The Drylands (Pathfinder)
As you read through the journal (those of you without Read Magic get this relayed to you), you get the sense that whoever Myrkjartan was, he wasn’t from around here. None of you recognize the style of magic encoding he used in his notes. It’s not similar to any of the styles currently in use.
Myrkjartan was trying to recreate a type of undead he called the Riftborn. Given that he was writing this for his own reference, Myrkjartan never wrote the details of what he obviously considered common knowledge, but his experiments attempted to create incorporeal, intelligent undead out of living souls.
He was able to create incorporeal undead, but the ritutals and material components he reference as necessary are alien to you. He also had a source of massive negative energy that played a key role.
He was also successful in creating intelligence in his undead. He was disappointed in the consistency of the results, as they ranged from bestial to merely stupid (or what he considered stupid, anyway). These spells you can understand. They seem like variants on the create undead spells that anyone with a knowledge of spellcraft would recognize. You don’t know what the material components refer to though, the words simply don’t have a match to any object you have language to describe.
The latter sections refer to his struggle to convert living souls to undead. Myrkjartan seemed certain that this would not only solve the issues with intelligence, but provide other beneficial powers as well. He had written several experiments he wished to try, involving a range of ideas from advanced necromancy spells, to methods transmuting living systems to unliving systems, to illusion spells that trick the soul into remaining to be bound by conjuration magic.
If these experiments were ever completed, they were not recorded in the log. Myrkjartan’s last entry states that he must put the experiments on hold until this invasion is over.
The journal of the necromancer you are calling “Oz” starts with the first experiment to try to replicate Myrkjartan’s results. He doesn’t note where he found the journal or the circumstances surrounding it. This journal is written in non-magical Entobian.
Oz attempted to recreate the successful intelligent undead experiments, but was largely unsuccessful. Part of this is due to the previous owner enchanting the notebook to obscure information, trigger traps, and generally make it difficult for other people to read.
Apparently Oz spent the better part of a month frozen in place from a protective sigil. Given that he survived the experience, he probably wasn’t in the woods at the time.
He tried to bargain with representatives of the Cult of Urgathoa to trade their knowledge for the secrets in the book, but they declined. He met with one of their clerics in person outside Rock Mound, but was told to wait for an answer. Oz eventually received notice from a higher ranked member outside New Mound that they wanted nothing to do with his experiments.
Oz took it badly and left whatever city he was residing in to work on his experiments in the field. After experiments on small animals he found a set of materials that apparently restored them to life with their intelligence. But when he ‘acquired’ a corpse to test the process on, the resulting zombie was as intelligent as a small animal.
After that failure Oz decided to work in increments, figuring ways to create undead animals (easier to obtain corpses for) with greater intelligence.
He worked at that for three years, incorporating elements of the untested soul-conversion experiments. Oz was able to get an undead creature to transmit a magical disease-like condition to another creature. The disease would eventually manifest as necrotic boils which would kill the animal through constitution damage. If it died from that damage or was killed while infected, it would rise as a powerful zombie. But by applying the ritual Myrkjartan proposed, along with an unusual combination of oils, tinctures, and crushed diamond, the creature would return with slightly elevated intelligence.
Eventually this process resulted in a paddock of trained undead rams. Before proceeding further he worked on a method of control, culminating in a series of command words that could be used to handle or destroy the undead created in this process, regardless of whether they were under his direct control.
These are some of the last entries in the log, suggesting that he was working to refine the process at the time he was killed.