Boil and Bubble: Spell Kits For Casters – The Necromancer

“In glamoury that necromancer held his hosts of phantoms and of wandering ghosts…”
– The Lay of Leithian, J. R. R. Tolkien

In a previous post, I talked about various “wizardly” archetypes and how you might create them using RPM. In this post (and successive ones if it continues to prove popular), I’m going to outline the best spells to take for Ritual Mastery, a possible list of conditional spells/charms/potions/etc., a list of traits, and a typical course of action for such a character in combat. You might consider looking at my “Diablorising Ritual Path Magic” posts for that game’s Necromancer. You can find them here, here, and here. Lets continue on with the Necromancer:

On The Summoning of Beasts
The following little system works well for anything you conjure, create, or summon – but I’ve put it here to determine how “powerful” a skeleton or zombie might be. Rituals that conjure or summon beings are common in fiction, but Ritual Path magic has no current way to handle a delineation of power or scale. Currently, it takes a Lesser Sense Spirit and a Lesser Strengthen Crossroads effect to find a demon and set up a temporary gate. You’d need to add +10 energy for crossing dimensions and because there is no specific target, there is no “connection” penalties for non-adepts. Of course if you are trying to summon a specific target, those penalties are added back in.

New Spell Modifier: Summoned
Use this modifier for summoning or conjuring beings. This modifier relies on a “Static Point Total” that the GM chooses, typically the starting point total of the campaign – though it may be higher. The more powerful the being, the more energy required. A GM is well within his rights to say that archangels, demon lords, and similarly powerful beings cannot be  summoned – only contacted. For such beings use a Greater Sense Spirit effect, make a reaction roll (pray it’s good!), and remember to add the extra energy for crossing dimensions. Bad reactions should result in minions of the being appearing and causing havoc, while good ones result in an audience of sorts. GMs running campaigns where the point totals of the monsters are not known or were not tabulated (like GURPS Monster Hunters), should assign a summoning value they feel is appropriate. Use the chart below to determine the extra energy required to summon a being of a specific point total.

Power                 Additional Energy Cost
25%                   +4 energy
50%                   +8 energy
75%                   +12 energy
100%                 +20 energy
150%                 +40 energy
+50%                 +20 energy

For multiple beings, multiply the cost by the number of beings. If there are more than five, use the following:

Group                 Additional Energy Cost
6-10 beings         x6 energy
11-20 beings       x8 energy
21-50 beings       x10 energy
11-100 beings     x12 energy
x10                     plus x6 energy

Higher Purpose (Animating Undead)
… spells to create, conjure, or summon undead minions.
… spells to repair said minions.
… spells to locate or scry on one of your minions.
… spells to toughen, strengthen, or otherwise enhance your minions.
… spells that let you bind “free range” undead into your service.
… and so on.

Higher Purpose (Death Magic)
… spells that locate the dead.
… spells that allow you to speak or otherwise communicate with the dead.
… spells that allow you to lay the dead to rest.
… spells that sap the strength of the living by employing “death energies.”
… spells that ward against undead, spooks, specters, or ghosts.
… spells that allow you to bind and compel undead to your service.
… spells that allow you to heal the living or “prevent” death by temporarily stabilizing them.

Ritual Mastery/Conditional Spell List
Amplify (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 39)
Bag of Bones (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 39)
Call Spirit (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 39)
Death Touch (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 40)
Death Vision (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 40)
Destruction (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 40)
Empower Undead (see below)
Halt Death (see below)
Life-Force Absorption (see below)
Necrosis (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 47)
Pentagram Trap(GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 47)
Reaper Bolt (see below)
Reveal the Dead (see below)
Summon Skeleton (see below)
Summon Skeleton Horde (see below)
Weaken Blood (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 51)

Suggested Character Traits
Allies (undead minions)  [varies]
Channeling (Magical, -10%; Specialized, Ghosts (-50%) [4].
Compartmentalized Mind 1 (Limited, Path of Undead only, -30% or Limited , Necromancy, -20%; Magic, -10%; No Mental Separation, -20%) [20/level or 25/level].
Damage Resistance (Force Field, +20%; Limited, Necromantic effects, -30%; Magic, -10%) [4/level].
Detect (Undead, Ghosts, or specific form of undead; Magic, -10%) [18, 9, 5].
Energy Reserve (Mana Reserve; One Power, Path of Undead only, -50%) [1.5/level].
Higher Purpose (Animating Undead, Death Magic, or Necromancy*) [5/level].
Leech [varies]
Magery (Ritual Path; Limited Scope, Path of Undead, -30%) or Magery (Ritual Path; Limited Scope, Necromancy, -15%) [7/level or 8.5/level].
Medium (Magical, -10%; Specialized, Ghosts (-50%) [4].
Racial Skill Bonus +1 to +3 (Path of Undead) [2/level]. GMs may allow specialist casters to possess this trait (see p. B452 for details), though he should probably require them to start out with it. He may even allow the Natural at (skill) trait.
Resistant to Necromancy or Path of Undead (+3 or +8; Magic, -10%) [5 or 9].
Ritual Adept (Limited Scope, Path of Undead, -30% or Limited Scope, Necromancy, -15%) [28 or 34].
Skills: Alchemy, Expert Skill (Demonology, Thanatology, or Pneumatology), First Aid, Hidden Lore (Demons, Spirits, Undead, or Zombies), Occultism, Physiology, Professional Skill (Mortician), Surgery,
Unaging (Magic, -10%) [14].
Unkillable 1-3 (Magic, -10%) [45, 90, or 135].
* Necromancy is a Broad Tradition (Pyramid #3/66 Laws of Magic, p. 16) and encompasses all the effects of Higher Purpose (Animated Undead) and Higher Purpose (Death Magic) plus any spell that summons demons, and any ritual that deals with the dead or undead in any way.

Tactics in Combat
The Necromancer, depending on how you built your character can be extremely useful in combat. With a list of spells that can maim, cripple, or kill at their command. Necromancers excel at sending hordes of disposal minions at their targets or blasting them into dust, but they’re also good at being healers. Who better to patch up the living than the guy, who has been studying corpses his whole life? You’ll want to invest several charms with various attack and healing spells and try to focus on using your minions to swarm a target to make it “softer” for another player character or yourself when you chuck a Reaper Bolt or three.

New Rituals

Empower Undead

Spell Effects: Greater Strengthen Undead.
Inherent Modifiers: Altered Traits, Special.

Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell causes one undead subject to temporarily gain up to 30 points of enhanced physical attributes or advantages for the next hour.

Typical Casting: Greater Strengthen Undead (3) + Altered Traits, 30 points of traits chosen by the caster* (30) + Duration, 1 hour (3) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 108 energy (39×3).

* These points must be something that the undead could acquire anyways given time and experience. The caster could not, for example, give a skeleton wings. Normally, you’d have to spell out exactly what the subject would acquire, but the added flexibility plus this limitation makes this effectively a feature.


Halt Death
Spell Effects: Greater Strengthen Body.
Inherent Modifiers: Bestows a Bonus, Survival rolls  against death.

Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell causes one subject (who must be within two yards of you) who just failed a HT roll versus death to reroll with a +5 bonus. If successful he stabilizes long enough for someone else to use a healing spell, first aid, etc.

Typical Casting: Greater Strengthen Body (3) + Bestows a Bonus, +5 to Survival rolls against death (16) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 63 energy (21×3).
Life-Force Absorption
Spell Effects: Greater Transform Body.
Inherent Modifiers: Area of Effect + Internal Damage, Draining (Aura)

Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell surrounds the caster with a field that leeches the life out of anything in it’s reach (ten yards from the caster). Anyone within the field suffers 1d-3 points of damage and the caster gains the same amount if they fail to resist. This field lasts for 5d6 seconds before the spell lapses.

Typical Casting: Greater Transform Body (3) + Area of Effect, 10 yards (8) + Internal Damage, Draining 18d (Aura, +80%) (74) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 258 energy (88×3).
Reaper Bolt
Spell Effects: Greater Create Undead.
Inherent Modifiers: External Damage, Corrosion (Cosmic, Lingering Damage; Guided).

Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This ritual allows the caster to summon up a small amount of death energy in his hand and fling it at a target for 3d corrosion damage. You ignore range penalties to hit as per a Guided attack (p. B105) and any damage you inflict requires natural healing to recover!

Typical Casting: Greater Create Undead (6) + External Damage, Corrosion 3d (Cosmic, Lingering Damage, +100%; Guided, +50%) (30) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 117 energy (39×3).
Reveal the Dead
Spell Effects: Greater Sense Undead.
Inherent Modifiers: None.

Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This ritual tells the location of all undead within 200 yards of him, what type they are, if they are bound to a particular purpose or master, and if hidden via a disguise, reveals the creature beneath if it fails to resist the spell.

Typical Casting: Greater Sense Undead (2). 6 energy (2×3).

Summon Skeleton
Spell Effects: Greater Create Undead.
Inherent Modifiers: Summoned.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell conjures a skeleton to do the caster’s bidding for the next day.

Typical Casting: Greater Create Undead (6) + Duration, 1 day (7) + Summoned, 25% of total (4). 51 energy (17×3).

Summon Skeleton Horde
Spell Effects: Greater Create Undead.
Inherent Modifiers: Summoned, Group.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell conjures a ill of undead, six skeletons to do the caster’s bidding for the next day.

Typical Casting: Greater Create Undead (6) + Duration, 1 day (7) + Summoned, 25% of total, Group, 6-10 (24). 111 energy (37×3).

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