Dark Heretic

Dark Heretics are priests of the church who once were devoted followers, but were lured away from the path of faith by outside forces (fiendish seduction, a power from another plane, or an evil artifact, e.g.), or simply their own curiosity, dissatisfaction with their god, or a life-altering event that caused them to lose faith in their god. Whatever the reason, they gradually stray further from church's tenets - consorting with demons, engaging in outlawed practices, seeking out forbidden knowledge, etc., until they slide so far into evil or chaos that their actions can no longer remain hidden from their god or their church and they are cast out – excommunicated.

Freed of the need to maintain a façade of piety toward their old god and hide their activities from god and brethren, they turn to the new god with open arms and delve further into things that are better left forgotten. Very little is anathema to them – knowledge and power is their goal, and they will go to any end, and sacrifice nearly anything, to accomplish it.

Dark Heretics are always clerics or, rarely, fallen paladins.

Hit Die: d8.


To qualify to become a Dark Heretic (DHe), the character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Alignment: Any evil

Skills: Knowledge (religion) 12 ranks

Spellcasting: Ability to cast 4th level divine spells.

Special: Must have been excommunicated from the church for blasphemy and/or heresy.

Class Skills

The Dark Heretic's class skills are Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana, religion, the planes)(Int), Spellcraft (Int).

Skill Points Per Level: 4 + Int modifier

Table 1: The Dark Heretic
Level Attack Bonus Fort
Special Spells Per Day
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Dark patron, renounce the faith
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 Knowledge of the dark arts +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
3rd +2 +3 +1 +3 Words of power
4th +3 +4 +1 +4 Subvert the faithful +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
5th +3 +4 +2 +4 Insanity, touch of evil
6th +4 +5 +2 +5 Nullify the faithful +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
7th +5 +5 +3 +5 Taint of darkness
8th +6 +6 +3 +6 Tainted spellcasting +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class
9th +6 +6 +4 +6 Unholy word
10th +7 +7 +4 +7 Unholy aura +1 level of existing divine spellcasting class

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the Dark Heretic.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Dark Heretics gain no additional weapon or armor proficiencies.

Dark Patron (Ex): Upon becoming a Dark Heretic, the character gains a new patron to replace the one he lost when he was excommunicated from the church. This patron – god, archdemon, power from beyond, etc. – grants the Heretic his spells. Clerical Heretics can choose new domains based on the patron's spheres of influence; one of them must be Chaos or Evil, however, depending on the patron's alignment.

Renounce the Faith (Su): The Heretic knows how those of his former faith work – their strengths and weaknesses – since he was once one of them. He gains a +4 bonus to saves against spells/effects originating from the faithful of his former god, and a +4 bonus to the save DCs of any spells or class abilities used against them. These bonuses stack with those granted by Knowledge of the Dark Arts.

Knowledge of the Dark Arts (Su): Due to his research into things better left alone, the Dark Heretic can access power unavailable to normal people. He gains a bonus to his spell DCs equal to half his class level.

Spells Per Day: At the indicated levels, the Dark Heretic gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (improved chance of controlling or rebuking undead, metamagic feats, etc.), except for an increased effective level of spellcasting. If the character had more than one divine spellcasting class before becoming a Dark Heretic, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day.

Words of Power (Ex): As part of his research, the Dark Heretic encounters and learns to read and speak many tongues, some of them best left forgotten. One of the benefits of this is that he can cast spells in ancient tongues instead of modern ones. They take slightly longer to cast (the time is doubled – a free-action spell becomes a standard action, and a standard action becomes a full round), but they are harder to identify (+6 to Spellcraft checks) and thus counter.

Additionally, any non-evil being hearing a spell cast in such a manner must make a Will save (DC 10 + spell level) or be shaken for a full minute afterward from the power of the ancient and evil tongue.

Subvert the Faithful (Ex): At 4th level, a Dark Heretic has gained enough power and confidence that he can attempt to sway a member of a lawful or good-aligned god away from his god (evil Heretics can use this ability on good targets, and chaotic on lawful ones). In order to do so, he must speak to that person for at least five full minutes on the benefits and powers he has gained from following his dark patron. This ability cannot be used in combat – the target must be able to concentrate solely on the Heretic's words, and must be able to understand what the Heretic is saying.

At the end of that time, the other person must make a Will save (DC 10 + Dark Heretic's combined class and cleric or paladin levels + Dark Heretic's Cha modifier) or be swayed in favor of the Heretic. This does not mean that the other person will immediately start worshipping the Heretic's patron, but he will consider the Heretic's words in a favorable light, and his reaction toward the Heretic is shifted one step toward Friendly.

The Heretic can use this ability multiple times on the same target (treat each new minute of speech as another attempt); if the first save fails, each subsequent one suffers a -1 penalty (cumulative per failed save, to a maximum of -10). At the third, sixth, and ninth failed saves, if those attempts are made, the other person's alignment shifts one step toward evil. Other consequences of the target's slide toward evil can be determined by the DM.

If the initial save is successful, the target has resisted the Heretic's proselytizing and gains a +1 resistance bonus against further attempts, to a maximum of +10.

If the Heretic is interrupted during his speech (being attacked, silenced, etc.), the attempt is ruined and must be started over. Any penalties/bonuses accumulated remain, however; penalties can be removed with a proper atonement.

Insanity (Ex): The Dark Heretic is affected by the longtime influence of chaos or evil, and must make a Will save (DC 20) upon gaining this level or become slightly insane. This can manifest in a number of ways, not all of them obvious - megalomania, necrophilia, odd phobias, or weird obsessions are just a few examples. The DM should choose something appropriate to the character; it should not apply a mechanical penalty except in special circumstances (someone with megalomania should make a Will save any time someone challenges his authority or speaks against his patron, or fly into a rage, e.g.).

A side benefit of this is that the Heretic's thought processes become twisted and alien; he gains a +4 resistance bonus to saves vs. mind-affecting spells and effects.

Touch of Evil (Ex): A Dark Heretic is moderately infused with chaos or evil by this point, and gains a +4 resistance bonus to saves vs. spells with the Chaos or Evil descriptors, depending on his patron's alignment.

Nullify the Faithful (Su): At 6th level, a Heretic has gained enough power that he can counter spells or abilities used by those of his former faith or any member of a faith of an opposed alignment (good-evil or law-chaos), as if he were casting greater dispel magic. This ability can be used three times per day, and does not use up a prepared spell; instead, the Heretic is drawing upon his own dark power to negate the spell. He must be able to identify the spell being cast, as if he were making a counterspell; if the attempt is successful, he can speak a word of dark power and counter it, dealing 1d4 points of nonlethal damage per spell level to the caster in the process.

Taint of Darkness (Su): As a standard action, the Dark Heretic can change the energy type of a spell someone else within is casting from positive to negative (for example, changing a cure wounds spell to inflict wounds). He must be able to identify the spell being cast, as if he were making a counterspell, and the other caster must be within 5 feet per class level; if the attempt is successful, he must expend a spell that uses negative energy and is of the same level or higher than the spell being cast.

Tainted Spellcasting (Su): Through long-time association with evil or chaotic energies, and exhaustive research, the Dark Heretic has uncovered a way to infuse his spells with pure evil or chaotic divine energy. Effectively, any damage-causing spell he casts with an energy descriptor deals half normal energy and half divine energy. Beings that are protected from evil or chaos (via a magic circle vs. alignment or similar spell) automatically take half damage from the divine energy portion of the spell. Note that a simple protection from alignment will not work; the Heretic's power is such that it will overcome such weak spells.

Unholy Word (Sp): Three times per day, the Dark Heretic can utter a word of unholy power. If he is evil, this takes the form of a blasphemy; if he is chaotic, it is a word of chaos instead. The caster level for this effect is equal to his highest divine caster level.

Unholy Aura (Su): A Heretic is so infused with evil by this point that the he actually emanates it in a 10-foot radius. This has the following effects: He gains a +4 deflection bonus to Armor Class against good-aligned beings, and +4 resistance bonus to saves against spells and effects from the same; animals will not approach within 10 feet of him; and paladins and others with the ability to detect evil or chaos can automatically sense it if they are within the aura's radius.

If the Heretic has a patron of chaos, the above bonuses apply to lawful-aligned creatures instead.

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