Zylea is an earthlike planet dominated by a single supercontinent and orbited by three moons. Until recently, the continent, Altrion, was ruled by humans who enforced their laws through their dreaded Inquisition and its Priests of Light. In the past few millenia, however, a new power has risen to challenge the holy hegemony of the human kingdoms. On the southern shore of Altrion is a great marsh. Long haunted by the victims of ancient battles who met their fate in it's mire, it now hosts something far worse than any skeleton or serpent, an entire city of the undead, a city called Necropolis.
Necropolis is a dark fantasy comedy that pokes fun at the modern human condition. I expect the story to be humorous but not so silly and inconsistent that we can't take it seriously. Walking this line between subtle parody and absurdity is difficult and part of why this RP is in Advanced. To help stay in the mood, keep the following works in mind which exemplify the ratio of comedy/drama I am looking for.
Worgan Shadowgift, believed by many to be the greatest necromancer of all time, founded Necropolis 3100 years ago, year One by the city-state's own counting. This event proceeded the bloodiest purge to yet sweep the human kingdoms. Not only necromancers, but lycanthropes and witches as well were put to the torch. Worgan believed that those who dabbled in death magic would only be safe from the Inquistion if they banded together, rather than hiding in caves and ruins. The founding necromancers, the so called Shadow Council, an organization which still wields great power even today, forged the city's constitution. Argument centered on the rights of the undead in their new society and though Shadowgift debated aggressively for universal undead rights, most of his colleagues still viewed the undead as mere minions. It took a civil war in the young city state, a war that erupted over the assassination of Worgan himself in year 2345 to force the conservative liches to accept limited undead freedoms. Since the end of that war in 2349, all so called 'intelligent' undead have enjoyed full citizenship in Necropolis.
Newly freed undead soon found themselves enlaved by new masters, bound not by ritual and spell but bills and debts. The burgeoning Nectraulic industry which had been growing since the discovery of ectoplasm and its ability to animate machines, forced the newly freed zombies into factories by the thousands. All came willingly for with freedom came new costs, and beyond Necropolis was only the righteous swords of the human Inquisitors. Powerful strains of undead, vampires, ghasts and wraiths, were offered more prestigious positions by the liches to buy their loyalty and avoid another costly civil war.
In the years since the Civil War, the focus of Necropolis shifted to foreign politics. The city had always needed to defend itself against inspired zealots, a grand total of 13 crusades since its founding. Fortunately, Worgen's wisdom in building the city at the heart of the Mistwallow Marsh assured no invasion was ever successful. Not only is the swamp full of monsters hostile to humans, beneath it's brackish water lie thousands of corpses, ready to be raised by any necromancer of sufficient power. With each crusade the supplies of bodies beneath the bog is renewed. As it's industry expanded, however, Necropolis was able to do more than just defend itself. In the later half of the past century, it came to the aid of other 'societies' persecuted by the human kings. Treaties were signed with both the lycanthropes of Black Moor and the covens of the Burning Wood, forming a so-called Dark Alliance. In recent years, the power of the Alliance has only grown, resulting in 'colonies' within previously royal holdings. Integration has come only slowly, however, and a witch or werewolf in Necropolis is still a rare sight.
Magic and Technology
Necromancy is sometimes called the First Magic and indeed there is evidence of its practice within the oldest ruins on Zylea where human sacrifice and zombie rites are writ upon the ancient stones. Although the rudiments can be learned by anyone capable of sorcery, the greatest necromancers are those who have lived close to death, the children of war and the survivors of plague. However, even such fortunately cursed individuals must find tutelage to master the art. In modern times, young necromancers receive this tutelage at the Academy of Black Arts in Necropolis. Every year thousands of fledgling necromancers travel to the city to begin their path to lichedom, the pinnacle Necromantic accomplishment. Although, none outside the walls of the University knows the secrets of death magic, it is common knowledge that necromancers can not only raise undead (reanimation), but destroy life (withering) and shape dead flesh (flesh sculpting).
In modern times, Necraulics has begun to eclipse necromancy as the basis for the city's economy and military. Necraulics is a necromantic technology that relies on ectoplasm, an alchemically created phosphorescent green goo that is abnormally conductive to ghostly possession. Necraulicists, who are part engineer part necromancer, can design machines with levers and gear systems driven by hydraulic pistons containing pressurized ectoplasm. When such automatons take humanoid or animal shape they are called golems. Most common of these are the flesh golems, stitched together corpses embalmed in ectoplasm. As the new industry has expanded, the face of Necropolis has changed. Interrupting its classic gothic architecture are riveted pipelines, dripping green fluid at the seams and tainting it's skyline of dark steeples are factory smoke stacks spewing out black smog.
Undead come in many varieties, varieties called strains. Among the various strains there are two major subtypes, bound and 'born'. Bound or artificial undead were created by necromancers through rite, sorcery or technology. Liches, zombies and flesh golems fall into this category. 'Born' undead are spawned from other undead. Vampires and wights fall into this category. Whether born or made, all undead are unnatural and must devour life in order to prolong themselves. Means of feeding vary from vampires who drain the blood of their prey, to zombies who feast crudely upon flesh and to Liches who suck the soul itself from their victims.
Liche- Liches were all once human necromancers. Through a secret rite they gain immortality in the form of their own rotting corpse. Liches are among the most powerful and feared type of undead for a number of reasons. Not only are they the most influential strain in Necropolis, they are vitually unkillable for, unlike most other undead, their soul is bound, not to their rotting husk, but to a distant, and often well hidden/guarded vial called a phylactery. Liches once ruled Necropolis as autocrats and retain the arrogance of their former station. Their Shadow Council still holds considerable sway, but since the civil war it has had to share political power with the Chamber of Corpses made up of elected representatives from the 'lesser' undead strains.
Vampire- Some historians believe that vampires were originally created by necromancers, a theory hotly contested by vampires themselves. If a ritual for creating a vampire once existed, it is now lost for all modern vampires are spawned from their own kind. Unlike other undead, vampires are not cursed with rotting flesh, a fact which makes them the envy of other undead. Vampire abilities vary across their bloodlines, but all possess preternatural strength and speed. They also share a weakness to sunlight which causes combustion of their unliving flesh. As a result, most vampires make their homes either beneath the city or in the industrial districts where smog mutes the effects of the sun. Young vampires gravitate to careers that draw upon their natural charisma and beauty, entertainer, politician, public relations consultant. Elders, however, tend to be more reclusive, preferring to pull strings from the shadows of clandestine boardroom meetings and backroom negotiations.
Zombie- Zombies form the working class of Necropolis. Their level of intelligence varies from that of a small child to fully functioning adult. Prejudice, however, assures that even the smartest zombies are presummed stupid and ignorant. Before the civil war, zombies were slaves bound to the will of necromancers. Now they are consumers, living out their days laboring for minimal pay so they can put brains on the table and buy the very products they labor to assemble. Although zombies are not the most powerful of undead, they are notoriously difficult to kill with complete decapitation or incineration being the only known methods.
Ghouls- Not considered a strain by many necromancers, ghouls are still partly alive. These hapless humans are adicts of vampire blood, having been fed enough to instill a craving, but not enough to 'turn' them. Such Ghouls infest the poor quarters of the cities like crack addicts forever looking for a 'fix'. Lucky ghouls live in the service of a notable vampire family and hope to one day be turned into a full fledged child of the night. Although still human in many respects, Ghouls are immune to disease and fail to age so long as they continue to ingest vampire blood. They also inherit a small portion of the vampire's physical prowess and sensitivity to light. They can be killed as easily as any living thing however.
Wights- Wights are monstrous, sometimes even feral, undead. They take the form of dessicated corpses with wicked yellow talons attached to elongated arms. Although Wights can walk upright, most fall to all fours like an ape or bear when sprinting. Used as shock troops by ancient necromancers, modern Wights are still bred and trained for the army. Similar to a Liche's feared breath, a wight's claws drain its victim's soul. If a victim should survive such a mauling, he will still die, quite painfully, and will rise as a wight. Physically wights are nearly as intimidating as vampires. On four legs they can run as fast as a wolf and with their hooked claws they can scale all but the sheerest cliff at breakneck speed.
Wraiths- Wraiths are powerful bound undead created by master necromancers who succeed in binding an unrepentently evil soul to shadow itself. Essentially immaterial, wraiths give themselves form by inhabiting rags, cloaks or specially forged suits of armor. Considered the most unholy of undead by the human Priests of Light, they are venerated by the citizens of Necropolis. Wraiths often take high ranking positions within the army or the church, generals and bishops. Destroying a wraith is tricky business. If its garments are punctured or torn, exposing the wraith within to the light, the creature may be forced to flee, but it will not be destroyed. Only a powerful magical light source, the kind created by holy clerics, can obliterate a wraith's shadowform and slay it permanently. Myth also asserts that a blow struck by an innocent soul can undo a wraith, but most necromancers consider this to be just fanciful human superstition.
Flesh Golem- Up until a hundred years ago, flesh golems were merely putrid automatons, embalmed in ectoplasm and animated the same way as other golems. All that changed when a process involving the electrification of an undamaged brain suspended in an ectoplasmic solution resulted in a functioning mind. This advance was significant because it was the first intelligent undead created through technical, not magical, means. Flesh Golems vary widely for a skilled flesh sculptor can forge any number of ghastly configurations; however, the fact that most 'stock' comes from human donors means that most flesh golems have a roughly humanoid shape. Economically, Flesh Golems occupy the same class as zombies, though, laws pressed through by the Necraulicist lobby assure that all flesh golems desiring their freedom must pay back the debt of their creation to their maker. On top of debt slavery, flesh golems face hatred from other undead, particularly zombies, who see them as job-thieves.
Religious citizens worship the Dark Mother, the patron Goddess of Necropolis who is symbolized as a pale lady accompanied by a vulture. According to myth, she tends the soul stream from which necromancers draw so much of their power. Gothic cathedrals built in her honor break the skyline with their steeples and haunt the street sides with their stone gargoyles. Attendance at services is not mandatory, but those not seen in church are regarded with suspicion, particularly among the lower classes, zombies and flesh golems. Priests and priestesses are drawn from human cultists, but the archons of the faith are Wraiths, unliving embodiements of the darkest souls. The general population accepts the existence of the dark lady on faith, but some within the College of Necromancy have begun to wonder if the soul stream is not untended, a feature of nature like a river not made by anyone either mortal or immortal.
The Necromantic Industrial Complex
Since the Civil War, Necropolis has been governed by a bicameral legislature, the traditional Shadow Council made up of liches and the Chamber of Corpses made up of elected representatives. Vampires, with their inherent charisma dominate the chamber though nearly every strain, even zombies, own at least one chair. The government does not exist in a vacuum, however. Powerful lobbies representing city industry, both technological and arcane, put pressure on representatives and reward those who comply with lucrative consultancies after their term expires. Some conspiracy theorists even accuse this so called Necromantic Industrial Complex of being the true power behind Necropolis with the government existing only as their puppet. Others theorize it is the Shadow Council reasserting its control since most major corporations are owned by liches.
Ectoplasm is the life blood of modern necropolis. Ecoplasm fuels the wisp lamps that light the streets. Ectoplasm runs the factories. Ectoplasm powers the army's golems. Ectoplasm runs the private hearses of the wealthy and the public sub trams of the poor. Ectoplasm is an inescapable fact of life, a faintly glowing green goo that one is hard pressed to not find dripping somewhere, no matter where one is looking in Necropolis. Yet despite its familiarity, very few citizens, even among the necraulicists, understand what ectoplasm is. The alchemical details of its creations are guarded secrets, known only to the highest ranking necromancers within Deadpont, the chemical company which holds the patent on the substance. Still there are some clues as to it's nature. Deadpont factories can not conceal the sheer amount of corpses, both human and animal that flow into their production plants. Perhaps more telling is the behavior of ghoul blood addicts, many of whom, deprived of vampire blood, will crowd around leaky ectopipes sucking at stray drops of the ooze.
The exact nature of the spirit realms are a mystery to most, even the undead, who retain memories of their earthly lives but not their ghostly wanderings through the shadow realm. Only wraiths can recall the 'other side' and they are a rather tacit bunch. Among human necromancers, mediums are the self proclaimed authority on the Shadow Realm, but many are hucksters so it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction. What is known for sure is that spirits, once sundered from their bodies, persist only a hairs width away from the Flesh Realm after their demise. The stronger the spirit and the more attached it was to the world the longer it will persist. Eventually, however, all are drawn down into a spiraling current of souls necromancers call The Soul Stream. Since ghosts are rare, sporadic and frustratingly willful, most death mages draw their souls from the stream. Practitioners debate on whether the soul stream makes a loop or simply ends in a theoretical abyss known as Oblivion. Liches have thousand year old bets riding on the question, but so far no one has cashed in.
Witches also deal with spirits, but of a different kind. Demons are a kind of spiritual parasite which lives off the souls of the soul stream. Their spirit realms, through which the stream flows, have given rise to the myths of hell. The truth is not far from the myth for here human spirits are relieved of the last of their essence through inventive and devious torture. The weak are devoured and the strong transformed slowly over the course of millennia into demons themselves. Most necromancers have little love for demons or witches. Being soul harvesters, they see demons the way a rancher sees wolves. Yet the alliance between the two schools of magic remains out of necessity for both are targets of the Inquisition.
Necropolis requires a constant supply of flesh to sustain its undead hordes. Poor undead must make do with animal lives, goats and cows, but humans are the favored dish. Although necromancers are technically human their affinity with death magic places them in a separate category. Most, having felt the sting of human persecution in the royal lands, hold little sympathy for their brethren.
Some humans arrive as captives from foreign wars and raids, others are bred like livestock in the city itself. Referred to as meat or cattle they serve to quell the hunger of powerful undead, vampires, liches, and wraiths. The luckiest humans are chosen by a vampire to be turned or ghouled. Few ever escape, for even if they slipped their chains and escaped the city the Mistwallow would swallow them before they could reach human lands.
Werewolves and witches occasionally make an appearance in Necropolis, often as traders or ambassadors. Werewolves are shapeshifting monsters who can change between human and lupine forms. Most hail from the tribes of Black Moor to the northwest, a lonely peat bog where lycanthropes have fled to escape human hunters. Witches are practitioners of other forbidden magics, chiefly diabolism, the summoning and binding of demons. Their arts are kept within all female organizations called covens. Male mages called Warlocks, occasionally steal such secrets. Hunted relentlessly by the covens, some wind up in Necropolis where they seek refuge in the University in exchange for arcane secrets.
I don't do character sheets. Players wanting to join should make an introductory narrative post in this thread, highlighting their character. This post will serve as your character sheet and can be used as your first post in the IC once it is up. Any special information about your character's abilities or background that is important and not apparent in this introductory post can be discussed here if it is common knowledge or with me through PMs if it is secret.
I will accept only a limited number of exceptional characters, humans, werewolves, witches or warlocks. Most characters should be necromancers or some strain of undead.
Make Your Own
I encourage players wanting to make and play their own strain of undead. When doing so please conform to the following guidelines.
1) The strain should be based on real mythology. Anything more recent than H.P. Lovecraft is too contemporary.
2) The strain should not be OP. Liches and elder vampires are as powerful as undead get, at least as far as player characters are concerned.
1) Post regularly (1/week for side characters, 2/week for central characters)
2) Be a halfway decent writer, bring basic grammar skills and some degree of creativity to the game.
3) Accept character death can happen... even if your character is dead to begin with.
4) Don't harsh my mellow. Don't instantly flip out over character rejection or some perceived God moding. Relax. It's a game.
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I will be monitoring the thread regularly, so ask any questions you want. Please remember that the intro is purposefully vague. I don't list every possible vampire power or necromantic spell because I want players to create and design their own. Be creative, have fun, and do not be afraid to ask questions and propose ideas.