Cartel Magus

The temperate rainforests of the Kingdom of Enteria are home to the members of secretive and dangerous cartels that cultivate the parasitic magical plants dubbed bleak banyans. The cartels use zombie slaves to harvest the banyans' figs despite the aura of negative energy that keeps living creatures at bay, and brew a decadent, addictive wine from the fruit for sale to the unwary. Most of the upper officials of each cartel are necromancers of considerable skill, with secret knowledge that allows them to rip the life essence from a willing donor in order to fuel the creation of magical items and other works of arcane might. The taste of bleak banyan wine is enough to reduce a rich man to poverty, however, and when the thirst continues unabated in the face of a lack of funds . . . the pain and trauma of the donation ritual begin to look attractive. Repeated donations grind the addicts down until they are useless to anyone except the cartel magi, who always need fresh laborers at their rainforest plantations.

Training as a cartel magus is not for the faint of heart, or the magically inept. Candidates must prove their loyalty to the cartel, as well as demonstrating uncommon cunning and an extensive knowledge base regarding topics related to alchemy and necromancy. A practical demonstration of spellcasting ability sufficient to distinguish the candidate as an experienced arcanist is also required. If the would-be magus survives to score passing marks on the cartel's candidacy examination, she sets foot on the long road to wealth, power, and necromantic mastery. In her new apprenticeship, she learns how to create an undead bodyguard for herself, to poison and drug her enemies without risking her own neck, and how to consume the life essence of the weak in order to reap profits for herself and the cartel.

Continued study grants her necromancy spells a potency denied to lesser proponents of the school, and cements her control over the legions of mindless undead that toil on the cartels' behalf. Cartel magi can be of any alignment, but most carry a tinge of evil, since only ruthless candidates survive to train under the cartels' master necromancers. Any arcane spellcaster with the ability to cast necromancy spells of sufficient sophistication can successfully become a member of the prestige class, but the overwhelming majority of its members are sorcerers and wizards.

Hit Dice: d4.

To qualify to become a Cartel Magus, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Skills: Craft (alchemy) 4 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 4 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 4 ranks, Spellcraft 8 ranks.

Feats: Brew Potion, Craft Wondrous Item.

Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3rd-level arcane spells from the school of necromancy.

Special: The character must be trained by a member of a bleak banyan cartel on an active bleak banyan fig plantation.

Class Skills: The Cartel Magus's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Concentration (Con), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowlege (local) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Profession (Wis), Speak Language (None), Spellcraft (Int), and Sense Motive (Wis).

Skill Points per Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features All of the following are class features of the Cartel Magus.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Cartel Magus gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Spells per Day/Spells Known: At each level, the character gains new spells per level (and spells known, if applicable) as if she had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained, such as advancement of a familiar. If the character had levels in more than one spellcasting class, she decides which class to add each level of spellcasting she gains from taking levels as a Cartel Magus.

Bone Slave: A Cartel Magus can create a loyal undead servant (a human warrior skeleton) that follows her commands and accompanies her on adventures if desired. If the bone slave is destroyed, the Cartel Magus suffers no ill effects and may replace it by performing a ceremony identical to the one that allowed her to obtain her first bone slave. Creating a bone slave takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 gp, plus 100 gp per class level.

The bone slave has a number of Hit Dice equal to the Cartel Magus's class level plus her total number of levels in any arcane spellcasting classes she possesses. Add the Cartel Magus's class level to the bone slave's natural armor bonus. Add one-half the Cartel Magus's class level to the bone slave's Strength and Dexterity scores. Unlike a standard skeleton, a bone slave is not mindless. Its Intelligence score is equal to 10. It cannot be turned, rebuked, or commanded by any third party. It can communicate telepathically with its master. Killing the Cartel Magus destroys the bone slave. A bone slave does not count towards its master's limit for the purposes of the animate dead spell or similar effects.

Poison Use: The preparation of bleak banyan wine is a dangerous process, requiring mortals involved in it to exercise great care to avoid being poisoned or addicted to the product. Because of her training in the rigorous safety measures used in the proper manufacture of bleak banyan wine, the Cartel Magus is considered trained in the use of poison and never risks accidentally poisoning herself when readying poisons for use.

Restrained Debauchery: At 2nd level, continuous exposure to debauchery and luxury associated with the sale and use of bleak banyan wine has deadened the appeal of drugs and wine. The Cartel Magus gains a +6 bonus to Will saves to resist the urge to consume a dose of bleak banyan wine, and a +2 bonus to Charisma-based checks against creatures under the influence of the beverage. At 6th level, the Cartel Magus becomes immune to the effects of bleak banyan wine.

Consume Essence: At 3rd level, the Cartel Magus unlocks the secret of using the lifeforce of a willing donor to fuel the creation of a magical item or the casting of a spell with an XP component. By performing a ceremony that takes one hour and causes 1 point of Constitution drain to the donor, the Cartel Magus gains sufficient life essence to stand in for 5 XP per level of the donor (for a maximum of 100 XP per point of Constitution drain at 20th level). The Cartel Magus can extract the life essence only of donors that belong to the humanoid and monstrous humanoid types and that possess Intelligence scores of 3 or better. XP gained through the use of this ability do not count towards the character's progression towards her next level; they are counted separately and may be used solely for the purposes of item creation and as the XP component for a spell.

Because the ceremony requires the donor's willing participation, to rip out a portion of his or her vital force, a greater restoration spell is necessary to restore Constitution drain. Few potential donors are willing to relinquish their life essence with no hope of regaining it, so most Cartel Magi rely on bleak banyan wine addicts as donors, trading a dose of the wine for life essence equivalent to a point of Constitution. Because the process is so traumatic, the donor is only able to relinquish 1 point of Constitution per week; an attempt to donate twice in the same period results in instant death for the donor.

Necromantic Spell Power: At 4th level, and at every even-numbered level after that, the Cartel Magus receives a +1 bonus to her effective caster level when casting spells from the school of necromancy. The bonus applies to level-dependent spell effects, spell resistance, and the maximum number of Hit Dice of undead which the Cartel Magus can control via animate dead and similar spells, but it does not count for the purpose of determining the character's highest-level spell or number of spells per day.

Bonus Feat: At 5th level, the Cartel Magus gains a bonus feat. At each such opportunity, she can choose a metamagic feat, an item creation feat, or Spell Mastery. She must still meet all prerequisites for a bonus feat, including caster level minimums.

Command Undead: Starting at 5th level, the Cartel Magus gains the ability to use command undead once per day as a spell-like ability. The save DC is equal to 12 + the Cartel Magus's Charisma modifier. Starting at 9th level, the ability is available twice per day.

Bone Overseer: At 7th level, the Cartel Magus's bone slave gains the ability to shoulder some of the burden associated with controlling undead created via the animate dead spell. The bone slave can take over control of up to 2 Hit Dice of mindless undead for each Hit Die it possesses. If the bone slave is destroyed, any undead under its control revert to its master. If the master already commands her maximum number of Hit Dice of undead, the excess undead become uncontrolled. Mindless undead controlled by a bone slave can be turned, destroyed, rebuked or commanded as normal, but they are immune to spells like command undead and control undead and to effects like an overseer zombie's dominate undead ability.

Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Reflex Save Will Save Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Bone slave, poison use +1 level of existing class
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Restrained debauchery +1 level of existing class
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Consume essence +1 level of existing class
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Necromantic spell power +1 +1 level of existing class
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Bonus feat, command undead 1/day +1 level of existing class
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 Necromantic spell power +2 +1 level of existing class
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 Bone overseer +1 level of existing class
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 Necromantic spell power +3 +1 level of existing class
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 Command undead 2/day +1 level of existing class
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 Necromantic spell power +4 +1 level of existing class
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