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May 3, 2011, 11:50 pm

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Cheka Man

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Heather's Corpse Ship


Necromancers have a common answer to most questions. This is a spell that one Necromancer invented in order to answer the question, "How do I get off this ship?".


Arthur had gone insane.

Over the years I had learned that his standards for comfort and personal safety were so low that he practically had no judgment, and thus I did not come to the realization he’d lost his mind as soon as one would have expected. It wasn’t until the last of our starting party, that obnoxious Priestess, finally expired and I had decided that we had enough corpses (the galley had left port with a crew of 80+ after all) that I realized Arthur had lost touch with things.

After dawn that morning I went to dispose of the rankest specimens, but just as I started to pitch overboard one particularly bloated and festering little galley slave, Arthur’s axe comes flying end over end at me. The axe popped the bloated corpse like a boil and nearly took my hand off.

"No one gets off this boat unless he pays the tolls of the salt tongs!" he yelled or perhaps it was some other madman’s nonsense. I looked back and there he stood at the ships stern; a two meter visage of masculine perfection. His eyes were still a blazing blue completely devoid of doubt or weakness and his posture showed no sign of fatigue. He held on to the rudder with one hand, and the other beckoned me forward.

"Witch!"and at that moment I decide that I would not be continuing to Isla Croix with Arthur. "bring me my axe and those lose riggings. For the rest of yous, either we reach Isla Croix or you all die at the oars." Arthur had always lacked a sense of irony, and apparently insanity had not mellowed him out.

My options for getting off the boat were limited. I could wait for Arthur to tire and then animate some crew to steer me back to port. If it had been anybody but Arthur that would have been reasonable, but that man had the spirit and constitution of a God. I doubt he would have even noticed if he did die, and even then I am sure the Dark Mother herself would be afraid to take him unless he had been beaten. Plus, the buffs provided by all the magical items he wore meant that he could go weeks without rest. I could have animated the crew into my favorite flavors of horrors and have them try and kill or subdue Arthur. But that would have been too much of a gamble, they may not defeat Arthur and the battle could just as well destroy the ship. I had already tried to poison that man, once years ago, and numerous other things that would kill a dozen normal men would not even distract my Arthur. What I really needed was another boat, one that didn’t need a crew.

Excerpt from Bitch to Lich Heather of Dach’s autobiography.

Heather’s Ship of Corpses a spell for nautically minded necromancers

Description: This spell generates an undead ship, made from corpses, controlled by the enslaved minds of fallen sailors and under command of the caster. When the casting of this spell is completed a group of flesh and bone corpses will fling themselves into a nearby body of water, and merge their bones, skin and organs into a ship. The ship’s design and appearance is based upon the knowledge of the corpses animated. (e.g. a group of Viking may generate a long ship, Polynesians a deep sea canoe, American Confederates an ironclad or a blockade runner). At least one of the corpses must have possessed a good deal of nautical knowledge in life. The number of corpses animated, and the power of the caster limit the ships size.

The Ship: The ship starts most often as bloody mess of skin and bone, but will eventually become bleached enough to be white/yellow assemblage of tanned flesh and bone. While the ship may resemble any model of ship, it is essentially a skin or leather craft held together by magic. The bones form the frame of the ship, oars and masts if necessary, and the skin of the corpse is then stretched over the bone frame to form a water tight hull and/or sails. Some possessions of the corpses such as clothing or tools may be incorporated into the ship. The ship needs no crew, but rather pilots itself with the skill and capabilities held by the corpses in life. Thus if the crew of a pirate ship is slain and reanimated into a corpse ship, the resulting Corpse Ship possess all the skills and knowledge of that pirate crew. The Corpse ship is a hive mind, but prior to the completion of the spell the caster must designate one mind to serve as captain. The ship is capable of perceiving the world around it as well as living men, and it is capable of making decisions. It is by design not capable of disobeying the caster.

Casting time: Heathers original spell took several hours to cast, but once casting is completed the actions of the corpses and the generation of the ship occur in under a minute (assuming the corpse are in or next to the water).

Duration: The ships generated by this spell have all fallen apart immediately after the caster has stopped directing magical energies towards maintaining the ship. This may be due to the fact that the spirits bound to the ship wish to be released. If the spirits decide they would rather persist in this cursed undead ship form, then perhaps the ship would last indefinitely.

Range: The caster’s voice must able to reach all the undead he/she wishes to bind to the ship. The caster also controls the ship with his or her voice. If the caster is rendered mute or out of ear shot he or she cannot control the ship.

Material Components: A whole bunch of corpses, at least one of which was an experienced seamen, who in life spoke the same language as the caster.

Capabilities: The capabilities of the ship are limited by the starting material and the power of the caster.

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Comments ( 32 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

April 2, 2009, 0:54
So Pieh suggested I write a post with nautical necromancer theme to add to his codex. I wrote one, but I am not sure how to add it to his codex.

How do I do that?
April 2, 2009, 1:32
You go into Pieh's Codex and scroll to the bottom of the page. In the textbox under the text that reads "Suggest a submission:" type in the title of this submission.
April 2, 2009, 12:52
thanks, have an exp.
Voted Cheka Man
April 2, 2009, 10:23
It brings a new meaning to the term "ghost ship".
April 2, 2009, 15:17
Or for that matter, dead in the water.
Ancient Gamer
October 28, 2010, 7:25
Witty vally! Have an exp!
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
April 2, 2009, 13:32
Only voted
Voted valadaar
April 2, 2009, 15:17
Very unusual and nicely macabre.

The duration does not jive with it being able to survive long enough to become bleached yellow, since the caster will need to sleep sometime and that will stop concentration.

Though a minor quibble - the term buffs to indicate spell protections strikes me as highly anachronistic. Gamespeak as it were. If it were in the main text, rather then an actual character's dialog, I would not have cared.
April 2, 2009, 17:10
"The duration does not jive with it being able to survive long enough to become bleached yellow, since the caster will need to sleep sometime and that will stop concentration."

I anticipated this question. I think it depends on the system. In a point based magic system, the PC may just allocate a number of their spell points to maintaining the boat. I wanted to differentiate between actively concentrating on the ship, which was not my intention, and maintaining the ship through a focus of arcane power. How should I rephrase that?
April 2, 2009, 17:29
You could say the ship is under control while the caster supplies the magical power, or something to that effect. This does not say anything about concentration, or what happens when the power runs out - some ships would just fall apart, others will find their existence acceptable enough to endure.

(Oh, and by the way: if such a ship is for long enough without control, it might well learn something about independence... and turn against its creator.)
Voted Dozus
April 2, 2009, 19:28
A rather gruesome ship. I imagine this being cast in small seas that are often fought in - the Bosporus or the like - and the spell dragging up dead of ancient wars from the sea bed.

My one quibble is with the timing of the ship's formation. I get an almost comical image when I picture hundreds of corpses scrambling together for, say, a Spanish galleon in about a minute. Maybe a time table based on ship size would be more accurate? But that's mostly system-side stuff, so I forgive it.
Voted Murometz
April 3, 2009, 15:56
The imagery works well for me. Visualizing the spell-caster casting this macabre necro-nautical (necro-nautical is fun to type :p) spell is enough to pique my imagination. You know, it almost reminds me of a type of spell Elric of Melnibone or the wizards of Pan Taang would use, such as the Noose of Flesh, as a similar example, wherein a dead battlefield of bodies re-animates as a huge, ever-growing mass of flesh, and engulfs and suffocates an oncoming army.

Nice touches on the ship being able to perceive the world around it, and the fact that at least one corpse needs to know his starboard from his aft :)

I'll probably change the name of "Heather" when I use this but otherwise, good stuff!
Voted slartibartfast
April 6, 2009, 6:43
Novel idea!
Voted Pieh
April 7, 2009, 1:20
Very nice. The flavor text in the beginning is juicy, but leaves me unsatisfied. I would love to see more history on this spell and the person who created it. But it looks like a pretty solid necro-nautical (Yes, that is fun to type) creation. I will add it to the codex for you. In the future, it works best if you add the submission number when apostrophes are involved.
Voted MoonHunter
April 16, 2009, 1:19
The Flavor text seem a bit disjointed and stilted to me.

Some mechanical questions...

How do you get sails or a water tight ship without skin? So bones won't just do it. Or there should be some limitation mentioned based on the "raw material" available.

Ranges in terms of timing and effect would of been nice. It is a bit vague, but the GM will have to adapt it to their spell system set anyways.

Maintaing the spell should require some kind of check for longer periods of time or saves vs distraction (yes, being at the mercy of your necromancer's attention span does suck). Mana point systems can form a secondary payout to maintain the spell. (Or you can burn a spell slot to maintain the spell).

You should include a section of the spell to base the size of the ship (which is probably determined by the caster) given the amount of raw material. Rough estimates of mass of bodies to mass of ship.
April 16, 2009, 10:12
All your questions revolve around system of magic and GM preference. I am not going to get into it anymore then I have.

But you did hit on thing I have wanted to improve about this post, as too spell "Maintaing" I did envision on ongoing pay out for a point system or burning one of the spell slots per day. I wanted to get at that without sounding system specific, but you are the second person to bring this up so I am failing. I changed it once as Manfred had suggested, prior to your post. What do you suggest I say about duration?

sorry you didn't like the post
October 26, 2010, 17:11
well the post does say flesh and bone corpses? How would you word it and what limitations would you put on it.

As for the spell working too fast, I do remember one time almost getting into a exchange about whether or not is was reasonable for somebody to move 30 ft and cast a fireball spell. Then it hit me....

Finally, I did envision this as a high level spell or expensive spell if you are using a point system. I tried to indicate that with the flavor text describing to obviously powerful individuals who out lived everyone else. So you think the sub would be stronger if I said this can only be cast by high level/power necromancers.
April 16, 2009, 21:04
Updated: trying to improve the post or encourage the moonhunter's loving and respectful comments
Voted Nocontrivedname
April 17, 2009, 0:53
This I feel like I should vote on. It really is a good one. This is a solid spell. But really stop being passive aggressive.
Voted Fallen Angel
August 23, 2009, 6:08
Only voted
Voted manfred
August 24, 2009, 6:52
Seems I've neglected to vote before and that shall be amended. Just the right means to move for the necromancer of decent power and few resources... except for bodies, that is.
Voted Ramhir
October 26, 2010, 11:58

Icky-poo! I don't like or play necromancers, but for those that do, this would be a useful spell. Sure, it needs to be updated for the magical and rule system being used, but that is true of any of the subs, which is one of the site's strengths. 

Sorry, I just don't see MoonHunter's comments as vindictive, Axlerowes. MH was just pointing things out that, in her (or his, we need a gender-neutral pronoun, since we don't know the gender of the poster!) opinion, needed to be addressed. Likewise, in her opinion, the writing was stilted. That was her opinion, I didn't really notice it, but it is all grist for the writer's mill. If a significant number complain, perhaps you should try to do something about it. Remember, the writer's goal is to suck the reader into his world, not the reader's goal to be sucked in. If it isn't working, it is the writer's responsibility to fix it. You will never be able to catch all the readers, but a good writer tries to. (End of Creative Writing teacher's rant!)

Anyway, a useful sub. 3/5

October 26, 2010, 16:56
Let me start by saying
“vladimir ilyich ulyanov…V.I. F@$&ING LENIN”

Short answer: I was being sarcastic…sort of


At the time this was written, there was another guy posting, essentially trolling, (and I wish I still had his write up-in fact I will send him a PM maybe he gets email alerts and will get back to me) but this guy pointed out a series of events. Anyway what he wrote up was more or less as follows-
First MH responded to two comments I made (one comment I made to his scenes from a modern city-I don’t remember the other one). Then within minutes of responding to my comments on his post he made two rather angry tone comments on my post, he posted to two very negative comments on my two highest rated posts. They were old posts, not on the main page anymore, so he would have had to look them up. Anyway this third party guy, wrote a long write up about it and PMed it to me-Moonhunter and some other people.

I told the guy, his name/handle was non-contrived name (cute-huh), to stop messing with me. Because discussions about what somebody meant on a message board are generally banal. And despite the clear and convincing evidence that Moonhunter was being retaliatory or vindictive, there will be nothing gained by making a big deal about. (You have to own it Moon) Cause it was obvious this third party was just trying to stir up crap and Moonhunter and I agreed to drop it. So my comments that Moon was being vindictive was a statement to the moot nature of such vindictive gestures (whether made by Moon or by contrived name). At worst I have to ignore a vindictive post and at best, I respond to it and it makes my post better. But you are right, it is a distraction from the post I will remove it.
October 26, 2010, 17:45
Ha! Just refreshed this page and saw what you changed your previous comment to. You've got a wicked sense of humour, sir, but my hats off to you for the change. It certainly no longer distracts from the post.
October 26, 2010, 20:58
Thanks for explaining, Axlerowes. I couldn't figure out how you had been on this site so long and posted so much, and still were angry at what MH said. This makes much better sense.

I still stand by my rant, but it no longer applies to you, and never should have. I'm still new to this site, but I've seen a bunch of hurt feelings from writers that could not accept that their words were not golden and really ought to be polished some more.

I didn't know you *could* change the posts after you'd made them. Thanks for the info.

And I agree with Dossta. You do have a wicked sense of humor!
Voted Dossta
October 26, 2010, 17:47

Interesting boat.  Loved the part about how the type of boat changes based on cultural origin of the bodies.

May 3, 2011, 19:35

An interesting piece for the 1st half, toss in some line breaks on the second half and I'll gladly finish with some useful feedback and a vote :)

May 3, 2011, 23:48
Ah when I submitted this on the Grey Citadel (bracket) strong (bracket) translated to bold but now on Sepia Citadel I have to go back to the old bold ....I don't even want to look at the order of the single cut. still need to change all the s to s. But first I going to go back up my old 3.5 floppies.
May 4, 2011, 7:00
thanks for cleaning this up, made for a enjoyable read!
Voted Silveressa
May 4, 2011, 6:59

Wonderfully ghouslish addition to the necromancer spell listings, and finding the wreckage of this nasty ship could make for a stomach churning encounter on some remote island (especially if the creator is still lurking near by.

Voted PoisonAlchemist
September 14, 2011, 5:58

Crimeny this is disgusting. I have to use it. :D

Voted Moonlake
December 31, 2014, 19:47
This sub has its own dark charms, the excerpt is certainly excellent as backstory to how this spell is created.


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