Monday, 7 August 2017

Twelve Grave Guardians

I might have been absent for a while, but I have not been altogether idle. A visit to The British Museum helped produce the following list of funerary charms designed to thwart necromancers. If, for whatever reason, you attempt to raise a spirit from the dead, these items will attempt to stop you. Some could only be found on a corpse that has been specifically prepared for burial; others could easily be among the possessions of a fallen soldier on the battlefield.

(If you think Twelve Grave Guardians sounds like an order of terribly serious divine warriors, you are not entirely alone).

1. Upon tampering with the corpse, five mastiffs appear within five feet of the body. They will prioritise attacking the source of the magic that conjured them, but may attack others. The mastiffs are highly motivated to defend their owner, but are otherwise just mastiffs. Upon defeating them, you can find five terracotta statues of dogs painted in crude colours among the grave goods. They are not terribly valuable.

2.  Upon tampering with the corpse, the coffin or shroud in which it has been encased resists the necromancer's spells. The item enclosing the body has been prepared cannot attack, but will further resist any attempts to remove it. It must first be subdued before removal. Upon defeating it, you are in possession of a second-hand anti-necromancer device that must be restored before re-use. It is only potentially valuable, and certainly encumbering.

3.  Upon tampering with the corpse,  an giant eagle with a collar and chain about it's neck will appear from the chest of the cadaver.  It can attack, but will prefer to take up the body in its talons and fly away before the spirit can be thrust back into the flesh as one of the undead. If indoors or deep in a dungeon, bear in mind that this is no common giant eagle; it can phase through walls if necessary. However, catching hold of the chain will assist in subduing it. Upon defeating it, a battered enamel statue of an eagle with a chain may be found. It is not terribly valuable.

4. Upon tampering with the corpse, a large tortoise with a shell the colour of mahogany will appear, covering the body with its shell. No-one will rise from the grave with that beast sitting there. It can attack - but not for more than d6 damage. But it will resist most attempts to move it, or to penetrate the thick shell. Upon defeating it, you may find a tortoise statue of dark wood, no bigger than a human thumb joint. Unless you defeat it using fire, in which case you get ash - besides having a scorched corpse.

5. Upon tampering with the corpse, a child of indeterminate sex in a thick hooded robe and holding a lantern will appear. The child will first ask you to stop. If you do not, it will wail loudly, piteously and continuously. It may then attack you, either by blinding you with a sudden flare of light from the lantern or by casting bolts of fire from the same. Either way, someone else will probably come running in response to the noise. Upon defeating it, a brass lantern with a stub of candle can be found. The candle cannot be lit.

6. Upon tampering with the corpse, an imp or other minor diabolical creature appears and attacks the nearest target. The infernal realms have a policy of not letting other parties interfere with a soul that is firmly with in their grasp. You will be attacked even despite any allegiance you might have to such powers. Friendly fire is not unknown in the inferno. Upon defeating it, you will discover a copper plaque etched with demonic script - as well as perhaps a few tokens of traffic with dark powers.

7. Upon tampering with the corpse, a ghost will appear and attack you for up to twelve rounds. Upon defeating it, you will find an elaborate box with padded sections for twelve large coins. The number of coins found is equal to twelve minus the number of turns it took to defeat this spectral mercenary. The coins are not of any currency accepted as legal tender by earthly banks, though they may have value to some.

8. Upon tampering with the corpse, three arms holding three swords, jointed at the centre like a triskelion, appear and attack, making three attacks each turn. Upon defeating it, three swords will be found among the grave goods, joined by a chain. The swords will be too corroded or too ornamental to serve as a weapon.

9. Upon tampering with the corpse, a glowing sigil will appear upon it - a necromancer's hallmark. Another wizard has used this body before, or wishes to use it in the future. Out of professional courtesy, it will not attack you. But if you wish to continue to take mastery over this corpse, you must 'hack' through the hallmark, making several mind saves. Upon doing so, the corpse looses the glowing sigil (though a talented magician could detect what had been before). The owner of the hallmark may now be aware of what you have done, however.

10. Upon tampering with the corpse, a series of miniature statues holding images of the corpses entrails will attack you. These canopic sentries are effectively miniature golems. They carry no weapons except these images. Upon defeating them, you may find preserved entrails with in these statues.

From the Louvre; Charles IV, the Fair (d. 1328) and his wife Jeanne d'Evreux (d. 1371), each holding a bag containing their entrails. Think of something like this, but two feet tall. See also the burial of Richard the Lionheart for inspiration.

11. Upon tampering with the corpse, you are prevented from doing so by Consanguinity Charms! These chains link together members of the same family line - if you would raise one, you must raise those linked to it - which is a terrible strain on the magical abilities of an inexperienced necromancer. The more members of the same lineage are in the same tomb, linked by the same chain, the more difficult it becomes. A well-made chain is integrated into a family vault or catacomb in such a way as it is very difficult to remove physically. Upon removing or nullifying the chain, you are in possession of many feet of heavy engraved chain, ornamented with semi-precious stones (for preference, red ones).

12. Upon tampering with the corpse, it bursts into fierce flames. It was clearly buried with an Emergency Pyro-Purgative; the departed apparently of the belief that undesecrated ashes were better than a desecrated corpse. If you manage to remove the Pyro-Purgative before tampering, you are now in possession of a vial of a silvery liquid that ignites in the presence of necromantic spells.

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