Valishja VanDerOverlijden, Builder of Tombs, Ethical Necrourgist (A to Z)

26 April, 2021

Do you not want a save resting place?Some people fear death, some are fascinated by it, others find it a useful state of being.

Valishja VanDerOverlijden, Builder of Tombs, Ethical Necrourgist

Quote: I would not have used my magic to animate those corpses if I had not been assured that they were the corpses of legally executed criminal.  It is in my contract that I will only animate such corpses for my work here.

Yes, necrourgic magic carries a whiff of evil with it, but it can be properly channeled and controlled to put it to good and noble purposes.

Description: Valishja is tall and thin, not quite unhealthily so but almost, her skin is pale and her hands are calloused, and possibly stained depending on what she has been working with.  Her hair went white before she left her twenties and is usually worn in a tight bun held by silver and bone pins.  Her eyes are an unsettling dark indigo.  Her voice is raspy as though she does not use it often.

Valishja wears mourning clothes by preference, out of respect and to show her role as a bridge between the living and dead.  However, she does not like high heels and will stick to practical footwear if at all possible.  She has an extensive collection of funerary and mourning jewelry which she wears as appropriate.  The only piece she is never found without is a ring of carved dragon bone in the shape of a coiled dragon with red diamond eyes.

Background: Valishja was born into a family of undertakers, embalmers and coffin makers, skills she quickly mastered.  Two chance encounters in her early teens set her on her course as an adult, the first was with a tomb robber who almost killed her (though she suspects it was accidental) and with a necrourgist who was politely asking for, well, unclaimed parts.  The combination of the two inspired her to become a guardian for the dead, using her knowledge combined with the necrourgic arts to create defense to keep them safe.  She convinced her parents to let her apprentice to the wandering necrourgist.

Valishja proved a most able pupil and also began studying tomb design, architecture and magical defenses.  She designed her first defended tomb and sold it to a wealthy merchant with old fashioned sensibilities.  She worked with, and learned from, several master masons and architects, but the magical defenses were all hers.  The designed proved itself within months of the merchant being interred, an ambitious step-son and his gang of hangers on found the traps too much for them and only one of the hired diggers escaped to confess to their crimes.  This catapulted Valishja to star status and her designs and wards were in great demand.

Now she travels the world, designing and building tombs and learning everything she can about the tombs (and their defenses) of previous eras.  She is also an advocate of ethical necrourgy, using the magic of the death to help the living and to defend the (quiet) dead.

Presenting this Character: Valishja knows that she makes people uneasy, the aura of death surrounds her, and she uses that to her advantage.  She rarely has animated dead with her as she only animates corpses (with legal permission) for specific purposes and a limited time.  She is very intent on the task at hand, whatever that may be at the time.  She has both a very dry and very black sense of humor (“danger of the profession”).

She is very happy to present her views on public: That the dead deserve to rest undisturbed.  That necrourgic can be used for good and productive, even noble, purposes.  Those who abuse the dead, by grave robbing, magic or whatever, deserve to be punished.  Valishja occasionally deigns to debate other philosophers, mostly to establish her credentials as an intellectual in an area she is new to.

What can they do?: Valishja is one of the foremost living experts on how tombs are defended, but she will not lend her skills to the plundering of unopened tombs, however she is willing to help finish the cleaning out of already despoiled tombs.  How else will you learn how they were constructed and what defenses they used.  So, she will requite detailed reports and drawings in return for any aid offered.

She can design tombs using complex interlocking defenses but physical and magical.  While she is not flashy or boastful about it, her mastery of necrourgy and warding magic is extensive.

Who might know them and why: Anyone who has helped to build a defended tomb has probably heard of her and possibly used some of her designs.  She happily corresponds and exchanges designs with the small number of other architects and builders who specialize in building defended tombs.

Those interested in necrourgy, especially its ethical application, or warding magic, may had corresponded with her or sought information from her.

Plot Hooks: If the characters have looted a tomb, Valishja may be interested in interviewing them to learn more about that type of tomb.  (She may also chide them and try and convince them not to do it again.)

She may need some sort of special material that the characters my be able to obtain (or have) or some special knowledge Valishja needs to complete a ward.

If the characters are planning to break into a tomb, they may wish to try and weasel some advice out of her on how to avoid traps. Or if they are planning on fighting a non-ethical necrourgist, she could offer some tips.

Notes: Tomb raiding is a popular pastime in most fantasy games and someone has to build all those traps.  More on tombs here and masons here.

Photo “Kaisergruft (Habsburg Emperors’ Crypt, Vienna)” by cphoffman42 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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