3rd Party Show Case: Heartless Mage

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

The flickering flames of the fireplace cast dancing shadows across the study, its lone occupant paying no heed to the twisted shapes as it sunk deeper into the high backed leather bound chair. The wine glass beside him untouched on the side table Arctas's attention lay fully on the twisting black oak staff he caressed in his hands, the silver runic patterns across its surface coming to life in a dull white glow as the power within them both was now channelled into the orb of crystal at its tip. The clear transparent gem slowly filling with a growing swirl the colour of morning mist, focusing his mind he narrowed this thoughts to a ring studded with sapphire engraved with the rune of his house. Twisting and inspecting the ring in his minds eye the swirling mist within the orb twisted like moulded clay, a low buzz of noise beginning to grown drowning out the crackle of burning wood from the fireplace. "..his clans hospitality. " the words reverberating from the crystal the mist finally took form focusing upon a  young Enchantress as a single word slipped from his lips "Ah Granddaughter."

Welcome to the first edition of 3rd Party Show Case, this series of articles aims to highlight some of the more interesting 3rd party and homebrew creations available online. When able to we will credit the original creators and post links directly to the material.
The first 3rd party class I’ll be highlighting is a personal favourite of mine the Heartless Mage prestige class which can be found on the D&D Wiki and was created by Surgo, an alternative to lichdom the Heartless Mage gains immortality and powerful spell like abilities at the cost of emotional sterility and a obsidian box containing their heart.

Becoming a Heartless Mage

The Heartless Mage is quite an easy prestige class to enter as the skill requirements can be gained at either level 7 in D&D 3.5 or level 10 in Pathfinder, while the Magic Jar can be gained at 9th for a Wizard or 10th level sorcerer.  However due to Charisma skill penalty this class gains each level it is not recommended for any social characters which means most sorcerers will not want to enter it.  
The base attack bonus remains poor as does reflex saves but the Heartless Mage is one of the fewer spell casting prestige classes which gains a improved fortitude save while retaining full spell casting. It does suffer however from poor skill points and limited class skills.


Skills: Knowledge (Arcana) 10 ranks, Knowledge (Religion) 10 ranks.
Spell Casting: Must be able to cast 5th level arcane spells, including magic jar.

LevelBase Attack BonusSaving Throws



1st+0+2+0+2Box the Mortal Heart+1 Spellcaster Level
2nd+1+3+0+3Lessons of the True Heart+1 Spellcaster Level
3rd+1+3+1+3True Ownership+1 Spellcaster Level
4th+2+4+1+4Heartless Resurrection+1 Spellcaster Level
5th+2+4+1+4Heartless Immortal+1 Spellcaster Level

Hit Dice: D6

Class Skills:
The Heartless Mage class skills are: Concentration (Con), Craft (alchemy) (Int), Knowledge (all skills taken individually) (Int), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), and Spellcraft (Int).
Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the Heartless Mage prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The Heartless Mage gains no proficiency with armor or weapons.

Spellcasting: Every level, the Heartless Mage casts spells (including gaining any new spell slots and spell knowledge) as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he had previous to gaining that level.

Box the Mortal Heart (Ex): At 1st level, the Heartless Mage removes his own heart and places it within an obsidian box worth at least 1,000 gp. The effect of this transformation is that whenever the Heartless Mage is killed, the obsidian box holding his heart may be used as a focus component to a raise dead or resurrection spell. Using his heart in this way means that he is returned to life without level or XP loss. Should the Heartless Mage’s heart be destroyed or removed from the box, he is instantly killed wherever he stands. In addition, each level of Heartless Mage grants a cumulative –1 penalty on all Charisma-based checks. Also, from this point onward the Heartless Mage does not age further or advance in age categories.

Lessons of the True Heart: At 2nd level, a Heartless Mage may use any of the following spells as spell-like abilities: heart of stone, hoard life, and false life, each usable once per day. When he uses these abilities he must use the obsidian box holding his heart as a focus component, and the box counts as the final resting place of his heart for the effects of this spell.

True Ownership (Sp): At 3nd level, the Heartless Mage improves the mystical connection to his heart. He may cast scrying and discern location as a spell-like abilities at will, but only if he is seeking the obsidian box holding his heart.

Heartless Resurrection: At 4th level, the Heartless Mage does not die when his body is killed. Instead, his soul is transferred to the obsidian box containing his heart (treat as a tiny construct with a hardness of 20 and no movement abilities). While in this form, he may cast magic jar at will as a spell-like ability (caster level equal to his character level, and his obsidian box is the focus). For the purposes of this effect, soulless bodies in perfect physical condition (such as clones preserved by gentle repose or soulless bodies produced by magic jar effects) can be targeted by this effect as if they were living. If the body possessed is a duplicate of the Heartless Mage’s own body (via clone or a simulacrum spell, for example), successful use of this ability counts as a true resurrection on the Heartless Mage with a material component being the body he is possessing (it is consumed).

Heartless Immortal: When a Heartless Mage is possessing a body with his Heartless Resurrection ability, he may perform a 12-hour ritual costing 1,000 gp in material components that recreates his current body into duplicate of his original body. This counts as a casting of true resurrection with a material component of the body he is using.

Using the Heartless Mage

The Heartless Mages abilities focus heavily on either avoiding or returning from death which may not suit all campaigns and most players will find themselves never needing to use them unless their DM is known for TPK’s (Total Party Kills).  However the ability to cast Heart of stone, hoard life, and false life, once per day can be very useful give a caster extra staying power in a fight and all last a considerably long time.
The major power available to the Heartless Mage is their mastery over the Magic Jar spell once slain and I have personally used this to confound and infuriate many opponents who thought the party was weakened by the death of their main caster before finding their mounts or great beast suddenly turning on them.

It is also this ability that make them a great recurring NPC villain especially for horror, while everyone knows of a lich's phylactery (usually in and out of character) very few would know or predict the Heartless Mages abilities and would simply see them as another mage.

In addition if the Heartless Mage hides his heart within another valuable item (lead lined to hide the necromantic aura or already possess necromantic magic) which the party may take as loot,
due to their immortality and reliance on logic over emotion a Heartless mage could bide their time watching and learning, occasionally subtly influencing events.  
This may lead to Heartless Mage striking at the party forcing them to resist possession when they are at their weakest in another encounter or more sinisterly as the party expose allies or loved ones to danger of the mage they may become alternative targets to damage the party through.

Combined with their ability to use the body of a possessed creature to cast true resurrection and you have the perfect mix for a truly horrific memorable villain. 

The image flickered slightly in the light of the fireplace and for a moment the Enchantress turned her head her gaze directed directly at him as if reacting to his presence, knowing this was impossible Arctas held his analytic stare while allowing himself a smirk more from habit than satisfaction. Perhaps in his younger years he may of panicked cancelling the scrying spell but now in the cusp of his final advance to power such doubts or indeed any fears that were not based in cold logic no longer bothered him. It had been many years since he last seen her in person, in fact he was presumed dead by all their relations but there was something about her smile that brought forth a faint memory, an echo of the barest hint of emotion he had not felt in those many years. He knew all others in the family were lacking the power in the blood they both shared though hers not yet awakened and for his goals to be realised she would have to sacrificed but did he feel now feel remorse?
Musing over his thoughts he listened to the low crackle of the burning wood continuing to watch the images play out before him, the habitual smirk crossing his lips once more he spoke his answer as if to confirm it to the world. "I will let you live your life for now dearest granddaughter after all.. what is time to an immortal?" 


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