Saturday, April 6, 2019

50 Shades of Wight

Necromancer by WhendellIn my endeavor to write adventures for my present Calidar project, I came upon the task of putting together the plot for a party of juvenile sorcerers up to no good in the middle of the night in their college of necromancy. The assumption quickly became that each should naturally know a few spells taught specifically by their school: all of a necromantic nature, but of course. I didn't find a whole lot of spells fitting the bill in the various RPGs I looked up. I wanted a wide array of spells the referee could choose from. Seizing the undead monster by its unholy horns, I thus decided to add a bunch of new spells.

So here we go...

Featured Illustration: Necromancerby Whendell (on Deviant Art)

©2015-2019 Whendell

First Circle Necromantic Spells
The list below offers ideas for spells in the young heroes’ spellbooks. Though all necromantic, some of these spell may also qualify as other schools of magic. A roll of 1d4 plus any Intellect modifiers indicate how many of these spells each hero should possess. Roll 1d% on the list below or select these spells as needed, avoiding duplicate scores. Replace spells with similar ones already existing in the chosen RPG, if any.

Note re. Caldwen's game mechanics: Being non-game specific, the language used below may cause some raised eyebrows. In most cases, the context will make the meaning rather obvious. Damage ratings go as follows: VL (for Very Low) relates to the sort of damage a dagger would inflict, Lo (for Low) relates to a short sword, M (for Medium) to a normal sword, Hi (for High) to a large weapon, and VH (for Very High) to an oversized weapon. Referees can assign appropriate damage in their chosen RPGs accordingly. LF stands for Life Force (a way of referring to experience levels or HD). More about this can be found in Calidar's Game Mechanics guidelines. Circles of Magic refer to the general spellcasting abilities of students enrolled in colleges of magic (this will be defined in great detail in the gazetteer CAL2 "On Wings of Darkness" due for release this summer.) The First Circle concerns the least experienced spellcasters. The Fourth Circle accommodates the most experienced, to give you a rough idea.

01-04    Audible Hauntingsrange: 90’, duration: 3 days. Creates indistinct whispers, moaning, ghastly cackling, and distant howls imbuing a location with a mild, 60’ radius fear effect. Animals will shy from the spot; creatures with less than average Intellect suffer a penalty to Morale Checks while within the area of effect.
05-07    Bones of Decayrange: 150’, duration: 1 combat action. Turns d4+1 finger bones collected earlier into magical projectiles that never miss their target. Though they inflict minimal damage, they transform into rot grubs upon contact. A spell to cure diseases removes these maggots, else the victim contracts a rotting curse 24 hours later minus an hour per bone. Incorporeal beings or those immune to diseases are unaffected.
08-11    Cadaverous Pallrange: touch, duration: 1 day. Imbues the spell’s recipient with the stench of decomposing flesh emanating 30’ radius. If living, the recipient suffers a significant Per penalty; undead with less than average Intellect are fooled in believing the recipient is one of them (unless attacked).
12-14    Crypt Thingrange: touch, duration: 1 hour. Animates a corpse’s severed hand—AR 8, LF 3, MV 90’ (30’). Other than any attack form, the undead hand possesses the late owner’s non-magical physical attributes and uses its fingers as legs. Though unintelligent, the hand responds to the caster’s mental commands as long as it remains within the caster’s line of sight. It can jump 3’ high, carry small objects on its back, flick coin-size items with a finger, and accomplish anything the caster can with a single hand; it cannot perform any action requiring the leverage and strength of an attached body.
15-18    Death Knellrange: 90’, duration: until after the next sleep cycle. Raises in the victim’s mind the specter of one’s own fatality. Unless the recipient succeeds a Defense Check, future checks against necromantic spells receive a penalty equal to the extent of the original roll’s failure, until the effect ends or until dispelled.
19-23    Detect Deathrange: self, duration: 1 action. Indicates how many, in what chronological order, and what sorts of creatures perished within an area 30’ radius, up to 2d4 weeks earlier (for a First Circle spellcaster), 2d6 months (at Second Circle), 2d8 years (at Third Circle), or 2d10 decades (at the Fourth Circle).
24-25    Ectoplasmic Netrange: 90’, duration: 1d4+3 combat actions. Produces a ghostly net 20’ radius inflicting VL+1 “incorporeal” damage per action to all within (successful Defense Checks halve damage, rounded up). If the accumulated damage exceeds their current life points while in the net, victims are pulled into the netherworld. The net is invisible to all but the caster and anyone able to detect invisible. Once cast, it cannot be moved.
26-28    Eye of Geistrange: self, duration: 1 combat action. Locates the direction and distance to a fallen individual’s remains. The spell functions without error if the caster knows the fallen personally and well. If the fallen was merely seen in person or in a painting, the spell incurs 50% odds of failure, or 75% if the fallen was only heard of or read about. Referees may substitute incorrect information as an option if the spell fails.
29-33    Ghostly Armorrange: touch, duration: until dispelled. Requires undead foes to roll a Defense Check when first performing a melee or ranged attack on the recipient. Those who succeed may perform their attacks normally until they actually inflict damage, which dispels the effect entirely; until then, all attacks from foes who failed their check go through the recipient harmlessly as if he/she was a ghost. The spell does not grant immunity to enchanted weapons, spells, or special abilities unrelated to melee attacks.
34-36    Ghoul’s Tonguerange: self, duration: 2d4+3 combat actions. Enables magical lying to one undead. Unintelligent undead always believe lies uttered in a Ghoul’s Tongue; others need to succeed an Int Check to disbelieve them, possibly disobeying a liege’s prior instructions. Lies are recognized as such when the spell ends.
37-38    Groaning Spiritrange: self, duration: 1 combat action. The caster may produce a banshee-like wail requiring a Morale Check with a –2 penalty from all foes within the area of effect (90’ x 40’ cone). Though the wail is potent enough to affect all but mindless creatures, it will alert everyone of a foe’s presence nearby.
39-44    Haunting Whispersrange: unlimited, duration: 1 combat action per mile. Tasks an unseen spirit to deliver a message in the form of haunting whispers at a specific location or to an individual known to the spellcaster. The unseen spirit will return at the end of the spell with any words spoken in response to the haunting.
45-47    Lych Gaterange: touch, duration: 1 combat action. Recalls the spirit of a recently slain recipient. The revived being, however, suffers the permanent loss of a life point for each combat action between the time of death and when the spell is cast, plus a permanent penalty to Defense Checks against all necromantic effects.
48-50    Mortal Bondrange: touch, duration: 1 combat action. Transfers 2Lo+1 life points from one recipient to another, splitting combat damage among them. Recipients share each other’s emotions until their next sleep cycles; this bond is permanent, however, if combat damage had rendered the beneficiary unconscious.
51-53    Necrotic Breathrange: self, duration: 1 combat action. Fills a 20’x20’ space with a cloud of decay inflicting 2VL damage to all living beings within (halved with a successful Defense Check, rounded up), +1VL for every additional 5 experience increment. Spells and potions only heal necrotic damage one life point at a time.
54-59    Osseous Swarmrange: 120’, duration: 1 combat action. Compels bones within the spellcaster’s immediate reach to be flung at up to 3 targets, inflicting 1VL+1 damage to each. Targets include creatures or inanimate objects. Osseous projectiles do not affect creatures immune to non-magical attacks unless cast by Third Circle alumni. An extra bone may be compelled for every 3 experience increments of the spellcaster, up to a maximum of 6.
60-63    Phantom Limbrange: 90’, duration: 6 combat actions. Invokes a spectral hand able to lift 10 Lbs. or respond to the caster’s hand movements. The hand can take a non-living object through non-living obstacles (walls, doors, containers, but not flesh), though the caster cannot see past opaque surfaces.
64-68    Raise Grimwalkerrange: touch, duration: 1d4+4 combat actions. Raises a construct from a small animal’s remains. The grimwalker is similar to a living familiar in all ways other than its basic undead attributes. It can be repelled as a zombie but never “destroyed” in this manner because of its master’s bond.
69-75    Sense Undeadrange: self, duration: 10mn. Detects the presence of undead manifestations 150’ radius. The spell does not reveal their locations or their natures, only the total amount of Life Force within range. The reversed spell, Mask Undead, veils the presence of such from this and other divination spells or related magic items.
76-77    Skullduggeryrange: 120’, duration: 1 combat action. Reveals whether an undead serves a liege and its identity, if any, or whether it is magically controlled. Furthermore, the target is allowed a Defense Check; if it fails the victim ignores the spellcaster’s party for 2d4+3 combat actions and forgets having encountered them at all.
78-80    Spectral Cloakrange: touch, duration: 1d4+3 combat actions. Renders the recipient invisible to undead foes. Unintelligent undead are automatically affected; others are allowed and Int Check. Those failing their checks ignore the recipient entirely.
81-84    Touch of Deathrange: touch, duration: 1 hour. Contact with the spellcaster’s hand inflicts rigor mortis. If living, the recipient is paralyzed; further bleeding from accumulated combat damage, however, is temporarily halted. If undead, the beneficiary heals 2Lo+1 combat damage. The reversed spell, Touch of Life, does the exact opposite. An unwilling victim negates these effects with a successful Defense Check.
85-89    Undead Slumberrange: 240’, duration: 1d4 hours. Compels 2d6 undead creatures LF 11 or less within a 40’x40’ area to seek peaceful rest. Though while becalmed each can be slain with a single blow, they will be roused only if otherwise disturbed. Targeted undead do not roll Defense Checks against this spell.
90-91    Vampire Kissrange: touch, duration: 4d4 minutes x 10. Steals 1Lo+1 life points from a victim who must then succeed a Defense Check to avoid being stunned. Stolen life points may heal the same amount of damage the spellcaster may have sustained previously. Stolen life points increase +1Lo for each 5 experience increments of the spellcaster.
92-94    Wraith Skinrange: touch, duration: 6d6 hours. Alters a corpse’s size and appearance to look like the spellcaster’s or that of a surrogate; a successful Defense Check enables an unwilling surrogate to thwart the spell. Certain divination magic or this spell’s reversed version, Remove Wraith Skin, will dispel the subterfuge.
95-96    Wraith Speakerrange: self, duration: 2d4 hours. The spellcaster cuts off a corpse’s tongue and places it in his/her own mouth to steal the voice of the deceased and its past ability to speak other languages. Considered an undead manifestation and detectable as such, the stolen buccal organ can be repelled as a wraith.
97-98    Wraith Walkerrange: self, duration: 2d4 hours. The spellcaster cuts off a human-like corpse’s face and places it on his/her own to steal the traits of the deceased. The spell does not modify the spellcaster’s size and voice. Considered an undead manifestation and detectable as such, the facial graft can be repelled as a wraith.
99-00    Zombie Plaguerange: 120’, duration: 3d4 hours. Infects living creatures failing a Defense Check with a temporary undead fever giving them the pallor of death and a mind-numbing hunger for fresh brain. The spell may affect 1d4+1 victims LF 11 or less within a 40’x40’ area; add an extra victim for every 5 experience increments of the spellcaster. Though the fever ends within hours, anyone wounded by an infected recipient and failing a DC contracts the fever after 2d4 combat actions. The effect can be dispelled if infected victims are repelled as zombies by a prior, or with a spell removing diseases.

This is a first draft. Please let me know if some are too weak/powerful in your opinion, and why. Thanks!

Special Thanks: Liz Bienemann, Isa Bilal, Daniel Braga Coimbra, Conrad Wesley Clough, Tony Crosby, Paul Dupuis, Andrew C. Durston, Robin Goodfellow, Michael Griffin, Nat Hardacre, Thomas Harrison, Dallas Honeycutt, Alan Christopher Hume, Cesar Ivan, Alan Kellogg, Francois Larouche, Gregory Lusak, 
Melestrua, Roberto Micheri, Jarno Naukkarinen, Robert Nuttman, Giovanni Paniccia, Roberto Ravoni, Daniel Reid, Wayne Rossi., George Valencia, and Douglas Zielsdorf for their haunting contributions and ghoulish kibitzing.


  1. Oh I love this idea! I can't wait to get my hands on "OWOD" to do more magic school hijinks. Hijinks. Such a great word for this. ;)

    1. Thanks! Check the layout of the School of Necromancy I posted in Facebook's Calidar chat group. =)

  2. How would you translate the four levels of magic in Calidar to the nine spell levels of BECMI and other versions of Dungeons and Dragons?

    1. I see what you mean -- 1st Circle is for apprentices. 2nd Circle is for spellcasters able to cast spell levels 2-3. 3rd Circle encompasses spell levels 4-6. 4th circle covers spell levels 7-9.


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