Book of the living dead

From the library of

Ashnah the hunted





Introduction to the art of animus. 2

Omens, Stars and their alignment 3

Amulets and their preparation. 6



Ingredients and Spell Materials. 9

Verbal formula primus. 10

Animate  Dead (Necromantic) 11

Variants on the verbal formula. 12




Usage of the ritual and its effectiveness. 16

How to control the living dead. 17

Introduction to the art of animus

The Undead, strictly speaking this book is not about the undead, instead it is about animated beings.  The book covers the creation of Skeletons and Zombie but does not cover the raising of spirits and the creation of the more powerful undead.  This book contains a summary of researches and several spells that I have developed.  These spells can be taught to talented apprentices but they require painstaking preparation and are much slower than the traditional method of animating dead.  Whilst there is no doubt that the animated dead referred to herein are similar to those created by priests of various gods, I have also found that through experimentation certain things can be enhanced by varying components of the spell.  Each section deals with different aspects that the Necromancer should consider when casting these spells and rituals.  Although the section on Omens and astrology is by no means complete, were it to be so this volume would take half a lifetime to finish.  There are also plenty of other treatises on those subjects and although few will concentrate on astrology for necromancers, much can be gleaned from their pages, especially when not to cast the spells. The section on Amulets is of course min-named as it really refers to talismans or aids in casting the spells rather than defences against them.  It is important however and my own amulet has helped me much during the creation of my servants. The components section, aptly named shows what affects can be gained by altering or adding to the spell and rituals, especially the spell.  No doubt some necromancers will find my researches useful although I regret that though my failures are documented they can be found in another research volume as the number of documented experiments is extensive.  It is important to realise the strengths and weaknesses of the different kinds of undead, or animated beings.  They can be exceedingly useful when properly tasked and managed, but there are some necromancers who have used an incorrect order and paid the price.  Control is clearly important.  In theory it should be possible to issue a phrase to a Skeleton or Zombie, but I have often found that simpler commands work better.  I have included a few of my favourite commands for the reader to try.

Omens, Stars and their alignment

In performing Necromantic spells it is possible to use divination to just the best place and precise moment in time to cast the spell and influence the results.


Anthropomancy, the  divination of human entrails is often associated with Necromancers because it is seen as fun, where are the majority of the population view it as distasteful.  I would add however that when organised as a public execution and part of a religious ceremony with the victim being a criminal or enemy it is somehow imbued with respectability.  It is very ancient and the reading of the entrails is a specialised art.  However a talented anthropomancer can judge the best time and date to perform a ceremony for maximum effect. It is possible to identify the potential strength of the body being divined as either a zombie or skeleton.  The skilled diviner can ascertain the best time to perform the ceremony on that body as well giving a 20% increase in cast chance.

Ashagalomancy is a system of divination of casting small bones (each associated with particular interpretation). The method is similar to throwing dice. In fact, in later development of this divinatory system dice were utilized. The numbers were associated with letters which formed words related to questions put to the diviner. For a necromantic spell normally five dice are thrown, but this does depend on the individual diviner. In an related preliminary ritual the questions are written paper which is passed through smoke of burning juniper wood. The bones rolled will give different omens depending upon how they fall.  In simplistic terms five dice can be rolled once dice represents time (D6-1 hours from now being optimum), one represents the current location and whether it is suitable, one the influence of the gods at this time, one the general aura of the area and one is devoted to chance.

Demonomancy is divination through the medium of certain demons.  Clearly some demons are more knowledgeable about the undead and will, for a price aid in the ceremony.  However if just the questions are asked through an oracle or token then answers will be given, though demons are vain and fickle and will often give unreliable information, especially where a calamity or something strange might happen.

Geomancy is a system of divination that employs the scattering of pebbles, grains of sand and then the interpretation of their shape and position. This method is especially useful when employed within graveyards or other burial sites to ascertain the best location to summon the dead, often the layout of the bodies being shown if cast on a flat stone, a sarcophagus lid for example.

Hepatoscopy is the examination or the inspection of the liver of sacrificial animals. The orcs are renowned for hepatoscopy. A highly trained priest called a bara was in charge of the vital function. The liver was considered the seat of the blood and hence the seat of life itself. On the basis of this belief the Orcs, by some incomprehensible process of reasoning, identified the liver of the sacrificial humans to the gods, and therefore deemed it a proper vehicle by which to divine the will and intentions of the higher powers.  The priest is specially trained to read or interpret the signs or markings of the livers. The practice of hepatoscopy was often performed in special area where the priests would purify themselves and dress in special attire when performing the act.  Also, every orc wing had a bara priest with it and he performed the act before the regiment's entrance into battle. Necromancers generally use this to ascertain the influence of the gods in any casting as well as when to start the ritual.

Lecanomancy is a method of water divination.  The necromancer should throw an object (normally finger bones, or powdered bone into a prepared cauldron full of water and to interpret the images they formed in the water, or the sounds made when the objects struck the water.  Another, more elaborate method is to place a silver vase filled with water on a moonlit night . Then let the light from a candle be reflected from a blade of a knife onto the water and the inquirer comments on the images formed on the water. I have never used this method as I have never found anyone capable of teaching.  However considering the components of the spells I consider that it might be a very apt method of divination.

Lithomancy is a divination method using stones popular in dwarven lands. Each stone supposedly has a significance of its own, and tossing the stones and interpreting the arrangement in which they fall accomplish the divination. Thirteen stones are used. They are selected from their natural environment during favorable astrological configurations, and with the aid of intuitional guidance. Ideally, the stones should be smooth and nearly uniform in size and shape. They may range from pebbles found on a beach to semiprecious stones such as agates or various crystals.  This is favourite method of the necromancers associated with Abbathor.

Monen is an elvish term covering that area of magic dealing with the reading of the future by the computation of time and the observation of the heavenly bodies. This area includes astrology

Necromancy is the act of conjuring the dead for divination. It dates back to time when Mitra and Set was worshipped in Cantabria, it was condemned by Hel and the current gods as it disturbed the souls of the dead, either once they had been judged and passed to their chosen plane or because they were waiting to be judged.  Necromancy is not to be confused with conjuring devils or demons for help. Necromancy is the seeking of the spirits of the dead. The spirits are sought because they, being without physical bodies, are no longer limited by the earthly plane. Therefore, it is thought these spirits have access to information of the past and future which is not available to the living. It has been used to help find bodies, and whether or not the person was murdered or died from other causes.  This can be especially useful when returning spirits to their own bodies for some of the higher class of undead such as revenants or more powerful skeletal warriors.  Many consider it a dangerous and repugnant practice. Allegedly dangerous as some spirits seek to take control of the necromancer and are very reluctant to release that control.  There are two noted kinds of necromancy: the raising of the corpse itself, and the most common kind, the conjuring or summoning of the spirit of the corpse. Clearly this whole book refers to the former but speaking with the departed will certainly help to discover more about the body and its skills.

Onychomancy is a form of divination by the use of, and the observation of human fingernails. In practice it is the observation of the shapes which the sun produces when shining on the fingers of a young innocent. These shapes supposedly indicate the future or future action to be taken.  I’ve never used this but it might have some bearing on sacrifices.

Ophiomancy is a system of divination based on the colour and movements of serpents.  I suspect that this is  best accomplished using a snake pit and a sacrifice, preferably hungry snakes and possible several pieces of food. I have not attempted it as again I have found no teacher.  I believe that this form of divination was used by Set priests and therefore is likely to prove useful in necromantic tasks.

A form of divination. Runes were at first ancient alphabets, and symbols that were ascribed with various magical, mystical, and divinatory properties. These various alphabetical signs have been passed down through the centuries and were thought to possess religious and magical meanings. Personal runes can represent letters, deities, qualities, events, and natural forces.  The runic characters,  originally numbering 24, divided into three groups called Aettas, these groupings of  eight have often lead scholars to believe that they are based on the dwarven alphabet and are used in dwarven divination.  In Cantabria during the years after the Giant invasion runes were believed to possess potent magical powers. These magical powers attributed to runes were believed to be released in the etching of names, phrases, memorial inscriptions, and spells upon bones, metal, wood, and stone. They were inscribed on gravestones to described the deeds of the departed and to ward off grave robbers. It was thought that a swords having a runic inscription became more powerful to inflict more pain and death upon the enemy. The powers of runes was sought for various things such as victory in battle, healings, acquisition of psychical powers, protection from the evil eye, cursing, love, fertility and other enchantments.


Magicians etched them on magical tools, even sometimes sprinkling blood on them to increase their magical potency. The magicians passed these tools onto their initiates, telling the initiates of their power by word of mouth. Runic symbols were inscribed--but never in the light of day--on items such as wands made of hazel, ash or yew, swords, chalices, or stone tablets to obtain whatever the magician desired. As a side note, one method of casting spells that I have not experimented with is to write the letters on slips of papers or wood that are given, handed, or sent to the victim of the spell. In the story one magician casts a charm spell and inscribes it onto some runes and places them in a purse belonging to the victim. The purse is then dropped where the victim will notice that it is his. He assumes he dropped it and picks it up; therefore, the runes and their spell are cast onto him  For divination purposes the runes are thrown and their relationships and how they lie with each other are noted.  There are major treatises on runic divination elsewhere..

Tarot is a massive subject but clearly when asking a single question the death card is one of the best to draw in regards to possible omens when casting.

Astrology, I have never been interested in the study of the stars but there are enough people who are such they have written massive volumes on the subject.




Amulets and their preparation.

Although the title states amulets, these devices are pretty much talismans although not in the strict sense of the word.  Once created, these devices rather than casting the chosen spell only aid in its casting, however this in itself can be very useful as it increases the chances for a special effect and should the caster be insufficiently skilled can reduce the chance of failure.  To date I have managed to create two such amulets, one to aid in the creation of serpentine undead and the second, more useful, helps me in creating human skeleton and zombies.  The creation of the cauldrons is simple and needs not follow any set pattern other than matching the design criteria as detailed in the ritual spells formulae.  As creating these items can be expensive and is certainly time consuming I have never found it worth while experimenting with the decoration that needs to be embossed on the outer skin. I have no doubt that should the necromancer have a preference for other undead, other cauldrons can be manufactured.  I have often considered wolves or dogs, but I suspect that they are far more useful alive.

The fact that it is possible to create such devices indicates that a similar thing can be done for other spells, however I do not have sufficient interest in those spells to warrant the amount of time taken to create such a device.. Considering the expense and time spent in making these devices I suspect that only the more dedicated mage would attempt such a thing.  Luckily most of my work is based on that of another necromancer who created one of these cauldrons.

The amulets are quite fragile and should be treated with care, especially when first removed from the cauldron.  I also know that should a disaster befall the caster during any subsequent spell casting it is likely that the device will be destroyed and another will have to be created.  Hopefully the device lasts long enough.  Certainly the serpentine devices are easier to create purely because the sacrifices required are easier to obtain., and certainly the local population has less objection.


Level:                         2                      College:                     Necromancy

Components               VSM               Range                         Touch

Casting Time              1 night                        Duration                    Permanent

Saving Throw                        None               Area of Effect                     One item

Explanation/Description: This spell creates an amulet that will aid the caster in the creation of serpentine undead creatures.  The cast chance of the spell doubles, or trebles if a critical success is made in the creation process for each subsequent casting.  The caster requires a specially inscribed cauldron, similar to that required for the Create Skeleton and Create Zombie spells.  The cauldron must be inscribed with snakes writhing together on the outside but must be smooth on its inner surface. Making a snake skull with the eyes inset with gems must begin the process of the amulet’s creation.  This must be placed in the bottom of the cauldron on top of a dormant undead snake, preferably a zombie, though a skeleton will do.  The necromancer needs a ready supply of snakes as these must be killed as part of the ritual, as least 12 being destroyed during the process.  The cauldron should be filled with water and the living snakes placed one at a time into the boiling cauldron.  There cannot be more than one living snake in the cauldron at any one time. The fire that must be lit beneath the Cauldron signifies the warmth of life, this must be kept going and at least one whole snake skin should be added to the fire.  An apprentice can stoke the fire, and is also allowed to place the living snakes into the water. The caster chants over the cauldron from dusk to dawn, when dawn arrives the ritual is complete and when the cauldron cools the amulet can be removed. Though beware the casting often makes the undead snake independent and protective of the amulet.


Components: Cauldron, water, undead snake and several live snakes, a snake head with two eye gems, each worth 10 gold pieces.



Level:             2                                  College:                     Necromancy

Components            VSM                           Range                         Touch

Casting Time            1 night                                    Duration                    Permanent

Saving Throw            None                           Area of Effect                     One item

Explanation/Description: This spell creates an amulet that will aid the caster in the creation of human undead.  The cast chance of the spell doubles, or trebles if a critical success is made in the creation process for each subsequent casting.  The caster requires a specially inscribed cauldron, similar to that required for the Create Skeleton and Create Zombie spells.  The cauldron must be inscribed with humans in a variety of poses on the outside but must be smooth on its inner surface, I suspect that a cauldron dedicated to Hel or other similar deity would also work. The amulet must be created using a human skull with the eye sockets inset with gems.  The skull should have an animate dead spell cast upon it. This must be placed in the bottom of the cauldron.  The necromancer needs a ready supply of human sacrifices as these must be killed, and their blood drained in to the cauldron as part of the ritual, at least 13 being sacrificed during the process.  The cauldron should be filled with enough blood to cover the skull and should be continuously replenish as the human blood boils off. The fire that must be lit beneath the Cauldron signifies the warmth of life, this must be kept going.  An apprentice can stoke the fire, and is also allowed to sacrifice the humans, or at least help in bringing them to the necromancer. The caster chants over the cauldron from dusk to dawn, when dawn arrives the chanting must continue until the fire has burnt out, no flames are showing, the ritual is then complete


Components: Cauldron, undead human head with two eye gems each worth 50 gold pieces and victims.


Ingredients and Spell Materials

Create Spells


These Cauldrons can be made by either a Coppersmith or blacksmith.  There is no requirement for the intricate carvings on the side of them but they certainly help in the casting of the spells (without them cast chances can be halved).  At least one sacrifice should be made over the pot during its creation, certainly before it fully cools.

Sacrificial Dagger

The sacrificial dagger should be made of solid silver with a bone handle, the grip made of cured human skin.  Other adornments can be added but these will be more for aesthetic purposes.  It is probably possibly to make the blade with other metals, however silver seems to be the best.  The only problem I have encountered with silver blades is that they often dull during usage.  However if it is possible to enchant the blade during its creation then this is normally sufficient.


Holy water, often the holy water of Hel is the easiest and most common to obtain, though there are other gods.  Clearly it would not be possible to use the holy water from such gods as the good gods, thought there are sufficient. Certain holy waters are more potent than others  and can even have a varying affect upon the potency of the undead created. When using holy water blessed by a priestess of Loviatar I noticed that the creatures emerging from the cauldron had a limited ability to inject a mild poison.


The oil must be of the finest quality however, an alchemist can purify oil and the liquid should be golden in colour.  The difficulty with heating oil is to avoid it catching fire, certainly care should be taken to ensure that none is spilt during the process over the fire. It is also possible to enhance the oil used and therefore ghive a zombie additional powers or defences by mixing potions in with the oil before the creation starts.  For instance if a potion of resist fore is used during the creation the zombie or skeleton will have some resistance to fire.  I use this as an example as a secondary benefit is to reduce the flammability of the oil being used..  It should also be possible to enhance some of the creations characteristics by using herbal preparations, certain herbs can be used to increase resistances to certain attacks and  for other effects.

Animate Spells:

It requires a drop of blood, a piece of human flesh, and a pinch of bone powder or a bone shard to complete the spell.  The inference from the spell description is that all of these components should be human.  In fact this is wrong, the items should ideally be from the same race or creature as that being raised.  If they are not the same creature then the spell will be less effective.  Each correct component adds 25% chance to the multiplier for the basic cast chance.  Thus if no correct ingredients are used then the spell is cast at half the effect.

Verbal formula primus

This is the main form of the spell and allows the creation of undead from the bodies laying in the area immediately surrounding the necromancer.  Note that one a battlefield the corpses and bones raised will often be hardier than those found in a graveyard.  There is also a chance that some of the combat skill of the previous host will be transferred to the undead creature.

When casting in a graveyard the skeletons and bodies do not need to be dug up first.  The theory is that the spell opens a conduit to the negative material plane.  This in turn not only imbues the remains with undead vigour but also loosens the bounds that hold the earth together that lies above them.  For a single round the skeletons have significant strength and are able to push sarcophagus lids from themselves and drive up through the earth to stand once more upon terra firma.

Animate  Dead (Necromantic)

Level:                         5                      College:                     Necromancy

Components               VSM               Range                         1”

Casting Time              5 Rounds            Duration                    Permanent

Saving Throw                        None               Area of Effect                     Special


Explanation/Description: This spell creates the lowest of the undead monsters, skeletons or zombies, from the bones or bodies of dead humans. The effect is to cause these remains to become an
Animated and obey the commands of the necromancer casting the spell. The skeletons or zombies will follow, remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific type of creature) entering the place, etc. The spell will animate the monsters until they are destroyed or until the magic is dispelled. (See dispel magic spell). The necromancer is able to animate 1 skeleton or 1 zombie for each level of experience he or she has attained. Thus, a 2nd level cleric can animate 2 of these monsters, a 3rd level 3, etc. The act of animating dead is not basically a good one, and it must be used with careful consideration and good reason by clerics of good alignment.


It requires a drop of blood, a piece of human flesh, and a pinch of bone powder or a bone shard to complete the spell.


Variants on the verbal formula

There follows some spells of my own creation, either through superior intellect and much experimentation and many deaths or through stealing the spell books of others.  The Skeletal servant spell is especially useful when it a sticky situation and there is a call for a servant to be useful.  The limitation of touch is annoying but not insurmountable.  This spell will not however allow the death to rise up from their graves (partly due to the range) but any skeleton who is the recipient of this spell will not be imbued with the initial extra strength and will be a normal strength skeleton for the duration of the spell. 


Level:                         1                      College:                     Necromancy

Components               VSM               Range                         Touch

Casting Time              1 Turn             Duration                    1 Turn

Saving Throw                        None               Area of Effect                     1 Human corpse


Explanation/Description: Through the casting of this spell the necromancer is, for a short time able to knit the sinews and bones of a single dead human to serve him/her for a turn.  The servant acts exactly the same as a normal zombie or skeleton but the duration is very limited.  The caster chants over the recipient and must be able to touch each of the limbs, the chest and the head in order to complete casting.


Components: It requires a drop of the casters blood, a vial of unholy water, and a pinch of bone powder or a bone shard to complete the spell. Note that the vial of unholy water can be substituted by a vial of the blood of the victim of the spell.  Of course this will only work if the recipient has been recently killed




Level:             2                                  College:                     Necromancy

Components            VSM                           Range                         Touch

Casting Time            1 night                                    Duration                    Permanent

Saving Throw            None                           Area of Effect                     One item


Explanation/Description: Turns one creature into a skeletal undead servitor of the caster. The caster chants over the recipient from dusk to midnight, when he  slays it with the dagger. He continues the chant until dawn, while the flesh is boiled off the bones in a specially inscribed cauldron. Power point cost is 2 per Hit Die of the creature.


Components: Cauldron, water, sacrificial dagger and victim.



Level:             3                                  College:                     Necromancy

Components            VSM                           Range                         Touch

Casting Time            1 night                                    Duration                    Permanent

Saving Throw            None                           Area of Effect                     One item


Turns one creature into a flesh-covered undead servitor of the caster. The procedure is similar to that for Create Skeleton, but it is usual to boil the creature in oil to harden the flesh. Power point cost is 3 per Hit Die of the creature. (Material components: Cauldron, oil, sacrificial dagger and victim).

Usage of the ritual and its effectiveness.

The animated dead can make effective servants and guards if used properly.  Whilst there is no doubt that the commands available to the necromancer for their control is limited, this does not mean that properly ordered and placed they are not effective guards.

Through judicious use of other spells it should be possible to make the undead feared as if they were far more powerful than they were when first created.

Skeletons and especially zombies will normally slow attackers down unless they have a method of mass destruction such as a powerful dispel magic or an area of effect spell (and the area to cast it in).  This gives time to escape or prepare ambush strategies.

Similarly some rituals and variants give more powerful results.  It is possible to raise zombies that have some essence of their former spirit and expertise.  There are several colleagues who have managed to create undead warrior with significant speed and skill, woe betide any try to attack that castle.


How to control the living dead

The most obvious facet of necromancy, and one of the most useful, is commanding the actions of the walking dead. The bony "pet" is both loyal and fierce, but is only as powerful as the mind controlling it. Know your creation commands as well as your own name if you wish to follow the dark path to power.

It is important to realize that your undead servant will only sense your commands from a short distance away. Get to know this distance, for any commands that you issue when your minion is farther away go unheeded.

Also realize that, for all of its power, your undead servant isn't very quick when it comes to thinking and interpretation. If you issue several commands in rapid succession, don't be surprised if a few of them are ignored.  For complete control, the most important commands (attack and back off, at the very least) should be at your very fingertips, to be issued without hesitation.  These commands are also effective on those undead creatures that you dominate for a short time.

Attack :              When this command is issued, your bony slave will rush off and attempt to destroy the pitiful creature that is your target. Remember that the skeleton, being without eyes, cannot sense enemies from a great distance and will only attack when the enemy is within range. "kill" works in a similar manner. If you wish, you can add the specific name of a creature immediately after the command, such as “attack tallest human" – in this case, your minion will ignore your own target and head to the victim you've specified.

Back off :            This command will stop your slave from attacking, and it will return to a more passive state. If it is hit again, however, it will once more join in battle, so plan accordingly.

Follow me          This is the state in which your undead thrall arrives. It will follow you to the best of its ability (which isn't very good at times), and will attempt to destroy anything that strikes you.

Guard here          As soon as your creation hears this command, it will stay in one place until attacked or given some other command. If the creation is sent to attack, it will return to its designated spot when the attack is completed (either through the foe's death, or from the "back off" command). Terribly, terribly useful.

Sit down             This command will transform your threatening minion of death into an innocent-looking pile of bones. The bones seem to knit together faster when collapsed like this. After you've got your creation sitting down, you might want to remind it to follow or guard as appropriate – sometimes they forget.

Stand up             If your minion is collapsed into a pile of bones, this command brings them back up into a standing and ready position. It's good for effect. Since the creation will automatically stand up before following or attacking, however, I rarely use this command. However it can have a good effect on living creatures who may believe that the power of your voice alone is sufficient to raise the dead

Get lost               If your skeletal follower annoys you, simply command it to get lost and it will promptly turn to dust. If you even suspect that your minion is about to do something out of line, don't hesitate to destroy it out of hand and summon another one. Callous disregard for our minions is occasionally called for. Note, however, that this does not work on dominated undead that you have not personally summoned – that would be too easy.


Guard me            When this command is issued, your skeletal creation will follow you around much like an obedient pet. It will also take it upon itself to attack the occasional by passer without your specific instruction. I don't believe the dead deserve this much freedom, so I rarely use issue this command. However it can be useful for moving them to new locations

As you were       This command clears the mind of your pet, causing it to forget all of your previous commands. This will cause your summoned creation to stand around mindlessly, only reacting to attacks on your person. Clearing the mind of a dominated undead will cause it to resume whatever wanderings it was pursuing – until the domination breaks, at which point it will come back seeking your fresh blood. This command could be useful if you've issued an attack command and let your enemy get away... but if you've done that, you pretty much deserve to die a horrible death in any case, so deal with it.