<+RayM> Hiya! I’m Ray Machuga, owner of Higher Grounds Publishing and Never Better Games. Today I’m bringing you the spooky goodness of Modern Necromancy | The Book of the Dead. It’s a supplement and setting expansion for the Modern RPG Universe that gives players the ability to play Undead and Necromancers, and gives GMs the chance to add a little death ro their gam
<+RayM> You can find the Modern RPG Core Book here: (Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/259006/Modern)https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/259006/Modern
<+RayM> We’ve also got a great Elfen supplement that was also Kickstarter and released. You can find the Book of Elves Here: (Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/296010/Book-Of-Elves)https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/296010/Book-Of-Elves
<~Dan> Thanks, RayM! The floor is open to questions!
<+danhunsaker> Do you have a link to the campaign, for those who haven’t seen it yet?
<+RayM> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/highergrounds/modern-necromancy-the-book-of-the-dead)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/highergrounds/modern-necromancy-the-book-of-the-dead
<~Dan> So this is a supplement for Modern?
<+RayM> Dan: Yes, this is an additional expansion and supplement for Modern RPG; also known as the Modern RPG Universe.
<+danhunsaker> Would that be MRPGU or just MRU?
<+RayM> I started clling it the “Universe” when the expansions and core books in the works started development. I’ve been using the acronym MRPGU, but MRU also works!
<~Dan> For those who missed our previous Q&A on the subject, can you give us a high-level overview of the overall setting?
<+RayM> So we have the core book now, which allows you to play any of the “mortal” species: Humans, Gnomes, Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, etc. Lex Draconis which allows you to play one of the tragically broken Dragons and now Book of the Dead which introduces death as a playable thing as well.
<+RayM> The setting is Modern Earth, with a twist. Magic and Monsters have always existed. Since the beginning of time and perhaps even before. The world is just like ours, but Humans are no longer alone on the planet.
<+RayM> Well, no longer if you look at our own world. In Modern, they were never alone and are, according to the in-setting lore, one of the “younger species” to arise.
<+RayM> Elves, of course – being the haughty and noble species they are – see themselves as first.
<~Dan> And the system is Pathfinder, correct?
<+SavAce> Looking at your KS page, I see that beyond Necromancers you have 5 other playable character types, and their descriptions seem to hint at some drives similar to, say, a Vampire’s hunger for blood. Is this a mechanically supported by rules kind of thing? If so, how does it play into how it works to use them at the table?
<+RayM> Yes, Pathfinder compatible with a few caveats. The wealth system is streamlined to obviate the “gold standard” of other games. So you don’t walk around with “30 bucks” so much as a +1 Wealth to roll when attempting to acquire stuff or barter.
<+RayM> SavAce: Yes, all of the “drives” will be mechanically supported within the species itself. Vampires have Hunger, Baen Sidhe (Banshee) have Keening, etc. Its all tied to the pull of the Underworld and how death affects each individual Undead.
<+RayM> Zombies will have Pathos, which is because they are essentially a Ghost, or the Jungian/Freudian Ego, occupying a rotting corpse that seeks to do what has been left undone. Much like a Ghost’s Pathos will be, except the Zombies can affect things in the living world far more easily.
<~Dan> So Vampires, Banshees, Zombies, and Ghosts are the new species?
<+RayM> In other words, the Underworld and the magic that bleeds into the living world through Haunts and Nihils, are what causes the Undead to occur in the first place. And Death always takes its toll.
<+RayM> Dan: For the MRPGU, yes. All of the playable species brought to you in the Book of the Dead are new and before-now unseen playable Undead.
<~Dan> What are your Ghosts like?
<+RayM> They’re the Ego of a person’s psyche given shape and form in the Underworld. They have a VERY difficult time affecting the living world, and as such have devised entire codes of conduct and civilizations for themselves.
<~Dan> (Howdy, lavenderlich! Welcome back to #randomworlds!)
<+lavenderlich> Hiya! Good to be here
<+RayM> They take on a nearly-physical form in the Underworld but, when manifested, are rarely physical at all – thought high-powered abilities can allow for physical manifestation instead of small touches of the living world or simple apparition.
<+SavAce> So, I am unfamiliar with Modern, aside from knowing that it is built from a Pathfinder-adjacent base. Does Modern work with a classic “Race & Class” kind of division here and the character types described for this project fit into what you might consider the “race” slot? Or am I misunderstanding your system a bit?
<+RayM> Their form in the Underworld is based on self-image they had in life. Basically how when you look in the mirror, you see a version of you that no one else see’s. It’s kind of like that. Or like the physical manifestation of hackers in the Matrix movies.
<+RayM> They’re tied to the living world through their unresolved issues and needs, but are almost totally unable to affect the living world in any meaningful way, leading to a very tragic and frustrating roleplaying experience.
<+RayM> They have abilities that are theirs alone, and some of them allow for interaction, possession and even touch and manifestation in the living world, but many of the Necropoli (death-mirrors of cities in the living world) have outlawed such abilities from being used.
<+RayM> So their whole roleplaying experience is to make sense of themselves and their unresolved issues, and to try to transcend to “Whatever Comes Next”.
<+RayM> SavAce: The race and class typicalyities are different in modern. Each race/class matrix has different ability modifiers, HP and Mana modifiers, etc.
<+RayM> So an orcish mage and a human mage will stat out differently.
<+RayM> So would a gnomish operative and an elfish operative. The matrix is based on the combination of race/class instead of simply Race and Class being individualized.
<+RayM> The Undead are considered the “race” slot, yes.
<+RayM> And many do not have classes, per se. Ghosts have Guilds, Zombies have Passions and Mummies have Agenda. The latter being their “classes”.
<+RayM> Does that help answer your question, SavAce?
<~Dan> Are all of these Undead deceased humans, or are there nonhuman undead as well?
<+danhunsaker> So no Human Ghost vs Elf Ghost, then.
<+SavAce> Yes, it does. Thanks
<~Dan> (Oh, just a quick reminder that #randomworlds2 is open for general chat.)
<+RayM> Mortal races, elves, humans, etc – they have classes. Undead typically do not.
<+RayM> Playing an undead is a far ore in-depth experience, dealing with trying to figure out why and what you are, and come to terms with why you didn’t STAY dead.
<+RayM> It’s much more emotion-driven rather than job-driven
<+RayM> Existestential, you might say.
<+RayM> Dan: Many are deceased humans, as humans are the shortest-lived and typically have the most unresolved issues. Banshees are ALL dead elves.
<+RayM> But they are not ONLY dead humans. You can play the ghost of a dead orc, a mummy of an ancient gnome or dwaf, etc. It is simply a bit more rare.
<+SavAce> The page also mentions the Banshee and Lich as being “New advanced character types.” I suppose I’m a little curious about the taxonomy of this, and I would probably understand if I was more familiar with Modern, but if you could discuss that a bit. Are “advanced character types” analogous to “Prestige Classes” in a sense, or something else?
<+RayM> Those options are mostly aesthetic, however. The main difference being a Banshee, which must be a deceased Elf.
<+RayM> Undead do not have the typical matrix you’d find in mortal class-species matrix in the core Book.
<+RayM> such things are for the living 🙂
<+RayM> SavAce: Sure. So to play a Lich, for example, you would start off as a Necromancer – which is a mortal class. Once you acquire the prerequisites, you can choose to have your Necromancer become a Lich, at which time they take the Lich – Undead template, much like you’d find in Pathfinder 1e.
<+RayM> Banshees are like ghosts, but require more requisites as well, and is a template you add to a normal Elfish Ghost character.
<~Dan> Are there any classes that are specific to the Undead?
<+RayM> So, yes, advanced character types would be analgous to prestige classes in many ways.
<+RayM> Dan: Sort of. Each Undead type have specific things you would call classes. Such as the Guilds of the Ghosts, the Agendas of a Mummy and Passions of Zombies.
<+SavAce> OK, thanks. I like the idea of these undead types with their drives, but also just had some of those basic mechanical questions to get a vibe for how Modern works and this fits into it.
<~Dan> Ah, sorry, you said that.
<+RayM> No worries, Dan. 🙂
<~Dan> (Howdy, GentilBoulet!)
<+RayM> No worries, SavAce. On the whole, Modern is a lot like Pathfinder. You get bonuses to things based on equipment, class and level. Undead get similar things but their drives get stronger as they level as well, which is a degrading kind of thing. The stronger the drives of the Undead, the more tied to the Living World they are, which makes it harder to
<+RayM> “pass on” and figure out why they’re really unable to leave the Underworld, or pass from their mortal coil.
<+RayM> Rolling is similar. You have basic skills like you do in Pathfinder as well.
<+SavAce> So, in the overall “Modern” ecosystem, is this the 1st significant expansion, or have there been others?
<+RayM> Many of those translate well into Undead.
<+RayM> SavAce: Book of Elves was the first major expansion. This would technically be the second. Lex Draconis is a core book for the MRPGU as well, allowing you to play Dragons.
<+danhunsaker> Dragon Ghost sounds terrifying.
<+RayM> There will be more core books as well such as for Shifters (werewolves, etc).
<+RayM> danhusaker: They are. Rare, but terrifying. Dracoliches are even worse.
<+RayM> Sorry, I mispelled your username.
<+danhunsaker> I’d say use Tab to autocomplete, but if you’re on mobile, you don’t get a Tab.
<+RayM> I’ll keep that in mind, thank you.
<+danhunsaker> Either way, no worries. 🙂
<+RayM> Dragons live long lives and as such have plenty of time to complete what they set out to do in life. Imagine a goal a dragon might have wherein a magical, nearly immortal soul shard is somehow trapped in the realms of the dead and you have a draconic ghost. They’re NPCs because
<~Dan> (cut off at NPCs because)
<+RayM> they are typically forces of nature – literally. Dragons in MRPGU were originally born from the forces that created Earth itself.
<+RayM> Over time, and through a great many extinction-level events, the souls of dragons splintered and they lost their bodies (Given to them by a being called the Traveller). Now, they occupy mortal bodies. Hence, their tragedy
<+RayM> So they typically reincarnate. Imagine a force that would cause a reincarnating being to be stuck in the Underworld, and you have a dragon-ghost.
<+danhunsaker> Any relationship to d20 Modern? I’m assuming Modern RPG is to d20 Modern roughly what Pathfinder is to D&D 3.5?
<+RayM> danhunsaker: Sort of, yes. I noticed d20 Modern went OOP and wanted something that updated that kind of universe, but streamlined things and made it more accessible to modern players.
<~Dan> How hard is it to get Ghosts involved in an adventure?
<+RayM> Dan: Ghosts may be tricky, unless they have a specific ability that allows they to, say, possess an NPC or manifest more fully into the party’s dealings. Other undead would be much easier, as they have physical bodies. There are also situations where a party may
<+RayM> wind up in the Underworld, in which case, having a Ghost in the party would not only be easy, but helpful.
<+RayM> Who better to guide a party through the Underworld than one of its denizens?
<~Dan> What does society at large think about Necromancers and the Undead?
<+RayM> Death magic is illegal. So necromancers operate illicitly and usually through similar avenues as psychics do in the real world. There are scientific studies on the Underworld, but the Veil, the barrier between life and death, has made it difficult, if not impossible to actually
<+RayM> make headway into the study and many mortals think its hogwash – just like the real world.
<+RayM> Necromancers have a love-hate relationship with the undead, especially powerful ghosts because Ghosts are typically enslaved by them.
<~Dan> (Howdy, Zed!)
<+RayM> Zombies, much the same.
<+RayM> Mummies and Vampires don’t typically deal with Necromancers, and Necromancers rightfully fear their powers because they are typically a bit stronger and more potent, because they ARE dead, rather than using death magic.
<+RayM> Some Mummies even hunt Necromancers for throwing off the balance of life and death.
<+RayM> Vampires use Necromancy in some cases.
<+RayM> But its through a connection with death that Vampires use theirs. They’re dead, after all. So the connection is more natural.
<+RayM> Necromancers have a hard time with it because channeling death as a living thing can be very harmful, and degrades a Necromancer over time (as they grow in level).
<+RayM> So their power grows, but their bodies degrade.
<~Dan> So I take it becoming a Lich is appealing to them?
<+RayM> In many ways, yes. It halts the bodily degradation and decay, and opens up new and stronger powers for a necromancer to use.
<+RayM> But it also makes them one of the Undead. So its a give and take. Many Necromancers choose not to do so because being a zombie mage is, well.. scary.
<+danhunsaker> Does Book of the Dead change the setting in any meaningful ways?
<+RayM> danhunsaker: It doesn’t change it, so much as ADD to it. Before this book publishes, death was the end. With the BotD (book of the dead), it isn’t. It opens new doors to playing on through character death and gives much more lore for what may happen to
<+RayM> a character after death. And also gives more information to Godfall – a mythological war between the gods wherein many died, which changed the Earth forever.
<+RayM> It also opens up the Underworld to interact with the lands of the living. Before this, Death and Life were fully separated.
<+RayM> But there will be fluff describing the first Nihil – the very first opening into the Underworld, a portal between life and death, that occured very recently and gave rise to a whole slurry of Undead coming into the living world.
<+danhunsaker> That’s not where those go! Put those back where they belong this instant! 😀
* ~Dan chuckles
<+RayM> danhunsaker: EXACTLY. Its not a GOOD thing that this is happening. At all.
<+RayM> It proceeds the metaplot of the story of the MRPGU – wherein the end is nigh.
<~Dan> Can you say a bit more about the environment of the Underworld?
<+RayM> Dan: Absolutely. The Underworld has several layers. The first layer is a mirror world of our Earth, but dead. The cities here are called Necropoli and are the mainstay civilizations of the Underworld. They have all of the old architecture that was demolished or “died away” layered on top of mirror-images of the new stuff. Going deeper into
<+RayM> the Underworld is Stygia, which is where all dead things go. It is a world of all of the things that have died or gone away or been lost. Yes, even socks. It is where the Deathlords, elder vampires and restful souls of kings, gods and dragons go to mete out their final days. Further –
<+RayM> there is the manifestation of the Veil, the Maelstrom. Where the only somewhat safe spaces are paths forged by Ghosts brave enough to go down there and deal with the nearly infinite cadre of enemies and dangers that exist there. Beyond even that is the Void. The great nothing. The Gravity of the Underworld that seeks to end everything.
<+RayM> Beyond that, no Ghost knows. No one knows if anything even CAN exist beyond that, since the Void is pure nothingness given form.
<+RayM> But. Things do come from it, spat out to make their way into the living world to end it. They haven’t made it out yet, as the Ghosts and Mummies wage wars to stop it.
<+RayM> But.. that doesn’t mean that everything the Void spits out will or even CAN be stopped. It’s just lucky happenstance that they have been thus far. But the THINGS that come from the Void and slowly shamble toward the living lands become more powerful every day.
<+RayM> Hundreds, if not thousands of The Dead have been destroyed by these things. Permanently.
<~Dan> What are they like?
<+RayM> All to save the Underworld and the Living Lands.
<+RayM> Dan: The Voidborne?
<~Dan> (Howdy, DLB_Chuck!)
<+RayM> They are unspeakable horrors. Some are gigantic monstrosities while others are no different from a “normal” ghost but are rife with Void power. They have no specific form, and are intended as a plot hook rather than an antagonist to take on and fight.
<+RayM> The first was a massive, continent-sized ambi-ped with literal cities of ghosts living inside of it that had been previously thought destroyed, giving to the idea that the Void is where Ghosts go when THEY die.
<+RayM> But those Ghosts, the Void-Touched, wanted to destroy every other Dead they encountered.
<+RayM> The latest was a Deathlord that was destroyed hundreds of years ago when Rome fell. He actually lead an entire army of converted “regular” ghosts against Stygia.
<+RayM> Imagine Sauron in the battle where he was destroyed. One swing and hundreds fell.
<+RayM> The Void does not go by normal standards of life or evolution. The things that come from it resemble nothing of life, except where the things that come out of it were once ghosts or, living things. But then, they are forever changed.
<+RayM> Because nothing that goes into the Void remains as it was. This is something Ghosts study but.. no one can get close enough to figure out without converting themselves.
<+RayM> Its a black hole. Almost literally. Except its almost as if its.. alive.
<+danhunsaker> Sounds like a good use for remotely controlled robots or drones.
<+RayM> danhunsaker: Interesting take, especially since Technomancers are on their way and death will touch even that.
<~Dan> What is the tech level of the Necropoli?
<+RayM> Items in the Underworld are made in one of two ways: Resonance – Things that have meaning to the living and “die” wind up in the Underworld. The second is through turning Ghosts into items (a brutal process called soulforging)
<+RayM> So, most of the tech found in the Underworld is archaic. Because its far easier to find an intact cannon than it is an intact Pistol as well as bullets with enough resonance to carry over into the underworld once spent.
<+RayM> computers are the same way. A few may exist from geeks who LOVED their machines and mourned their loss, but its few and far between for modern tech to be usable. Many are just shells
<+RayM> A PC case with few to no working components, for example.
<+RayM> But a resonance sword? Much more common.
<+danhunsaker> So you’d have to bring things through a Nihil, then, to use anything more modern with any reliability.
<+RayM> danhunsaker: Exactly.
<+RayM> But the problem with that is that things brought in from the living world, including PEOPLE, decay at an accelerated rate when they pass into the Underworld.
<+RayM> So if you bring a gun, you might find it rusted and unusable the next morning. And you might find that you’ve gotten sick, or somehow the cancer that you had in remission is back and about to kill you.
<+danhunsaker> Another case of “that doesn’t belong there”…
<+RayM> Death is an active participant in the Underworld. Or perhaps it’s the Void. Its a mystery. 😉
<+RayM> danhunsaker: You got it! Living things and items DO NOT belong in the lands of the dead, and vice versa.
<+danhunsaker> Even Disney realized that much. Hercules, anyone? 😀
<+RayM> Yeah, not to mention: Many of Greco-Roman legends hold true in MRPGU as well. Because in this setting, the gods are very real. They are not believed in because they’ve all but totally left but they did at one point exist.
<+RayM> Going into the underworld and eating its food, for example? Bad juju.
<+RayM> You’re likely eating souls. So you may be possessed when you return to the living lands, or you may find that you cannot return easily to the lands of the living at all.
<~Dan> There’s nothing wrong with soul food.
<+danhunsaker> So you’ve mentioned that the Undead don’t have access to classes as such. Can you describe the replacements in a bit more detail? Are there any other mechanical changes/additions introduced in BotD?
<+RayM> Dan: In this case, I’d say we make an exception.
<+RayM> danhunsaker: Absolutely. So the Guilds arose when Ghosts began to notice those who died in specific ways exhibited similar powers and abilities. So if you drowned, for example, you may be (forcibly) recruited into the Breathless Guild. Same with accidental deaths, death by disease, etc.
<+RayM> For Vampires, its about the Blood. Each Lineage of Vampires has their own powers and weaknesses that are inherited when a Vampire makes another one.
<+RayM> Mummies have Agendas that are throwbacks to what their souls were mummified for. Their Agendas are closely tied to a specific egyptian god. Creating a dividing line between the living and the dead, for example.
<+RayM> A Zombies Passion is more malleable. They’re based on what they want to DO. Avenge wrongs, Protect loved ones, etc.
<+RayM> They do give a great deal of mechanics based on which you pick, but they also conjoin a whole lot more. There is more mechanical overlap between which powers and abilities each gets, but they’re unique enough to matter.
<~Dan> What happens when one of the Undead enters the Underworld (other than Ghosts)?
<+RayM> They’re always drawn back to the Underworld. For a Zombie, it means discorporation and maybe even destruction as they lose their connection to their Ghost when the Void yanks it out. Mummies return to it when their body is destroyed and must return to their ancestral lands. Vampires do not experience the decay that
<+RayM> living things do. Banshees act much like ghosts, so the Underworld is also their home.
<+RayM> So in the end, it depends on what you are and why you’re returning to the Underworld. There are detailed rules for each type and their connections to the lands of the dead.
<+RayM> It is most dangerous for Zombies. They might die outright.
<~Dan> So adventures in the Underworld aren’t really an option, I take it?
<+RayM> Dan: They are. But if you’re a Zombie, then you were originally a Ghost in the Underworld who managed to escape those fetters and re-enter the living world so going back would be detrimental at best. Ghosts and Vampires have the most options for Underworld play.
<+RayM> It really just depends on the kind of game you want to play.
<~Dan> Are there any creatures that are native to the Underworld?
<+RayM> Yes, but their existence, presence and “biology” is a mystery.
<+RayM> They’re often very old.
<+RayM> The Voidborne are also considered native.
<+RayM> Much like the Voidborne, Underworld natives are a plot point and not something that should be explained in books. I wanted to leave them for the GM and players to explore.
<+danhunsaker> (Dan just really likes bestiaries. 🙂 )
<+RayM> I know he does. I’ll be including information on the Denizens as well.
<+RayM> The native antagonists will be included in teh Bestiary in the book itself.
<~Dan> Can you describe some of these natives?
<+RayM> The Givers: They appear as though they’re humans or ghosts shrouded in black funerary garb and their faces covered. They appear to Ghosts who are too close to the Void and are seen as a warning.
<+RayM> Omen Dogs: Appear as eight-legged dogs. Nearly harmless alone but in packs, they destroy and devour a hapless ghost with ease.
<+RayM> Spectres: Ghosts who have given over to the Void or lost their connection to the living World and their reasons for “staying behind”. They are chaos incarnate.
<~Dan> What are some of the unique powers of Necromancers?
<+RayM> Well, they get Necromancy, first and foremost. Their powers, really, are spells. They can see into the Necropoli and even peer deeply into Stygia and some can even look beyond. They can more easily interact with ghosts and can detect undead. They also gain spells common in Necromancy: Chill Touch, Crypt Bolt (death-fireball), etc.
<+danhunsaker> What is your LEAST favorite thing about BotD?
<~Dan> Right on schedule. 😉
<+danhunsaker> All in accordance with prophecy.
<+RayM> The timing, to be honest. This was going to be a “Year of the Dead” entry, but it wound up coming to fruition much sooner which will push the End Times lines a little faster than I had expected.
<+danhunsaker> One of the more interesting answers we’ve gotten to that one.
<+RayM> That’s good, right? Haha.
<~Dan> Are there any magic items specific to Necromancers and/or the Undead?
<+RayM> Resonance Items in the Underworld, Phylacteries and Soul Stones for Liches and the Ghost Cages.
<+RayM> Those are the ones that come to mind. (done)
<~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+danhunsaker> Do you have any plans for after the End Times? When White Wolf reached theirs, they rebooted into a whole other setting entirely, and it was honestly disappointing to lose some of that extensive lore.
<~Dan> (Howdy, Silverlion!)
<+RayM> danhunsaker: I can’t speak to that, but I will say this: The End is Just The Beginning.
<+RayM> Dan: Right now, I just want to thank everyone that came and asked good questions and thank you, Dan, for having me!
<~Dan> You’re very welcome, RayM!
<~Dan> Usual reminder to folks: If you’ve enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a coffee or two, you can do so at (Link: https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe . Anything’s appreciated! 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks for joining us, RayM!
<+RayM> Tip your Dan-tender!
<+RayM> Thank you, Dan!
<~Dan> If you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you. 🙂
<+RayM> Sweet. Thank you.