Black Wizard (NPC Class)

Contributed by Simon (, who was "inspired to put together a Black Wizard class for use in Hyboria, Nehwon and other swords & sorcery worlds. It's intended to be used primarily as an NPC class, but to be balanced against the non-spellcasting PHB classes for a low-magic world, with access to spells of up to 6th level (at class level 18)." The class description has been slightly edited for clarity.

The wizard Kharam Akkad

This variant Wizard class, along with possibly the Adept, is usually the only spellcasting class on low-magic swords & sorcery worlds such as Nehwon and Hyboria. Black Wizards have gained their power through pacts with dark powers and investigation of hidden secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know. On most worlds where they occur, Black Wizards are almost always NPCs.

Adventures: Black Wizards rarely adventure, but may quest in search of power and knowledge. Some seek temporal power over the nations of the world, others seek only dark revelations as to the nature of the cosmos.

Characteristics: Black Wizards need high Intelligence. They can potentially cast spells of level (Int - 15); for example, a Black Wizard with Int 18 can cast 3rd level spells. The maximum spell level a Black Wizard can cast is 6th-level spells, which requires Int 21.

Alignment: In worlds where Alignment is used, Black Wizards of level 1-5 may be Neutral or Evil. To reach 6th level, they must reach a diabolical pact with an entity of foulest Evil, and become Evil-aligned.

Religion: On many worlds, Black Wizards serve dark and blood-hungry gods as their high priests. Perhaps these "gods" grant the wizard his power; perhaps it is merely a sham to aid the wizard's subjection of the populace.

Races: Black Wizards may be human, or members of older, pre-human races long lost to the knowledge of man.

Other Classes: Black Wizards see other classes as useful tools, and many like to surround themselves with a cadre of powerful fighters, warriors or rogues. They may use magic to ensure their minions' "loyalty".

Game Rule Information

Hit Dice: d4

Class Skills: The Black Wizard's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Alchemy (Int), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Profession (Wis), Scry (Int, exclusive skill), and Spellcraft (Int).

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

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

Class Features

All of the following are the class features of the Black Wizard.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Black Wizards are skilled with the club, dagger, heavy crossbow, light crossbow, and quarterstaff. Black Wizards are not proficient with any type of armor nor with shields.

Spells: The Black Wizard learns spells from dark tomes and the hidden knowledge of ancient, demoniacal entities. They do not automatically gain spells when advancing levels -- each spell must be individually researched and placed in their spell book. To cast a known and memorized spell in the standard casting time the Black Wizard must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level), if failed the spell is lost. On a critical failure the spell rebounds on the caster, often with horrible results. In non-combat situations the Black Wizard may "take 10" on the roll, spending 10 times as long to evoke the ritual of the spell in return for a guaranteed result. Some complex ritual spells do not allow for "take 10". The Black Wizard does not gain bonus spells for a high Intelligence score.

Feats: The Black Wizard does not gain bonus feats, but does have access to the meta-magic feats, including Spell Mastery. The Find Familiar ability is treated as a meta-magic feat for this purpose, and must be selected as a feat to be usable. Using these feats require a Spellcraft check, the DC where unspecified is at least 15 + highest spell level employed; for example, the creation of an item requiring a 3rd level spell is DC 18. If the roll is failed, the ritual fails and all XP employed in the ritual is lost. Again, a critical failure typically results in something horrible happening to the Black Wizard. Where circumstances are less than optimal for the ritual the DM should impose a modifier of +5, +10 or more to the DC. Most rituals require the sacrifice of a living sentient creature as part of the process. Certain sacrifices may grant a bonus to the skill check as the dark powers guiding the Black Wizard's destiny may particularly approve of the sacrifice of, for example, a virgin princess or prince.

Spellbook: The Black Wizard requires a spellbook (which may be a cluster of rune-carven bones or graven talismans rather than an actual book) from which to prepare his spells. At 1st level a Black Wizard begins play with two 0th level spells; all further spells must be found during play.

If a player character creates a higher-level Black Wizard, he begins play with 2 spells per class level, chosen from the spells levels he can cast. For example, a 6th level Black Wizard starts with 12 spells of levels 0-2. At least 2 of these must be 0th level spells. NPC Black Wizards can have more or less spells, as the GM desires.

Malevolent Effects: As each new level is gained from 6th level and onwards, the Black Wizard must make a Fortitude save (DC 15 + new class level) or suffer a malevolent effect from the following table (adapted from the 1st edition Lankhmar book by Nesmith, Niles & Rolston). Roll 1d12 (or DM may choose):

  1. Wizard loses sight in one eye.
  2. Wizard loses all his hair.
  3. Wizard loses sense of smell and taste.
  4. Wizard loses 2 points of Cha.
  5. Wizard's touch spoils wine.
  6. Wizard's face and body become misshapen and hideous.
  7. Wizard must make Will save DC 15 or become hopelessly enraged at the sound of laughter.
  8. Wizard develops limp, reducing movement rate to half normal.
  9. Wizard develops an irrational and complete fear of an animal species (dogs, horses, cats, etc)
  10. Wizard loses 2 points of Str.
  11. Wizard loses 2 points of Con.
  12. Wizard develops allergy to all food not treated with a rare herb.
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells Per Day (0/1/2/3/4/5/6)
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 1
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 Summon Familiar 2
3 +1 +1 +1 +3 2/1
4 +2 +1 +1 +4 3/1
5 +2 +1 +1 +4 3/2
6 +3 +2 +2 +5 3/2/1
7 +3 +2 +2 +5 4/3/1
8 +4 +2 +2 +6 4/3/2
9 +4 +3 +3 +6 4/4/2/1
10 +5 +3 +3 +7 5/4/3/1
11 +5 +3 +3 +7 5/5/3/2
12 +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 5/5/4/2/1
13 +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 5/5/4/3/1
14 +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 5/5/5/3/2
15 +7/+2 +5 +5 +9 5/5/5/4/2/1
16 +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 5/5/5/4/3/1
17 +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 5/5/5/5/3/2
18 +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 5/5/5/5/4/2/1
19 +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 5/5/5/5/4/3/1
20 +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 5/5/5/5/5/3/2