A question about Necromancers...

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A question about Necromancers...

Post by Dragonchampion » April 24th, 2009, 10:02 pm

Are Necromancers in TBFW all evil, besides Malin Keshar?

I have been thinking, is it possible for a Necromancer to use his powers for good? Like bring back people that want to be brought back?
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Limabean » April 24th, 2009, 10:15 pm

I'm pretty sure the answer to that question is whatever you want it to be. :)
Whoever made DiD decided to make Malin Keshar a "good" necromancer. If you want to make another character who is both "good" and a Necromancer, you're perfectly free to do that.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by thespaceinvader » April 24th, 2009, 10:18 pm

So far, they've all been evil. Malin is an eminently arguable case - his motives were relatively good, but he only looks like the hero because the enemies are worse... By the end, he's very much a villain.

And I very much doubt, the way that necromancy is set up in Wesnoth, that resurrecting people is possible - the best you seem to be able to do is animate their bodies or trap their tortured spirits...
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Simons Mith » April 24th, 2009, 10:33 pm

Finding and dismissing tortured spirits is a possibility. I suspect though, that most necromancers are only 'good' in that they collect and control tortured souls (probably because they make the best/most vicious fighters), and thereby prevent them roaming uncontrolled across the land. So at best there's an indirect benefit arising from a selfish wizard pursuing his own ends.
 

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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Gambit » April 24th, 2009, 11:56 pm

Simons Mith wrote: So at best there's an indirect benefit arising from a selfish wizard pursuing his own ends.
A few less tortured souls just running around out there in the wilderness getting run over by people on their morning commute. :lol2:

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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Dragonchampion » April 25th, 2009, 2:17 am

What about that one in Eastern Invasion? That corrupted White Mage?In my soon-to-come campaign, The Lich Council, The Lich council has hated to see their brethren fall down the path of evil an corruption, and under a new teacher, a former Mage of Light, they have learned to create skeletons of soldiers who have died and wish to be renaimated, so that they can aid the world even in death. The ones that do not want to be resurrected, (you can shoose at this critical point) are not animted.

Is this a good idea, or no?
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by SpoOkyMagician » April 25th, 2009, 4:48 am

Well, as a reference to Neverwinter Nights Alignment... Maybe he could be known as:

Lawful Evil or Chaotic Good? (lemme get the game quote...)
A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. As an example Soverliss, a ranger who waylays the evil baron's tax collectors, is chaotic good. Chaotic good combines a good heart with a free spirit.

Chaotic good characters are strong indivualists marked by a streak of kindness and benevolence. They have no use for people who "try to push folk around and tell them what to do." A brave frontiersman forever moving on as settlers follow in his wake is an example of a chaotic good character.

The celestial plane of Arborea, along with the eladrins, embodies this concept.
A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises. This reluctance comes partly from his nature and partly because he depends on order to protect himself from those who oppose him on moral grounds. Because they may be forced to honor an unfavorable contract or oath they have made, lawful evil characters are usually very careful about giving their word. Once given, they break their word only if they can find a way to do it legally, within the laws of the society.

These characters believe in using society and its laws to benefit themselves. Structure and organization elevate those who deserve to rule as well as provide a clearly defined hierarchy between master(s) and servant(s). To this end, lawful evil characters support laws and societies that protect their own concerns. If someone is hurt or suffers because of a law that benefits lawful evil characters, too bad. Lawful evil characters obey laws out of fear of punishment.

Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains. Others may commit themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.

Lawful evil is the alignment which represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successfully evil (in stark contrast to the unstable and self-destructive chaotic evil alignment). It is sometimes called "diabolical," because devils are the epitome of lawful evil. An iron-fisted tyrant and a devious, greedy merchant are examples of lawful evil beings.

The infernal Nine Hells of Baator embodies this concept.
Lawful Evil sounds more like it. That's what I think.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Dragonchampion » April 25th, 2009, 5:05 am

I think that maybe, just maybe, someone might be able retain their dignity through a transformation into a lich, especially if that person was a Mage of Light. The Mage of Light might have, for instance, gotten to know all the secrets of Light magic, and started to learn Necromancy, as Light Magic cannot revive fallen comrades. (At least not in wesnoth) With Necromancy and a variation of Light Magic, an Undead unit with the personality it had before death is possible. Is it?
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Jetrel » April 25th, 2009, 7:36 am

Honestly, the way I wrote the background on the necromancers was with the intention of moral ambiguity. What they do is not inherently evil, nor does it corrupt people like "the dark side of the force".

However, it is very:
- unpleasant to normal people. Necromancers are either trapping souls against their will, or making lifeless puppets of previously living people's bodies, and both of these practices are considered to be just about the ultimate act of either enslavement, or defiling a corpse, which are two things pretty much all humans instinctively get really pissed about*. Also, people feel an instinctive "you're doing something wrong" when people try to defy the natural order of things - in this case, looking for some way to cheat natural death. Last but not least, necromancers haven't perfected their art, and pretty much all of their creations are flawed, and decay in some way, which looks grotesque. A perfect act of necromancy would be indistinguishable from a normal, living human - they are far, far distant from achieving that goal.

- spooky. People are scared shitless of the living dead, and of magic powers. People are scared both of what they don't know about a necromancer's power, and worse, of the fact that there's a lot the necromancers don't know. Necromancers are doing really scary stuff - they're kinda shaking the pillars of heaven, and they don't have a clue what the consequences could be, because a lot of the stuff is just blind experiments. They're peeking behind the normally impregnable wall between life and death. Who knows what the consequences could be; for example, god forbid that they get the attention of something terrible from the other side.

- necromancers have powers that would be really desirable to anyone wishing to do many ostensibly 'evil' things. Having perfect slaves who will do -anything- for you.. the possibilities abound. Power doesn't corrupt, but it sure does attract people who want to be, or have the potential to be, corrupt.



So ultimately, I wrote them with the intention that they're equally flexible to use as either demented evildoers who want power and dominion, or for tragically misunderstood good guys who see death as a wrong to be righted. I find the second one more interesting; it's sort of a shout out to 1] the basic motivation of science, and 2] the belief that maybe the world isn't perfect, and maybe there are inherently bad elements to the design - heck, maybe fixing that's our meaning and purpose in life? Also, 3] the general idea of "Ascended Immortals", which are a great fantasy element (people who achieve immortality, rather than being granted it as a birthright because of their race or something).

* much in the same way humans get really pissed about rape, murder, or theft. We're just wired to.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Cloud » April 25th, 2009, 9:23 am

I've only ever seen a few Necromancers to be 'good' in the whole fantasy genre. The Abhorsen triology. And though Abhorsens are in essence Necromancers (the whole walking in death and using the bells side of things) they work as the exact reverse of a Necromancer, binding the dead and sending them back. (They also use Charter Magic, and only a little Free Magic, where Necromancers can only use Free.)

I like to think that the magic Dark Adepts use taints them more and more as they use it. So actually it is the person that is the tool, not the magic. Sure Necromancers have the capacity for good, but the magic they are using is evil.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by The Great Rings » April 25th, 2009, 10:06 am

Jetryl wrote:Honestly, the way I wrote the background on the necromancers was with the intention of moral ambiguity. What they do is not inherently evil, nor does it corrupt people like "the dark side of the force".
Interestingly, in Rise of Wesnoth, Haldric speculates that becoming undead drove the lich lords mad. However, necromancers are not themselves undead, so their isn't an inherent contradiction here.
However, it is very:
- unpleasant to normal people. Necromancers are either trapping souls against their will, or making lifeless puppets of previously living people's bodies, and both of these practices are considered to be just about the ultimate act of either enslavement, or defiling a corpse, which are two things pretty much all humans instinctively get really pissed about*.
With good reason. The latter could be seen as more of a cultural thing that might vary from place to place (though their are good hygene reasons to properly dispose of the dead), but the first is slavery plain and simple. Worse, it is potentially indefinite enslavement, without even the release of death, and enslavement not merely of the body but of the soul. I cannot imagine a more dispicable act.
Also, people feel an instinctive "you're doing something wrong" when people try to defy the natural order of things - in this case, looking for some way to cheat natural death. Last but not least, necromancers haven't perfected their art, and pretty much all of their creations are flawed, and decay in some way, which looks grotesque. A perfect act of necromancy would be indistinguishable from a normal, living human - they are far, far distant from achieving that goal.
I wouldn't personally say that their is anything inherently wrong about trying to avoid or delay death. In necromancy, its far more about the means used. Also the fact that Wesnoth necromancers are not just achieving immortality, but also forcing perpetual undeath-an enslaved mockery of life-on others.
- spooky. People are scared shitless of the living dead, and of magic powers. People are scared both of what they don't know about a necromancer's power, and worse, of the fact that there's a lot the necromancers don't know.
While in the real world many people might fear magic, in Wesnoth it is clearly quite common place. The crown seems to maintain enough mages for a standing army, for God's sake.
Necromancers are doing really scary stuff - they're kinda shaking the pillars of heaven, and they don't have a clue what the consequences could be, because a lot of the stuff is just blind experiments. They're peeking behind the normally impregnable wall between life and death. Who knows what the consequences could be; for example, god forbid that they get the attention of something terrible from the other side.
Which is a genuine and valid concern. Even the most well-intentioned necromancer is taking a massive gamble with powers beyond human understanding. Note again Haldric's speculation on the nature of the lich lords. They may not have had evil intent-indeed the Wesfolk culture sounds like a mass social experiment in necromancy for the good of the people, if the outlaw character is to be believed.
- necromancers have powers that would be really desirable to anyone wishing to do many ostensibly 'evil' things. Having perfect slaves who will do -anything- for you.. the possibilities abound. Power doesn't corrupt, but it sure does attract people who want to be, or have the potential to be, corrupt.
Definitely. Which means that even if the practice carried no risk to the user, was not inherently immoral, and violated no social taboos, the crown would likely take a dim view of it.
So ultimately, I wrote them with the intention that they're equally flexible to use as either demented evildoers who want power and dominion, or for tragically misunderstood good guys who see death as a wrong to be righted. I find the second one more interesting; it's sort of a shout out to 1] the basic motivation of science, and 2] the belief that maybe the world isn't perfect, and maybe there are inherently bad elements to the design - heck, maybe fixing that's our meaning and purpose in life? Also, 3] the general idea of "Ascended Immortals", which are a great fantasy element (people who achieve immortality, rather than being granted it as a birthright because of their race or something).
As far as immortality is concerned, I will again state that its not the goal, but rather the means, that I find evil and repulsive. However, their are real social issues with achieving widespread immortality (overpopulation, cultural stagnation, etc).
* much in the same way humans get really pissed about rape, murder, or theft. We're just wired to.
Nevermind that their are good practical reasons for being so.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Crushmaster » April 25th, 2009, 3:29 pm

Dragonchampion wrote:Are Necromancers in TBFW all evil, besides Malin Keshar?

I have been thinking, is it possible for a Necromancer to use his powers for good? Like bring back people that want to be brought back?
...A "good necromancer" (granted, according to God's Word, no one is "good"; Romans 3:10) is kind of oxymoronic. After all, look at the definition:
Necromancy: "1. The practice of supposedly communicating with the spirits of the dead in order to predict the future. 2. Black magic; sorcery."

That doesn't sound particularly pleasant, nor does it sound very moral and right, either. There's a reason writers/game programmers (mostly) portray necromancers as "evil". Necromancy, in its essence, is dark and evil, and it simply cannot be used for good.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Orcish Shyde » April 25th, 2009, 4:40 pm

The way I see it, for all its unpleasant trappings, necromancy is a power like any other, and only as inherently evil as the person who wields it. At first Malin Keshar is pretty unambiguously good, but the hatred and despair and loneliness from being rejected by everyone who should have cared about him works like a charm, until he finally jumps off the slope by murdering Drogan; the impression I got was that in the kingdom of Wesnoth (not necessarily the world at large) necromancers become evil because everybody hates them and eventually they return the favour.

Haldric's theory is cast into doubt by Ro'Sothian and Ro'Arthian, the lich brothers from Northern Rebirth.

As for enslaving things... the impression I got was that souls only came into play with the Ghost line, Death Knights, and Liches. Of those three, Death Knights are relatively rare and tend not to be enslaved at all, while Liches are willing undead pretty much by definition; Ghosts and so on would have to be judged on a case-by-case basis, and certainly not bound as Malin is advised to bind them in DiD. After all, if they wish to return to eternal sleep, any necromancer worth his salt can grant them that wish - at least if s/he was the one who raised them. I don't see Dark Adepts creating Nightgaunts, somehow.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Euthanatos93 » April 25th, 2009, 5:25 pm

So all communication with the dead is evil? THat throws a wrench in the whole 'saints' ditty of the catholic church, lol. Forgive me for not sharing your religious sentiments and let us not digress into that abyss.

I would agree that Necromancers are 'evil'. Although I don't, in reality, buy into the whole 'good vs. evil' illusion. It saves in depth explanation for cheap stories. It a simple matter of terminology. Here I would like to refer to Brian Lumbly's definition of 'Necromancer', one who tortures the dead spirits by manipulating their lifeless bodies to retain information or controls their dead bodies through 'magical' means. Generally all dead people dislike the necromancer becaus ehis process is unpleasant. Anyone living who understood it would dislike this Necromancer because the prospect of being subject to it in their own death would be dislike. THus by popular majority, the necromancer is evil.

The Necroscope, while unable to reanimate the dead, talks to the dead freely and without coercion. The dead experiencing the Necroscope pleasantly, and he works to remove the Necromancers (and their master vampires but I shall not digress). Thus most prefer his alignment and he is deemed good.

Because in the end, 'Good' and 'Evil' are social judgements. IF you want Necromancers to be 'good' then maybe have them start out as nuetral and make the storyline have some options and build a macro to change their alignments dependant upon choices. And thus, the programmer is God, relatively, and capable of judgement....hmm...

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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Joram » April 25th, 2009, 6:49 pm

Dragonchampion wrote:Are Necromancers in TBFW all evil, besides Malin Keshar?

I have been thinking, is it possible for a Necromancer to use his powers for good? Like bring back people that want to be brought back?
Not at present. At the moment, it is impossible to bring back people who want to be brought back. You can just bring back their spirits and trap them in slavery, or animate their bodies, again to be your slaves.

You could set up a group of "necromancers" who make it their goal to hunt and destroy undead, but that's kind of what mages of light do. You don't have to become a necromancer to do it, so people with good intentions wouldn't be motivated to dabble in necromancy for this reason.

You could set up a group of people who are interested in achieving the goal of being able to bring real people back from the dead into real life, but they would certainly have to adhere to the principle that the ends justify the means (a very dangerous principle, imo).

You could set up some who use their slaves for good things (Malin?), but again, you have to accept that the ends justify the means.


I would say that the creation of ghosts and ghouls unquestionably makes a necromancer evil, even if they have good intentions. They are torturing and enslaving things; two activities that are, imo, unquestionably evil (hehe. Interesting that these are some of the first things that Malin dabbles in :mrgreen: )

I also look on the raising of skeletons and corpses as highly suspect (I naturally don't know what it entails, so can't make a final judgment). And it is my opinion that any activity of questionable morality should be avoided.
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