Hello. I'm fairly new to the game and I loved the idea of a Dhampir Necromancer specializing in the lost magic of the Canaanites. I'm mostly looking for advice on a fun and highly specialized build, and I'm more than willing to make him a mediocre magi to specialize as much as possible in necromancy.
I havn't worked out abilities and arts yet, as I intend to move onto that kind of stuff once I have my virtues\flaws decided. I have Major Magical focus, but it seems wasteful as his necromancy will almost certainly performed through his canaanite abilities. So I may drop that, but I can't think of anything to replace it with.
Not sure that you need the Major Supernatural Virtue. The Major Supernatural Virtue allows the character to duplicate certain sorts of "necromantic" Hermetic effects, the idea being that encompasses how the original, authentic, extinct (long pre-Hermetic) Canaanite Necromancers used their powers. However, your character is a Hermetic magus. So, he won't really gain much from the Major Supernatural Virtue. The Minor Hermetic Virtue gets him the special range, AC, etc.
I think I would drop the Major Supernatural Virtue Canaanite Necromancer --- which means you can take something else useful instead.
I found with making a necromancer that having a good idea of what you want to do with the necromancer is useful. Someone who wants to command armies of the dead is very different to someone who wants to bind ghosts as servants, and is different again from a Seeker who can speak with and summon the dead.
As Richard says, you don't need all the variations of Canaanite Necromancy. I'd also strongly suggest not starting with it, and instead earn it through play: either by doing an adventure based around the Ancient Magic content, or by initiating it as part of a mystery cult. The minor hermetic virtue is a dangerous one for a young necromancer to have - that +4 penetration bonus the ghosts have against you is a good reason why senior magi wouldn't teach it to junior magi until the juniors can prove they can defend themselves.
It should also be noted that I have issues with caanite necromancy (most of Ancient Magic, come to think of it) that others might share - be sure to get green light from your Troupe/SG before you use this
What would you recommend I replace it with? If I drop it I can lower my Com score as well as drop both "Affinity with Canaanite Necromancy (Minor General) - 1" and "Puissant with Canaanite Necromancy (Minor General) - 1" which would free up five virtue points. I suppose I could instead add Puissant/Affinity in Mentem and Corpus for 4, which when taking into account his Magical Focus could boost his spells somewhat.
What are the differences in mechanics between these flavors of necromancer? I had assumed that I would be able to make a mage that could do all of the above.
From what I understand, the ghost needs to have a penetration score to take advantage of this, which is unlikely.
That's why a few links to other necromancers was given.
But yes, Affinity+Puissant (Corpus+Mentem) works very well.
my problem with my current necromancer character is that he finished off his projects too soon.
Very little left to research at age 40.
Hermetic Projects chapter VI has offered a few extra ideas, but still.
Very true, but are you willing to take the chance?
Just how paranoid are you?
Mechanically the different themes of necromancer are going to focus on different arts. Rego Corpus vs Rego Mentem vs Intellego Mentem. The other key part is the supporting abilities: arcane lore, area lore, languages, spells and effects from other arts, etc.
I would expect a strong corporeal necromancer to have some Creo Corpus and possibly some Muto in there as well, while a spirit summoner will probably make their primary focus Mentem and Vim rather than Mentem and Corpus. A Seeker is going to want Terram and other, similar things.
Which is not to say you can't try and do the lot - it just means spreading yourself around more. Depending on the pace of your saga, your necromancer may find themselves sufficiently capable in one of those fields sooner rather than later.
My experience with playing a necromancer is at age 40, I have a list of things to do to be a better necromancer that stretches off into the far and distant void of time - and that is purely focusing on the Seeker aspect of necromancy.
The odds of a ghost having penetration depends on what they did in life. Most ghosts won't, but ghosts of magi will, and ghosts of "wise ones", folk witches, supernaturally talented people and the rest may. So if you come across the story of "something bad happened at a nearby covenant and a mage died mysteriously" or "a magus was murdered on the road", other people might think "hey! Let's send the necromancer to investigate, he can talk to the ghost!" and then you discover the ghost can easily penetrate your parma if they have a huge penetration multiplier.
More importantly, if you're intending on being a seeker, you WILL come across the ghosts of people who had penetration in life as they tend to be the ones with magical secrets worth chasing.
I'd think about the Tremere's attitude to the character - canonically, they forbid the training of Dhampir as Hermetic magi (with at least an implication that this is because when it happened in the past it went horribly, horribly wrong). The forbidding probably only strictly applies within the House itself, or at the most the Translyvanian tribunal, but they're still likely to have Views on the matter, and particularly towards an entire lineage of Dhampir magi (which is what taking it as your ex-Misc virtue implies to me). May be worth thinking about in regard to the flaws you take.
Up to you. Something like Flawless Magic might be handy --- so you can easily Master the relevant Necromantic spells.
You can certainly make a single magus who can do all of that, but he's still likely to be better at some things than others (as they use different Arts etc).
I think that I would start with thinking about why your magus wants to be a necromancer, as that tells you what sorts of necromancy magic will interest him. "He likes messing about with corpses", is a bit one-dimensional and doesn't really led to story in a very proactive way. I would pick a Story Flaw that creates a problem, which the magus believes he can solve/overcome with necromancy, for example "Feud" could led to necromancy if the character believes he can resolve the feud by finding and negotiating with the ghosts of the original protagonists in the feud. "True Love" can lead to necromancy if the lover is dead, etc. Alternatively, a Personality Flaw can led to necromancy --- the obvious one being something like "he is a megalomaniac who wants to conquer Iberia with an army of the undead".
As others have said, the interesting ghosts, the ones encountered by PCs, are rather likely to have penetration. Of course, this is only a big problem if the ghosts in question are hostile to the necromancer.
On a slightly different topic than Canaanite Necromancy specifically...
While there's nothing wrong with taking Damphir as the free ex-misc virtue, I'd suggest something that looks a bit more like part of a magical lineage: something you can initiate or be taught rather than something you're born with. It makes for a lineage that is more than just a peculiar branch of fae-blooded magi.
(Spirit) Summoning from RoP:Infernal is a good one for necromancers. Canaanite Necromancy might be one as well (the major virtue, not the minor hermetic one) - but in that case you wouldn't want to take the minor virtue. Banishing (HoH:S) also works, depending on the kind of necromancer you want to make. I opted for (Spirit) Summoning, and haven't once regretted it. The whole smells-like-infernal thing just adds to the necromancer vibe.
Or you could home-brew your own major supernatural virtue. Some kind of Nordic corporeal undead ability might work, commanding and compelling duergar (sp?) to do your bidding. HoH:S for guidelines on how to make your own.
There's also nothing stopping you -also- taking Damphir as a regular virtue, though if you really want to go all-out with the necromancer thing, consider instead Strong Faerie Blood with a pagan god of the underworld as your lineage and take a +1 sympathy bonus with ghosts as the benefit (RoP:Faerie).