by Andy Collins, Dragon #303
Academy Necromica was founded nearly 150 years ago by the necromancer Xilian, who sought to establish a place where like-minded individuals could come together and share secrets of the dark arts. Over the next two decades, Master Xilian slowly built up the organization, offering membership to carefully handpicked individuals who respected (or worshiped) death and undeath. Soon her academy boasted a cadre of necromancers, evil priests, and professional killers.
Eventually, however, the academy was infiltrated by a paladin/rogue named Rion, who used his knowledge of the group's inner workings to organize an assault upon it by those who opposed its practices and philosophy. Most of the Necromicans (as the academy's members often called themselves) were destroyed, and Xilian herself was at death's door when loyal minions spirited her away.
From the ashes of Academy Necromica's worst failure came its first great success. Unable to repair Master Xilian's horribly broken body, her fellow necromancers instead performed an unspeakable process upon her, transforming her into a lich. With her newfound lease on unlife, Xilian swore vengeance upon her enemies. As an undead creature, she understood well that patience was her best ally. Over the next century she quietly rebuilt Academy Necromica into a secret but powerful organization dedicated to death and evil. Now the time to strike back at her old enemies approaches, yet still she hesitates, fearing the possibility of another setback.
Size And Resources
Although currently only a minor organization in the metropolis of Septentrio, the academy is on the verge of becoming a more powerful player in the community (that is, a medium organization) because of its rapid growth in recent months. Thus, the academy's members can call upon more resources than a typical minor organization could - approximately 40,000 gp per week. The Necromicans' most common resources include scrolls, potions, poisons, and, of course, zombies.
Academy Necromica (minor) AL NE 40,000 gp resource limit: Membership 120: Integrated (human 45, elf 24, dwarf 22, half-elf 12, half-orc 8, other 9).
Authority Figure: Master Xilian, female human lich Wiz 5.
Important Characters: Uther Kyush, male elf Rog 5/Asn 5; Brother Quarn, human male Clr 8 (Nerull); Professor Hophia Dox, male half-elf Wiz 7; Striehus, male human vampire Rog 5; Shae Liava, female elf Exp 5: Ronica, female human Rog 2/Ftr 2; Cyllise, female dwarf Clr 4 (Vecna); Fiula, female human Nec 3: Langes, male dwarf Wiz 3; Yuri, male human Ftr 2; Mert, male human Exp 2; Dwarthin, male half-orc Rog 1/Clr 1; Xo, male human Ftr 1.
Others: Mixed; Clr (6), Rog 1 (6), Rog 2 (2); Wiz 1 (91), vampire spawn (2).
Alignment And Leadership
The members of Academy Necromica pride themselves on their strict dedication to evil and their disinterest in what they consider the petty politics of law and chaos. Thus, the organization is predominantly neutral evil in alignment. The alignments of individual members may vary, but the academy itself rarely strays into either lawful or chaotic methods.
Symbolic of this neutral evil ideal is Xilian, Master of the Academy (female human lich Nec 15). As the organization's founder and most powerful member, Xilian possesses a patience born of more than a century of unlife. She does not take unnecessary risks, although she understands the value of personal involvement in times of crisis. Xilian spends most of her time teaching the academy's many students and crafting long-range plans for the organization's future.
Membership And Demographics
The membership of Academy Necromica numbers an even 120, not counting the various skeleton and zombie minions that roam the halls of the organization's home base. The academy leaders (Xilian and her underlings, see below) care little about the members' races, reasoning that such mortal accidents are ultimately meaningless. Just over 33% of the members are humans, and (perhaps surprisingly) 20% are elves. Another 18% are dwarves, 10% are half-elves, 7% are half-orcs, and the remainder of the membership is made up of a variety of races.
After Master Xilian, the most respected member of the academy is Uther Kyush (male elf Rog 5/Asn 5). Kyush oversees all targeted slayings, the gathering of illicit information, and the academy's various other criminal activities. Most Necromicans value Kyush's personal involvement in the day-to-day workings of the organization, for he seems much more in touch with the rank-and-file membership than Xilian. Kyush employs two squads of spies and cutthroats, each composed of three 1st-level rogues and a 2nd-level rogue who serves as leader. Kyush is rarely separated from his bodyguard and lover Ronica (female human Rog 2/Ftr 2).
As one might expect, the academy welcomes both the living and the dead, and it numbers a few undead among its members. The most powerful of these (after Xilian herself) is Strichus (male human vampire Rog 5), who commands a pair of vampire spawn. Strichus is content to let Xilian control the organization, but he wouldn't mind turning a few more Necromicans to his way of "life."
The spiritual center of the academy is Brother Quarn (human male Clr 8 of Nerull), who performs all significant religious rituals for the organization. Quarn's rival for this role is Cyllise (female dwarf Clr 4 of Vecna), who counts Strichus and his vampire spawn among her allies. Dwarthin (male half-orc Rog 1/Clr 1) serves as Brother Quarn's eyes and ears in the academy. The organization's religious sector also includes a half-dozen acolytes (Clr 0, and its temple is protected by Yuri (male human Ftr 2).
Although Master Xilian takes an active role in teaching, the mundane functions of academia are the purview of Professor Hophla Dox (male half-elf Wiz 7) and his two teaching assistants, Fiula (female human Nec 3) and Langes (male dwarf Wiz 3). Together, these three handle the bulk of the teaching duties for the ninety-one 1st-level wizards who belong to the academy.
A frequent guest lecturer at Academy Necromica, Shae Liava (female elf Exp 5) also runs an apothecary shop that serves as a front for the organization. Her assistant, Mert (male human Exp 2), takes care of business in her absence, and her consort, the burly Xo (male human Ftr 1) keeps a constant and watchful eye both on Mert and the shop's wares.
In The Campaign
Unless you run an evil-oriented campaign, Academy Necromica probably works best as an adversary organization for your PCs, but it's best not to pit lower-level characters directly against the academy. Either Master Xilian or Uther Kyush could certainly defeat a low-level party of adventurers singlehandedly, and neither would hesitate to eliminate a serious threat to the organization.
The characters might come across rumors of a ring of grave robbers or body snatchers, which in turn could lead them to discover the academy's vile activities. Alternatively, the academy might target one of the PCs as a likely candidate for vampirism or some other undead transformation, counting on the resulting alignment shift to make the character more sympathetic to the organization and its evil aims. Perhaps one or more characters are aligned with the forces that brought Xilian and her academy down the first time, and now Xilian is intent on revenge. Finally, if you have a nongood necromancer PC in your group, Professor Dox might attempt to recruit the character into the academy, but only after confirming her alignment.
The Necromicans have also turned their talents toward crafting concoctions that provide either a combat edge for themselves and their allies or a horrible surprise for their enemies. Each of these alchemical substances must be spread over the body of the target creature (a full-round action). If no waiting period is specified in the item's description, the substance's magical abilities activate immediately thereafter. A single bottle, flask, or jar of the substance is sufficient for a Medium-size creature, two Small creatures, or four Tiny creatures. A Large creature requires two bottles, a Huge creature four bottles, a Gargantuan creature eight bottles, and a Colossal creature sixteen bottles.
This unguent must be spread over a set of bones before it is animated as a skeleton. The ointment reduces the skeleton's natural armor bonus by 2 (to a minimum of 0), but when an affected skeleton is destroyed, its bones splinter and fly apart, sending shards in all directions. Any creature within the skeleton's normal reach when this occurs takes 1 point of piercing damage per Hit Die of the skeleton, rounded up (Reflex half DC 15).
Market Price: 30 gp.
Alchemy DC: 20.
This bitter-smelling liquid must be poured over a corpse and allowed to soak for at least minute before the corpse is animated as a zombie. If an affected zombie takes even a single point of damage, it bursts into blue flame that lasts for minute. This fire does no damage to the zombie, but each successful unarmed melee attack the creature makes while burning deals an additional 1d6 points of fire damage.
Market Price: 50 gp.
Alchemy DC: 20.
When spread upon a daylight-sensitive undead creature, this dark, sticky fluid provides temporary protection from the sun's deadly rays. An affected undead creature can ignore its usual vulnerability to sunlight for a full hour. If subjected to a spell or magical effect that would cause extra damage to an undead creature vulnerable to sunlight (such as searing light or sunbeam), a creature under the influence of liquid night is treated as though it did not have that vulnerability. However, exposure to such a spell or magical effect burns away the liquid night, immediately ending all protection against sunlight or magical effects that simulate it. Liquid night has the distinct odor of moonflower (one of its ingredients).
Market Price: 150 gp.
Alchemy DC: 25.