Necromania: Game Design

Game Design

About This Document

Work in progress.
This document covers central game design aspects of Necromania. It does not cover technical details.
New terms are emphasised when they are defined for the first time. Example: A boss is a unique, usually powerful character.
Unique characters (bosses) and unique items (artifacts) are always capitalized. Examples: The Dwarf Wizard, the Wizard Staff.
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Necromania is an advanced platform game. The player controls the Dwarf Wizard, specialized in ice and death magic. The Dwarf Wizard must travel through hostile lands where he faces many monsters, including several different bosses. (A boss is a unique, usually powerful character.)

Game Concepts


Each character has two energy stats: health, and magic. Characters regain energy over time through recovery stats. Magic is recovered automatically, through recharging. Health is recovered through regeneration, though this usually does not happen automatically, as most characters have regeneration 0. The recovery stats may be affected by items. Trolls have natural regeneration.

There are also efficiency stats that allow characters to spend less energy on a given task. The efficiency stats are protection for health, and focus for magic. For instance, a character with protection 1.5 may absorb 0.3 damage by spending 0.3 / 1.5 = 0.2 health. The efficiency stats are also affected by equipment. For example, the Wizard Staff provides a focus bonus.


There are several different damage types. Normal combat causes crush, slash, and pierce damage. Other sources cause burn, freeze, shock, and decay damage.

Character Sizes

The characters are of different sizes, with available sizes ranging through tiny, small, medium, large, and huge. A huge character can pick up other characters that are medium or smaller. The huge character can swallow a character it has picked up. Similarly, a large character can pick up and swallow tiny characters. Characters usually leave corpses when they die. The size of the corpse is inherited from the character.


Spirit When a character dies, its spirit leaves the body behind. What happens after that? Spirits represent personality and energy. If the Dwarf Wizard creates an undead corpse from a troll’s corpse and an elf’s spirit, that undead corpse will look like a troll, while assuming the posture and movement scheme of an elf. Personality goes a long way.

Spirits are subject to spiritual gravity. The sky and the underground are the only spiritual gravity sources that are always present. Sky-longing spirits (elves and fairies) rise into the sky, while underground-longing spirits (dwarves, goblins…) dive into the underground.

There are other sources of spiritual gravity in the world – spirit attractors. The spirit attractors have individual gravity force, and their effects on a given spirit diminish with growing distance. (Spirit attractors with negative gravity force are called spirit repellers.)

Carrying Items

Any character may pick items up and carry them around, visibly held in its grip. The character can also shift a held item into its concealed inventory. Items carried in the inventory are not considered active. This means that spirit attractors in the inventory cannot affect spirits.

Wizard Holding a Spell Book Items wielded, held or worn by a character are part of its equipment. Items in the equipment are considered active.

Some items are too cumbersome to handle comfortably, for instance bodies or large rocks. Such an item may still be lifted, but cannot be shifted into the inventory. The character is unable to attack or cast spells while carrying the cumbersome item.

The Dwarf Wizard usually wields a staff in his right hand, and may hold another item in the left. Some items can be applied when held in this way. The effects of applying depends on the item applied. When the Dwarf Wizard’s left hand is empty, he may apply the staff.

Herding the Undead Shield

The Dwarf Wizard may hit an undead with his staff to urge it forward. The undead is not damaged by this action. Through this technique, the Dwarf Wizard can easily keep a shield of dead flesh between himself and enemy archers.

Fantastic Machines

There are three basic classes of steam-powered constructs: machines, vehicles, and robots. The vehicles and robots are mobile, and require dwarves to drive them.


The world is divided into a number of levels. Most levels are underground locations. There is a boss at the end of each level.

The temperature varies between levels. This affects the timeout of ice-based spells, as well as the rate of decay for bodies. The bosses typically reside in hot places such as the Dwarven Laboratory, the Dwarven Armory, and the Hellish Furnace.


Pits are shallow holes in the ground.


Abysses are bottomless holes in the ground. Characters that fall into pits usually disappear and die.


Lakes are water-filled pits.


The Dwarf Wizard can cross some of the gaps via bridges. Where there are no bridges, the Dwarf Wizard can create his own ones with a spell. Most bridges have limited capacity. The Dwarf Wizard is warned by visible and aural signs if a bridge is about to break.


Dwarf Wizard

Boss. Small. The player controls a dwarf because most monsters are bigger than a dwarf. It simply looks courageous. Think David versus Goliath. Think Bilbo versus Smaug, Gandalf versus the Balrog, Isildur versus Sauron…


Demon Lord
Boss. Medium–huge.
Dwarf Alchemist
Boss. Small.
Dwarf Engineer
Boss. Small.
Dwarf General
Boss. Small. Equipment: Dragon Scale Mail.
Dwarf King
Boss. Small. Equipment: Mithril-coat.
Dwarf Miner
Dwarf Prospector
Dwarf Smith
Dwarf Soldier
Elf Captain
Medium. Spirit repeller.
Elf Queen
Boss. Medium. Spirit repeller.
Elf Ranger
Medium. Archer. Spirit repeller. The elf rangers are keen archers. Equipment: Long bow, and arrows.
Boss. Large. The Ettin is a two-headed savage. With two mouths to feed, it is always hungry. Ettins are also very rude.
Tiny. Flying. Light source. Spirit repeller. The fairy casts healing spells on nearby elves.
Boss. Huge. The Giant is the largest boss.
Goblin Hunter
Medium. Archer. The goblin hunters fire volleys of arrows toward the Dwarf Wizard. Equipment: Short bow, and arrows.
Goblin Bandit
Goblin Shaman
Boss. Medium. The Goblin Shaman casts healing spells on other, nearby goblins. Equipment: Shaman Staff.
Boss. Large. The Titan is an armor-clad warlord. It attacks with shock magic.
Large. The troll is big and brutal. The ground trembles when it moves. Trolls regenerate slowly.


Gnome Explorer
Gnome Priest
Gnome Merchant
Tiny. Gnome merchants trade with the Dwarf Wizard. They also initiate quests, and reward the Dwarf Wizard on successful completion.


Ice Elemental
Tiny–huge. This creature is created when the Frost Bite spell freezes a lake to the bottom. Items that were on the bottom of the lake are stuck in its body. It melts away slowly. When it is destroyed, items that were stuck in it fall onto the ground.
Undead Corpse
Undead Corpse Tiny–huge. Undead. The undead corpse is not damaged by arrows.
Undead Skeleton
Tiny–huge. Undead. The undead skeleton cannot be hit by arrows. It weighs much less than an undead corpse of similar size. Undead skeletons may eat flesh from corpses to grow some flesh back on their own bones, and become undead corpses.


There are some animals in the world. Animals are usually peaceful until provoked.

Tiny. Flying.
Medium. The dwarves keep boars for meat supply and labour.
Tiny. A white rabbit created when the Dwarf Wizard applies the Top Hat while wielding the Magic Wand.



Staff. Spell channeler. The blowpipe channels spell fields such as Decay and Frost Bite into missiles. The Dwarf Wizard can breathe through the blowpipe when he walks on the bottom of a lake.
Magic Wand
Artifact. Staff. Magical. Equip this staff along with the Top Hat for a spectacular show.
Staff. The quarterstaff is a potent melee weapon.
Shaman Staff
Magical. Staff. Spirit attractor. Spirit absorber. The shaman staff absorbs spirits to recharge its bearer.
Shepherd Staff
Staff. The shepherd staff has a hooked end that allows the Dwarf Wizard to pick up items normally out of his reach, or swing from platform edges.
Staff. The spear is a potent melee weapon. Unlike other staffs, that cause crush damage due to their bluntness, the spear inflicts pierce damage when thrusted and slash damage when swung.
Telescope Staff
Artifact. Staff. Magical. The Telescope Staff can be extended or retracted. It is an excellent choice for pole vaulting or bridging gaps. The Dwarf Wizard must collect the sections of the Telescope Staff in various places.
Wizard Staff
Artifact. Staff. Magical. Spell amplifier. Spell channeler. The Wizard Staff amplifies spell fields and channels them into rays.


Cobweb Silk Tunic
Artifact. Magical. Armor. Spirit attractor. Spirit absorber. Magic store. The Cobweb Silk Tunic absorbs spirits to increase its magic store. The protection bonus is proportional to the current store. The Cobweb Silk Tunic leaks magic over time. The leak rate is also proportional to the current store. When the Cobweb Silk Tunic has absorbed several strong spirits in a short period of time, its bearer is nearly invulnerable.
Dragon Scale Mail
Artifact. Armor. The Dragon Scale Mail grants an excellent general protection bonus, while rendering its bearer nearly invulnerable to burn damage.
Artifact. Armor. The Mithril-coat grants a superior protection bonus versus slash and pierce damage.
Rubber Boots
Boots. The rubber boots grant a large protection bonus versus shock damage. They also allow their bearer to jump higher.
Rubber Gloves
Gloves. The rubber gloves grant a large protection bonus versus shock damage.
Top Hat
Magical. Helm. This must be some kind of a joke… Apply: If bearer wields the Magic Wand, create a rabbit.


Missile. Arrows serve as ammunition for archers. Arrows stack into piles. When a character is hit by an arrow, that arrow visibly sticks to the body of that character. The arrow can be retrieved once the character is slain. Apply: If bearer wields a blowpipe, shoot an arrow.
Body Bag
Magical. Bag. The body bag allows the Dwarf Wizard to carry bodies in his inventory. Apply: If empty, fill it with a body of size medium or smaller. If full, empty it.
Book of the Dead
Artifact. Magical. Spirit attractor. Spirit container. Apply: Cast Wake the Dead and release a contained spirit.
Body. Tiny–huge.
Gold Coin
Money. Gold coins are hard currency. They stack into piles.
Missile. Rocks come in different shapes and sizes.
Body. Tiny–huge.


Magic is manifested in spells. Because the Dwarf Wizard is a necromancer, all spells are themed in ice and death. Using ice spells is good because they have a natural timeout – ice melts. There is also a natural connection between cold death and barren ice.

Spell field. Create a field of decay. By default, the field takes the form of a cone emanating from the caster. The field may also be channeled into a missile by the blowpipe, or into a ray by the Wizard Staff. The field does any and all of the following:
Frost Bite
Spell field. Create a field of cold. By default, the field takes the form of a cone emanating from the caster. The field may also be channeled into a missile by the blowpipe, or into a ray by the Wizard Staff. The field does any and all of the following:
Create Ice
Depending on the context, this spell does any and all of the following:
Wake the Dead
Make nearby bodies become spirit attractors and spirit absorbers. The first spirit an enchanted body absorbs turns it into an undead, inheriting the personality of the absorbed spirit.


Find the Odd Rock
Bonus. Using only three weighing attempts, the Dwarf Wizard must find the odd rock out of thirteen rocks. He does not know whether it weighs slightly more or slightly less than the others. The rocks are all uniquely identifiable. Equipment: Scales, and thirteen rocks. Reward: Treasure.


Dwarven Armory
Arena. Underground. Boss: Dwarf General.
Dwarven City
Dwarven Forge
Arena. Underground. Boss: Dwarf Engineer.
Dwarven Laboratory
Arena. Underground. Boss: Dwarf Alchemist.
Dwarven Mines
Dwarven Court
Arena. Underground. Boss: Dwarf King.
Elven Forest
The elves build homes and walkways in the trees. The Dwarf Wizard is able to move around the tree tops by using those structures.
Elven Sanctuary
Arena. Boss: Elf Queen.
Goblin Tunnels
Goblin Camp
Arena. Underground. Boss: Goblin Shaman.
Hellish Furnace
Arena. Underground. Boss: Demon Lord.