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Note: I play 2nd edition, using much of the optional material. However, I have zero issues (I do it frequently) grabbing content from other editions, from other games, or just making it up on the spot.

I am a noob DM, and am currently running my player's through a series of Necromancers. They are under the nation's orders to kill every necromancer in the area. So far it has been going smoothly.

Due to a series of minor victories they have become hot-headed and are going to storm the main necromancer's keep. This necromancer is a demi-god, likely roaming around 16th level. Therefore he needs some cool (aka, flashy) powers that will clearly separate him from his underlings.

I like the spell "Stone Heart", but that isn't too 'flashy' (especially since their party isn't nearly strong enough to survive this encounter without divine intervention, which they will get.

So; I am looking for idea on what showy flashy thing this Necromancer could do to elevate him above 'just a bigger baddy'.

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6 Answers 6

Flesh/Bone golems are unconventional creatures that commonly get overlooked and can delve into the realm of the necromantic. Other realms include that at that higher level a necromancer can have intelligent minions and underlings, offering Faustian deals left and right. Also, remember the use of ethereal undead because players rarely have contingency plans for things that can go through traps without setting them off. To continue on the critter angle, what would stop a being of that level in AD&D from having a small (barely) revified unicorn as a mount just to spit int he faces of the good-aligned?

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Necromancers can have a very large variety of powers. My 2nd-Edition skills are VERY rusty, but I suppose I'll just give some interesting ideas, and you'll fit them into the system.

One idea that's a step above just having various undead servants/guards is having the Necromancer rip the soul out of one of the characters, possibly replacing it with another one, effectively switching their bodies. Perhaps have him do it between two PCs, or a PC and an evil NPC, so that the party - once they understood what's happened - need to get the ones that sent them to realize they haven't betrayed them to join the dark side, get them to find the original PC's body, and manage to switch them back. It can be a great story hook.

Another idea on the same vein is to have the necromancer rip ALL their souls out of their bodies and send them to a lower plane. This can be spun-off to an interesting adventure which starts with them disembodied, or perhaps occupying generic demon bodies, and fighting/sneaking their way out of the lower planes and into their bodies.

A third idea, for a more direct confrontation with the necromancer, is to have him base his magic on his own blood. He slices his arm and his blood gushes out as acid, or throwing flaming droplets at the PCs. Every time they hit him and draw blood, a magical effect strikes them. Maybe the mace-wielding cleric will have his moment here. Needless to say, the PC's blood can also be used by him.

Necromancers are fun. :)

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I like to imagine that the "soul magic" part of necromancy could let the sorcerer tap into his past lives, assuming such things exist in your world. Each cycle presumably left a mark on the necromancer's soul, so perhaps with powerful magic he can tap into the knowledge of these past lives. The players are probably expecting a "squishy wizard;" they're in for a rude surprise if the mage can borrow some of the skill of a master swordsman or rogue.

As a counterbalance, this surely entails surrendering some control to the ancient ancestor. While they're the same person on some level, and won't jeopardize the body they share, the old fencing master will have her own personality, and her own approach to problem-solving. This gives you a good excuse for the players to escape with their skins, even if the necromancer is normally the practical type: he doesn't play with his food, but she likes to have a little fun with her enemies.

Heck, if the players don't know what Mr. Bones looks like, they might meet him while Ms. Blades is in charge and not even realize that this is the man they're after. Even if the body's the same, there should be a marked difference in posture and voice when different minds are in charge.

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Necromancers are too much fun, I have to throw in another option.

Originally, "necromancy" meant answering questions through the dead, a form of divination (and that word originally meant answering questions through gods...). This tends to get ignored in favor of the old "army of undead" shtick, but knowledge is power. What if the necromancer can question the lingering souls of people and creatures the PCs have killed? Maybe he has to get close to the PCs first, perhaps at a court event where neither party can just whip out their swords and wands and have at it.

Once he does this, he can learn the PCs powers, and the techniques they've used successfully in the past. They'll have to come up with new applications of their skills, if their opponent knows how they usually operate and can prepare countermeasures. Remember Star TreL The Best of Both Worlds?

Riker: This was his crew. He wrote the book on this ship.

Guinan: If the Borg know everything he knows, it's time to throw that book away.

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A "nice" thing that I experienced from Necromancers is making you face your (long-dead) parents/relatives/friends that are fighting on his side as undeads (hopefully intelligent undeads, so they can try persuade the players not to kill them as it is super painful and would send them forever to hell, or similar, and they'll ask the players to be "freed" or "relieved"... and this can lead to faustian situations). Of course, what the players will see may actually be their relatives turned undead or may be just a fake to trick them.

Another "lovely" trick is to use some kind of poison / magic object that teleport the players in some kind of pocket hell, so they'll have a good job to escape it.

Another one is to capture one of the players and develop some kind of link between the necromancer and the player, so that any hit on the necromancer would actually damage the prisoner (and vice versa!).

If the players are suitable and prove "worthy", the Necromancer could try becoming their "friend" and offer some support on the road to Immortality (lots of potential tricks and plot twists down this way...).

In general, I wouldn't recommend letting the group kill the Necromancer at the first attempt. This adventure could be the start of a long-lasting rivalry with a strong enemy, always ready to plan some trick...

All these examples are not directly related to ADND2e but can be relatively easily adappted, as you mention.

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Another "funny" option is having the "cornered" Necromancer offering to return to "hell" willingly on his own if the players complete a quest for him... and as personal companions / guides for the quest he will give Red Imps.

Obviously the real reason of the quest is to try and bind their souls to himself (or to his patron demon, or possibly he wants to send the souls to the demon as a "gift" to convince him to allow the Necromancer to attempt to gain Immortality...), but a "good" immortal, willing to help the players (or mess the demon's plans), will send Blue Imps, trying to guide the players to the "good" path, preserving and suggesting them never to sign anything with blood etc.

The "war" between the Blue and Red Imps (you can decide if you want one couple of Imps for all the group or for each player) and the tricks and countertricks can provide some really good fun. On top of this, I'd have at least one player signing his soul away, so the group will have to fight to get it back...

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