Songs for the Dead #2 (Necromancer Press)
When dungeon masters and players go out for drinks, you’ll sometimes hear stories about old campaigns. The classics, the funny, the horror stories, the ambitious. We’re all a bit hammy and we like to share, but it’s moments like these that give birth to legends: Old Man Henderson, Los Tiburon, and even today’s recounting.
There’s the apocryphal tale of a dungeon master who was running two campaigns. The second was a classic group of adventurers following in the wake of a necromancer who was overthrowing kingdoms with his army of the dead, deposing kings and destroying nations. Their mission was to undo the damage caused by the necromancer, to restore old kings to their thrones, execute those the necromancer had put into power, and show those they were helping how to protect themselves from necromancers in the future.
Pretty standard stuff, right?
Assuming the necromancer is evil.
That was the trick: the dungeon master’s first campaign was a solo adventure where a necromancer was overthrowing corrupt regimes, educating people and letting them form their own governments, lending them the protection of the dead for the betterment of the living. The final part of both campaigns was the heroes catching up to the necromancer as he was getting ready to die; although he had the power and knew the rite to become a lich, he was choosing to die knowing he had lived a good life.
But then he looked out on the world, wanting one last look at his good works before death. He saw the corrupt nobles he had overthrown back in power and the good people he had liberated being executed, tortured, and imprisoned. The corpses he had lent the good people put down and interred in such a way that they would never rise again. Everything he had done – all he had worked on to make the world better – undone by people who assumed he was evil because he was a necromancer.
When the “heroes” finally caught up with him they expected a massive battle, a thrilling climax. Instead, they found an embittered old man, weeping for what the world had lost and the evil those heroes had put back in place.
I wish I knew the dungeon master that had run these campaigns. I want to shake his or her hand.
Last week we reviewed the first issue of the indie comic Songs for the Dead. We really liked it so we kept reading, with the cute naive necromancer pretending to be a bard and the more worldly warrior/rogue friend she’s made. This issue sees them looking for a secret group of necromancers that have removed themselves from society precisely because people think they’re evil, all while being pursued by a group of religious zealots that like to execute necromancers because they think they’re evil.
It is almost impossible for us not to like this comic. Created and written by Michael Christopher Heron and Andrea Fort, whose dialogue and pacing are spot on. Art by Sam Beck, who has an eye for keeping his inks and colors grounded until the magic enters and then cuts loose. And, of course. The rather lovely cover art of one Nick Robles. This one is going to be tricky to find, but if you are interested you should click here and nab yourself a copy. It’s well worth your time and cash.