Novels about Necromancers


Books

Sovereign Court

I'm looking for Pathfinder Tales, or Forgotten Realms books, (Or Raveloft, dragonlance, greyhawk I guess) about Necromancers.

I have a new player bringing a Arcane Necromancer to the table, and I find reading novels a good source for RP/understanding the means and motives of character types and tactics.

So any good Necromancy novels out there?


There is a terrible dearth of necromancer protagonists...

The closest things that comes to my mind at the moment are Dragonlance Legends books where Raistlin plays a key role, though necromancy is only a side interest of his.

Sovereign Court

I'd love to have the necromancer be the good guy (lol) but even the bad guy necromancer would work if it plays more than a minimal role.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Warhammer has Drachebfells, an interesting 'rebirth'!


SterlingEdge wrote:

I'm looking for Pathfinder Tales, or Forgotten Realms books, (Or Raveloft, dragonlance, greyhawk I guess) about Necromancers.

I have a new player bringing a Arcane Necromancer to the table, and I find reading novels a good source for RP/understanding the means and motives of character types and tactics.

So any good Necromancy novels out there?

50 Shades of Pale? Sounds like a hit.


Oftentimes, the motive for necromancy is money. I'm giving away a spoiler by saying this, and I only got halfway through the novel, but Fire Sea by Weis and Hickman describes a society whose economy relies on cheap undead labor.

Sometimes, the motive is power, like when a necromancer builds an undead army for conquest. I'm particularly thinking of Xykon in Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew. That same comic strip has another necromancer, Tsukiko, who creates and commands undead to work for Xykon. That could be seen as a "money" motive, but she also just loves necromancy. I mean to say that she LOVES undead. (I don't know if you're playing in a campaign that's OK with that sort of thing, but I just thought I'd mention it.)

Outside of D&D types of fiction, other stories about necromancy generally use money as a motive. I remember as a child reading Footprints of the Dead by Jay Callahan, in which a rich plantation owner (or something like that) hires someone to raise the dead - again, for use as cheap labor.

Hey, how about the Bible? King Saul hires the Witch of Endor to summon Samuel's spirit in Samuel I, Chapter 28. Again, it's about money.

And I'll never forget reading issue 201 of the comic magazine The Savage Sword of Conan, in which Conan fights his way out of the tower where he'd been imprisoned. A wizard named Thulandra Thuu scries on him as he does so, animating the bodies of the guards that Conan kills on the way out. So as Conan kills more and more guards, more and more zombies go after him. At one point, Conan cries out in exasperation "Doesn't anyone stay dead anymore?!" I love that line! But I digress. In Thuu's case, it was power; he was working for the king, but held onto political power by doing so. (Well, maybe it was a LITTLE bit about the money.)

So assuming that you're keeping your campaign PG, it seems like it's either money or power.

Sovereign Court

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I remember some FR fiction about a Worm That Walks and a lich spinning plots.

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They're not Pathfinder novels or even D&D novels, or really even novels at all but a collection of short stories...

But the number one inspiration and influence for me for pretty much ALL of my work in gaming on necromancers has been from Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique stories. And I'm pretty sure those same stories inspired Gygax and Wolfgang Baur and several others in their necromancer-flavored additions to RPGs.

Scarab Sages

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Frankenstein?

Don't forget "Herbert West - Reanimator."


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Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen come to my mind. They’re a trio of YA books but definitely a cut above. The main characters are more like white necromancers, but they still dabble with the dead. Also some excellent world building and a unique and well thought out magic system.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Also, the heroes’ trips to the underworld in The Iliad and The Aeneid.

The rituals to gain access to the dead lands are especially good.


Twilight series?

More seriously, dig up a copy of "The Complete Guide to Necromancers" from 2e. That will likely be the best source.

In spite of its name, Gordon Dickson's "Necromancer" is not actually about necromancy in any but the most oblique of senses.
There is a tickling in the back of my brain that says there are a few more novels that are worth a look but I can't remember them right now.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

Frankenstein?

Don't forget "Herbert West - Reanimator."

Lovecraft wrote more than one good story about necromancy - "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" is another good one, at least for necromancer antagonists. "The Outsider" is a fun little necromancy story told from an unusual point of view.

I seem to recall that at least the first Brian Lumley "Necroscope" novel involved a protagonist who could talk to the dead.

The "Ghost Whisperer" television series was certainly about a protagonist who didn't really raise the dead, but could see and talk to ghosts, and try to help the spirits pass on to the other side. I'd say this sort of character probably fits the "medium" archetype more than the "necromancer", but is probably a bit closer in line to most classic real-life cases of necromancy than the modern fantasy archetype is.

Those mediums who hold seances, table-knocking, and such are even closer to real-life necromancy - the no doubt ancient tradition of using fake necromancy to scam victims is no doubt a large part of the origin of the negative stigma around necromancy. That's right on target with Aaron Bitman's assessment that necromancy has classically been about money.

There's also the "voodoo" zombie master thing, where sorcerers could raise the dead as slaves perhaps for revenge or other emotional reasons, but probably for economic reasons of forcing the slaves to work on plantations for the sorcerer's benefit.

Like Drejk said, there's really a dearth of fantasy literature about protagonist necromancers, as modern fantasy computer and p&p RPGs have defined the character type.

Perhaps your best bet would be to work alongside the player as she develops her own character and try to help fill in any blanks that she runs into?

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