RPGs Nine Necromancers





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    Nine Necromancers

    This is the skeleton of an idea - I'd love to hear any thoughts other might have about fleshing this out more.

    Fifteen years ago, it all went to hell. Now, it's 2035 and things have settled a bit. Just a bit.

    It doesn't really matter where the zombie plague started, but within three months, it was everywhere, on all the continents - well, save maybe Antarctica, but no one really cares to check that out for sure. By the end of the first year, the world's population had dropped to just a few million left, scattered in roving caravans running out of fuel and abandoning their dead where they fell (what was the use of burying them? And burning them took fuel needed for transportation) or cowering behind the walls of fortified cities and throwing their dead over the walls - or burning the corpses.

    Luckily, a given zombie didn't have a long lifespan. Something about its strange metabolizm caused it to burn through calories at an atrocious rate. An unfed zombie might last a week or two, then literally starve to death. But a fed zombie - even feeding on another zombie - could last as long as it had food to fuel it. Each year literally millions of zombies starved to death or were torn asunder by their comrades in the zombies quest for sustenance. Some people dared to hope that the zombie plague might burn itself out. But after three years, most folks had given up that hope - there still seemed to ravening hordes everyone you turned.

    After five years, I don't think anyone had realized that the plague had become so rampant that it was in just about everything - the soil, the animals - even the food and the water. Mammals seemed to be the easiest infected - dogs, cats, pigs, bears and apes being noted the most often zombie animals to be found shortly after the start of the plague. Luckily insects, birds and reptiles were immune - though they could contaminate other areas by spreading filth or diseased blood to other humans. Plants seemed to be immune as well, though they could get contaminated if. Nothing like biting into an apple to fall over a few minutes later and rise as a zombie. That gave more than one person a shock or two.

    Somewhere around six years down the road, some doctor who'd survived managed to puzzle out a sort of cure for the plague. And then some dumb schmuck killed him - or he was assassinated - before he could properly distribute the vaccine. A handful of lucky souls received the cure, but the only way to spread it was to inject the blood of the cured into another person ... and hope it took. If you had the wrong kind of blood - or DNA - or something, all the cure would do for you was hasten your transformation into a zombie - rather unpleasantly.

    Seven years going and the last of the fortified cities fell and the last road caravan rolled to a stop. Only a few thousand living souls were left, but they were still outnumbered by the dead by at least ten to one. And each person that fell kept adding to the ranks of the damned, even if for but a brief moment.

    Eight years into the plague and something - bizarre - happened. They say it takes evolution thousands, if not millions of years to occur. Somehow, eight years of hell started a crash program in the remains of mankind. Perhaps it was the hand of God, who had finally tired of the destruction he had wrought to punish man's hubris. Whatever the reason, there came the whispers of the Necromancers.

    Born in the wastes of the deepest concentrations of zombies, there arose men with the innate power to first hide among and then eventually influence or destroy the risen dead. The living who could, flocked to their side. Some of the necromancers rebuffed the presence of others, but most could not stand to dwell alone among the dead. And as has always been the case in times before, these Necromancers grew in power and influence.

    Some were generous individuals who cared for and protected those in their care. Some were evil who set out to conquer everyone and everything about them. Most were simply men and women with human virtues and foilables. They did what they could, but they were imperfect. But the living steadied under their care and the world could slowly be rebuilt.

    It's been twelve years now since the Necromancers first emerged, and the world is still wounded, but perhaps it is recovering. The world of the living and the dead has become divided among nine of the most influential Necromancers.

    Two great Necromancers rule North America - one the east, one the west. Each roars at the other, sending what feeble armies it can muster against each other in the hope of ruling the continent alone.

    Ruin-scarred Europe is home to the most debase Necromancer who has forsaken the living to cavort with the dead. His only subjects are the dead and the lesser Necromancers he has driven to the brink of insanity - and to ghoulish appetites.

    Asia is split between the Necromancer of Moscow - who demands sacrifice of living blood, and the great Necromancer of China who holds the orient in his iron grip.

    Africa is home to a great Necromancer who sells the zombie cure to any and all, but who turns a blind eye to those who will not give him fealty.

    Australia is home to perhaps the quietest Necromancer of all. Having driven the undead of the continent literally into the sea, he/she has worked tirelessly to help mankind rebuilt - starting with Melbourne itself.

    South America houses the last of the greatest Necromancer, who commands the life force of the tainted jungles of the south. It is said that it hunts the jungle wilds, but lets those in the city live free of their undead brethren. Those who die within the city have been seen to simply walk (unmolested) out into the wilds, never to be seen again. And every so often, the jungle simply claims a town to feed the Necromancer's hordes.

    That is the world we live in. It is a world for your taking, if you survive.

    Are you a Blooded - given the gift of serum and immune to the ravages of undeath?

    Are you a tool of the Necromancers - granted some protection from the undead hordes by the pheremonic relics given to you by your master?

    Are you an emergent Necromancer - gifted with the innate ability to rouse or slay the dead for to benefit or plague humanity?

    Or perhaps you are Tainted - a typhoid Mary immune to the disease you carry, but capable of tapping zombie-like abilities to survive in a world gone mad?
    Last edited by Stormonu; Tuesday, 13th November, 2012 at 07:33 AM.
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    Sounds cool to me!

    Are you planning to have necromancers differ in they way they use magic as well as personal style? I mean, mechanically: is there more than one way to command the undead?

    Or maybe something like a biomancer, who can do nifty things with flora and/or fauna, a la Swamp Thing.
    Last edited by Dannyalcatraz; Tuesday, 13th November, 2012 at 05:17 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
    Sounds cool to me!

    Are you planning to have necromancers differ in they way they use magic as well as personal style? I mean, mechanically: is there more than one way to command the undead?

    Or maybe something like a biomancer, who can do nifty things with flora and/or fauna, a la Swamp Thing.
    I'd like to - some lesser Necromancers just use their pheromones to hide themselves and or others from the presence of the dead. Some can influence or even dominate the actions of the undead. Others can produce a sort of venom that is toxic to the undead. Others can generate the zombie plague naturally to create their own minions. A few can even devour the flesh of a zombie and gain some of its preternatural abilities. The Melbourne Necromancer is even rumored to have the ability to cure an individual of the zombie plague!

    I haven't tried to put any mechanics together yet; for now I'm just spitballing ideas and not tying it to any one game system.
    "If it has stats, we can kill it." - T.G. Jackson, intro to 3rd ed Hackmaster

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    This sounds cool, and I could see something like this as the Zombie Apocalypse answer to Mass Effect.

    How unified do you want the Necromancer abilities? Would there be a few abilities they all get and then some others that each one was developed?

    East North America
    West North America
    South America
    Europe
    Moscow
    China
    Australia
    Africa

    Did I miss one, that is only 8 Necromancers.

    Some abilities for all of them:
    Hide from Zombie
    Destroy Zombie
    Rebuff Zombie

    Abilities for some/individual Necromancers:
    Cure Plague- Animals (people too, or seperate skills/magic/effect/etc)
    Cure Plague- Land
    Zombie Vision (basically can see through the eye of Zombies under the Necromancer's control)
    Control Zombie
    Spread Plague- animals
    Control Plague Lands- ever see Sky High, the plant powers
    Slay Zombie- an easier/faster/wide area destroy effect
    Blood Rites- absorb more energy from living (unlagued) animals (or people)



    As for the fluff behind mechanics- I think the Bene Gesserit Training from Dune would be an interesting take. The Necromancers are masters of their own bodies (down to the cellular or molecular level). They then use the Weirding Way to spread influence. A Necromancer's mind effects its reality so seeing through a zombie's eyes or other effects are just removing subconscious blocks that all humans have. This could extend to the Fremen Waters of Life. Perhaps to become a Great Necromancer the 'mancer must be bitten by a zombie (or infected some other way) suppress the virus, then cure itself. After this the more powerful abilities are available. This would give a fluff and mechanical separation for lesser necromancers.

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    Some more notes as I think of them:

    Cold-blooded Survival: Everything is potentially contaminated. Survivors tend toward eating insects, lizards and steamed plants (steaming plants seems to purify them of the zombie virus, but it doesn't work on flesh. Insects and reptiles have something in their chemistry that breaks the virus down in their bodies, rendering it inert). All the fresh-water fish are dead and the surviving fish of the ocean have gone deep (deep-water pressure seems to suppress the virus from spreading, though it doesn't prevent infection). Anything mammalian is a gamble to eat; if it isn't already a zombie. Birds are a gamble too - though they're immune, they often carry the disease. By now, canned/preserved food has all been used, gone bad or become contaminated. Water has to be boiled, and a natural rain shower can contaminate everything it touches.

    The Survivors Are Hardy: Those that have lasted these fifteen years have done so by showing at least a passing resistance to contact with the virus. Small doses won't kill them, but a zombie bite, eating contaminated food or taking a bullet wound might just do them in. They'll certainly die and become zombies at some point, but they can survive by being careful from day to day.

    Reduced to Barbarism: It's been nearly fifteen years since factories have been in operation. Gas has evaporated or been siphoned into the vehicles of the road caravans, which have long run out of fuel. Coal hasn't been mined since the height of the plague and no one's brave enough to go into dark mines and get more (coal dust interferes with Necrotic pheromones making controlling or sending zombies into a mine a bad thing). Nuclear power plants were either shut down or have exploded from lack of maintenance. Steam power from wood can be dangerous, if you're burning infected wood. Wind, hydro and solar power are still in use - though most of the efficient generators were destroyed in the early years by those fighting for their control.

    Scavengers by Trade: With mass manufacturing mostly shut down, most things are either scavanged or made by hand. After fifteen years clothes that haven't been stored or maintained have begun to moulder; computers are worthless without power or connection to larger systems (the internet); cell phones don't work (the satellites are in place, but the ground systems are all down); radios and tvs don't get receptions (towers aren't broadcasting) and vehicles are mostly useless (out of gas or no horses to pull 'em - if the roads were clear).

    But there's Plenty of Ammo: If you can find it. There once was enough ammo for every man, woman and zombie - and when the Apocalypse hit, the gun factories (before they stopped working) nearly multiplied that by a factor of 10. A lot of it got used up in the last fifteen years, but there's plenty of ammo still about that hasn't been shot off yet. And its one of the few things that can stop a Necromancer cold in his tracks.

    Safety In Numbers, But Not Too Many: Attempting to survive alone is likely to end in madness or being overwhelmed by the dead if you let down your guard but a second. Having a couple people around helps you keep sane and lets you do your business while someone watches your back. But large numbers attract zombies - or all it takes is one individual to get infected and no one else notices to cause everything to go downhill.
    "If it has stats, we can kill it." - T.G. Jackson, intro to 3rd ed Hackmaster

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    Quote Originally Posted by Razjah View Post

    Did I miss one, that is only 8 Necromancers.
    'Doh! Well, um ... remember Antarctica? Well, he's the hidden one ... with a factory - and a master plan on the other 8.

    Also, lots of good ideas. I really like the idea that the great Nine have been infected - and overcome it in some way (or are attempting to overcome it - kind of like the Dragon Kings of Dark Sun and the path of the Dragon).
    "If it has stats, we can kill it." - T.G. Jackson, intro to 3rd ed Hackmaster

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormonu View Post
    Some more notes as I think of them: <snip for length>
    Cold Blooded- Interesting, I think people (if they can settle ab bit) would domesticate some reptiles, or at least have farms for reptiles to support themselves. Scurvy would be a real threat with a low amount of fruits and veggies, especially with the rain itself contaminated. I would say ground water is contaminated, most of the ground is, but rain is okay if you keep it off plagued land. Maybe you can say that the plague is stopped by salt water. That at least can be boiled, and would allow some fishing for people- fish is a massive diet staple for most of the world, saying all the fish are dead or in deep water (with no deep sea equipment is rough).

    Hardy- good

    Barbarism- nice, but have people lost building? What about working leather? Sure eating a cow, bull, bison, etc is a bad idea, but can the hide be worked into a leather? I hope so, or else people are cold and naked. Leathers, furs, some remaining denim, canvas is study that could still be around. This at least gives some clothes options.

    Scavengers by Trade- Fallout!

    Ammo- good, and you seemed to take the places with less guns into consideration saying that factories everywhere were going into overdrive. This helps prevent stuff like "Find a .22 and train to aim for the head" possible in places that have few to no guns.

    Numbers- How ruined do you want the world? The Necromancers can provide a good deal of stabilization and safety to the remaining humans. Are there any towns left or is it mostly roaming groups in the Necromancer's Territory?

    You said the cities have collapsed, are there places like Melbourne and Africa where people can make small communities to support each other?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Razjah View Post
    Cold Blooded- Interesting, I think people (if they can settle ab bit) would domesticate some reptiles, or at least have farms for reptiles to support themselves. Scurvy would be a real threat with a low amount of fruits and veggies, especially with the rain itself contaminated. I would say ground water is contaminated, most of the ground is, but rain is okay if you keep it off plagued land. Maybe you can say that the plague is stopped by salt water. That at least can be boiled, and would allow some fishing for people- fish is a massive diet staple for most of the world, saying all the fish are dead or in deep water (with no deep sea equipment is rough).
    Thinking about it, large bodies of water would probably be safe - seas and the great lakes probably being the best example. The aquafiers around big cities were probably contaminated at one time, but they've had about 10 years to recover. Small personal wells as well as rivers and creeks are potentially dangerous and may have "stagnated". Swamps may be breeding grounds for the virus. You probably don't want to visit New Orleans...


    Quote Originally Posted by Razjah View Post
    Barbarism- nice, but have people lost building? What about working leather? Sure eating a cow, bull, bison, etc is a bad idea, but can the hide be worked into a leather? I hope so, or else people are cold and naked. Leathers, furs, some remaining denim, canvas is study that could still be around. This at least gives some clothes options.
    Mammal-based clothing (leather, wool) is probably out if not from active contamination, then the fear of contamination. Similar for plant-based clothing (cotton). Most cattle were domesticated, and probably died or went zombie within the first three months of the distaster. The remaining were probably either shot preemptively, eaten or otherwise destroyed. Zombie cows (or worse, bulls) are a handful, and they ain't passive. Finding a surviving cow would be a holy grail sort of event.

    Reptile hide is probably the best material for making clothes - comsidered resistant to contamination (whether true or not). Gator hide would be a luxury, as you got to go to swamps to collect it (see above). I doubt any pre-apocalypse gator farms would have survived.

    And then there is the question of skill - not many people know how to make their own clothing. Some will pick it up, but most will probably try and get by with whatever they can find in abandoned stores and whatnot; the question is, after 15 years, how much of that stuff hasn't yet been raided?




    Quote Originally Posted by Razjah View Post
    Numbers- How ruined do you want the world? The Necromancers can provide a good deal of stabilization and safety to the remaining humans. Are there any towns left or is it mostly roaming groups in the Necromancer's Territory?

    You said the cities have collapsed, are there places like Melbourne and Africa where people can make small communities to support each other?
    I'm thinking that average population is about 5 living individuals per square mile in a "populated" area. A town would be astonishing to have a population of 100; even more exciting would be if there was someone under 15 years old (i.e., born during the apocalypse and has survived).

    Existing cities and towns are mostly shells; there'd be a few scavengers brave enough to stay but they seem to attract zombies in hordes. Planned communities are also shunned for the same reason. Most survivors have set themselves up in a single house in a generally rural area or have retaken a small walled community of some sort with the aid of a necromancer. Necromancers still have to sleep, and most can't control or influence the dead while they do so, so any undead under their control have to be safely locked away or isolated during a rest period.

    The great Necromancers don't seem to ever lose control over the dead, so they can support larger populations. Most (with perhaps the exception of the African and South American Necromancers) have recover a portion of a major city for their subjects to dwell in. However, their population is probably only a few hundred and concentrated in only a fraction of the former city's area.

    Melbourne's population might be over 1,000 and growing - it's probably the largest concentration, though there's rumors that China's Necromancer has a tri-city area he controls that may be in the neighborhood of 5,000 living souls spread over the area.

    No one's really sure how many folks there who have taken up a nomadic life to follow the dwindling supplies and keep ahead of the zombies. Most nomad groups have 10 or less members; a few survivors of the former caravan and biker gangers (who are now either on foot or have managed to somehow retain mounts - formerly wild mustangs and camels mostly) can't support groups much larger than 50 individuals. Some even hold lotteries when they acquire stragglers to see which new members are allowed to join in the group (some groups are even kind enough to not kill those who lose the lottery).

    Most nomads don't have Necromancers; if they did, they probably would be able to settle down and "clear" an area for their use. Further, many nomads have a hatred or distrust of Necromancers for one reason or another - ranging from fear, prior betrayal or mistrust or even prejudice of them being unnatural or in league somehow with the zombies or the conspiratoral forces that created the apocalypse.

    Also, I'd been thinking that some places (namely Europe) took a nuke or two in the early madness and attempt to contain the outbreak - with London and Paris both being craters (and hinting at where things may have started).
    Last edited by Stormonu; Tuesday, 13th November, 2012 at 05:14 PM.
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    Well I would definitely want to game in this setting.

    As for the clothes, I think learning to make clothes becomes important when winters hit, times get hard, and everything is breaking down.

    Overall this looks good, you ideas don't seem unreasonable, and plausible enough that I wouldn't see players questioning a lot.

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    Finding a surviving cow would be a holy grail sort of event.
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