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Thot

Necromancy

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Looking at the necromancy rules, I must say their low appeal derives from the  POW cost associated even with the most feeble undead to create. I mean, for instance a Revenant. It is a servant that can be of use for maybe three  months (as it looses one hit point every week from decay), but you still need to sacrifice one point of POW to create it.

Now, maybe POW gain rolls are something that comes up every session in some campaigns, but for a dedicated necromancer, that doesn't seem all too likely.

 

So, long story short: If you use necromancy in your games, I would suggest to remove the POW cost from the price for creating undead. After all, necromancy comes with many social disadvantages, much more so than demon summoning.

 

Edited by Thot

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That would negate the notion of a single necromancer raising an 'army' of the undead... well, unless they were using some sort of blood magic... or it's actually a form of summoning, housing demons in corpses.

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Actually, there is a spell named "army of the dead" that allows for a very temporary raise of a few undead for a short time, but yeah, POW costs are indeed a big genre killer there.

But of course, those rules were originally designed for Elric!, so the fantasy trope of the necromancer and his armies of the dead wasn't a priority. Hence my suggestion to remove POW cost.

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I can definitely see an argument for removing the POW cost or at least include it as an option in the interest of allowing the "dread necromancer" trope who raises scores of undead to harrass his enemies. Maybe there's a middle ground? Allow the POW investment for more permanent undead and without the POW investment, any created undead only persist for POW hours, or they decay at the rate of 1 HP per hour or something? I need to look at the necromancy rules again and refresh my memory about the possibilities, but I think there's a lot of minor tweaks that could be made to enhance the proposition of being a dedicated corporeal necromancer.

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My gut says that the de-Moorcock'ed MW nevertheless has a bunch of that heritage in it, and the best way to vary from those tropes is to vary within the well-known BRP parameters.

Sure - play with POW costs.  Doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing, though... NickJ has some good ideas.  Also non-linear costs, where every doubling of POW gives 5X or 10X the undead.  Or grab some Superworld-scale effects -- what would an army of 100 mindless & absolutely-obedient minions cost in SW?  25,000 of them?

Etc...

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19 hours ago, Thot said:

Well, let me phrase it differently: Is there any reason to KEEP the POW cost for creating undead?

I think it works for a certain flavor of magic... something magic is less casual and commonplace, probably more horrific than fanciful. I'd go with Nick's idea and make it an option, I like options.

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On ‎9‎/‎25‎/‎2018 at 6:32 AM, Thot said:

Well, let me phrase it differently: Is there any reason to KEEP the POW cost for creating undead?

Are you intending on running a campaign of warring Necromancers, where everyone else are merely footnotes in the struggle between the Lords of Death? If so, eliminating the POW cost isn't an issue; if not then I'd be wary of making magic that can put an utterly loyal army at someone's disposal too cheap...

The fundamental issue is a number of cool tropes from fantasy fiction (the Lord of Evil with the Legion of Undead in this instance) is one that most RPG's rules don't expect to be a PC. The Necromancy rules in AS (derived from Bronze Grimoire) are intended to allow a PC "scale" Necromancer. They suffer from the inverse issue of the RQIII Sorcery rules - the later were quite good at producing "lone wizard in tower with phenomenal power but who interacts very little with the outside world for huge chunks of time" and thus were terrible for archetypal "murder hobo" player characters; AS / tBG's Necromancy rules are quite good for player character dabblers in Necromancy but don't really scale well to produce major antagonist lords of Darkness with undead legions...

On balance I prefer the AS/tBG approach and my solution for "undead legions" would be to create suitable plot McGuffins that boost necromancy e.g. the Cauldron of Annwn which allows a necromancer to produce a special form of Revenant that does _not_ decay, and if used as the focus of a ritual (cast at midnight on the dark of the moon on the mid-winter solstice etc etc) can summon an undyng legion of the dead that lasts indefinitely and is completely loyal to the summoner. In other words, use the _rules_ of AS for "PC scale" Necromancers, and if you need Undead Legions / Evil Dark Lords bestriding the land like a colossus, fudge their power set using enchantments / rituals (basically, Chronicler fiat).

Cheers,

Nick Middleton

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Hm, I don't quite see how a necromancer could raise "armies" of undead even without the POW cost? I mean, creating a skeleton costs 24 MP alone , that's at least a day's worth of magic points, probably more. Sure, you could make skeletons that are cheaper, but not that much.

So, a PC mage that spends a year casting Animate Skeleton every day or so will have about 300-350 skeletons, most certainly not more than 700. Good for an NPC, but a player who does that will be out of the game for quite some time. A mage could just as well spend the time earning money and hire a similarly sized army of mercenaries.

And looking at the skills and abilities of that skeleton, it's probably going to loose against a human warrior of normal competency, even if both are wearing armor.

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My point, not really expressed in the previous post, is that all _permanent_ effects in MW have a POW cost, and I'd be wary of changing that in the player facing rules (but as previously indicated, for shaping a compelling villain, all bets are off).

One could certainly look at tweaking the individual spells to more closely resemble Demon summoning: so to call up a skeleton / revenant /ghoul etc to serve the Necromancer for a limited service (say POW hours / a day and a night) only costs Magic points, but to make the summoning permanent (Like binding a demon) requires a permanent point of POW as well. TBH, it's a while since I looked at the rules and that is how I _thought_ they worked. Fairly sure I'd make it possible for a Necromancer to repair a Revenant too or making the decay slow if it's "bound"; mind I am re-reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen so my thinking about Undead is rather tainted by ideas about the T'Lann Imass...

Cheers,

Nick

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The problem with that limited time, even if it is a longer period like "till the next new moon", is that it means the necromancer will have at most as many skeletons as the number of days the spell lasts.  And a necromancer with 30 rather stupid followers is hardly a match even for a minor lord and his guard, so necromancers would not be a threat at all - they wouldn't even try. Even a lich, who has nothing to do but create such things, wouldn't really be that dangerous that way.

Wouldn't that be boring?

Undead have many disadvantages that prevent inflationary use except for those really dedicated to do that: You need corpses, they can be relatively easily defeated by the more courageous townsfolk, they are inherently slow, etc. They are only really useful in large numbers. But the rules as they are with the POW cost prevent large numbers.

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1 hour ago, Thot said:

The problem with that limited time, even if it is a longer period like "till the next new moon", is that it means the necromancer will have at most as many skeletons as the number of days the spell lasts.  And a necromancer with 30 rather stupid followers is hardly a match even for a minor lord and his guard, so necromancers would not be a threat at all - they wouldn't even try. Even a lich, who has nothing to do but create such things, wouldn't really be that dangerous that way.

Wouldn't that be boring?

Undead have many disadvantages that prevent inflationary use except for those really dedicated to do that: You need corpses, they can be relatively easily defeated by the more courageous townsfolk, they are inherently slow, etc. They are only really useful in large numbers. But the rules as they are with the POW cost prevent large numbers.

You mean that 30 Skeletons, plus the Necromancer's other NPCs couldn't take on the minor lord and his guard? Considering how fantasy is written, the Necromancer probably IS a minor lord. So he has other retainers of his own. I mean, come on, in order to practice necromancy, you HAVE to have a fairly defensible position, and those to defend against it, while you actually do the work to raise the army!

SDLeary

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Areas such as battlefields, mass graves, medical schools and cemeteries (possibly only unconsecrated ones) would be locations where Necromancers could get the most 'raw material' for their spells. Perhaps the spells could animate all in a particular area (or all who fought and died in a particular battle) for a single POW investment. A budding Necromancer wanting an army of undead would need to research and seek out such places. I like using situational or strategic magic systems where the spellcasters need to plan ahead. Certainly an 'army of undead' is not some random occurrence in fantasy films or literature, but a planned and dangerous exercise of power.

Edited by Questbird
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On 9/26/2018 at 7:00 PM, SDLeary said:

You mean that 30 Skeletons, plus the Necromancer's other NPCs couldn't take on the minor lord and his guard?

Considering that a minor lord in the early medieval period apparently had about 20 to 50 men dedicated to armed service, I am actually pretty sure that three dozens of skeletons with 40% skill aren't a big issue to them.

On 9/26/2018 at 7:00 PM, SDLeary said:

 

Considering how fantasy is written, the Necromancer probably IS a minor lord. So he has other retainers of his own. I mean, come on, in order to practice necromancy, you HAVE to have a fairly defensible position, and those to defend against it, while you actually do the work to raise the army!

If he is a minor lord, he doesn't have time to do all the necromancing. And he'll be better off learning other spells that make his holding stronger, more wealthy, more attractive to the peasants, etc.

Necromancers in fantasy are scary because they can muster forces of sizable strength out of nowhere, even if it takes some time. Given the magic point cost to create undead in AS, there is a natural limit that is already on the rather low end, that's what I was trying to say.

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This kinda has me thinking about the Dark Crystal for some reason....

What if, like in the movie, you could sacrifice others....drain their spirit (POW). Siphon that energy to fuel the POW costs of the undead?

That would give you the needed corpses and the needed POW yet still require time and sacrifice. How long before the local villagers suspect their missing loved ones were taken to the black tower and raise torches & pitchforks? 

Maybe you could supplement the cost of POW by requiring an equivalent value in gems or some such. Say 100% more coin per skeleton than a hireling might cost. 

 

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2 hours ago, tooley1chris said:

What if, like in the movie, you could sacrifice others....drain their spirit (POW). Siphon that energy to fuel the POW costs of the undead?

Yeah, blood magic seems like a good fit for those sorts of evil sorcerers/necromancers... or even for 'good guys' who are really desperate. Legend has a (somewhat truncated) book on it.

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Blood Magic was originally supposed to have info on magical bloodlines... but IIRC those bits never made it into the book. Now I'm wondering what games DO have such information... about various inherited magical traits. Like something passed down in a family of necromancers...

I'm sure I could cobble up something, but I'm looking for a bit of inspiration... from games or fiction.

Any suggestions?

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On 9/28/2018 at 11:32 AM, Simlasa said:

Yeah, blood magic seems like a good fit for those sorts of evil sorcerers/necromancers... or even for 'good guys' who are really desperate. Legend has a (somewhat truncated) book on it.

I have Blood Magic but the book itself warns you that allowing blood magic rules is tricky and can get out of hand. I’m on the move so can’t provide quotes from my dead tree copy right now.

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