[Darkest Dungeons] Necromancy

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Blacky the Blackball
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[Darkest Dungeons] Necromancy

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Thu May 24, 2012 10:15 am

Last night I spent a while writing up the exclusive spell paths for the Shadowmancer class. Four of these paths are involve necromancy.

These spell paths are based on material from the Rolemaster Companion 2, and as such they don't quite fit with Rolemaster's normal monster listing. Here's how they work...

The four paths are: Undead Communication, Undead Control, Undead Creation and Undead Summons.

Undead Communication has spells to let the caster communicate with any sapient undead for a duration (kind of like "Speak With Animals" spells), and specific spells to force sapient undead to answer questions truthfully or to identify magical items, or to go and find/fetch people and items.

Undead Control has spells to temporarily mentally control corporeal undead of any type by concentrating, and to make sapient undead your minions. Minions can't harm you and must follow your verbal orders (if they understand them) but you can't make them speak to you if they don't want to and they are freed if they are accidentally separated from you (although they can't deliberately run away in order to free themselves).

Undead Creation has spells to temporarily create mindless undead and also to make permanent undead by binding the souls (see below for the terminology problems I'm having) that you have summoned into them.

Undead Summons has spells to summon the souls of dead creatures, and to temporarily mentally control incorporeal undead.

How this all fits together is as follows:
  • A shadowmancer can temporarily create mindless [Zombies] by using spells on the Undead Creation path, but only one at a time. These do not need to be controlled because they are automatically controlled as part of the creation.
  • A shadowmancer can summon the [Ghost] of someone if they have the corpse (or at least the largest remaining part of the corpse) using spells from the Undead Summons path, and control the [Ghost] with spells from that path. The [Ghost] can't actually do much that is useful.
  • A shadowmancer can force a [Ghost] that they have summoned into a corpse (it doesn't have to be the corpse it was summoned from) to create a sapient and free-willed [Skeleton] using spells from the Undead Creation path.
  • A shadowmancer can temporarily control any corporeal undead, whether sapient or not, including both "natural" undead such as ghouls and [Skeletons] they have created, using spells from the Undead Control path.
  • A shadowmancer can permanently enslave any sapient corporeal undead, including [Skeletons] they have created, using spells from the Undead Control path.
  • A shadowmancer can temporarily control any incorporeal undead, including a [Ghost] they have summoned, using spells from the Undead Summons path.
  • A shadowmancer can interrogate any undead, including a [Ghost] they have summoned or a [Skeleton] they have created (whether their slave or not) using spells from the Undead Communication path.
  • A shadowmancer can send any undead (including a [Ghost] they have summoned or a [Skeleton] they have created to find/fetch someone or something using spells from the Undead Communication path. In the case of a corporeal undead that they have enslaved, this will likely break the enslavement due to the undead going too far from its master. The enslavement will have to be re-established when the undead returns.
As you can see, this is a fairly flexible system - much more so than D&D's simple "Animate Dead" and "Speak With Dead" spells. It's also got a nice flavour to it in that the shadowmancer doesn't just do a "Speak With Dead" on a corpse: they have to summon the [Ghost] first.

However, as I mentioned above the spells don't quite work properly alongside the monster list. They assume that as well as "natural" undead that either spontaneously arise or self-propagate (ghouls, vampires, ghosts, etc.) there are also three types of undead that shadowmancer's create. I've labelled these in the above as [Zombies], [Skeletons] and [Ghosts], but I'm looking for other names - particularly for [Zombies] and [Ghosts] since all three of those names clash with existing "natural" undead.

A fuller description of these three types of undead is:

[Ghost] - A sapient and free willed incorporeal undead that has the personality and knowledge that the person had when alive but has minimal combat statistics and no other special powers other than its incorporeality - for example it can't cast spells without a body even though it might technically know how to.

[Zombie] - A mindless undead that will just stand there doing nothing unless actively controlled by someone and only ever exists temporarily. They have no real special abilities other than what they can physically do, and in combat their strength and fighting ability depends on the level of spell used to create them.

[Skeleton] - A sapient free-willed undead (unless enslaved, of course) created by permanently binding a [Ghost] into a corpse. Their basic toughness is derived from the level of the [Ghost], and they have all the skills (including combat ability and spellcasting) that the [Ghost] had in life.

I like the idea of [Skeletons] actually being skeletons. Their bones are preserved by the magic but their flesh is completely unnecessary and rots normally (fastidious skeletons may wish to either use preservation spells to keep their flesh fresh or scrape themselves down to clean bones). The Rolemaster monster list already has a variety of skeletons at different levels, and I'm happy to replace those (which have no description of how they are made anyway) with these ones.

I'm less sure about [Zombies] and [Ghosts]. I like the idea of still having "natural" zombies (that are weak but reproduce by biting people - although not with the ultra-virulent bite that film zombies have) and still having "natural" ghosts that spontaneously arise when people die with unfulfilled destinies or needs for vengeance. so I think I need new terms for the two types of created/summoned undead that we're talking about here so they don't clash.

Any feedback about the system? Any suggestions for names?
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smarttman
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Re: [Darkest Dungeons] Necromancy

Post by smarttman » Thu May 24, 2012 4:48 pm

How about Spirit for the Ghost type, and Husk for the Zombie type?

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Re: [Darkest Dungeons] Necromancy

Post by Yaztromo » Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:04 pm

I assume that skeletons don't have level progression, is it correct?
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Re: [Darkest Dungeons] Necromancy

Post by Sir_Firebrand » Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:37 am

Here are some ideas:

For raised Ghosts, "Phantoms" probably is a good idea if they are not an already monster in the list. Phantoms need to be summoned from the "other side", and are sane unlike ghosts that are spirits that became crazy for being stuck in our dimension (probably for a long time...).

For raised Zombies, Zombie is OK, they are the default and the cannot "turn" other people in zombies. probably Wandering Carcass (Walking Dead synonymous :D) is a good name for those "biting" zombies and a "badass" name for such treat.

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Re: [Darkest Dungeons] Necromancy

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:58 am

Yaztromo wrote:I assume that skeletons don't have level progression, is it correct?
Nope. Skeletons can gain experience and increase in level just as if they are alive. Technically Shades can too, although since they have very limited interaction with the world they don't really gain much for a level increase as there are many skills that they can't use.
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Re: [Darkest Dungeons] Necromancy

Post by Blacky the Blackball » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:00 am

Sir_Firebrand wrote:Here are some ideas:

For raised Ghosts, "Phantoms" probably is a good idea if they are not an already monster in the list. Phantoms need to be summoned from the "other side", and are sane unlike ghosts that are spirits that became crazy for being stuck in our dimension (probably for a long time...).

For raised Zombies, Zombie is OK, they are the default and the cannot "turn" other people in zombies. probably Wandering Carcass (Walking Dead synonymous :D) is a good name for those "biting" zombies and a "badass" name for such treat.
In the end I went for Shades and Husks.
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