Necromancy

Necromancy is at once a Discipline and a school of magical learning, all dedicated toward the command of the souls of the dead. It has some similarities to Thaumaturgy in that, rather than being a strict linear progressio of powers, Necromancy consists of several "paths" and accompanying "ritals." Well-trained and puissant vampiric necromancers can summon the dead, banish or imprison souls, and even reinsert ghosts into living - or unliving - bodies. Needless to say, the study of Necromancy is not widespread among the Kindred, and its practitioners - primarily Giovanni Kindred - are shunned or ignored whenever possible.

Over the centuries, the various schools of vampiric Necromancy have diversified, leaving three distinct paths of necromantic magic available to Cainites. All necromancers must first learn the so-called Sepulchre Path, then extend their studies to the Bone Path or the Ash Path as time and opportunity permit. The Sepulchre Path is always considered to be the player's "primary" path; it increases automatically as the character increases her overall Necromancy rating. The Bone and Ash Paths must be bought separately, using the experience costs for secondary paths.

Like thaumaturgy, Necromancy has also spawned a series of rituals. While not so nearly immediate in effect as the basic powers of Necromancy, Necromantic rituals can have impressive long-term effects. Unsurprisingly, the elements of Necromantic rituals are things like long-buried corpses, hands from the cadavers of hanged men, and so on, and so obtaining suitable materials can be quite difficult. Scarcity of supply limits the frequency of Necromantic rituals, giving cause for many other Kindred to breathe a metaphorical sigh of relief.

System: A Cainite necromancer must learn at least three levels in the Sepulchre Path before learning his first level in either the Bone or Ash Path. He must then achieve mastery in the Sepulchre Path (five levels) before acquiring any knowledge of the third path.

As with Thaumaturgy, advancement in the primary path (in this case, Sepulchre Path) costs the normal experience amount, while study of secondary Necromantic paths incurs an additional experience cost. Because Necromancy is not so rigid a study as Thaumaturgy is, the rolls required to use Necromantic powers can vary from path to path and even within individual paths.

Insight
This power allows a necromancer to stare into the eyes of a corpse and see reflected there the last thing the dead man witnessed. The vision appears only in the eyes of the cadaver and is visible to no one except the necromancer using Insight.

System: This power requires a roll of Perception + Occult (difficulty 8 for formerly living creatures, 10 for unliving ones such as vampires) as the vampire stares into the target's eyes. The number of successes on the roll determines the clarity of the vision; a botch shows the necromancer his own Final Death, which can induce Rotschreck.

This power cannot be used on the corpses of vampires who have reached Golconda, or those whom advanced decomposition has already set in.

1 success A basic sense of the subject's death.
2 successes A clear image of the subject's death and the seconds preceding it.
3 successes A clear image, with sound, of the minutes preceding death.
4 successes A clear image, with sound, of the half-hour before the subject's death.
5 successes Full sensory perception of the hour leading up to the target's death.

•• Summon Soul
The power of Summon Soul allows a necromancer to call a ghost back from the Underworld, though for conversation purposes only. In order to perform this feat, the Giovanni must meet certain conditions:

  • The necromancer must know the name of the wraith in question, though an image of the wraith obtained via Psychometry will suffice.
  • An object with which the wraith has some contact with in life must be in the vicinity. If the object is something of great importance to the ghost, the chances for success in the summoning increase dramatically (-2 difficulty). Note: This bonus applies for all powers on the Sepulchre Path.

Certain types of ghosts cannot be summoned with this power. Vampires who achieved Golconda before their Final Deaths, or who were diablerized, are beyond the reach of this summons. Likewise, many ghosts (i.e. the infernal - those who have made pacts with Demons go straight to Hell) of the dead cannot be called - they are destroyed, unable to return to the mortal plane, or lost in the eternal storm of the Underworld.

System: To use Summon Soul, the vampire's player must roll Perception + Occult (difficulty 7, or the ghost's Willpower if the Storyteller knows it). The number of successes on the roll indicates the tractability of the summoned spirit and how long the summoned wraith remains in the vicinity of her summoner. Summoned ghosts are visible and audible to the vampire who summoned them, and remain so up until the time the summoning wears off. Ghosts who wish to be summoned can voluntarily appear.

For each question the vampire asks the summoned spirit, the Storyteller should roll one die per summoning success. At least one success is needed on this second roll (difficulty 6) in order to keep the wraith around long enough to answer the question.

If a vampire botches a summoning roll, she calls forth a malevolent ghost (known as a spectre), which immediately sets about tormenting its summoner.

••• Compel Soul
With this power, a vampire can command a ghost to do his bidding for a while. Compel is a perilous undertaking and, when used improperly, can endanger vampire and wraith alike.

System: In order to compel a wraith, the vampire must first successfully summon it. Before the wraith has left the scene of the summoning, the vampire's player must roll Manipulation + Occult (difficulty of the target's Willpower). The wraith can spend Pathos (the ghostly equivalent of blood; assume a pool of 7 for all ghosts) to combat the compulsion; each point spent removes one of the vampire's successes. The vampire may attempt to compel a wraith multiple times during a single summoning.

For each success achieved on the Manipulation + Occult roll, the necromancer achieves a greater degree of control over the wraith. The breakdown is as follows:

Failure The compulsion of the summoning ends and the wraith is free to leave. Many wraiths take the opportunity to assault their would-be masters as they depart.
One success The wraith must remain in the vicinity and refrain from attacking any creature without the vampire's consent
Two successes The wraith is bound to remain and answer any questions truthfully, though the questions had better be phrased carefully
Three successes The wraith is forced to remain and answer any questions truthfully, without evasion or omission
Four successes The wraith must remain, answering truthfully any questions asked of it. It must also perform any services commanded by its new master, though is only bound by the letter of the command, not the spirit
Five successes The wraith is trapped, obeying the spirit of the vampire's commands to the best of its ability

Compel holds a ghost for one hour per success rolled. If the vampire wishes, she can expend a temporary Willpower point to keep the wraith under the compulsion for an extra night. The expenditure of a permanent point of the vampire's Willpower binds the wraith for a year and a day.

•••• Haunting
Haunting binds a summoned ghost to a particular location or, in extreme cases, an object. The wraith cannot leave the area to which the necromancer binds it without risking self-destruction. A wraith attempting to leave the area of a haunting must make a Willpower roll (difficulty 10, 2 successes necessary) or take a level of aggravated damage; if the wraith runs out of health levels, it is hurled deep into the Underworld to face destruction.

System: The player rolls Manipulation + Occult (difficulty is the target's Willpower if she resists; otherwise it is 4). Each success ties the wraith to a particular spot of the necromancer's choosing for a night; with the expenditure of a Willpower point, that becomes a week. With the expenditure of a permanent Willpower point it extends the duration to a year.

••••• Torment
It is through use of this power that elder Giovanni convince bound ghosts to behave - or else. Torment allows the vampire to strike a wraith as if he himself were in the lands of the dead, inflicting damage on the wraith's ectoplasmic form. The vampire remains in the real world, however, so he cannot be struck in return by the wraith.

System: The player rolls Stamina + Empathy (difficulty is the wraith's Willpower), and the vampire reaches out to "touch" the wraith. Each success inflicts a level of lethal damage on the wraith. Should the wraith lose all health levels, it immediately vanishes into what appears to be a doorway to some hideous nightmare realm. Ghosts "destroyed" thus cannot reappear near the real world for a month.