Game: Necromancer’s Legacy
Review Dated: 26th, October 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
Ambient Inc have an agreement with Mystic Eye which has their products put into print. Necromancer’s Legacy is one of these products. The title is an example of hiding in plain sight; the book really is about the legacy of a necromancer even though it also happens to be chock full of new magic spells, creatures, templates and prestige classes.
The background to Necromancer’s Legacy seems to be the tried and tested recipe; a favourite campaign world, brought to life through years of playing and then turned into a book. The transformation has been carefully done though; the readers benefit from the cherry picking of the best bits and there’s clearly been a filtering of campaign specific information so that you pick and up and play with any or all of the book’s content. I very much like the resulting effect, the classes, creatures and magic have a focus, an on-going theme that pulls them together. There’s an introduction that sets up this history but it’s short and discreet, taking up only a page when combined with a timeline that seems to be counting down to some yet to happen event. The results of this interwoven background is that there is plenty of flavour in the book but I think you could call very little of it “fat”. Throughout the book there are excerpts of Gar’Udok’s terror and you can put them together as you will to build nearly a world setting in its own right, a chapter of history for your own game, a deadly part of a dangerous continent or you can leave it all alone.
There are a lot of new spells: 16 pages in total. As you would expect the vast majority of the spells are necromantic in nature. Its always good when this many new spells are introduced in a similar way as in the Player’s Handbook and are listed by class levels first before then being detailed in an alphabetic list. Classes include Assassin, Blackguard, Necromancer and Death Knight so there’s more than just the core list. Not all of the spells are involved with using negative energy in interesting ways to kill people nor are the rest of them then dedicated to specialised summoning or raising the undead. There’s a pretty good range. SkinWalking, for example, allows you to take the appearance of someone you’ve killed and so there’s still room for a bit of subtly or intrigue.
The second chapter “Risen Creatures of the North” so-called, again, with the Gar’Udok campaign in mind but without any strange and compelling reason to only have these undead appear north of the equator. There are a lot of golems here; disease golems, obsidian golems and poison golems and quite a few of the rest are constructs. Constructs are a good choice for necromancers if you think about it; there’s a fine line between animating bones with magical energy and calling it “raising the undead” and, well, gosh, animating bones with magical energy and calling it a bone construct. Necromancer’s Legacy doesn’t really get into that debate though and I wish it had found room to squeeze in at least an aside. There are nearly as many templates as there are creatures and I’m pleased to see quality templates continuing to take a bigger bite out of d20 supplement’s page space. The templates include the generic rules required for a necromantic construct (building something out of flesh and bone), ghouls, true mummies, exoskeletons and Lekassi which are the result of an undead under some sort of life spell mating with a living person. There’s a new player race tucked away in here – BlackHand Kobolds.
There’s a decent collection of prestige classes. You’ve got your typically enhanced necromantic classes here; Blood Druids and Zombie Masters but there’s just enough in the way of the Lotahm and the Legion to jazz things up a little more. If you’re wondering whether the Zombie Master prestige class in this Ambient book is the same as previous Zombie Master prestige classes in other Ambient books then you’d be right. Necromancer’s Legacy makes good use of OGL content. “Good use” means clever use, valid use and in-theme use and not simply heavy or frequent use. The list of products that go together to complete the Necromancer’s Legacy is rather long but it doesn’t really seem as if you need any of them to get your money’s worth from the book. Important additions, like the Zombie Master, are reprinted as required and its only the likes of suggested spells near the end of the product that don’t fully appear in print. The Legion deserve special attention; they’re a type of intelligent undead that are capable of taking command of other undead. They’re not able to raise undead in their own right but necromancers can hand over control to them. This gives the Legion troops and it means the necromancer can go off and raise some more warriors. Just by adding the Legion to your game you’ll be able to add huge armies of undead and you don’t need to expand on the core rules any more than that. The Lotahm are psions with special connection to birds allowing them to make great scouts. The artwork associated with the Lotahm is especially evocative as is the rather impressive picture of the Cairn Wyrm.
A book like this wouldn’t be complete without at least a few feats and so they’re here to make sure it’s complete. The feats, as with the rest of the crunchy bits, are great with the setting that the ambience of the book suggests but also seem fairly easy enough to drop into any other campaign. Similarly there’s a healthy supply of magic items.
Chapter six is home to a handful of suitably gory and dark gods. There are nine new domains here and off the top of my head I think that’s the record for new domains introduced in any single book. Bones, Disease, Greed, Insanity, Lust, Negative Energy, Souls, Undead and Vermin.
The last chapter is actually several pages long, rather longer than its title “Last Words” implies but that’s no bad thing. There are just a couple of suggestions of how you could use the content in Necromancer’s Legacy here but I don’t think there’s any real need for much more. Necromancer’s Legacy’s use is obvious, it’s a specialist necromancy book and it’ll be of use to you if you want to flesh out necromancy in your game. The chapter manages to tally up several pages in length because there’s a great big long list of spells (and it’s here that OGL is used without fully re-printing the original) that’s titled “Thee Big Librum ov Nekromantik Artes, Divine”. That title sums it up; over three pages of tightly packed spell names that are all carefully referenced to over ten different d20 supplements.
I was actually fairly impressed by the Necromancer’s Legacy and I wasn’t expecting to be. I was expecting yet another sub-class book full of dry crunchy bits but what I actually got was crunchy with feeling and a great story holding it all together. Actually, it’s more than that. By reading through the Legacy you really do get the feeling that it’s the result of someone’s much loved and worked on campaign world – which is a plus. Although there are long introductions and conclusions about the author’s game I never considered the book to be anything less than professional. In the end it’s the combination of all this that makes the Necromancer’s Legacy a contender.