Necromancy: Beyond the Grave


Necromancy: Beyond the Grave

Author: Matthew Sprange
Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
Publish Date: 2001
ISBN: 1-903980-04-6
Pages: 64
Rating: 10 out of 10
Retail Price: $14.95


D20 books about necromancy and the undead are a dime a dozen. Most of them aren't very original and quite a few of them aren't any good at all. This book, on the other hand, might quite possibly be the best non-core D20 book I've ever read.

Almost every major reference you'll see in D&D makes a passing mention of necromancy being something most normal spellcasters shun because of its debilitating effects on one's mind, body and soul. Unfortunately, however, this appears to be mere flavor text, since nothing like this is built into the D20 system. This book is different from all the others I've read in that it gives options to achieve great power quickly with necromancy (which is usually thought of as a particuarly weak spell school), but with signifigant risks. This seems to parallel what necromancy is supposed to be, I think.

The book begins with a discussion about what necromancy actually is, touching on negative energy and how it affects the living and the dead, which is more than the average necromantic source book gives the reader. New prestige classes, spells and magic items are presented, but the book really shines with its system to necromantic side effects. The use of powerful necromantic feats (a great many of which are contained in this book) eventually has an effect on the mind, body and soul of the user, applying side effects on a failed save. Another thing about this book that impresses me is that it contains information about the actual process of transforming into a lich. Lastly, there's a section in the book dedicated to helping DMs overcome common problems with necromancers, such as PCs constantly sending mindless undead ahead to set off the traps it took the DM hours to come up with or the problems behind explaining why a necromancer BBEG has an army of undead at his beck and call when the core rulebooks say that only a certain number of creatures can be controlled at a time. All of this is done without getting too gruesome...something many gaming groups simply don't want in their games.

All in all, I'm highly impressed with this book. I'd highly recommend this book to any player looking to create a necromancer PC, and even more so to any DM who wants to include powerful necromancers or hoards of the undead in his game. When I'm asked what D20 book I would recommend that a friend purchase, this is always the first one I mention. I almost couldn't run my game without it.