Necromancy

Home

Necromancy is at once a Discipline and a school of magical learning, all dedicated toward the command of the souls of the dead. It has some similarities to Thaumaturgy in that, rather than being a strict linear progression of powers, Necromancy consists of several "paths" and accompanying "rituals." Well-trained and puissant vampiric necromancers can summon the dead, banish or imprison souls, and even reinsert ghosts into living - or unliving - bodies. Needless to say, the study of Necromancy is not widespread among the Kindred, and its practitioners - primarily Giovanni Kindred - are shunned or ignored whenever possible. Over the centuries, the various schools of vampiric Necromancy have diversified, leaving three distinct paths of necromantic magic available to Cainites. All necromancers first learn the so-called Sepulchre Path, then extend their studies to the Bone Path or the Ash Path as time and opportunity permit. The Sepulchre Path is always considered the character's "primary" path; it increases automatically as the character increases her overall Necromancy rating. The Bone and Ash Paths must be bought separately, using the experience costs for secondary paths. Like Thaumaturgy, Necromancy has also spawned a series of rituals. While not nearly so immediate in effect as the basic powers of Necromancy, Necromantic rituals can have impressive long-term effects. Unsurprisingly, the elements of Necromantic ritual are things like long-buried corpses, hands from the cadavers of hanged men, and so on, and so obtaining suitable materials can be quite difficult. Scarcity of supply limits the frequency of Necromantic rituals, giving cause for many other Kindred to breathe a metaphorical sigh of relief.

System: A Cainite necromancer must learn at least three levels in the Sepulchre Path before learning his first level in either the Bone Path or the Ash Path. He must then achieve mastery in the Sepulchre Path (five levels) before acquiring any knowledge of the third path. As with Thaumaturgy, advancement in the primary path (in this case, the Sepulchre Path) costs the normal experience amount, while study of secondary Necromantic paths incurs an additional experience-point cost (see p. 143). Because Necromancy is not quite so rigid a study as Thaumaturgy is, the rolls required to use Necromantic powers can vary from path to path and even within individual paths. Statistics for wraiths may be found in Chapter Nine, pp. 282-283.

The Sepulchre Path

Insight

This power allows a necromancer to stare into the eyes of a corpse and see reflected there the last thing the dead man witnessed. The vision appears only in the eyes of the cadaver and is visible to no one except the necromancer using Insight.

System: This power requires a roll of Perception + Occult (difficulty 8 for formerly living creatures, 10 for unliving ones such as vampires) as the vampire stares into the target's eyes. The number of successes on the roll determines the clarity of the vision; a botch shows the necromancer his own Final Death, which can induce Rotschreck. This power cannot be used on the corpses of vampires who have reached Golconda, or those in whom advanced decomposition has already set in.

1 success A basic sense of the subject's death

2 successes A clear image of the subject's death and the seconds preceding it

3 successes A clear image, with sound, of the minutes preceding death

4 successes A clear image, with sound, of the half-hour before the subject's demise

5 successes Full sensory perception of the hour leading up to the target's death

Top

Summon Soul

The power of Summon Soul allows a necromancer to call a ghost back from the Underworld, though for conversational purposes only. In order to perform this feat, the Giovanni must meet certain conditions:

- The necromancer must know the name of the wraith in question, though an image of the wraith obtained via Psychometry will suffice.

- An object with which the wraith had some contact in life must be in the vicinity. If the object is something of great importance to the ghost, the chances for success in the summoning increase dramatically (- 2 difficulty). Note: This bonus applies for all powers on the Sepulchre Path. Certain types of ghosts cannot be summoned with this power. Vampires who achieved Golconda before their Final Deaths, or who were diablerized, are beyond the reach of this summons. Likewise, many ghosts of the dead cannot be called - they are destroyed, unable to return to the mortal plane, or lost in the eternal storm of the Underworld.

System: To use Summon Soul, the vampire's player must roll Perception + Occult (difficulty 7, or the ghost's Willpower if the Storyteller knows it). The number of successes on the roll indicates the tractability of the summoned spirit and how long the summoned wraith remains in the vicinity of her summoner. Summoned ghosts are visible and audible to the vampire who summoned them, and remain so up until the time the summoning wears off. Ghosts who wish to be summoned can voluntarily appear. For each question the vampire asks the summoned spirit, the Storyteller should roll one die per summoning success. At least one success is needed on this second roll (difficulty 6) in order to keep the wraith around long enough to answer the question. If a vampire botches a summoning roll, she calls forth a malevolent ghost (known as a specter ), which immediately sets about tormenting its summoner.

Compel Soul

With this power, a vampire can command a ghost to do his bidding for a while. Compel is a perilous undertaking and, when used improperly, can endanger vampire and wraith alike.

System: In order to compel a wraith, the vampire must first successfully summon it. Before the wraith has left the scene of the summoning, the vampire's player must roll Manipulation + Occult (difficulty equal to the target's Willpower). The wraith can spend Pathos (the ghostly equivalent of blood; assume a pool of 7 for all ghosts or consult Chapter Nine) to combat the compulsion; each point spent removes one of the vampire's successes. The vampire may attempt to compel a wraith multiple times during a single summoning. For each success achieved on the Manipulation + Occult roll, the necromancer achieves a greater degree of control over the wraith. The breakdown is as follows:

Failure: The compulsion of the summoning ends and the wraith is free to leave. Many wraiths take the opportunity to assault their would-be masters as they depart.

One success: The wraith must remain in the vicinity and refrain from attacking any creature without the necromancer's consent.

Two successes: The wraith is bound to remain and answer any questions truthfully, though the questions had best be phrased carefully.

Three successes: The wraith is forced to remain and answer any questions truthfully, without evasion or omission.

Four successes: The wraith must remain, answering truthfully any questions asked of it. It must also perform any services commanded by its new master, though it is bound only by the letter of the command, not the spirit.

Five successes: The wraith is trapped, obeying the spirit of the vampire's commands to the best of its ability.

Compel holds a ghost for one hour per success rolled. If the vampire wishes, she can expend a temporary Willpower point to keep the wraith under the compulsion for an extra night. The expenditure of a permanent point of Willpower on the vampire's part binds the wraith for a year and a day.

Top

Haunting

Haunting binds a summoned ghost to a particular location or, in extreme cases, an object. The wraith cannot leave the area to which the necromancer binds it without risking self-destruction. A wraith attempting to leave the area of a haunting must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 10, two successes necessary) or take a level of aggravated damage; if the wraith runs out of health levels, it is hurled deep into the Underworld to face destruction.

System: The player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty is target's Willpower if she resists; otherwise it is 4). Each success ties the wraith to a particular spot of the necromancer's choosing for a night; with the expenditure of a Willpower point, that becomes a week. Expenditure of a point of permanent Willpower extends the duration to a year.

Torment

It is through the use of this power that elder Giovanni ccsrvince bound ghosts to behave - or else. Torment allows the vampire to strike a wraith as if he himself were in the lands of the dead, inflicting damage on the wraith's ectoplasmic form. The vampire remains in the real world, however, so he cannot be struck in return by the wraith.

System: The player rolls Stamina + Empathy (difficulty is the wraith's Willpower), and the vampire reaches out to "touch" the wraith. Each success inflicts a level of lethal damage on the wraith. Should the wraith lose all health levels, it immediately vanishes into what appears to be a doorway to some hideous nightmare realm. Ghosts "destroyed" thus cannot reappear near the real world for a month.

The Bone Path

The Bone Path is concerned primarily with corpses and the methods by which dead souls can be restored to the living world - temporarily or otherwise.

Top

Tremens

Tremens allows a necromancer to make the flesh of a corpse shift once. An arm might suddenly flop forward, a cadaver might sit up, or dead eyes might abruptly open. Needless to say, this sort of thing tends to have an impressive impact on people who aren't expecting a departed relative to roll over in his coffin.

System: To use Tremens, the necromancer spends a single blood point, and the player must succeed on a Dexterity + Occult roll (difficulty 6). The more successes achieved, the more complicated an action can be inculcated into the corpse. One success allows for an instantaneous movement, such as a twitch, while five allow the vampire to set up specific conditions under which the body animates ("The next time someone enters the room, I want the corpse to sit up and open its eyes."). Under no circumstances can Tremens cause a dead body to attack or cause damage.

Zombie Statistics

Corpses animated by a necromancer of the Bone Path have Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 4, Brawl 2, and always act last in a turn (unless there are mitigating circumstances). They have zero Willpower points to spend, but resist attacks as if they have Willpower ratings of 10. All Mental and Social ratings are zero for a reanimated corpse, and zombies never attempt to dodge. Zombies' dice pools are not affected by damage, except that caused by fire or the claws and teeth of supernatural creatures. Most zombies have 10 health levels, but they are incapable of healing any damage they suffer.

Apprentice's Brooms

With Apprentice's Brooms, the necromancer can make a dead body rise and perform a simple function. For example, the corpse could be set to carrying heavy objects, digging, or just shambling from place to place. The cadavers thus animated do not attack or defend themselves if interfered with, but instead attempt to carry out their given instructions until such time as they've been rendered inanimate. Generally it takes dismemberment, flame or something similar to destroy a corpse animated in this way.

System: A roll of Wits + Occult (difficulty 7) and the expenditure of a point of both blood and Willpower are all that is necessary to animate corpses with Apprentice's Brooms. The number of corpses animated is equal to the number of successes achieved. The necromancer must then state the task to which he is setting his zombies. The cadavers turn themselves to their work until they finish the job (at which point they collapse) or something (including time) destroys them. Bodies energized by this power continue to decay, albeit at a much slower rate than normal.

Shambling Hordes

Shambling Hordes creates exactly what you think it might: reanimated corpses with the ability to attack, albeit neither very well nor very quickly. Once primed by this power, the corpses wait - for years, if necessary - to fulfill the command given them. The orders might be to protect a certain site or simply to attack immediately, but they will be carried out until every last one of the decomposing monsters is destroyed.

System: The player invests a point of Willpower, then spend a point of blood for each corpse the necromancer animates. The player then must succeed on a Wits + Occult roll (difficulty 8); each success allows the vampire to raise another corpse from the grave. Each zombie (for lack of a better term) can follow one simple instruction, such as "Stay here and guard this graveyard against any intruders," or "Kill them!"

Note: Zombies created by Shambling Hordes will wait forever if need be to fulfill their functions. Long after the flesh has rotted off the mystically animated bones, the zombies will wait... and wait... and wait - still able to perform their duties.

Top

Soul Stealing

This power affects the living, not the dead. It does, however, temporarily turn a living soul into a sort of wraith, as it allows a necromancer to strip a soul from a living - or vampiric - body. A mortal exiled from his body by this power becomes a wraith with a single tie to the real world: his now-empty body.

System: The player spends a point of Willpower and then makes a contested Willpower roll against the intended victim (difficulty 6). Successes indicate the number of hours during which the original soul is forced out of its housing. The body itself remains autonomically alive but catatonic. This power can be used to create suitable hosts for Daemonic Possession.

Daemonic Possession

Daemonic Possession lets a vampire insert a soul into a freshly dead body and inhabit it for the duration. This does not turn the reanimated corpse into anything other than a reanimated corpse, and one that will irrevocably decay after a week, but it does give either a wraith or a free-floating soul (say, that of a vampire using Psychic Projection) a temporary home in the physical world.

System: The body in question must be no more than 30 minutes dead, and the new tenant must agree to inhabit it - a ghost or astral form cannot be forced into a new shell. Of course, most ghosts would gladly seize the opportunity, but that's a different matter. Should the vampire, for whatever reason, wish to insert a soul into another vampire's corpse (before it crumbles to ash), the necromancer must achieve five successes on a resisted Willpower roll against the original owner of the body. Otherwise, the interloper is denied entrance.

Note: The soul can use whatever physical abilities (Dodge, Brawl, Potence) his new home possesses, and whatever mental abilities (Computer, Law, Presence) he possesses in his current existence. He cannot use the physical abilities of his old form, or the mental abilities of his new one.

Top

The Ash Path

The Ash Path allows necromancers to peek into the lands of the dead and even to affect things there. Of the three Paths of Necromancy, the Ash Path is the most perilous to learn, because many of the Path's uses increase a necromancer's vulnerability to wraiths.

Shroudsight

Shroudsight allows a necromancer to see through the Shroud, the mystical barrier that separates the living world from the Underworld. By using this power, the vampire can spot ghostly buildings and items, the landscape of the so-called Shadowlands, and even wraiths themselves. However, the odds are that an observant wraith will notice when a vampire suddenly starts staring at him, which can lead to unpleasant consequences.

System: A simple roll of Perception + Alertness (difficulty 7) allows a necromancer to utilize Shroudsight. The effects last for a scene.

Lifeless Tongues

Where Shroudsight allows a necromancer to see ghosts, Lifeless Tongues allows her to converse with them effortlessly. Once Lifeless Tongues is employed, the vampire can carry on a conversation with the denizens of the ghostly Underworld without spending blood or causing the wraiths to expend any effort.

System: To use Lifeless Tongues requires a roll of Perception + Occult (difficulty 6) and the expenditure of a Willpower point. This power also grants the effects of Shroudsight, so the vampire can see with whom, or what, she is conversing.

Dead Hand

Similar to the Sepulchre Path power Torment, Dead Hand allows a necromancer to reach across the Shroud and affect a ghostly object as if it were in the real world. Ghosts are solid to necromancers using this power, and can be attacked. Furthermore, the necromancer can pick up ghostly items, scale ghostly architecture (giving real-world bystanders the impression that he's climbing on air!) and generally exist in two worlds. On the other hand, a necromancer using Dead Hand is quite solid to the residents of the Underworld - and to whatever weapons they might have.

System: The player spends a point of Willpower and makes a successful Wits + Occult roll (difficulty 7) for the vampire to activate Dead Hand. For each scene the vampire wishes to remain in contact with the Underworld, he must spend a point of blood.

Top

Ex Nihilo

Ex Nihilo allows a necromancer to enter the Underworld physically. While in the lands of the dead, the vampire is essentially an extra-solid ghost. He maintains his normal number of health levels, but can be hurt only by things that inflict aggravated damage on ghosts (weapons forged from souls, certain ghostly powers, etc.). A vampire physically in the Underworld can pass through solid objects (at the cost of one health level) and remain "incorporeal" thus for a number of turns equal to his Stamina rating. On the other hand, vampires present in the Underworld are subject to all of the Underworld's perils, including ultimate destruction. A vampire killed in the Deadlands is gone forever, beyond even the reach of other necromancers.

System: Using Ex Nihilo takes a tremendous toll on the necromancer. To activate this power, the vampire must first draw a doorway with chalk or blood on any available surface. (Note: Doors can he drawn ahead of time for exactly this purpose.) The player must then expend two points of Willpower and two points of blood, then make a Stamina + Occult roll (difficulty 8) as the vampire attempts to open the chalk door physically. If the roll succeeds, the door opens and the vampire steps through into the Underworld. When the vampire wishes to return to the real world, he needs merely to concentrate (and the player spends another Willpower point and rolls Stamina + Occult, difficulty 6). At Storyteller discretion, a vampire who is too deeply immersed in the Underworld may need to journey to a place close to the lands of the living in order to cross over. Vampires who wander too far into the lands of the dead may be trapped there forever. Vampires in the Underworld cannot feed upon ghosts; their only sustenance is the blood they bring with them.

Shroud Mastery

A bit of an exaggeration, Shroud Mastery is the ability to manipulate the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead. By doing so, a necromancer can make it easier for bound wraiths in his service to function, or make it nearly impossible for ghosts to contact the material world.

System: To exercise Shroud Mastery, the necromancer expends two points of Willpower, then states whether he is attempting to raise or lower the Shroud. The player then makes a Willpower roll (difficulty 9). Each success on the roll raises or lowers the difficulties of all nearby wraiths' actions by one, to a maximum of 10 or a minimum of 3. The Shroud reverts to its normal strength at a rate of one point per hour thereafter.

Necromantic Rituals

The rituals connected with Necromancy are a hodgepodge lot. Some have direct relations to the paths; others seem to have been taught by wraiths themselves, for whatever twisted reason. All beginning necromancers gain one Level One ritual, but any others learned must be gained through in-game play. Necromantic rituals are otherwise identical to Thaumaturgy rituals (pp. 182-185) and are learned in similar fashion, though the two are by no means compatible.

System: Casting times for necromantic rituals vary widely; see the description for particulars. The player rolls Intelligence + Occult (difficulty 3 + the level of the ritual, maximum 9); success indicates the ritual proceeds smoothly, failure produces no effect, and a botch often indicates that certain "powers" notice the caster, usually to her detriment.

Top

Call of the Hungry Dead (Level One Ritual)

Call of the Hungry Dead takes only 10 minutes to cast and requires a hair from the target's head. The ritual climaxes with the burning of that hair in the flame of a black candle, after which the victim becomes able to hear snatches of conversation from across the Shroud. If the target is not prepared, the voices come as a confusing welter of howls and unearthly demands; he is unable to make out anything intelligible, and might well go briefly mad.

Eyes of the Grave (Level Two Ritual)

This ritual, which takes two hours to cast, causes the target to experience intermittent visions of her death over the period of a week. The visions come without warning and can last up to a minute. The caster of the ritual has no idea what the visions contain - only the victim sees them, after all. Each time a vision manifests, the target must roll Courage (difficulty 7) or be reduced to quivering panic. The visions, which come randomly, can also interfere with activities such as driving, shooting and so on. Eyes of the Grave requires a pinch of soil from a fresh grave.

Ritual of the Unearthed Fetter (Level Three Ritual)

This ritual requires that a necromancer have a fingerbone from the skeleton of the particular wraith he's interested in. When the ritual is cast, the fingerbone becomes attuned to something vitally important to the wraith, the possession of which by the necromancer makes the casting of Sepulchre Path powers much easier. Most necromancers take the attuned fingerbone and suspend it from a thread, allowing it to act as a sort of supernatural compass and following it to the special item in question. Ritual of the Unearthed Fetter takes three hours to cast properly. It requires both the name of the wraith targeted and the finger bone already mentioned, as well as a chip knocked off a gravestone or other marker (not necessarily the marker of the bone's former owner). During the course of the ritual the stone crumbles to dust, which is then sprinkled over the fingerbone.

Top

Cadaver's Touch (Level Four Ritual)

By chanting for three hours and melting a wax doll in the shape of the target, the necromancer turns a mortal target into a corpselike mockery of himself. As the doll loses the last of its form, the target becomes cold and clammy. His pulse becomes weak and thready, his flesh pale and chalky. For all intents and purposes, he becomes a reasonable facsimile of the walking dead. Needless to say, this can have some adverse effects in social situations (+2 difficulty on all Social rolls). The effects of the ritual wear off only when the wax of the doll is permitted to resolidify. If the wax is allowed to boil off, the spell is broken.

Grasp the Ghostly (Level Five Ritual)

Requiring a full six hours of chanting, this ritual allows a necromancer to bring an object from the Underworld into the real world. It's not as simple as all that, however - a wraith might well object to having his possessions stolen and fight back. Furthermore, the object taken must be replaced by a material item of roughly equal mass, otherwise the target of the ritual\ snaps back to its previous, ghostly existence. Objects taken from the Underworld tend to fade away after about a year. Only items recently destroyed in the real world (called "relics" by wraiths) may be recaptured in this manner. Artifacts created by wraiths themselves were never meant to exist outside the Underworld, and vanish on contact with the living world.

Top

BACK