The 4e Necromancer Has Been Announced

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on June 22, 2010

One of the first articles published at Dungeon’s Master was our take on the Necromancer. Since that time we’ve produced a revised version of our heroic, paragon and epic tier take on the class, along with a general write up on different kinds of Necromancers. The Necromancer as envisioned by us was developed to address the fact that there were no Wizard specialists in 4e D&D. Along the way we’ve toyed with the idea of releasing a build of the class that is built on the Warlock and Cleric structure as well.

However, the article by Bartoneus on D&D 4e: The New Player’s Option at Critical Hitshas put any thoughts of developing alternate powers for the Necromancer on hold for now. Wizards of the Coast is releasing Player Options, Hero’s of Shadow. This will feature the Necromancer, Assassin and Hexblade.

I’m very excited about this release for a number of reasons. First, the Necromancer is finally getting some love and will be featured as its own class. Consider how iconic this class is in fantasy literature I’m surprised that we haven’t seen something official earlier.

In my mind the Necromancer could fill any of the Striker, Leader or Controller roles. It will all depend on what kind of a spin WotC decides to place on it. I think it would be very interesting to see the Necromancer as primarily a Striker, with Controller as a secondary role.

I envision it as a class that can summon minor undead who would attack from melee. These summoned undead will probably deal the Necromanscers primary damamge in much the same way the Beastmaster Ranger’s pet does. The Necromancers other powers would have more of a controller feel to them, with weakening and immobilizing attacks being prominent. Of course these summoned undead could employ more controller options, almost acting like a horde of minions that are under the control of the Necromancer.

Imagine the Necromancer summons several skeletons and they rush towards the enemy. The damage the do is minimal, a flat amount based on the Necromancers level. However, if two or more of these minions are adjacent to an enemy they cause additional damage or employe some type of effect.

Another alternative would be a leader who doesn’t heal hit points with the Necromancer equivalent of Healing Word, rather the Necromancer would provide temporary hit points equal to the value of a healing surge, plus a bonus based on level and appropriate ability score. This would place a unique spin on healing in combat as these temporary hit points would still expend a healing surge. At the end of combat the temporary hit points would disappear, possibly leaving a PC very low on hit points.

The next reason I’m looking forward to this release is the Assassin. As a player I’ve recently discovered the joy of playing this class in our ongoing home campaign. As a result I look forward to even more powers and Assassin based goodness with which to destroy my enemies. Of course I’ll need to wait almost a year, but I’m sure it will be worth it.

In all of this I do have one area of concern and it surrounds the Assassin. This class was made available to DDI subscribers as a bonus. My understanding, which may be flawed, was it would not be released via any other source. As a result the class wouldn’t see many new additional powers, but that’s ok, it was after all a freebie. A reward for being a subscriber.

This isn’t the first time that WotC has taken material released through DDI in either Dragon or Dungeon and then published it in another book. Several sections of the DMG 2 on skill challenges were found in various Dungeon magazines. While the content is solid, a bad taste is left in my mouth when I realize I am paying for material twice. This however, is not a rant about the state of the DDI, I’ll save that for another day.

In closing I’m excited about this upcoming release and I look forward to the new material. This change in approach for player supplements should hopefully keep things fresh and allow 4e to stay viable as a brand for some time to come. I’m sure as we advance upon the release date that more snippets and details will be released to us about the new classes and how their powers will work. Will it be the standard power system, the Psionic point system or some sort of hybrid? We already know that the Assassin uses the standard power system, but will alternatives be introduced for the new classes that are being released. Time will tell.

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1 Lahrs June 22, 2010 at 9:23 am

My wife played an assassin in the D&D Encounters season one campaign and loved the class. In truth, I felt the class was overpowered, but not to the point others were unable to have fun. I know she is wanting to continue using her character in our home sessions, so she will be excited to have more options in the future.

I on the other hand am super excited to hear about the necromancer, as along with the Cleric (3.5), has always been my favorite class to play and I look forward to seeing how they are incorporated into 4.0.

2 Brian June 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

Yeah, this release excites me, though I wonder if this is the way they’ll go for new power sources in the future, rather than additional Player’s Handbooks). They promised not to re-publish the assassin, and I wonder if they’re going to partially stick to that promise, in order to maintain a bulk of the assassin material released so far as a DDI reward. If it were me, I’d probably republish the base class features of the assassin, but make sure that the two builds included in the book were entirely new builds. That way, buying the book gets you a fully functional assassin class if you’re not a DDI subscriber, maintains the exclusivity of the DDI content, and gives DDI subscribers a bigger incentive to buy the book.

I am, of course, super stoked about the necromancer and hexblade, as well. My inclination is to think that the hexblade is a defender, the necromancer a controller. I have a feeling that we probably won’t see a shadow-based leader, just as we probably will never see a martial controller. Thematically, it doesn’t make sense for a power source so closely tied to cold and necrotic energy to provide healing. I can, however, see the necromancer having leader as a strong secondary role, providing buffs to his allies and summoned minions, and providing temporary hit points stolen from his enemies.

3 Scott June 22, 2010 at 10:09 am

As a DDI subscriber, I am looking forward to seeing more options for the assassin. I am not, however, looking forward to hearing about the ‘DDI exclusive’ promise (with accompanying griping) every single time this book is mentioned in the next 6 months. 18 months of the class being exclusive to subscribers is plenty. Hopefully WotC has more such perks in the pipe.

4 Jason Dawson June 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm

@Brian– Your idea about the Assassin is really brilliant. I hope WotC thinks the same way. In a way, it would provide the same effect for DDI subscribers as the other “power” series books has– increasing the number of available builds to 3+, while still maintaining full playability out of the dead-tree book. I really hope WotC goes this route with it.

5 Lahrs June 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I would be upset if they gimp the assassin by not including all the options in the book. Regardless of promise, if I am going to pay for a book, I should get all of the info. I have DDI, so I won’t be missing out in the character generator, but I will be upset if all of the info is not in the book, because I will most likely buy the book as well.

6 Wimwick June 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm

@ Lahrs
I am really enjoying the Assassin class. The class can seem overpowered, especially when four shrouds are invoked. However, on rounds when shrouds aren’t used the damage balances out. Overall a fun class to play and I’m looking forward to seeing more options for it.

@ Brian
I think your points about how to release the class in the book is solid. Time will tell, but I am eagerly awaiting this release.

@ Scott
Good point, I’ll try not to complain about the Assassin being released previsouly through the DDI the next time I talk about this release. Honest.

7 AsmodeusLore June 23, 2010 at 11:29 am

This book ‘supports’ the Assassin. It does not contain it.

8 Wimwick June 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm

@ AsmodeusLore
Good point.

9 Rook June 26, 2010 at 9:25 am

Oh happy day! I (or more to the point, my wife) have been waiting patiently for an official 4E Necromancer! Don’t get me wrong, I loved your version and have downloaded all your articles on the subject. But I do use Character Builder for all my player’s characters and this will be a godsend. Just wish I didn’t have to wait till next year! 😉

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