Posts Tagged ‘Ainz’

The Dark Young and the Restless

May 9, 2016

I mentioned several months ago how Overlord is one of my favorite light novel series out of Japan. This remains true, and with nine novels to date, I was quite excited to hear that the long-awaited tenth volume is releasing at the end of this month. To celebrate, I’m posting a conversion of one of the most powerful spells used in the series to date.

While I’ve tried to keep them minimal, please be aware that there are some spoilers here for later in the series.

My previous post on Overlord talked about how its magic system is heavily inspired by D&D Third Edition, having ten “tiers” of spells, metamagic, and even a skill-like “super tier” magic which is clearly epic-level spellcasting by another name. The story further clarifies that super-tier magic has certain rules and limitations for when it’s used. In effect, these are the world laws that are specific to using epic spells:

  1. Doing so is highly conspicuous, creating large rings of glowing sigils around the caster for several feet in every direction.
  2. The casting time for these spells is described as being lengthy (though there are cheap one-shot magic items that can make them near-instantaneous).
  3. After casting super-tier magic, there’s a “cool-down” period before another super-tier spell can be cast.
  4. This cool down period applies not only to the spellcaster, but to all allied characters as well.

This last point stretches suspension of disbelief, being rather “game-ist” in its lack of in-character reasoning for how it determines who an “allied” character is and why they can’t use super-tier magic because someone else in their party did. Amusingly enough, this is ignored due to the fact that, in the story, this magic is originally from an MMORPG anyway, making it something of a moot point.

In the Overlord anime, the only time we see super-tier magic being cast is when Ainz uses the spell fallen down (twice) during his battle with a brainwashed Shalltear. As far as spells go, it’s rather boring, simply being a massive-damage area-of-effect spell. While it’s strong enough to create a crater that’s several dozen feet in diameter, that’s about all that can be said about it.

A far more notable use of super-tier magic comes at the end of the ninth novel, when Ainz casts the spell Ia Shub-Niggurath – Sacrifice to the Black Harvest. With just that one spell, he kills an army of almost a quarter-million people.

More specifically, the spell causes 70,000 people to drop dead (actually more, if you count the horses), which serve as a “sacrifice” to summon five of the Dark Young of the Black Goat, which then begin rampaging unstoppably through the remaining soldiers. So what would such a spell look like in the d20 system? My guess is something like this:


Necromancy [death]

Spellcraft DC: 2,098

Components: V, S

Casting Time: 2 minutes

Range: 3,000 ft.

Area: 800-ft. radius burst

Duration: instantaneous and 20 minutes (see text)

Saving Throw: Fortitude partial

Spell Resistance: Yes

To Develop: 19,170,000 gp; 384 days; 766,800 XP. Seeds: slay (DC 25), summon (DC 14). Factors: change from target to area (20-ft. radius; +10), increase range by 900% (+18), increase duration by 900% (+18), increase area by 3,900% (+156), +37 CR creature (+74), aberration type (+10), four additional creatures (x8), increase casting time by 1 minute (-2), requires 10,000 Hit Dice of creatures to be slain for each creature summoned (ad hoc -500).

When this spell is cast, each creature of 80 Hit Dice or less within the area of effect must succeed on a Fortitude save or die. On a successful save, a creature takes 3d6+10 points of damage instead. For each 10,000 Hit Dice worth of creatures slain by this spell, 1 Dark Young of the Black Goat will be summoned, to a maximum of 5 Dark Young.

A Dark Young is a mountain-sized conglomerate of mouths and tentacles that moves on five stubby legs. It cannot speak, but makes a bleating sound from its many mouths. It has the statistics of a devastation centipede, with the following changes:

  • The creature type is aberration.
  • Instead of one bite attack it may make up to 6 slam attacks per round, all as primary natural attacks that deal 20d10+11 damage.
  • Reach 60 ft.
  • Intelligence 3.
  • Replace the poison special ability with trample (20d10+16 damage, DC 85).

Figuring out the base statistics to use for the Dark Young took some eyeballing. In the novels, the level system for characters tops out at level 100. At this level, characters that use super-tier magic can cast four such spells per day. In the d20 system, where you can cast one epic level spell per day for every 10 ranks in the correct skill (and can have total ranks equal to your level +3), this means that level 100 characters, such as Ainz, are somewhere between levels 37 and 46. Normally I’d presume that Ainz’s incredible prowess would put him near the top of this range, but it’s more convenient to place him at level 40, since that sets a baseline of dividing the levels by 0.4 to come up with their d20 equivalent.

In the novel, the Dark Young are described as being creatures that are “above level 90,” and that have no powerful special abilities but are extremely tough. Given that, devastation vermin in general, and the CR 39 devastation centipede in particular, seemed like a perfect fit (albeit after a few changes).

Of course, the casting DC for this spell is eye-poppingly high to the point where it’s essentially impossible to cast. Even positing that Ainz is a level 40 character, this spell is likely far beyond his reach. While we could tweak the spell’s parameters (likely dumping a lot of the extended range, as well as some of the extended duration, and piling up more mitigating factors), it’s probably far easier – and more effective – to convert the entire spell.

More specifically, we’re going to use Eclipse: The Codex Persona and The Practical Enchanter to rebuild this from the ground up as a high-level spell.

In order to do that, we’ll want to take a look at each of the spell’s components separately. Luckily, the epic-level writeup above nicely lays out (via the two spell seeds used in its “to develop” line) that there are two basic effects going on here: the sacrifice, and the summons.

The sacrifice is essentially a finger of death (level 7) spell whose area can affect an entire battlefield (+8), and its range extended from close to extreme (+3). That’s +11 levels of metamagic, but since they’ll be built into the spell we can subtract 20% of that cost, for a +9 modifier, making a level 16 spell.

The summoning is an instance of grandiose summoning (Eclipse p. 125). Since this spell is summoning specific creatures, rather than having a list of creatures that the caster can choose from – and since said creatures are CR 39 – that makes this a 21st-level spell. We’ve already paid to extend the spell’s range (e.g. when we combine the sacrifice part of the spell with this one), so we don’t need to do that again. Finally, we can lower the spell level by 1 due to changing its 1 round casting time to 1 minute.

So that leaves us with a 16th- and a 20th-level spell. As per Lerandor’s Rule from page 116 of The Practical Enchanter – it takes 2 spells of level “N” to equal 1 spell of level “N + 1” – combining these gives us a 21st-level spell. Finally, we’ll throw back in the limitation that you need to slay at least 10,000 Hit Dice worth of creatures for each Dark Young summoned, presuming that that’s worth another -1 spell level (that might seem far less generous than the -500 to the Spellcraft DC in the epic spell writeup above. However, the net effect is the same; both are an overall minor reduction to a stratospheric requirement to cast).

As such, we end up with a 20th-level spell which looks like the following:

Ia Shub-Niggurath – The Sacrifice to the Black Harvest; conjuration, necromancy, transmutation (summoning) [death]; level 20; components V, S; casting time 1 minute; range extreme (800 ft. + 80 ft./level); Target 1 battlefield and 1d4+1 Dark Young (see below); duration instantaneous and 1 min./level (D) (see below); Saving Throw Fort partial; Spell Resistance yes.

When this spell is cast, each creature within the area of effect must succeed on a Fortitude save or die. On a successful save, a creature takes 3d6+25 points of damage instead. For each 10,000 Hit Dice worth of creatures slain by this spell, 1 Dark Young of the Black Goat will be summoned, to a maximum of 1d4+1 Dark Young.

One its face, this doesn’t seem like it’s done very much to make this spell more feasible for actual use. After all, what’s the practical difference between a Spellcraft DC in the low thousands and a spell level that’s in the low twenties? For an epic-level character, however, the latter is going to be far easier to reach than the former, particularly if using the Eclipse rules rather than a strict 3.0/3.5 build.

Oh My Darling

December 12, 2015

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed an anime as much as Overlord.

A web novel that was rewritten as a light novel series before being adapted to an anime and a manga, Overlord is the story of a young man who ends up drawn into his favorite MMORPG, becoming the character he always played. While this may sound like another take on the same concept as Sword Art Online or Log Horizon, the premise of Overlord is sufficiently different that it offers a refreshing twist on the idea of “living the game.”

What sets Overlord apart can be summarized as follows:

  1. The protagonist, who goes by his guild’s name of Ainz Ooal Gown, is the only one drawn into the game. Insofar as he knows, no one else who played the MMORPG has been similarly brought into it. The search to see if he’s the only one is the reason behind much of what he does.
  2. The world Ainz is drawn into is different from the one in the original game. The new world that he finds himself in is a low-fantasy world, in stark contrast to the epic-fantasy world that he had previously played in. Because of this, his considerable power seems magnified in comparison.
  3. As the master of his guild, its locale, subordinate NPCs, and considerable treasury have all been retained in the new world. All this on top of Ainz being an undead spellcaster who has hit the level 100 cap.

The series, in other words, is a power-fantasy. Normally I’d be somewhat dubious about a show where the main character was so much stronger than any potential opposition. After all, it’s boring when there’s no challenge to be had. However, the show cleverly ameliorates this problem by the fact that Ainz approaches the unknown situation he’s found himself in from a position of extreme caution. Since he treats most every situation as though it could potentially be a threat to him, his subsequent victories feel earned, even when they’re a foregone conclusion. Just look at him layering these defensive spells:

Of course, there show finds a way to introduce a legitimate threat or two over the course of its run. But for the most part the fun comes from watching Ainz acclimate to his new position and begin to flex his authority. With as much power and resources as he has, it’s inevitable that he’ll make a huge impact on the world he’s found himself in.

What was also a bit of unexpected fun was realizing just how much the magic in the show is based off of D&D Third Edition! While the specific spells are mostly different, the way that magic works is quite obviously based on the d20 System. For example, spells are classified among ten “tiers” (e.g. spell levels 0-9), metamagic feats are openly used (e.g. spells can be invoked as “Maximized” or “Widened”), and there’s even said to be a super-tier level of magic which is “more like a skill than a spell” (e.g. epic-level spellcasting).

It’s this last point that let me put a rough figure on Ainz’s level in D&D terms. Given that he can use an epic-level spell four times per day, that’d require at least 40 ranks in Knowledge (arcana). That means that he’d need to be anywhere from ECL 37 to level 46. Since his level from his original MMORPG is said to be 100, it’s simplest to place his level at 40.

While I thought of writing up a stat block for Ainz, making a character with that much power is a bit unwieldy. Moreover, the novels have been coy with showing us his full range of powers. While we’ve seen some of his skills and special abilities, the novel series (which far eclipses the anime and manga) is still ongoing. As such, it seems easier to focus on another character that’s shown what they can do, and doesn’t break the bank in terms of character levels.

For that, we turn to…

Clementine, 10th-level Slaughterer


I’m guessing her last name is “Yandere.”

A former member of the Black Scripture, the covert ops branch of the human-supremacist Slane Theocracy, when we meet Clementine she has already betrayed her country, murdering a highly-placed official and stealing a powerful magic item. Her motivation for doing so appears to be entirely for her own amusement, as Clementine is sadistic and cruel. One of the most powerful warriors in the world, she enjoys little more than tormenting those who are weaker than her.

Although Clementine was eventually killed by Ainz Ooal Gown, he allowed local officials to dispose of her body. He later realized that this might have been a tactical error on his part, as resurrection magic does exist in this new world. As such, it’s possible that Clementine might turn up again; although she’s unlikely to challenge Ainz again, she could still be the doom of most anyone else.

The world that Overlord takes place in is one that has a level cap for native characters. Ordinary people can’t rise above 4th to 6th level or so, and even the greatest of heroes have a hard limit of 10th to 12th level. Thus, Clementine is very close to the peak of her ability, if not already there.

Available Character Points: 264 (level 10 base) + 6 (human bonus feat) + 24 (levels 1, 3, 6 and 9 feats) + 10 (disadvantages) = 304 CP.

Clementine’s disadvantages are Broke (Clementine cares little for money, and being on the run has made it hard to accumulate funds anyway), Hunted (the Theocracy is determined to eliminate her for betraying them), and Irreverent (she cares nothing for religious faith or institutions, as demonstrated by her perfidy towards her old unit).

Ability Scores (28-point buy): Str 12 (4 points), Dex 16 (8 points; +1 4th level), Con 14 (6 points), Int 12 (4 points), Wis 10 (0 points), Cha 15 (6 points; +1 8th level).

Human (9 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Fast Learner, specialized in skills for one-half cost (3 CP).
  • Bonus Feat (6 CP).

Basic Abilities (186 CP)

  • Light armor proficiency with the Smooth modifier (6 CP), all simple and martial weapons (9 CP).
  • 10d8 Hit Dice (60 CP).
  • +10 BAB (60 CP).
  • +7 Fort, +7 Ref, +3 Will (51 CP)
  • 0 skill points (0 CP).

Exactly why some people in this world are able to ascend to such great heights and others are not is nebulous. It’s noted that many of the individuals who do can claim exceptional parentage – some tracing their lineage back to the gods themselves – but there are still considerable numbers who’ve attained their prowess through sheer effort alone.

Bloodthirsty Fighter (20 CP)

  • Finesse/may use Dex bonus to calculate attack rolls, specialized for one-half cost/only when using light weapons or unarmed strikes (3 CP).
  • Bonus Attack when fighting with two weapons, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not be used with a shield (4 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for attack rolls, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not reroll failed attacks (4 CP).
  • Augment Attack, +1 to attacks with punching daggers (6 CP).
  • Improved Initiative +2 (3 CP).

Clementine is an extremely aggressive combatant. She enjoys toying with her foes, wearing them down a piece at a time while delighting in their growing fear and desperation. In game terms, she’s likely to use whatever called shot rules are allowed to perform disabling attacks.

No One’s Fool (18 CP)

  • Defender/dodge bonus, corrupted for increased effect/only when wearing light armor or no armor (6 CP).
  • Block/melee (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized in skills for double effect (6 CP).

For all her sadism, and disinterest in anything besides that, Clementine is not stupid. In addition to her ability to weave her way through a battle without difficulty, she will also pay attention to the local power-players in whatever region she’s in.

Beyond Mortal Limits (80 CP)

  • 10 wilder progression levels (Cha-based, restrained and studies limitations), corrupted for two-thirds cost/does not provide any powers known (20 CP).
  • 10 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/only for wilder progression (30 CP).
  • 6 powers, each one augmentable (18 CP).
  • Easy metamagic feat (6 CP).
  • Streamline, specialized for double effect/only for the Easy metamagic feat (6 CP).

While powerful warriors lack the magical abilities of wizards, clerics, or other spellcasters, they have their own form of power: martial arts. These abilities are distinct from magic, allowing physical combatants to push themselves beyond what they could ordinarily accomplish.

We see Clementine use a grand total of six martial arts abilities: Impenetrable fortress, flow acceleration, stride of wind, greater evasion, ability boost, and greater ability boost. The first two have effects that are self-evident, allowing her to block strikes that should have enough force to overbear her and let her dodge incoming attacks with supernatural speed, respectively. The remaining four aren’t specified with regard to what they do, though we can make guesses based on the names.

  • Impenetrable fortress functions as per empty mind, but only for Reflex saves made for Block checks. It grants an initial bonus of +4, rather than +2.
  • Flow acceleration functions as per defensive precognition.
  • Stride of wind functions as per psionic lion’s charge.
  • Greater evasion functions as per mental barrier, but grants a dodge bonus.
  • Ability boost functions as per animal affinity, but makes no cosmetic changes.
  • Greater ability boost also functions as per animal affinity, but in addition to having no cosmetic changes, is treated as a 3rd-level power that costs 5 power points to manifest, and grants a +6 enhancement bonus rather than +4.

Combat Gear

  • Chain shirt.
  • 2 +1 spell-storing punching daggers (typically loaded with fireball and lightning bolt).
  • 2 masterwork short swords.
  • Morningstar.
  • 200 gp.

As a major character, Clementine should have PC-level wealth. Because of her Broke disadvantage, however, she has much less gear than she would normally. She typically keeps only what she can carry on her person, as she’s used to moving from place to place at a moment’s notice. This usually includes a set of diverse weapons, just in case she runs across enemies resistant to piercing damage.

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 8 (d8 1st level) + 40 (9d8) + 20 (Con bonus) = 68 hp.
  • Alignment: Chaotic Evil.
  • Speed: 30 ft.
  • Init: +3 (Dex bonus) +2 (improved initiative) = +5 initiative.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort: +7 (base) +2 (Con bonus) = +9.
    • Ref: +7 (base) +3 (Dex bonus) = +10.
    • Will +3 (base) +0 (Wis bonus) = +3.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) +4 (chain shirt) +3 (Dex bonus) +3 (Defender) +2 (martial art) = AC 22, touch 18, flat-footed 14.
  • Attacks: +10 (BAB) +3 (Dex) +1 (Augment Attack) +2 (martial art) +1 (weapon enhancement bonus) -2 (two-weapon fighting) = +15/+15/+10 punching dagger (1d6+2/19-20/x3).
  • Power points: 88 (level 10 wilder base) +10 (ability bonus) = 98 pp.
  • Skills: 0 skill points (0 CP) + 13 (human bonus) + 13 (Int bonus) +26 (Fast Learner) = 52 skill points.
Skills Ranks Ability Bonus Total
Balance 3 +3 Dex +6
Climb 2 +1 Str +3
Escape Artist 3 +3 Dex +6
Hide 3 +3 Dex +6
Jump 3 +1 Str +4
Knowledge (local) 3 +1 Int +4
Listen 5 +0 Wis +5
Martial Arts (cut the strings) 13 +3 Dex +16
Move Silently 3 +3 Dex +6
Search 3 +1 Int +4
Sleight of Hand 3 +3 Dex +6
Spot 5 +0 Wis +5
Tumble 3 +3 Dex +6

Normally I assign characters twelve class skills, plus Craft and Profession. In Clementine’s case, I’m relaxing that rule a bit, since she’s a character with very limited magical abilities and is operating under a level cap.

Cut the Strings (Dex)

A vicious martial art, Cut the Strings teaches that living bodies are little different from puppets. Rather than whacking away at an enemy indiscriminately, far better to strike at their vital areas and cause them to collapse helplessly, oftentimes while still alive. This fighting style thus focuses on speed and dodging, while allowing a practitioner to get close enough to land precise, crippling blows.

  • Requires: Weapon Focus (punching dagger) or similar point buy.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 2, Defenses 4, Power 2, Synergy (initiative).
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Blinding Strike, Combat Reflexes, Crippling, Improved Critical (punching dagger).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Serpent Strike, Vanishing.
  • Known: Attack 2, Defenses 2, Power 1, Combat Reflexes, Crippling (Dexterity), Improved Critical (punching dagger).


Clementine is a “striker” sort of character, similar to Bell Cranel; she focuses on quickly getting into melee range and making multiple attacks. If she is facing opposition capable of fighting back, she uses her “martial arts” powers to enhance her abilities until she’s reliably outclassing them. After that, she takes her time wearing them down.

For all her prowess, however, Clementine has little defense against magical attacks. If she fought a powerful spellcaster, she’d likely boost her offensive abilities to cut them down as quickly as she could. While she prefers to play with her enemies, she will kill them without delay if she feels legitimately threatened.

Of course, that isn’t something that happens very often. While Clementine is fine with facing weaker foes in groups, she makes sure to fight enemies who are near or at her level one-on-one if at all possible. To date, it’s a strategy that’s served her well; it was only when faced with the overwhelming might of Ainz Ooal Gown that Clementine’s luck – and her life – ran out.

…should she be brought back back, she’ll not likely make that mistake a second time.