Dev Journal: Necromancer Class Design

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Home Forums Age of Wonders 3 Discussions Dev Journal: Necromancer Class Design

This topic contains 215 replies, has 105 voices, and was last updated by  Dagoth Ur 7 years ago.

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    Cool stuff. One thing about AoW3 is how alignment is separate from what race/etc. you are playing now. In light of this, Theocrat has a darker/’evil’ outfit as there can be evil Theocrats (and light is not good, not gonna link to TvTropes). Makes one wonder what a ‘good’ necromancer would look like. Would a good Necromancer turn their people into undead wholesale?

    If a city population is converted or partially converted to undead, what happens when another class conquers and assimilates that city? Would any independent cities start out in an undead state? I’d imagine that the cities would still mostly be living with undead servants/guards and maybe certain ‘blessings’ of undeath for the population without fully becoming undead (maybe tied to the class structures?).

    If racial units get undead versions, will their stats get buffed? Will they not be able to heal and have massive spirit weakness like the current undead? Will they lose access to abilities like the draconians’ fast healing or Strong Will (which would be terribly broken on undead). Would an undead human priest have only 40% spirit weakness?

    If the racial units get undead versions, tombs and boneyards are likely to get a lot more varied.



    I’ve been loving this new Golden Realms expansion! Halflings are both awesome and annoying (damn you LUCKY!)

    As for the Necromancer Class. I do have a suggestion. Now that Golden Realms has vastly improved on the Morale usage for all races and classes; perhaps, this is a good place to start. Since the undead care not about Morale, and only murdering and feasting on the living. Some neat tricks could be implemented around that.

    Some ideas:
    – Certain Necro units just aren’t affected by either Good or Bad Morale. Or even armies as a whole can’t be affected by negative or positive morale if they lose or win battles, etc.
    – A high tier Necro unit that can Reflect negative morale to other units in the area. Ex. You wouldn’t want to cast slayers doubt on them because that -500 Morale would be past onto your own troops in the area (4-5 hexs AoE let’s say).
    – The less morale a necro units possesses the more enraged it becomes, given them boots to attack, damage, etc. Where as they don’t gain positive benefits from positive morale.

    I think Morale, now that it’s vastly improved and important in Gold Realms, would be an excellent place to look in order to make Necromancer units unique.

    Those are my two cents. 🙂



    Let the Archons ascend from the dead to their other-wordly form and become a full-fledged race, please… I have sorely missed them, the majestic, god-blessed and always evil-defying folk.



    I would prefer the bone horror be the T4, I’m not sure if this is OP, but in my opinion, it should have a few abilities. The ability to heal from killing units, more than life steal, either during or after combat and amounted healed depends on casualties, lots of physical damage, possibly some lessened form of instant wrath due to all the spiky protrusions around its body, and wall crushing.



    I have sorely missed them, the majestic, god-blessed and always evil-defying folk.

    Im glad they’re finally dead. They always pissed me off with their picky-ness about morale.

    That said, I miss the ability to slaughter them, massacre the cities, and salt their fields. And when I’m done, I’d do the same to their beloved Humans. Disgusting creatures…

    BTW, I really like the provided (placeholder?) artwork for the Necromancers. Cloaks OP. Black = good.

    (And yes, I usually go Pure Evil in game. Don’t ask me why.)


    vota dc

    Double population? I guess that necromancer will use double production, one for living units and one based on undead population for undead units. When a city is conquered and absorbed by the enemy the undead population will be set to zero if the conqueror isn’t a necromancer. A city just conquered by the necromancer will use only the defender killed but won’t produce any undead soldier for many turns.



    The ability to heal from killing units, more than life steal, either during or after combat and amounted healed depends on casualties, lots of physical damage, possibly some lessened form of instant wrath due to all the spiky protrusions around its body, and wall crushing

    Give it Regrowth. Fits with its lore.



    Thanks, I remembered that they pulled themselves back together if damaged but I couldn’t remember regrowth, go ahead and add that to the list.



    I think its essential there is a neutral position to the Necromancer. Where undeadness isnt neccesarily forced upon everyone, but a choice.

    Also i forsee some problems if Undead follow the typical AoW tropes. That being, Blight immune but weak to Spirit. It would create a race thats in some situations very powerful, and in others very vulnerable. A Theocrat would have a field day against a Necromancer.
    So perhaps its time to explore alternative methods of becomming Undead. It was my understanding the classical AoW undead was evil, purely evil infact. Incarnated through evil magic or possesion of evil spirits (much like the Archons we currently see).

    A new breed of Undead would perhaps not be a puppet animation or a dark spirit possesion. But more an ascension of the spirit over the physical form. Wherein the Undead do not gain the immunity to Blight, but also do not suffer a particular weakness to Spirit. You could argue Spirit is powerful agains the evil spirits who posses and animate Undead corpses, aswell as being effective against the “spiritless” puppet animations.
    But these new Undead still have the connection their original living spirit and the physical body. But that means that poisoning the body affects the mind. Which means they do not suffer the same weakness or have the same strengths. And their physical forms could still regenerate.

    Such a distinction could still be made between the willing Undead created from rituals with the living, and those merely raised from corpses. The latter would infact be mere puppets. Just an idea.

    Alternatively it could merely be an additional choice. Humanoid racial units you produce can be turned into Undead. Which gives them strengths and weaknesses you’d commonly expect from them. If you dont want to, because you cannot afford it or the drawbacks are to severe (i.e. Theocrat knocking on your door, with more Holy-ness then the pope’s chamberpot).
    And you have Class units to accompany this. Lich’s, Doom Priest, Death Knights, Bone Horror’s (which were tier3), The Reaper. The demon would probably not fit, as this is an evil unit and would clash with the neutrality of the Necromancer. And we do already have Wraiths.
    Personally i was never to fond of Ghosts (or Spectre’s) and Vampires. Thematically atleast.

    Maybe the Incarenate can make a reappearance. Posses an enemy, or its corpse, when killed the unit dies but the Incarenate emerges again. The Incarenate is not a combat unit itself, and vulnerable when not within a host.
    The finer balance behind this will be tricky i suspect, but it was a really cool unit from Age of Wonders.

    The Undead were, along with Humans, my favorite race in Age of Wonders.



    We think implementing Undead as a class has more potential than as a race, because this way we can model a gradual transformation of the leader, the population and the racial units to the undead state. The more they transform, the more powerful they gradually become.

    We soon realized that the Necromancer would be the most work of all the classes, so this is why we saved thinking about it for an expansion. Not only will this class need all sorts of reanimation skills, but the effects of Necromancy on the population also need to be modelled. How far do we take this? How will the starting population of the Necromancer’s cities change over time? How are the base racial units affected – do all race units get turned into undead? How do we visualize all this?

    Idea for gradually making all racial units more undead sounds awesome, but it sounds like a massive undertaking at least from the visual department.

    We’ll I’ll try to think along those lines.. So the racial units could gain some basic undead traits like spirit weakness, pure evil trait, reanimation, blight / frost protection, life steal, resurgence, some spell immunities etc. If the perks are greater than weaknesses, cost of the unit should be increased too.

    If the progression to undead is going to gradual, maybe give them just 1 or 2 traits per empire upgrade. Also maybe there should be spell for starting this transformation on a specific city. Or if the city is reanimated through some dark magic, it could be affected by the transformation spell automatically.

    As for the units that were built before getting the new empire upgrade, maybe there could be spell for making them more “undead” too.

    Maybe all of the races units should be affected. Why would only some units be affected while others stay the same?

    As for visuals.. Well that seems like the hard part. Maybe make racial units go kinda grayscale. Although it would be awesome if they eventually turned into like skeletons or zombies or such. 🙂

    What sort of bespoke undead units does the necromancer summon and how are they different from turned racial units, and the existing (archon revenant) undead units?

    Maybe I’d go with the good old Shadow Magic units. Zombies for T1 (buildable), Vampire for T2 (buildable), Spectre for T3 (summon), Dread Reaper for T4 (summon). Maybe Bone Horror or Bone Dragon could fit in there somewhere too. Or some uber lich as support unit.

    Cant think of anything very original atm, sorry. 🙂



    It might just be me, but those necromancers look like dark elves.



    Re: Number of expansions, hope you understand that this really depends on how the game and expansion will perform in the coming months, so spread the word 🙂

    How about doing like Path of exile does, some monthly new microtransaction like a unique new and cool art for units(Racial class units) that has no effect on gameplay but that everyone likes to buy anyways, that way a smaller(well, compared with popular arpgs) fanbase could keep funding you? Sorry if this sounds incredibly dumb i just want you guys to keep supporting this game for a long long time, it is awesome!:D



    I am adamantly against microtransactions. I may be in the minority, but I never pay real money for purely aesthetic features in games, and I do not play games where the microtansactions have in-game benefits, especially large ones. So others may be fine with that, but I am not.



    Just a silly idea. Give the necromancer a restless spirit that draws strength from whatever misery has prevented it from passing on…and as a result has inverted morale modifiers. It gets stronger the less happy it is. Think about the typical spirit in a horror movie or story that is tied to the material because of rage or guilt over actions it couldn’t have stopped, or a desire to atone for its actions

    On a more conventional note, I think that the necro should definitely have negative energy/bodies/spirit as a resource, which cannot be generated by conventional means, and must be acquired by killing things. Moreso than others, necro should be encouraged from the very beginning to be raiding crypts, slaughtering bandits for components, and even staying in a constant state if war to fuel his u death.

    Necros should also have the ability to, when plundering cities, acquire large numbers of bodies to bolster their forces. Think about an additional option to “slaughter” a city which takes 4 turns, gives them a large number of basic infantry based on the size of the city, and cuts the population by half AGAIN if it is rebuilt, to represent that unlike a normal razing where lots of survives could feasibly live or forage nearby and come back when rebuilt, the necromancer has taken great pains to extinguish all life when plundering.

    I also like the idea of undead laborers, which allows a necromancer to spend some of his necromantic resources to invest in undead workers to populate a city. This would give a happiness penalty in exchange for a production or gold bonus. Additionally, if the city is captured, the undead go out of control, causing an effect similar to the plague of brigands spell, except undead, and doesn’t necessarily target the city outright(although many will). This makes it a rather volatile spell which causes attackers to face the consequences if your actions, while also risking the feral undead marching undead wandering or attacking YOU as well.

    To make things more interesting, necros should of course have dominate undead, so they can try and bring the roaming undead back under their control.

    That’s all I got for now. I’ll drop more in later.



    Necromancer instead of halfling people should have bad luck as they play with dark magic they get cursed, and any undead unit should be cursed too this could help balance their superior abilities or resistances over the common races

    The best their moral, the less their bad luck

    And about if they are good or bad, I think they should be a different race than necros Wich I think necros is always bad. So, what if they could be called for example those in the first AOW Highmen, whey the go the good path and necros when they dont. Diferent magics would be learned also.



    In diablo universe necromancer were neutral, I think there should be some mechanics around alignment… But not about only being evil



    Zombies \o/ with regrowth and rescurrection 😀

    Id like to see more frost damage coming with it, since there is already a lot of poison around 😮

    Maybe even a way to sacrifice units and get some undead stuff for them, vampire seducin -> followed by some sacrifice skill to make it an eternal undead slave 😀

    Anyway looking forward to it very much!



    nice, but can we get PBEM first, please?


    I only hope the campaign shows us how would somebody with neutral alignment discover necromancy and/or why whould anybody start studing necromancy.

    I would alse like the addition of a new mechanic which involved class specific moral choices, not just for the necromancers but for all the classes in game. It could be something like two pairs of new skills per class, one for each alignment and mutually exclusive. Example: Study how to make your people last longer with necromancy (good alignment) vs how to drain the life of your people and your enemies in order to gain more power for a single unit (evil).



    Interesting. I wonder how the devs will make it so you can conceivably play a good or neutral Necromancer.



    Agreed. But lets still give necros some tools that lean evil, and allow the players to choose whether or not to use them.

    I’m trying to think of some potential ultimates now. I think necros need either some crazy mass resurrection stuff or possibly a tier 4.5 all devouring flesh golem that must be fed to become strong. Perhaps every time it gains a champion level it gets bonus damage as well, so it exceeds even tier 4s in strength eventually, while still having standard armor and resistance.



    It seems like good or evil is more decided by action vs other factions in the current game.

    Reanimation could just be a magic construct inhabiting the corpse, without any effects for the spirit. This could be considered as neutral alignment, as the previous owner of that piece of flesh isn’t using it anymore anyway. well, maybe you killed him beforehand, but thats the same killing as other classes do.

    As for the “good” free-willed undead, we have an example already, in the Arch-Druid Ancestral spirit. It has Strong will, Spirit Immunity, and Spirit Damage on attack.
    However, i would prefer Necro class units to use Death Damage(if introduced), or either Frost Damage.

    I’d like some of its units having some weakness to Spirit, but if Theocrat proves significantly unbalanced against Necro, there could be made empire upgrades that would give your units (un)holy champion, which works against animals(/care), and Devout units, most of which happen to be Theocrat worshippers.

    Also, i’d just prefer many class units having the current, unmodified Undead trait. Having Doom Priests/lesser necromancers with Heal Undead, and maybe a way to help the leader animate more corpses in short time.

    regarding Vampires, I’d really appreciate them being here. While I am aware some of it’s niche has been taken by the Succubus, it could be a walking unit, maybe Irregular, having Life Steal, Pass Wall and Seduce. My original idea was to throw in a touch attack a la Assassin’s strike, but one that deals some less damage, and drains some life.

    Depending on the Doom Priest/Necro class supp unit being either T2 or T3, there might be room at T3 for the Bone Horror, otherwise it will have to compete with the Dread Reaper for the T4 spot.
    (I am aware is was T3 in all previous games, but its so awesome that it deserves to be T4 IMO. Also, I think it fits Necromancer better than the Dread Reaper does.)


    Agreed. But lets still give necros some tools that lean evil, and allow the players to choose whether or not to use them.

    I’m trying to think of some potential ultimates now. I think necros need either some crazy mass resurrection stuff or possibly a tier 4.5 all devouring flesh golem that must be fed to become strong. Perhaps every time it gains a champion level it gets bonus damage as well, so it exceeds even tier 4s in strength eventually, while still having standard armor and resistance.

    My though was a pre-ultimate having undead regenerate as normal, and a ultimate making them have Life Steal and Tireless(dead don’t tire…). The combination along with a good heal infra-structure will teach the Theocrat how to keep his forces healed…


    Interesting. I wonder how the devs will make it so you can conceivably play a good or neutral Necromancer.

    I think you just have to imagine the undead as a technological resource, like medical cadavers: it isn’t evil to use autopsies, but could fit any alignment depending on your purpose.

    good necromancers would scrupulously rely on natural death, combatant death, or legitimate siege type situations (they were going to die anyway, so why let them go to waste?). Neutral ones would occasionally do some good and some evil things (sometimes let guards go, other times mass convert a city into undead soldiers), whereas evil ones would kill indiscriminately to raise soldiers.



    Most common examples of good necromasy – mummies and spirits of ancestors (druid already have some of them).
    That i think about this class (sorry for my bad english):
    1.Zombify stuff – buff you troops (in combat) to pseudo undeads(ignore morale and mind effects, maybe resist to blight (and frost?) and weak to holy, etc.), Control enemy units with some penalties, for example – necromancer acolyte unit (on gold medal?) who can force enemy to full attack (or move but not both), or mb to do 50% move and 1 attack, or common spell. Just force, not take full conrol. And more Voodoo Style stuff (and voodoo dolls plz!) Hmmmm… How about Diablo 2 Fetish-like neutrals? I really like this annoing midgets!
    2.Summon different undeads from corpses (for ex. t1 solder create weak zombie, t3 knight create vampire) on global and battle maps, some types (most interesting ones) permanenty and some (boring skeletons) only for battle. Race type undeads, 1-2 on every race maybe? (dead draconian with blight breath and dead halfling ghouls with vampirism and over cannibal stuff – they still like to eat!). Dont forget about ghosts and spirits!
    3. Debuffing buffs and vice versa, examples – Berserk you own unit, he got attack bonuses and abilities but you cant control him and he try to attack closest enemy (2 turn or permanent). Transport you soldier thru spirit world to any location on battlefield with damage or some “horrify” effect on arrival – dmg or debuff (or both). Etc etc. Zombify themself good example – no mind control, no morale affection, blight and frost resist (20-30%?) maybe some more good effects; but no heal, no luck and no crit, weak to holy (10% more then resists) and mb less experience from this battle.
    4. Benefits from living flash in the army – some buffs work only on living, “heal undead” on support units, etc. Maybe some undead can have morale (headless rider, not heartless indeed!) and some necromancer summons can be living things – ghoul like cannibals, pain eaters, scavengers, all who can feed from graveyards (both evil and good necromancers can enslave them and use like tools)?
    5. Protection vs Theocrat – Unholy champions (on racial living units to) “Dark shroud” hero upgrade – 20-40% resist to holy damage.



    Well first of all if this is the last expansion that’s disappointing. This game is really great but lots of stuff felt like it has untapped potential. Such as the Good/Evil Alignment elements. And the storyline of campaigns was clearly building up to a greater conflict with something in the shadow realms. So I hope this isn’t the end of development this fast.

    As for Necromancer class. Sounds like it will be as cool as I hoped. Hope it doesn’t feel way more fleshed out than the original class’s in fact. Hard to give feedback until we know more. But in regards to the Archon dwellings I suppose you could do what some suggest, and make it possible to revive them or defile them. So you can get living Archons or Undead.


    Steven Aus

    So I would like to know, how are sales going? Does it mean that sales aren’t high enough to support more content? That is a real shame, there must be a way we can remedy this. I’m sure that dedicated AoW3-ites could spread AoW3 far and wide. Especially with the latest patch and added features, almost all balance issues have been addressed all the while new features have been added and integrated seamlessly into the base game!

    This is no mean feat (addressing almost all balance issues without creating any serious new issues).

    I especially like the new disjunction and dispel functionality, and how break control and cure disease are actually useful now (more limited functionality, but unlike Dispel and Disjunction they always work) and steal enchantment gives you the transferable debuffs too, so you don’t just get the goodies. =)

    Please let us know what is happening with AoW3 so we can promote it! The expanded building site development (new city structures for different treasure sites) is a stroke of genius and almost totally addresses the empire building side of things, as cities will have different focuses based on what is in their domain.

    As I said eliminating most balance issues, and adding new race and features which blend seamlessly into base game is no mean feat! Let us know how we can help you make AoW3 the universe that keeps on giving and growing!



    Some great ideas in this thread. Looking forward to the new class.

    Will simple (as in stat changing) Mod Tools also be implemented in this upcoming expansion/DLC?

    (As I was silent for quite a while, the question had to be asked again… 😛 )

    And furthermore; If the sales aren’t sufficient; Just ask Notch to fund an expansion. He just received several billions from Microsoft, so can afford to invest some of that money as he won’t be able to spend it all anyways. He can also give me some of the money, and then I’ll fund the expansion.

    Kind regards,




    Yeah Lennard, your team made good work here ^^
    The class-icon and the appearence of the necromancer really looks cool,
    exspecialy the lady – necromantis 😉

    Undead as a class is much cooler then as a race i think.
    Only don´t know exectly how the raceunits will fit well with the classunits.
    But a necromancer can summon the ansector-ghosts to help their people and dont have to be pure evil… or even when, maybee their close helpers a blessed by him not to rot to zombies, so only some units look like, yeah undead…
    We will see wath you will out of this ^^



    I would like to see population become a resource Necro could exploit much more so than other classes. Some ideas below.

    Necro class units might require population instead of gold. (for example) Bone Horror= 120 population and 120 mana.

    Convert population into gold: Undead work for free and don’t need to eat.

    Blood Alter Spell: Sacrifice population to remove negative moral penalties in target city.



    Come to think about it, one of the rogues’ basic tricks of the trade is basically running a police state, and warlords operate on the basis of might making right… if they can be good even so, I think necromancers might get some leeway too.

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