Hidden within the deadly salt marshes of Blackmoor is a school as ancient as it is dark and evil. The Kreigan is one of the most feared and whispered about schools in the entire world. Based completely on the study and practice of necromantic magic, the school has single-handedly been the origin of the undead hoards in Blackmoor.
When the school was first founded is a mystery that has been lost to time. What is known is that its rumored existence predates more than one civilization. Legends say that a powerful but aging human wizard, named Kreigan, made his way into the heart of the Blackmoor marsh with the intention of creating a home away from civilized society where he could study and practice taboo necromancies in an attempt to prolong his life. Using powerful eldritch energies, the great wizard raised huge blocks of stone from the depths of the salt marshes, forming them into a veritable fortress of his design.
Upon the creation of his new home, Kreigan immediately began studying, hunting for any scrap of information that could possibly be used to extend his life. He plumbed ancient ruins and ransacked arcane libraries in his search for clues to the mystery of beating death. His abhorrent experiments produced undead by the hundreds, which he allowed to roam the marsh freely as a form of gruesome home security. As his search progressed, Kreigan became more and more obsessed with finding the information he sought. He vowed that nothing, not even the gods, would stop him from finding it.
After many years, when Kreigan was so old that his skin grew pale and practically hung from his body and his muscles were almost completely atrophied, he attempted a ritual that he had worked for years to create, based on the information contained in the many texts he had studied for decades and on his own experiments. It was designed to separate the body and the spirit, allowing the body to die, but the spirit to live on in a separate vessel, not as a cursed incorporeal entity, but as a free-willed undead being with full thoughts and memories of his life. After several days, the ritual was completed successfully and Kreigan became the first lich.
By this time, Blackmoor, already a dangerous salt marsh teeming with hundreds of natural perils, had gained a dark reputation due to the number of undead that could be found shambling within its borders. Many wizards and clerics, already acquainted with the black arts of necromancy and hopeful that they would find the source of such a large number of the undead made their way into Blackmoor. Those crafty or powerful enough to find their way through the swamp and locate the college were welcomed by Kriegan, who, having gained the immortality he hunted, now sought to immortalize himself through the spread of his discovery.
The Kriegan Today:
Today, the Kreigan remains as it has always been. Its central tower rises just above the level of the surrounding trees and two smaller wings have been added over the centuries, bridging off to act as dormitories for the students and living quarters for the professors. Many hopeful necromancers make their way to the school, hoping to be accepted and instructed by the oldest and most powerful lich in the world. Those who are accepted gain access to the largest melting pot of necromantic knowledge the world has ever seen. The unlucky applicants that are not accepted usually end up as laboratory experiments for those who are. The school itself is nearly impossible to find, and those who do not possess some way to protect themselves from the hoards of undead, natural predators, disease and terrain hazards in the marshes rarely survive long enough find the school and almost never leave Blackmoor alive.
A full school term is made up of four semesters, with each semester consisting of three months. There is no break between semesters and the students are assigned a new professor each semester. Students participate in classroom debates and discussions on the philosophy of life and death and attend instructions regarding anatomy and necrology. Laboratory experiments occur almost daily, creating various forms of undead for release into the marshes. Every student works to his full potential because any student that fails a semester ends up as a laboratory experiment.
Classes can have as many as fifty or as few as ten students. Most are lectures, but laboratory experiments ranging from simple dissections to ceremonies that tear the soul from an unwilling victim are hosted almost daily. Each class is separated into groups of five students, who act as a sort of study group, performing their studies and lab experiments together. Since competition and petty rivalry occasionally end up with a student dead, the study group also serves as protection for its members. At the end of the semester, one member of the group will be culled even if the group is short a student or two, so it behooves a study group to protect its own, since having more members at the end of the semester greatly increases one’s own chances of survival.
A large library of necromantic equipment, spells and materials are available to the students. Pioneering the creation of new forms of undead is considered extra credit. Many of the instructors are undead themselves; while they’re not allowed to feed on their students, they are allowed to turn any willing student who has completed at least two full semesters. Some of the more advanced students are able to utilize the school’s facilities and staff to achieve lichdom.
Upon graduation, the student is given a special book containing some of the most powerful necromantic spells available and is allowed to leave with a single undead servant. Alumni are welcome to make use of the facilities in their own research and many successful alumni students become professors for a time. It is a matter of pride for a necromancer to graduate from the Kreigan and it is a source of prestige among the necromancer community.
Aptitude – A prospective student must have some understanding of the forces he seeks to master. An applicant must demonstrate that he is able to cast spells of no less than 3rd level from the school of necromancy.
Intelligence – At the end of each semester, a final exam is administered, which covers all aspects of the education the student received during the semester. This, combined with the professor’s opinion of the student’s performance during the semester forms the final score. The student in each study group with the lowest score is seized and used as a laboratory experiment during the next semester. Each student must make a Knowledge (religion) check. A single synergy bonus of +2 may be applied if the student has 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (arcane). The student with the lowest score is seized (though more than one student has had the funds, equal to the remainder of the student’s entire tuition, to bribe the administration into allowing him to live if he leaves the school forever).
Upkeep – All of the hands-on experience the students get goes towards the defense of the school from outside invaders. Each semester, a student must raise at least two corporeal undead. He must also raise at least one incorporeal undead during his education. These wretched beings are released into the marshes to swell the ranks of the undead who serve as constant guardians of Blackmoor.
Tuition – Before being accepted, a prospective student must pay an application fee of 2,500 gp. Another payment of 2,500 gp is expected at the beginning of each new semester. This cost goes towards tools and materials as well as to pay the grave robbers who supply the school with a steady stream of fresh (and not so fresh) bodies. Students who pay for their entire education up front are looked upon favorably by the administration.
Experience – During the course of instruction, a student spends more than half of his time getting hands-on experience. Upon graduation, a student gains the Spell Focus (necromancy) feat. If the student already possesses the Spell Focus (necromancy) feat, he instead gains the Greater Spell Focus (necromancy) feat. The time that isn’t spent in labs or lectures is spent in study. The student also gains 5 free skill ranks to distribute among any Knowledge skills he chooses. Restrictions on the maximum skill ranks per level apply to these ranks as normal, but they may be added to any Knowledge skill, even if it is not a class skill.
Farewell – Very rarely, a student is asked to stay and become an instructor at the school, but after graduation most students must pack their belongings and set out across the Blackmoor. While most graduates have little to fear from the undead inhabitants of the marshes, the school does allow graduates to leave with one undead servant to act as bodyguard. The graduate receives any corporeal or incorporeal undead with a challenge rating of 5 or less to act as his servant. This servant is specially bound to the graduate and does not count against the total number of Hit Dice of undead he controls. Additionally, each graduate is given a special book of spells personally tailored to him by his instructors. The book acts as a bound group of scrolls, which the student may trigger as per normal, decipher to add to his divine spellcasting list (Player’s Handbook page 180) or scribe into his arcane spellbook (Player’s Handbook page 179), as appropriate for the graduate. The book contains no more than 30 combined levels worth of necromancy spells, which individually can range anywhere from 4th to 9th level (selected by the DM).
Alumni – Alumni from the Kriegan are welcome to return at any time to make use of the library and facilities. Those who do so for extended periods of time may be asked to repay the courtesy by teaching for a semester. Alumni are also welcome to return to undergo rituals designed to make themselves undead in the relatively safe environment of the school and with the help of trained contemporaries. Those who do so are always asked to either allow their ritual to be viewed by students or to teach a semester.
Mikhael Leichtman, Administrator
Shin Wan Hu, Instructor
Ngesay Bobowei, Instructor
Harriet Donrey, Instructor
Robert de Boron, Instructor
Alicia Sh'rde, Instructor
Ptolomy Setepenre, Head Librarian