A question about Necromancers...

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Dragonchampion
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Dragonchampion »

What about ghosts? As they are people who have unfinished business on earth, could it be possible for a Necromancer to find and ressurect their bodies at their request?

Let's not forget that the Necromancer in question is going to be an Ex-Mage of Light, which means he is very good, and just wants to learn more.
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Euthanatos93
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Euthanatos93 »

Joram wrote: I would say that the creation of ghosts and ghouls unquestionably makes a necromancer evil, even if they have good intentions.
That's a rather arbitrary judgement.
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: )
For a ghost or dead/undead to serve one is not necessarily preculded by torture and slavery. I agree such things would colour one's other actions though.
And it is my opinion that any activity of questionable morality should be avoided.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Joram »

Euthanatos93 wrote:
Joram wrote: I would say that the creation of ghosts and ghouls unquestionably makes a necromancer evil, even if they have good intentions.
That's a rather arbitrary judgement.
Well, my support for the statement was in the next sentance. If you take a statement all by itself, and cut out everything else, of course it is going to be arbitrary. :?
Euthanatos93 wrote:
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: )
For a ghost or dead/undead to serve one is not necessarily preculded by torture and slavery. I agree such things would colour one's other actions though.
Check the unit descriptions. For both of these creatures, using necromancy (according to the unit descriptions) is enslaving the spirit in an undead body*. I must have either been remembering an older unit description, or been imagining the bit about torture (seems to me the unit descriptions used to describe tortured souls and all that).

*It actually doesn't say this about ghouls; however, it says that it "doesn't have any memory of its days as a human", implying that the human essence/spirit/whatever, is still there. It also never says it is necessary to kill a person to make a ghoul.

So there was nothing at all arbitrary about my judgment. I didn't extend it to skeleton warriors and walking corpses because it could be argued that the previous owner of the atomic structure isn't there any more. Like I said, I don't pretend to know what is involved in raising a corpse.

However, the fact that it is easy to raise things that were living once, and difficult to raise things that weren't is, imo, grounds for suspicioun that even in the cases of corpses and skeletons there is a certain amount of tampering with the spirit involved.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by turin »

About the slavery issue: I dunno about you, but it would take a really good reason to convince me to keep living in my body working for some random necromancer who summoned me, and I suspect it's the same for most people. In fact, it would basically have to be "help me prevent the entire world from unspeakable evil". Most necromancers aren't in that situation. So I don't see any alternative to presuming that all necromancers are enslaving and torturing their victims... I guess there could be some exception - a necromancer who resurrects you, asks you if you want to work for him, and if you say "no" he lets you die again - but I find that hard to believe.

And actually, even that seems morally suspect to me. What right does he have to disturb me from my eternal rest to ask me if I want to serve in his undead army? It seems like at the very best, a necromancer is like one of those irritating door-to-door salesmen.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Orcish Shyde »

@turin I'll give you that, but irritating door-to-door salesmen are hardly worthy of being the villains if they have no other crimes to their name, and any amount of actual heroic derring-do would mitigate this irritating action quite a lot.

As for me, I probably wouldn't mind so much provided he didn't infringe on free will. Unaided flight if nothing else.

The impression I got was that skeletons and WCs have no souls entrapped - they're just robots made out of dead flesh and bone. Ghouls are implied to be made of living people though - but that's no proof that the soul remains in the body after the transformation, leaving the Ghost line as the only unambiguously evil thing to recruit en masse on a regular basis regardless of other factors. Even that could be mitigated if you put enslaved ghosts to a REALLY good use, like pwning Rakshas or driving off Mal-Ravanal, but at the very best it's an "ends justify the means" situation and therefore probably not absolutely 100% justified.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by turin »

Orcish Shyde wrote:The impression I got was that skeletons and WCs have no souls entrapped - they're just robots made out of dead flesh and bone. Ghouls are implied to be made of living people though - but that's no proof that the soul remains in the body after the transformation,
I guess this is one interpretation, but it was never the impression I got. It always seemed to me like skeletons, WC, etc, had their souls forced back into them with their memories wiped. Look, for example, at the Draug unit description:
There is little left, in these towering ruins, of the men they once were. Warriors at heart, they are now lost in the dream of unlife; wandering through the battles of their memory and fighting desperately for release, for a peace bought only by strength of arms. And so they struggle; both unthinking, and unrelenting.
Besides, I'm not sure how much philosophical sense it makes to talk about a body that's animated without there being a soul in it - soul in Latin being "anima" and all that... if the thing is organic and moves, it has a soul, and it makes much more sense to say that it's the same soul it had when alive than that the necromancer created a new soul for it. Of course, I'm not sure how much sense it makes to apply actual philosophical arguments to necromancers in Wesnoth.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Orcish Shyde »

turin wrote:
Orcish Shyde wrote:The impression I got was that skeletons and WCs have no souls entrapped - they're just robots made out of dead flesh and bone. Ghouls are implied to be made of living people though - but that's no proof that the soul remains in the body after the transformation,
I guess this is one interpretation, but it was never the impression I got. It always seemed to me like skeletons, WC, etc, had their souls forced back into them with their memories wiped. Look, for example, at the Draug unit description:
There is little left, in these towering ruins, of the men they once were. Warriors at heart, they are now lost in the dream of unlife; wandering through the battles of their memory and fighting desperately for release, for a peace bought only by strength of arms. And so they struggle; both unthinking, and unrelenting.
Besides, I'm not sure how much philosophical sense it makes to talk about a body that's animated without there being a soul in it - soul in Latin being "anima" and all that... if the thing is organic and moves, it has a soul, and it makes much more sense to say that it's the same soul it had when alive than that the necromancer created a new soul for it. Of course, I'm not sure how much sense it makes to apply actual philosophical arguments to necromancers in Wesnoth.
The L1 WC is called "Soulless" for a reason, I'm sure. Plus, I don't see any philosophical difference between a metal body that moves without a soul and an organic body that moves without a soul. Even if it were an issue, I'd actually find it more plausible for a necromancer to create a weak, artificial soul out of dark power to animate a corpse than to drag back the original. As demonstrated in Descent into Darkness, as soon as souls become involved your undead servants may rebel with intent to brutally murder you, and surely it would be desirable to avoid that danger.

The Draug description does present a problem though... but it would be reasonable to assume that as Draugs are the most advanced of skeleton warriors, they would require superior intelligence. It could be that, if we go with the artificial soul theory, they're picking up residual memories from the last soul to occupy their bones.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by turin »

Orcish Shyde wrote:The L1 WC is called "Soulless" for a reason, I'm sure.
Sure, because it makes the necromancer feel better to say it doesn't have one. It doesn't mean it literally doesn't have one. Just like you can call undead "lifeless", but they clearly do have life, in a sense, just not life on a human-level...

Anyway, not much more I can say than that I find the evidence pretty compelling that the souls remain in the bodies of Skeletons and WCs. ;) But I doubt Wesnoth canon will ever rule definitively on the issue, so our differing interpretations are probably safe.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Joram »

Skeleton Archers: "A skeleton archer is little different from the 'skeletons' which ofen accompany it - it is a sin against nature, a warrior raised from the dead to fight once again."

(not just an animated mass of something)

Soulless: "The technique of animating a dead body is unfortunately well-known to the dark arts; practitioners often use it to raise servants and soldiers from unwilling corpses."

(how can a soulless corpse be unwilling? :P )

Draugs, ghosts, and ghouls were already discussed. Unfortunately, I haven't unlocked the unit descriptions for the high level undead myself, so can't say anything about them (though they are likely online somewhere).

Based on the evidence at our disposal, it is my belief that Necromancy is evil.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Orcish Shyde »

Please bear in mind that, as revealed by the gushing descriptions of the elves and the fact that the Thunderer line are never explicitly described as using guns, the in-character writer of the manual is not one hundred per cent unbiased, and certainly is not an expert on necromancy. To all outside appearances a robot made from a corpse is indeed a warrior raised to false life.

As to how a soulless corpse can be unwilling... Manual is written by a biased, ignorant fool + A thing cannot truly be willing if it does not have a mind, now can it?

However as turin says, Wesnoth canon probably won't rule Aye or Nay on the issue. It should be pointed out that the hidden, unfinished branch of NR says unambiguously and certainly that necromancy is not so evil that it can never be used for good, but that same scenario makes definite reference to the "Greater Gods" actually being confirmed to exist, so is at the very least in need of dialogue rewrite.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Joram »

Orcish Shyde wrote:Please bear in mind that, as revealed by the gushing descriptions of the elves and the fact that the Thunderer line are never explicitly described as using guns, the in-character writer of the manual is not one hundred per cent unbiased, and certainly is not an expert on necromancy. To all outside appearances a robot made from a corpse is indeed a warrior raised to false life.
:augh:

Currently, there is nothing at all inconsistent with the behavior of the undead/necromancers and their unit descriptions. Same for dwarves, humans, etc. However, the elvish descriptions don't appear to match their behavior in the campaigns.

My response: We should either alter the description, or the elves' behavior. That way, the unit descriptions will be accurate and the problem will be solved.

Your response: Obviously we can't trust what the elvish unit description says, so we can't trust what any of the other unit descriptions say either.

Apparently all that we can really know for sure about the description of a skeleton warrior is that he is a warrior that looks like a skeleton and is animated from a dead body by some sort of magic (though if it comes to that, how do we really know that it is raised from a dead body? Walking corpses, maybe, as people have seen it done. But skeletons?)

I hate to use the expression, but... duh! If that is all we can know, why don't we just get rid of the unit descriptions altogether? They are cliche enough that they aren't adding any general principles; therefore, the only things that they add are in the details. So if the details are biased, then I don't see that they add anything.

Now, I wouldn't object to changing the unit descriptions. But if we are just going to say "oh, well that is biased, so we can't trust it", then I fail to see what the point of it all is.

As for never calling what the Thunderers use "guns", just because they don't use modern-day language doesn't mean that they are biased or concealing or distorting things; it means that they are trying to use an appropriate diction; something very important to good fantasy, imo (I'll never forget one book I read where all of the characters talked like modern teenagers; it was awful)


Unfortunately, Orcish Shyde, I think that you and I are just going to have to resign ourselves to always clashing with each other. :)
Orcish Shyde wrote: A thing cannot truly be willing if it does not have a mind, now can it?
un·will·ing
adj.
1. Not willing; hesitant or loath: unwilling to face facts.
2. Done, given, or said reluctantly: unwilling consent.

So a thing cannot be truly unwilling if it does not have a mind, now can it?

+ the unit descriptions never say that skeletons and WCs are mindless. It describes skeletons as "nearly mindless".
Orcish Shyde wrote: Manual is written by a biased, ignorant fool
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:P :wink:

Anyway, rant over. Sorry to take up so much space.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Joram »

Dragonchampion wrote: Let's not forget that the Necromancer in question is going to be an Ex-Mage of Light, which means he is very good, and just wants to learn more.
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EDIT: I'm not trying to dissuade you from making your campaign. All I'm doing is arguing that, as Wesnoth is set up now, it is impossible to have a "good" necromancer. But if you make something good enough, then the devs can always change the way Wesnoth is set up; they've done it before, and they'll probably do it again.

My advice would be go ahead and make the campaign, and see what people think of it.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Orcish Shyde »

...Did you miss the bit where Jetryl said he was shooting for moral ambiguity with the necromancer descriptions? By definition, that means they're deliberately written to leave room for an interpretation that includes good necromancers. Even if we assume that necromancy is an actively corrupting crime, one of strong enough will could put it to good use without falling down the route of a stereotypical lich.
Spoiler:
As for the dwarves... it's an example not so much of bias, as of gaps in the in-character manual's knowledge. The point of the thunderstick descriptions isn't so much to show that we're too fantasy-ish to say "guns" as to show that the writer actually has no idea how thundersticks work; he could have made reference to an "explosive black powder, which they place in a long barrel and light to propel balls of metal at the enemy" if he was meant to be truly omniscient. Similarly, he doesn't magically know the truth about how a ghoul is made, and can only speculate that it appears to be a curse on a living creature.

Finally, I postulate the following. You need to raise an army, and fast. What is more morally defensible, recruiting the living and sending them to their deaths, or recruiting the dead and sending them to go back to sleep?
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Velensk »

Easily the former.
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Re: A question about Necromancers...

Post by Orcish Shyde »

Velensk wrote:Easily the former.
On what grounds? Unlife is reversible; death is not.
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