Here are four spells to form the foundation of effects to be found in a necromancer’s Grimoire for Ars Magica. I’ll be adding more spells with a creepy dead flavour as time goes on (this is the first in a 6-7 post series), but for now here are “must have” necromantic revisions to some core spells.
This first effect is a cosmetic spell used to make the animated dead look, sound, and particularly smell far better than it really does. The target could be made to look like almost anything, but I like the idea that the dead walk as if they are lepers – as it’s better that people keep their distance. It’s not strictly a necromantic effect but it is a spell that makes using necromancy in the wild far easier.
It’s different than the core MuIm spell Disguise of the Transformed Image so that the necromancer only needs to alter it when the dead is reanimated each month.
Disguise of the Leprous Vagrant
Muto Imagonem 15, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual
Changes the target’s sight, sound and smell images to any almost passable human for the duration of the spell.
(Base 3, +1 Touch, +3 Moon)
The core spell for animating a corpse with rudimentary intelligence has a duration of Year which makes it a ritual. That’s vis inefficient when the these servants are likely to get permanently damaged, and makes each casting very expensive.
Its better to reanimate monthly without spending vis. Better too to raise the body of another without having to touch the target corpse; I’m picturing a soldier fighting next to an ally only to see them rise as an opponent.
The Walking Servant
Rego Corpus Mentem 35, R: Voice, D: Moon, T: Individual
Turns a corpse into a nearly mindless servant that can follow your simple verbal commands faithfully but unimaginatively. Unless the corpse is preserved with Charm Against Putrefaction or the equivalent, the body decays normally, but even a skeleton can be animated.
(Base 10, +2 Voice, +3 Moon, Mentem req free)
There should also be an option to command the animation via a Mentem sub-effect within the Walking Servant, however that makes the spell very high level, and it’s really not very hard to send commands to a servant; living or dead.
Words of Unbroken Tranquility
Creo Mentem 15, R: Sight, D: Concentration, T: Individual
This spell allows the caster to speak directly into the mind of the target for as long as they concentrate.
(Base 3, +3 Sight, +1 Concentration)
Lastly every necromancer knows that finding raw materials can be difficult. Instead Ars Magica gives the option in the base spell guidelines for the creation of a corpse. I love that. That’s tacit support for necromancy built right into the game.
Conjure the Remains of Man
Creo Corpus 25, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual
Creates a corpse of up to size +1, with an appearance subject to the desires of the caster. Matching to a specific individual is possible with a successful Finesse check of 12+, with an optional familiarity adjustment between +/-3 depending on how well the caster knows the subject.
(Base 5, +1 Touch, +3 Moon)
Lastly a point for design consideration: many of the necromancy effects which follow in this set of blog posts are Rego spells and also have medium to long durations.
A more ecconomical way to create these spells is to set their Duration to Concentration and use a specialised version of Maintain the Demanding Spell with a Sun or Moon modifier. In terms of character design a beginning character who takes this approach ends up looking like a Rego Vim specialist and not a necromancer. It’s an approach I really like for older wizards, but felt like a bit of a distraction when taking about the spells themselves.
Also consider that the version of Maintaining the Demanding Spell:Moon will affect another spell of its level -15, which when chosen for level 20-25 effects means a level 40 ReVi spell. That level is very high for a new wizard.