So I have played tabletop Dungeons and Dragons for about ten years now. I currently run a bi-weekly Eberron campaign. One of the first books I bought myself (after the 3.5 corebooks) was a book called Tome and Blood.
I got this because at the time I was playing an elf wizard. So while thumbing through the book I came across the section for prestige classes. In that section was this guy:
This is the first Pale Master. Well ok, maybe not the first, but it was my first exposure to it. I have no idea if it or something similar will in older versions. So anyway I started reading through the classes abilities and they got some really neat stuff. For instance, notice his left arm? They got the ability to graft undead limbs onto themselves in place of their own. They could make armor from the dead as well. I never played necromatic characters before, but it intrigued me. The second time I encountered the Pale Master was the book Libras Mortis. However it’s rules were so exclusive to that book that I still considered the one from Tome and Blood the benchmark.
I also play Dungeons and Dragons Online, and sure enough in the game there is a Pale Master… kind of. See in DDO, they use what’s called prestige enhancements instead of prestige classes. It has to do with the whole enhancement system, and to be honest I really do not want to get into that right sense they plan on changing it at some point soonish. So now we come to the question posed in the title, Is the Pale Master from DDO really a Pale Master? Well Let compare them.
Both have the ability to summon undead. For the one in tabletop DnD the top of undead depends on the caster level of the Pale Master. The Pale Master in DDO can summon different breeds of skeletons. So while the both retain that trait in someway, the DDO one has been simplified to better fit into the MMO experience.
The tabletop version had a myriad of features that made it more undead like. It could replace its arm with that of a skeleton or zombie. It could make armor from the bones of the dead. Overtime it would take on more undead traits, from its skin drawing tight over its body to even starting to smell if the grave. Ok, the smelling of the grave might be an over exaggeration, but you get my point. These are gone from the online interpretation. Instead the online one takes on shrouds. It takes on aspects of a certain undead that the player can choose from. They give the Pale Master different bonuses depending on the shroud that the player is using at the time. Yeah I didn’t make that clear. You can switch between shrouds.
So the answer to the question. Yes, the Pale Master From DDO is a Pale Master. Matter of fact I feel that the Dungeons and Dragons Online Pale Master is more of a Pale Master then the one from the tabletop game. Hear me out on this one. See in every version of the Pale Master I have seen, they seem to strive for more then just mastery over the undead. The seem to want to bring themselves into a state of pseudoundeath. The ones of the online have accomplished just that. With the shrouds they gain the powers of the undead of their choosing with out actually dying. Sure, they have to deal with the draw back of not being able to be healed like a normal character, but that’s part of gaining that power.
So yeah. While they may be different in the way the display their power. They are both Pale Masters. I just feel the DDO Pale Master personifies it better.