Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

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Postby Groovy » Apr 15 2015, 5:52

I think you'll have to explain what that is, Panda. :)

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Postby Panda Tar » Apr 15 2015, 7:34

The artwork is nice. When I first saw that, it was right after Sandro wrote about Dracolich, so I named it, in my mind, dracolich knight, hohohoho. It looks like an undead knight knitted together to a dragon or wyvern carcass.
"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 Galaad » Apr 15 2015, 13:00

Sargon of Akkad, Assourbanipal, Enkidu ...

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Postby Sandro400 » Apr 21 2015, 18:19

Ok guys. I've decided to post things that are set in stone (I hope) and break the inevitably big post into smaller parts. You may also consider them to be divided by categories. The most exotic ones will come in the end. The narrator is Sandro.

In the following weeks I will tell you about the general Undead types you may encounter in the armies of the Liches. I will try to remember all of them, although you should know that there’re many variations and I may not go on to the specifics.

Skeletons
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By many Skeletons are considered to be the lesser Undead; even novices in Necromantic arts can raise them. Those who’re not Liches yet must use bloodcurdling rituals to raise a skeleton – dry a living being dry and wash the bones in the blood. The blood will serve as a bond between the bones and animate a skeleton. Those “red” skeletons are very resilient and tough – they’re nimbler, hard to destroy: the blood may reassemble the skeleton back. Usually to animate a human skeleton a Necromancer would need a human sacrifice, to animate an elf skeleton – an elf sacrifice etc. Using animal blood for reviving dwarf bones will, for example, result in the creation of a blood monster, a hulky short skeleton with blood-like animal features. Those creatures do not exist for long and are very difficult to control even for Liches. Maybe they violate some laws of Life?..
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Liches, being Undead themselves, can raise skeleton with the power of Necromancy alone. As such, they can animate a small army of skeletons with a wave of their hands, but while numerous, those undead are weak and will crumble even from a little punch. An irony indeed that living Necromancers raise better skeletons…
Of course, Necromancers may equip their bone warriors with different weapons and armor, making them an elite cadre among other skeletons, but majority comes into battle with what they died with. Some Liches dream of making Bone Golems…

Zombies
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If Skeletons are bones, Zombies are meat. Many believe them to be lifeless corpses animated by the will of a Necromancer. Surprisingly, a Necromancer does not need blood to raise Zombies, just a specific, heh, dark ritual. They just need to leech the lifeforce from a living being. How do you think the word “lich” came into existence?..
What “animates” the fresh corpse is a will to return this stolen energy. For this Zombies try to eat every living thing, because eating is a primal, instinctive way of getting energy. If there’re no mortals nearby, they may even attack plants. Contrary to popular folk tale, Zombie bite does not turn a man into a mindless corpse. It simply causes a necrosis in many cases, due to the diseases carried within them.

Spectres
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Those petty Liches still discuss are those things Undead or not. This fanatic, Naadir, believes that Spectres are the “souls of the deceased” with which he can talk; others consider them mere imprints of Life, caused by a powerful, dramatic, emotional death. I will not reveal the truth today, dear readers, for I enjoy observing their pitiful debate. But aside from their status, it should be noted that spectres are very real. There’re many different types of them, including Banshee, mistresses of despair, Shades, shadows of the dead, Moroks, who induce powerful nightmares, and many more. But all of them may kill with a single touch, carrying the ice grasp of death with itself. They’re also incorporeal: regular weapon cannot damage them and they can pass through objects.
It’s interesting to know that it’s very easy to control a spectre…

Vampires
…Who remembers the story of how the Vampires came into being? Correct, I remember. But this tale deserves a whole book, so I’ll recount it later. For now, let’s assume that the Vampires are almost as ancient as the world itself.
What do you know about those creatures? That they’re bloodsucking beasts, have superhuman strength, can fly… well, yeah, all of those things are true. But there is a one thing you should know. Vampires are divided into the 3 Courts: Black, Red and White.
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Black Vampires, also called Nosferatus, are very rare today. They’re the most ancient of their kind, powerful magicians and… the ugliest of them all. They’re the most popular figures of fairy tales. It should be noted that they can sustain themselves without blood for long periods of time, becoming desiccated and less powerful.
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Red Vampires live in big society. Their true forms are grotesque and bat-like, but they often wear “disguises” made of skins of mortal and a little dose of magic. Their females are known to be perfect seductresses due to their sexual bodies and a mesmerizing smell; males also drive women crazy. That’s how they hunt, using their natural weapons. Their bite paralyses the victim, sealing it’s fate.
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White Vampires are the most… kind of their kind. They do not drink blood if they can help it; no, they drink the vary emotions of mortals. “Phyche” vampires, as they’re often called. Compared to the other Courts, they’re the weakest, but make perfect saboteurs.
Oh, did I forgot to tell you that the Vampires are not… quite Undead? I think I may have some prize for those who will deduce why they’re not… Anyway, the Red and White Courts are in alliance with the Liches. The Black Court is too nihilistic to ally with anybody.

That’s all for today. Visit me later, and I will tell about some creatures of the night serving the cause of Necromancers…
Last edited by Sandro400 on Apr 26 2015, 11:33, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Groovy » Apr 23 2015, 14:17

I've just come across this article that brings up the subject of golems:

All the creators of these golems came up hard against a great truth. This is that when you create anything with the intention of endowing that thing with certain abilities, that thing inevitably takes on at least some of the characteristics of its creator. It achieves a consciousness of a sort and it is this consciousness that tradition says is almost impossible to eradicate.

It might be something to consider in our treatment of undead, constructs and magical creatures. I don't know how well we can handle this in the game, but it would work very well in the novel.

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Postby Sandro400 » Apr 26 2015, 11:34

I've updated the post with pictures, completely forgot about them =(

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Sandro400 » Aug 25 2015, 11:06

Hello! First of all, I would like to apologize for a long absense (work, other projects etc).
Today I will present 6 creatures.
The narrator is Sandro.
P.S.: Argh, finally I was able to post something! I lost my message 2 (!!!) times, even previews deleted my text, great I had the text saved elsewhere. I hope you enjoy it.

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

Undead Golems
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Yes, Necromancers can create their own Golems as well, using advanced techniques of their Art. Whether Skeleton or Zombie, the Undead Golems are composed of several different "fragments" of dead creatures. Skeleton Golems may have the skull of a reptile and torso of man, while also featuring many arms, while Zombie Golems often resemble huge meatballs, thus possessing many different charachteristics which make any Undead Golem almost unique. An old fireside tale tells that evil Wizards need forces of lightning to animate these beings, but that's just a fireside tale...

There're also rumors of Ghost Golems, or "Ectoplasms", which are said to be created by merging souls of the deceased, but only Naadir can confirm their existence...


Ghouls
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These beings differ much from other Lesser Undeads. They're swift, agile, loud, and also capable burrowers. Ghouls live everywhere where they can find corpses to eat - graveyards, cemeteries, even battlefields. In the lands ruled by Vampires Ghould became their servants, getting rid of the left-over drained corpses of their victims, eliminating them completely - Ghouls eat bones and even clothes of the deceased, leaving nothing left. Those (un)fortunate enough to survive Ghoul's attack will replenish their ranks if he or she was bitten by them.
They say that once these creatures were common humans, who were forced to eat dead flesh in the time of famine... As irony would have it, they liked the taste of their brethren's meat. Look at them now, how they degenerated...


Bats
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Ah, these tiny little parasites... They're quite harmless, hunting at night and eating bugs, butterflies, even little fish. This all change if a Red Court Vampire is nearby. The bloodsuckers have some kind of mental connection with them and can force bats to obey them, turning flying fluffies into swarm weapon. Whenever you see several bats attacking a mortal, you can be sure there's a Red Vampire nearby...
They also say that in the lands of the Vampires bats grow to unusually big sizes - such, that they start hunting on two-legged prey...


Scorpions
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You can't outright say that all Scorpions serving Necromancers are Undead, just as well as the bats. But some of them are and become favourite pets of certain Liches. These giant Arachnids patiently await their prey and then ambush them, crushing them with their mighty claws or stingers. Yes, their stingers are so huge, that they effectively kill mortals faster then any poison at the creature's disposal...

Echinops
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Whoever says that plants can't become Undead is a fool. Echinopsae proves all of them wrong. These plants grow only on corpses; they're effectivley part rotted plant tissue, part corpse fragments. Echinopsae especially like to "adore" themselves with putrid heads. Common folk say that Corpseweeds (as they call them) are carnivorous and prey on the living; I would say that they simply prepare new nurturing ground for future Echinopsae...

Gvorn
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Imagine a fallen tree, sucked of all lifeforce, animated by Necromancers to do their bidding and now seeking to restore said lifeforce by draining juices from the living. Not terrified? Well, now consider that Liches may rise even Treants, Guardians of the Nature... just try to fathom of what these creatures are capable of.
Last edited by Sandro400 on Aug 25 2015, 11:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Galaad » Aug 25 2015, 11:11

Is ... Is this a ... Tree Spider? 8|

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Sandro400 » Aug 25 2015, 11:41

Galaad wrote:Is ... Is this a ... Tree Spider? 8|


Yep, it's a tree spider, special for those with Spider allergy. ;)
The image is taken from the Disciples III videogame, although I believe the text description makes it clear that Gvorns can be any shapes and sizes, the point here is that they're dead trees.

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Groovy » Aug 26 2015, 16:55

Good to see that you are still with us, Sandro!

I have started designing exotic factions, including the Undead, but didn't get very far. I focused mostly on the story and themes that explain how the Undead fit into the game world. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

I’m thinking of making the undead masterminds an offshoot of demons. For now, demons are the only creatures in the world of Heroic that would have both the motivation and the knowhow to create new life forms. I see them undertaking this out of curiosity, desire for knowledge and artistic expression (rather than utility).

They would start with basic raw materials like bone, wood, stone and metal, and animate them into golems. This would require a lot of effort for rudimentary results, so they would soon tire of it and use progressively more complex materials (complete skeletons, skeletons with the nervous system, etc) to produce more sophisticated creations with less effort.

A side-effect of all this would be that these demon-liches would acquire an excellent understanding of how creatures function at different levels of complexity. They would use this to their advantage when interacting with various races, and would provide me with an opportunity for social commentary, including that of life’s purpose.

Another side-effect would be that they would be changed by their experiments and would come to question the nature of the world (pain and suffering, etc). This would tie into your characterisation of them.

All of this is subject to change, of course. :)

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Sandro400 » Aug 26 2015, 20:58

Hello Groovy! Glad you still remember me. ^^

I'm strongly against any type of merging/connection between Demons and Undead in any universe/setting. The wounds of H4 and other games are still fresh for me. Just personal preference, no objective arguments here, I hope you'll understand. No offence, but it's just like making a bull watch a red carpet.
A few questions:
1) do you mean Liches by saying "Undead masterminds"?
2) why would demons bother with the dead remains when they have many other ways to make their "constructs" more complex (through the addition of Elements, for instance, or vice-versa, trying to create a living thing through fresh meat and blood)?
3) how come demons be changed by their experiments exactly?

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Panda Tar » Aug 26 2015, 21:16

Remember: detach yourself from Heroes experiences here. :D
"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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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Sandro400 » Aug 26 2015, 22:51

Panda, I perfectly remember that I need ti detach myself from Heroes, that's why I said "H4 and other games"!^^ I hate Demon&Necro merging wherever I see it. I believe only Divinity series managed to "combine" them in a way that doesn't look disgusting to me.

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Groovy » Aug 27 2015, 6:59

Sandro400 wrote:I'm strongly against any type of merging/connection between Demons and Undead in any universe/setting. The wounds of H4 and other games are still fresh for me. Just personal preference, no objective arguments here, I hope you'll understand. No offence, but it's just like making a bull watch a red carpet.

I wouldn't want to merge them, either (I disliked Infernopolis too). I'm not sure why a connection would be an issue, though. I'm thinking of the kind of connection that can be found between wizards and necromancers in Ashan, just not antagonistic. My reason for wanting this kind of connection is that there is a clear distinction in the world of Heroic between traditional factions (people of the land) and exotic factions (Oceanic, Celestial, Infernal, Underworld, Undead). The latter are more powerful, have more depth, and are essentially otherworldly. I would prefer not to have liches originate from people of the land because of this gulf.

Sandro400 wrote:1) do you mean Liches by saying "Undead masterminds"?

Yes. I kind of left it open because I'm not yet sure of the roles of liches vs necromancers in the faction, and because I'm not confident that liches are suitable for the role of masterminds of the Undead faction as I've reimagined it.

Sandro400 wrote:2) why would demons bother with the dead remains when they have many other ways to make their "constructs" more complex (through the addition of Elements, for instance, or vice-versa, trying to create a living thing through fresh meat and blood)?

I wasn't going to have demons (Infernal faction) making constructs. It's simply not something that they would be interested in.

Sandro400 wrote:how come demons be changed by their experiments exactly?

Their mentality shifts from witnessing all the pain and suffering that results from their undead experiments, and realising that it is an unavoidable part of life. This change in outlook becomes reflected in their appearance and actions. I see them as weary figures, if not downright tragic.

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Groovy » Aug 27 2015, 7:20

I think it's important to understand what I'm trying to accomplish with exotic factions. Their purpose is to convey my idea of personal growth. This is conveyed more in the novel than in the game, but the faction characteristics need to be consistent between them.

It starts off with the main protagonist (a magician) encountering a water elemental and being exposed to the world of the Oceanic faction. Its home is the watery depths in the centre of the world, from which the world has sprung. It represents the world in its primal state – the abyss, the void in which nothing exists and in which everything is possible. Awed by the enormity of its potential, the main protagonist wishes to develop these qualities in himself. He is told that he must begin by learning to let go of his existing worldview, because it is his existing concepts that are preventing him from embracing more expansive ones. He is advised to seek out demons, who are experts in this area.

This leads him to the Infernal faction. Its members - demons - are known as the most travelled and the most learned in the world. They champion change and growth over all else. Their fiery glow is indicative of their desire for change, their history of sacrifices reveals the price they are willing to pay for it, and their shapeshifting abilities amply demonstrate how well they have mastered it. They reveal to the protagonist that the key aspect of change is individuation. To accomplish it, he'll have to plunge into the darkness of his own psyche. They direct him to the Underworld.

The Underworld is a faction of nightmares. It represents the dark side of the protagonist's psyche, the side that has been repressed because it was unacceptable to his caregivers and the wider society. His task here is essentially Jungian - to embrace it and become whole.

In parallel with helping him individuate, demons help the protagonist realise that he doesn't actually know what he would do with the Oceanic power if he had it. They direct him to the Undead faction for answers. Through their experiments with life in various forms - living, undead, constructs and magical - the liches/necromancers have discovered the dreamlike force behind existence, which is what gives life its meaning and purpose. They urge the protagonist to uncover his dream and live it.

This brings him into contact with the Celestial faction - beings who live life at the level of ultimate feeling, knowing and being. It is a heavenly faction in the true sense of the word rather than religious inquisition of some stripe that fantasy games typically feature. He sees in them who he is seeking to become.

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Sandro400 » Aug 27 2015, 9:34

Groovy wrote:I'm not sure why a connection would be an issue, though.


As I said - personal preference. But you're the big boss here. ^^

Groovy wrote:The latter are more powerful, have more depth, and are essentially otherworldly


The very nature of the Undead themselves, as I think, restricts their origins to the mortals. After all, Undead are just dead humans/elves/dwarves/animals. The other side of the Life.

Groovy wrote:I wasn't going to have demons (Infernal faction) making constructs. It's simply not something that they would be interested in.


Correct me if I get you wrong, but you've said that Demons started to experiment with simple materials first (bones, wood etc) and later went on to the dead remains. The experiment you mentioned fills the gap of "construct" to me (trying to create artificial life). And then I'm asking: why Demons started experiments with the dead when they had other possibilities to expand their research? They could have trying to make ore complex "golems" through combination of Elements, or, ultimately, using living flesh as their core.
P.S.: why don't you want a Hero of the novel to travel to "mundane" factions as well? ^^

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Re: Undead (Necropolis) faction lore

Postby Groovy » Aug 28 2015, 6:47

Sandro400 wrote:The very nature of the Undead themselves, as I think, restricts their origins to the mortals. After all, Undead are just dead humans/elves/dwarves/animals. The other side of the Life.

The undead hordes can certainly be run-of-the-mill creatures, but I think there’s quite a big difference between them and those who create/control them. I wouldn’t put creating life and conquering death on par with casting lightning bolts and such. Thematically at least it raises topics that more mundane magic use does not, and that people of the land are less inclined to ponder.

That said, liches don’t have to be former demons even in the Heroic world. I’m open to workable alternatives (I think :) ).

Sandro400 wrote:Correct me if I get you wrong, but you've said that Demons started to experiment with simple materials first (bones, wood etc) and later went on to the dead remains. The experiment you mentioned fills the gap of "construct" to me (trying to create artificial life). And then I'm asking: why Demons started experiments with the dead when they had other possibilities to expand their research? They could have trying to make ore complex "golems" through combination of Elements, or, ultimately, using living flesh as their core.

Perhaps I’m drawing too much on robotics/sci-fi, but the way I see it, it is easier to start off with a structure that already implements complex bodily functions like sight and movement (provided that one is able to revive it) than to create such a structure from scratch. Working with living flesh is even easier.

To me, these are all variations on the same theme.

Sandro400 wrote:P.S.: why don't you want a Hero of the novel to travel to "mundane" factions as well? ^^

He is from the mundane factions and spends a lot of his time there. But there is a qualitative difference to his association with the two types of factions. He engages with people from the mundane factions as an equal in an effort to solve their collective problems. With the exotic factions, he is very much an apprentice in every sense of the word, and seeks them out because he wants to learn from them. His travels are split between associating with the likes of demons with whose help he seeks to develop as a magician and a person, and then applying that newfound knowledge in the realm of mundane factions.


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