‘Necromancy’, from

  • Nek: perish, disappear
  • Mantia: prophecy, divination, oracle

therefore ‘necromancer’ means

‘Oracle of the Dead’

Do you like art? Book reviews? Gothic history? Vampires? The occult? Join me, as I review Pathfinder’s new book, the Advanced Player’s Guide, and I show how it can be used to build one of the most Undead themed player characters possible in Dungeons and Dragons.

Two DnD related things happened in the last week or so. Wizards of the Coast published the latest Unearthed Arcana (UA) playtest and Paizo published the Pathfinder 2e (PF2e) Advanced Players Guide (APG).

The UA included two subclasses; College of Spirits for the Bard and the Undead Patron Warlock.

The Undead subclass shared about 40% of the content with the previously published Undying Warlock patron, but the thematic, based on online discussion was wrong. This note about Undying not being thematically right was also included the DNDBeyond walkthrough video of the UA with Todd Kenreck and James J. Haeck.

So… I decided to take a look at what this subclass would look like by using the many options included in the new Paizo book, the Advanced Players Guide and in so doing, review the APG, as if taking a core sample of the book.

Pathfinder 2 Advanced Player’s Guide

The APG includes so many great options, new classes, ancestries (races as DnD refers to them), feats and a lot more.

These are not just template based options where each background, for example, gives you 1 x skill + 1 x feat + 1 x tool. In PF2e, these backgrounds affect your ability scores and more.

The APG includes such backgrounds as feral child, amnesiac and haunted, which give some interesting and varied mechanics to play with, the last two involve your GM rounding out your character options and story for you.

Let’s put a lot of those new options to the test then by building a PF2e version of that undead patron Warlock, namely a… half-vampire elf, cursed with the mystery of undeath by their patron Vampire Queen and haunted by their undead parent’s servitor who whispers constantly in their pointed ears.

Vampire Elf (art)

Books (and online materials) used in this post:

Pathfinder 2nd Edition

  • Core Rulebook
  • Advanced Players Guide

Dungeons and Dragons 5e (DnD5e)

In the Beginning

What is the theme we are aiming for? One of my favourite undead theme DnD classes was DnD3e’s Dread Necromancer from Heroes of Horor. It took the undead wizard, the lich, as its model and gradually gave you their abilities, until you crafted your phylactery, to hold your soul, and became a lich as the capstone ability.

Dread Necromancer from Heroes of Horror

DnD legend and the Sage himself, Skip Williams, wrote a great breakdown of the Dread Necromancer class, in which he details the pros and cons. One of his key points being that due to their ‘short list of deadly spells’ and ‘equally deadly collection of [combat focused] class abilities’ ‘[a] dread necromancer can seem one dimensional, but a little creativity during play allows him to defeat many kinds of challenges’.

Looking at the PF2e Vampire Count we see the classic vampire tropes:

  • changing into a bat (and sometimes a rat or wolf)
  • charming and dominating victims
  • commanding rats, bats and wolves
  • draining blood to gain health
  • being able to turn into a cloud of mist and escape through the smallest gaps
  • frightening, intimidating presence
  • negative healing
  • resistance to damage

If we are taking the vampire as our theme we can follow a similar path and gradually give the character appropriate abilities over their ‘career’, whilst being mindful of Skip’s lessons.

The Most Famous Writing Competition

In 1819, a contest between friends took place. This competition produced the story of ‘Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus’, by Mary Shelley.

The other famous tale from this event was, ‘The Vampyre’, originally attributed to Lord Byron, but later confirmed as the work of John William Polidori and thought to be the first to bring together what we now recognise as the vampire genre.

Polidori died aged only 25, possibly due to natural causes. The jury in the coroner’s inquest returned the verdict that he had ‘Died by the Visitation of God’.

John William Polidori, by F.G. Gainsford (floruit 1805-1822), given to the National Portrait Gallery, London in 1895

Born of Blood

One of the other notes in the vampire monster entry is that they can have children with a living person. These half-vampire, half-human(oid) children are called Dhampir drawn from Balkan folklore, where dham means ‘tooth’ and pi means ‘drink’ and also an Albanian variant of the word ‘vampire’. They feature in many works of literature.

In PF2e, the Dhampir occupy a similar place to Aasimar, Tieflings and Changelings and Duskwalkers, in that a character can have a parent of more common ancestry, with the other parent providing an extraplanar, undead or cursed bloodline, giving the character the benefits, and importantly the ancestry feats, of both.

We will pick the Elven ancestry and the Dhampir ‘heritage’. Although the Dhampir is tainted with undeath, but not truly undead, the elven life span at least gives them a few hundred years to find a way, if that interests them.

Elves get an ability boost to Dexterity and Intelligence plus one other boost of the player’s choice, then a penalty to Constitution. We will use our ‘one other’ to boost Charisma and a general free boost to counteract the Constitution penalty, returning it to 10. Versatile heritages, of which the Dhampir is one, do not get further ability boosts.

‘Vampyr II’, Edvard Munch, 1895

Something of the Night – Ancestral Feats

There are four varities of feats in PF2e. Ancestry, Skill, General and Class. At 1st level, we will take our only Elven ancestry feat, Otherworldly Magic. This will give us access to one additional cantrip from any tradition (arcane, divine, occult or primal).

One of the best cantrips in the game is Telekinetic Projectile, an arcane/occult spell. Spells gained through ‘innate spell’ feats tend to use Charisma for checks… and our Oracle is a Charisma-based caster already, so that is absolutely fine.

Furthermore, the Oracle is a divine spontaneous caster, getting a full set of spell slots all the way up to 10th.

As both ancestries have low-light vision, this gives our character darkvision, as noted in the Dhampir description.

The Dhampir also has negative healing, which means that, like undead, negative energy heals them and normal divine healing, using positive energy, damages them. This could be a hindrance, particularly in group combat, however, we will have a way around that in a moment.

All remaining ancestry feats, as we level up to 20th, will be from the Dhampir list. These are most (but not all) of our vampire flavour abilities; comanding wolves, rats and bats, or changing into them. Bringing down a cloud to obscure your movements, or draining the blood from your enemies to feed you. We will also pick up more vampire abilities elsewhere, as we level.

‘A Wolf Had Not Been Seen in Salem for Thirty Years’, Howard Pyle, Harper’s Monthly Magazine, 1909

Haunted by Their Past – Background

PF2e character creation flows along ABC, Ancestary, Background and Class. Which brings us to B.

In the PF2e core rules, Background followed the format of two ability score boosts, training in a skill plus a lore skill and a skill feat. As above, some of the Backgrounds in the APG are flexible with this format. Haunted, which we will take for our character, is one of them.

‘You are followed by a spirit or entity, either from childhood or since a traumatic or momentous event. You may have seen this entity. Others may have seen it as well’.

You get the standard two ability score boosts, with one having to be either Wisdom or Charisma; we will take Charisma to ensure it starts at 18. The other boost we will put in Strength to take it to 14 (which will be explained shortly).

You are trained in the Occultism skill. In place of the Lore skill and Skill Feat though, you instead are trained in a skill chosen by the GM as appropriate for your back story. The spirit is also trained in this skill and it can help you… at a price.

The help is a +1 bonus to a check with that skill, if you want their help. The price is if the check fails, the spirit’s intercesion leaves you frightened 2, a penalty of 2 to all checks, which fades over the next two rounds. This could make all the difference, or leave you struggling at a key moment.

In our tale then, our character’s vampire parent has assigned a spectre to follow their offspring and keep a watch on them, potentially reporting back.

‘Two Old Men’, Francisco Goya, 1891-1823

Where is the Warlock?

On to C for Class. I mentioned at the start, that I would be comparing this to the DnD Undead Patron Warlock UA. The Warlock class occupies a special place in DnD5e, in that is largely independent of the Vancian spell casting system. For more on this, see my article, ‘Psionics: An Illustrated History in Dungeons and Dragons’ (i.e. spell slots vs spell points). It’s patron also gives it a strong thematic.

The equivalent in PF2e, included in the APG, is the Oracle, which has a cursed connection to a divine mystery that punishes them almost as much as it rewards.

Just as with the DnD Warlock, the Oracle is a Charisma-based spell caster and also begins with light armour and simple weapon proficiency. Many of the patrons listed for the DnD Warlock are present in the APG, including the Mystery of Bones for an Undead theme.

I should note that the Oracle originally featured in the Pathfinder 1st edition’s APG back in 2016.

Korakai, Tengu Oracle iconic

Class – The Curse of Visions

Each Oracular Mystery presents the player with different shifting and changing benefits and drawbacks to balance, at worst leading to death (for the character, not the player) from the strain of channeling the divine energies associated with the curse.

For those with the Mystery of Bones, their ‘body is slowly decaying even though [they] are alive’. They begin after their daily preparations with the ‘touch of the grave’ about them. A ‘bloodless pallor, a faint smell of earth, or deathly cold skin’.

Once they have used their first focus spell of the day though, their curse progresses to its minor stage. Their skin beings to rot, their bones protrude, the faint smell grows to a ‘stench of decay’, the cold skin becomes an ‘unearthly chill’. This mechanically manifests as healing only granting half the hit points it normally should. A focus spell, for those new to PF2e, is essentially a spell you can recharge out of combat that uses spell points to cast, of which you start with 1 point and can at most have 3.

The flesh rots and the bones begin to protrude (Matija5850)

To recover from this minor effect, the Oracle will need to wait until they can rest again for 8 hours then make their next daily preparations. Until then there is no improving beyond this stage.

When the Oracle casts a focus spell again, they move to the moderate stage. The previous effects remain, but is added to by becoming Drained 1, which decreases Constitution-based checks and lowers the character’s current hit points and their maximum hit points. This journey into undeath though begins to provide benefits. The Oracle becomes more resistant to poisons and death effects.

By refocusing (spending 10 minutes to regain focus points) the Oracle also lowers their curse back to the minor stage.

If our character cannot refocus, as in the midst of combat, when they cast a focus spell again they progress to the major stage of the curse. As before, all prior effects (beneficial and costly) remain and our character becomes Wounded 1, as if they have just recovered from near death. If they take damage enough that they are dying they gain the benefit of automatically succeeding on the check, if they choose to.

At the major stage, they also cannot critical fail on checks against disease, posion or death effects, instead only taking the failure result. At higher levels the curse can progress to the extreme stage. If our Oracle continued to use their focus spells at that point, they would risk immediate death.

Look Into My Eyes – Skill Feats

The vampire’s comanding presence, his ability to dominate; although we will pick up spells to achieve this, we want it to be always available. We will therefore follow the Intimidation skill feat chain. Every even level we will build from unnerving enemies with a stare, to killing them with it.

Thick Hide – General Feats

Starting at 3rd level, then every four levels on, we will select first an armour boost and then two feats to help better prevent our Oracle from dying. Later, we will gain the ability to contact spirits in service to the divine. Finally a feat to expand how many magical items we can wield.

I was tempted to trade the 3rd level class feat for the Champion archetype (mutliclass) dedication feat to get our character training in all armour. This was balanced against the need for the Reach Spell feat.

The Oracle of Bones’ key abilities often see it drawn closer to combat. With the Chill Touch cantrip (a Bones Mystery bonus) and Touch of Undeath (the Undeath domain focus spell) both being touch spells, and Soul Siphon (Bones Mystery initial focus spell) only being 30 feet range, the Reach Spell seemed a better pick for keeping our character further away from melee.

If you wanted to get your character into the middle of melee combat though, this would be the point to switch paths and take the Champion dedication for medium and heavy armour proficiency, making sure to add an ability boost to Strength at 5th and 10th level so your character can carry heavy armour without penalty.

Whichever way you chose, at 6th level, we will pick up the Advanced Revelation, Armor of Bones, which grants a minute of increased resistance to cold, electricity, fire, piercing and slashing damage, as per the skeleton’s ability.

Close to Death (Andrew Kuzinskiy)

Ability Scores

The Oracle’s key ability score and that which they use for spellcasting, is Charisma. As the class does not require multiple abilities to be high, we will focus on Charisma only and increase it up to 18 (the highest you can start at).

The Oracle begins with light armour training. For extra protection, we will add medium armour as soon as possible (level 3). I will therefore start Strength at 14 so our character can wear up to Scale Mail (AC +3) without penalties. Adding one more boost to Strength at 5th level, to take it to 16, will allow us to get the best medium armour, Breastplate, without penalities and giving an AC bonus of +4.

At 20th level, the current level limit, there would be no point raising Intelligence and Wisdom. Above 18, each boost only raises an ability score by 1, not 2, hence only increasing the scores from 18 to 19. Odd numbered ability scores do not grant an increase in bonuses. At this final point, I will then switch to Strength and Dexterity, boosting them to 18 and 14 respectively.

Two of our bonus skills are Religion and Medicine, which both use Wisdom. The other bonus skill is Ocultism, which uses Inteligence. The other skills I have chosen, Undead Lore and Society, also use Intelligence. I will start Int and Wis at 12 and boost them up as we go, to help Recall Knowledge checks. As the Oracle is a spontaneous caster, it could be your party’s main divine spell thrower, but it is more likely to be a secondary. The other character can be the main lore specialist in occult and religious matters, with the Oracle Aiding where appropriate.

The Oracle’s role can be more of a divine Bard, with the mysteries of Battle, Life, Lore and Curse covering similar areas as the Bard’s Muses. Like the Bard, the Oracle can be a face of the party, with their high Charisma, though in our character’s case, that face might be a little offputting if their flesh is falling off them and bones are sticking out. It perhaps adds to their Intimidation. I will continue to boost Charisma throughout the character’s career to reach the maximum of 22 at 20th level.

The Elf takes a penalty to Constitution, slight and fragile things, so I have allocated one initial ability boost to counteracting that, bringing it back to 10. As we are aiming to stay away from frontline combat and will have emergency healing available, if required, I won’t put any other points here at 1st level. I will boost up Con at the character’s later levels though, taking it to 18 at 20th level.

Elves get a boost to Dexterity. With light armour straight off and medium armour from 3rd level, I won’t put any more points in here. As noted, our aim is Breastplate armour, which allows a maximum Dex bonus to AC of +1, so anything more than 12 won’t be required. Just let someone else find the Reflex save traps first.

The character’s initial ability scores at 1st level will therefore be:

  • Str 14
  • Dex 12
  • Con 10
  • Int 12
  • Wis 12
  • Cha 18

and at 20th level they will be:

  • Str 18
  • Dex 14
  • Con 16
  • Int 18
  • Wis 18
  • Cha 22

This demonstrates how Pathfinder 2 gives heroic and balanced character growth, whereas DnD encourages maxing out a single key ability score, with no growth in any others.

‘Questioning the Oracle’, John William Waterhouse, 1884

Key Spells

Focus Spells and Cantrips

Because of the extra focus spells (Oracle and domain), the Oracle gets one fewer spell slot per level than most other casters, so spell selection is even more important. I have covered some of the focus spells above and will go into more detail.

The Oracle starts off with two focus spells, without having to spend a class feat to get them. For the Bones Mystery, as Skip Williams noted regarding the Dread Necromancer, the build can be quite narrow, so tactics and spell combinations are key to giving some flexibility in play.

As I wrote earlier, some Oracle Mysteries can serve in place of the Bard, or other buff/debuff classes. For example the 1st level Battle Mystery focus spell, Call to Arms, gives a +2 status bonus to Initiative and temporary hit points for all allies in a 20 feet emanation.

As I noted earlier, what the Bones Mystery focus spells have in common, is putting you in, or within a move action of frontline combat (depending on the enemy’s speed). The Oracle therefore has to think carefully about where they are placing themselves on the battlefield, what resources they are going to use at this moment and what to hold for later and all while considering whether to hold back, or push their curse.

If you are close enough you can cast both Soul Siphon and your Mystery’s bonus cantrip, Chill Touch in the same round, as the first is only a single action. Some other subclasses have this option, but not many. Although you are not the party healer, the Stabilize cantrip, particularly with our Range Spell feat, is a good choice for keeping allies alive. Daze, 60 feet range and a Will save (to complement the Chill Touch Fortitude save), is a good choice. To further broaden our toolbox, Divine Lance is a ranged spell attack for targeting high save/low AC enemies, like most casters, and is best when your character is a polarised alignment, i.e. LG/LE/CG/CE.

Level 1 Spells

The core spell of the necromancer is Animate Dead and in PF2e, this is available at 1st level (it is a 3rd level spell in DnD5e). Just like the old Summoning spells of earlier DnD, you can cast this at any spell level, including 10th, with stronger creatures available the higher the spell slot. It lasts one minute and costs you one action every round to Sustain the Spell. See Final Sacrifice below for a great pairing with Animate Dead. Once we reach 3rd level, Animate Dead will be our 1st spell level Signature Spell.

Der Tod als Würger, Alfred Reuther, 1847

Harm is going to be useful for healing our character and their undead companions, while hurting the enemy. This will be our 2nd spell level Signature Spell (allowing it to be scaled up to higher levels). Heal could be useful, however, our other signature spell at low levels is going to be level 1’s Animate Dead. We can put Harm and Animate Dead as our level 1 and 2 signature spells, it doesn’t matter which way around.

Fear is a thematically appropriate spell, however we are able to Demoralize a target with our character’s Intimidation skill. The spell, for two actions, gives Frightened 2 on a failure, whereas the skill only gives Frightened 1 but only costs one action and can be used every round without impacting your Multi Attack Penalty. In which case we will skip the Fear spell.

When we reach 4th level, we will take the Class Feat, Divine Access. This will give us the Charm spell and later, Gaseous Form and Dominate. We will swap out whatever other level 1 spell we had selected, replacing it with Charm as we level up. This is why we have not gone beyond being trained in Diplomacy. If our character cannot lie or frighten someone into doing what they want, we can resort to using a spell slot to persuade them.

Level 2 Spells

The APG gives us Reapers Lantern. This has a similar mechanic to the level 1 Bane spell, starting as a 5-foot emanation, which can be expanded by 5 feet every turn by spending an action. If used near the start of combat, it can grow to encompass the enemy within a round or two, assuming you are stood behind your front line allies. The spell reduces the enemies’ access to magical healing in mid to late combat. Obviously this is only relevant when the opposition has a spell healer. I like the idea that you hold the ghostly lantern aloft throughout. Like Bane, because of the action required to expand it, means it has a poor action economy, so I would probably skip this one.

Refering back for a moment to the DnD Undead Warlock, at later levels they get to explode in combat. The downside is they have to be in the middle of things.

The APG gives us a similar, more thematically believable ability in the brilliant level 2 spell, Final Sacrifice. This spell gives Fireball scale damage, but at level 2 instead of 3. The trade-offs are that you make your minion explode instead, up to 120 feet away, instead of Fireball’s 500 feet. You explode the minion by ‘channeling disruptive energies’ through your link to them. As it scales well, this will be our 3rd spell level Signature Spell.

Skeleton exploding (credit)

For our vampire theme and for action economy, the APG’s Blood Vendetta, which uses your reaciton, is a useful spell. Get cut? Cut them right back, a lot. Works at 30 feet range, so applies to arrows and the like too. Should put them off targetting you again.

A fun spell to hook up with your Reach Spell feat is Ghoulish Cravings. See a castle guard out in the town? Cast this on him and, with luck, they will die and rise up as a ghoul a few night’s later, attacking their comrades in the castle and spreading ghoul fever, while you sit sipping martinis in the local tavern. Better yet, target a member of the castle staff with low Fortitude. They will more likely die from the spell, in a shorter time and still come back as the same strength of ghoul.

Level 3 Spells

We have Bind Undead, taking control of a mindless undead creature. It is somewhat siutational, unless you are facing lots of mindless undead enemies. One for the prepared spellcasters perhaps.

Our absolute must 3rd level spell has to be Vampiric Touch, both for theme and utility. The healing gained from inflicting pain on a target is in the form of temporary hit points that last one minute. Our character can rush in, cast the spell and use the temporary hit points to absorb retaliatory damage if our target survives.

The Blindness spell is a good way to impose a severe limitation on an enemy attacker, giving them a 50/50 miss chance. Searing Light is also useful for its range and its extra damage versus undead.

Level 4 Spells

One of the best for flexibility is Necrotic Radiation. It is an Uncommon spell, so you will need to have searched it out. You cause an object or area to leak necrotic radiation for 24 hours. If cast on a 10-foot square area, or an unattended object, then there is no save. Cast it on a deep pit, or perhaps a small cupboard with a tough door and then throw your enemies inside as if it is a microwave oven.

Fitting nicely with the Oracle theme, is Read Omens. Gain a cryptic clue regarding an event that will occur within the next week. If your GM is prepared for you having this spell then it becomes a nice narrative mechanic to feed you information that perhaps becomes clearer and more ominous, as you get ever closer to the event itself.

The Moirai Fates from ‘A Golden Thread’ , John Melhuish Strudwick, 1885

Vital Beacon can be left running until your next daily preparations, so around 24 hours. Anytime someone needs healing, they can spend one of their actions, instead of yours, to touch your character and gain a decent amount back. As a fun consideration, the number of dice healed decreases each time it is used until it runs out. Our character can use this themselves, but will need to have aligned their healing to positive during their daily preparations, which means Harm spells would hurt them.

There are several other spells I might choose as a cleric, however, for a spontaneous caster, they are too situational. Vampiric Maiden is a possibility. It is Vampiric Touch, with a little more damage, a little less temporary hit points for you and with the chance to Immobilise the target for a round. It improves on the touch spell by having a range of 30 feet, however, we have our Reach Spell feat. I will skip this one.

Divine Access gave us Gaseous Form, so that is what we shall take here for full vampire flavour.

Level 5 Spells

Sending is a good utility spell for commanding and checking on the progress of your agents anywhere across the planet.

Wall of Flesh creates a long wall barrier that can be healed and comes with optional mouths, eyes or arms for bonus effects.

Death Ward can help protect you or an ally against an undead foe’s powers.

Level 6 Spells

We will pick up Dominate from our Divine Access Class Feat, potentially giving us 24 hours control of our target. They could get us keys to the castle, steal plans from their master, leave an upstairs window open to fly through, or a variety of other flexible options. It also has its combat use, which is more shortlived as you will likely be turning it against its allies.

Portrait of George Gordon Lord Byron’, Theodore Gericault
Charismatic Byron was suspected as the inspiration for Polidor’s ‘Vampyr‘

Raise Dead comes in at level 6 and costs a lot more than the DnD5e version of the spell. It is rather situational, although still very important. Better to have a wand of Gentle Repose, to stop the clock on decomposition and get thee to a priest. Altenatively, lead your remaining party in the Resurrect ritual, which does a similar job as Raise Dead, but takes 1 day to cast.

Field of Life is a positive area healing spell, so presents the same issues as Vital Beacon. It is useful when you and living allies are fighting the undead. Otherwise it presents problems for you and your minions so is best left to the party priest, who you can move away from.

Vampric Exsanguination is something we will pick up later, via our Symphony of Blood Ancestry Feat at 17th level. It would, however, be both useful and flavourful to pick this up now. Cast it early in combat so you can absorb damage early on, rather than require healing later.

Our third level 6 pick is Spirit Blast. A nice targetted force damage attack, with the bonus that it forces possessing spirits out of a body without harming the host. As ghosts have a Constitution save modifier of +0, they are not the best at Fortitude saves, which helps this spell land its punch.

Level 7 Spells

With a 500 feet range and 60-foot burst, Eclipse Burst is a highly useful mass attack spell. It is the slightly weaker reverse of the better known Sunburst, with the balancing effect that it can douse magical lights. It deals a mix of cold and negative damage.

For pure theme, Finger of Death has to be the other selection. Fotitude save or take 70 hit points and if that’s enough to drop the target to 0, they die instantly.

The other necromancy spell at this level is Regenerate. Although it is a positive healing spell, it is targetted on a single creature, so can be cast on your front line fighter without affecting you, or your minions. At a maximum of 15 hit points per turn for 1 minute, that is 150 hit points over the duration. Its other bonus is that the target cannot die while under the effect of this spell, unless damaged by acid or fire.

Level 8 Spells

Of the seven level 8 divine spells, three are necromantic. We begin with Spiritual Epidemic. Curse someone to permantly suffer a reduction in their mental abilities (Int, Wis, Cha) and if anyone casts a divine or occult spell on them, perhaps to find out what is wrong, then they risk getting cursed too. Divine casters tend to have higher Will saves, however there is a chance of spreading this throughout an enemy’s clergy

Devour Life. An uncommon necromancy spell, which is a combination of Vampiric Touch and Finger of Death. Excess healing to the caster is converted into temporary hit points, so you can cast this early in the fight, as well as later when low on hit points.

Moment of Renewal crams a day’s recovery into a few seconds for up to six creatures. Its a good post-battle recovery spell, or to quickly remove everyone’s debilitating conditions if they are tipping the fight against you. The range, however, is touch, so pulling it off in combat would be tricky. Probably skip this one as more a cleric thing.

Divine Inspiration could be a life-saver for an Oracle. As well as regaining a level 6 spell slot, it refreshes the focus point pool ‘as if it had Refocused’, which should bring their curse level back to minor. In the midst of a boss battle, effectively having six focus points to spend on focus spells like Claim Undead or Malignant Sustenance, or getting another round making a triple shot of the single action, Soul Siphon (3 x 8d4 negative damage per round), could make the difference. This will be on our list then.

Level 9 Spells

Three of the nine spells at this level are necromantic. We continue to be well served. Bind Soul is quite situational, storing your big enemy’s soul in a gem to stop them returning. This is a more expensive, higher level and less functional version of the DnD5e spell Soul Cage. We will skip this one and leave it for the prepared divine casters (PCs or NPCs).

Massacre. One of the shortest titled, best summed up spells since Fireball. Everyone of 17th level or lower makes a Fortitude save, or takes massive damage and/or dies. If it fails to kill anyone, it feeds back, dealing another load of damage to everyone, including the caster. It is effectively a mass Finger of Death. It is definitely on our list.

Wail of the Banshee is an emanation to Massacre’s line. As enemies don’t always neatly arrange themselves, a burst focused on the caster can be useful, with the attendant risk of having to get into the midst of a mob, while your allies stay well out of the way. It works well if you inadvertently get surrounded.

A strong choice for the Oracular theme is Foresight, giving advantage to your ally and disadvantage to any enemy attacking them for one hour. Also useful for the rogue scouting ahead in the enemy’s lair as it also grants advantage on saves versus any danger that would effect them. Advantage on reflex saves for the high level rogue is a fairly good guarantee of success.

Building on our character’s Intimidation, Charm and Dominate, we will add Telepathic Demand. It has a planetary range, as with Sending, but has the compelling effect of Suggestion. This will be the key to our character imposing their will, from the safety of their lair, upon a web of people in positions of power.

It requires the caster has used a telepathic effect on the target previously. If they are familiar with them, they can use Sending and if they have used Sending, they can then use Telepathic Demand.

Acquiring a Crystal Ball will help with this, especially if at least a Moonstone Crystal Ball, which allows the user to ‘cast’ Mind Reading on the target, thereby bypassing the need to use Sending prior to this spell.

Level 10 Spells

‘Le Pandemonium’, John Martin, 1841

I read a while ago that Gary Gygax moved spells like Wish to level 9 because he didn’t think the player characters would ever get access to them, as the campaign would have finished before they got there. PF2e moves its reality shaping spells (Wish, Miracle, Alter Reality, Primal Phenomenon and similar near godly powers) to this higher tier. Caster classes generally only get one level 10 spell slot, but can add another by taking a top level class feat.

Of those reality shaping spells I mentioned, we will pick up the Divine version, Miracle. This spell, the capo di tutti i capi, of divine spells, can replicate any divine spell of 9th level or lower and any non-divine spell of 7th level or lower. It is therefore your key to mass teleport or planar travel, i.e. your get out jail free.

By moving Miracle and its kin into level 10, PF2e cleverly allows you to replicate those level 9 spells that remained level 9 after the rapture, like Foresight, rather than in DnD5e, where Wish can only reproduce level 8 and lower.

The other big differences between PF2e and DnD5e is Wish in DnD5e can replicate a level 8 divine spell, where PF2e keeps its Wish spell’s hands off level 8 and 9 divine spells. The other difference is there is no non-arcane equivalent of Wish in DnD5e.

Revival is the anti-TPK spell. If several of your allies have just died, you can cast this to get them on their feet, with an average of 85 hit points, to keep fighting for one more minute. At the end of the spell they die again. At this level that will be a very expensive inconveniance, but, assuming the extra minute delivers victory, your costs can be reduced by preventing your entire party dying. We will therefore pick this spell. You can spend the next several days perhaps, casting Miracle to replicate Raise Dead on your fallen.

Build Summary

1st level

  • Ancestry, Elf: Low-light Vision
  • Ancestry, Elf: Otherworldly Magic
  • Heritage, Dhampir: Low-light Vision = Darkvision
  • Heritage, Dhampir: Negative Healing
  • Background, Haunted: Trained Ocultism, Intimidation
  • Background, Haunted: Spirit’s Aid, Intimidation
  • Class: Divine Spells
  • Class: Trained Religion
  • Class: Bones Mystery, Positive/Negative Healing
  • Class: Bones Mystery, Revelation Spell, Soul Siphon
  • Class: Bones Mystery, Revelation Spell, Undeath, Touch of Undeath
  • Class: Bones Mystery, Trained Medicine
  • Class: Trained Deception, Diplomacy, Undead Lore, Society
  • Ability Scores: Str: 14, Dex: 12, Con: 10, Int: 12, Wis: 12, Cha: 18

2nd Level

  • Class Feat: Reach Spell
  • Skill Feat: Intimidating Glare

3rd level

  • 2nd Level Spells
  • Signature Spells
  • General Feat: Armor Proficiency, Medium
  • Skill Increase to Intimidation, Expert

4th level

  • Class Feat: Divine Access, Zura, the Vampire Queen: Charm, Gaseous Form, Dominate
  • Skill Feat: Group Coercion

5th level

  • 3rd Level Spells
  • Ancestry Feat: Voice of the Night
  • Ability Boost to Str, Int, Wis, Cha
  • Skill increase to Religion, Expert

6th level

  • Class Feat: Advanced Revelation, Armor of Bones
  • Skill Feat: Assurance Intimidation

7th level

  • 4th Level Spells
  • Expert Spellcaster
  • Resolve
  • General Feat: Die Hard
  • Skill increase to Intimidation, Master

8th level

  • Class Feat: Debilitating Dychotomy
  • Skill Feat: Quick Coercion

9th level

  • 5th Level Spells
  • Magical Fortitude
  • Ancestry Feat: Night Magic, Animal Form 1/day, Obscuring Mist 1/day
  • Skill increase to Religion, Master

10th level

  • Class Feat: Oracular Warning
  • Skill Feat: Lasting Coercion
  • Ability Boost to Con, Int, Wis, Cha

11th level

  • 6th Level Spells
  • Alertness
  • General Feat: Numb to Death
  • Skill increase to Deception, Expert

12th level

  • Class Feat: Domain Fluency, Undeath, Malignant Sustenance
  • Skill Feat: Terrified Retreat

13th level

  • 7th Level Spells
  • Light (and Medium) Armor Expertise
  • Lightning Reflexes
  • Weapon Specilization
  • Ancestry Feat: Form of the Bat
  • Skill increase to Deception, Master

14th level

  • Class Feat: Forestall Curse
  • Skill Feat: Battle Cry

15th level

  • 8th Level Spells
  • Master Spellcaster
  • General Feat: Consult the Spirits
  • Ability Boost to Con, Int, Wis, Cha
  • Skill increase to Intimidation, Legendary

16th level

  • Class Feat: Greater Revelation, Claim Undead
  • Skill Feat: Scare to Death

17th level

  • 9th Level Spells
  • Extreme Curse
  • Greater Resolve
  • Ancestry Feat: Symphony of Blood, Vampiric Exanguination 1/day
  • Skill increase to Religion, Legendary

18th level

  • Class Feat: Diverse Mystery, Access Lore
  • Skill Feat: Divine Guidance

19th level

  • Legendary Spellcaster
  • Oracular Clarity (10th Level Spells)
  • General Feat: Incredible Investiture
  • Skill increase to Deception, Legendary

20th level

  • Class Feat: Paradoxical Mystery
  • Skill Feat: Terrifying Resistance
  • Ability Boost to Str, Dex, Con, Cha

Final Thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed reading and looking through this review/history/character build.

I will leave you with one thought… Dracula and Oracular look pretty much the same word.

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