Boring Necromancy


Combat & Magic

Silver Crusade

Hi to all and compliments to all Paizo people for their efforts.

Yesterday, while reading the Alpha Release, I noticed something that annoyed me a bit: the Necromancer specialist's powers.

I mean... Controlling undead. Again? Will "necromancer" ALWAYS mean "black-robed skinny asocial guy with undead coterie who will never be able to mingle with other human beings" (hey, I checked on my encyclopedia. I just quote the definition :-D).

IMC, one of my players is playing a good-aligned necromancer who's never animated a corpse. On the contrary, he LOATHES undead creatures. As it is, the power from his chosen specialization would be quite... Useless, since it focuses just on one side of a rather vast school.
I think a necromancer is not just an idiot running around in graveyards animating undead just for fun. A necromancer is a specialist, like an enchanter or an evoker.

The school of Necromancy is MORE than its stereotype. Many necromancy spells let a caster end a fight easily, or without resorting to lethal options (ray of enfeeblement, scare, waves of exaustion...). Other spells are extremely useful in FIGHTING undead (from the humble disrupt undead to halt undead, and let's not forget undeath to death).

Other powers are good IMHO (they are "general necromancy"...) but I feel that, in emphasizing the "undead controller" side, the necromancer will never get rid of the "black robed asocial" stereotype. ;-)

What I say is that you're doing a great job: let's avoid class stereotypes. :-)

Just my thoughts no the matter. Feel free to ignore them. ;-)


I completely agree

Weve started RotRL campaign using the Alpha rules, and one player plays a Varisian necromancer. He wants to go for a cleric of Pharasma and become a true necromancer, so the Necromancer rules fit him quite nicely.

I would like to see some BG on the various gods, so I know how Pharasma looks upon undead (i think she doesn't really favors or disfavors them) and I would also like to see an ability for necromancers so they do not have to go for the undead controller. Maybe allow them a bonus saving throw against negative energy effects.


Yes, let us avoid stereotypes. I mean, it's not like a Necromancer actually has anything to do with undead; that's like saying Illusionists trick people with illusions (how silly)! Honestly, I understand where you're coming from, but it's kind of silly. I agree that there need to be probably two choices for every Specialist Wizard Spell-Like, but most Necromancers, well, use undead (it's kind of implied in the name: Necro(death)-mancer(uses magic to control it)). Now, I personally think that, for example, at 4th level, a Nec should be able to choose Control Undead or False Life, and at 16th Horrid Wilting or Create Greater Undead (and another option for each level), and this seems like it would allow for the White/Black Necromancy options people have been talking about.

Honestly, though, the Specialists are based around stereotypes: I might have an Abjurer who wants to preserve magic, so he'd never cast Dispel Magic, but that doesn't mean NO Abjurer can have it.


Gnome Ninja wrote:

Yes, let us avoid stereotypes. I mean, it's not like a Necromancer actually has anything to do with undead; that's like saying Illusionists trick people with illusions (how silly)! Honestly, I understand where you're coming from, but it's kind of silly. I agree that there need to be probably two choices for every Specialist Wizard Spell-Like, but most Necromancers, well, use undead (it's kind of implied in the name: Necro(death)-mancer(uses magic to control it)). Now, I personally think that, for example, at 4th level, a Nec should be able to choose Control Undead or False Life, and at 16th Horrid Wilting or Create Greater Undead (and another option for each level), and this seems like it would allow for the White/Black Necromancy options people have been talking about.

Honestly, though, the Specialists are based around stereotypes: I might have an Abjurer who wants to preserve magic, so he'd never cast Dispel Magic, but that doesn't mean NO Abjurer can have it.

Two points.

1.) Necros having something to do with the dead, not necessarily the undead (though, I admit, this may be too fine a point since 'something to do with the dead' may be too vague - I'd like to see if other players have a good concept for the class which focuses on the dead, but not the undead)
2.) Even if Necros are so artificially restricted as to have to have something to do with the undead, "something to do with undead" can mean a lot of things besides having an undead army.


LilithsThrall wrote:


Two points.
1.) Necros having something to do with the dead, not necessarily the undead (though, I admit, this may be too fine a point since 'something to do with the dead' may be too vague - I'd like to see if other players have a good concept for the class which focuses on the dead, but not the undead)
2.) Even if Necros are so artificially restricted as to have to have something to do with the undead, "something to do with undead" can mean a lot of things besides having an undead army.

I understand your point, and agree. Again, this is partly why I suggest two choices of Spell-Like for Specialists. For example, instead of choosing Command Undead, a "White Necromancer" could choose False Life.

Your point about "having something to do with death" pretty much has to mean either they have Death spells (which it does) and/or deals with undead; otherwise, a Fighter could be an Axe Necromancer - killing things with an axe (:P).
Still, most Necromancers use undead; this class is for PCs and NPCs, bear in mind. Besides, most undead shouldn't be inherently evil (especially mindless ones, as they have no intellect to make moral decisions with), so not all Good or Neutral PCs have to hate undead. Hell, I have a PC in a 3.5 game who is a kick-ass LN Necromancer with about 5 skeletons and a cthlubis undead being (don't ask) under his control. Sure, the paladin has an issue, but after an argument he convinced the pally that it's not necessarily "evil," just, well, a little "evil-curious."

Dark Archive

I agree with the original poster, to a degree. there's lots of necromancy spells that are just really, really nasty blasting spells that use negative energy. Just like conjuration has lots of blasting and teleportation.

But Just as conjuration has monster summoning, necromancy has undead creation and control. maybe a little less obsession with undead in the rules might be nice, but lets not delude ourselves into thinking that necromancy is just like evocation, but with negative energy.


My favorite character of all time was a Necromancer back in 3.0 when mindless undead weren't inherently evil. That still caused a lot of table discussions about character interplay when one of them is walking around with "evil minions" and the others are servants of the gods.

My approach to that character was more 'negative energy scholar' than 'raises undead to do his bidding.' However, with all of his spells based on negative energy, he wasn't too effective at fighting the undead (though the other characters were both multiclassed clerics), but he was devastating against the living. I would have loved the ability to control twice the normal amount of undead, but because of the other characters I never had anything more than a couple of skeletons to carry my stuff around.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

An interesting option for good necromancers can be found in Trees of Fantasy from Bards and Sages: Bone Trees! This wood can be used for animate dead spells instead of corpses.

Silver Crusade

Gnome Ninja wrote:
Yes, let us avoid stereotypes. I mean, it's not like a Necromancer actually has anything to do with undead; that's like saying Illusionists trick people with illusions (how silly)! Honestly, I understand where you're coming from, but it's kind of silly. I agree that there need to be probably two choices for every Specialist Wizard Spell-Like, but most Necromancers, well, use undead

Hmmm... I guess ALL the fighters you play are big though warriors with heavy armor and a broadsword. And EVERY wizard is an old bent man with white beard and a pointed hat.

The "necrophile necromancer" is a cliché. A stereotype. And I think sterotypes should be avoided in a new version of the game.

Gnome Ninja wrote:
(it's kind of implied in the name: Necro(death)-mancer(uses magic to control it)).

Please... At least know what you're talking about before writing something.

Necro: "Death" in Greek.-"mancer": "divinator" in Greek.
I don't see how it would be translated "controller of undead".

Unfortunately, the sterotype is still alive in the second Alpha release...


I agree that some of the Necromancer powers are useless for a good necromancer, but that's not really any different from a rogue who's not interested in finding traps. Or a barbarian who's not interested in raging. Or a paladin who doesn't want to cast spells. Or a wizard who's not interested in having a familiar. Or...

I could go on and on, but the point is that not every character concept is going to use every class ability it has. That's where the DM has to step in and say "O.K., if you want to, you can trade ability X for ability Y of equal value." I don't think it's necessary (or feasible) to list every possible way of swapping out an ability; that's something for a book like Unearthed Arcana. YMMV, of course.

jakoov wrote:

Hi to all and compliments to all Paizo people for their efforts.

Yesterday, while reading the Alpha Release, I noticed something that annoyed me a bit: the Necromancer specialist's powers.

I mean... Controlling undead. Again? Will "necromancer" ALWAYS mean "black-robed skinny asocial guy with undead coterie who will never be able to mingle with other human beings" (hey, I checked on my encyclopedia. I just quote the definition :-D).

IMC, one of my players is playing a good-aligned necromancer who's never animated a corpse. On the contrary, he LOATHES undead creatures. As it is, the power from his chosen specialization would be quite... Useless, since it focuses just on one side of a rather vast school.


jakoov wrote:

Necro: "Death" in Greek.-"mancer": "divinator" in Greek.

I don't see how it would be translated "controller of undead".

Yes, the "-mancy" suffix etymologically refers to divination, but it's just meant "magic" in fantasy settings for a long time. You'll note that necromancers don't exactly use dead things to divine; see also "pyromancer", "cryomancer", and even "neuromancer". In D&D, if you're divining things, you're a diviner, and you use divination spells. The etymology of "necromancy" doesn't come into play.

The Exchange

jakoov wrote:

Hi to all and compliments to all Paizo people for their efforts.

Yesterday, while reading the Alpha Release, I noticed something that annoyed me a bit: the Necromancer specialist's powers.

I mean... Controlling undead. Again? Will "necromancer" ALWAYS mean "black-robed skinny asocial guy with undead coterie who will never be able to mingle with other human beings" (hey, I checked on my encyclopedia. I just quote the definition :-D).

IMC, one of my players is playing a good-aligned necromancer who's never animated a corpse. On the contrary, he LOATHES undead creatures. As it is, the power from his chosen specialization would be quite... Useless, since it focuses just on one side of a rather vast school.
I think a necromancer is not just an idiot running around in graveyards animating undead just for fun. A necromancer is a specialist, like an enchanter or an evoker.

The school of Necromancy is MORE than its stereotype. Many necromancy spells let a caster end a fight easily, or without resorting to lethal options (ray of enfeeblement, scare, waves of exaustion...). Other spells are extremely useful in FIGHTING undead (from the humble disrupt undead to halt undead, and let's not forget undeath to death).

Other powers are good IMHO (they are "general necromancy"...) but I feel that, in emphasizing the "undead controller" side, the necromancer will never get rid of the "black robed asocial" stereotype. ;-)

What I say is that you're doing a great job: let's avoid class stereotypes. :-)

Just my thoughts on the matter. Feel free to ignore them. ;-)

I agree: Because of the whole Animate Dead is Evil. I use to run Necromancers who created Bone golems and Flesh Golems (same stats as skeletons and zombies) so they could be Good.

Good Necromancers should enjoy employment in preparing the clan chief's Hounds as undead Guardians for his barrow.

The Exchange

DitheringFool wrote:
An interesting option for good necromancers can be found in Trees of Fantasy from Bards and Sages: Bone Trees! This wood can be used for animate dead spells instead of corpses.

BONE TREE: presented in a Dragon Article (Barrier Peaks Revisited).


Can anyone answer me this: Can spell-like abilities be used to counterspell other spells or spell-like abilities? (I don't know and I do not have a rulebook handy.)

My reasoning is that --if it is possible to use spell-like abilities to counterspell-- the class abilities granted by the Necromancer class become quite handy combatting evil necromancers who have the same abilities. Kinda like a lateral-thinking necromancer using necromancy against other necromancers.

Just a thought.

Liberty's Edge

It's not a stereotype, it's an archetype.

A stereotype a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group, while an archetype is an original model or type after which other similar things are patterned.

The really important difference though is that stereotypes are sociological term, so its actually quite impossible to have stereotypes about necromancers, since they are fictional.

(Given that this is the internet, I will try not to be shocked if someone claims they are, in fact, a real necromancer.)

I'm happy with evil necromancers, manipulative enchanters, intuitive diviners, etc.


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Way back in 2nd Editon, healing spells were Necromancy spells, IIRC.

I liked the role of the school back then as being "the magic of life and death," and I was disappointed to see it become so cliché in 3rd. I think it's easier to parse the school that way than some vague collection of undead concepts.

Reinstating that definition, while addressing the concern of this post, would call for the re-schooling of many spells. It's a tradeoff in the end, but I for one might prefer it, since it would be a throwback to the olden days of 2nd Edition Necromancy.

Dark Archive

toyrobots wrote:

Way back in 2nd Editon, healing spells were Necromancy spells, IIRC.

I liked the role of the school back then as being "the magic of life and death," and I was disappointed to see it become so cliché in 3rd.

Yeah, changing healing spells to Conjuration was a head-scratcher.

If I 'conjure' fire (or light, or lightning, or sound), it's evocation. If I 'conjure' negative energy, it's necromancy. If I conjure positive energy (or solid, liquid or gaseous matter), it's conjuration. At this point, they were kinda flailing around looking for a rationalization...

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

I kind of like the stereotype, because I remember there being none before. In 1st Edition, when you moved up the level chain you received new titles. A Magic User got a necrommancer title somewhere up the names. I also recall seeing that film Dragonslayer where they were looking for an all powerful Necrommancer.

I never really thought the name being more than just another way of calling a Wizard a title of some importance.

Then came Warcraft 3 with the Necromancers on the undead race. They created heaps of undead skeletons. It was then the bell went "ding ding". I realized that "necro" was somehow related to the dead. I mean, we all know Necrophilia. Necro-mancers. I felt kind of stupid that I never made that connection, but it seemed to describe a new type of Wizard clearly. So, the stereotype filled me in on what a Necromancer was.

However, I do understand the asocial guy wearing black and standing alone holding the chainlink fence watching the cars go by. Fairly creepy...and i don't trust him either.

I don't think a stereotype is needed as long as we have the option to use the stereotype or not.

Cheers,
Zuxius

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