As the title implies, Necromancy: Beyond the Grave focuses on the necromancy school of magic, and more specifically, the arcane spellcasters who use it. As with many publishers, Mongoose has noticed the deficiency in the ability of the d20 system to replicate the popular archetype of a "master of the undead" type character. Their solution, however, is modestly different than any that I have seen to date. The cover is dominated by a color picture of a horde of zombies emerging from a graveyard, with a female necromancer in the distance. The interior of the book is black and white.
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As the title implies, Necromancy: Beyond the Grave focuses on the necromancy school of magic, and more specifically, the arcane spellcasters who use it. As with many publishers, Mongoose has noticed the deficiency in the ability of the d20 system to replicate the popular archetype of a "master of the undead" type character. Their solution, however, is modestly different than any that I have seen to date. The cover is dominated by a color picture of a horde of zombies emerging from a graveyard, with a female necromancer in the distance.
The interior of the book is black and white. The interior artwork is generally poor, a step down from Demonology: The Dark Road. The best art is by Chris Quillaims, who is underused here just as he is in other Mongoose products. Quilliams does great work on the inside covers, but most of the art that is between the covers looks rather amateur and unattractive.
Additionally, one illustration struck me as rather lewd. The font size is slightly above average, as the use of space could be slightly better. Also worth noting, the price of Necromancy: Beyond the Grave is almost a dollar more than Demonology: The Dark Road, which has the same page count. A Deeper Look Necromancy: Beyond the Grave is divided into a number of sections, though it does not have quite the plethora of sections as in Demonology: The Dark Road.
The first section is an introduction describing the nature of the book. The second section is entitled Necromancy - an Overview. It sets forth the game world theory that is both a conceptual exploration of the game concept of the art of necromancy and a basic idea from which other parts of the book will draw. The book purports that when a living being dies, there is a release of negative energy that can have certain effects and can be harnessed by a necromancer.
The third section is entitled To Pass Beyond the Grave. It details three new Knowledge skills - anatomy, necrology, and spirit lore. More significantly, it includes three new prestige classes: - Spectral Loremaster: The spectral loremaster is a spellcaster that gains knowledge from spirits. His abilities focus around the gathering of information from spirits.
She can use this energy to enhance her spellcasting ability. The necrophage can graft body parts from dead creatures onto himself or others. This graft can often grant special abilities. It seems to me, however, that the graft system should have been a little more explicitly limited: for example, by using a variant of the item creation system or more simply limiting the number of grafts a necromancer may have in effect at one time.
Yet this is probably a good thing. Furthermore, by not going the obvious route, Mongoose has come up with more unique character ideas than they might have otherwise. Mongoose, though, does appear to share the feeling of those other publishers that arcane spellcasters deserve access to greater ability to animate and control undead. Mongoose does that not by a specialized prestige class, but by expanding on the selection of arcane necromantic spells in the next section, entitled Necromantic Spells.
The Necromantic Spells section provides a variety of new spells for the school of necromancy. Some of these are undead creation spells that are more basic than the animate dead spell for neophyte necromancers: animate animal 0-level, animates one tiny animal skeleton or zombie ; animate skeleton 1st-level, animates a skeleton of medium size or less ; and animate zombie 2nd-level, animates one zombie of medium size or smaller.
Each of these only allows the necromancer to animate one corpse at a time, and if that corpse is destroyed it cannot be animated again. I wonder if Mr. Sprange had been playing much Diablo II when he wrote this book. On the other end of the spectrum are spells such as raise death hulk calls a sunken ship to the surface, complete with undead crew , raise death fleet think mass raise death hulk , and raise city.
These are the sorts of high-level spells that you would expect to be in the arsenal of a master necromancer. These spells have a significant XP cost: 10 xp per skeleton or xp per ship. I can understand why you would not want a necromancer blithely casting these spells, but the cost still seemed a little steep to me. A GM would be well advised to reduce these costs, make judicious use of the power component rules in the DMG which could provide the dingus for a campaign , or both.
All in all, there is plenty here to make necromancer characters more sinister - or to protect against their undead minions. The book uses another method to expand on the options available to necromancers: feats. The Necromantic Feats section introduces a new class of feats. Necromantic feats are fairly powerful, but the book proposes to balance them by making hazards inherent to their use.
Whenever a necromantic feat is used, there is a chance that the energies use fly out of control. The character can suffer a variety of effects often associated with necromancers.
At best, this constitutes simple consequences such as causing unease in people or animals. On the other end of the spectrum, it can be insanity, attribute loss, or even acquiring an undead state. From the standpoint of game style and feel, I think this is a wonderful mechanic. It reintroduces the creepy "touch of darkness" type of effect that afflicts necromancers in other game material or literature.
I am uncertain, however, that the drawbacks associated with these feats are sufficient to pay for the powers that some of them convey. Some examples of necromantic feats are: - Command Undead: Allows the character to rebuke and command undead as a cleric of half her character level.
Some necromantic feats are very powerful and relatively easy to acquire. At the very least, many necromantic feats should be given stiffer prerequisites or toned down. The requirements outlined here are a bit more demanding than the requirements listed in the Monster Manual. Not only is the bar raised on feat and skill requirements even to attempt the transformation, but the chances of even the most intelligent would-be lich surviving the transformation are rather low.
Given this, the section appears to be of an informational nature for GMs, as only the most risk-tolerant players will fiddle with the idea of lichdom given these rules. After the section on lichdom is a short section introducing new magic items.
The magic items vary in power from the single-use bloodied onyx, which grants undead creatures regeneration if they are animated using the onyx as a material component, to a major artifact called the black banner, which grants the user great power to animate and control undead. A section entitled Help for Games Masters attempts to highlight some of the pratfalls that a GM may stumble upon in this book.
This book is nowhere near as edgy as Demonology: The Dark Road, so perhaps this section is less productive. Mostly, it warns of - and makes apologies for - the rough spots in the book, primarily the campaign style and balance issues that may come from allowing a player to run a character than can command undead creatures. The Minions of Undeath section introduces a number of new undead creatures.
The primary theme here seems to be undead that arise under specific circumstances. For example, the burning ghat is an innocent that died from being put to death by flames, and the bone delver is a grave robber that died while about his larcenous profession. Unlike the old death knight, there are no references to involvement with infernal lords. This death knight is more purely a creature of undeath, complete with an undead mount called a grave mount.
Summary It seems that with this book, Mongoose is finally getting their footing. The book is much better organized than their previous effort in the Encyclopedia Arcane series, and it seems to strike a better balance between exposition, flavor text, and game material. Furthermore, the game material appears to be less likely to wreak havoc on your game than that of Demonology: The Dark Road if introduced without a heaping spoonful of GM restraint.
More importantly, the ideas presented have an interesting feel. The necromantic feats are a little mechanically edgy to me, but they appear as if they would add a certain appropriate undeathly feel to necromancers.
Encyclopaedia Arcane: Necromancy
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Necromancy: Beyond the Grave
There follows 15 pages of new necromantic spells from the 0-level Animate Animal to the 9th level Raise Death Fleet, though most spells are fairly low-level and 8 pages of encycloaedia energy side effects such as Stench of Death and Eater of the Dead and new necromantic feats such as Animation By Touch and Empower Undead. The cover is dominated by a color picture of a horde of zombies emerging from a graveyard, with a female necromancer in the distance. At best, this constitutes simple consequences such as causing unease in people or animals. Although this is something that would never be used in my game players as liches — no chance! The next section, Lichdom 3 pagesdetails the process of becoming a lich. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.