“The dismal Art.”
| Part of series on|
|Formal magic • Innatism • Elven • Prayers|
|The Foundation • Ether|
|Magic and society|
Necromancy is the branch of magic that deals with the dead and death.
Most countries place severe restrictions on necromancy, because the citizens disapprove of this kind of desecration.
Varmhjelm has only banned unapproved necromancy involving humans, elves, dwarves and other sentient beings - animals are exempt - and grants permission for necromantic experiments provided they're done on strictly controlled conditions on bodies coming from volunteers.
Battlemages of Varmhjelm assist the city and town guard forces on dealing with crimes of magical nature. Necromancy is the most common thing they have to investigate, even when most of the cases end up being harmless.
Fionkyydan leadership officially strongly disapproves of necromancy, though there is in fact no law against the practice. Among various schools of Taguofxelen, necromancy is, at least on official accounts, heavily self-policed and much of the formal policies resemble Varmian ones.
Elven societies have a fairly low tolerance of disrespect for the dead in general, and as such, both Tethivel and Furinel ban necromancy outright in all forms. However, there are perennial talks about allowing limited practice for research purposes, owing to the fact that many elves have no problems researching necromancy in Varmhjelm or Fionkyyde.
Grycia has banned necromancy since the fall of the Empire.
Tharkaians originally didn't ban necromancy, taking some time to observe how situation developed in Fionkyyde, but they eventually banned necromancy completely. Aiecaerteans decided to ban it earlier.
The situation in Tachur isn't known.
While governments tend to ban necromancy on ethical grounds, the mages themselves rarely support necromancy because, while it may seem interesting, it's largely regarded as a waste of time. Still, many misguided and evil mages tend to pursue necromancy, because they think it's going to work.
There is inherent power in life as the ether reacts to things. The only "power" the dead and inanimate objects have is a certain amount of accumulated or latent Ether. Blood in particular is a powerful accumulator of ether, and as such is what makes vampirism possible, though it must be noted that as blood cells begin to die, the Ether is quick to dissipate. Compared to the rest of the inanimate objects, corpses tend to be richer in latent Ether, as they had interacted vividly with the Ether when they were alive.
Death is merely absence of life. Living things can react to spells, but dead things don't – and undead things are merely things that have been brought from death to somewhere between life and death – in a state where they react to ethereal flows to some degree.
Necromantic spells require power investiture, which is proportional to the type of undeath needed. Powerful undead, like liches and vampires, only exist because someone has made a massive investment of power to make ethereal flows work and react for them once more. In fact, some of the intelligent undead, such as vampires and certain ghouls, transcend the definitions of races as such; it may be that they were once "created", but have become races of their own over time. Simply put, they were creations that took a life, or undeath, of their own.
Lesser undead are not very powerful because the spellcasters do not invest large amounts of power; one can reanimate skeletons and zombies with a good day's preparation. The real reason most mages get horrified when they think of liches and vampires is that they have to consider where that power was originally drawn from – just what kind of power investment is needed for an enchantment that lasts thousand lifetimes?
In strictest sense, magic that aims at resurrection isn't a form of necromantic magic, though it happens to involve dead people. A corpse has no personality; that part of a person is retained in the spirit, which has departed from the body. Resurrection magic is an art that deals with a living entity – the spirit. Unlike mortal minds, spirits show remarkable resilience to any type of forceful coercion, magical or otherwise – they can be persuaded to do things, some more easily than others, but that can only happen with the full knowledge of the individual spirit in question. Resurrection is essentially a highly advanced form of a seance, a form of planar communication; it is a form of contacting the spirit in the Afterlife and potentially allowing the spirit to restore its connection to the body.
“I was once helping the Voolmsbrook City Guard to catch a fugitive who was know to be a dabbler in magic. She loved her dog. She actually killed the dog and turned it into a netherworldly beast. When the guard stopped the undead dog in no time flat, even without my help, she was heartbroken, couldn't stop crying – she had sacrificed her loving dog for no benefit at all. All that love had no power. That's the reason why I don't do necromancy: It's all a lie. It's a lie that there's power in death beyond what power there is in life.”
“There's been a lot of research on the formalisms of necromancy, but the innatist aspect should be explored further. Not by mages, though, but by psychologists. Studies already show that innatist necromancers are channeling forces of life, and some of the sane innatist necromancers just admit to being life-mages in disguise. What I'm more concerned about is finding the source of delusion of Death being Power. Being an innatist myself, I know I have to be honest about where I draw my powers. You just know where the power comes from and you cannot lie to yourself. What makes some necromancers claim that there's power in death, when that obviously cannot be?”
Legitimate research agencies
There are several magical academies that study the effects of life- and death-magic in a highly controlled fashion. The most famous of these is the Citadelian Institute of Rejuvenative Powers. The Anchorfall Academy of Magic, with a special permission from the King, maintains a Life-Force Laboratory in the countryside in middle of the woods at an undisclosed location.