Many questions on Necromancy for Newb

Hello all, first, I need to apologize for my english, it is not a native language !

My friend and I just started a saga, and since they dont have the habit of playing RPG with a lots of rule, they (even our GM) rely on me to answer all their questions and to find the best houserule to use. So I begin with my own (tl;dr) : How to stat magical minions of various type and how to balance them vs MR

I play a necromancer who love to create skeletons (basic creatures), and who has a spirit familiar. This spirit can invoke for a day and a bunch of might a group of revenant fighting for him (and my magi).
Here is my interrogations :

On skeletons :
1 How to stat the skeletons ? (I've seen many ideas, I cant really decide). Especially, do you prefer using the Finesse of the magi for the main abilities of the skeletons or just give them basic stat ? How to buff them (can I create them with armor and sword with a Terram Req, can I give them better stat with higher magnitude ?). Since I can very well animate 1000 or 10 skeletons, I imagine that deciding if I want better or more skeletons is more fun, but I've seen some who think that "fixed" skeletons are more balanced.
2 Am i right to tell the DM that my 1000 skeletons cant harm another magi because they are created by magic and then even their fist or sword are resisted by the MR of the target (at least zero) ? (or this count as any "target spell" not resisted by MR because each skeletons need to target the magi with an attack roll ?)
3 In this case, how can I give penetration to the attack of my skeletons ? (because It will be a high magical saga with a lots of demons and magical creature to slay !) I was thinking maybe if I give them swords with another spell who has penetration, maybe the penetration could apply to their attacks ?
I must precise that my skeletons are not "momentary", I only create the corpse and animate it for Sun duration (so no Vim necessary)

On revenants :
4 First of all : can you create magical human/animals/things/anything with might with a fixed duration ? (Sun, Moon...). I assumed yes, because you can very well create normal animal and give them might-like power for a fixed duration, but I not sure. Any tought ? (of course, Diameter/Sun/Moon magical creature dont give any Vis on death..).
I must add that, of course, since the level for creating magical human for fixed duration at least Sun is 55, for a normal magi it is a ritual, but magical creature and their power doesn't follow the same restrictions (you can took 4 lesser power to get a level 200 power, theoretically).
5 How to judge the level of might of the creature you create ? Revenant created in Hermetical Projects are Might 9 for base level 45, how to up/down this theoretical guideline ? (how much might for a magnitude ?).
6 How to stat other Revenant ? I dont particularily like the base profile, and I want all my familiar's guardian to be a bit different. Create them like magical human ?
I know ghost follow different rule (you have to find a ghost etc...) but since you can create any magical beast, I assume you can create any magical mind in a body with CrCo(Me).
7 Finally, same question regarding penetration vs MR : can you give, by one way or another, penetration to creatures with Might for their attack or their power, other than the basic formule Might-(Mightcost*5) ? I know my GM, he will want us to fight in a few in-game year a whole load of demons, faeries and even angels, so it is kinda frustrating to know that, with Parma 3 you have nothing to fear against Might 15 and soon armies of lesser creatures can less frightening than a mundane army...And for my part I find myself a bit stupid to be able to create minions all other the place if they can only harm terrified mundane in turn.

(I know this seems like a "high power" saga and it is, but we still want to base our tought on the RAW to keep a sense of balance and get a feeling less "D&D" that many players at the table are accustomed to).

Thank for all your answer

Lets see if I can answer these questions without someone pointing out terrible rules flaws I've made!

  1. as far as statistics go, I'm guessing that you might find some inspirations in Hermetic Projects - I don't have my books on me right now though. You could definitely use your Finesse if you're actively controlling them, which I would probably rule as requiring your magus to concentrate.
    1a) (assuming you're using Creo Corpus to summon them) For arming them, I would say a single spell couldn't create a skeleton, armor, and weapons, because hermetic spells tend to do one thing at a time. Creating skeletons with built-in armor and weapons fused to their bones might be possible, adding Muto and Terram as requisites, with a few magnitudes. it might be easier to have a second Creo Terram spell to arm a hundred skeletons after you make them.
  2. If the skeletons are conjured by magic, an enemy's MR is put into play, against the penetration score of the animating magic. If your conjured skeletons pick up non-magical swords or clubs, those will penetrate RAW (some discussion about this in forums). If you conjure swords for them, the sword-spell penetration applies against MR.
  3. You can give them conjured swords with high penetration. You can have a higher penetration on your skeleton conjuring spell. Making magical items can help with penetration scores, because you get a better deal with the built-in penetration for magical crafting. you could also spend Vis during the spell-casting to raise the casting score (and thusly penetration) of your spell.
  4. You can probably create a Mighty creature with non-momentary durations, the effects are a bit unspecified. Apply logic: you cannot create vis via temporary summons. Summoning a mighty creature probably requires vis at all (storyguide call)
  5. Don't have my book, but that seems to be (spell level / 5) as a quick math. each spell would need to be examined for logical balance IMO.
  6. That's up to you and your storyguide. I'd need to look at the base Revenant to see if it was built using the magical human rules.
  7. Creatures with magical might do not need to penetrate for their unarmed attacks, only for their magical powers. Their powers can be more penetrating with added Penetration scores (and faeries get a penetration bonus if you're participating in their stories) Also worth mentioning that a lot of powers do things that are not resistable.. like destroying the bridge you're standing on, or setting a forest on fire (once it's alight it's no longer magical, it's sustained by the forest being on fire.)

Thank you for your sound answer.

1 : I usually add a "Mentem" requisit to give the animated body some sort of intelligence for them to act on their own (We ruled that since it work that way to animate plant or animals with one magnitude, It must work for corpus too, and with +4 magnitude in Imaginem you have an illusion with human intelligence). The thing we are not sure is "do finesse determine the level of intelligence gained with that mentem requisit". We will, I think, rule yes, because it give an incentive for magus to use their finesse (beside me, there is two magus who animate crowd of crows and plants in the troupe), but one question stay : do finesse give same score in every abilities usable by the thing ? (combat, athletism... of even "doing chores") or maybe finesse give points in abilities (you choose when you invent the spell if you are doing warrior or nanny skeletons, or you adapt when you cast ?...), but in this case how many...? Anyway, it is hard to balance.

2-3 : I will stay by your answer. It will give me the motive to create diverse spells for skeletons and customize them (Small group/High penetration, big group against mundane...). It will even force me to collaborate with the Terram guy for mass sword or to bargain with some mundane merchant to buy loads of them...anyway, more interaction, the better.

4-5 : The guideline is "creating a magical beast 50" and "creating a magical human 45" with Vim requisit (P/M/I for both). So, in practice, for magi, it is a ritual since you cant use these under 50. The only problem is with the "Greater/Lesser Power" for magical beast/human that you can abuse. I am afraid rules dont extend that far, it is entierly up to the SG and the troupe... Same thing with (spell level/5) for creating might (you would be able to creat a load of little magic creature maybe too easily...). But you are right, at high level one magnitude for one might is interesting but costly, so you have to make a choice, so it is good for play.

6 : I find the entries for the revenant in RoP : M. : the revenant may have the same abilities as in his life (minus decay and other thing, but one can say that revenant with low might can learn a bit). The problem stay when you create revenant ex nihilo (like any magical thing)...maybe using the XP for "spring magical creatures" will do...Or maybe making the Finesse interact with the abilities ? (I really like when as a magi improving yourself in many area is interesting, other than just buffing arts).

7 : Thank you, now I know that I could have sent by revenants to bash the hell of the faeri who attacked us instead of hiding behind them and the "damage wizard". I think we will all have a lots of fun designing magical creature to create (provided we have the vis :stuck_out_tongue: ) :smiley:

I always view finesse as the magi's active control. If someone is 'giving orders' and then letting the creature go, the magi being better at controlling his magic shouldn't matter, because he's not focusing on it, not controlling it.
I will point out that 'Create a Magical beast' is base 50, so we don't have to worry about people making Might 5 creatures at base 5 for that.

As far as making a new creature for your familiar guardian, a good default is to build it using a Magical Creature stats, probably Spring because it's unlikely to be an ancient and powerful creature if it's created by a different magical creature.
When I get home to my books I'll check more into default-zombie-etc stats.

Finally pulled out Hermetic Projects again and looked at this:
They suggest the stats for an animated corpse are Str +3, Sta +3, Dex +1, and Brawl 3. For skeletons instead of meaty corpses, I would probably change it to Str +1, Sta +0, Dex +3, Qik +3. Brawl 3 still.
Regarding giving them a Mentem requisite to give them 'skills' or a semblance of a mind, I think that would require a Muto requisite, since the natural state of a corpse doesn't have a mind. I don't really like the idea of using Finesse, still.

I agree with you for the global charac (fast skeleton/tankie zombie suits tropes). And as for improving them, I think we will go in this direction : one magnitude increase the size, so a one magnitude increase can mimic one minor virtue (+3 carac max 3, or +1 carac, or +50 exp...).
I think we will use finesse like you : only in direct control of the mage.
For the Muto requisit, I tend to disagree :
All the guidelines for giving a mind to something doesnt require Muto (giving a mind to an image is Mentem req for exemple, and giving a simple mind to a corpse is only Mentem req. For plants, you have Rego Herbam and Muto Herbam guidelines which you can use to obtein smart plants), so, it is kind of a grey area. Natural state of a corpse doesnt have a mind, but any corpse can be easily used by a ghost without Muto, indicating that a corpse is easily suitable for creation -or implantation- of a mind. But you point insnt invalid in any case.

I think adding +1 magnitude to give a created corpse a purely physical virtue is fine (Tough, large size, improved characteristics).
I'm not sure why they gave the corpse a brawl of 3, I would have assumed it had no abilities at all. I'm guessing they did that just so that it wouldn't be completely useless in a fight if animated. I know that some books say that hermetic magic cannot give people levels in an ability, so that even giving a corpse the semblance of a mind wouldn't give it levels in ability or learned skills. To do that you'd have to use a ghost or creature animating it directly.

Hermetic magic not being able to give abilities is, I guess, a necessity for game balance.
Since you can create out of the blue some magical creatures with a lot of abilities, and that you can improve characteristics with Creo, and that you can mimic "craft" abilities with magic and finesse, I would say that replicating pseudo-abilities is already in hermetic theory.
I can understand the contrary, but I think our troupe will arbitrate in favor of animating things with abilities. Maybe the magus has to have a study subject during the making of the spell (like, working with a master-at-arms for the season in the lab, and the animations are limited by the master in abilities) because I understand if magus cant replicate something very technical if he cannot be aware of. It will be fun too. I can see also the gimmick in that : "Look, all these skeletons fight like suiss pikemen against these animated-plant charging like scottish clansmen" !
Since 3 of our 7 magus are different kind of "Creo/Rego" guys, if we just end up with stupid and useless animation it will be no fun.

Sure, I think assuming that any created monster (the rego animations rather than summoning an actual monster) could have a value of 3 in appropriate abilities - avoiding ones that require training to use at all (Like Lores and scholarly abilities). but a fish-zombie should have swim and brawl. Giving a normal zombie athletics so it can climb a wall makes sense.
I think anything more than that basic level of skill would require exceptional measures though, like finding new experimental ways in hermetic theory.

Or, you know. Handwave it because its your campaign and you want to have fun with highly skilled animated zombies

Master of Arms: Just to make sure I understand this properly, you need me around to think military thoughts for a season to make your zombie army stronger?
Magi: That's right
MoA: [impolite medieval version] That's pretty messed up.
Magi: There's a bunch of silver.
MoA: O....Kaaayyy then. {backing away} A season you say. I will have to tell my family where I am, I'll be back soon.
MoA thinks about why a wizard is making a zombie army, thinks about his family and friends, and there's a collection of lords with an army within a season on the covenants doorstep.

Can be that way, of course, we will try to find a suitable MoA :wink:
Maybe a jewish outcast (we play after the great purge of Louis XI in France), or an allied noble.Why not even some northern pagan or eastern pagan... or some turkish or arabian guy wanting to travel, since we plan a trip to the holy land sooner than later.
Anyway, if armies came to our door, we have the power and the will to defend ourselves (As i said in my first post, we play a high-power/high-anarchy saga : in 1275, Louis XI purged many of the covenants in France, traitorous magi helped him because they wanted to get rid of the Order... As a spring covenant inhabitating the ruin of a winter one, we were able to use political bond to avoid destruction, but, we all foresee that, if the first decade of play will need to be discreet, we will eventually need to take arms to rebuild the Order in the realm).

New question, still in the field of Necromancy :
I want to be able to do some direct damage with creo/rego corpus.
I found this spell on the Iron Throne list :

The Vicious Bones of Man
Rego Corpus 25, R: Touch, D: Momentary, T: Individual
This spell projects a piece of a non-living human body toward a target, inflicting up to +20 damage. It is probably most often cast on prepared bone implements.
The projectile is accurate to 20 paces and requires a successful Finesse roll to hit the target. As the object is flung by spell rather than guided, the effect is not influenced by Magic Resistance.
(Base 20, +1 Touch)

I know all the spells on the list are not all correct by RAW, but this one question me :
How do you understand it ? The +20 bonus to damage seems a lot for throwing mundane bones (but nothing give any speed for the projectile....). I dont see what the "base 20" refers to...
Is this spell correct ? How should a damage spell using rego corpus this way could be constructed (is that even possible ?).

I must say that everyone taking "pilum of fire" is kinda annoying so we all try to find our own to play with :smiley:

It's a higher level Corpus copy of the ReTe Vilano style guidelines in HoH:S on page 38, with a different take on how range increments work?

I wouldn't be cool with this. As you mention, it's purely mechanistic and as such fails to understand how spells do damage in Ars Magica. This is why you still need to run spells by your troupe. And why I have to recommend that you really think about each spells you find on eg the Iron Throne, before you use them.

... and on how damage works.

Well, Jason72 pointed the right guidelines to adapt. Maybe, since stone is more damaging than bones, I would add a magnitude for the same amount of damage... Or maybe we have to take the bones first into account and add damage -but less- with magnitude of the spell ? (Like : we crafted fine bone pike, they do if used +5 damages, and the spell add +5 damage each two magnitude of the effet ?)

But I dont see why "it's purely mechanistic and as such fails to understand how spells do damage in AM" : all spell are mechanistic. Two way of doing damage with magic : throw something at someone or someone at something -send stone at him or make him fly on a wall- or create/destroy something directly on target -create fire or destroy heat-.
Sending sharp flying and homing pike of bones seems a good way to do damage... Surely it is less than steel, but with enough bones you can kill mammoth and conquistadors. With the guidelines of HoS:S, I think this spell is legit, if maybe a little bit too damaging.

Of course the spell will be run by my troupe. but as I said in my first post, I am the rule-monkey of the troupe (because most of them, SG included, cannot read english enought but are interested in using all the books that dont exist in french), so I came here to get some view on few points of rule that question me.
In theory, all spells must be run by the troupe btw, even if created by RAW guidelines. We dont really concern ourselves with balance, but we try to stay true to the RAW guidelines to keep a solid base. We know that if we abuse some loopholes (and we do), our ennemies will do too, so it is a fair game.

As Ignem is probably the lease versatile of the forms, there tends to be a theme that it is the best at messing stuff up. Pilum being level 20 for a +15 effect suggests anything non-ignem should be level 25 for a +15. A +20 at level 25 is quite strong, especially in the Rego Corpus area, which is combining 2 of the most versatile techniques and forms.

Saying that, "Crystal Dart" and "Incantation of Lightning" are both as powerful as fire spells. There was a thread about Crystal Dart being unbalanced in the forums. :slight_smile:

Here, I won't totally agree with you. Body mass is not really appropriate weapon, it is rather soft, blunt and by its own nature would reduce the damage that a hard stone of similar weight would do, unless they are very massive (hurling with enough strength a whole human body), or designed to hurt (like spiky bones), Also, human size bone are "relatively" fragile (based on how easily I broke some of mine :sweat_smile:), thus are not good piercing weapon without putting some magic in it.
Based on that, if you use pure body mass, I would use Vilano's sling with an increment of one magnitude for similar damage to compensate with more velocity/higher mass.

If you use bones, I would go toward something akin to the Crystal Dart (Mu(Re) Co 10), having to penetrate magic resistance, for slightly less damage as well, as bone cannot do as much as cristal, so maybe a +7 to damage (within the range of a bow).

Et on peut en parler en français si c'est plus facile pour toi :slightly_smiling_face:

Since ReTe base 20 would do this much damage with a large rock, I would think it would need to be scaled down to +15 damage for the ReCo base 20 since body parts are not as damaging as rocks. Meanwhile, the rocks need to be bigger to do more damage. Reaching this level of damage seems like it's throwing quite a big bone; I would think you might get to at most +10 with the biggest human bones.

I advocated in my troupe for the following :
For damaging spell, fire is the most efficient -but the most known so the most resisted-. so : one magnitude in creo ignem is +5 damage.
For all other damages (auram, terram, whatever) you use ignem guideline and add a magnitude for unusual damages.
The specific spells (like cristal dart) cannot be enhanced without a good reason : "muto terram" for dirt make damage like hardened dirt would do (so +10, not more). If you make a cristal dart with steel, you need to add +2 magnitude (maybe for +15 damage ? Like a really hard arrow fired from a longbow by a good bowman).
Since you can add magnitude for adding speed to the projectile -thus, damage-, I would argue that you can add magnitude for extra damage with any material, but it is less efficient than "creo ignem" guidelines. That is why I proposed with that bone spell : "+10 base damage -if, for exemple, bones are magically created before spearshaped and hardened- and then +5 for 2 magnitude because of increasing speed". "Creo ignem" (and perdro ignem, creo aquam for ice...) guidelines add +5 per magnitude.
For lightning, since the speed cant add damages, I would cap the damage to +30. I dont see any way of making a "stronger" lightning (or weaker), at least without any modern knowledge, so "incantation" stay how it is (you could invent a easier one working only during storm or outdoor maybe).