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Weird Spells from The Necromican (Fantasy Art Enterprises, 1979)

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I've been asked to talk a bit about The Necromican from Fantasy Art Enterprises and to include a scan of the Erol Otus wrap-around cover. While I'm not willing to torture either my copy or the giveaway copy of The Necromican to get a full cover scan, I found this scan on the Net at the Tome of Treasures web site.

Design book cover illo

The book itself is a 60 page collection of 132 spells from levels 1 to 12 -- yes three levels higher than standard D&D. The spells range from useful to over-powered to "oh-my-ghod that's ridiculous".

The useful spells tend to be sensory related (e.g. "Spell of Gustatory Expansion", "Spell of Auditory Excellence") or simply practical spells for everyday life. For example, if you are out in the wilderness when it is time for your Saturday night bath, the "Spell of Good Grooming" is just what need. It provides the sanitary effects of a shower, a hair cut, and having your clothes cleaned -- for up to six people.

The overpowered spells tend to be combat related. This starts right off with the first level spell "Personal Energy Attack". The amount of damage dice you roll is determined by a D100 roll -- and ranges from nothing (on a roll of 1) to 1d20 (on a roll of 100). You roll this once, when you first learn the spell. And yes, the the number of dice you roll increases with your level. There's about a 60% chance the spell is immediately better than a magic missile and a 35% chance that the spell does as much or more damage than a fireball. Oh, did I mention that this is a area effect spell?

I sort of like "Thoth Amon's Organ Request". It summons an internal organ from a target within 240 feet (causing it to burst forth from the target's body) -- which sounds pretty fatal, although perhaps not instantly so. This spell sounds like something an evil wizard would use to terrorize people into following him as it is do much more disgusting than "Power Word Kill". Unfortunately, while "Power Word Kill" is a 9th level spell, "Thoth Amon's Organ Request" is a 6th level spell.

Fortunately, the forward to The Necromican suggests that the GM modify spells levels and such if needed.

"The levels given for the spells are based on our own playing experience, however, it is the privilege of the individual games masters to change the level of any spell so that it will better fit into their own universes."

I would strongly advise any GM who wants to use spells from this book carefully consider each one she makes available in her game. Probably 75% of the spells in this book can be used with some modification, either to spell level or to spell effects. A few, those in the first category, can generally be used as they are.

Of course, there are some spells that probably cannot (or perhaps should not) be saved. Most of these fall into the "oh-my-ghod that's ridiculous" category. My favorite "oh-my-ghod that's ridiculous" spell in The Necromican is the "Summoning of the Black Hole" spell. It's a 12th level spell that basically summons a small black hole (with all the nasty effects you can imagine). (Follow the black hole link to Wikipedia if you aren't sure what a black hole is). Unfortunately, the black hole spell only has a range of 360 feet. I don't know about you, but that is a whole lot closer than I want to get to a black hole -- even a small one.

It may sound like I consider The Necromican useless. That's not true. There are a good number of interesting and usable spells in The Necromican, some of seem quite useful and which I can't remember ever seeing anywhere else. For example, the "Odoriferous Variability" spell allows you to change your body odor so you smell like some other creature. This could be useful if you are being tracked by creatures that track by scent or if you need to sneak into an area guarded by creatures with an excellent sense of smell. Spells l;ike this have found there way into my games in the past.

The Necromican is a fairly rare early D&D item. A copy is one of the giveaway items in our current Sponsor Lords & Wizards Mini-Drive for RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. See below for more info. Donate today for a chance at a copy of The Necromican.

cover scanThe second Sponsor Lords & Wizards Mini-Drive for RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund is running now. The goals is only $250 with the following giveaway items: The Necromican, Judges Guild Dungeon Tac Cards, The Iron Wind (1st Edition) and Starstone. Each $10 donated gives you one chance at one of these items. This is in addition to the usual PDF downloads and other benefits of a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund and sponsorship listings in the upcoming Lords & Wizards game. To get help us pay our cancer treatment related bills (and to get access to some special downloads and a chance at the above-mentioned items), send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Thank you!


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