Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Necromantic Investigator

This is an idea that I've had kicking around in my head for awhile. Most of the time in fantasy when we see necromancy at work it's out-and-out evil. If it's not blatantly evil, it's at least implied to be dabbling in evil. Does it have to be that way though?

Here are some thoughts of mine on various things that a Necromantic Investigator would have at her disposal to be able to do her job. I actually talked about it a bit in this post, which mostly a collection of thoughts about the job. I want to lay out some skills and spells that an Investigator would need.

--communicate with the dead
level 1 - ghosts (or other active undead)
level 2 - freshly killed
level 3 - dead for 30 days to a year
level 4 - dead for more than a year

For ghosts and other spirits, no physical object is needed. To speak to a person who has been killed but is not a ghost, the necromancer must be touching or holding a piece of the body (skin, hair, teeth, bones, etc.) The length of time which a Necromancer can speak with the dead is based on skill level and is measured in tens of seconds.

--sense violence
level 1--sense if murder was committed recently
level 2--sense if murder was committed within the last 30 days
level 3--sense if murder was committed in a location within the last year
level 4--sense if murder was committed in a location longer than a year (very rare ability)

Investigator must be in the physical location where the violence took place. The distance at which the investigator can sense the violence is based on skill.

--read the past
This skill allows the Necromancer to see an object's past history. Not necessarily a solely necromantic skill, but one developed by them to be used in solving crimes. The necromancer must be touching the object in order to use this skill.
level 1--up to 24 hours in the past
level 2--24 hours to 30 days
level 3--30 days to one year
level 4--more than one year

--lay down to rest
Unquiet dead (ghosts, spirits, poltergeists, whatever) can be laid to rest. The Necromancer can do this in several ways.

level 1--lay to rest at the gravesite
level 2--lay to rest by touching a part of the deceased's body
level 3--lay to rest by touching something that was precious to the deceased
level 4--lay to rest by touching someone that was close to the deceased

--see through your eyes
Somewhat similar to "See The Past". This allows the Necromancer to see the last moments of the deceased. Same levels as the other categories. Needs to be touching part of the dead person's body or holding it (skin, hair, teeth, bone, etc.)

level 1--up to 24 hours in the past
level 2--24 hours to 30 days
level 3--30 days to one year
level 4--more than one year

--compel to speak
Like communicate with the dead, only more powerful. When communicating with the dead, the magic user is not able to force the dead to speak and instead must cajole, intimidate, threaten, bribe or do whatever else is necessary to get them to speak. With compel to speak the necromancer can force the dead to speak. Must have both a piece of the body and something that belonged to the deceased that they cared about to offer as a bribe/sacrifice.
level 1--up to 24 hours in the past

level 2--24 hours to 30 days
level 3--30 days to one year
level 4--more than one year

--command the undead
Like compel to speak, only the Necromancer can compel the dead to perform a task. Only very high level Necromancers have this power. A Necromancer can have the skill to command the undead, but not be able to raise the undead--that is reserved for the very highest level of Necromancy. The length and complexity of the task is determined by the Necromancer's skill (i.e. dice roll).

level 1--up to 24 hours in the past
level 2--24 hours to 30 days
level 3--30 days to one year
level 4--more than one year

--raise the dead. Only the most powerful of Necromancers can raise the dead. There is an artifact controlled by the Order that can raise the dead briefly, but it also requires great skill to use and is very unreliable. The length of time that the dead stay raised is based on the skill level of the Necromancer and can vary (based on dice results).

level 1--up to 24 hours in the past
level 2--24 hours to 30 days
level 3--30 days to one year
level 4--more than one year

I haven't quite figured out the mechanics for this class yet, but I'm thinking that setup where the player can either gain an extra level, or gain an extra dice would be ideal.

The most basic Necromancer skill is communicating with the dead. A beginning necromancer can speak with spirits without any problem. The player gains a "level" (using this as shorthand for now), and can choose to either gain an extra die (to increase the amount of time she can communicate), or can move up a level. Player can gain any skill they want, but they must do it in order (they can't jump from communicate with the dead to raise the dead, they have to go through the steps).

Not sure how much I like the mechanics, but it's a start.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ten Real Life Sea Creatures for your RPG Game

In honor of the G+ Hangout that was hosted by Richard Guy earlier today I've put together this list of twenty weird, odd, or downright scary monsters for your game.

The Blobfish

While not exactly terrifying, the sheer lack of features of this creature give it a kind of chilling nature all it's own. Think of it as the equivalent of the gelatinous cube, only in the ocean. 


This creature looks like an underwater iguana and not at all terrifying, until you realize that it can regenerate limbs. That gives the potential for some rather creepy combat situations--let's say a dozen monstrous Axolotl's jump onto the ship and your party keeps trying to kill them only they won't die.

This looks like something out of a horror movie's set design, but it's a real fish. The teeth are so large that they don't fit in it's mouth. Instead they go over the top towards the eyes. Plus it has a blinking light on it's dorsal fin to attract prey. 

If that isn't one of the most terrifying things you've ever seen, then you're a braver person than I am. It's the younger sibling of Shelob, only living in the ocean.

Goblin Shark

It's looks like a cross between a goblin, an orc, and a unicorn. Mean, nasty and a full of sharp teeth this little guy lives so far down in the ocean that the light can't reach him. Oh, and it's jaws can retract.

Blue Ringed Octopus

This creature looks like someone went crazy with the day-glo paint. It's actually really, really small, but incredibly venomous. You get poisoned by one of these guys and your muscles stop working and you die from asphyxiation.

Warty Comb Jelly

This creature is just plain cool. Glow in the dark, and they come in all sorts of different colors. They're also unusual in that their bodies are 97% water, plus they're also hermaphrodites, being able to reproduce with themselves. 

Giant Jellyfish

The picture gives some idea of the scale of this thing. 

I'm cheating here because the stingray is actually a freshwater fish, but still, it's a giant stingray! How could I not include it?

Marrus Orthocanna

Not a trail of fire. Just a creature that looks like it's on fire. I'm sure you can think of many cool uses for this little guy.