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Old 05-26-2019, 04:21 PM   #1
weevis
 
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Default [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

The Sheri S. Tepper "True Game" novels had some cool ideas about necromancers. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions for how to model two particular ideas I'd like to adapt from there. (I'm not a rules genius and so many of the people on this forum are!) In the novels, Necromancers raise corpses as allies in battle. I found a few necromancer builds in the forums, and there is a necromancer on p. 15 of "DF9: Summoners." I can make a power that works mostly as necromancers do in the novels. It's:
Ally/Ally Group (Undead): Summonable (+100%) (or DF9's "Conjurable"), Minion (+50%), Preparation Required/1 minute (-20%), Nuisance Effect/disgusting ritual -3 (-15%), and Accessibility: Requires Corpse (-10%)
Yet in addition: In the novels, Necromancers of a given talent make choices about who they raise and there are risks involved in these choices. They can raise lots of weak undead or a few (or one) powerful undead depending on the corpses that are near them. So far so good -- this fits the CP pool available for Ally/Ally Group very well. Although the GURPS rules seem to envision that the player makes this choice at character creation time, I think I can just specify that as long as the points add up the Necromancer can raise either a weak group vs. a strong single ally by making that decision during the game with no rules modifications.

Here's the (neat, I think) other aspects that I want to model and that I can't find rules for. There are two parts:

Part 1: In the books the undead gain free will as a function of the amount of time they are raised. The **more time** that they spend above ground the less likely they are to obey the necromancer and the harder it is to get them to go back underground.

Part 2: The **more powerful** the undead is that you raise, the less time you have before they turn against you. Or at least they stop listening to you.

In the novels necromancy is described as rolling a heavy stone where you push a lot to get it started, then once it starts to roll it is much easier, then it rolls on its own -- or if it starts to roll downhill it can get away from you.

These seem like neat game mechanics to play with if I had some defined dice numbers for the probabilities. I envision a player looking through a graveyard and weighing the decision to raise the army of pawns vs. to raise the corpse of the legendary wizard-king. Or I imagine a very powerful undead ally kicking butt on the PCs behalf but everyone is tensely watching the clock... it's only a matter of time and luck before he turns on them.

I may have missed rules like this in DF9 or elsewhere but I can't find any. DF9 is full of side references to raised spirits turning on their summoner. This possibility is also discussed in the description of Ally at p. B38. However I *think* the RAW models this with reaction rolls for each new spirit raised (e.g., discussed under DF9 "Conjurable") and/or ordinary GMing of the undead NPCs based on how mean the summoner acts toward the undead allies. That makes sense -- good rules -- but it isn't a fit to these two ideas from the novels. In the novels it matters how powerful they are, how powerful you are, and how much time has passed.

I was looking through the Unreliable and Uncontrollable limitations. I was also thinking about modifiers to the reaction roll, but it seems like there must be a more elegant way to tie the risk of turning against you to the amount of time above ground and to the amount of power they have.

e.g., I could allow players to overcharge/overspend their available ally point pool at an increased risk of turning by modifying the reaction roll for the undead that is summoned -- that seems close to RAW. Maybe something like the scale for modifiers for "Extra Effort" (which specify -1 per 5% increase in capabilities). But the basic reaction roll may not be the right mechanism at all -- I'm really looking to increase tension by putting things on a clock and tying this clock to dice and power level.

Any thoughts? Rules-writing isn't my thing. Forgive me in advance if I've missed something obvious!
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Old 05-26-2019, 06:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

My initial instinct was to apply the Maximum Duration limitation from Powers to the Minion enhancement, but the speed at which it expects to operate does not fit this scenario. Unless the undead start rebelling in less than 12 hours.

Still a case could be made that scaling the lockout period would be grounds for scaling the duration.
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Old 05-26-2019, 06:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

I think using the Attracts Hazards limitation would work. Might need to tweak it but its built for DF Psis who might attract monsters with their powers.
In this case the attracted hazards are the undead getting away from you and those who dont like necromancers in the first place.

A more complicated option might be the Corruption limitation but disadvantage points lower your ally pool.
Personally I prefer the first option.
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Old 05-26-2019, 07:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

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Originally Posted by WingedKagouti View Post
My initial instinct was to apply the Maximum Duration limitation from Powers to the Minion enhancement, but the speed at which it expects to operate does not fit this scenario. Unless the undead start rebelling in less than 12 hours.
Maximum Duration does move this in the right direction -- thanks! But it only applies a modifier to the cost. What I'm looking for is some sort of ticking clock. So either there is a secret GM roll for the duration with some modifiers on it (like an affliction?), or perhaps after each set interval of time there is a roll to lose control -- and it gets harder (like the recurring radiation poisoning rolls that reduce attributes every time?).

Maximum Duration also only handles one of the two parts of my problem. More powerful undead also need to be possible, but adding power should accelerate the clock toward turning against the summoner.

As to the timing, I don't need to treat the novels as canon. I *do* think in fact it is pretty fast in the books. Which as a GM is good for gameplay in my view as it adds an interesting dimension to necromancy.

Thanks for brainstorming this with me.
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Old 05-26-2019, 07:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
I think using the Attracts Hazards limitation would work. Might need to tweak it but its built for DF Psis who might attract monsters with their powers.
In this case the attracted hazards are the undead getting away from you and those who dont like necromancers in the first place.

A more complicated option might be the Corruption limitation but disadvantage points lower your ally pool.
Personally I prefer the first option.
These sound promising! But what book are they in? I can't find them.
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Old 05-26-2019, 08:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

Both are in Power Ups Limitations but Corruption is from Horror and based on Spirit Mediated from Thaumatology. Hazard is from DF Psis.
DF 14: Psi under the Psionic power modifier looks like its -5%
In Power Ups limitations its called Attracts Threats and worth -5% or -10%, page 11. The difference is based on its frequency of appearance
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Old 05-26-2019, 09:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Both are in Power Ups Limitations but Corruption is from Horror and based on Spirit Mediated from Thaumatology. Hazard is from DF Psis.
DF 14: Psi under the Psionic power modifier looks like its -5%
In Power Ups limitations its called Attracts Threats and worth -5% or -10%, page 11. The difference is based on its frequency of appearance
Aha thanks so much -- "attracts threats" does seem like just the right sort of thing. However, to fit the premise of the books I need to tie in the power level of the ally CP pool together with something like BOTH "attracts threats" and "maximum duration". I think I see how to do this with "attracts threats."

e.g., If my necromancer is "graveyard shopping" for undead to raise and he has a base 5 point Ally/Ally Group(Undead) I can offer him:
  1. Five allies that are 25% of his CP [5 points] -- some crumbly skeletons
  2. One ally that is 100% of his CP [5 points] -- a former adventurer
and permutations on that with the basic p. B37 Ally rules. With the "attracts threats" limitation and I can instead offer him a kind of overcharge as the second option by changing it to:
  1. Five allies that are 25% of his CP [5 points] -- some crumbly skeletons
  2. One ally that is 110% of his CP, but might turn on him (9 or less) via "attracts threats" [5 points] -- the former town wizard, recently-dead
That helps me think more concretely about this.

I still don't have any bright ideas about how to add the ticking clock element. "Maximum Duration" is implemented as a cut-off. I need to do something like link the "attracts threats" success roll to the time somehow. I don't think I want a hard-and-fast stop, I need something like: the longer you leave it walking around, the more likely it is to turn on you. And if you raise something very powerful, you get less time.

Happy to house rule something but, er... I don't really know how to model this. Any ideas?

Thanks again for your efforts on this.
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Old 05-26-2019, 10:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

With Attracts Threats its an Appearance roll, so the more you use it the more likely an enemy shows up.
So the first level for those crumbly skeletons with a low roll to represent them as slow to break free and the higher level for the tougher monsters as they break free sooner.
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Old 05-27-2019, 03:43 AM   #9
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

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Originally Posted by weevis View Post
Although the GURPS rules seem to envision that the player makes this choice at character creation time, I think I can just specify that as long as the points add up the Necromancer can raise either a weak group vs. a strong single ally by making that decision during the game with no rules modifications.
I just noted this, but look at Alternative Abilities (Powers p.11).
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Old 05-27-2019, 08:52 AM   #10
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Default Re: [DF] how to model time-limited, overchargeable necromancy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
With Attracts Threats its an Appearance roll, so the more you use it the more likely an enemy shows up.
So the first level for those crumbly skeletons with a low roll to represent them as slow to break free and the higher level for the tougher monsters as they break free sooner.
Yes as WingedKahouti suggested I could use Alternative Abilities and assign different levels to the different scenarios.

I was thinking that I needed to model the time element but maybe this is too ambitious and I am attached to doing that for no reason. Instead I could just leave it up to the GM. The text for "Attracts Threats" doesn't say anything about *when* the threat appears, so that could mean that the GM decides when the undead turns on the summoner.

So I could spec out three scenarios as alternative abilities, the "safe raise," the "somewhat risky" raise, and the "oh-no-you-didn't" raise.
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