Ideas for Necromancer Citizens


Advice


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I'm looking for some creative help.

So, my PCs, in predictably unpredictable fashion, ran into some necromancers and decided to champion their cause rather than engage in the usual slaughter->loot algorithm.

Many drunken sessions later, this has resulted in them making their HQ this city of necromancers, and I could use some ideas for the leadership thereof. I have tentative ideas for councilors, but I'd greatly appreciate any additional ideas.

This is what I have so far:

Spoiler:

Dhampir cruoromancer–kind of runs the show; lots of enchantment/illusion supporting her necrepertoire
Tengu Bones Shaman–friendly but a weirdo; likes the party more than any of the others. Focuses on debuffs
Tiefling necroccultist–Indiana Jones x Harry Dresden; hard-on for archaeology/weird artifacts/paleontology (yes, there was an undead t-rex)
Human sorcerer(undead)–power-hungry jerk, PCs are unknowingly helping him become a lich
Dwarf spiritualist–total xenophobe with a Dedication phantom that is his way more friendly grandpappy

I'm basically just looking for some interesting character concepts to flesh out the city. Obviously, there's a necromantic theme, but any and all suggestions are welcome.

Some relevant house-rules:
Necromancy isn't intrinsically evil (but most people tend to assume it is)
Any source book is fine, and I'm open to third-party
Combat efficacy is largely irrelevant (assuming my rogue isn't a jerk), so the more fluff the better


How large a council do you want, and do you want other NPCs? (e.g. guy selling mystery kebabs who keeps making off-colour jokes about cannibalism.)


avr wrote:
How large a council do you want, and do you want other NPCs? (e.g. guy selling mystery kebabs who keeps making off-colour jokes about cannibalism.)

I think I'm actually satisfied with five on the council, though I'm willing to reconsider for a cool enough concept. I'm definitely in the market for other NPCs to flesh the place out, so any and all suggestions are welcome.

I realize it's rather a vague request, but I don't want to constrain it too much. Basically "there's a city of necromancers. What would be a cool thing/person you might see?"


I've always thought that to get a populous behind the idea of necromancy, the idea of not sending souls to the outer planes would be a big part of it.

"Here me people, the gods have been using your souls to feed there realms, to grow stronger. The only way we can stop there lust for our dead is to call back our loved ones. To keep them safe, we must Raise them all. Not only that, but we must keep our delusional enemies from letting there dead go."

A charismatic leader of the people would be a key figure.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

OK. Here's a few:

The kebab-seller makes a joke about cannibalism when he makes a sale. It's not true; there's nothing worse than roof rabbit in his produce. He's not a native, having run here to hide from a murder charge, and he's beginning to have a breakdown from all the nerve-racking necromancy around here.

An armorer has what appears to be a pair of skeletons dipped in metal standing guard outside her door. They are animated but the metal 'dip' is actually finely hammered steel, an advertisement of her skill.

A more successful street gang plays knucklebones with real humanoid knucklebones. The leader of the Knucks will pay in coin or more likely favours for knucklebones from the more exotic races.

The top of the wall about some rich person's manor seems to twitch occasionally. There are skeletons imbedded in the wall with only arms sticking out - the rich person doesn't bother having them controlled in any way, they're inclined to attack anything climbing over the wall without any such control.

A mill far away from any stream uses zombie power rather than water power. The zombies tend to wear out, but they provide power to his mill on command as long as they last. They wear out even faster when street urchins work out a scheme to get close enough to give one of them a push into the mill wheel of course.


An "orphanage" where zombie children shuffle around in grey uniforms. The Headmistress is a cleric who controls her charges with channeling negative energy. Visiting days are a grim parody of boarding school parents weekends...


A sewer magnate who uses skeletons to clean and patrol the sewers. Unfortunately he's greedy and short of money and has animated a few more skeletons than he can control, and there are occasional attacks on citizens, which the King of the Golden River tries to cover up. (Yes, he also gets money by ... processing ... the things that enter the sewer -- urine for tanners, sludge to fertilize the fields -- he's got fingers in way too many pies.

A couple of street-kid sorceror-necromancers that steal control of each other's undead dogs and sparrows. Sometimes they have packs following them around.

The wereshark druid in the bay who is getting really tired of all the undead body parts and fluids coming out of the streams and sewers and has plans to do something about it. These might involve lots of water elementals.

The ghouls in the graveyard who are starting to get hungry because everybody has been animating corpses instead of burying them. (Both of them are also clerics of a death goddess, though not very high-level; they think the proper ending of a funeral is a feast after the other attendees have all departed. They know a lot about the town history since they've been there from before it was a town, and might be inclined to share some useful knowledge as long as they're guaranteed a regular feast.)

The restaurant that serves blood pudding on a regular basis. (There are some bloody skeleton boars hung up on hooks in the basement who keep dripping into the cauldron...)


WONDERFUL. I do appreciate love for the less...accepted of the arcane fields of study. Particularly a community in which such things are so normalised.

As they should be.

The first step is most important of all. Trade and commerce. Undead can provide many forms of free labour and an untiring work force. More importantly, with no threat of death, they can perform otherwise dangerous forms of work without risk. Production can be round the clock. Task intelligent undead with managing positions. Strike pacts with necromancers for reanimation services and allowing for space in their necromantic repertoire for commercial purposes by making them shareholders in businesses.

Remember that creatures large and small can serve well as minions, and you should always consider how incorporating undead in day to day life can benefit the community. Burning Skeleton rats can serve in kilns, forges and baker ovens as an endless fire source. By providing tools for even the simplest of commoner to create their own burning or freezing skeletons, or simple services to bind such creatures to an owner, there can be a market for such wonders as fridges, household fuel-less ovens, heaters and stove-tops. Fast zombies make grand couriers, manual labour and draft animals.

And imagine.

Flesh made mobile can be made malleable. Imagine what incredible devices could be made from the untiring flesh of the dead stitched together and programmed accordingly. Factory lines crafted from roiling flesh. Vehicles created from necrografts. Household appliances enhanced with necrotic improvements. Buildings made partially of flesh and bone. Mortar made with animated muscle and marrow. Repairs and improvements to these goods simple through commonplace necromancy. The place of the tradesmen replaced by the subservient of darker gods. Artisans the workers of animation.

Yet we must ensure this economy can spur onward. Where will these raw materials come from? Simple. From imports, of course. When there is a market for bodies, there will be people looking to exploit and benefit. A new form of commerce, born from an influx of flesh merchants hawking corpses at dependable and discrete prices, will allow for this grand economy to flourish on an ever-flowing desire for fetid meat.

It all begins here. The Necro-Industrial age. Can you see it now?

Such consumption of flesh could make one sick.


*cough*

Anyway, I like the idea of incorporating undead in various but weird ways to improved mundane living. You don't even necessarily need to have it make sense rules wise. A community where this sorts of things are accepted should allow for deeper investigation into what can be accomplished through necromancy.

I'm particularly interested in how art and literature might change within such a community. Whether some undead are utilised in strange art projects and maybe even performances. Imagine a necromancy circus, for example. Or a museum where the skeletons of dinosaurs and other animals come to life for demonstration of how they might have moved in real life. Lots of places to explore there.


You know what I think you're missing? An expansionist militaristic sect!

It should be lead by a charismatic (but not maybe super smart, sounds like the main leader is brainy, opposition is good) person, someone who wants to spread their way of life, through war if necessary.

Perhaps one of the ways through which you acquire zombies is through poaching battlefields and this leader thinks said operations are shameful and beneath such mighty magic wielders to whom the world should bend at the knee.

They don't have to just be mustache twiddling evil though, they could believe that after war they could bring a Utopian society to the world.

I would make a bones oracle whose magic is particularly vicious, people who are touched by her dark energies have their skin rupture and tear (bleeding wounds), her very touch can be agony even without the use of spells (Deaths touch). I'm saying her because I see her as a her but it could easily be a he.

Also you need someone to mine Onyx, you could put the onxy mines in her families hands, that way the counselors are handcuffed, they have a need for her to be kept on her good side. Being charisma based her ability to channel would be more potent than any of the counselors so the threat of her seizing control of key undead is a real danger.This way the their is political unrest and a sense of drama in their society. The PCs can pick a side.

Woo hoo civil war


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A merchant who not-so-secretly works for a LG church located in a neighboring country. The churches Paladins have been so successful in combating evil menaces in the country that the church secretly purchases undead to release into the countryside in order to keep the paladins from getting bored.

You might also want to grab a copy of Hollowfaust: City of Necromancers, published by White Wolf as part of their Scarred Lands 3.0 setting. It's a LN city ruled by necromancers that steadfastly refuses to give the LG churches of the setting a reason to declare a crusade against it. You can get a PDF copy from DriveThru RPG for $9.00 currently.


A small but vocal group (with a nutty but charismatic leader) that agitates for rights for so-called "non-sentient" undead. Most of the group is living, there may be a few intelligent undead in it, though most intelligent undead are offended by the implication of equality between themselves and the unintelligent ones. (Think of freedom/equality movements on Discworld.)


Just, wow. There's not a single idea in this thread that I don't love. Thank you all so much. I'll reply to each individually, assuming I don't hit some post-overflow.

You guys are wonderful :D


Dr Styx wrote:

I've always thought that to get a populous behind the idea of necromancy, the idea of not sending souls to the outer planes would be a big part of it.

"Here me people, the gods have been using your souls to feed there realms, to grow stronger. The only way we can stop there lust for our dead is to call back our loved ones. To keep them safe, we must Raise them all. Not only that, but we must keep our delusional enemies from letting there dead go."

A charismatic leader of the people would be a key figure.

I'm not using standard Golarion cosmology, so outer realms are a bit less well-defined, but there's no reason the peasantry needs to know that!

I love the idea, and the resident jerk-wad sorcerer would make the perfect charismatic leader to convince the plebs to donate the corpses of their loved ones. It's a relatively new settlement, so there aren't a lot of leyfolk hanging around yet. It's mostly the necromantic elite and their mindless servants, but this is a great way to get "regular" folks on board.

Thank you!


avr wrote:

OK. Here's a few:

The kebab-seller makes a joke about cannibalism when he makes a sale. It's not true; there's nothing worse than roof rabbit in his produce. He's not a native, having run here to hide from a murder charge, and he's beginning to have a breakdown from all the nerve-racking necromancy around here.

An armorer has what appears to be a pair of skeletons dipped in metal standing guard outside her door. They are animated but the metal 'dip' is actually finely hammered steel, an advertisement of her skill.

A more successful street gang plays knucklebones with real humanoid knucklebones. The leader of the Knucks will pay in coin or more likely favours for knucklebones from the more exotic races.

The top of the wall about some rich person's manor seems to twitch occasionally. There are skeletons imbedded in the wall with only arms sticking out - the rich person doesn't bother having them controlled in any way, they're inclined to attack anything climbing over the wall without any such control.

A mill far away from any stream uses zombie power rather than water power. The zombies tend to wear out, but they provide power to his mill on command as long as they last. They wear out even faster when street urchins work out a scheme to get close enough to give one of them a push into the mill wheel of course.

*[kebabs] I love the kebab-seller; especially that he's not selling human flesh. I'm seeing a Gheed-from-Diablo-II kind of guy slowly realizing that he's in the s~~$.

*[metallo-skellies] The resident smith is actually a forge-mage (handwave magic blacksmith), but armor-coated skellies is a brilliant addition. He has an apprentice one of the PCs has a crush on, maybe she could surpass the master.

*[Knucks gang] I probably oversold it, calling it a city. The population is ~95% mindless undead. But, I expect it to expand, and that's a great idea for a street gang. Plus, I've already set a precedent for selling body parts (though whole corpses are worth more)!

*[Uncontrolled limbs] Oh, man. The utility of uncontrolled undead never even occurred to me. That's brilliant.

*[zombie mills] I actually had a zombie-powered mill already, but I never considered children (at all) let alone the hi-jinks they could get up to.

Thank you :D


quibblemuch wrote:
An "orphanage" where zombie children shuffle around in grey uniforms. The Headmistress is a cleric who controls her charges with channeling negative energy. Visiting days are a grim parody of boarding school parents weekends...

Nothing creepier than undead children. I have just the cleric in mind, and I could see her charging parents to see [what remains of] their children.


tonyz wrote:

A sewer magnate who uses skeletons to clean and patrol the sewers. Unfortunately he's greedy and short of money and has animated a few more skeletons than he can control, and there are occasional attacks on citizens, which the King of the Golden River tries to cover up. (Yes, he also gets money by ... processing ... the things that enter the sewer -- urine for tanners, sludge to fertilize the fields -- he's got fingers in way too many pies.

A couple of street-kid sorceror-necromancers that steal control of each other's undead dogs and sparrows. Sometimes they have packs following them around.

The wereshark druid in the bay who is getting really tired of all the undead body parts and fluids coming out of the streams and sewers and has plans to do something about it. These might involve lots of water elementals.

The ghouls in the graveyard who are starting to get hungry because everybody has been animating corpses instead of burying them. (Both of them are also clerics of a death goddess, though not very high-level; they think the proper ending of a funeral is a feast after the other attendees have all departed. They know a lot about the town history since they've been there from before it was a town, and might be inclined to share some useful knowledge as long as they're guaranteed a regular feast.)

The restaurant that serves blood pudding on a regular basis. (There are some bloody skeleton boars hung up on hooks in the basement who keep dripping into the cauldron...)

*[sewer magnate] Ooh, I love the idea of the, well, s&*#ty jobs being relegated to sub-par necromancers and that being a problem. I'd thought of the waste-as-fertilizer angle but forgot about urine's part in tanning, so thanks for that.

*[street kids] Equal parts creepy and adorable; I love it!

*[wereshark] There's no bay nearby, but there is a river. I could see some folk downstream getting ornery (not that they weren't already). Definitely room for accidental plagues, though.

*[ghouls] Currently, a certain percentage of imported corpses are earmarked for consumption, but that could easily shift based on politics, and using them as a potential source of intelligence is brilliant.

*[blood pudding] The party has been subsisting on nasty mushroom stew. I think they'd welcome literally anything else.


Sheness the Hollow wrote:

WONDERFUL. I do appreciate love for the less...accepted of the arcane fields of study. Particularly a community in which such things are so normalised.

As they should be.

The first step is most important of all. Trade and commerce. Undead can provide many forms of free labour and an untiring work force. More importantly, with no threat of death, they can perform otherwise dangerous forms of work without risk. Production can be round the clock. Task intelligent undead with managing positions. Strike pacts with necromancers for reanimation services and allowing for space in their necromantic repertoire for commercial purposes by making them shareholders in businesses.

Remember that creatures large and small can serve well as minions, and you should always consider how incorporating undead in day to day life can benefit the community. Burning Skeleton rats can serve in kilns, forges and baker ovens as an endless fire source. By providing tools for even the simplest of commoner to create their own burning or freezing skeletons, or simple services to bind such creatures to an owner, there can be a market for such wonders as fridges, household fuel-less ovens, heaters and stove-tops. Fast zombies make grand couriers, manual labour and draft animals.

And imagine.

Flesh made mobile can be made malleable. Imagine what incredible devices could be made from the untiring flesh of the dead stitched together and programmed accordingly. Factory lines crafted from roiling flesh. Vehicles created from necrografts. Household appliances enhanced with necrotic improvements. Buildings made partially of flesh and bone. Mortar made with animated muscle and marrow. Repairs and improvements to these goods simple through commonplace necromancy. The place of the tradesmen replaced by the subservient of darker gods. Artisans the workers of animation.

Yet we must ensure this economy can spur onward. Where will these raw materials come from? Simple. From imports, of course. When there is a market for bodies, there...

*[all of that wonderful stuff] I've considered the economic impact of an untiring workforce, but the incentive for other necromancers to come sign on somehow escaped me. This is a golden opportunity!

Currently, the city uses some pretty advanced spellwork to transfer heat; the catacombs are a walk-in freezer that keeps corpses fresh, and the stolen heat is used to power forges, heat homes, etc. Granted, it's a bit unstable, so there are the occasional explosions.

However, you've made me realize I haven't taken the concept far enough. Necro-industrial revolution is exactly where I wanted to go, and you've given me some delightful ideas on that front. Not to mention necrocraft.

As far as expansion, well, there are nearby settlements that aren't happy to have necromancers nearby, and they've been flinging paladins at us like mad. The council has also begun drawing up a trade agreement with a nearby city that has a "lucrative" battle-to-the-death arena...


Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:

*cough*

Anyway, I like the idea of incorporating undead in various but weird ways to improved mundane living. You don't even necessarily need to have it make sense rules wise. A community where this sorts of things are accepted should allow for deeper investigation into what can be accomplished through necromancy.

I'm particularly interested in how art and literature might change within such a community. Whether some undead are utilised in strange art projects and maybe even performances. Imagine a necromancy circus, for example. Or a museum where the skeletons of dinosaurs and other animals come to life for demonstration of how they might have moved in real life. Lots of places to explore there.

This cracked my skull wide open. I hadn't even considered the impact on the humanities. This society would necessarily look at death differently than most. Would there be ancestor worship? Would the undead be venerated or maligned?

Also, the phrase "imagine a necromancy circus" is going to force me to write a novel.


Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

You know what I think you're missing? An expansionist militaristic sect!

It should be lead by a charismatic (but not maybe super smart, sounds like the main leader is brainy, opposition is good) person, someone who wants to spread their way of life, through war if necessary.

Perhaps one of the ways through which you acquire zombies is through poaching battlefields and this leader thinks said operations are shameful and beneath such mighty magic wielders to whom the world should bend at the knee.

They don't have to just be mustache twiddling evil though, they could believe that after war they could bring a Utopian society to the world.

I would make a bones oracle whose magic is particularly vicious, people who are touched by her dark energies have their skin rupture and tear (bleeding wounds), her very touch can be agony even without the use of spells (Deaths touch). I'm saying her because I see her as a her but it could easily be a he.

Also you need someone to mine Onyx, you could put the onxy mines in her families hands, that way the counselors are handcuffed, they have a need for her to be kept on her good side. Being charisma based her ability to channel would be more potent than any of the counselors so the threat of her seizing control of key undead is a real danger.This way the their is political unrest and a sense of drama in their society. The PCs can pick a side.

Woo hoo civil war

*[:D] There's already some in-built conflict on the council, but civil war is a great idea. However, it's not a bones oracle but a bones shaman, and I want him (though now I'm thinking "her" [too many males on the council (though a female PC may rise to have a role)]) to be the most agreeable of the lot. However, all of what you said could work for the sorcerer who has already been established as a jerk.

Said sorc is built for bad-touch mayhem, and he's got the force of personality to rile people up. The Onyx mine idea is perfect, though. Do they choose to let a wanker run things (and thus ensure smooth running of their adoptive city) or do they stand up against him (and potentially jeopardize what they've worked to build)?


Son of the Veterinarian wrote:

A merchant who not-so-secretly works for a LG church located in a neighboring country. The churches Paladins have been so successful in combating evil menaces in the country that the church secretly purchases undead to release into the countryside in order to keep the paladins from getting bored.

You might also want to grab a copy of Hollowfaust: City of Necromancers, published by White Wolf as part of their Scarred Lands 3.0 setting. It's a LN city ruled by necromancers that steadfastly refuses to give the LG churches of the setting a reason to declare a crusade against it. You can get a PDF copy from DriveThru RPG for $9.00 currently.

Illicitly buying undead to train paladins...that's bonkers-awesome. Because the city is still developing, I hadn't even considered the sales of the undead. Definitely something to ponder.

And thanks for the reco. I'll definitely pick it up, though the neighboring territories have already started a few crusades :0


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
A small but vocal group (with a nutty but charismatic leader) that agitates for rights for so-called "non-sentient" undead. Most of the group is living, there may be a few intelligent undead in it, though most intelligent undead are offended by the implication of equality between themselves and the unintelligent ones. (Think of freedom/equality movements on Discworld.)

This is something I'd save for later in the city's development, but I love the idea. My players like the non-combat parts of play a lot, so I'm sure having them navigate that space would be great for them.

Also considering a necromancer who brings Terry Pratchett back from the dead :'[

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