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7 Hex Dragon UndeadSee the Necromancer in 7HD House Rules for a discussion of the difference between Spirit energy and Souls. Briefly, Spirit energy is soul residues of intense emotions. Much is benevolent, much is malevolent. Spirit energy forms much of the Spirit Field. See 7Hex Dragon Bestiary for specific stats of these creatures.
(Physcial) Types of Undead
Below is a typology of the Undead from the perspective of Necromancer ethics.
(Ethical) Categories of the UndeadUndead creatures conform to one of 4 Necromancer ethical categories:
Necromancers only approve of (most of) category 1 (Willing Returns) and Golems (well, most approve of Golems). The Skeletons, Liches and Spectres they summon are Willing Returns. Revenants are a bit more controversial as they are willing, but malicious, wanting to exact revenge on the living, so the purists will ban them but the Combat Brotherhoods who are fighting deep in dangerous territory resort to them, but the debate rages even there. Necromancers actively oppose those who are or use category 2 or 3, the Unwilling Returns and Impressioned Remains. They also oppose reanimating corpses with malevolent Spirit Engery (Zombies).
Theoretically, Necromancers do not have an inherent issue with Vampires as Willing Returns. Practically, however, the vast majority of Vampires cannot resist creating Unwilling Returns (vampire spawn) since they are feeding anyway. So you can generally assume a -1 to -2 reaction roll between Vampires and Necromancers (-2 or -3 if the Necromancer is a Combat/Enforcer Necromancer). Combat/Enforcer Necromancers (Watchers, Gate Wardens, Banishers, etc) investigate and put to rest other Unwilling Returns including Gaunts, Wights, Zombies, unwilling Vampire Spawn and those that created them.
There are two kinds of Zombies, normal and Kirean. Normal Zombies are as described in the Advanced Wizard spell: Zombie. A Kirean Zombie is a special Zombie created by the Kirean Kingdom.
The ancient Kirean Kingdom had a technique revolving around their ritual torture and sacrifice whose point was to create an Impressioned Remain from the intense negative emotions created by the torture techniques and then bind that Impressioned Remain back to the victim's newly minted corpse, creating a fairly intelligent, malevolent and angry Zombie (as compared to a normal, more mechanical, Zombie). They used these Zombies for shock troops and they are referred to as Kirean Zombies in the Necromancer's Encyclopedia. They have some level of confused and tortured self-consciousness and memory of their past selves, can make use of their past memories for instructions (i.e. "Go to Kirea Atlon" would work if they were familiar with the city and knew in their past life how to get there from here) and can make minimally intelligent decisions. They are best used as guards or shock troops, but have been used as assassins or messengers for low priority messages. The process consisted of a magical torture device called the Kirean Stone Dagger that caused excruciating pain while bloodletting, and a spell to magnify the mental duress, then capture the Impressioned Remain and bind it back to the body. The torture tool, theStone Dagger has been seen in the company of a tribe of Orcs of the Borderlands. Hopefully the horrific spell that finished the process and created the Zombie died with the Kirean Kingdom.Vampires than cannonical TFT in that vampirism is not a disease in the narrow sense but a creature who wants to lengthen his life by "unnatural means" and living off of the blood of others. There is a dimly understood biological process that takes place if you are bitten enough times by a current vampire that is probably disease like, but finally you do have to biologically die before you arise as a vampire. Your Spirit and it's field are bound back to your old body that must feed off of living blood to keep you functioning. If you are bitten by a full Vampire you will become a Vampire Spawn in 3 days after death if the right conditions are met (you are laid out on your native soil, etc). Vampire Spawn start out weak and clumsey as their bodies do not have normal sensations they are accustomed to. They often stay tightly cloistered for a several months just to get up to the basic stats listed in the Bestiary for basic spawn. After that they can gain ST,IQ and DX like normal characters. If they want to break the servitude to their Vampire master they have to overcome the will of the Vampire. We use an "Contest" Saving throw. Subtract the Spawn's IQ from the Vapmire's who created you and add (or subtract) that number to a 3 die saving throw against your IQ. So if the master Vampire as IQ 15 and the Spawn has IQ 13, you would roll 3d and add two to the roll (the difference between 15 and 13) and try to get 13 or less. If the Spawn loses the Vampire will know he tried to break free and the Spawn will likely be killed or sent to the dungeons to do manual labor where he cannot challenge the Vampire again. Once the break is made, the master Vampire no longer has a sense of where the Spawn is and it's general state of mind if it is close enough. Thus many Spawn wait until they are very strong before trying. Do note that Vampires can release a Spawn voluntarily. In breaking free they get a few extra powers that the Vampire holds back from them. Vampires also have some mind control over Night-Gaunts (sort of like an innate New Followers Talent and Charisma combined on Night Gaunts) and will use them as guards or spies.
Vampires can gain talents and character points like normal characters after being spawn for 6 months. Princes, have additional powers gained by creating and controlling more than 3 spawn for more than a year. They dive deeper into the spirit field and gain those powers from having spawn under control. They must maintain more than three spawn continuously to keep those benefits. If they drop down to 3 or less, they must restart the 1 year clock to build back up to having the extra powers.
See the bestiary for the NightMare an undead/demonic steed used by Vampires (mostly Princes).
Ghostly Undead The ghostly undead are a genus of undead that are semi-material, so only magic and magic weapons (at half-damage) can harm them. Their touch does a drain life of varying degrees, counting as fatigue against the victim, but healing damage to themselves. Except for Shadow Spawn, they are full souls, but could be Willing or Unwilling. The Ghostly Undead include, in ascending order of might (for a generic encounter): Shadow Spawn, Shadow Wights, Banshees, Spectres, and Revenants. NightMare Steeds. They can form alliances but are not highly energetic or motivated, wanting to slowly build themselves up or pass the time. They have a very distored sense of time and feel that the time since their death is very short, even if it has been decades or centuries. One of the first signs of a Shadow Wight coming into higher sentience is it's better tracking of the passage of time. Realizing this either makes them finally angry and hence come out of their stupor, or they despair and fall into semi-conscious hibernation. Those that get angry become Shadow Wight wizards and are more likely to be active and build some kind of power base with kobolds or other limited creatures doing it's bidding, but often cannot maintain those alliances as even the advanced ones can slip into long periods of very low activity, confused depression and lethargy. For those of you using the 7HexDragon Campaign, one way Shadow Wights are created is to trap someone in a Soul Mirror, destroy the body and then shatter the mirror. A shadow wight steps out of the ruble confused and slinking to the nearest dark spot. This releases lots of energy and doesn't always work, so it is not an effective method of execution.
Shadow Spawn - created by the most powerful Shadow Wight Mages (and some others) so they can summon help. They are weak creatures of shadow and can cast the Shadow Spell and Drain Life. They are weak Impressioned Remains.
Banshees are Impressioned Remains who have died due to intense grief. They are ghostly but can harm individuals and be harmed. They exude a MH Despair around them (each creature who comes within one hex of a banshee has to make an initial Contest save of the ST of the banshee against the IQ of the Victim and if they succeed are immune to the Despair effects of that one Banshee, if they fail they have to remake the save every time they get near again until they succeed) and can "cast"/emit a Piercing Cry that acts like an Induce Fear Spell in a 3MH radius (Cost 2ST). Her touch does a Drain Life that goes straight to her. All wounds are considered fatigue to a Banshee and only spells and magic weapons can harm her, but at half damage. They tend to be single minded, obsessed over recovering what was lost or staying near the place where a loved one died or near the grave site of a loved one or other such grief inducing phenomena. They will defend these areas from interlopers. They are associated with females, and while they are likely a slight majority, there are plenty of male banshees.
Spectres are Willing Returns in that they desire to continue to walk the earth out of fear of what true death is, but are dull witted and a bit recessive until angered. Most Necromancers approve of their use (though some few purists will contend that they are not fully Willing as they are too confused and fearful to be fully Willing). All Combat Brotherhoods approve of their use. They are semi-material and can walk smoothly on swampy land, rocks, a twig, etc. They can fit under the crack of a door. When angered they become more effective in combat and can move faster with more focus, but it is hard to anger them. They drain life (fatigue against the victim) that goes straight to healing any damange they have received (by spell or magical weapon only). They are fearful creatures and cause despair and anxiety wherevery they go. As a category, most Revenants are more powerful than Spectres due to their unremitting drive, though since Spectres have more self-control than Revenants, very powerful mages, necromancers and war lords can become very powerful Spectres. Tolkien's Nazgul are very powerful Spectres, willing returns. The Numenorians were fearful of death, and these powerful beings sought extended life through the Rings of Power. Even so there will be a certain passivity about them, deferring to a master or more indolent than they were in real life (so if they were active and domineering in real life, they will be a force to be reckoned with even if they are not quite as active as Specters). See the bestiary or 7HexDragon House Rules for the Necromancer spell Summon Spectre for all their abilities.
Revenants are the Willing Return of an angry and vindictive full soul (note that In The Labyrinth has Revenants as just the ghost version of normal characters, or even player characters, we treat them like a normal category of monster, and have no idea what SJ was talking about ITL being for the living...). They are semi-material, ghostly figures, projecting a daunting visual appearance with their emotions coloring their appearance (melting face, small pulsing black flames outlining their form, hands and arms enlarging/stretching to grab you, etc). They want to come back and punish the living. They often had difficult and violent lives and feel they have not gotten their fair share or just deserts. They are highly focused and purposeful if given structure for their anger. Summoned Revenants make excellent shock troops, advance scouts or assassins. Most Necromancers do not approve of them, but a very few active Enforcer Necromancers who are aggressively hunting down entrenched and powerful forces will resort to them with some small chagrin and internal debate on the circumstances that would ethically justify summoning one. A robust ethical code around the use of them should be articulated by any Necromancer who knows the summoning spell (and expect most other Necromancers, and just about everyone else to actively disapprove). As a category, they are the most powerful of the ghostly undead (Shadow Wight, Banshee, Spectre, Revenant, though particularly powerful Spectres can be more powerful than most Revenants). Being semi-material, they can pass smoothly over swamp or rocks or water, on a twig. They can't fly, but can fit under the crack of a door, etc. They drain life that heals any damange they have taken (by magic weapon or spell only). They carry with them an MH despair aura, and all must contest save ST of the Revenant vs IQ of the victim (plus any morale bonuses). They can cast several spells (Induce Fear, Control Person, MH Shadow, etc). Tolkien's Nazgul are particularly powerful versions of Revenant. See the bestiary or 7Hex House Rules for what a summoned Revenant can do.
Skeleton Warriors/Lords and Liches. True Skeletons (not decayed Zombies) are a unique breed of undead with a peculiar history. They are Willing Returns (see history below) with full souls and are particularly hostile towards demons (try not to summon a Lich and Demon together!) as demons tend to attack them on sight. They have volunteered to continue their service for a fixed time after death. Usually out of loyalty to the Necromantic Brotherhood and belief in the cause.
Skeleton Warriors are similar to myrmidons, but weaker.
Skeleton Lords are the best and most accomplished warriors, working on their martial and spiritual sides. Achieving a strong Spirit Field, they even have some Spirit Magic. They are fearsome and project fear and deadly intent. Untrained animals will shy away and the ignorant and superstitious will flee. Even the bold will have to steel his nerve to look them in the eye.
Liches are the top of the undead hierarchy. The most accomplished Necromancers (and the very rare wizard) with the strongest spirit fields. They exude power, fear, mortal threat and purpose. The ignorant and superstitious will flee from them, untrained animals will shy away whimpering, even the bold will have to steel their nerve even to approach one. Many will have a Necrostaff and magic items, some more established Liches will have a retinue of Skeleton Warriors/Lords and a Spectre or two. Summoned ones are the weakest of the lot. They tend to keep their association with their Brotherhood and live in seclusion or fortified settings as the populace can turn against you...
History: Almost 400 years ago the Great Sea Commander Cartoque, who had dabbled in the Necromantic arts and even studied at a Brotherhood for a few years, left the Necromancer Brotherhood before taking the Necromantic Oath to join the Imperial Navy to defend her seaside village from attacks by pirates backed by a neighboring duchy (which has since been incorporated into the Empire). She was a brilliant tactician and advanced to First Mate and then Captain in just a year and half. There were persistant rumours that the souls of sailors slain underneath her would come back at critical times to help him win battles. The Watchers planted a Necromancer on her ship to do an investigation of these unauthorized recallings. That backfired for the Watchers. Cartoque had a very strong Spirit Field and was promoted to Commander of a Battle Group and then Admiral of the South (almost a third of the Imperial Navy, see The Imperial Sorcerers for a history). The Watcher became her second-in-command and they spent long nights alone together in the old abandoned light house near the naval headquarters and in the Commanders quarters while at sea. The Imperial Sorcerers had always had a second rank navy and Commander Cartoque was tagged to lead the entire navy. However, the near fanatical loyalty of her men (some speculate due to implicit promise of life after death if they died in battle for her) became a concern to the Imperial Council. When the Imperial Sorcerers finally turned against their favorite Commander, she refused to leave her post and took her fleet out to sea. Hunted by the Sorcerers with all their vindictive might, Cartoque, despite winning battle after battle, was beginning to see the end via attrition alone. She took the fleet way out to a large chain of uncharted islands where she hoped to plot a quick strike coup against the Imperial Sorcerers.
On these particular islands were a large tribe who had a long tradition of great shamans. The current Great Shaman was a potent witchdoctor indeed. This tribe had long feared death and had elaborate rituals around the disposition of their dead. They would go through a process similar to Egyptian mumification, but would actually strip the corpse to it's bare skeleton, purified of all other organic matter and treated with special resins to preserve the bones and keep them together. They believed that the bones would get new flesh laid upon the bones (the core of the warrior's body) when the gods came down to battle the forces of evil in the next millenial battle. These skeletons were then interred in elaborate catacombs in the lava tubes of the inactive volcanoes that created the island chain. This Shaman had recently been promoted to Great Shaman due to his unprecedented powers, unseen before in the tribe. Many apprentices flocked to him and he began to attempt communication and recall of the dead. The combination of the Necromancer, Cartoque and the Shaman proved a potent combination. The Shaman now had the resources of the Necromancer to help refine his great powers and understanding of the Spirit Field, the vision and drive of Cartoque to pursue a bold new course and a host of apprentices to draw power from. They experimented with great magics and were able to rebind the spirits of their lost men to their old bodies in a new way. Not just zombies, but these spirits could be bound to their former bodies once they were turned to skeletons (any other organic remains ruined the spell, only pristine skeletons would do). The binding process took the skeletal remains to the alternate plane where the men's spirits were waiting. At first Cartoque had thought they had failed and simply vaporized the skeletons, but the Necromancer could sense a heightening of the Spirit Field and realized he could recall these rebound skelton warriors. This had the advantage of being able to recall not just a barely material Spectre or a dumb zombie (what the Necromancers had accomplished), but a highly intelligent material armed force. Of interest to the Necromancer and his Oath was the fact that the process had to be done on willing subjects, the departed soul had to be instructed to wait for re-binding and some who wanted to be rebound did not have the ability to wait in the appointed place long enough. Unwilling souls simply did not wait and could not be rebound against their will. Additionally, a small amount of non-organic matter can go with the skeleton (i.e. the resin, maybe a sword and shield, but no leather armour or bow strings or arrows fletching, or wooden shafts, etc). Figure about 7.5Kg after the resin.
The islands became an underground mecca for those wishing extended life (and many seeking revenge on the Imperial Sorcerers). The Necromancer, Cartoque, the Shaman and his apprentices created a small army of recallable skeletons and moved against the Imperial Sorcerers, attempting to take a key port and storm the Sorcerer's Palace that was 80 miles inland while the fearsome Imperial Infantry was away on a major campaign to the West. Meanwhile the Watchers had prepared a strike of their own, and when Cartoque's navy was away. The Watchers captured their own renagade Necromancer from the Islands and brought him back. Bringing in the more scholarly Alethia Brotherhood to help them understand what the Necromancer and his new friends had done, they were able to replicate this unique binding process where the skeletal remains are taken with the spirit to an alternate plane and then recallable from that plane (this is not entirely unlike how vampires get rebound to their bodies after a brief time lapse). The process was extended over the next 150 years to include the most powerful of the undead, the Lich. The Alethia Brotherhood pioneered work here. The Lich is an undead Necromancer. The apprentice to the first Necromancer to become a Lich was a powerful Necromancer whose Spirit Field has not been surpassed named Kalcrear and he became a Lich on his 60th birthday. Kalcrear set the bar for Liches and he was finally killed (again?) by a powerful Vampire Coven who had rallied several renegade Necromancers and other undead to the cause of crushing the hated Kalcrear. The Necromancers guard the process of becoming a Lich with the utmost seriousness, only the most powerful Necromancers can perform this process of creating Liches. Any leak is hunted down with the combined might of all Combat/Enforcer Necromancer Brotherhoods.
As for Cartoque, she did not surprise the port city of Dar Miralo and the Northern Fleet was recalled to help the Port Fleet repell the attack. The Sorcerers had planted a few spies on the islands and done some advanced Crystal Ball work. Despite the ambush by the Northern Fleet, Cartoque almost won the day. Finally, the Imperial Sorcerer's Council itself came to the cliffs above the battle to aid their fleet with mighty magics: summoned Dragons and Greater Demons, illusions, darkness and telepathic control of any of Cartoque's officers who got close enough to the cliffs. In a last ditch effort, the Great Shaman and his remaining adepts sailed near the cliffs to counter the might of the combined Council, but he was soundly defeated after the air crackled with magic. Those officers unfortunate enough to be controlled would then ground their ship or ram another of their own group. Most of Cartoque's fleet and skeleton army were finally wiped out. Cartoque's own ship and a handful of her faster rear guard evaded capture. She has passed into legend, with every half-drunk sailor alleging sightings of skeleton ships with Cartoque at the helm. She is now used as a morality tale to scare children in the Empire as to what the enemies of the Empire are like (summoning the dead, creating armed rebellion, "Cartoque will come for your bones if you don't defend the Empire!"). The battle is still studied in the academies and the demise of Cartoque is used as an object lesson to over ambitious military commanders in the IS army and navy.