Necromancer official lore posts

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Contents


Thematic

Necromancers' Flavor

>>I made a not-so-offhand comment about hearing that necromancers were scientists, not madmen.

Even in real life, those are not mutually exclusive terms. Thematically, the flavor of science the Philosophers do is patterned off Dr. Frankenstein or Herbert West.

>>The scene played out as you might expect, with some people being, well, outraged at the comment that necromancers might be anything other than foul beasts from hell that all need to die in a fire. I tried a couple times to plead rational thought -- "how do you know?" to no avail.

For what it's worth, Moon Mages can glance at a Necromancer's place in the Web of Fate and read "Their fate is intimately linked with the death of the universe. The End."

I mean, you can certainly argue there are virtues to the Necromancers' quest, but it's not particularly hard to find reasons to hate them.

-Armifer


>>And then simply put there is as was stated, a huge problem with Necromancy, society doesn't like it is putting it weakly. The Gods don't like you playing in their field, and somewhat hinted (at the metagame or playing as a Necromancer), the Gods are protecting Elanthians from far nastier things then themselves, and being without their protection, is nasty.

They're called demons.

Modern adventuring society knows of two distinct ones, Maelshyve and "the Hunger." Both were powerful enough to make claims to divinity that had to be taken seriously. Nobody can even guess at how many more of the things are out there.

Coincidentally, they've historically relied on Necromancers and the undead as their servants. The Philosophers and the Redeemed are rare among Necroculture (unbelievable so, outside of it) to separate out the roles of Necromancer and demon-cultist.

-Armifer


>>Might be entering "that's a fun theory to argue but we're not saying" territory, but would the North Wind Banshee now be considered a demon?

That's a fun theory to argue but we're not saying.

It can intentionally be a little dodgy trying to figure out where "malevolent divinity" ends and "demon" begins. At least dodgy enough to keep some cosmologists up at night.

-Armifer


>>Really? It is so unbelievable that a very rational person might say "wait, is there really no redeemable quality to this path?"

Redeemable? Well, literally, no. There is no redemption on the path (the Redeemed are defined by the rejection of the Work).

Necromancers are bad people, but they can be understandably bad people. You can certainly argue there are transcendent virtues to the Work -- that's part of the point of making Necromancers sympathetic. But it is framed around "they are mentally disturbed murderers that, wittingly or not, may be bringing about the end of the universe."

-Armifer


>>That's not what I meant by redeemable quality. Perhaps rephrased it's: "Is there no generally useful wisdom that one could gain from this work?" Of course, the question of the cost is a different one.

Well, sure. The Great Work; the Magnum Opus; the perfected necromancy; life everlasting. The Philosophers are in it for living immortality and the self-determination of humanity. Not many people will fault them for their abstract goals alone.

They're just, you know, trying to find it by murdering people, desecrating the dead, and may be unwittingly destroying all of Creation to attain it. Those wacky, lovable scamps.

-Armifer


The Point of Playing a Necro

>>Isn't that the whole point of the guild? Be careful what you do? Don't be too flashy? If you get caught you're doing it wrong?

My opinion is all of that is doing it wrong and the proper way to play a Necro is to go all out Perverse and have fun with it. However this is also fraught with risks, but in my opinion that should be the path with the most 'fun'.

If you don't want to do that, however, we've added the tools for that as well! My opinion on the best way to play the guild isn't how you have to do it, but I am deeply saddened that most people feel like it means you fail as a Necro.

It'll probably be better once we have more Necromancer 'guildhalls' out, I feel people are unduly influenced by Book's outlook which is anti-Perverse. We like Book's outlook or we wouldn't have made it the primary guildhall, but the basic plan of the abilities was made to encourage you to not always follow what he says.

-Z


On the meta level (me, the GM, talking about my intentions for the guild), you are Doing It Wrong when you acquire SO without intending it, or if your decision upon running into a consequence of playing a Necromancer is to whine and scream about it rather than deal with it in-game.

Beyond that, really, go nuts. We chose "Necromancer ideologies" as the term for the guild split for a reason. The Philosophers won't particularly be amused if you want to run around going Lyras on people's asses, but eventually there'll be guildleaders that care less.

The focus of the guild in plot and mood terms is the Philosophers, but the ideologies have existed since day one to acknowledge that is not the only way to conceive of a Necromancer.

-Armifer


Necromancer Sanity

Let's step OOC for a moment, and discuss this in terms no character should ever use (though inevitably will, since I now just said it).

The attunement process for Arcane mana involves substantial changes to your character's neurobiology in a setting so far removed from modern science and medicine that this is completely not understood or remotely accounted for. You are seeing what Man Mustn't See not because of occult hoodoo but because your character's brain is no longer firing like it used to.

The madness of the Necromancer is, first and foremost, neurological. Schizophrenia, affect disorders, clinical depression, etc. Cthulhu-analog certainly plays a part in how deeply boned Necromancers are, but at the front lines of the Necromancer's soul, his major demons are all personal.

In practice, these are not going to be balls-to-the-walls-mad people. The Philosophers aim at creating functional sociopaths (though they'd never think of themselves in those terms), and anyone who exhibits outrageously broken cognition after the attunement will be used for parts as a failed attunement. The intention is a creeping fear that the Necromancer's ego (you, basically) isn't in full control of the vehicle.

And if Lyras is any indication, sometimes he isn't.

Moving toward the supernatural, we arrive at a point where I want to keep a certain level of mystery in the story. Hallucinations certainly fit (bearing in mind that someone who's constantly seeing purple skyway Nevada is going to find his spleen appropriated), but there is the Hunger sitting somewhere within the Necromancer's frame of reference.

Sometimes a Necromancer might catch a glimpse of... something, just as in real life sometimes our pattern recognition will turn the shadows in the corner of our eyes into something else. It's probably "innocent" madness. Sometimes, though, that seems very unlikely.

-Armifer


Ultimately, one of the intentions is that Necromancers and their PCs have no particularly reliable frame of reference to know at any given time whether whatever is screwing with them is spiritual/magical, psychological, or physical.

For example, take paranoia. A Necromancer may at any time be actually hunted and persecuted, attacked by gods and demons, or due to his Attunement fall to disorders that feature it floridly. Or this may be happening all at the same time.

The Old Man, likewise, is intentionally written in a way that makes it kind of hard to figure out where the line is getting drawn.

-Armifer


Necromancer's Soul

>>Whatever that entity is that is protecting a Necromancer's soul, the Philosophers of the Knife (which all PCs all, even if they go renengade) will never have anything to with it in any way.

More precisely, whatever is protecting the Necromancer's soul is entirely outside the Necromancer's control. He doesn't get any say in it, whether he wants to embrace it or reject it. It decides to intervene for its own reasons.

The traditional Philosopher approach has been to simply not die, sometimes augmented with the contentious but generally accepted use of Spiteful Rebirth in extreme situations. The second generation Philosophers trained before Lyras made the gods extra zappy; the majority of them have never reincarnated and have no idea what it is you're seeing.

And, frankly, they might get a little stabby if they found out about it.

-Armifer


Lay Necromancers

>>AFAIK, a Trader, War Mage, heck even Cleric can be a Necromancer in an IC sense. They can [theoretically] study the Philosophy of the Knife (or any other path of Necromancy), practice thanatology, etc. It's more of an OOC mechanics/rules limitation that prevents them from really doing so.

Anyone with Attunement can perform Lay Necromancy.

The full movement to being a Necromancer-with-a-capital-N is a bit more complicated and is incompatible with some of the supernatural forces other guilds use. For example, a Moon Mage could conceivably become a Necromancer-with-a-capital-N (in story terms, not actually in-game), but he would never be both at the same time. The moment his destiny aligns with the Necromancers, the Plane of Probability would abandon him. Empaths disappear. Paladins and Clerics have Fun, and so on.

So possible, but it starts getting messy, complicated and more a matter of story logic than stringent rules.

-Armifer


Becoming a Necromancer From Another Guild

>>Why is that, at least in an IC sense? Does the process of joining the guild break your ability to use your previous magics?

To expand on Zeyurn's point.

Consider that even Guildleaders do not have infinite spell slots. While it's theoretically possible that Zamidren early in his career as a Necro was still using (and reliant on) his Warrior Mage spells, pretty quickly he'd have to let go to progress. In terms of our game abstractions, to make the transition he would've had to unlearn his Warrior Mage spells and spend them on Necrostuff.

For someone of Zamidren's stature as a Necromancer -- his will to become the Triumphant One and consolidate the Philosophers around him -- there was no looking back.

-Armifer


>>Gotcha. So while it's technically possible to have magic from both guilds for extended periods of time (at least for NPCs), the trade offs make it fairly undesirable.

The caveat I'll add here is that NPCs will do whatever NPCs need to be able to do to move the plot along.

Beyond that, yeah. Someone who converts doesn't immediately forget their magic, but it'd instantly become Sorcerous and trying to maintain it would come at a severe cost to actually being a Necromancer. In most cases it's simply not worth the trouble, and frankly it's usually better to not cross the thematic streams readily.

Though there are specific cases where stark incompatibilities happen:

Moon Mages turned Necromancer lose access to the Plane of Probability the very moment they convert.

Holy magicians that turn to the Dark Side would immediately lose their magic unless they take up a demonic patron.

Empaths don't become Necromancers. Those that try disappear.

-Armifer


>>Based on other comments you've made on the three major Guilds, wouldn't Warrior Mages who switch also lose their familiars and other Summoning related abilities?

Elementals would no longer heed their call, but it wouldn't confound their magic excessively. Of the Magic Primes, Warrior Mages are by far the least dependent on Crazy Stuff to do voodoo.

>>I take it trying to undo their Empathic Link is pretty harsh?

Who knows? Everybody that tries disappears.

-Armifer


>>For my own curiousity, have you in your own uber-lore decided what happens to them, or is it just "they don't and survive"?
>>Not asking for what happens, just if you've decided.

Yup.

-Armifer


Why PC Necromancers Were Always Philosophers

THIS IS NOW CONSIDERED OUT OF DATE INFORMATION. NECROMANCER PCS NOW BEGIN AS PHILSOPHERS BUT CAN PURSUE A DIFFERENT PATH IN GAME

Many of these posts have been excellent and have delved into the question in a very specific manner. So in my response I'll take the opportunity to dwell on the issue in a broader fashion. I'll bring up four points, starting with the most glib one and working backward toward seriousness.

1: It takes a serious dedication to postmodernism to invoke The Death of the Author in a conversation with the author.

2: There is, in fact, a certain level of arbitrariness inherent in the role of worldbuilding. Why is a mountain here but not there? Why is Kssarh angry and not nice? Why not space vampires from Neptune? While one of those might be an intuitive 'no,' consider that all three questions differ in scale rather than kind.

3: There is a stark difference between Necromancers and PC Necromancers. Necromancers in the broadest term can do any sort of random act of evil that the plot demands; Necromancers summon wailing spirits, create poisons that permanently kill the innocent and sometimes even fight the avatar of Meraud Himself and come out on top.

PCs cannot - must not - do any of these things. As a basic explanation to why PC Necromancers are so limited while NPC Necromancers can still murder you with enchanted textiles, we fall back to a simple but effective DR trope that the guild structure prevents you from learning it. You are specifically a Necromancer from the tradition of the Philosophers, whether your character sticks with them or not, and the Philosophers' bag of tricks was specifically designed to be PC compatible.

4: Necromancers in the broad term occupy a different ecological niche than the PC Necromancers. "Necromancer" is a code word for Bad Guy in the most fundamental sense. Necromancers in the past have done wildly misanthropic stuff simply because They're Evil. Nobody cares about the feasibility of Sidhlot's portrayal of evil. That's not the point. He's older than dragons and so metal he poops viking helmets.

But the Necromancer's Guild is by necessity a look at the bad guys' side, and Sauron only works as villain as an archetypal role rather than a meaningful character. A Pure Evil character ran by a PC for entertainment would either be a masterful RP experiment or uncomfortably suggestive of the psychological issues being worked out. For this to work, there had to be sympathy for the devil, so my very first problem to solve was 'How do I make Necromancers sympathetic enough that we could imagine a real, live individual doing this?'

The Philosophers were my answer. The Philosophy promises you reprieve from death (note that I started inserting more real-life features of death into DR at this time), freedom from the contingencies of the world, the ability to be your own man. I designed the spiel appeal to most of our basic anxieties about life and touch on the dream of posthumanism and the glorification of mankind through his skill and technology. In not always subtle ways, the Philosophers came to embody 20th century philosophy and scientism. The Philosophers are doing, in a fantasy parody, what Western society enshrines as good and proper goals.

So the stage was set. All that stands between you and glorifying mankind is the evil you will do in its name.

This is, once again, a remarkably different role than what Sidhlot or Velmix brought to the table. The Old Man doesn't talk to Sidhlot, nor did the Hounds of Rutilor burn entire villages to root out a single Bone Elf. In a direct sense because the Bone Elves are not connected with the Great Work, but also because their portrayal of evil is outside the portrayal of evil we're using. The drama of the PC Necromancer -- the pogroms, the murmurs of conspiring otherworldly forces, the entwining moral evils from both sides, and the hints of transcendental glory -- is set in the foundation that the Philosophers bring to the setting.

So it is a requirement that, while your PC can love them or hate them, stay or leave, be a blubbering sycophant to Book or try to manipulate him for your own ends, you cannot be disconnected from them.

-Armifer


Natural Scientists

>>I've had one major problem with the 'Necros as scientists' idea: in a world where all forms of magic are real, testable and replicable, what makes necromancy any more "scientific"? I'm not contradicting it; I deduced the same independently months ago, but I had a misgiving the whole time.

Scientist and scientism are two very different words.

Scientism is a notion from the philosophy of science, which characterizes the belief that the scientific method of the natural sciences is superior to all other epistemologies for understanding all matters of life and the universe. It is almost always used in a negative context, to describe when people have allowed positivism to become their de facto philosophy without any education or explicit thought on the issue. My current signature quote is Levinas being pithy about the issue.

Moon Mages (and many other guilds) very much have scientists / natural philosophers in their midst. The Philosophers are easily the PC faction that is biggest on SCIENCE! though, the version with the exclamation mark in the title.

>>So, Elanthia is, in a sense, a semi-competitive syncretic conflation of various cultural 'weltenschauung peaks' throughout the history of civilization, each one no less "real" than the next. Philos, being postmodern, morally ambiguous, but no more empirical or rational than those worldviews that RL rationalism rejected: the mystical, metaphysical, Romantic, theological, etc.

By necessity if nothing else.

Not a ton of people, not even GMs, have a firm grasp of what the medieval era was like other than swords and bows. Like most fantasy fiction, DR doesn't go to any length to model the era in a sensible way, not even from a technological perspective but from its sociology or mindset either. And honestly it's too much to expect DR's largely volunteer, fan-based development team to better than average in history.

I find it more elegant to say "We MEANT to do that! Really." and emphasize the confusion of supernatural forces in the setting that must be taken up in different historical ways, from the Aristotelian metaphysics of the Warrior Mages, to the Victorian mysticism of the Moon Mages to the existentialism and scientism of the Philosophers.

-Armifer


>>I recall posting in the Ancient Days of DR that Elanthia (and most High Fantasy settings) must be the RL technological equivalent of Europe circa 1450-1480: after the development of plate mail and crossbows, but before gun powder technologies.

Now throw in mechanically produced electricity, telescopes, advanced metallurgy, Cartesian philosophy, and germ theory. And this doesn't touch the sundry modern and Enlightenment era stuff that comes out of the PCs sociologically.

-Armifer


Philosophers of the Knife

Brief Sketch of the History of the Philosophers

To perhaps help, let's go over a Brief Sketch of the History of the Philosophers.

About a hundred-odd years ago, some idiot (name unknown) wrote Investigations Toward an Alchemy of Flesh, and then was killed by a bunch of other idiots (random Zoluren adventurers). The Alchemy of Flesh wound up in the hands of some idiot Cleric (named Kigot), with the idiotic idea that he'd known what to do with it.

Kigot had this idiotic notion that by exposing Necromancy to the light of day the good people of Elanthia would be better able to fight against it, so he made copies and sent it to some other idiots he knew (random Zoluren and Therengian scholars). They, being idiots, also made copies and began distributing them. Cue sudden increase in Necromancers.

The Temple at some point realized what was going on and started yelling profanity through the corridors. Cue lots and lots and lots of murder.

This is what Markat calls the first generation of Philosophers -- scholars who had direct access to the Alchemy of Flesh and began to pursue necro-alchemy. Most of them are at this point very dead.

Kigot gets very upset about the Temple trying to murder him and had a moral break. He devoted the rest of his short life to crafting an ethical system to support Necromancy, which he called the Philosophy of the Knife. Then he got murdered.

This is where the second generation comes in -- Necromancers who "converted" the Philosophy and the promise of necro-alchemy, or their direct apprentices. There are a few dozen of these people walking around today.

Among the many, many, many pages that Kigot wrote (really, you could use his collective works as a weapon in a pinch), he had the rather arrogant assumption that there'd be no greater breakthrough in the field until a group of necro-alchemists could put aside their differences and work together. He was smart enough to understand this could only be achieved in terms of dominance and submission, so referred to this theoretical leader among Philosophers as the Triumphant; the guy who beat or conned everyone else into submission.

Enter Zamidren Book, who used Lyras's self-destructive crusade and the reactionary anti-Necro sentiment as an excuse to murder some of his rivals and browbeat a significant fraction of the Philosophers into doing things his way.

He was successful and has cultivated a relatively impressive powerbase, but spends most of his time at the moment split between trying very, very hard to keep the Temple and the Hounds from murdering everybody and playing politics among his knife-wielding degenerate peers.

-Armifer


Influences

>>>And if we're busting out RL philosophers, Nietzche is not the first place I would go for a Philosopher of the Knife allegory.
>>I'd call Nietzche perverse if I conformed to the typical sects of the mainstream. You know, the wool over the eyes sort: the fools. I'd be laughing if I wore gold.

The actual philosophy of the Philosophers is a fantasy-parody of Existentalism. In particular, the concepts of "terrible freedom" and personal ownership of good and evil get a lot of play when they are trying to excuse their atrocities.

Some Philosophers might have a Heideggerian slant on the world but, while it'd work perfectly well with the Great Work, most Philosophers would prefer something a bit more "solid" and regard that kind of thinking as Moon Mage business.

-Armifer


The Great Work

>>It saddens me a little bit because inwardly I hope Necromancer's find the answer in The Great Work, but realistically I imagine they never will, because in the end the "bad guys" have to lose. Since the GMs can't erase the Necromancer Guild (or at least hopefully won't due to all of the insane time put into it) I imagine if we're all still here playing 10 years from now, things will mostly be the same.

The Philosophers' struggle for the Great Work is conceived as a finite plot arc with a definite resolution, though it may take us many years to get there, or we may burn out before we arrive.

One of the things we started with is the notion that there is a conclusion to the Great Work and an answer to all the questions. I honestly don't know what the Necromancer's Guild will look like when we get there; it's a decision we'll have to make when we have far more context to make it with.

-Armifer


History of the Philosophers

To perhaps help, let's go over a Brief Sketch of the History of the Philosophers.

About a hundred-odd years ago, some idiot (name unknown) wrote Investigations Toward an Alchemy of Flesh, and then was killed by a bunch of other idiots (random Zoluren adventurers). The Alchemy of Flesh wound up in the hands of some idiot Cleric (named Kigot), with the idiotic idea that he'd known what to do with it.

Kigot had this idiotic notion that by exposing Necromancy to the light of day the good people of Elanthia would be better able to fight against it, so he made copies and sent it to some other idiots he knew (random Zoluren and Therengian scholars). They, being idiots, also made copies and began distributing them. Cue sudden increase in Necromancers.

The Temple at some point realized what was going on and started yelling profanity through the corridors. Cue lots and lots and lots of murder.

This is what Markat calls the first generation of Philosophers -- scholars who had direct access to the Alchemy of Flesh and began to pursue necro-alchemy. Most of them are at this point very dead.

Kigot gets very upset about the Temple trying to murder him and had a moral break. He devoted the rest of his short life to crafting an ethical system to support Necromancy, which he called the Philosophy of the Knife. Then he got murdered.

This is where the second generation comes in -- Necromancers who "converted" the Philosophy and the promise of necro-alchemy, or their direct apprentices. There are a few dozen of these people walking around today.

Among the many, many, many pages that Kigot wrote (really, you could use his collective works as a weapon in a pinch), he had the rather arrogant assumption that there'd be no greater breakthrough in the field until a group of necro-alchemists could put aside their differences and work together. He was smart enough to understand this could only be achieved in terms of dominance and submission, so referred to this theoretical leader among Philosophers as the Triumphant; the guy who beat or conned everyone else into submission.

Enter Zamidren Book, who used Lyras's self-destructive crusade and the reactionary anti-Necro sentiment as an excuse to murder some of his rivals and browbeat a significant fraction of the Philosophers into doing things his way.

He was successful and has cultivated a relatively impressive powerbase, but spends most of his time at the moment split between trying very, very hard to keep the Temple and the Hounds from murdering everybody and playing politics among his knife-wielding degenerate peers.

-Armifer


>>Out of curiosity , since there are copies of the Alchemy of Flesh about, can we expect to see some pages in the Library?

Every known copy was burnt. The current crop of Necromancers have access through it only by the second hand writings of Kigot, and whatever bits and pieces the first generation of necro-alchemists remember (and care to share).

-Armifer


Not everyone has to be a Philosopher to be a Necromancer, so the Philosophers' prohibitions on things are not absolute.

That being said, the Guild is balanced specifically for a certain gain ratio of DO, so any way to make DO go down would end up making it so that DO went up faster naturally, and probably not in an advantageous way for most Necromancers.

There are a few 'core design tenets' of the Guild that will most likely not be reneged on, but I do read all the suggestions. One thing I'm big on is a thematic (which leads to functional) weakness in guilds, and the Necromancer guild's weakness is meant to revolve around the services most people take for granted.

-Z


Philosopher Generations

>>Just curious, but is a PC Philosopher second or third generation? Is Book second gen or third gen, since he teaches everyone about SRE?

Markat goes into detail on this.

First generation Philosophers: necro-alchemists with direct exposure to the Alchemy of Flesh. Second generation: Necromancers who read Kigot's "Philosophy of the Knife" and had an ideological conversion, along with their direct apprentices. Third generation: Necromancers who are trained by Book.

>>Where do souls go When PCs use it, they're basically making meat puppets and do not interact with the soul in any meaningful way.

It's been theorized that's not always the case, especially with Lyras (see Prydaen commentary about the souls not returning properly to the Wheel).

-Z


Perfected Necromancy

>>I.e., my great work might be to eliminate my bodies tendency to get squished by strong things or burnt by fire, and to endeavor towards a solution, I study the crushed or burnt remains of my victims. Yours might be to create a potion of eternal youth, and you work by siphoning the life force from children.

At the heart of it is the belief that a few generations ago, a perfected Necromancy was invented but subsequently quashed that provided the keys to living immortality and godlike mastery over life. The pursuit of this is what they refer to as the Great Work.

Almost nobody that read the thing survived the purge, so technical details are... scarce. Different Philosophers can have pet boogaboos about what the perfect Necromancy looks like and how you arrive at it.

-Armifer


Xerasyth Isn't a Philosopher

Xerasyth isn't a Philosopher, insofar as the Philosophers themselves would reckon, since doesn't trace his academic lineage back to Kigot (Xerasyth's way, way too old to do that). Xerasyth himself claims to self-identify with them, though he does not claim to *be* one of them.

The reason Xerasyth gets free run of the guildhall is that he's interested in the Great Work, demonstrates an envious grasp of transcendental principles, has done the organization favors, and, frankly, there might be two or three Philosophers at best that could match him spell for spell if it really came down to it.

-Armifer


Xerasyth and The Guild

>I didn't think it would have been Xerasyth because I thought the guild was around and using those powers before Book "befriended" him.

No, there was no official organization before then, and it still isn't a 'guild', really. The start of the Philosophers as a real organization with any temporal power (which still is basically non) was when Mr. B and X got together and pooled their not inconsiderable personal strengths.

-Z


Fate of Kigot

>>Of course who is to say the hounds of Rutilor didn't lie about the fate of Kigot? Wouldn't be the last time that the public face of an official entity hid failures by claiming victory.

Heh, I was betting on the side how long it'd take someone to suggest that.

Some Necromancers think Kigot is alive (or undead), while their peers put it on par with people who wouldn't give up Elvis. Critics point out two major flaws in this belief:

1: If he's alive... where is he? Kigot was not a quiet man -- the reason he was such a strange threat to the Temple was he couldn't shut up. In sharp contrast, no one can reliably claim to have seen him since his death. It would be wildly out of character for Kigot to simply sit somewhere quietly scheming instead of writing a tell-all book about what happened.

2: Given #1, even if Kigot survived... what's the point? Either Kigot is dead, or the experience left Kigot so scarred and changed that he is essentially not Kigot anymore. Either he's dead, or he's functionally dead.

However, I don't wish to protest overly much. It was written fully intending that Kigot could be spun off as a messiah figure with a few leaps of faith, so I'm not going to tell you it's a bad characterization. In the profound stress and religiosity of the Necromancers' life, it's entirely appropriate that some of them crack and desperately seek our their own brand of miracles.

-Armifer

Redeemed

Playing a Redeemed

>>Considerations are obvious for redeemed, but my guess is that the GMs haven't described how redeemed will be handled because it isn't decided yet. But the GMs have consistently stated that playing a redeemed will be painful but possible, so they'll have to do something.

"Something" may include, at the end of the day, simply saying that the idea died on the vine, if it really comes to that. I'm far, far more interested in securing the playability and correct tone of the main body of Necromancers before I worry excessively about a sub-guild that doesn't actually exist yet.

For what it's worth, in Teh Lorez and events that have grown over the past year, we have never portrayed a Redeemed casting a spell. I'll totally admit that was just luck of the draw and nothing intentional, but post hoc is the best hoc.

-Armifer


Social Acceptance

My comment is grounded in my understanding of how humans think and how the social situation which I in large part invented plays out to its conclusion if ran with realistic personalities.

But mostly, it's because the very definition of the Redeemed means that only the most terminally short-sighted among them would shoot their own foot off by trying to win themselves and by proxy necromancy -- what they got redeemed from -- social acceptance. A penitent who tries to get around redemptive suffering has either no emotional interest in redemption, or is (literally, in our case) irredeemably blithe.

While I will grant it is perfectly acceptable to roleplay a sham penitent or a blithe idiot, I make the assumption that this is not most players' intentions and advise accordingly.

-Armifer


Abilities

>>Oh ho... so there is more to being redeemed state then just... not using certain spells. Ever.

You lose a lot of your spells and your ability to use Thanatology (with the possible exception of a single, mostly useless ritual to circle with). You gain back the ability to have divine favors, lose any Divine Outrage penalties you're laboring under, and regain access to the holy widgets people are complaining about losing.

>>If you're bothering to develop a quest for it (and I admit, I'm considering making a redeemed necro) have you given any more thought to making it more playable then... how did you put it "A fallen paladin or a shocked empath"?

Zeyurn convinced me to relent enough to let them continue to circle (initially, you'd have been completely barred from fulfilling your reqs). Beyond that, no.

-Armifer

The Perverse

Politics and Terminology

The technical term for a Necromancer who does not follow the Philosophy and is not Redeeemed is Perverse, regardless of loyalty to Jeihrem. You are correct that it is Philosopher short-hand for "not Redeemed/Philosopher." This has judgmental connotations, obviously.

That said, Jeihrem has sort of made himself the elephant in the room politically among ex-Philosophers, and I think of it as the same way that it's possible to be a Philosopher while spitting at Book's feet. Technically possible, but politically fraught and possibly not wise.

-Armifer


>>I'd be curious to hear what the individual Perverse cults think about Jeihrem.

There is no love lost among the many cults of the Perverse, and most would chafe at the moniker (which, again, originates from Philosopher moralizing). To emphasize something you've already caught on to, there's no Legion of Doom-esque quality to the Perverse. Jeihrem's lot wouldn't be welcomed at a Bone Elf party, Sidhlot doesn't exchange polite letters with Lasarhhtha, and nobody knows what the heck is up with the False Kir and even if the Bone Dancers (*) are actually Necromancers or not.

Also bear in mind that the Philosophy is still very new in terms of, say, near-immortal undead monstrosities. Kigot died less than 200 years ago and the Philosopher movement didn't catch on until after his death. This is somewhat petty of an intellectual heritage for a living Elf, let alone someone like Sidhlot. So what does the well established cults think of a self-proclaimed lord among "the Perverse?" At best they'd see him as a politicking schemer.

(* The Bone Dancers are a cult based on the Arid Steppe. They may be performing necromantic rites, or just a particularly grissly form of Lunar divinations. Either way they tend to murder people dead.)

-Armifer

Bonedancers and Bone Elves

>>I am at least pleased to see that you're discussing the Tribe as a faction of the Nomad Sect, rather than as an extension of the [fabled/hypothetical] Necromancers Guild (as I have often dreaded would happen).

Oooh, yes, that I can be clear on.

The Bonedancers are a part of the Nomads of the Arid Steppe's lore. Calling them Necromancers just because they have a corpse fetish is sort of like calling the Sophisters Warrior Mages just because they like kung-fu.

On the flip side, I'll put a strong emphasis that the true Bonedancers are not Necromancers, and will not have access to anything in that "sphere." They don't raise corpses or have a special knack for Necromancy. They are Moon Mages.

>>And as a side note, I hope Lasarhhtha has something to do with it.

That one I can't help you with. No matter what he chooses to call himself, the spirits of the steppe and the Plane of Probability have abandoned him. Wherever he walks now, he does so in darkness. Even Bonedancers, as depraved as they are, still have heights they can fall from. To lose what Lasarhhtha lost is profane even to them.

-Armifer


>>It could be too much parsing of words but Armifer does state "true Bonedancers" which I agree with. (Not to state that Kir was / was not a true Bonedancer or even to get into that debate).

Mostly a reference to Lasarhhtha, who calls himself a Bonedancer (despite being a Necromancer, a native of the Leth Deriel area, and a lizard).

I don't want to say it's impossible for Bonedancers to fall, or even imply that it's a large stretch of the imagination to go from the Bonedancers' depraved rites and sociopathy to an even deeper form of both. But as the Nomads know them, they still perform their sick divination rites and can, if nothing else, sense the obliteration of everything that clings around Necromancers like any Moon Mage. Sociopaths have self-preservation instincts too.

For the ones that do fall, they stop being able to function as shamans of any caliber. Even if the Bonedancers allow Necromancers among them (huge "if"), someone with enough pride and arrogance to go down that road certainly won't stand to lose the shaman's privileged position in his society and take orders like a common raider or sheep herder. They would strike out on their own, likely cursing the haughty Moon Mages for their fortune.

Switching to the Necromancer Guild perspective, I treat the Bonedancers somewhat like the Bone Elves: I won't look askance at anyone who RPs a background as a Bonedancer (or a Bone Elf) as long as they remember that in both case, they have severed their ties to their people by doing so. The Second Kir is not going to send any Necromancer care packages, and Sidhlot doesn't like the competition.

>>(Not to state that Kir was / was not a true Bonedancer or even to get into that debate)

Kir's an interesting case, especially since many, many centuries passed between Kir the peacebringer and Kir the bonedancer.

There's a few different ways to understand what's going on, and nobody except maybe Kir himself knows what's going on.

1) The modern Kir is a wholly different man, claiming a spiritual and historical precedent of "Kirness" to try and shape the tribes. 2) Kir did, in fact, fall to necromancy and everything I just told you is a lie intended to make the reveal more amusing for me. 3) It... really is Kir. Somehow.

-Armifer

Lichdom

Lich Information

>>I also wonder about whether liches are restored via demon favor or if their magics reconstruct them

Generally speaking, a lich reconstructs itself under its own power. The lich form is such a powerful type of undead that it literally just stands right the hell back up after you "kill" it.

However, keep in mind that liches are Very Special people. While PCs will eventually get access to a standard template lichdom, the NPC liches have almost all Descended in different ways and displayed radically different abilities and physiology. Lyras and Xerasyth are (were?) both liches, but clearly weren't using the same cook book.

-Armifer


Raw Deal

For someone who cares about their personal fate, lichdom would be a raw deal. Sure, something survives the process and is pretty close to immortal to boot, but whatever it is won't be the same thing that's thinking the thoughts about it. Lyras is probably the best case of them all: she didn't accept lichdom until she literally had nothing left to lose.

-Armifer


Corporeal Undead are Meat Byproducts

>>As I understand it, the zombie is just material and has nothing to do with the actual person.

This. The corporeal undead -- even liches -- are just meat byproducts. The person's gone.

-Armifer


Transformation to Lichdom

>>From the Lore side its a failure of the Great Work, you die and your soul goes somewhere, but you create something that resembles you that will continue on. It sounds very much like you 'program' a powerful undead form with your memories and behaviors, it looks and acts like you but is soulless.

To its credit, it is a transformation of the body into a powerful, immortal form. A character who ultimately lacks the knowledge (or sophistication) to understand some of the more abstract points of the Philosophers' aims, such as why "living immortality" is such a big deal, could be forgiven for seeing it as what Necromancers say they want.

>>You might even be able to just "stupid" your way into Lichdom.

Nope.

-Armifer


Morality

Mortals are Jerks

>>Not content to poop all over the Astral Plane, now we're pooping all over the space between.

Moon Mages are terrible, Clerics are secretly terrible, and Warrior Mages venerate terrible men.

-Armifer


The Necessity of Evil

>>1. Is it the case that Philosopher necros at some point must murder innocent people in order to complete the Great Work?

One idea that I've held dear about how Necromancers work, that we've hinted about but never been explicit about, is called the Perfunctory Sin. Necromancers need to do Bad Things to empower their rituals, and their rituals empower their more iconic powers.

So, as you point out, all Necromancers (and all necromancy) is under the purview of demons in one way or another. The question of what you do with that is embodied in the three states of being.

1) Denial of the demonic, the Redeemed.
2) Going all in on the demonic, the Perverse.

And that leaves...

3) Going in halfsies?

Sort of. Without going into details that might still someday be relevant, Transcendence is not a denial or total abject acceptance of either divine or demonic forces. Transcendence is the ability to impose your will on both and do spiritual judo.

This is a long way of saying that the Philosophers, in pursuit of the Great Work, will need to do greater feats of objective evil (insofar as I get to define such a thing) and greater ability to recognize what they're doing at the same time. It's possible we'll not explicitly make "murder the innocent" as the benchmark here, but the intention still remains that the Philosopher needs to go into the deeps and darks to come out the other end.

>>2. Is the "immortals are cattle ranchers" ideology espoused in the necro lore objectively false?

The situation with the Immortals is overdetermined; there are multiple things going on at the same time. The Immortals gain from the cycle of life and death and do, in fact, withhold the ability to fundamentally change it in ways that would be pleasing to the Philosophers. The Old Man has hinted that they do this for not altogether wrong-headed reasons.

The Immortals are not absolute bad guys, but one thing we're doing with Necromancers is exploring theodicy in-setting. That never puts a deity with creational or absolute power over the universe in a good light.

>>3. Does high sorcery irreparably damage the Plane of Abiding (i.e. not in a hormetic way, or in a way that can be reversed by the immortals)?

High Sorcery, and especially Necromancy/Ontologic Sorcery due to the demon component, does damage to the Plane of Abiding. I hesitate to say it'd be irreparable, but one thing that is consistent in my depictions of guilds I write lore for is that Elanthia is slowly inching towards an apocalypse that may or may not be preventable.

-Armifer


>>In other words, can a current PC Philosopher claim a moral high ground, as long as they refrain from doing X, Y, and Z things?

I want to dissect that a bit more in lieu of a yes/no.

  • All Necromancers damage the Plane of Abiding with their acts.
  • All Necromancers have, and most continue to, interact with the Hunger in some capacity or another.
  • All Necromancers have, and most continue to, kill to explicitly perform rites that call in demonic forces.

Likely you hit all three bullet-points before 2nd circle.

That's not to say you can't claim the moral high ground. It was just animals, not people. I'm using the demonic power against the Hunger's plans. I'm only practicing magic because I need it to survive. When you get into the squishy bits of human morality and psychology, you get what I consider a major portion of what Philosopher RP and character building can explore. Can your PC, personally, claim the moral high ground?

-Armifer


>>So, really, I guess my question is: Can you give any indication as to how dangerous Philosophers actually are, when it comes to risking "destroying all of Creation to attain it"?

I'm not going to give a direct answer to this one, but will give some food for thought.

So, let's also talk about the nature of the threat. Necromancy is problematic in two related but distinct ways.

A) Like every High Sorcery and some regular magic, it produces "bleed in" from other planes. The planar void is breached and two planes come into direct contact. In this case a portion of the physical laws and substance of the planes exchange hands. Every single time an incursion of sufficient size happens (whatever size that may be), the world becomes a little more demon-y or Immortal-y or Probability...y. The cosmological constants subtly (or, in the Lyras example, not very subtly) change.

B) The Hunger is probably still scheming to break in and eat you. Its desire to aid and empower Necromancers is a little damning in its own right.

I talked a lot about A in the previous post, but that is probably the lesser of the two direct threats and, like I mentioned, people other than Necromancers also contribute to it. The Hunger is harder to ignore, and until you learn what its game is there's no way for a PC to know exactly how big of a fire any individual Philosopher is playing with.

-Armifer


>>Are you willing to comment on how much of all this a typical, scholarly but non-Necromancer character would know? Father Soraent covered the dangers of High Sorcery, but I'm wondering about the demonic and "evil act" parts.

ICly the details wouldn't be commonly known, except in the most bombastic way. The Necromancers are threatening our lives! Cavorting with demons! Curdling our milk!

Some of what I discussed wouldn't really be known by Necromancers either. I was asked OOCly for setting information so I was more open than I would normally be about things like the nature of Transcendence and the ugliness of Thanatology, which are not necessarily known to anyone at all ICly.

-Armifer


Is Necromancy Evil?

>>We aren't cackling atop Mordor as we clutch demon forged blood bracelets, we're taking, stealing, learning by any means neccesary, and doing whatever we feel will advance our cause. It's far more ambiguous, and far murkier.

This, pretty much. There's not really meant to be any ambiguity on the level of "Is necromancy evil?" Well, yes. Morally, ethically, and spiritually it's as bankrupt as Elanthians get.

But as the Old Man asked, can you build a cathedral out of your sins? Is it possible that when you look at the scales, your life really is worth more than theirs? Is it actually possible that through these self-destructive acts you might rip a piece of divinity out for mankind? Is there an alchemy of the flesh and soul that can turn sin into virtue? The Philosopher is not deluded into thinking his actions are good, he thinks his actions are worth it.

And... well. In the quiet of the night, when your thoughts filter to your own mortality, perhaps the sick comfort of denying it is reason enough without any pretense.

-Armifer


The Immortals

Are the Gods Gods?

Bear in mind that when we arrive at statements like "the gods aren't Gods" it should give us a giant red flag that we're not fully seperating our characters in this fictional universe from our own belief systems and culture as players.

I mean, sure, I'll lay this out flatly: by all the definitions of godhood that exist in the DragonRealms universe, the Immortals are gods. In a lot of ways, they define those definitions. They are immortal, incredibly powerful extraplanar creatures that are born from and primally connected to what the Old Man and Xerasyth have referred to as "the Divine," the source of creative power in the universe.

The argument that "they are not gods" only really comes into play from a starkly Western standpoint. No, they certainly are not all-powerful, all-wise, or flawless. In terms of scope and conception, they follow much more the Greek approach.

But, as far as any character in DragonRealms is concerned, they are "gods." A man sitting in the Crossing has no better measure of godness.

-Armifer


Two Opposing Forces

>>A god is not a person. It is more akin to a natural force.

The Moon Mage cosmology piece I did awhile back, while not really true in a 'this is how the universe really works' sense, tries to make sense of the gods' nature in a way that Necromancers would find appealing. It poisted that the structural principle of Fate and the wild spiritual font of the gods are two opposing forces. Gods are creatures that exist very much at the 'font of creation,' but lack intrinsic definition and reach downward to be something more than just a vaguely cognizant, chaotic force of supernature.

The things that exist 'below' had the opposite problem. They are animistic spirits, with only the barest trickle of a spirit to give them agency and creativity. Every part of their identity and motive is bound up into the essence of what they are, and their actions, even when capable of incredible guile and intellect, are as determined and autonomic as your heart beat.

-Armifer


Gods' Acceptance

The real answer (putting aside the existence or non-existence of the Albarian gods) is that "all gods" means "all gods." It's a blanket quality of all divinities that they are angered by what the Necromancers are trying to do.

It doesn't matter how you want to frame the question and in what cultural context, you're not going to find a god that will accept Necromancers on their own terms. The Redeemed are as close as you get, and the Redeemed are very much not the one calling the shots in that relationship.

-Armifer


Divine Outrage

>>DO does not actually represent corruption; that is what Transcendental buffs are for

While we've never been explicit about it, DO does represent something more concrete than the Immortals' mood, though there's a causal relationship there. Consider ROC's messaging (and very existence).

>>But why don't Immortals just smite all those who dedicate themselves to a High Sorcery right off the bat?

Necromancers have been asking "Why me?" for a very long time. If they knew the answer to it they'd probably be a lot better off than they are now.

-Armifer


Asketi and Undead

It's certainly odd, but it isn't without any possible logic. And when I had to choose between going with the originally proposed retcon ("Gods all hate undead.") and cutting out little things like Asketi's Ride, I decided to keep Asketi happy.

Half the dramatic tension behind the Necromancers is that they're doing amoral, culturally repugnant and world-breaking stuff that could doom everybody. The other half is that the Immortals act dickish, aloof and have a clear "do as we say, not as we do" mentality going on.

Which side we focus on from moment to moment depends on which side of the conflict we're writing for. I encourage and support polarization among characters over the issue, but on the player level it's useful to remember there are meant to be both excellent reasons for a character to be a Necromancer and excellent reasons for a character to want to murder all Necromancers.

-Armifer


Competing Views

>>I don't know if it's really an IC-mainstream thought, but with the way that there are Albarian gods there and Kermorian gods here (and those Prydean/Rakash gods now has a consulate in Kermoria or something), I've always had my characters view all Gods more like overlords of certain regions a la Greek Parthenon.

There's three dominant competing views in the Temple for how this works.

1) The Immortals exist as overgods of the plane except where minor deities are allowed to hold sway. The Prydaen gods exist because the Immortals are OK with contracting out Prydaen souls. Everything's OK as long as people keep this in context and do not place their silly household gods over the true gods of creation.

2) The Immortals exist as the only gods of the plane, everything else is demonic interference. The Prydaen gods are really a demonic force that has claimed their souls and the Eastern clerics have a moral obligation to do everything in their power to save the cats from themselves.

3) The Immortals exist as the only gods of the plane, and other divinities are cultural corruptions of the Immortals which the gods humor because they're so nice and open to genuine faith. Eastern clerics have a moral obligation to teach the noble savages the right way to pray.

Beyond that there's lesser, idiosyncratic views such as "the western gods were really just ancient heroes" to the incredibly unpopular "we should just learn to live together and respect each other's beliefs." The truth of the matter would require a better understanding of the universe than any mortal has.

-Armifer


Social Outrage

Inquisitors' Roleplay

>>Ultimately, Inquisitors need to keep the idea of consensual roleplay in mind from the very moment they start considering hunting a Necromancer -- the same roleplay Necromancers need to consider when actually menacing someone.

While that's a perfectly fine and valid scheme to work with if "hunting a Necromancer" refers to active RP and direct PvP, in practice the balance of power is not nor intended to be remotely fair. Enter ACCUSE.

I'll say this flat out: anyone is free to ACCUSE a Necromancer at any depth of roleplaying that they desire. And if your character is successful in the accusation, he gets money for it. It is our intended tool for creating a power imbalance between Necromancers and everyone else, and nothing pleases me more than to see it used.

-Armifer


The Hounds

The Hounds work on hate. Perhaps divine wrath, perhaps animal emotion, but essentially hate. They hate the Philosophers (rather specifically, for reasons that have been implied) and have proven they will cut a path through the innocent, burn down buildings, and even kill children if it means ferreting out one more Philosopher.

This is convenient enough, since as Jaedren touched on, Necromancers are very hateable. There's excellent reasons to hate Necromancers, and the world would be a worse place without the Hounds in it.

It's meant to be an uncomfortable situation.

-Armifer


False and "False" Accusations

Regarding false and "false" accusations...

The reason behind allowing false accusations is three-fold. First, just because a person is or was a different guild doesn't mean they haven't "turned into" a necromancer. History can point to dozens upon dozens of people that were once another guild (see: Lyras). People also cast spells from other guilds all the time via use of scrolls. Just because someone is a trader, a moon mage, or even a cleric doesn't mean they're not also a necromancer.

Secondly, the Hounds regard sympathy to necromancy and open hostility toward the inquisition as proof that someone is a necromancer themselves, since in their eyes, no one in their sane mind would openly oppose them. These are not exactly people that believe in freedom of speech and it's hard to convince them that someone's not a necromancer once they're on the trail. Keep in mind that there were dozens upon dozens of purges and hound deaths well before the necromancer guild even came out.

And finally, keep in mind that both the Hounds and the Inquisition are... really not very nice people. The hounds are kind of akin to witch hunts, the Inquisition is akin to... well, the Inquisition. They really don't care about proof, and consider the deaths of a few innocents a very small price to pay for ridding the land of the scourge of necromancy.

That being said, if someone really is innocent, the odds are stacked very heavily in their favor if they're accused.

-GM Abasha


Prydean Necromancers

In the sense that we're discussing the Prydaen as a species, there's nothing wrong with Prydaen Necromancers. They can corrupt their bodies and souls just as readily as any other mortal.

In the sense that we're discussing the Prydaen as a culture, a Prydaen Necromancer makes close to zero sense.

Being a Prydaen (or Rakash) Necromancer requires that the character be completely and permanently severed from the cultural and religious values of their people that, in the minds of some players, "make" the race. This isn't strictly bad, but it needs to be addressed. A Prydaen Necromancer who continues to "be Prydaen" is Doing It Wrong in a pretty spectacular way.

-Armifer


>>I was under the impression that being a necromancer at _all_ required this.

There's a big difference between abandoning your place in society and abandoning your cultural values. The reason the Philosophers are sympathetic at all is they're doing something which, if you take out the demons and murder and sins against nature and stuff is fundamentally human.

A Human, even in DragonRealms has a reason to fear a clean death. A Prydaen doesn't.

-Armifer


Arcane Magic

Attunement to Arcane Mana

Two points.

1: Thinking is hard. Intense concentration and violent acts of will can be physically draining: ask an actor, a graduate student, or a borderline. I see nothing wrong with leveling a fatigue hit on just the very act of thinking in such a disciplined and intense manner that magic can happen.

2: The process of exploiting your attunement to bend mana streams is 100% psychic... but that's not the same thing as saying it's all happening in your imagination. These are real, physical forces in Elanthia that you are plugging your nervous system into and there's definitely the opportunity for physical wear and tear in this process. Think of all the times you've taken damage from backfiring -- now imagine what sort of crippled husk magic use would leave if you had only real world medicine (even modern medicine) to help you.

-Armifer


>So, I read the thing that happens to you after you join. This is the only line that makes a necronewb "crazy" as far as I can tell....

I have to comment briefly on this. While that may be the only line that outright mentions sanity, keep in mind that what you see when twisted to perceive arcane mana is also what you see every single time you perceive mana, albeit with a lot less wording. Your character is -always- seeing what was in that room, day in and day out... it's always there, lurking at the edge of your sight. And after a while, it doesn't seem so horrible, does it? Is it because you're simply growing used to it like an old scar, to the point that you can tolerate it? Or is it because you're losing the portions of your sanity that think that what you're seeing is a Very Bad Thing?

Just some food for thought.

-GM Abasha


Magic Themes

>>Magic is exploited to amplify the mage's latent supernatural abilities - a moon mage's spells exploit his natural foresight and telekinetic ability.

Right in spirit, though a bit extreme. Things like Aether Lash and TKT are purely magical, it's when you take the next step into spells like Moongate and Resurrection that things get freaky. A Moon Mage who lost his prophetic ability would still be a Lunar mage and have a number of spells at his disposal. Just none of the ones that really make him "a Moon Mage" iconically.

For Clerics and Moon Mages the line is well understood in the fiction. There are spells where a Moon Mage is using his insane math and spells where he's not. For Warrior Mages the line is much blurrier.

>>I think it was one suggested that Life Magic in general is so dependent on the supernatural confounds of nature spirits and empathic sense that a given life spell patterns often appear to be missing parts that should let them do anything, or full of extraneous magical nonsense that shouldn't do anything.

That'd be the sense of any Signature spell, really.

Life magic is only special here insofar as it has a very solid, well defined and militarized border with necromancy, which in a parallel reality could've easily been called another form of Life magic. The existence of Necromancy as independent entirely from Life magic creates Life magic's most important principle: Life cannot defeat itself. Life magic cannot do anything in the necromancy range without being Not Life magic.

-Armifer


In-Game Spell Creation

The two normal ways guilds create new spells:

1: The march of progress. The guilds have spell designers that understand the fundamental principles of their spell patterns ("This configuration of lines creates kinetic energy.") and slowly, painstakingly put them together into new configurations.

Entirely new principles could be discovered as well ("Oh, hey, Elemental mana can be used to produce lightning."), though the magic equivalent of pure research is more likely to produce explosions than viable results. Spell research is, by far, a more methodological thing than one of random moments of genius.

2: Historical finds. Many guilds are, in one sense or another, less than they used to be. In particular, the Bards, Moon Mages and Necromancers all have heritages that go far beyond what the modern organizations encompass. In those cases, spells can be found by delving into the past, finding lost grimories, and otherwise doing a little Indiana Jones action.

-Armifer


Vivisection

>>(I think I can't tell if Vivisection is literally psychic or just well made aether... if it's aether then maybe this is just a Life and Elemental Book)

Vivisection is well made kinetic force.

Synthetic Creation is an odd-ball spellbook that is sort of corrupt-Elemental in the more worldly sense. Screwing around with base materials in the alchemical / mad scientist scheme.

It's less pure Necromancy and more Necromancy-compatible spells that the Philosophers specifically picked up because of their fetish. In a bizarre way, it's probably the most genuinely unique thing they bring to the table -- every necromantic cult practices Transcendental buffs, even if they don't call it such.

-Armifer


Spiteful Rebirth

Spiteful Rebirth defies the gods in the same sense that you can defy the taxi driver by walking. This does not protect you from the taxi driver getting annoyed and running you over.

-Armifer


Arcane's Contribution

The Arcane covers everything in magic that cannot be neatly classified into the four conventional realms of magic. There are legitimate scholars of the Arcane on Elanthia, who are essentially magic's version of cryptozoologists and teratologists. There are people who study latent magical properties of strange ores, do research into the very quantra of spell design, try to understand the mechanics behind the slugs that fart out rainbows, etc.

However, by far the biggest contribution to the Provinces' culture and history that the Arcane has produced is evil in magic form. Especially in the current climate, anyone with a legitimate interest in the Arcane is either going to be somewhere like Throne City or deep within the Magic Prime guild structures where these kind of distinctions are routinely made, or is going to be at risk of a fire-related misunderstanding.

-Armifer


Arcane Ritual and the Mana-Blind

>>A bit of an odd question, and you likely won't be able to answer me straight, but these people who cannot attune...can they be forced to attune, ala the Philosopher attunement ritual?

Excellent question, and nobody knows the answer.

It's entirely within reason that the techniques behind Arcane attunement could "cure" someone of being mana-blind. But that'd be an order of magnitude more refined than what the Necromancers are doing, and whether the Philosophers' existing technique would work on the mana-blind is entirely unknown.

-Armifer


Sorcery

Sorcery Definitions

What sorcery is has been a fairly confused issue. Since we're near enough to the Necromancer guild release, incoming lore wonk.

First, we need to separate out the social and the physical dimensions at work: they are not the same thing.

SOCIAL:

Okay, while we all play wise wizards of tremendous power and lore, the average person populating the Crossing does not really care what a mana stream is. They cannot see what you are doing with mana when you're casting the spell, only that you gesture and something happens. If you tried to explain sorcery as a manipulation of multiple manas and yadda yadda, most would think you are being pointlessly theoretical.

As far as society cares (as reflected in the justice system), whether something is or isn't sorcery depends on the spell. Limb Disruption is sorcery, it doesn't matter if you happened to have distilled it to use a single mana type. Shadows is not sorcery, even if you're casting it with Elemental mana.

This is semi-arbitrary, as all social structures are. What is and is not sorcery depends on society's iconic ideas here, moderated by the strong political powers of the magic-using guilds. Moon Mages, in particular, get a pass on some demonic looking stuff because the Celestians and Tezirites are working night and day to keep Moon Mages looking presentable and profitable to everyone involved.

This benefits Necromancers to some extent, because not everything they do is obvious. If a Necromancer casts a spell that is utterly invisible, he is "not doing sorcery" as far as society is concerned. The reverse is also true: anyone, regardless of guild, who casts an obvious necromancy spell "is a Necromancer" as far as the pitch-fork wielding mobs are concerned.

PHYSICAL:

There's been a lot of confusion about this, which I am about to add to. Consider this definitive and superseding any previous statements that conflict with this -- until the next GM after me does the same thing, anyway. Sorcery is the act of using multiple types of mana to empower a spell pattern. A sorcerous spell is one that is written to presume this is happening.

Let's take a step back and review two important background concepts to make sure we're all on the same page. A: Individual Elanthians cannot attune to more than one type of mana at once, due to physiological limits. Your nervous system becomes wired to your first attunement and just can't be made to "bend" in another direction. B: While the four mana frequencies share the majority of their qualities each each other, creating an understanding of all four as a single force we call mana, each also has distinct characteristics. Each one can be thought of as a different environment for spellcasting.

A sorcerous spell is one that was written that crosses the streams, which could only be cast "for reals" if you had access to two (or more) frequencies of mana feeding into it at once. Since you don't and you can't have access to that, this gives sorcerous spells the quality of being volatile and dangerous to everybody.

So, if that's the case, what's Arcane mana? Nobody except the Necromancers actually know ICly, but, hey, I'll tell you as part of a social experiment to see how fast it gets taken for IC knowledge anyway.

Remember, the limit on attunement is physiological. If you were a god sitting up there in the spiritual plane and got the urge to, you could probably create a being that was able to do it. For whatever reason they didn't do this, but they probably could've. And if you're a bunch of mortal magicians with a panache for freakish mutations of the human body and a well developed god complex, there's nothing to stop you from trying.

Attunement to Arcane mana involves some pretty substantial changes to how a Necromancer's nervous system works (in ye olde days, the Imperial Healers' Guild hypothesized that the social deviance of sorcerers was somehow linked to these changes to the brain -- fortunately, no one knows or cares about their pesudo-magical theories anymore). The goal of the procedure is to produce a magician that can see and operate with multiple types of mana at once.

It... doesn't quite work. Perhaps their method is still too crude and faulty, or perhaps the prohibition is wired even deeper into how the brain works than even they can manipulate, but the attempt always goes wrong. Even attuned to multiple mana types, in the Necromancer's perceptual sphere they superimpose upon each other into this freakish, aggregate, other kind of mana that does not really exist.

Necromantic spells are written to account for deranged movements of this "fifth frequency," but the lack of true multi-attunement perception means they can suffer like other people when casting outside their normal environment.

-Armifer


>>Where does arcane mana type fall on the holy - life - elemental - lunar ladder?

It doesn't.

>>Even attuned to multiple mana types, in the Necromancer's perceptual sphere they superimpose upon each other into this freakish, aggregate, other kind of mana that does not really exist.

Arcane mana is a perceptual illusion, an abstraction created by a brain that is being forced to process information that it was never designed to. Necromancers use multiple types of mana, but through a nightmare lens that robs them of any way to tell what is what.

-Armifer


>>I was asking mechanically, not conceptually. Do you have the same chance (independent of the spell's difficulty and whatever other factors) to for spell backlash for using spells that aren't based on arcane mana?

Necromancer backlash risk works differently than other MUs. They have an equal chance of backlash when casting Lunar, Elemental, and Life spells, rather than a sliding scale of difficulty. Holy mana presents some additional... complications that I'm tempted to leave as PAFO for my own amusement.

>>To go off on a theoretical tangent for a moment, does this mean that you could get two or more people attuned to different mana types to each put together their part of the spell and set it off at the same time to do "real" sorcery. Or does magic just not work that way?

It would take a nearly impossible amount of finesse, but it could be done. A more practical way to do "real sorcery" would be through the aid of some specialized magical devices. However, for what should hopefully be obvious reasons, this line of thought doesn't get explored publicly by any of the guilds.

-Armifer


Part of the confusion is that we've traditionally used "sorcery" to describe two related but distinct things: evil spells and a way of manipulating mana.

One of the differences of the current write up is I'm trying to draw a clearer distinction between sorcery (the act, theoretical outside of Necromancers, of using multiple manas at once), and something which is sorcerous (something that happens or exists in conceptual relation to this process).

A Paladin casting Shadows is not performing sorcery -- he is utterly incapable of doing so, since he can only ever jam Holy energy into a spell pattern. But the act of doing so creates the same risks as casting a sorcery, including the backfire iconic to sorcery blowing up in your face. It is fair to describe it as sorcerous.

This is confusing, and I might just invent some new term later on. Alternately, since this is a topic that involves arrogant, self-described "sorcerers" trying to skirt the laws of man and Immortals alike and torch-wielding mobs, some confusion in terms might be flavorful to keep.

-Armifer


>>It makes me happy that Arcane mana sounds like TES cosmology... impossible realities perceived because of 'mental stress.'

Reach for the stars in an attempt to do what they all say is impossible... create an unreal state that technically does the impossible at some horrible, unexpected price. It's Necromancers in a nutshell.

-Armifer


>>The impression I got was that to the uneducated masses, Sorcery is magic that looks zomg flashy and evil. Casting a low-key spell like Shadows using non-lunar mana just wouldn't register for anyone.

This.

The presence of 3 strong, highly active guilds of wizards has helped narrow down the "zomg evil" response to the spells nobody claims, which creates a correlation-but-not-causation between public conception of what sorcery is and the theoretical, physics based use of the term.

If it ever comes down to it, the social element gets primacy over the term. It's easy enough to say that the academicians get annoyed and finally invent new terms, but there is something wondrously visceral and untouchable about a horrified commoner pointing at a casting of Blackfire and crying out in fear and rage, "Sorcerer!"

-Armifer


>>a guilded non necromancer (lets roll with a cleric for fun) casts a domination Sorcery spell: ie mana disruption. >>What does the necromancer see this as? >>What does the moonmage see this as?

They don't see anything untoward in isolation, since neither can perceive Holy mana, or would even necessarily know how the Cleric was "doing it wrong" even if they could.

>>Also a question when a necromancer casts this spell vs a cleric casting this spell, what is the mechanical and lore differnce?

Let's try a slightly different example and see if it still answers your question.

In the physics, there is no meaningful difference between a Cleric casting Shadows and a Cleric casting Mana Disruption -- they both generate the same risks through the same mechanism (which is called sorcerous backfire, since it is iconic to attempts at sorcery).

In society, there's a big difference, because people "know" that one is sorcery and the other is not due to the spell's presentation, effects, and historical background.

If you're a good ol' American empiricist, this would suggest society is right or wrong. A perhaps more informative way of looking at it is that they're measuring two different things.

-Armifer


>>Wait, now I'm confused, too. >>I was always under the impression that you can't fill a shadows spell with Holy energy and get anywhere- the problem was that in order to cast Shadows you had to manipulate Lunar mana blindly and hope you don't create something explosive.

That's something that gets changed in this explanation, yup. I call it a revision of the description of sorcery rather than a clarification for this reason -- we never were really clear up to this point what was going on, and I'm taking a stab at doing so.

I do still consider this tentative for now and am willing to adjust it to taste. Though part of the reason I go for "incompatible spells" rather than "stuffing Lunar mana in blindly" is that it better reflects the reality of what a PC experiences -- you never actually use Lunar mana values when casting Shadows unless you're a Moon Mage.

>>Will there be any necromantic spells that don't immediately flag someone as a necromancer to the masses?

>>This benefits Necromancers to some extent, because not everything they do is obvious. If a Necromancer casts a spell that is utterly invisible, he is "not doing sorcery" as far as society is concerned.

-Armifer


>>So... in light of this, casting a sorcerous spell would basicaly be the mage attempting to not just bend his mana into the spell pattern, but aggressively bend it in the way another mana frequency bends.

Yup. The background idea I'm running with is that each mana frequency has its own little quirks ("Woah, wait, don't join up those two lines at the crest of a mana wave, you'll overload it and backfire!") and mundane laws ("How do you say 'contact the spiritual plane' in Lunar?") that they don't necessarily share with the others. The difficulty increase reflects needing to know a far larger and esoteric body of knowledge to successfully translate a spell to your mana environment than you'd need to construct it natively.

And the unavoidable danger reflects that it's not a perfect science (if it was, everyone would have everybody else's spells at this point), and that even at your best there's a chance some freakish variable is going to slide off kilter and damn the whole work.

>>...that leaves unanswered the question of what's happening technically when you cast a genuine sorcery. Does the player ever interact with the other streams in casting? Or is all sorcery in the mold of Blackfire, where the sorcerous agent is only a token 'sliver' of mana?

Hrm, that could still be open. My immediate answer is that taking it this we, we relegate "sliver of Holy mana" into a metaphor. A Blackfire spell is almost a true Elemental spell, but relies just enough on Holy principles that are volatile in ELemental to work right.

However, it's not unreasonable to believe that a spell could, in extremis, be "programmed" (IC sense, not technical sense), to do mana manipulations of its own, without the caster's intervention, in some weird, sorcerous, Russian egg thing. On the other hand that also gets contrived and returns us back to where we originally were.

Let me give it some thought.

-Armifer


Sorcery and the Mana Storm

Sorcery is a violent act against the area itself. The act of casting sorcery is 'bad juju' that has unknown (to current Magical Theorists) ramifications to the world around you.

Note the big ritual Lyras did that permanently altered the entire world in unknown ways as well as caused mana storms that screwed up the world's mana levels (oh and it killed Vorclaf too). This is what Sorcery fundamentally does. Just because it doesn't happen perceptibly when you cast your Obfuscate spell doesn't mean you aren't slowly killing / poisoning something about Elanthia with your spells.

The generic act of swinging a sword through empty air doesn't really have down-the-line permanent ramifications upon Elanthia, nor does casting Clear Vision. This is how they differ.

NOTE: We're still in the process of lore-wonking Sorcery a little better, so it's possible Armifer may correct this later after future discussion.

-Z


>>As an aside, isn't one of the new magic skills sorcery in magic 3.0, which would help a character better manage that chance of primal violence?

You can be very good at handling a vial of neurotoxin while accepting that it's still neurotoxin and along a long enough time frame your chances of accidentally shattering the vial approach 100%.

-Armifer


Xerasyth's Word on Sorcery

Nothing mechanical happens to you (yet) with sorcery or sorcerous casting. This may or may not change.

And as much as you may not wish to take what Xerasyth says at face value, he is also one of Elanthia's most vastly experienced sorcerers and practitioners of Thanatology. At the moment, if you're in a position where you think you can trust him when he says something to you, he is in fact a subject matter expert.

-Z


Empaths

The Same Well

While Thanatology and Empathy embody different practices and different body of lores, the supernatural talent behind it -- the Transference Link -- is the same thing. If you use an Empathy buff on a Necromancer, his Thanatological power increases. If an Empath somehow gets a Thanatology buff without shocking herself, it boosts her Empathy. They both draw from the same well.

-Armifer

Empath Limitations

>>Well, there have to be some limitations to what Empaths can do. Otherwise no one would die.

I'm not going to touch on permanent injuries too much, since I don't know enough about how they've been presented in the past, but I'll go for the limitations tangent. The ultimate limitation of Empathy-as-mortals-know-it is Life itself. The cycle of life, death, creation and destruction has a teleological weight behind it and, from there, a sense of what is "meant to be" and "not meant to be."

Empathy cannot create what was, within Life's set limitations, not meant to be. Life magic in general terms, powered by this cycle, cannot violate the cycle. To do so would be like trying to build a wall out of air (without a Warrior Mage): the medium simply cannot do what the magician in this case conceives it to do. Immortality is abhorrent to how the cycle works. Things are born, experience and contribute, then die off as the next generation takes their turn. Nature does not want you to live forever, but to have your rightful place in the cycle and then return from whence you came.

It's possible that there are some plateaus of Life magic that supersede this limitation, by tapping into some higher idea of life than the relatively crude mechanism of the Plane of Abiding, but if so nobody has proven it. Instead, this is traditionally where necromancy comes in; the magic of breaking the cycle.

-Armifer

Transference Link

>>I'm really hoping they explore the Transference link and it's impact on how Necromancers do their thang. It is one of the more interesting facets of it for me OOC, and the line of research my character is the most interested in.

The main thing Empaths would understand about what Necromancers do isn't a grand theoretical system or even necessarily in any meaningful context: there is some sort of unsolvable incompatibility that prohibits Empaths from becoming Necromancers. Empaths who try to cross the invisible line... disappear. Nobody ever hears of them again and history forgets.

If anyone understands the mechanism, they found a reason not to talk about it. In a strictly quantitative sense, it makes Empaths a more moral group than the Moon Mages and Warrior Mages with their dime-store Sith.

-Armifer

Moon Mages

Moon Mages and Necromancy

>>...also the fact that if moon mages so much as thinks about Necromancy too hard they have visions of every reality ceasing to exist.

There's two different things at work here from the Moon Mage side of the fence.

When a Moon Mage Perceives an extremely corrupt Necromancer, they have a knee-jerk reaction back in the part of the head that's attuned to the Plane of Probability. When you're dealing with the future, you're dealing by and large in symbolism. Things mean more complex things by their presence, and different items and ideas ressonate together. In the hands of a prophet, a bowl unfit to serve salad in becomes a vessel in which the future rests.

Those Necromancers are, in the Moon Mage system, symbolic of the End -- the death of everything. The time when time runs out and there is stillness. It's relevant that the first definite sighting of the demon known as the Hunger was under the pesodynm "Entropy's Glory."

When a Moon Mage aligns towards Thanatology something... else happens, which is not merely a horrified response. As has been demonstrated in the past weeks, a Moon Mage who goes through that ordeal gains a necromantic taint which can be verified by Clerics and interfere with Holy magic.

That's a bit of an elephant in the room.

-Armifer


Thanatology

Knife-Based Thanatology

>>I personally wouldn't assume that Philosophers are the only ones who practice some form of knife-based thanatology.

When Kigot wrote the Philosophy of the Knife, he picked the knife as a metaphor for the moral life of a Necromancer precisely because it was such a common tool of the trade.

All Thanatology involves carving up the target in some capacity. Cutting occult symbols into the body is the method that the thanatological link is created and nobody claims to know a way to get around that. Theoretically it doesn't need to strictly be "a knife," as long as it's some kind of instrument consecrated to the task, but it's hard to find a better mix of functionality and discretion for the job.

-Armifer


Thanatologically Drawn Blood

>>Judging by the message you get when you cast a spell requiring Cut without it, it seems there is a difference between normal blood and thanatologically drawn blood.

Thanatology is big on occult ritual. Back to the whole "What make a ritual knife work but a kitchen knife not?"

It's entirely possible Necromancers will gain more leeway if they can learn more about the nature of thanatology, but at the baseline level you cannot substitute a battle wound for a ritualized cut anymore than you can substitute in a battle axe for a ritual knife.

-Armifer


The IC rationale is that by default, a Necromancer doesn't really know what the hell he's doing. Do the ritual and it works, violating every know rule of how Transference functions in the process. You are not implied to know more than that.

The thematic rationale is that the highly specific, ritualized feel is intended. Empathy is the living Transference that allows you to feel it, tweak it, and sort of bend the rules without breaking it. Thanatology is the "dead" Transference that is extremely formal, learned by rote, and even simple deviations from the process will cause it to just be knife-wielding nonsense.

Figuring out how those two entirely different realms interconnect is a practical microcosm of the Great Work.

-Armifer


>>Though I must say, as a player I enjoy the "We use it because it works" mentality the guild currently has.

Partly thematic, again. The quest for knowledge would be very short if they already knew everything.

Partly IC. Necromancy isn't commonly practiced (no matter how many Tezirites think otherwise) and has been enough to get you killed since prehistoric times. What practitioners exist are almost always misanthropes devoted to some demonic patron or insane ideology -- and on this point, the Philosophers might not be so different. The Philosophers simply do not have the luxury of the Magic Primes' careful, centuries-long investigations into their own powers.

-Armifer


Negative Energy

Non-Necromancers would neither understand nor care about the distinction, but there are two forces that can be considered "negative energy."

First, there is the animating force that Necromancers use. This has been explained as the misuse of life-force, twisted and corrupted in a very horrible way. The motive force behind the undead is misplaced life.

Second is...whatever they used to corrupt life in the first place. Thanatological rituals are the Necromancers' unnatural take on the Transference Link, which by necessity means they are a supernatural lever. Empaths use Empathy, which is a known supernatural quality inherent in the makeup of the Elanthian species. Necromancers use Thanatology, which is...Angry Empathy? Sorcerous magic? Puppies?

Who knows. Given the rote nature of the known thanatological rituals, and how frequently Necromancers tend to wind up on the wrong end of a pogrom, it's possible the Necromancers themselves don't fully understand what they're doing on the metaphysical level. If the Great Work was easy, it'd already be done by now.

-Armifer


Creating Life

>>Can necromancers actually create life? I didn't think that was doable yet. (lore wise, I know there's no spell for it)

Very much no. That's by some definitions the end result of the Great Work.

Necromancers can modify existing life with their curses or their Transcendental spells, but the act of genesis is well beyond them.

-Armifer


>>I've actually been curious about this for a while . By "Life" do Necromancers have the capacity to modify nature itself beyond their own physical selves?

Yes, though not easily and not healthily.

It is totally possible that a Necromancer might tamper with, say, a tree or a strain of flowers. But the results would never be pleasant, and the chance of it breeding true would be somewhere near zero. If it manages to survive more than a few days at all.

In these cases, we're talking about results that are still thematically in the vein of Transcendental Necromancy. These would be utterly unnatural mutations that could not be found in nature and likely is utterly devastating to the organism in the long term. This is not a fine instrument.

We're talking pretty radical, experimental necromancy at this point, though. Not something that a Necromancer would casually do with a spell.

-Armifer


Ritual Knives

The ritual knife is meant to correlate heavily with ritual implements in real-life (well, "real-life") magic beliefs. An important part of the ritual sword is that it is, in its essence, the ritual sword and not something you use to cut your bread when the dishwasher is running. The blade that does thanatological rituals doesn't really work right unless it's dedicated to its purpose. This isn't a magical thing, at least not in any sense that the Necromancer himself can detect, but it's more than pure symbolism.

Why is it so? Who knows. Ultimately, the Philosophers don't know a ton about the physics of what they're doing, and the ritual aspects of thanatology has so far thwarted their attempt to turn it into a science.

-Armifer


The most popular example of the sort of ritual one thing turning into another would be the Transubstantiation. "The accidents remain, the essence changes."

In the more popular forms of ritual magic, the idea is echoed in the preparation of tools: by the care and effort one places in the props, they assist the magician in drawing the line between their waking state of consciousness and the alternate state of consciousness where the magic is.

In DR? The Philosophers don't know why it needs to happen, but they know if you use your ritual knife for cutting bread or defending yourself, it just sort of... doesn't really feel right anymore.

-Armifer


>>Since a special connection exists between a Necromancer and their ritual knife, perhaps that one item could go with them regardless of how they depart?

It's nothing magical that anyone can detect. It doesn't change the physical nature ("the accidents") of the knife. It just... happens. You can call it psychological, if you want to caveat that it's a psychology the character can never progress beyond or is fully conscious of. The Philosophers don't know why.

>>If any of this nonsense leaks over into carving knives and familiars I will be put out.

I wouldn't presume to write Warrior Mage fiction.

-Armifer


>>I thought to myself for a second that maybe the LE requirement represent the ability to make the correct cuts and such, but that is very specifically covered by Thanatology.

Presumably the Necromancer over the years picks up a degree of omni-competency when it comes to working with a cutting blade.

Beyond that, has been and continues to be described as a ceremonial requirement from a group of people who take their knife fetishes seriously.

-Armifer


Risen

>>Id wager that this level of risen is not permanent, takes NPC Necrolord++ skill levels, and is still not perfect. My guess is they are 'programed' to respond to certain things and do not have the ability to reason or react to things in a way that a normal person would. They would also be know for what they are with a single touch or perceive from an empath (OMG, no lifeforce!) or cleric (OMG, no soul!)

The closest PCs have seen to a perfected Risen was sniffed out at a glance by the Inquisitors.

-Armifer


The Demonic

Demonic Necromancy is a No No

To clear things up -- According to the Philosophy of the Knife, demonic necromancy is something to be avoided as much as dealing with the gods. That's the realm of perversion, the backwards and ignorant ways practiced by necromancers of old, and inevitably leads to a situation such as what happened with Lyras.

Science and the careful study of death, not contracts with nether entities, is the forte and the key to the Great Work. Now, if a Necromancer wants to go and learn such practices from an entity outside the philosophers, it may be a possibility, but the official guild won't support it and you could get in really big trouble with them for going that route.

All this will be somewhat clearer when we manage to get the library finished.

-GM Abasha


>>Perhaps less well understood but generally agreed upon: in order to channel demonic power, you drill a small hole from the Abiding's reality into theirs. On one side of that planar connection is a demon, on the other side is your brain. Similar to how a Moon Mage links his mind to the plane of probability, this is basically the nature of a magical confound.

A minor point, but one that might be relevant, is that a magical confound can be anything that changes or complicates the laws of magic around it. The term is used in the same sense that it is used in experimental design.

It happens that a number of guilds do this by playing with the forces and creatures from other planes of reality, but it's not strictly required.

-Armifer


Maelshyve and Necromancy

>>Hmmm.... is what Maelshyve does considered Necromancy, or does her otherworldly origins grant her a different method to achieve a similar effect?

It's necromancy. Most differences between the sort of wild things Maelshyvean disciples throw around and what a Philosopher does in his basement should be interpreted as limits in the power and scope of what the Philosopher is doing.

By intentionally avoiding demonic entanglements, the Necromancers who will learn from the approach of the Necromancer's Guild abandon access to a lot of powerful and exotic tools. That's the price of trying to make it through a career in necromancy with your soul, sanity, and free will intact -- most Necromancers on Elanthia end up losing at least one of the three.

-Armifer


Lyras

Lyras' Illusion

>The closest PCs have seen to a perfected Risen was sniffed out at a glance by the Inquisitors.

To go further along this line, the Fake 'Mr. B' is in a guild that is swarming with powerful corruption magic.

That isn't something you can just walk outside with.

The only Necromancer who has displayed competency at what you might consider a traditional 'Illusion' was Lyras, and even then all she managed was being able to look like the human she used to be as opposed to the rotting mass of bone she actually was.

-Z


Lyras' Death

>>So, as I said, I'm sure the Immortals will gladly take credit for the kill, although at the same time Empaths could argue that they used some kind of Transference to de-Lich Lyras, or the Philosophers could claim they were the lynchpin in the plan or maybe all three working together is what did it.

This is very much intentional.

-Armifer


As Zeyurn said in another thread, Lyras's immortality didn't drop until her Risen did, regardless of how much gunk people were spraying on her (there were 6 applications before the end).

The Necromancers' ritual did... Something, clearly. And the Necromancers will certainly enjoy believing that they are the unsung heroes who rose from adversity to save the day. The Clerics and especially Moon Mages who were seeing the metaphysical effect of the ritual may have a slightly different opinion.

In the end of the day, who knows? Characters will likely remain partisan about it.

-Armifer


The Barrier

The undead mages that helped Lyras corrupt it are still maintaining it. Their last orders were to maintain it until Lyras tells them otherwise... a contingency that has collapsed into an infinite amount of time.

Short of something unforeseen happening, the Barrier will be maintained forever.

-Armifer


The Old Man

Identity

The Old Man; the spiritual guide of the damned. While most Necromancers (and related creatures) are vulgar and direct in the extreme, the Old Man represents an infuriatingly hard to trace influence on necromancy starting in the decades prior to the Hounds' first purge.

While it'd overstate the point to say there are facts about the Old Man, there are commonly held beliefs about him.

First, the Old Man is real. A real what is a subject for debate, but there's little belief that he's mythological or some excessively used metaphor. Enough Necromancers from different backgrounds have interacted with the Old Man to confirm that there is, actually, an entity of some kind called the Old Man.

Second, the Old Man only appears to interact with Necromancers. Some stories suggest normal people can't even see him, while others simply paint him as so seemingly generic and harmless that nobody else pays him any mind. Whichever is the case, there is no known case where the Old Man has talked to anyone other than a Necromancer -- all knowledge of the Old Man outside their circles is second hand.

Third, the Old Man is protected. Exactly how and where that power comes from is, once again, a matter of debate. People have tried to kill the Old Man, but it doesn't work. People have tried to capture or coerce him, and he simply walks away (one story says he "walked away" from inside a locked cell... leaving the cell still locked). Specifics vary, but they all agree on the idea that there is something obnoxiously sacrosanct about him.

Fourth, the Old Man knows a lot about necromancy. A lot about it. Stories vary over whether or not he performs necromancy, but there's wide agreement that he has tremendous conceptual knowledge about it. Some stories suggest this extends to knowing uncomfortable personal information about individual Necromancers, too.

Leading into number five, that the Old Man doesn't really do much with it, at least in a practical way. The Old Man is widely depicted as looking like a poor farmer, and the guidance he gives is the sort of personal and spiritual issues that normal people tend to use priests for. There's a few claims that Necromancers have learned an awesome spell or terrible rite from the Old Man, but far more widely held is the belief that the Old Man's gifts and lessons are always geared toward bringing to light an insight into the Necromancer's situation or self.

Finally, the Old Man appears to be ageless. Or, at least, he is a seeming Human that was already being called "the Old Man" over a hundred years ago.

Taken all together, there are three popular theories which try to explain what the Old Man is.

1) Voice of the Hegemony:
The Old Man is a servant of the gods. The Old Man is a spirit of the gods. The Old Man is a god. The Old Man is an Empath. The Old Man is a super-powered uber Empath with sprinkles.

There's no shortage of permutations to this one, but they all fall into the same mold: the Old Man is the voice of the powers of hegemonic "goodness." He is redemption and forgiveness, the good cop to the myriad bad cops. Most Necromancers who hold this view deride him for it, though the Redeemed have their own bizarre anti-antinomian belief in the Old Man as either a direct prophet of the divine or the wisest among the Redeemed.

2) Your Favorite Necromancer from the Past:
The Old Man is the Fallen Prince. The Old Man is Kigot. The Old Man is Emuin. The Old Man is the first necro-alchemist. The Old Man is Sidhlot with a slouch.

No shortage here, either. If there's any Necromancer on the planet that has a mysterious end, the Old Man's been accused of being him. And sometimes her. Necromancers who follow necromancy for some transcendental end, including the Philosophers, have a tendency to view him as the culmination of their work; the Necromancer who clearly "made it."

3) Crazy Dingbat out of Left Field:
Enjoyed among self-styled pragmatists is the idea that the Old Man really isn't anything more than he lets on: possibly a Necromancer, possibly not, but really damn good at pulling people's strings. It'd be by no means the first time some new figure jumped out of left field to become relevant. For those who hold this view, the only thing to fear about the Old Man is the insane amount of influence he seems to hold over people who believe he holds the keys to a great redemptive or transcendent secret.

-Armifer


>>And what is the Old Man, really?

There's a man that I used to know
And sometimes he still visits with me
When it's late and the alcohol's glow
Is nearly gone and it's time to awaken

And he looks and he laughs at the sight
And he asks what has happened to me
And I blame it all on the lights
But he smiles and says I'm mistaken

And there is no use in disguising
What the eye can so clearly see
That I've spent my whole life denying
That the man in the mirror is me

...

In a child-like illusion of life
He imagined the things yet to be
But they all disappeared on this night
Carried on among the forsaken

And there is no use in denying
What the eye can so clearly see
That one day I too will be dying
And the man in the mirror agrees

>>I wonder if we'll find out more about what he is when the guild gets released.

Nope. You can find out more about him during the Redemption quest, which will not be available at release.

-Armifer


Age

>>The Old Man, funnily enough, is only around a century old, give or take.

The guesstimate is that the Old Man is 200+ years old, possibly with a strong emphasis on the plus.

The Old Man appeared in the wake of the original Zoluren purges, suggesting he was either contemporary to that time (and is thus pretty young, all symbolism aside) or that something about the appearance of the Alchemy of Flesh attracted him (throwing the question of his age into complete obscurity).

>>And frankly, as far as I know, he has yet to be seen using any kind of magic at all.

This is true.

-Armifer

Miscellany

Can a Necromancer Starve to Death?

>>That brings up a funny but interesting point. CAN a Necromancer starve to death? If not, why not, and if so, how does she "repair the damage" and come back?

Isolated from his magic, a Necromancer can starve to death as easily as anyone else and for exactly the same reason. In practice, a Necromancer (and an Empath, for that matter) may develop supernatural tools to address that need that other people do not have.

The practical side of the Great Work is the creation of a perfected being who is a living immortal -- presumably, transformation of the Necromancer himself into this state but that's not explicit. You can argue that "perfect living immortal" involves fundamental contradictions, and you'd be right. It points to either the sublime character or the utter foolishness of this necromantic alchemy.

-Armifer


Necromancy and Aging

Age doesn't really mean as much to Necromancers as it does to anybody else. While nobody lives forever, Necromancers conceptually have the most powerful anti-aging magic available.

Note I don't actually know how old either NPC is, just throwing that out there as a general observation.

-Armifer


Hobo Blood

There's also the implication that if Book had a better means of clandestine communication, he wouldn't have been decking Crossing with hobo blood.

-Armifer


Zamidren's Trading Ranks and Corruption Magic

Anything that a Necromancer PC donated to "The Necromancer Guild" would be going into Book's petty cash jar.

How much this is a good idea depends entirely on how many ranks of Trading you think Book has.

-Armifer


I want to try to say this as delicately and respectfully as possible: even if you did a fund raiser and gave Book a million platinums... what the bloody hell would Book do with your money? Hire contractors? Buy property?

The Necromancers are outcasts and not the funny "shade and water" kind. Your money means nothing to the "Necromancer Guild" because they can not use it on any significant scale.

At best they might have a slush fund for bribes and discrete purchases, but anything above the personal scale is beyond their means. Platinums are not how Necromancers create guildhalls.

-Armifer


>>Alternatively, If PC Necromancers can hide our aura with Rite of Contrition, what's stopping Zamidren from putting on some sort of magical "mask" and just... appearing to be someone else entirely?

Rite of Contrition doesn't let you appear as someone else, it lets you magically appear as Not a Necromancer. If Zamidren Book popped it up and went to Crossing, he'd still be Zamidren Book, and it'd take only a barest understanding of current history to go running for the nearest guard.

Corruption magic doesn't give you illusions out of nothing or ways to appear as someone else -- that's the sort of fine manipulation that the Moon Mages might do on a bored afternoon. Corruption gives you a blunt effect that can befuddle or even nullify the senses. If you're good at that sort of necromancy you can beat someone's perceptual field into paste, but you can't insert pink elephants into it.

A slightly more "meta" explanation is a bit simpler: Necromancers are not Thieves. You are not sneaky masters of subterfuge and guile unless you, the player, are capable of delivering the skill for that. Necromancers are the hunted.

-Armifer


>>Or to put it another way, I appreciate that Necromancers are not ninja-mages, but it seems a little extreme to say something like "the Philosophers have no use for money" when all indications are that they're perfectly capable of exchanging it for goods and services.

I did not say they have no use for money, and even suggested some uses they do have for it.

I said they do not have use for money on a meaningful scale in the context of mass producing new magical items, creating guildhalls, and otherwise providing a level of services or a "footprint" that you might expect from a city or a guild.

All the money in the world would not help the Philosophers interact with society on a level larger than the individual, which -- Randian fantasies aside -- is vital beyond a very simple level of organization.

-Armifer


>>In fairness, you did ask "what the bloody hell would they do with [money]," and Z seemed to imply that if we're being totally consistent with the fiction, Necromancers shouldn't be able to afford selling belt knives to their novices. Both of these things, I think, are hyperbole, from what I've seen in the game.

There was meant to be a bit of humor in my comment, "I will say this delicately, what the bloody hell..."

>>But I'm also curious, in your ideal world of Necro-fiction, playability concerns and mechanical issues aside, whether my character would be able to do what he does. Is a low/mid-circle Philosopher hiding in plain sight plausible, or is it just a matter of it not being possible to code that one little old lady on the street who's going to recognize that something stinks?

Again, very important to distinguish between different scales of work.

Can individual Necromancers attempt to blend into society? Well, yes. It's not considered the nominal route, but if a Necromancer's player has the skill to pull it off, it can be done. Zamidren himself is an example of someone who did it for years -- until it finally caught up for him.

That's a long stretch from the sort of level of commerce and industry some players have suggested Necromancers partake in over the recent months. Necromancer vaults! Necromancer shops! Necromancer specialty MDs! Necromancer banks of all things. No, at that point you're talking about a number of people and a level of engagement in society that they can't possibly be supported by the Philosophers.

Again, this isn't the Thieves' Guild: the Philosophers don't have the skill to handle that kind of thing, the connections even if they wanted to, and have way, way more intense and way more kinds of heat directed at them than a Thief could conjure in his nightmares.

-Armifer


The only reason the Philosophers can manage to have serious guildhalls at all is that two Necrolord level people with an extreme knowledge of Corruption magic set up a place that nobody they don't want can actually find. That doesn't mean you should start money trails pointing at things to encourage people to maybe do things like camp an army around the place they know should be there but they can't get into.

Unlike the Thieves' Guild, which has agreements with every major ruling party save one, the Necromancer guild has absolutely zero support anywhere, and even though for playability reasons we have to let PC Necromancers go when caught, an NPC Necromancer can look forward to rotting in a dungeon for potentially forever.

-Z


>>I'm not quite sure why necromancer-specific MDs are a bad idea in the scope of the guild, either. If they have a function that fits within the scope of the guild and doesn't explicitly make being in the guild "easier," then why would they be bad suggestions? If someone proposed a necro-device that would turn ten dirts into one "super-dirt" that would make constructs last longer, would that be a bad idea based on the fact that necromancers shouldn't have guild-unique magical devices, due to the guild being poor/hard? It just feels like an odd argument to me.

Context is vital and if this conversation continues to take sound bites out of it I am going to stop giving them to you.

If Superdirt was some item that players had to create? Sure.

If you want there to be some Necromancer sweat shop producing Superdirt for sale for you? No, they don't have that kind of manpower, infrastructure, or frankly concern.

-Armifer