Can I see your Necromancers?

Hello all,

After a summer off, the fourth year of our Saga is about to begin.

Two new players look to be joining us, and one has inquired about a necromancer.

That said, two items...

  1. Does anyone have a necromancer character on hand that I could look at to give us a bit of inspiration? Or perhaps some necromancer-appropriate spells, etc.?

  2. I'm trying to figure out if a Hermetic necromancer has been covered in detail in the Ars Magica 5th books, outside of some spells in the House Tremere section of True Lineages.

Hm... seems like I had a third point, but I'm blanking out right now.



To speak the truth, as I see it, necromancers in Ars are, in a way, limited, in that these are "true" necromancers, not DnD/WoW/Whatever -like necromancers casting "touch of death" spells coming from a general "Death" domain. Thus, I see their spells are belonging to a pretty limited repertoire.

So, I'd say:

  • Spells to animate corpses
  • Spells to speak with ghosts, both formulaic and ritual (See LoH for the excellent distinction between the two)
  • Spells to summon ghosts
  • Spells to command ghosts
  • Spells to create corpses
  • Spells to make ghosts solid
  • Spells to destroy corpses
  • Spells to destroy ghosts

That's most of it, IMO.

Well, this may sound dumb but what do you mean by Necromancer? Are you looking for someone who animates corpses and commands squads of undead grogs? Are you looking for someone who raises and binds ghosts? Are you looking for someone who speaks with the dead?

In addition to HoH: True Lineahes, Ancient Magic has good rules of Canaanite Necromancy ( and you could easly rule that these powers have already been integrated into Hermetic theory, perhaps as a Mystery). Mysteries Revised has rules for Spirit Magic, which can be applied to someone binding ghosts and robbing them of their power to fuel enchantments.

Indeed, that much has been put forth to the player - I think he knows what he is getting into.

He's mainly interested in playing a fairly antisocial wizard, and dealing with ghosts, with the odd animated skeleton lab servant etc.

No "Negative Energy Blast" has as yet be noted, though I stand ready to correct that. Perdo Corpus I'm more interested in seeing... :wink:


You misunderstand me, but maybe it's my fault for not being clear.

You can design spells that look like what other-game "death" spells would look like. But this isn't necromancy, won't be helped by focus/potency, and you could just as well develop a PoF and call it "negative blast of unholy flame".
To me, when you ask about a necromancer, you ask about "spells that could be fitted into a focus in Necromancy" (Note also that, for some GM, even some of my spells above would be off-limits).

Sorry to be contrary, but I do understand you, but may have obfuscated my understanding. The necromancy Focus, and spells dealing with the dead, be they bodies or ghosts, are what we're focusing on. Though the player has a D&D background, I've noted the difference to him.

He may have an offensive Perdo Corpus spell, but it will likely have no connection to his Focus.


If you want, I have an archmagus NPC specialist of Necromancy. However he is quite powerful (as any archmagus his age should be...) but basically, his spells fall in the categories mentionned before.

You might also consider Tytalus. They have a group of necromancers within their house. It's somewhere in HoH:S, but I don't remember the spot, just that it's close to the binding and at least mostly on the right-hand side of the binding.

I also highly recommend Spirit Familiar if he's going to have a focus involving ghosts or something similar. Alternatively, one of my friends is going to be playing with a revenant of his brother that he wants to bind as his familiar after some research.


If you want an example, I can try to dig one out.
But the essence is covered excellently above.

Hm, I will check up on those book references.

ExarKun and Tellus - I'd love to see your necromancers!

Thank you!


I had to do this recently.

The main diff is in the game world, the fact that all AM magic must fit one of the 10 Forms, and the quality that makes something "undead" doesn't easily. Plus "negative energy" is simply not a concept in AM (in the core rules, anyway).*

Further, many serious undead in AM could fall into the "diabolic" Realm, and so anything short of destroying them could easily be a breech of The Code.

(* I suppose, just as Light and Dark fall under Ignem, you could Houserule it into the PeVi area - but that would be going way outside the box. It's doable, just nothing in RAW to even base it on.)

Sended you a PM Vrylakos.

I hope you will be interested in the character. (There may be errors/typos... I usually improve them when I play the NPCs, but that one has not yet intervened in our stories: he is just part of the 50 of magi I designed. for my game, in readiness for future adventures)

Interested by the NPC necromancer, too, if nothing but out of curiosity :blush:
Could you please send it to me?

Also, you might be interested in the spirit master in Legends of Hermes. Some of her spells and tricks might be applicable to ghosts, too.

An interesting idea would be to make a necromantic Criamon from the Path of Seeming with:

*Enigmatic Wisdom

Puissant Enigmatic Wisdom
Minor Focus: Ghosts
Spirit Familiar
Inscription of the Soul
Affinity Mentem
Other virtues to taste

The Path eventually gives Second Sight and Magic Sensitivity.

Spirit Familiar also has unique benifits for a ghost-oriented necromancer.

Inscription of the Soul allows the magus to 1.) Use his magic focus to instill powerful effects into his "ghost" talisman and his ghost familar and 2.) Use normal ranges when he "Passes through Seeming" (i.e. sends his ghost out wandering.)

Clear Thinker and Keen Vision (which also improves Second Sight rolls) also help when dealing with confusing ghosts, or devious demons.

Enigmatic Wisdom helps unravel the reasons for a ghost lingering on.

Also interesting story possibilities.

This magus believes that the restless dead offer unique insights into the Enigma. They lie on the threshold of eternal rest in harmony and the strife of the world, torn beings on the metaphysical edge of time and being.

Moreover, like the Donatores, he believes that it is a sacred duty to help the restless dead find their repose. He is Driven to aid the dead resolve their unsettled affairs.

Finally, he is gifted at questioning the dead to unravel greater mysteries entirely. He delights in investigating long-abandonned temples and tombs which are often, he believes, sites of great, unresolved frustrations of the long dead.

To this end he may have the Gentle Gift, to facilitate investigations amongst mundanes, or (my preference) a secondary specialty in imaginem and a strong array of mentem spells to allow him to operate from the shadows. The Thousand Unexpected Pages power, which allows him to peer into the past of inanimate objects, aids in his investigations and helps him to find Arcane Connections.

Probably the most gifted ghost-oriented necromancer alive, he believes that it is apt to summon the dead to help unravel the vexilations of the living. Several of the ghosts indebted to his aid have agreed to linger on a short while longer, to aid his continued ventures.

That's an interesting point. If you make an illusion and has the illusion interact with a mundane, do you avoid the Gift penalty to social interaction?

Yes, though that's a rather high-level spell. And risky.

I'd envision a maga who avoids contact with mundanes altogether, using Veil of Invisibility and distracting CrIm effects to draw attention elsewhere. Basically, she'd sneak around and try to avoid mundanes altogether. It is the dead which interest her; not the living.

She may have the minor virtue: Inoffensive to Magic and even Alluring to Magic to facilitate dealing with spirits, though. I can't remember whether the Gift impacts ghosts, but it does impact many other kinds of magical beings and spirits.

The gift affect anyone (mundane/gifted/might) unless:

  • parma
  • used to (15 years or +- 57 for blatant)
  • virtue "inoffensive to" by the gifted
  • virtue "unaffected by" by the other
  • God's will

Ghosts, being magical creatures, are affected. Read "inoffensive to animals" to see how magical animals would react to magi with the gift with or without that virtue (IIRC).

Anti-social necromancer you say?

In the Brunnaburgh Saga i played one of these by the name of Tenebrous Occultus Ex Criamon, a delightfully creepy chap.

If you search the forums for Tenebrous or even just posts by me you'll find a whole slew of spells, some necromancy related, some just creepy, that i developed for him.

He was a blast to play.

In retrospect, Criamon was a bad choice as they are much less evil and actively unpleasant than he was. A Tremere, Tytalus or Bonisagus would have suited better. My criamon ended up on the path of strife but it still wasn't terribly appropriate for his personality and he didn't progress far.

When the saga finally wound down, Tenebrous was travelling around on a flying animated horse's skeleton, had a pair of powerful invisible skeleton bodyguards (with touch range perdo corpus enchantments for combat), wielded a quarterstaff (his talisman) made of fused femurs with a headpiece made of a skull being held by a skeletal hand. Subtle he was not. He also had a tower set with bound ghosts as alarms, messengers and helpers.

One thing i would bear in mind is that if he can speak to ghosts, certain plot points become quite easy to resolve but this can be fixed by a little forethought and can even become very useful to the SG as a means of presenting information/plot to the players.

You'll probably also note that as a necromancer Mentem and Corpus will be focused on, possibly to the exclusion of other arts, as this plays to his strengths. You'll thus likely end up with a character good at reading/controlling minds and healing/teleporting as well since these abilities are too useful to ignore when you have the arts for them. It can help you to plan your games if you know this is where he will end up.

The Gift also does not affect mundane elements or otherwise "unawakened" entities.

Seems obvious, but it comes into play when interrogating a tree, or, if on the Path of Strife, speaking to flame or stone, or a Guernicus interrogating a necklace.

Criamon works well for strictly ghost-oriented necromancers, but not for walking-dead necromancers.

And, of course, it opens up the old "kill first, ask questions later" gambit for conducting investigations.