Necromancy spells, part 1

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.

Magical device: Libram of Imaginary Pages

A quick idea for an item which would be useful in the lab to assist with cost savings on upkeep and also an Imaginem specialisation. 

Libram of Imaginary Pages

(Lesser enchanted device: Cr/Mu/Re/Im 30)

The libram appears to be a piece of treated oak carved to look like a very small closed notebook. Upon command the libram will create an illusory sheet of writing paper, which can be used to scribe notes. Created as a level 25 spell effect, modified for +5 levels to allow 24 uses per day.

An Imaginary Page

Creo Imagonem / Muto / Rego 25, R: Touch, D: Moon, T: Individual

The virtual paper includes a tactile illusion so that slight resistance is felt by the writer when being changed. When written upon the illusion reacts to the motions of the writing implement, so that ink is not needed to write on the surface.

The illusory pages can be moved about or placed in mid air, and altered as pleases the writers just like a normal piece of paper. The illusory pages can be created in three sizes: note/palm sized, large book sized, and table sized.

(CrIm base 2 for visual and tactile illusion, +1 Touch, +3 Moon, +1 can be moved around, +1 intricate text and drawings, +1 changeable image)


Sub Rosa issue 18 released


SubRosaCover18The Ars Magica fanzine Sub Rosa #18 has just been published. This issue focuses on magical and mundane beasts, and rather than just being a list of stat blocks it contains background, story threads, abilities, creation rules, and all sorts of extra content for story guides to use in Ars Magica sagas.

The issue also contains a short story, a detailed write-up on advancing a magus using the Intangible Assassin style, and an alternative way of generating Shape and Material bonuses. Issue 18 is 128 pages long, so very good value.

Of particular interest to me is the custom spells offered as part of the Advancing the Intangible Assassin article. I love new spells.

An excellent issue, well worth a read.

Seamus the Red, a companion. Sample Ars Magica Character


A cold and bloodthirsty mercenary leader, who with his warband acts as muscle for hire.


Characteristics: Int 0, Per +1, Pre +2, Com 0, Str +2, Sta +2, Dex 0, Qik 0
Size: 0, Age: 45 (45), Gender: Male
Decrepitude: 0, Warping Score: 0 (0), Confidence: 1 (3)
Virtues and Flaws: Improved Characteristics, Mercenary Captain, Social Contacts (the Order), Unaffected by the Gift, Wealthy, Well-Traveled (50/50), Unaging, Puissant Single Weapon, Ambitious, Bloodthirsty, Continence, Favors (a Lord tba), Infamous, Magical Animal Companion (Dog, Size: -2, Might: 12) [Size: -2]

Reputations: Cold 1, Humourless 2, Bloodthirsty 4 (?)

Abilities: Animal Handling 1 Area Lore: Area Lore: Scottland 2 (backways), Area Lore: Ireland 2 (holdfasts), Area Lore: England 2 (backroads), Athletics 2 (running), Awareness 3 (alertness), Bargain 4 (warbands), Carouse 1 (staying sober), Chirurgy 2 (binding wounds), Church Lore 1, Combat: Bows 3 (Bow, Long), Brawl 5 (Dodge), Crossbows 1 (Point Blank), Great Weapon 4 (Pole Axe), Single Weapon 8+2 (Sword, Long), Thrown Weapon 2 (Knife, Throwing), Concentration 1 (in combat), Etiquette 2 (the Order), Folk Ken 2 (peasants), Guile 3 (non-commital answers), Hunt 4 (people), Intrigue 2 (alliances), Languages: English 1, Gaelic 5 (being polite), Irish 2, Welsh 2, Leadership 5 (in combat), Order of Hermes Lore 1, Ride 3 (battle), Scribe 1, Soldier 2, Stealth 2 (shadowing), Survival 2 (wilderness), Swim 2 (staying afloat), Teaching 3 (Single Weapon).

Fearg, a Bloodhound
Magic Might: 15 (Animal)
Characteristics: Int +1, Per +2, Pre -4, Com 0, Str +2, Sta +2, Dex +2, Qik +2
Size: 0
Season: Spring, Confidence: 1 (3)
Virtues and Flaws: Affinity with Brawl, Improved Characteristics*, Long-Winded (Fatigue Rolls: +3)*, Magic Animal, Puissant
Brawl, Sharp Ears (Hearing: +3)*, Tough (Soak: +3), Reckless*, Wrathful

Qualities and Inferiorities: Gift of Speech, Greater Power × 2: 100/100, Improved Abilities × 2 (+100 exp), Improved Damage ×2 (Bite: +6), Improved Defense × 1 (Dodge: +2), Personal Power × 3: 60/75
Personality Traits: Reckless +3, Loyal +3, Brave +2
Reputations: Loyal (Local) 2

Bite: Init: +2, Attack +11, Defense +9, Damage +9
Dodge: Init: +2, Attack –, Defense +11, Damage —
Soak: +5
Fatigue levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties: -1 (1-5), -3 (6-10), -5 (11-15), Incapacitated (16-20), Dead (21+)
Abilities: Athletics 4 (distance running), Awareness 4 (keeping watch), Brawl 4+2 (Dodge), Concentration 1, Gaelic 2 (Profanity),
Hunt 4 (track by scent), Stealth 1 (+2, 2), Survival 1 (Moors), Swim 1
Encumbrance: 0 (0)

Invulnerability to Metal (Personal: 45), Points: 0, Initiative: Qik-3, Form: Terram, Range: Per, +0, Duration: Sun, +2, Target: Ind,
+0, Level: ReTe30, Design: 30 levels, Base 5, +2 Sun, +1 constant, +2 affect metal, -3 Might cost

Nose of the Bloodhound (Greater: 40), Points: 0, Initiative: Qik-2, Form: Corpus, Range: Arc, +4, Duration: Conc, +1, Target: Ind,
+0, Level: InCo25, Requisite: Animal, Design: 25 levels, Base 3, +4 Arc, +1 Conc, +1 scent acts as Arcane Connection, -3 Might cost

Shadow Form (Greater: 60), Points: 0, Initiative: Qik-2, Form: Animal, Range: Per, +0, Duration: Diam, +1, Target: Ind, +0, Level:
MuAn35, Design: 35 levels, Base 30, +1 Diam, -4 Might cost, +1 Initiative cost

Sleep with Eyes Open (Personal: 15), Points: 0, Initiative: Qik-1, Form: Animal, Range: Per, +0, Duration: Sun, +2, Target: Circle,
+0, Level: ReAn10, Design: 10 levels, Base 3, +2 Sun, +1 constant, -1 Might cost