Following on from the old topic about Merinita necromancers (https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/the-merinita-necromancer/6135/1), my saga has such a Dhampir NPC, who wants to create Vampire Lieutenants using Animae magic, and I'm trying to work out what the advantages and flaws are of the different methods.
The maga has a couple of motivators:
- She's planning to go through Becoming, and wants to spread the story of a Vampire Queen who commands hordes of undead before she does so (this is outside Translyvania, so vampires need a bit of set-up), so that she can then Become this role.
- After spending a lifetime with a Dark Secret looking over her shoulder, she really doesn't like the Tremere much.
Options I can see:
Creo vs Muto
Creo has the advantage of being able to be used with Momentary rituals*; however, the disadvantage is you don't get much control over what you get (at least according to page 94 of HoH:MC. The example magus with Animae in Tales of Power, page 123 does seem to have some Creo rituals that can reliably summon a particular type of faerie). Given that this isn't an area known for its vampires, expecting to get one from a Creo spell therefore seems unreliable.
Muto spells give you something appropriate to the targets nature. I'm going to work on the basis using the magic on a corpse which ticks some of the boxes on the list of "people likely to become a vampire after their death" (page 114 of Against the Dark) is sufficient to give you some type of Vampire.
*Possibly. I think I've seen doubt expressed before as to whether a faerie counts as a "natural" thing that can be created permanently with vis. Tales of Power (page 124) contains the line "Faeries created in this way through Ritual Magic may be permanent and may have a Might score, but they do not contain raw vis", which implies that faeries can be created permanently - but then all of the examples in the book of faeries created using Creo Rituals have a duration longer than Momentary.
Formulaic vs Ritual Spell vs Enchanted Items
We've got a Base level of 15 for the Animae spell, and you need to add the Might onto that. Assuming range Touch, a Formulaic spell gives you a maximum of Might of 20 for a Sun duration vampire, or 15 for a Moon duration vampire. That's probably enough for a low ranking flunky (and level 15 is conveniently the same Might as the "human-like vampire" on page 188 of AtD), but for her chief lieutenants she wants vampires that are a) more powerful and b) last longer than Moon duration.
Ritual spells can go higher Might, but have a duration problem - Year/Year +1 are still only a Year, and Until is potentially much longer, but expire when the caster goes into Twilight or dies (and I'd probably rule finalising Becoming as triggering that). I've considered giving her the Perpetuity mystery, but am leaning against it - I don't want to give her Unnatural Magic which is the flaw which generally comes with it, and it's not that useful. I don't think Might duration should work for a spell to create a creature with Might (in the same way that the "Possible Abuses of Storms" textbox on page 43 of RoP:M says that a CrAu spell to create a Storm with Storm duration will have no effect if there's not already an existing storm). Aura could work if she was creating Vampire Trees, but not for creations expected to be more mobile. Hidden similiarly doesn't work (although the allowance for hiding a significant part of a target might enable a lich-type undead).
That leaves enchanted devices. There are two obvious ways to go here:
- Enchant the corpse itself. The corpse has a vis limit of 15 (page 69 of The Mysteries: Revised Edition), which is enough for 150 levels of effects, and for an invested device requires either an effective Magic Theory of 8 (which is more than I was planning to give her, but within reach), or a lot of Faerie aligned vim vis which is going to be hard for her to come by (the PCs don't have any, or it would be a good Story opportunity), so that she can use the "(Faerie Magic + Magic Theory) x 2" revised limit. The Magic Theory bump is probably the way to go.
- Enchant something the corpse then wears.
Enchanting the corpse enables use of Range: Personal rather than Range: Touch, and fits better with the "Vampire" theme (as I don't really see them as something that has to keep a trinket to keep their powers. Well, other than blood. I can't see a good way to get that to work, though, and definitely not as something that's automatically cast at Sunset and Sunrise.
Lesser Enchantments require her to be able to create the enchantment in one season, which with a MuCo lab total of about 90 limits the Might to about 16 (Base 15 + 2 Sun + 4 lvls const effect = level 29 + Might effect, max level 45). She might be able to improve that a bit with a better lab and an assistant (more on that later...), but she's unlikely to get more than about another 10 points of Might.
Invested Items take a long time. One season to open the corpse. Two seasons to get Might 31, three seasons to get Might 38, four to get Might 43. I might boost her lab total a bit so she can get over Might 40 in three seasons (i.e. a lab total of 94) - that's the sort of level of power she's looking for. Probably another season (first) enchanting a ReMe effect to make her newly created servant loyal to her, given it'll be strong enough for it to be hard for her to control otherwise, although that again runs into lab totals.
So that's 5 or 6 seasons to create her first such vampire - a major time investment. She'll be able to get it down to three seasons for future vampires (two if she forgoes the ReMe effect), but it's still not quick.
So, first question: is there a better way to do this that I'm missing?
Second question: what does she get for all this effort?
Ideally, I'd like the vampires created to have pretenses and virtues which mimic the skills the corpse used to create them had in life. Is this reasonable? I'm thinking in particular of a) martial skills and b) magic theory. If she obtains the corpse of a hermetic magus, can the resultant vampire act as a lab assistant a) by default and b) if bound with Familiar Chains of the Faerie Slave?
If she does create a vampire as a magic item, what does it take to "break" the item. I think (based on page 114 of Hermetic Projects), the vampire will have 5 damage levels, every time she takes a wound she needs to make a check of Magnitudes + stress die vs EF 15 to avoid losing a damage level. So a level 75 enchantment is needed to protect the vampire against anything short of a botch, and the basic Might 16 lesser enchantment vampire is going to keel over after 5 hits unless they roll very well, which makes them feel not worth making. Goodness only knows how you repair them - there probably aren't many Verditius with Craft: Corpses out there (although I think 4th Ed does have a bone crafter necromancer Verditius, thinking about it...)
So, thoughts? Problems? Obvious avenues I'm missing? Clearly I can ultimately just House Rule something, but I'd prefer sufficiently informed players to be able to come up with a reasonable idea of how she's doing what she's doing.