Skeletons, Zombies, Undead and Necromancy
Hail my mighty heroes and Demonlords!
A few of you have gotten your hands on the Sorcery issue (if not get you butts over to the store and get your copies now.
There are pay what you want pdfs available there as well if you still aren't convinced that Lair is for you. I certainly don't mind people downloading the pdf's for free so go ahead and get something cool for free.
Now back to the topic for the day: Undead!
You may have noticed that the Sorcery issue touched on many things but did not have any specific rules for Undead.
That's because LoSS (Lair of Sword and Sorcery) is a different kind of game than your average fantasy rpg. Skeletons and zombies in this game aren't just a different kind of monster with a different stat block and maybe a few special powers.
In LoSS each zombie, each skeleton, each fearful demiliche, is a unique creation. There is no one way to create them and no one way to defeat them. Different places in the Winterlands, and throughout Kartharka have their own myths legends, gods, and spirits. These are all called upon in different ways by each necromancer.
The Bonecallers of the tribesman, the Tomb Wardens of the first men, Ancient Necromancy of the time of the Sorcery wars, the zombie thralls of Amun Tutaurch, all are different and varied.
In this article we'll focus on the most basic form of undead control,
Beware though, dread heroes, for the control of a Zombie is a terrible and foul act.
Step 1: Find a human corpse.
This shouldn't be too hard for your hero to do. He's probably created quite a few of them himself in his adventures. The corpse must have been dead for no more than a day or 2, the fresher the better!
I should point out here that heroes henchmen are off limits for raising as a zombie. Nothing destroys a groups morale like watching your buddy get raised from the dead and ordered about by your boss.
Step 2: Prepare the body.
Unless the person died of natural causes (unlikely in the Winterlands), the body will probably require some tender loving care. Broken limbs must be splinted, Open wounds sewn shut to keep the insides on the inside. Binding the creature in tight rags or clothes will help keep them from losing important bits to the wear and tear of serving their new master.
Step 3: Summon the spirit of the lost soul.
The Sorceror now performs a summoning ritual in the same way as they would for any other spirit, using the body of the spirit as a talisman to summon the correct spirit.
Assume that the spirit is degree 1 for cases of your average corpse of some dead thug.
A protective circle is likely unnecessary for the summoning but may be helpful in case something unexpected is summoned instead of the desired spirit.
Step 4: Command!
In step 4 the Sorceror uses the command skill to order the spirit to enter it's body once again.
If successful the Sorceror now has a zombie to call their own.
Uses for your zombie.
Well now that you've got a zombie what can you do with it?
In game terms you control your zombie like any other henchmen. You can move him up to his move and it can attack like any other henchman. Zombies can either be given a weapon or can attack with their fists and teeth, either way they will cause damage as if they were using a weapon.
Their move is only 2 however as their shambling gait slows them down, though they can be pulled on a drag sled if the group wishes though it will slow the hero doing the dragging down one movement point.
A zombies combat stats are
They are not affected by morale and will attack anything at any time as demanded. They may not perform Sota as their spirits are in too much turmoil to do much more than shamble forward and attack. Living within a rotting body is a terrible thing and the spirits are none too happy about it.
As with any "spirit" the Sorceror may only command a combined Degree of zombies equal to their Control Skill.
They sorceror can only control the zombie when it is within his control range, equal to his control skill in squares. If the Sorceror moves outside of this range then the Zombie will be "uncontrolled" and will no longer move but attack anything that comes within range whether it is "friend" or "foe"
As for combat the Zombie takes endurance damage like any other fighter, as the spirit tires their hold on the body becomes more fragile.
They also have to make "death" rolls like any other fighter with a permanent death freeing their spirit again to return to the Other World.
Errrata to Sorcery issue:
When considering control ranges it is only neccessary that the Sorceror end his turn within control range of his spirits. They may move out of his control range to attack but as long as he is able to move close enough to have them in control range by the end of his turn then they are still "under control"
In game terms simply move the spirits and their controller at the same time.
Care of your Zombie
Remember that what your Sorceror has is technically and animate corpse. While the power of the Dread Compact and the other side keeps the spirit trapped in the body it does not keep the body from Rotting.
As the body rots it becomes more difficult for the spirit to move and becomes less useful in combat.
If the Sorceror wishes to keep their zombie fresh the best way is to place them in cave, hole or room, packed in snow and ice to keep them "fresh" and then defrost them when needed.
When travelling on the roads they will tend to "freeze up" in the cold climes of the Winterlands making them useless until they are thawed out next to a fire.
Most Lairs are warm enough for a Zombie to operate in however.
Everytime a Zombie is "defrosted" to make it ready for use the DemonLord should roll a die. On a roll of a 1 the Zombie is too far gone to be useful anymore.
If left in an unthawed state a zombie will last for 7 days before becoming too far gone to use.
How can I raise an army of shambling undead horror?
As you can see a zombie is a somewhat useful protector though not long lived. The Necromancers of old and other Sorcerors of specializing in the practice of raising the dead have many useful items, tricks and special skills. Special forms of mummification can be useful as well as special Sorcerous items of control.
But those lie in the realm of legend and adventure!
I hope you Heroes and Demonlords will find this useful in creating your own dread Necromancers int he wilds of Kartharka!
Side note: this article writtend to the soundtrack of Eternal Sage by Antti Martikainen, nice epic adventuring music.