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Ars Magica 5th edition has many possible routes for necromancers and original necromantic research. Beyond the research found in Ancient Magic, are there any mystery cults or theoretical breakthroughs that a necromancer interested in doing the Igor thing (renanimating dead bodies, stitching bits of ... assorted bodies together) would be particularly interested in?

Edit: This question is specifically interested in specific research directions for a ArM5 necromancer looking to do theoretical research.

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Not a whole answer as i don't know the system But necromancy could include contacting the dead Summoning spirits Staving off death Switching bodies (switching one soul with another) Could any of these work in the Ars Magica System? –  Ax Kidson Jan 9 '12 at 1:59
    
What about switching from the Igor thing and going into the root of necromancy: knowledge from the dead? –  Sardathrion Jan 23 '12 at 7:54
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

In Mysteries Revised there is:

  • A path to immortality called living ghost (IIRC) which is obviously relevant to necromancy

    There is also the spirit familiar virtue which can be appropriate for ghosts.

    Hermetic empowerment, which is a virtue that allows you to trap a spirit in an enchanted device and use it to power ritual effects (ritual effects in an enchanted device, that's not bad) this can be done with any spirit, ghosts included.

That's all that come to mind from Mysteries revised but I wouldn't be surprised if I had forgotten at least as many as I remembered.

Naturally the object of the original research rules is to allow the character to do any sort of original research so you shouldn't feel obligated to repeat what's present in the rules someplace else.

I think that a pathway for necromancy would be to develop a way to steal the fatigue levels of others (not just remove them ala the perdo corpus spell that I can't recall the name of, but take them for your own). Hermetics have come close to this being able to give their levels to others but taking them from others breaks the limit of energy. Yet the folk witches from Hedge magic revised can create potions to provide fatigue levels from magic and followers of the path of energy (from Guardians of the Forest) can grab fatigue levels from nature so we know that this limit is breakable. (For more badassity you could also work up integrating life boost or life linked spontaneous magic which have a very similar theme and would be especially complementary powers).

That's dealing with personal energy rather than dealing with dead creatures so perhaps necromancy wouldn't be the best description. Actually forget that whole idea, it's not about the dead.

It seems to me that since hermetic magi can make more or less any sort of an effect that can be described as "create, perfect, control, change, learn about, or destroy" Necromancy is pretty well covered. You don't need so much research as you do engineering. But making cool spells and devices with the tools that you already have won't win you everlasting fame, even if it is the sensible thing to do. Lets see if I can come up with a better idea...

How about you summon a ghost and then make a copy of it's mind to have available at your beck and call? Enchant a device Cr(In)Me device that creates a copy of the mind you've summoned and then keeps it saved forever as a constant effect. Crap, you don't need research to do that.

Harvesting vis from the deaths of creatures? It's dark, it will probably get you damned to hell and marched but it's at least something that can't be done with hermetic "technology" as it stands.

How about learning to contact souls in heaven, twilight and/or hell? That's necromantic, arguably noble, and the sort of incredibly difficult achievement that will win you everlasting fame.

Another thought is to give a Frankenstein style monster a soul. How about creating such a creature by including a live child destined to be stillborn, or to die with his/her mother before he dies and thereby skirt the edge of the limit of the soul?

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Welcome to the site! Excellent answer. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 24 '12 at 1:56
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Ok here's another thought:

The limit of the soul cuts out any resurrecting of the dead as their souls go on to their final rewards. If they've not been buried properly you can still contact the spirit but that won't get you anything earth shatteringly cool even if you have the poor taste to develop a sort of frankenstein's monster from it.

One simple minded way around this limit is to try and resurrect some creature that did not have a soul. While mundane beasts are a trivial target, how about great creatures of Faerie and magic? The limit of the soul may stop you from bringing back that cute little farmer's daughter you were so atwitter over before the Muto animal botch, it won't stop you from reuniting the spirit and body of the cathedral sized dragon that terrorized the covenant a few decades back or of further turning the tables on the faerie queen of winter by bringing it/her back to life as your personal plaything.

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In regard to the limits of magic vs necromancy, that is where the discovery rules can be used to circumvent or edge away from Hermetic limits. That said, the only two real limits I see as being present are the restoration of fatigue levels (energy) and the limit of the Divine (see the Ars base book).

Your real limiting factor will be duration of the effects designed. ie. an effect that animates a body has a max duration of Moon without being a ritual or an enchanted device. So you could:

  • enchant your own body as a device, or craft an enchanted device which maintains the effects
  • perhaps you could also create a new duration? The "ring" duration is endless, but only while it is not disturbed. I wrote up an alternate duration recently called "Seal" where a spell effect remains intact while a vessel or device is sealed. If teh seal is broken (opening or breakage) then the spell expires. I was thinking of food, but a spell which transfers your mind into another body could also use this duration, and it is permanent while the vessel is intact.

In the context of the game the discovery process for Necromancy should be played out as one to one sessions, or perhaps correspondence style (like a play by post). Have the player give a general indication of the direction desired (from the sample effects already in a few answers), and then develop a pathway which includes steps. The investigation should combine seasons of activity in plain research (being a season spend which does not improve or produce anything) then followed by seasons which produce effects, items, or discoveries.

eg. a Necromantic focus that involved limb and wound replacement might start with a pathway like:

  • initial theoretical research needed at a library far superior to the character's current library. This is a story opportunity to either get permission to, or buy access to a great library.

  • conduct the season of research, which grants the character the indication of how it might have been done before using within Hermetic limits. If you still want the player to get a reward for the season of work then consider this a Magic Theory Tractus with a specialisation in Necromantic Animation, score 5.

  • allow them to then craft a device which responds to the caster's desires, but must be controlled through deliberate thought. Akin to an extra arm which the mage controls with their mind. This is confirming the current stance of magic invested devices in Hermetic magic which lack autonomous intelligence. Some sort of interesting but essentially useless minor invested device, with a approx Rego Corpus effect, which was invested into a dead limb. It might also need a quick Creo Corpus effect to cease the purification.

  • the learning from the research and device indicates that investigation into links between the mind and perception and feedback is a real factor - so the next step in some time spent in Intellego Mentum magics, which is essentially developing the "brain interface". I'd say this should take a few seasons to construct a prototype device. Again the device should be all but useless, but evoke the necromantic feel that the player chose.

  • eg: The NeverLost Hand - this enchanted device is designed to create the sense feeling and touch, which includes a deep sense of connection to the hand. The effect is cast by the hand onto the target who then feels that any movement made by the hand is as real as their own. In effect this makes the target feel as the hand would. An important note is that the hand itself has no invested powers that facilitate movement, which means that the most effective way for the target to feel these experiences is to hold and move the hand themselves, or give it to another. Crafted as a InMe effect around level 30-35, (Base: 4 (?), +1 complexity in feedback to target, +2 Duration Sun, +2 Range Voice, nn uses per day +3, etc)

  • Now you've got a feedback mechanism, and a control mechanism - so combine both in a proper enchanted device. This could function almost as what they are after, but should still be far away from a true cyber-grafted device. Spend a season creating a new leg for a live animal (a dog say, or perhaps a servant if you can get one to agree) using the above guide, and another few experimenting on attaching it, casting additional spells and such using Intellego and Corpus/Animal to get the sense of what is missing.

  • now start the grant design - the research needed to add a Virtue to the character sheet which changes all the Necromatic devices they create so they have the extra "meat-link".

  • eg. Virtue = Symbiotic Invested Devices (Hermetic) +1 - by use of this virtue the magus can create invested devices which are symbiotic links to the creatures they are used by. The invested device must still use the limiting Arts (use rules above for InMe and ReCo arts which are relevant) and the item is further enhanced by this virtue to feel like a natural part of the target. A sample use of this virtue would be a replacement hand for a magus who lost theirs in combat. The hand forms such a visceral link to the user that it functions as a normal hand (or perhaps even better than). The virtue may be used on any type of targets (subject to Art requirements) such as men, animals, or even trees, and may add new functions to existing creatures; such as wings on a human as crafted for Icarus. It is worth noting that devices crafted in this manner are better than prosthetic replacements in that they actually feel like a part of the target creature.

What about:

  • using dead body parts as a form of animated healing on the living? ie. replace lost hand, replace burnt skin.
  • or creating artefacts that replace limbs and lost organs. "cybernetic" limbs, eyes, etc

  • research toward becoming "undead" in the form of a lich-type creature? ie. placing sentience in an external vessel. very accurate and fine control of a corpse, so it can be occupied.

  • Perhaps even go for a Sauron feel, where the magus exists in a disembodied state, thereby removing the "corruptions of the flesh". I see this as an attempt to go spiritual.
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