Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

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Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Groovy » Mar 14 2015, 10:49

Sandro400 wrote:My take on the Necromancers.
They were relatively rare individuals - most of them were hermits, travelling the world. Nobody remembers who became the first one, there're different legends about it (but no debate, as Necros are not a thing commonly discussed). The most popular one tolds a story of a caretaker (former Wizard) named Nethos. He was a humble, but troubled man: all of his family died due to different reasons and he buried them himself as well as countless others. His village's graveyard was located in the forest, and after some time, he started noticing that plants around him started to wither. He became something akine to Vampire, sucking the life energy from every living things around him. First it were mere plants, but with more buried dead his powers started to grow and worked on other creatures as well. The villagers quickly understood what's going on, and prepared to burn the caretaker, only to realise that they can't even get close to him withour meeting death - such was Nethos' aura. Nethos himself was terrified by his curse and decided to commit suicide by jumping off the nearby cliffs, located to far from the graveyard. But death rejected him. The energies of the dead that he sucked out flowed through him and withered his flesh. With aghast eyes he awoke from his near decade slumber and rised as a Lich, the Undead Wizard. From that time on he tried to understood what unlock those powers within him, how he became a Lich and later he dedicated himself to helping others with similar curse.
But time passed, and now 9 powerful Necromancers united their powers to establish a foothold far to the south, in the region called Black Sands. There, they built a Necro academy and ressurected the Cursed Legion... to once and for all end the Crusades declared on them.

But off with those old myths and fireside tails. To become a Necromancer, a creature must witness a death. More death you witness, stronger you become, to the point that Necro power may work automatically. This person becomes an "accumulator"/"attractor" of sad feelings, grief etc and his abilities work on sansation level - controlling death energies.
Well, how controling. If Wizards act as "transformers", Necromancers act as "suckers". They suck the energy of living beings, but they cannot store it within themselves and - the most important part - they can't suck a part of energy. Either no energy at all, or they suck it dry and effectively kill the target. Also, most of the Necromancers can't effectively control those enrgies - they're present around them, accumulate and after some time start to flow through the Necro, turning him into an Undead. Becoming Undead unlocks fully the Intellect layer, and only then a Necromancer gains complete control over death energies. He now can turn off/on his aura, direct the energy to erode things, use it to animate higher forms of Undead. There's a drawback though - the Emotion layer is shut down for them.

Ofc the Necromancers trademark ability is the Necromancy. There're 2 ways of it.
The living Necromancers, acolytes or "cursed ones", must use the bloodcurdling rituals to animate the skeletons. The blood of the victims becomes a force that joints the skeleton parts together and keeps them from falling apart. To rise Zombies, they need to suck a living thing with all of its energy and left the corpse inside special formula. The body then rises again, animated by the desire to regain it's energy back. That's the reason why they eat mortals.
The Undead Necros master the death energy and can play with them. They no longer need ingredients to rise the dead, and they also learn the rituals the enable them to rise more than mere skeletons and zombies...

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That's just a draft, not very thougth out. Contains grammatical errors. I hope it doesn't conflict with the existing lore.
Waiting for opinions ^_^

I think this is quite promising. We should be able to use most, if not all of it. I can't say for sure because it depends on how the lore for some other factions pans out. It doesn't contradict anything that we already have, though we have very little at the moment.

I'll post some guidelines for further faction design, including lore writing, later today. I just have a few other errands to take care of first...

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Postby Groovy » Mar 14 2015, 10:57

Something to keep in mind specifically regarding the undead is that I would like to use this faction to explore the question of what makes life worth living, and other questions that relate to that.

The Undead faction themes are:
  • Have you faced death?
  • Alchemy of life
  • What is life?
  • How will you recognise it?
  • What are its intrinsic qualities?
  • Different faces of life and death (explored here with the death artefacts)
I wouldn't want to limit the faction to physical (bodily) death only.

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Postby Groovy » Mar 14 2015, 11:01

Another undead-specific feature is the creature growth. The undead don't reproduce like living creatures. The only way to grow their numbers is with necromancy. This probably affects the game mechanics far more than the lore, but it might be worth keeping in mind.

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Postby Sandro400 » Mar 14 2015, 11:05

Groovy wrote:Another undead-specific feature is the creature growth. The undead don't reproduce like living creatures. The only way to grow their numbers is with necromancy. This probably affects the game mechanics far more than the lore, but it might be worth keeping in mind.


I believe that's pretty obvious ;) Never seen reproducing Undead before. They're, well... dead.
One quick thing: is there such a thing as Soul in Heroic world? By saying soul I mean it's widely popular meaning (a spiritiul part of living beings).

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Postby Groovy » Mar 14 2015, 16:49

Sandro400 wrote:I believe that's pretty obvious ;) Never seen reproducing Undead before.

HoMM is full of them. All HoMM dwellings reproduce the same way, be they living, undead, constructs or magical. This won't be the case in Heroic.

Sandro400 wrote:One quick thing: is there such a thing as Soul in Heroic world? By saying soul I mean it's widely popular meaning (a spiritiul part of living beings).

No. I'm going with a variant of the Buddhist idea of rebirth. Depending on what you want to use souls for, you might still be able to do it because the underlying substance from which everything is made feels emotions and has memory. You could say that the whole being is the soul. I just wanted to get away from the idea of composite beings who also exist in some other realm (there is no other realm) in favour of singular beings who change form. Does this give you enough to work with?

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Postby Sandro400 » Mar 14 2015, 17:02

Groovy wrote:HoMM is full of them. All HoMM dwellings reproduce the same way, be they living, undead, constructs or magical. This won't be the case in Heroic.

No. I'm going with a variant of the Buddhist idea of rebirth. Depending on what you want to use souls for, you might still be able to do it because the underlying substance from which everything is made feels emotions and has memory. You could say that the whole being is the soul. I just wanted to get away from the idea of composite beings who also exist in some other realm (there is no other realm) in favour of singular beings who change form. Does this give you enough to work with?


Ah, that. I never thought about it as "reproducing" before :)

I'll ask straitght: is there a room for ghosts in this world? If yes, are they the spirits of the deceased or more like their "afterlife aura-image"?

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Postby Groovy » Mar 14 2015, 17:08

Sandro400 wrote:I'll ask straitght: is there a room for ghosts in this world? If yes, are they the spirits of the deceased or more like their "afterlife aura-image"?

There is definitely room for ghosts, but I'm not sure exactly how they would be realised. We'd need the body to separate into two parts following death - the physical and the ethereal. Or perhaps they wouldn't leave behind corpses? I'm sure we can think of something.

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Postby Sandro400 » Mar 14 2015, 17:28

No Undead types today, my mind picked another thing and developed it ^_^

Introducing the 9 Undead Masters of the Black Sands!

They're 9 near mythological creatures in-universe, which, according to historians, appeared after the great World War. They all claim to have learnt the art from Nethos himself, though they don't recognize each other as his disciples. Long ago, their power caused create disbalance in the world. Other factions were forced to declare Crusades on the Necromancers and among the Crusaders 9 heroes rised. Each wearing considerable power, they were able to capture and incarcerate the 9 Liches deep inside Nebulian desert far to the south. But time took the 9 heroes eventually, while leaving the Liches unscathed. After centuries of imprisonment they managed to communicate with each other at the deep level of Sensation and staged a prison break. This sudden outburst turned the sands black and provoked an earthquake which created several "islands", counting 9. Each Master built a tower to honour himself and to act as a grave. Then they joined forces to ressurect the Cursed Legion and summon creatures of Death. This unholy, unwilling alliance is surprisingly efficient. The Masters opened an Academy and recruited younger Necromancers to make them legates of the Legion, but they very carefully guard their position as Liches, not allowing lower Necros to become Undead themselves. There can be only 9 Masters.
Only 3 Masters rule at a time. Others are in deep "slumber". Many wonder why 3 current rulers don't kill their rivals in "sleep". The answer is pragmatic - those who're asleep maintain the Legion from returning to dust. If any of the 9 meets final death, the whole Undead Army will collapse.
You may view 9 Masters as Necropolis Heroes. Though, ofc, there will be more Heroes... Also, each of them may inspire different lineups.
And it's just their short desc.

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The Black Widow (special for Galaad)
Image

She was very beautiful at life, and tries to remain so in death using magic to hide her true self. Her "curse" was that all of her 20 husbands died, hence the nickname. She believes that her final, 21'st husband which will truly love her as she is will free her from the curse and make her beautiful Elf again.
She's also fond of spiders, especially Karakurts. She even established Spider Farms in her island to extract their venom (which helps to regain her beauty) and breed them to use as deadly biological weapons.
Many believe her actual name is Natasha or Elena

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The Macabre
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He doesn't enjoy much his "curse" and the shutdown from Emotion level. Every miserable day he tries to regain emotions, thinking that music will help him. He became the best cellist in the world and, inspired by a nursery rhyme that his mother used to sing him, created a masterpiece known as the Danse Macabre. Sadly, his first perfomance simply rose another graveyard full of dead and continues to do so nowadays as well.

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Imhotep
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Often called "the Mummy", he's the most cold-blooded out of all 9. He was embalmer and scholar at life. Becoming a Lich gave him another infinite centuries to experiment on the living and trying to unlock the secrets of life itself. His victims are known to feel every single moment of his experiments.
"Discovery requires experimentation".

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The Shadow
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Nobody knows how it looks like nor what gender it is. It itself doesn't mind bieng referred to as "it". The origins of its unusual form are unknown. He can't vocally talk or even touch something. Wherever he goes, the Night follows - for which he became the favorite of Vampires. Unlike other Masters, he sucks not the life energy itself, but the emotions, turning his victims to emotionless puppets.

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Koschei the Deathless
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Maybe he isn't the most powerful Lich, but he's the older among them, that's for sure. He's known for being literally deathless - even if his physical form will be annihilated, he will simply reincarnate later. The Mummy calls it the "phylacteris power" and highly seeks it for himself, but Koschei keeps his necromantic arts a total mystery. He's the only one who holds authority and respect among others and doesn't took even a single pupil.

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Naadir (comes directly from H5, consider it rip-off or a reference, as you like)
Image

Other Liches wear dark robes, while Naadir chooses to dress in white. He also wears a Death Mask, form of artefact designed to instill fear. He has become a Master of Ghosts, reviving those creatures in great numbers and biding them to his will. He fights his enemies on psyche level, sending against them the ghosts of their family, friends and beloved.
There's also a rumor that he likes to talk with his ghosts at nights, asking them what it's like in the afterlife. It's uncertain whether he truly communicates with the dead or he just thinks so.

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Scarlett
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Scarlett believes that blood holds the secrets to everything in the world. She bathes in it, studies it in her laboratories, uses it to ressurect Skeletons instead of more easy methods unlocked for the Masters. She even made the blood a weapon, creating whips, swords and such like from it. She's a long time "friend" of the Vampires.

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Thanatos
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He's the General. The leader. The warrior. The most battle-worn of all the Masters, he's also known as the Angel of Death. He prefers the silence of Death and simply kills, kills and kills. He never tires, after all. His stare alone can kill a weak enemy. He's known to carry coffins with him everywhere

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Serpentes
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The Naga Undead Master, he's also the Master Spy of the Cursed legions and a master assassin. He almost worshipes death, making every murder a ritual. Very often uses snakes and Basilisks, as well as other reptiles.
Only on some really rare occasions he shows himself. Most of the time he acts through representatives. Thus, very few know how he looks like - not even all Undead Masters know.

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IMPORTANT THING FOR THOSE WHO MADE IT AND READ THE WHOLE THING
There may be other Lich Heroes. You know, those 9 are just "officila" undead. There's a Demilich and Dracolich dying to meet you...
Last edited by Sandro400 on Mar 15 2015, 10:04, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Panda Tar » Mar 14 2015, 17:43

Hmm, quite happy things are starting to move around here. I'll read it carefully later when I'm not on my cell phone.

*****

I was wondering if the name Necropolis is trademarked?
"There’s nothing to fear but fear itself and maybe some mild to moderate jellification of bones." Cave Johnson, Portal 2. :panda:

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Postby Sandro400 » Mar 14 2015, 18:09

Panda Tar wrote:I was wondering if the name Necropolis is trademarked?


I don't think so.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necropolis

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Postby Groovy » Mar 15 2015, 9:17

I see you’ve been working on this for a long time. :)

I think these heroes are very well thought out (and pretty, too! :) ). I’m not sure where we would use them though. Currently, each Heroic species has a single hero. I made this decision based on game mechanics – a hero only becomes available for recruitment in a town once a particular species joins the faction during the game, so hero design is species-based. It has its problems – the same creatures can be trained into very different units by different factions, so it will be difficult for a single hero to encompass the full range of behaviour. We could look into creating more than one hero per species, but I don’t think that we should create one for each faction as we’d end up with too many heroes (probably 150-200).

On a more serious note, one aspect that concerns me is that I don’t see anything positive in this list of necro heroes. If I were a living creature in the game, the only thing I would think of doing with the undead is destroying them. And I think I’d be fully justified in this decision.

I still need to finish writing the guidelines on faction design (hopefully later today), but this paragraph describes what I’m talking about:
“I hope it is clear from the above descriptions that none of the factions can be considered evil. They are all to be understood and learned from. Each one presents a worthwhile aspect of human life. None is so unacceptable that it must be annihilated. I don’t know how clearly we can convey this with the game – it is a war game after all – but I’ll articulate it very clearly in the novel.”

Sandro400 wrote:After centuries of imprisonment they managed to communicate with each other at the deep level of Intellect and staged a prison break.

Of the three levels that I’ve described, intellect is the only one that is not shared between creatures. That is, one creature’s intellect is isolated from those of other creatures, and cannot connect directly to them. I suggest using the sensation layer instead.

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Postby Sandro400 » Mar 15 2015, 10:00

Believe me or not, it's my random idea created in one day litterally. I kinda act like idea generator ^_^ Another day I might develop another 9 heroes ^_^

You can use them for background. Or grap one of them as a Hero. Or make them not Heroes, but something akin to (maybe neutral) unique creatures.
It is my understanding that if you're concerned with lore, you'll have a novel/campaign on PC version. That's why I delved in so much.

About "positive" - first of all, they're not the only ones I will introduce (we have Demilich and Dracolich coming). Then, the idea behind them is that they're "cursed". Becoming a Lich/Necromancer in this one version isn't deliberate. It's kinda automatical process which results from a lot of deaths. Showing the consequences of big wars, what creatures they create. Kinda if "the world" decided to teach its inhabitants that death is a terrible thing and show to what it might lead.
Considering the Liches themselves, they haven't chose this life, but desperately try to gain their normal life back. Sure, some of them (Thanatos, the Mummy) gradually came to "enjoy" their status, but majority of them wants to get rid of Undead. I designed them as tragic figures, the result of the world's atrocities. Don't know if I succeded.
The point is, they don't want to die or sit in prison - thus they established the foothold to end the Crusades. They want to become alive again.
And I already gave a hint that Undead may be reversed back to living creature. The world treated them in wrong way - they were created by war (what other factions seem to not understand) and the others came with nothing smarter to try to wage a war against, mmm, the "creatures" of the War.
You can't fight Death with more Death.

I'll change intellect to sensation too ^_^
I hope I'll come up with Demilich and Dracolich today, they'll be more "deep" than the 9 :-D

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Postby Groovy » Mar 16 2015, 7:16

As a one-day creation, it's even more impressive.

Apart from Thanatos and the Mummy, you have definitely succeeded in making them tragic figures. I think that the idea of turning them into atrocities personified has a lot of potential. The concept of collective consciousness is present in the Heroic world and features strongly in the novel, so this would fit right in. I'm curious to see where it leads...

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Meet the Dracolich!

Postby Sandro400 » Mar 16 2015, 16:35

Ok, I'm not ashamed to say that writing "exotic" creatures/heroes is more interesting for me (and harder btw). That is, I think, 1,5 day creation (I knew I would have Dracolich and Demilich, but I haven't even a slightest idea what they'll be in-universe). One of the most difficult parts was to get the pictures, as majority displays dracolich as simply an Undead Dragon, which isn't what I'm looking for. Also, the Dracolich is kinda neutral, but affiliated with the Necro.
So...

DRACOLICH

Image

If 9 Undead Masters are "near mythological figures", this creature is a pure legend. Even the Liches themselves are not sure if it really exists. It is said that this creature is the primordial Undead, the first of the Dead. Some call it Shinigami, "God of Death", having power to kill or grant life back; one of the few creatures that understood the meaning of Life itself. Some claim it's Nethos himself, others believe that Dracolich predates even him, if Nethos actually existed ofc.
A popular tale tells a story of brave wizard and philosopher Falagar, who, on the dawn of the world, were fascinated with the secrets of life. He was particarly interested in what happens after death - is there another world, or another life begins? Do all cretures have to face death? Why some creatures live longer lives, some - shorter lives?

So he embarked on a journey around the world in search of his answers. Finally, after many years, one leg in beyond, he reached the Frigid outskirts, where a powerful Dragon slumbered around a giant tree. The wisemen couldn't believe his luck - Dragons were thought to have perished long ago. Yet here he stood, and watched at living Dragon. The giant reptile, sensing the wizard, awoke and rumbled. Dragons can't kill, it's said; so they had a long conversation. Falagar asked many questions, and received many answers; finally, he asked the most important one - "what is life"? The Dragon told him that the answer lies within the tree. "Touch it", he said. The wizard complied, and understood all at once... though, with a price. The Dragon died the instant Falagar touched the tree, while the wizard gradually changed. It was the Watchtree, connected to the world itself, which allowed those who touch to "watch" over the world, observe it. The dragon was it's immortal keeper, tired of his duty, and Falagar accepted his duties, finally letting him die. He was transformed into Dragon, but something terrible has happened. The tree gave Falagar a specific message: it showed him a ton of deaths, all the ways a creature can die. But the wizard got his answer too... though on a step cost.

"Though I can assure you, the Dracolich is not a myth. While the tales surrounding him are mostly nonsense, he's very real. And he really has an answer to what life is. Why "an answer"? Oh dear reader, do you think that there's only one possible answer to such a hard question?..
How do I know about it? Hmmm, let's say... I've met him in person. He does indeed lives in the Frigid outskirts, but it's not a tree that he guards, but the Well of Souls. A wonderful place, really; a sight for my soar eyes. I fought him too, for he deemed me unworthy to enter the Well; I managed to subdue him, long enough to get a glimpse on the Well. Now, I have one more answer to the question of my whole life. Bad thing that now the Dracolich hunts me, thinking I'm a threat to the balance of the world. Heh, pitiful creature... the first of the dead reduced to a mere watchdog of a magical place. Bearing all the primordial power of Death... but having no right to kill somebody. That's why he'll lose".

Demilich Sandro.

--------------------

Sorry for any grammatical errors, forum-box writing is kinda hard for me + English isn't my first language + I do typos while posting. Next time I'll write in Word first and then copy-past it here.

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Postby Groovy » Mar 18 2015, 6:00

I really like how this is shaping up. Not to mention the artwork!

In the Heroic world, dragons, of course, can kill. I understand that Dracolich, as an observer, cannot kill, but I don't understand where the legend that dragons can't kill comes from.

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Postby Sandro400 » Mar 18 2015, 9:13

Groovy wrote:I really like how this is shaping up. Not to mention the artwork!

In the Heroic world, dragons, of course, can kill. I understand that Dracolich, as an observer, cannot kill, but I don't understand where the legend that dragons can't kill comes from.


Thanks! I've wasted an hour to finally find some good artwork :S

Of course they can kill, it's just a fairytale that says they can't. My bad, maybe I should have write this in PS, the idea is that in some factions/territories/nations dragons are thought to be immortal, and the price for this is inability to kill. If ever a Dragon commits a murder, it loses it's immortality.
Kinda like ancient people tried to explain how this reptiles lived such big lives.
The Dracolich, however, really can't kill.

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Postby Galaad » Mar 19 2015, 0:07

Sandro400 wrote:The Black Widow (special for Galaad)

Oh, you :D

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Postby Galaad » Apr 13 2015, 21:38

Sandro400 wrote:Meanwhile, I'm asking for suggestions. Post the types of Undead YOU want in the Necropolis faction in its dedicated thread. And, please, post suggestions aside "vampire-skeleton-zombie", i.e. aside must-have Undead.

What about digging into ancient sumerian/mesopotamian stuff?

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Postby Groovy » Apr 14 2015, 11:24

Sandro400 wrote:Meanwhile, I'm asking for suggestions. Post the types of Undead YOU want in the Necropolis faction in its dedicated thread. And, please, post suggestions aside "vampire-skeleton-zombie", i.e. aside must-have Undead.

My preliminary Necropolis design has these:
• Townsfolk = Lich
• Any humanoid -> Bipedal Skeleton, Zombie, Ghoul
• Any four-legged creature -> Skeleton Steed
• Any flier -> Skeleton Saurus
• Any beast -> Skeleton Gorger
• Bat -> Vampire
• Wolf -> Werewolf
• Bear -> Werebear
• Cat -> Chupacabra
• Gargoyle -> Golem
• Shadow -> Devourer
• Spirit -> Wraith
• Djinn -> Spectre
• Troll -> Abomination
• Dendroid -> Rotwood
• Angel -> Grim Reaper / Namtar
• Dragon -> Bone Dragon, Ghost Dragon
• Morg -> Necromancer
• Dragon mount + Morg rider -> Death Knight

I didn’t get very far because I’m focusing on the core factions first, but you might find it useful.

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Postby Panda Tar » Apr 15 2015, 4:03

I liked this concept:

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"There’s nothing to fear but fear itself and maybe some mild to moderate jellification of bones." Cave Johnson, Portal 2. :panda:


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