The cover of this skin-bound book contains no words, but it does feature an accurate anatomical depiction of a human skull, sketched in dark pencil. The inscription on the inside is faded reddish brown, perhaps written in blood:
Necromancer's Primer Edit
~ by Markov the Blackfinger ~
Follow me if you will, on a journey to dark places where the veil between life and death is thin enough you can push and pull things across the barrier as if moving pieces on a chessboard.
This book is my journey. I leave it so that future scholar's can walk in the shadows where I've walked, so they can go even further.
To become the Necromancer is to know death, to love death, and to become death. Few mages and alchemists possess the stomach to practice this art. Far fewer possess the talent to master its secrets. Fortunate for you, I have put it all in this little volume.
Chapter I: On the Nature of Death and Undeath Edit
Special Note - To the considerate among you, a word of warning - when attaching yourself to a party of others for what appears to be the foreseeable future, always review the company's charter. There may be a specific DNA or DNCD attached ("Do Not Animate / Do Not Create Undead"). One should always be mindful of their company-mates final requests.
--Kolstiv the Amenable
On Dealing With Emissaries of Death Edit
Many a would-be lich has failed after drawing the ire of one of the many gods of death. For some, attempting to prolong your existence is equivalent to a slap in the face of their inevitability, and for others, it is effectively denying them of their right to your soul. The key is to make a deal, such as a promise to sacrifice peasants to them regularly. The trick is to reanimate the peasants after they have died, returning their spirit but not their soul, and adding to your horde.
Chapter II: Realms of the Dead and Undead Edit
Some Practical Advice on the Pitfalls of the Dead Realms Edit
As you journey through the nether regions there are many dangers that will seek to ensnare you. From the pomegranates of Sit'el to the necrotic mud of the Tómur Flats, there are many potential pitfalls for the unwary traveler. It is therefor of the utmost importance that one comes armed and forewarned of such dangers as there are few friendly passers by who will warn you of an dangers once you are on the other side. Upon my journey I came across a deep mist which descended upon me choking the life out of me. Fortunately I was able to escape this with the use of some string and a 3inch peanut shell. Another time as I stumbled the Totenwald I fell victim of a hungry blood oak who would have split my body and trap my soul in its dark hart were it not for my ill-fitting boots and a general lack of body hair. The point is that the uneducated traveler of death's domain is more far more likely to become a permanent resident. It is my hope that through the stories I have related you too will be able to visit the reams of mist and shadows, and live to write about it for the benefit of poor fools willing to pay 500 gold.
Preparing For Your Journey Edit
When planning a foray into the Realms of Shadow and Death, be sure to pack plenty of provisions. The dead do not eat nor do they need water. Water is plentiful in many of these realms, but it's not drinkable.
I made two journeys myself in life. The first was full of hard lessons. The second was quite fruitful.
If you've already completed your personal transformation, don't fail to provision any living travel companions you have. It can take weeks to walk from some of the crossings to any settlement. Even so, not all settlements will cater to living guests. Some denizens will react angrily. Or hungrily.
Chapter III: Speaking With the Dead Edit
Special Note - Doing the slightest amount of investigation prior to choosing your subject can result is so much avoidable aggravation. There is nothing more irritating than to spend your expensive and rare components to try to speak to someone only to later find out they had had their tongue ripped out prior to death... five minutes of incessant mumbling, whining, and a complete lack of ability to play charades has taught me much.
--Karabreth the Wiser
A note on communing with the dead - When conjuring a specific spirit without any physical remains it is of the utmost importance to be very precise with the name. It may come as a surprise to the newly initiated necromancer but there have been many many many people throughout history that have had the same or similar name, as I descovered to my great chagrin. I have yet to actualy speak to my great uncle the renowned sage Gustave von Ludetz but I have hope.
--Gustave von Ludetz the
III IV V ... XXIV XXV XXVI
Communing with Ghouls is less about speech, more about posture.
When first approaching a pack of Ghouls you must do so bearing a meal for them. Something exotic they would not usually eat. Ogre offers them feast, but Centaur I find works best.
The meal offered, you must now kill or beat the pack leader. They must cower before you. Best to not kill if possible, since this will leave to many ghouls fighting for pack supremacy.
Now you have there attention you may speak.
Deep growl - Threatens
Low hiss - Promises good things to come
Bark - Go, move, attack, act in some way.
Howl - Come, follow
Raspberry - Ghoulish joke
Offer food - Positive
Take food away - Bad (be warned, this can be very dangerous)
There is no exact science to communing with ghouls, I have barely began to scratch the surface in my research. With this knowledge you should easily be able to commune with any pack of these beasts.
Speak With Dead Edit
Like animate dead, the original casters of this spell were ancient tribal shamans whose names have been long since lost to memory. There are some scholars who contend that in the past the boundary between the Spirit Realm and the World was thinner, that both the dead and living could walk through it as easily as I can walk from my writing desk to my window. I have a hard time believing these ideas, but I cannot refute them.
i've found that mixing a pinch of dust from a talking bird's tombstone into your hot censer can loosen the dead subject's tongue just a touch, getting a few more words to pass it's decaying lips. Parrots and ravens are rarely given a ceremonial burial, so if you encounter a pet cemetery, be sure to gather some gravedirt, but not too much. That is, unless you want to risk a pack of snarling deathdogs on your heels, and a wretched mummified cat hanging about your house.
Notes on Uses
This works best when you know something about the corpse. But it's just as well for students to practice on unknown corpses. You only get a few words from a dead man, so on-point questions are key.
Chapter IV: Animating the Dead Edit
Special Note - If you are going to animate, then animate! There is nothing wrong with a nice veil to mask the foul odors of the recently deceased. Why not spruce up your minions a little, give them some flair! Necromancy is a dark art, but just because you play with the dead doesn't mean you need to kill the mood!
--Gunn, Sewer of Undeath
Animate Dead Edit
This spell is nearly as old as magic itself. When man first mastered control of magic, bringing loved ones back from beyond the veil was one of the highest goals. It was centuries before calling willing spirits to return to their mortal bodies could be done reliably. But animating the shambling corpse of a loved one was easy enough to create and, on the surface, could ease the grieving heart...
In the classification of spells, this spell is as much transmutation as necromancy. Prepare the appropriate oils and balms that give the dead flesh and bones the ability to move. No shred of the original person's thoughts or memories return to the corpse. It is a trick, a ruse, a wind-up toy that follows your instructions...
Notes on Uses
This spell is your life. You must master it, know it inside and out, and be ready to cast it at the drop of a body. I cannot tell you, the number of friends I've watched go into the meatgrinder, only to wind them up and send them back into the meatgrinder a second time, moments after their deaths...
Crawling Hands Edit
Minions and menaces
I never had much use for them. I met a quirky mage once who insisted on listening to dreadful organ music at all times in his laboratory. He had a pair of these that were trained in the musical arts. He claims that the hands came from a famous bard, but I am not so sure.
In deathtouched places, especially old jails where many thieves had hands removed, these things can reanimate on their own and attack in packs, scratching and clawing the living for no reason other than malevolence. Well-placed and well-contained, they could be useful at defending a location or slowing a foe's escape.
Chapter V: Commanding the Undead Edit
If the necessary measures aren't taken to completely remove past memories it can be exceedingly difficult to command even a small horde (army is a term gloating young necromancers throw around too liberally.) Many a horde have fallen into shambling masses to a ghoul of a city guard that kept just enough of its righteous and in charge mentality. I will admit that seeing ghouls line up to be searched is an entertaining prospect, though not entirely productive.
Though I've never seen it with one of mine own eyes, I have heard of ghouls retaining some of their . . . urges. Long story short, the sounds of a ghoulish orgy are supposed to be enough to drive even a practitioner of death to madness.
-Kosmandir, curator of all things obscene
Wrangling Ghouls Edit
Ghouls are particularly difficult to command and control. They maintain a streak of stubborn independence that zombies and skeletons do not. In my experience, it is better to lead a pack of ghouls with a trail of breadcrumbs—and by breadcrumbs, I mean live flesh—than it is to attempt to drive them. This limits your ability to deploy them tactics in mind among your undead horde, but a pack of hungry ghouls moving where you would like them to go is far better than a pack of hungry ghouls wandering aimlessly looking for flesh.
Chapter VI: Summoning Willful Spirits Edit
Special Note - "Willful" is a double entendre. A spirit may be willing to give you the secrets of the universe just as much as they are willing to provide you with the means of annihilating you and all your supporters in a greatly underestimated ritual. Know the difference!
--Peranidahla the Backstabbed
Chapter VII: Treating with Vampires, Liches, and Other Intelligent Undead Edit
Special Note - Every creature has their advantages and disadvantages. It never hurts to learn the proper etiquette for dealing with the darker denizens to allow for a more fruitful and beneficial encounter. Even in the least successful of interactions, it still beats dealing with lawyers.
--Arabel the Accussed
Interview with a Vampire Edit
Tip: Bring a gift of blood
It's a good idea to know your host. Find out what kind of blood he or she is particularly fond of feeding upon, and make a gift of it. Vampires' tastes vary widely. Some prefer male humanoids, others female humanoids, some prefer old blood, some prefer young blood, some prefer small dogs.
Be polite, and don't be pushy with your gift. Some vampires will have no appetite for prey they have not stalked and hunted themselves...
...although it must be said that forcefeeding blood to a reluctant vampire while screaming "Eat it! Eat it!" is a great intimidation tactic, assuming you can survive the experience.
Chapter VIII: Necromantic Artifacts and Items Edit
Skeletal Circlet Edit
An rare magic silver circlet. The circlet is a solid, unbroken ring with five decorative spikes. Upon placing it on your head, it constricts to fit. Over a few days the circlet slowly tightens, cutting off the blood flow to the top of your head. Strangely, the circlet never causes you pain, but eventually your scalp deteriorates and your skull becomes exposed. While wearing the circlet, your Strength score increases by 2 and your Intelligence score increases by 1.
Eye of the Necromancer Edit
This is a painful, but useful object. You must put out your own eye with a hot poker, preserve it by mummification, then animate it with a foul ritual (instructions below). The eye twitches a bit, but otherwise it doesn't appear to do anything. However, you can see what the eye sees as if it were still in your head (provided you didn't damage it too badly with the hot poker) wherever you are...
The Reaching Heart Edit
It's said that this ancient, withered heart was made by a desperate mage, ever so close to fulfilling his life's goal but even closer to his own death. Having studied dark arts but without the necessary time to pass into lichdom he was able to force his soul and spirit into his own heart, ceasing life in his own body but allowing his heart to remain. If touched by an unfortunate explorer or careless archaeologist their own heart is switched with the soul bound mage's and he forces soul of the weak willed from their own body to wander, forever lost and confused.
Perhaps the man's goal is finally complete, who would know?
Sanidor, the still-beating
Chapter IX: Rituals of Death and Undeath Edit
Ghoulflesh Scented Candles Edit
When you burn this candle, the smoky odor of roasting ghoulflesh fills the room, ideal for setting the mood for foul necromantic rituals, preparing volunteers for human sacrifice, and all manner of depraved acts involving corpses. The scent sickens any living creature that comes within 30 feet of the candle for 1 minute.
Preparing ghoulflesh scented candles is atrocious business. You melt the flesh of ghouls in an iron cauldron and mix, by weight, one part ghoulflesh with four parts wax. The scent of the preparation is nauseating, the use of a mask or scented handkerchief is recommended.
A variety of necromantic rites require sprinkling gravedirt over diagrams written in blood, smothering flames in gravedirt, or forcing it into the mouth, eyes, and other cavities of a corpse. Gravedirt collected from the resting places of powerful individuals can imbue rituals to raise undead with a host of powers.
- High priest's gravedirt. This gravedirt can imbue created ghouls, ghasts, and wights with the ability to withstand divine turning and makes them completely immune to the paltry effects of holy water.
- Murderer's gravedirt. This gravedirt instills superior skills at hunting down and slaying the living. Undead created with this type of gravedirt often have keen senses and a keen intuition with regards to tracking and stalking prey.
- Pet cemetery gravedirt. The uses are too many to name here. Each type of pet has uses. Finding properly marked pet graves is tiresome work, but it can be well worth the trouble.
- Pyromancer's gravedirt. This gravedirt can grant resilence against flames. In rare instances, it can even ignite a flame within the skull of an animated skeleton, allowing that skeleton to sling fire bolts or light its weapons aflame.
- Warlord's gravedirt. This gravedirt instills an extreme hatred of the living in the undead, even by undead standards. Death knights and wights created using murderer's gravedirt often become brilliant tactical leaders for the units within your undead horde.
- Virgin's gravedirt. This gravedirt can imbue all created undead with immunity to the holy words that turn lesser undead.
Gage's Gambit Edit
Resurrection Ritual (low success rate, cheap to perform...mostly)
"All these things he took on for love, when love would have left them in the dirt where they belonged. Gage never listened well."
- Deceased's corpse, intact
- A finger of a willing soul sickened by a Ghoulflesh Scented Candle
- One pound of Fallow Salt
- A pint of the ritual performer's own blood aged 3 nights in the light of the moon
- Cauldron made of brass, heated by coal from a caved in mine where at least 2 souls were sent "on vacation".
- "The Bellowing Baron" sung by the necromancer's familiar
Whilst singing the song bring the blood to a boil in the brass cauldron. Recite an earnest and brief prayer to an appropriately powerful source of necromancy, and offer up any leftovers to this entity. With the last word of this prayer slice off in a vertical descending blow the outstretched finger of a willing sacrifice. Let it fall into the now boiling blood and then perform the 7 dark-caller's rhymes as you toss the fallow salt into the cauldron. Wave away the musty spirits in the resulting smoke and stick your hand unafraid into the heat to withdraw a fistful of the resulting goop. squeeze this into the mouth of the deceased and hope they wake up in the next 10 seconds.
If they don't, put your ceremonial knife into their forehead and wiggle it around, for their complete soul does not heed your call, and the partial will only be enough to fool loved ones until they are slain by the partial undead you have created for them. You must do this quickly ignoring the pleas of the newly bereaved, every moment you wait a monster's creation comes nearer.
Chapter X: Potions and Poisons Edit
Nightmare Draught Edit
Sedative and mind-affecting poison
When consumed, this pale purple liquid prepared from nightshade oil (full recipe below) initially causes deep drowsiness. The subject falls asleep within an hour. The slumber is deep and lasts the better part of a day. While asleep, the subject's dream state is extremely agitated, thrashing limbs, moaning and screaming, heart racing, and breathing shallow. The subject suffers horrific visions of death and pain, that can be so intense as to shatter the subject's mind, rendering the subject mad or, in rare cases, outright killing them. The subject continues to suffer similar nightmares over the course of the rest of its life. It is not clear if the nightmares are less intense in subsequent iterations or if the subject's mind has become numb to the horror...