Sunday, February 11, 2018

OSR Necromancer. Based partially on Necroscope

Like most every tinker-DM out there I've done various Necromancer classes of my own and used others found online. I decided to redo another. This one is partially based on  Brian Lumley's Necroscope. The primary feature of this Necromancer is the corpse interrogation ability; he is a torturer of the dead, tearing secrets from corpses in a gory ritual of desecration. 

In addition he casts spells as any other magic user and can attempt to take control of undead encountered. To balance this out he is prone to afflictions of the body, mind, and soul which will make social interactions difficult, probably heading towards the old torch and pitchfork end of the spectrum. Here we go.....

Prime Requ: Int
Exp: As Magic User
HD: 1d4
Save: As Magic User
Attack: As Magic User
Armor: None
Weapons: Dagger, Dart, Sickle, Sling, Staff, Whip
Alignment: Any non-Good

Class Abilities
As basic Magic User. Can use Ritual Magic and Infernal Options.

Control Undead
The Necromancer has a chance to control undead creatures encountered. The maximum  HD of undead controlled by the Necromancer is equal to twice his HD. Individual undead can only be controlled if the undead creature's HD is equal to  half of the Necromancer's or less.
Example: An sixth level Necromancer can control up to twelve HD worth of undead, but none of the undead under his control can be more than three HD creatures. Therefore he could control skeletons, zombies, ghouls, or wights (all three HD or less) but not wraiths (4HD.)

When attempting to control an encountered undead the Necromancer rolls a Turn Undead check as if a Cleric of equal level. If a successful roll is made or an automatic turn (T) is gained he can control a number of undead as described  above. The duration of the control is the same as a Charm Monster spell. While controlled the undead will obey any command given short of self destruction. If the result is destroyed (D) the the undead will obey any command including suicidal ones.

Corpse Interrogation
With a body at his disposal a Necromancer can gain information much like the Cleric's spell Speak with Dead. This is a mystical ability allowing the Necromancer to pull information from the souls of the dead through their remains. The process is not a communication as no questions are asked of the corpse. Instead it is a torture of the linked soul as the corpse is brutally violated layer by layer as the Necromancer uses his teeth and hands to rip open organs, crack bones, etc. Tasting fluids, marrow, fat, and flesh hidden information is pulled into the body  from the tortured soul and absorbed by the Necromancer from the sifting of the mortal remains.

The Necromancer must have an idea of the information he is seeking. If successful he will learn the identity of the corpse, basic knowledge of their life when alive, and any pertinent information related to what knowledge he is seeking. Other knowledge is not absorbed, the vast amount of memory and information would be too much for the Necromancer to process. Only information is gained; no class abilities, spells known by the corpse in life, etc can be gained from a corpse.

A corpse interrogation takes 1d4 +2 turns. If the process is interrupted the Necromancer must start over. Once the interrogation is over (and the success role made or failed) the Necromancer cannot attempt another corpse interrogation without eight hours of rest.

Necromancers are feared and hated by the dead. If the soul of a previously interrogated corpse is encountered as an incorporeal undead (as a ghost, wraith, etc) it cannot be controlled by the Necromancer. The soul must make a Saving Throw or flee the Necromancer's presence. If it makes its Saving Throw it will attack the Necromancer in a fury gaining a +4 bonus to attacks.

The chance for a successful Corpse Interrogation is 30 percent plus five per level. If the Interrogation is successful the Necromancer learns the information he was seeking if the corpse knew the answers in life.  If the Necromancer fails his success roll the corpse is useless to him; he has failed and cannot gain any information from that corpse. He may try again when he gains a level of Necromancer and the DM decides enough of the corpse is left to work with.

The age and condition of the corpse being interrogated can affect the chance for success.
Dead 1 hour, +15%
Dead 6 hours, +10%
Dead 1 week, base roll
Dead 1 month, -10%
Dead 1 year, -15%
Corpse is mummified, -5%

The Necromancer deals with powerful forces outside what mortal man was meant to play with. This will often corrupt the Necromancer physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is more likely to occur the greater the Necromancer's powers develop and he continually exposes himself to the dead and undead.

Each level of Necromancer gained calls for an affliction roll. The chance is a cumulative 20% plus 5% per level. Thus a first level Necromancer has a 25% chance at character creation. A character gaining fourth level has a 40% chance. And so on.

Afflictions are not normal medical problems or diseases. They are a supernatural decay of the body, mind, and soul. They cannot be cured with mortal magics short of a wish spell and even this has a 50% chance of failure.

When an Affliction is gained the DM or the Player (if the DM allows) may either randomly roll or choose one. There are many different lists for these types of things available out there including Ravenloft setting, The Complete Book of Necromancer's, various OSR blogsites, etc. Here's a few ideas cobbled from sources and a few of my own:

Physical 1-2
Mental 3-4
Spiritual 5-6

Physical afflictions most directly affect Charisma and, obviously, reaction checks involving the Necromancer. As he progresses in the black art he is more likely to appear less than human, tainted and cursed. Once these afflictions are discovered a populace is unlikely to tolerate a Necromancer's presence among them for very long. The negative Charisma modifier is only in play if a character knows or it or it is visible. Necromancer's quickly learn to cover up or disguise their deformities if they can be. Some are easy to cover, others are not.

1  Hair/Skin (Charisma -2 for each)
Hair (1-3):
1. All falls out, no hair anywhere
2. Cob-webbed as spiders nest in scalp
3. Grows over body in bestial patches
4. Metallic, fine hair thin wire
5. Turns white
6. Twitches and moves of its own accord
Skin (4-6):
1. Absent and showing raw muscle in places
2. Boils over large areas
3. Corpse-like, pale clammy and cold
4. Metallic or odd color
5. Mold over large areas
6. Rot over large areas
7. Scabs over large areas
8. Scaly over large areas
9. Scars raised as pictograms
10. Worm riddled, writhing and poking out of holes

2  Blood/Sweat (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Bugs
2. Ichor
3. Ink
4. Mercury
5. Grave stench mud
6. Stinking slimy worms

3  Eyes (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Empty sockets
2. Filled with worms
3. Glowing orbs
4. Metallic or stone orbs
5. Never blinks
6. Odd color

4  Teeth (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Twice as many, baby-like and tiny
2. Fused together
3. Glass
4. Glowing witchfire
5. Metallic
6. Rotted
7. Stone
8. Tentacles for teeth

5  Tongue/Voice (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Black and rotted tongue
2. Demonic voice
3. Face or teeth on tip of tongue
4. Serpent tongue
5. Hyena-like laugh
6. Insect parasite has replaced tongue
7. Slug-like in color and textured tongue
8. Long raspy cat-like tongue

6  Hand (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Bestial hairy hand (1d4 claw damage)
2. Fleshless bones
3. Fused fingers
4. Metallic, stone, or glass nails
5. Suckers on palm and fingers
6. Tentacle fingers

7  Leg (Charisma -2 for each, half move but does not stack for more than one)
1. Fleshless bone from knee down
2. Bird or lizard foot and shin
3. Hoof foot and shin
4. Metal foot and shin
5. Stone foot and shin
6. Twisted leg

8  Extra Bits/Other  (Charisma -2 for each)
1. Extra mouth somewhere
2. Eyes, small and in wrong places
3. Gills, nonfunctional
4. Grave stench
5. Horns (1d3 damage)
6. Hunchback
7. Massive goiters
8. Tail
9. Tentacles, small
10. Vestigial arm or leg

Madness affects the Necromancer's behavior in ways that are disturbing to the normal person. Eccentricities and odd behavior mark the Necromancer as weird, abnormal, or srange and can be difficult to cover up. Specific madness's can penalize the Necromancer's actions, cause Cha loss, lose spells, or even cause hp damage.

1. Addict: You crave alcohol or drugs. To get through the day you must have at least a bottle of drink or a hit of drugs to keep yourself going. If you do not have your daily fix all actions are at -4/20% until you get your drink or drug.
2. Compulsion: You must do certain things each day. Deliberate and sometimes weird things. Compulsions can include such things as having to wash your hands when near water, turn in a circle five times and clap when talking to strangers, etc. The DM can call for these randomly (at least one per play  session) and you must make a Saving Throw to avoid doing your little ritual. If you must do it immediately or take a -2 penalty to actions until the ritual is completed. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are so distracted by your compulsion you take a -4 to actions until the ritual is fulfilled.
3. Dark Personality: When under stress (DM's call) you must make a Saving Throw or a darker piece of your psyche emerges. You are more aggressive and every time you are irritated or challenged you become violent towards the object of your irritation. This lasts for 2d6+4 rounds. Once it ends you come to your senses, even if still in a fight. You will not manifest this again for 1d6 hours. You gain a +1 bonus to melee/unarmed damage while in this state.
4. Insane Quirk: You have personality quirks. Severe ones. It can get so bad people become agitated by your presence. You may be paranoid, talk to yourself, wildly laugh inappropriately, constantly fidget, mimic those around you, or other socially inappropriate behaviors. You may be afflicted with tics, stutters, strange gesturing, tremors, etc. You receive a -2 to Charisma for your quirk. You must make a Saving Throw each morning. If you fail your particular quirk is particularly bad today increasing your Charisma penalty to -4 for the day.
5. Mask of Sanity: When under stress (DM's call)  you must make a Saving Throw or Charisma drops by half as your instability shows throw and makes those around you uncomfortable. Those who see this will be shaken by this glimpse of madness and remember and the Charisma penalty will always be in effect when dealing with them.
6. Mutilator: You cut, beat, or burn yourself. When you are stressed you must make a Saving Throw or be overwhelmed. To calm yourself you damage yourself doing superficial damage. However if you fail the save by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you go overboard and do 1d4 points of damage.
7. Night Terrors: There is no rest when you dream. You have vivid nightmares and wake up sweating and screaming. Each night make a Saving Throw. If you fail you are at -1 actions for the rest of the day. If you fail the save by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) they were exceptionally bad and, along with the -1 penalty no spell slots are regained.
8. Phobia: You have an irrational fear of an object or situation. The DM will choose an appropriate one. When faced with the source of your fear you must make a Saving Throw . If you fail you take a -2 penalty to actions while in the presence of the fear. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are paralyzed, unable to act until the source of fear is removed. Such things could be salt, holy items, doctors, etc.
9. Twitchy: Your are a nervous wreck. Your nerves are shot and your defenses against Fear and Madness are low. You take a -4 penalty to Saving Throws involving fear or madness spells or situations as judged by the DM. You also receive a + 1 bonus to initiative from being so high strung,
10. Voices: You hear voices telling you things, arguing with you, taunting, or just giving bad advice. You suffer a -2 to Charisma. You must make a Saving Throw each morning. If you fail they are exceptionally loud and annoying today and you can't help but talk back to them, increasing your Charisma penalty to -4 for the day. If you fail by 10 or more (or roll a natural 1) you are constantly distracted by them and take a -2 penalty to actions.

The rotting of the Necromancer's very soul. The Necromancer is cursed to inhuman behavior, conditions,  and appetites. When seen these are very obviously supernatural and usually immediately marks the Necromancer for a good burning at the stake.

1. Animal panic: Horses, dogs, and other normal animals shun the Necromancer. When coming within ten feet of natural animals, the animals must make a Saving Throw or panic and attempt to flee, coming no closer than 30' to the Necromancer.
2. Impure: If the Necromancer comes in contact with salt or is submerged in running water he takes 1d4 damage per round of contact or immersion.
3. Infernal Appetite: Must ingest one of the following daily: blood or human flesh (1d4 hp); bones, grave-dirt, rotted flesh, rust (1 pound), etc. If the condition is not met the Necromancer cannot regain spells, control the undead, or use corpse interrogation.
4. Name of the Beast: if the true name of the Necromancer is known to his enemies and used in a spell the allowed Saving Throw for these spells is at a -5 penalty. This applies to charms, damaging spells, anything with a Saving Throw.
5. Nocturnal: Sunlight bothers the Necromancer; all actions while the sun is up, even if the Necromancer is under cover or even underground, are at  a -4/20% penalty.
6. Rejection of Nature: Withers vegetation and the very soil when casting spells or using Necromancer abilities (1' radius per level of Necromancer.) The vegetation rots and the soil turns to fine decayed dust.
7. Repulsion: if presented with a holy item or mirror the Necromancer must make a Saving Throw to approach within 10' of the object.
8. Rest of the Dead: The Necromancer must sleep in direct contact with a corpse to regain spells or control undead.
9. Unholy: Direct touch of a holy item or cold iron on bare skin does 1d4 damage to the Necromancer.
10. Vow: Once giving their word with a bargain, contract, or a vow the Necromancer has difficulty breaking it. To do so he must make a Saving Throw with a four penalty to break it.

Art by Mia-Mann

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Another update/slight tweak of my OSR Spaghetti/Traditional Western rules.
Check it out if you haven't here.

Clarifications on a few things such as multi classing, tweaking and adding in a few equipment modifiers for fast draw initiative (why medium pistols, .45's, can mechanically compete with the more powerful .44-40 cartridge), and added in short rests to help hp recovery in low magic settings.

I'll be applying these changes to my Victorian, Mythos and Mayhem, and other OSR rule sets I run.