the PM becomes. They are as undead as it gets, without dying first! I can't stress how 'not normal' and horrible a PM would look - at least one of this level.

Can I be a Neutral PM? wrote:
Yes, you can, if your PM is /actively/ good and devotes himself to doing that, it's possible. However, please note that it's actively good and you will need to do that all the time to ensure that you aren't bringing more evil into the world, than good.

If you're tied up in politics/study/anything else that isn't doing objective good, you're evil.

On a PW I don't think it's particularly possible to play a PM, or at the least it's going to be /extremely/ challenging and of course you're going to run into good people that want you dead and, well, they'd get good boy points for doing so every time without fail.
Can I be a 'forced' PM or an 'accidental' PM? wrote:
Not on Arelith.

The same as you can't accidentally become, or be forced into a warlock.

However it's not possible in PnP for a PM, unlike a warlock, at least in any possible way that I know.

The problem is that becoming a PM isn't an instant thing and it's an extremely willful thing to do - you are explicitly degenerating your body for power. You also have to have very specific knowledge and a very specific approach over a long period of time to do it. So while I wouldn't say it was entirely impossible (in a PnP game) it's very improbable and you'd probably have to revolve everything around that.
Do PM's live longer? wrote:
No. They aren't quite undead!
Do PM's, or should they, be harmed by healing effects? wrote:
No and neither should they be. While they are corrupt, warped, mutilated beings, and draw on negative energy and evil to fuel their existence and their abilities, they are still 'alive' - they're as close to undead as you can get without being undead.
Undead arms are gross, do I have to chop mine off? wrote:
Yes, you need to chop your arm off, when you get to 6 PM and this /must/ be replaced by an undead arm. Note that this is not a 'dead' arm. It is specifically undead and is the font of all your touch attack negative energy power.
Can't I play a nice PM? wrote:
I guess? Though your personality isn't really going to be the first thing that people notice. You are a walking abomination, from your undeady-mummified-skin to your gross undead arm. Most people are going to run away or try to kill you.
If anyone has any questions, or wants to make any clarifications, just post below and I'll update this top post!
susitsu wrote: Honestly, I'm concerned by anything people ask "for" rogue simply due to the higher skill players that run rogues and will further demolish other players more easily with that kind of stuff.

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Re: Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by solo » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:31 am

Nice guide, thanks for that.

I'm curious about a number of things...

1. In regards to the 'forced PM' thing... is a scenario where two (or more) players agree to RP a storyline where some mad wizard type decides to inflict the PM surgery on a prisoner PC, over a lengthy period of time, for the sake of 'science' or as a form of torture or punishment (or whatever other twisted reason), really that improbable in the DnD universe?

To clarify, I'm not asking about the 'accidental' PM scenario. I can't even conceive how that would happen.

2. In terms of game mechanics, all you'd have to do is wear long sleeve clothing and a glove to conceal the PM bone arm. However from your description of the physical appearance of a PM, it's clear that it's not something you can hide. Hell, the mere smell should be an obvious indicator to anything with a nose in the vicinity. How does the server treat that? Is there such a thing as an 'undercover PM'?

3. I was made to understand that some religions - I'm thinking Jergal in this instance - allow PMs under very specific circumstances when it's deemed to be in service of their deity. Is that true or are those undead something other than the PM class?

4. Is there any way to reverse the procedure? Say in the eventuality of the first point I brought up, that this prisoner were to somehow escape, is there a way with proper RP, to return to a more normal state of being? (I doubt it, and I wouldn't go that road if I was RPing the aforementioned prisoner, but I'm asking out of curiosity).

5. I was under the impression that one of the main IC motivations for a person becoming a PM would be as a way to attain immortality. That's a reason I can understand, and which I think offers some great RP potential. From what you're saying though, a PM would age normally and presumably die of old age. I don't understand anymore. What is the motivation other than being more resilient in a fight?

6. Not so much a question, but...
At 6th level, a pale master gives in to terrible necrophiliac urges.
I'm not familiar with DnD/PnP nomenclature, but I'm pretty sure the term you're looking for is necrophile.

Necrophiliac means... something different. I'll leave it at that. And now excuse me while I go and vomit...

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Re: Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by CosmicOrderV » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:44 am

Socks got it right the first time, Solo. That's the quote straight from pg. 48 of the Libris Mortis, in reference to Pale Masters :)

Plus, it's not so hard to imagine using a fragrance to cover up any sort of scent. Even less hard considering magic.
Aodh Lazuli wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:22 pm
I, too, struggle to know what is written in books without first reading them.

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Re: Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by solo » Wed Mar 13, 2019 4:57 am

I am by no means disputing Sockss' guide. Only asking for clarifications since the PM class is one I find interesting.

I live in one of the five last communist countries on the planet, which happens to be one of the ten poorest countries in the world. We don't have Libris Mortis in our libraries. We don't have libraries either.

I could order it online, but last time I tried ordering anything online... well, that was two years ago, and I'm still waiting for the thing. And... heck... if I did try and order it, the moment the local authorities would translate the title of the book, I'd probably end up with the cops on my doorstep. And then I'd have to explain to them that no, I'm not a necrophiliac weirdo... I just like playing pretend with elves and dragons and gnomes in lalaland on the internet. No matter what angle I look at it, it's going to be a hassle.

Good point about the fragrance, and you're right, I suppose an illusionist would be able to conceal his mummified physical appearance. I'm still curious about 1 and 5 in particular, though.

Edit: Sorry, I misunderstood. My bad. You meant that the 'necrophiliac' thing was a direct quote from the book? Right. Well... that's... er... excuse me while I go and vomit again...

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Re: Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by xanrael » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:37 am

Bella Swan from Twilight, fledgling Pale Master.

On 1:

There was a thing in D&D called flesh-grafting that encompassed that, where you could add parts from other creatures including things like undead arms etc. What you're describing is closer to flesh-grafting as opposed the whole Pale Master package. Having an undead arm grafted on doesn't grant understanding in necromancy or controlling the undead.

On 5:

There are other, psychologically easier methods for escaping dying of old age in D&D than moving towards undeath like lichdom (which is what PM is often erroneously compared to). Think of Tesla that single-mindedly pursues his passion of science with a devotion most of us wouldn't want to emulate. A Pale Master gains more control over necromancy and undeath than a specialist necromancer. Their goal is knowledge and power in the field that they've made their reason of existence, not avoiding old age.

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Re: Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by solo » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:37 am

All right that makes sense. And yeah, I was one of those people who thought that a PM was essentially a Lich-lite.

Thanks for helping me out. Give it a couple weeks and maybe I'll actually know what I'm talking about :)

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Re: Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by Sockss » Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:32 am

I'll answer ones that haven't been answered!

(Also if you're stuck for source books the are always pdfs that are a quick Google away)

3 - This is tricky. It depends. I'd say no. You'd have to have contact with organisations and a deity, as well as being able to justify your continued use of undead and the fact you love undead and have undead parts grafted in to you.

Funnily enough a mindless actual undead being sanctioned and used is fine, because they're automaton.

There's no recourse for a scribe either, as pale mastery doesn't extend your life. Oddly, a lich or mummy, a true undead, is fine in that regard though!

It's not wholly surprising though as Jergal sanctions rarely, undead. The PM, while a hideous abomination with undead qualities that loves undead, isn't undead itself. They're things that a jergalite would go out of their way to murder.

4 - It could be possible, maybe. There's no source material on it.

I think you'd be hard pressed justifying the complete change of personality though, which is probably why it's not discussed.
susitsu wrote: Honestly, I'm concerned by anything people ask "for" rogue simply due to the higher skill players that run rogues and will further demolish other players more easily with that kind of stuff.

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Re: Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by solo » Wed Mar 13, 2019 11:35 am

Thanks for clearing that up. And CosmicOrderV gave me a link full of D&D manuals, so from now on I should be able to answer my own lore questions rather than look like the village idiot :)

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Re: Pale Masters, A Guide & FAQ

Post by Sockss » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:40 pm

As long as you're not goth gf with a teeny irrelevant bone arm as your only PM feature you're probably doing fine!
susitsu wrote: Honestly, I'm concerned by anything people ask "for" rogue simply due to the higher skill players that run rogues and will further demolish other players more easily with that kind of stuff.

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