What is Necromancy

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Joined: 03/24/2011
What is Necromancy
To avoid Hijacking another thread, "Digging Graves", I thought it best to bring this up elsewhere.

One Poster on the Graves thread said " Well, technically necromancy doesn't involve using the original soul of the body. It's either a piece of the necromancer's soul, or a spirit aligned with him/her.

Pretty much every book I've read that had Necromancy involves dragging the soul back to the Prime material plane. Of course these are Fictional works in Fantasy.

The age of technology is a fabulous thing because we can easily find information about even esoteric and odd subjects like.....Necromany. There people that say they can work magic. I've seen some pretty odd things in my life so I'm not prepared to say its impossible.
The following is an except from an alledge practitioner of "high magic". I have to admit, I don't have any scientific way to back up my assertion.



What is Necromancy? Necromancy is the practice of using the dead to get what you want. Necromancy is Death Magick. Specificly manipulating spirits to do your work for you, or rather to empower it. It is not a freindly type of magick, you will be actinf as a Bully to the spirits. The idea is to force them to do what you want, not be nice to them.

Jagel's picture
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Re: What is Necromancy
This definition is from FR-wiki. It doesn't flesh out the concept very much, though:

Forgotten Realms wiki wrote:

Necromancy is the school of magic whose spells manipulate the power of death, unlife, and the life force. Spells involving the undead make up a large portion of this school, including animate dead and finger of death. Highly focused on the Negative Energy Plane, most spells from this school drain abilities. This school is the one most associated with lichdom, a process that allows the caster to live (or rather, exist) indefinitely by securing their essence in a receptacle known as a phylactery. A wizard who specializes in the necromantic school is called a necromancer.

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Re: What is Necromancy
I'm flipping through the FR wiki pages on the various types of undead, and none of them refer to souls being used to raise undead.

Most of them refer to "animating" the corpse with negative energy, like this reference on the zombie article (emphasis added):

FR Wiki wrote:

Basically, a Zombie is the corpse of a creature which has been animated by someone who can manipulate negative energy, such as a Cleric. I.E, a Cleric would be able to use negative energy on a corpse and make it move its body, arms, legs, etc.

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Re: What is Necromancy
I assume you are referring to real-life 'Necromancy' rather than FR.. in which case it is easy..

Necro: Dead body. (Greek Nekros, Travelled through a bazillion routes to where we are now..)

+mancy: Foretell, foresee. (Originally a Greek word, became Latinised, then mutated through medieval French to Mancie.)

So, basically, Necromancy was believed to be a 'method' of finding out when/how one will die. Sort of nothing at all to do with the entirely fictional 'Necromancy' of D&D. Not until the mid 16th century at least. All earlier versions were just about foreseeing one's death. Oddly, the 'necromancy' concerned with Raising the dead came about during a time of great religious persecutions, and also a new card-based divination 'fashion' arrived from China (Cartomancy - Card to read the future - Tarot).

It means that, by definition of of the word, Necromancy is Divination. Maybe not an argument to call on in character...

((Related note: Any that ever writes about 'Majick' or 'Magick' or any other curious spellings to make it seem like they are the 'real' ones = Mental Diarrhoea/Delusion.))


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Re: What is Necromancy
There are two basic types of undeads. You have the corporeal variant, ranging from mindless zombies and skeletons to Morgs, Whights, Vampires etcetra etcetra. What these have in common is that there soul has left there bodys, all that remain is the flesh, and in case of the stronger variants, the mind, but the soul has passed on.

Then you have the other basic type, the incorporeal, creatures whom have lost the body but there soul remains behind, typically they all so have a mind but *shrug*.

I cant think of any undead that would have soul, body and mind, but seeing as there are hundreads of PRC books, who knows.

Necromancy as a school is about manupulating Negative and Positive energy. Negative energy is used in most spells and raising the dead as undead, and positive energy when they are returned to life. There are some spells that control the soul of the subject, typically used to seal it away so the person cant be raised until the soul is free again, but other then that, necromancers cannot directly control some ones soul (in the case of undead, they use negative energy to create a new form for the soul, corporeal or incorporeal, thus they control that energy, not the soul itself).

This is roughly how it works in DnD. When you start speaking of necromancy outside of DnD, thats a whole different can of worms.
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Re: What is Necromancy
Not all necromancy is animation, mind. At the basest level, necromancy is the manipulation of negative energy- Whether that's using negative energy to power a zombie, using negative energy to murder someone with Wail of the Banshee, terrifying someone with Fear, or even protecting yourself from negative energy (Death Ward)
Ecstatic wrote:

causing the caster in question to have all of two speeds: passivity and murder.

The Rambling Midget wrote:

Cordor: "The population here is out of control."

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Re: What is Necromancy
Something interesting to note is that Necromancy actually started as a form of Divination. Ancient Greek and Roman practitioners of Magic would seek to use the dead to answer questions about the future, or something unknown in the present. Ummma already pointed out where the word came from, and -mancy is almost always a form of divination. (Oneiromancy, Cleromancy, Hydromancy, etc.) Basically, Necromancy was just another form of divination to use to learn the future. In antiquity, anyway.
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Re: What is Necromancy
There is a lot of unnecessarily judgemental commentary in this thread. Let's keep it pleasant, yeah?
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Re: What is Necromancy
The way I always understood it was there are two types of undead:

Mindless: Your zombies, skeletons, Mummies and their ilk. This also includes intelligent but will-less undead like Wights, Ghouls and shadows.


Sentient: Ghosts, Vampires, Liches et al.

Mindless undead, being little more than robot corpses in varying states of decay, do not require the soul of the body to create. They just get charged up with negative energy and away they go.

Sentient undead however are self-aware and capable of independant thought. They -do- posess a soul, corrupted by their transformation, because they are -still- the people they were in life, albiet a little less wholesome. This corruption can be voluntary (liches, ghosts) or forced upon them (vampires, ghosts).

But of course, that's just my understanding. I find a lot of the fun of questions like these is chasing them up IC and writing theories, having debates and generally creating RP.
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