I am playing necromancer and I would like to know if it would be possible to create a "zombie lab assistant" => you wait for a lab assistant to die ( due to old age off course) and then you use his body as an enchanted item with several necromancy spells such as: "speaking through the black gate" + corpse animation + no decay.
Would it be OK or did I forget something in the rules that would prevent this kind of "device" ?
This would be The Tireless Servant, IMO.
If he's able to be a full lab assistant while alive (Failed Apprentice) granting Int+Magic Theory to General Quality it's much more effective to keep him alive, though. If he's a Servant (lab virtue) then he adds half his Int to safety and +1 for Aesthetics and Mentem, so letting him pass and then animating his corpse changes some things.
I agree with JL. However, if he's a Failed Apprentice and has died, you could follow a different route. Summon his ghost and bind it to his corpse. Animate his corpse. Now hopefully his ghost still remembers something of Magic Theory and can be an assistant. See HP about how this binding is done with Hermetic magic.
So if your truly interested in sticking to the rules then as other people noted your probably not talking about a true lab assistant adding their Int+MT to your lab total. IMOHO the rules seem to only allow for a few possible ways of being a lab assistant. It's a short list, A familiar, A fellow Gifted being (Maga, Apprentice, Hedgie) Or a Failed Apprentice. But there are a few Loopholes you can try to squeeze through.
First is along the lines of what Callen suggested. The ghost of a lab assistant might work. Weirdly staying strictly to the rules the ghosts of magi and apprentices usually lack the Gift so probably don't qualify as Assistants. But, Technically the ghost of a Failed Apprentice might still have their virtue and then could add their Int+MT. Used this loophole to simulate a Bob the skull type character once but it is pretty cheesy. For me still acceptable for a companion level PC.
The second way is simple. Spirit familiar animating walking corpse. Requires a mystery virtue but it would stay within the rules.
The third way I can think of is the Magic Item loophole. Which may have been what your looking for. Their are no hard rules about what a magic item can and can't do for a lab. Just conceive an effect assign a bonus. Basically if you can sell the SG and the troupe go for it. That being said standard Magic Items can't have an Ability score or probably even an Int score. So I'm not sure I'd consider it an assistant. But maybe you could still justify a General Quality bonus with what your making.
Note that if you don't mind dabbling in the... Er... Darker Arts, you can have a spirit familiar if you have the Goetic Art of Summoning. (Which, I hasten to note, only need be Infernally tainted rather than truly Infernal if you start with it. If you intend to get it later... You'll pretty much need the Infernal version, because the Magic or Faerie versions would take a gigantic Source Quality penalty from those pesky Hermetic Arts.)
As far 'spirit familiars' go, you can make use of any spirit with the Gifted Major Quality from RoP: M as an assistant. To the best of my knowledge, only Magic Realm aligned creatures can take that quality. Theoretically, one could develop a mystery script to grant that quality to such creatures. No reason why you couldn't do that for your former apprentice's ghost. And that's before going into The Mysteries: Revised Edition for the Spirit Familiar virtue.
Might cause issues though; "I've done my 15 years!""You died!" "I meant after I died. Let me try for the gauntlet, & teach me the parma magica!""You're not human!" "But I am a Magi!"
NOTE: Not saying that there isn't another way, just pointing out an option that hasn't been mentioned yet.
Along these lines, say you are recovering a dead Covenant. You find one of the previous magi has become a ghost. Could he assist in the lab? Could he teach? The ghost may not want to help, but ReMe can fix that real quick, yes? Would turning it into your spirit familiar fix the traditional mental issues ghosts have? Heck, done right, a Covenant Ghost seems a heck of a resource. How much points would he be worth, when "buying" your Covenant?
I think it would depend on how helpful/threating the ghost in question is. The Haunted minor hook, or the Powerful Ally major boon from covenants come to mind.
Unless you are in the Theban Tribunal. Magical Creature patrons there are mandatory. Considering that one covenant has the 'head magi"s familair as it's 'patron', I don't think they'd kick up too much of a fuss if a former polites in good standing shows up and says, "I support these Magi as their patron, because I'm not human anymore."
Well, hopefully you're pretty heavily specialized in that ReMe, because if this ghost still has his Gift and magic (the better to be such a good resource with) then there's no particular reason he wouldn't also still be able to rely on Parma+Forms rather than Might.
And I hope you aren't trying to ReMe him and then familiar him. Too many people forget that for a familiar bond to work, the creature has to genuinely trust/adore/cherish/etc. you, explicitly without any magical nudges or anything.
I figure such a being would be a Hook or Boon (depending on whether he'll be a problem and cause stories, or instead be helpful), rather than something bought with Build Points.
Actually, it need not be tainted at all and a non-tainted version could be acquired via initiation. It won't be the full (Spirit) Summoning, but it will still allow spirits of the appropriate type. See the Terrae Cult in TSE for an example. Of course, if you're set on a ghost, this probably won't do.
Having done something very similar (binding the ghost of a dead covenant member as my spirit familiar, I'll have a whack at these
Could he assist in the lab?
We ruled "No, not without a physical body. Luckily, that was MuMe(Co), according to TMRE, and so almost trivial to a serious necromancer.
That depends a lot on the ghost, why it is still around and how intact it is. The apparation of a helpful magus probably could teach. Shades and Spectres? Probably not.
With respect to my aforementioned former covenant member, IIRC we ended up agreeing that she could teach her children, but no-one else, and couldn't create something new, like a book she haden't written before. She could however assist in the creation of new things, like helping in the lab. But again, that's probably a troupe decission, since each ghost is so very unique.
Almost certainly not. As far as I can tell, ghosts are only fragments, not complete entities with 'mental issues'. It would be like enslaving a 3-years old and insisting it taught you swordplay - the knowledge simply isn't there. Actually, it would probably be even worse, since 3-years olds can grow older, and learn, while ghosts have trouble with these things.
We have discussed this before, locally. I think we ended up with a cross between a specialist and a library.
... I should talk to my troupe about that covenant concept again...
Hm I've never thought that a Familiar had to be able to touch and manipulate stuff to assist in the lab. Between the canonical spirit familiars and traditional animal familiars which can be things like crickets, spiders, butterflies, bats, garter snakes, humming birds, or newts, I don't see being able to lift a beaker as being important. I think it's more of an advisory and observational role, like Bob the Skull from the Dresdenverse or Merlin's Owl from Sword in the Stone.
From my own experience an interesting personality flaw for a resident spirit at a covenant is Meddler. Particularly good for one that functions as a source of valuable expertice. "Will they help?" isn't the question. It's more like "How do you stop them from helping?"
I do hope I indicated clearly that these were not RAW, but what we came up with?
In particular, there's no requirement for a spirit familiar to have corporeality, affect the physical world, nor indeed any ability to communicate with the primary researcher, to assist in the lab.
We did decide decide that some form of interaction was necessary.