PDA

View Full Version : Good Necromancer?



TempesT
2009-06-18, 05:47 PM
Hey All,

Just a quick question, Is it possible to use animate dead/necromancy as a good aligned character? Or at least a good excuss for doing so? Most of this comes from one of my players deeply in love w/Dread Necromancer, but me not wanting to do an evil campiagn(at the moment).

I was thinking of maybe a different type of undead, but more or less infussed w/holy/non evil energy.

But any farther than that no idea.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-18, 06:07 PM
RaW, no. Animate Dead is an Evil act. Which is dumb, since therre is no reason given for Uindead to be only usable for Evil. You're DM, just rule Animate Dead and most of the rest of Necromancy is non-evil, and it works.

After all, Evocation(burning people alive), Enchantment(taking away free will), and Divination(spying on people) are all non-evil. Why is reanimating a corpse bad?

paddyfool
2009-06-18, 06:09 PM
I reckon he could easily get away with being Neutral, though.

Kobold-Bard
2009-06-18, 06:11 PM
Hey All,

Just a quick question, Is it possible to use animate dead/necromancy as a good aligned character? Or at least a good excuss for doing so? Most of this comes from one of my players deeply in love w/Dread Necromancer, but me not wanting to do an evil campiagn(at the moment).

I was thinking of maybe a different type of undead, but more or less infussed w/holy/non evil energy.

But any farther than that no idea.

Not without re-doing how undead work. You can play it Neutral (good ends justify evil means) or (it's better to use things that are already dead instead of living troops).

If you change them so that their undead are powered by positive energy (they're filled with so much energy that they walk around, rather than their drained of all energy and doomed to unholy incarceration) then you could use Good Necromancers. Make the Good aligned Gods ok with it and it'll be fine.

Stormageddon
2009-06-18, 06:11 PM
Hey All,

Just a quick question, Is it possible to use animate dead/necromancy as a good aligned character? Or at least a good excuss for doing so? Most of this comes from one of my players deeply in love w/Dread Necromancer, but me not wanting to do an evil campiagn(at the moment).

I was thinking of maybe a different type of undead, but more or less infussed w/holy/non evil energy.

But any farther than that no idea.

It says no good dread necromancers. So have him play a TN or just ignore what the book says and let him do it.

Flickerdart
2009-06-18, 06:14 PM
There was an idea back in the day whereupon a necromancer would carve statues of troops and use Stone to Flesh to make corpses out of them to animate. It doesn't work RAW but it's an awesome idea.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-18, 06:16 PM
Not without re-doing how undead work. You can play it Neutral (good ends justify evil means) or (it's better to use things that are already dead instead of living troops).

If you change them so that their undead are powered by positive energy (they're filled with so much energy that they walk around, rather than their drained of all energy and doomed to unholy incarceration) then you could use Good Necromancers. Make the Good aligned Gods ok with it and it'll be fine.
What. No.

As pointed out there's no reason given for why necromancy is evil other than because the Rules Decree It. You're playing adventurers who run around with swords and fireballs, killing sentient beings and taking their stuff.

Just raise the orc corpses after you've fleeced them. It'll be like using the whole buffalo. It's not a villager's corpse and the orc totally had it coming to him anyway. Just don't bring the shambling corpses into polite company and you'll be mostly fine.

Faleldir
2009-06-18, 06:22 PM
After all, Evocation(burning people alive), Enchantment(taking away free will), and Divination(spying on people) are all non-evil. Why is reanimating a corpse bad?
Because rather than having clearly-defined schools of magic that don't overlap, WOTC decided to put all the icky dark magic together and move healing spells to Conjuration, so that no one can accuse them of portraying Necromancy positively.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-18, 06:27 PM
Because rather than having clearly-defined schools of magic that don't overlap, WOTC decided to put all the icky dark magic together and move healing spells to Conjuration, so that no one can accuse them of portraying Necromancy positively.
I'd rather think it's because it's more romantic to portray icky magic as evil. You can tell villains are villains because they have the uncontrollable fits of maniacal laughter, make zombies and wear lots of black.

People who want to give D&D bad press are going to do it anyway, no matter how presentable you try to make it.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-18, 06:28 PM
I'd rather think it's because it's more romantic to portray icky magic as evil. You can tell villains are villains because they have the uncontrollable fits of maniacal laughter, make zombies and wear lots of black.While I prefer the shades of grey. You make your James Bond villians Evil, I'll go the Dr Horrible route.

The problem is, the current situation makes your preference possible, while mine is much harder. Why have an entire school of magic devoted to making my style harder?

Mr.Moron
2009-06-18, 06:36 PM
Not by the standard rules, no. However it's the sort of thing that can be taken care of by the DM.

There aren't strictly any evil acts involved in making undead (Except for the casting of a spell that has the [Evil] descriptor). As you're simply animating an object with negative energy, neither of which are inherently evil.

If your DM is willing to throw out the rather arbitrary assignment of the [Evil] descriptor, it could work (EDIT: Actually re-reading your post it sounds like you're the DM, you can just throw it out). Provided your average person is probably going to be creeped out if they're saved by a walking corpse, but hey better than being dead.. right?

TempesT
2009-06-18, 06:42 PM
If you change them so that their undead are powered by positive energy (they're filled with so much energy that they walk around, rather than their drained of all energy and doomed to unholy incarceration) then you could use Good Necromancers. Make the Good aligned Gods ok with it and it'll be fine.


Ya that would work.

Even thought clergy is still going to get upity about skeletons walking around w/halos or cascading holy light. heh. that would be a great moment. But then making them mentaly visualy right.(a picture w/ Johzan attacking the invading orcs with a horde of skeletons just doesnt seem rightish)


As pointed out there's no reason given for why necromancy is evil other than because the Rules Decree It. You're playing adventurers who run around with swords and fireballs, killing sentient beings and taking their stuff.

Just raise the orc corpses after you've fleeced them. It'll be like using the whole buffalo. It's not a villager's corpse and the orc totally had it coming to him anyway. Just don't bring the shambling corpses into polite company and you'll be mostly fine.

While that is completely true, would you come apon a group of advetures w/zombies doing there every will (abet orc zombies) that gives a gut feeling of evil and suspicion.

Realy what im thinking is how to make an undeadish monster more visualy goodlike(villagers dont run for the hills on sight) and making them less of a hastle a little more heroic (like a golem/inatimate object) for the good adventuring party.

shadow_archmagi
2009-06-18, 06:43 PM
Bringing Undead into the world is an Evil act. Sure. But *how* evil of an act? I'd argue that it's evil because everyone considers it evil, and so when people perform necromancy there are numerous psychological side-effects not because of any inherent "NEGATIVE ENERGY IN THE WORLD OH NOES" but simply because they're doing something that

A. Everyone agrees is by nature a bad thing.
B. Involves mucking with corpses which most people are psychologically conditioned from birth (and genetically too, I believe) to avoid at all costs

Therefore a Good necromancer will find himself plagued with doubts, reluctant to use necromancy in public, and generally more likely to slip into evil (partially *because* he's shunned by society and partly because he may grow to consider himself evil.)

I mean, imagine if you were a necromancer in real life. You'd find yourself facing a hostile world and constantly labelled a villian. It's entirely possible that one day, faced with a choice, you might say "Oh what the hell as long as I'm going to be a freak and a monster I might as well do it properly" Not only that, but there must be deep-seated psychological trauma from going against your *own* moral code. (and indeed, unless you are a particularly strong willed individual, the constant attempts to convince you that your necromancy is evil will probably corrode your will and make you begin to think maybe it *is* evil).

Most necromancers will simply give up necromancy in the face of peer pressure, some will simply explode their peers, but a few could retain both their goodness and their necromancy.

Quietus
2009-06-18, 06:43 PM
There was an idea back in the day whereupon a necromancer would carve statues of troops and use Stone to Flesh to make corpses out of them to animate. It doesn't work RAW but it's an awesome idea.

Why doesn't it work by RAW?


This spell restores a petrified creature to its normal state, restoring life and goods. The creature must make a DC 15 Fortitude save to survive the process. Any petrified creature, regardless of size, can be restored.

The spell also can convert a mass of stone into a fleshy substance. Such flesh is inert and lacking a vital life force unless a life force or magical energy is available. (For example, this spell would turn a stone golem into a flesh golem, but an ordinary statue would become a corpse.) You can affect an object that fits within a cylinder from 1 foot to 3 feet in diameter and up to 10 feet long or a cylinder of up to those dimensions in a larger mass of stone.
Material Component

A pinch of earth and a drop of blood.

See the bold. You could turn an ordinary statue into a corpse, then animate that corpse, could you not?

Magnvo
2009-06-18, 06:45 PM
Hey All,

Just a quick question, Is it possible to use animate dead/necromancy as a good aligned character? Or at least a good excuss for doing so? Most of this comes from one of my players deeply in love w/Dread Necromancer, but me not wanting to do an evil campiagn(at the moment).

I was thinking of maybe a different type of undead, but more or less infussed w/holy/non evil energy.

But any farther than that no idea.

You don't shift alignments for committing one evil act as a good person. Consistently performing evil acts is a different matter entirely. The end result is that no, there aren't good necromancers because they consistently cast evil spells.

That said, there's absolutely nothing stopping you, but everything (and everyone) encouraging you to just modify the rules to work how you want them to. After all, you are the dungeon master.

Faleldir
2009-06-18, 06:47 PM
Well you could, but negative energy would still be involved, and that's unnatural, even though there's a whole plane made of it.

TempesT
2009-06-18, 06:50 PM
I know I can change the rules at the drop of a hat, but how could I make them less irksome for social/peaceful enconters that normaly would come about, or a reflavorment to how these new undead are betrayed.

More or less just to fluffwise and feelwise make the undead good.

At that point why not just make them constructs? But half the time constructs are more or less of the higher level,realy expensive to make kind of minions.

talus21
2009-06-18, 06:50 PM
Make him take the craft construct feat. Have it represent preserving the corpse. Then they don't decompose and the only evidence they are undead is maybe glowing eyes or something else subtle.

SSGoW
2009-06-18, 06:51 PM
of course i think it was 2e? err maybe before that but i was reading a cleric book once that i got from the college lib (it was linked with all of ohio's colleges thats why they had it) but it was talking about how necromancy is the same thing as healing since it is messing with the natural order of things

so necromancy doesn't have to be evil but its perseved so much that most people will think of you as evil

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-18, 06:52 PM
Realy what im thinking is how to make an undeadish monster more visualy goodlike(villagers dont run for the hills on sight) and making them less of a hastle a little more heroic (like a golem/inatimate object) for the good adventuring party.Dread Necromancer gets Disguise as a class skill. Let him use it on others(which it really should be allowed to). They also get Bluff.

DN: Hello, I am a Cleric of the God most Holy, and these are some of his devoted followers.
Guard: Why are they all cowled? And...they...sort of smell.
DN: Blasphemer! They have vowed to hide their faces out of shame before His Magnificence, and have forgone all luxuries. You obstruct our Holy passage?
Guard: ...fine, go on into the city.
DN: :smallbiggrin:

mistformsquirrl
2009-06-18, 06:54 PM
I agree with most everyone - by the rules, no; you can't do it; but as a DM, you have the power to alter those rules and a very good reason to do so.

There are very few spells I'd consider truly "evil" in D&D though honestly - there are plenty of non-Evil spells that horribly horribly mutilate your opponent; including inflicting insanity on them or essentially giving them brain damage. (Oh or taking control of their - still living, still conscious - mind!) - so the idea of Necromancy being somehow inherently evil has never sat right with me.

If I can napalm a guy (Fireball), then what's evil about using their corpse (which the soul has already departed, and to my understanding remains free to travel on to the afterlife) to fight more evil?

I could see how in some campaign settings where the positive/negative energy balance of the world is somehow important it would be an issue, but if that's supposed to be important in the traditional D&D setting, it's not mentioned anywhere at all, only that somehow using negative energy is bad. (But if I recall right we can still use Enervation and Cause Wounds spells without problem. ... right...)

But then I've always been a fan of turning evil's trappings against itself <. .> so maybe I'm just weird.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-18, 06:54 PM
Well you could, but negative energy would still be involved, and that's unnatural, even though there's a whole plane made of it.
But what's so special about negative energy that it's unnatural? Nothing. Only that you've declared it unnatural and the Rules Labeled It So. And that's all that's been done, appending a label.

If it is labeled unnatural maybe it is because it doesn't occur very often in the fictional worlds D&D takes place in? But screw that, even magic occurs naturally in D&D settings.

Even undead occassionally spontaneously pop into existence or have simply existed long before anybody could figure out how they got started (e.g. ghosts, revenants and vampires).

So really, we're just reduced to the feebleminded expectations of peasants calling this-or-that unnatural.

Just because there's some sort of predator that is so unusual that it doesn't follow the usual rules of biology doesn't mean that it is "unnatural."

Malevolent and existentially disturbing? Sure.

Unnatural? Meh.

shadow_archmagi
2009-06-18, 06:55 PM
I'm sad that no one is paying any attention to my post. What did I do wrong?

mistformsquirrl
2009-06-18, 06:57 PM
Oh, for keeping your undead from rotting/stinking up the place:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/gentlerepose.htm

There's always that. I don't know if it's on the Dread Necromancer spell list, but if it's not, it'd be a sensible addition I think.

shadow_archmagi
2009-06-18, 06:58 PM
Oh, for keeping your undead from rotting/stinking up the place:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/gentlerepose.htm

There's always that. I don't know if it's on the Dread Necromancer spell list, but if it's not, it'd be a sensible addition I think.

One day per level, and it takes a cast per undead. That's really going to eat into your 1st level arsenal.

EDIT: Oh wait it's third level silly me I just assumed. Yeah. That's going to hurt even more until late game play.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-18, 06:59 PM
One day per level, and it takes a cast per undead. That's really going to eat into your 1st level arsenal.Get it on a trap or Wondrous Item.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-18, 07:01 PM
I'm sad that no one is paying any attention to my post. What did I do wrong?
Nothing particularly. I mostly agree with what you've said.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-18, 07:05 PM
Dread Necromancer gets Disguise as a class skill. Let him use it on others(which it really should be allowed to). They also get Bluff.

DN: Hello, I am a Cleric of the God most Holy, and these are some of his devoted followers.
Guard: Why are they all cowled? And...they...sort of smell.
DN: Blasphemer! They have vowed to hide their faces out of shame before His Magnificence, and have forgone all luxuries. You obstruct our Holy passage?
Guard: ...fine, go on into the city.
DN: :smallbiggrin:
DN: Hello, I am a Cleric of Ilmater, tasked with taking care of these unfortunate lepers.
Guard: :smalleek:

But seriously, use skeletons. They move faster and they don't smell bad. Park them some distance outside of the city when you don't need them and you should be fine.

TempesT
2009-06-18, 07:15 PM
Reanimate ???

Level: Clr 3, Sor/Wiz 4 (ish)
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: One or more corpses touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell turns the bones or bodies of dead creatures into spiting images of there former selves with white white unblinking eyes.

The ??? can follow you, or they can remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific kind of creature) entering the place. They remain animated until they are destroyed. (A destroyed ??? canít be animated again.)

Regardless of the type of ??? you create with this spell, you canít create more HD of undead than twice your caster level with a single casting of animate dead. (The desecrate spell doubles this limit)

The ??? you create remain under your control indefinitely. No matter how many times you use this spell, however, you can control only 4 HD worth of ??? creatures per caster level. If you exceed this number, all the newly created creatures fall under your control, and any excess ??? from previous castings become uncontrolled. (You choose which creatures are released.) If you are a cleric, any undead you might command by virtue of your power to command or rebuke undead do not count toward the limit.

???= basicaly the base creature but can be rebuked by evil clerics and are healed by positive energy.

Material Component
You must place a gem/precious metal worth at least 25 gp per Hit Die of the undead into the mouth or eye socket of each corpse you intend to animate. The magic of the spell turns these gems into worthless, burned-out shells.

Mabye start w/ that and go from here?Suggestions?

Mr.Moron
2009-06-18, 07:18 PM
Realy what im thinking is how to make an undeadish monster more visualy goodlike(villagers dont run for the hills on sight) and making them less of a hastle a little more heroic (like a golem/inatimate object) for the good adventuring party.



Bonded Animation
Necromancy [Chaotic/Evil/Good/Lawful]
Level: Clr 4, Death 4, Sor/Wiz 5
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: One or more corpses touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell functions as animate dead however at the time the spell is cast the caster declares a purposed alignment. This spell has the descriptor of the given alignment. The undead creature's appearance changes depending on the it's purposed alignment:

Lawful: Defects from the damage that caused death, and the subsequent decay are evened out. While they do not disappear, they take on defined lines and patterns that make them seem to belong. They are surrounded by a faint, still blue aura that can be seen but does not emit light.

Chaotic: The position of body parts shift slightly, not enough to change the anatomical function of the undead but enough to make them seem bizarre as compared to another of their type. They are surrounded by a faint, fluctuating yellow aura that can eb seen does not emit light.

Good: Flesh & Bones take on lighter, softer colors. The remaining facial features become softer and more friendly looking. Patches of Silver or White designs trace along the limbs of the undead. They are surrounded by a faint, flowing white aura that can be seen but does not emit light.

Evil: Undead take on an even more sinister appearance than usual. Growing spikes, fangs or other fearsome features. Bones & Decay take on jagged, imposing edges. They are surrounded by a fain, wispy red aura that can be seen but does not emit light.


The undead gain the subtype associated with their purposed alignment. They also gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls, and a +1 bonus to AC against creatures of an alignment opposed to their subtype.

If they are ever used or commanded to do something opposed to subtype's alignment (such as good undead being commanded to do an evil act) they instantly become innate, reverting to the exact state they were in before the Bonded Animation spell was cast.


It's just one idea, off the top of my head (the flavor could probably be much better, if given more than 10 minutes of thought). However, it's one type of solution that might be viable. Simply having casters imbue their intent into the undead themselves, making intent obvious to outside observers.


EDIT: Seems you thought of something similar while I posting this, heh. Nevermind.

mistformsquirrl
2009-06-18, 07:20 PM
One day per level, and it takes a cast per undead. That's really going to eat into your 1st level arsenal.

EDIT: Oh wait it's third level silly me I just assumed. Yeah. That's going to hurt even more until late game play.


I just checked Heroes of Horror, it's on the Dread Necromancer list as a 2nd level.

I'm thinking it's pretty reasonable though because you're only casting it once every few days per-minion, so you can rotate the casting a bit. (Ex: Minion 1, 2, and 3 get it one day, the next day minions 4, 5, and 6, and the third day, 7, 8, and 9. It's mostly for higher level characters though, because by 10th level you can rotate the casting so that you only need it once or twice per-day.)

This of course assumes you actually have a erason to worry about your corpses rotting on you >.> skeletons as someone else noted are another option.

Lamech
2009-06-18, 07:22 PM
Wait. Wait. Wait. What's evil about casting a spell with the [evil] descriptor? Where does it say that? You shouldn't feel obligated to use stuff from splat books. Is say planar binding a deva, (kidnapping it) a good act? Is casting deathwatch to see who to heal first a evil act?

Although the dread necro has alignment prohabitions so that isn't possible "by the book", but I don't see any reason for them.

TempesT
2009-06-18, 07:26 PM
Oh no the one you came up w/ is way better.
well that pretty much answers it my question.

the different alignment description is a good idea.

I realy didnt create this thread to talk about if the spell was evil or not, but to make a spell that is good to use and change the fluff of the created animated corpse.

mistformsquirrl
2009-06-18, 07:26 PM
I'd have to look, but I'm 90% sure that it says casting spells with a [Alignment] descriptor is an act of that alignment. (I'll look it up in a bit)

*edit* This is with the notation that I don't think that that's a good idea; it's just what I"m fairly sure the books say.

Fuzzy_Juan
2009-06-18, 07:35 PM
While one is 'barred' from casting spells opposite your alignment, nothing stops you from casting the spell if you are neutral with respect to it's axis (good/evil...law/chaos). Wee Jas is Lawful neutral, Clerics of Wee Jass, or even wizard followers could be LN or N as surely as LG or LE. I could see a Wee Jass cleric who is N or LN who has the death domain and magic and sees undead as a tool. They could channel positive energy and have the option of destroying undead of their enemies, or choosing to channel negative energy and be capable of controlling even more.

I see this sort of person the same type who would use corpses of those interred in the tombs of the church to make skeletons whose orders are to rise when the church bells sound and obey anyone who bears (X) which is something on the uniform of the city guard and members of the church. A man who knows that once a person passes, if they cannot be brought back (or will not) it does not mean that they can no longer do good works.

Now, tapping into the negative material plane and channeling the essence of anti-life into the corpses of people is not a good act...debatable about being evil, but not 'good' by a long shot...after all, enervation is not evil nor are other spells that make use of negative energy.

Seems to me that a neutral character might use undead like one might use poison...if it is an effective tool at their disposal, then they will use it. Simple and clean. Their purpose will eventually dictate weather they balance the scales by doing good, or if they use such for selfish gains or to make others suffer.

ericgrau
2009-06-18, 07:36 PM
I see it as similar to grave robbing, desecration of the body, etc. Perhaps entrapping souls as well, though that's a bit fuzzy. Rules-wise your'e also allowed to cast [evil] spells while being good or neutral, unless you're a good cleric I think. But with both explanations there's going to be some moral conflict & related role-playing to do. It's not a trivial matter like plugging your nose to get fireball guano.

Devils_Advocate
2009-06-18, 07:38 PM
While that is completely true, would you come apon a group of advetures w/zombies doing there every will (abet orc zombies) that gives a gut feeling of evil and suspicion.
The thing is, the appropriate alignment for "people disapprove of this" is Chaotic, not Evil. Now, associating necromancy with Chaos, that could make sense. It's Wrong, but not in a way that necessarily hurts anyone.

Anyway, you can just go ahead and decree that mindless undead are Neutral, and so are making and controlling them. I recommend it. It makes way more sense than the RAW.


Realy what im thinking is how to make an undeadish monster more visualy goodlike(villagers dont run for the hills on sight) and making them less of a hastle a little more heroic (like a golem/inatimate object) for the good adventuring party.
Well, you can decree that necromancy is socially acceptable in your campaign world, too, if you want. But making it non-creepy is sort of a significant change to its basic flavor.

Maybe there's nothing about zombies that makes it obvious that they're zombies? A fresh corpse looks about like a living person. Zombies don't rot, being preserved by necromantic magic. (The rules don't say that they fall apart over time, after all.) Just stick them in hooded robes or something to hide their glazed looks and somewhat shuffling movements.

Zombie-making, incidentally, is considerably more ethical than golem-making, which involves binding an elemental spirit.


I'm sad that no one is paying any attention to my post. What did I do wrong?
Nothing about it really demands any sort of response. I've taken it into consideration, personally, but I have nothing to say in reply.

Ask questions if you want to solicit feedback.


Wait. Wait. Wait. What's evil about casting a spell with the [evil] descriptor? Where does it say that? You shouldn't feel obligated to use stuff from splat books. Is say planar binding a deva, (kidnapping it) a good act? Is casting deathwatch to see who to heal first a evil act?
Excellent points, but by core RAW "channeling positive energy is a good act and channeling negative energy is evil." So it's supposedly evil to rebuke undead, which is a problem for a Dread Necromancer.

This is of course ridiculous and should be ignored.

Yahzi
2009-06-18, 08:54 PM
Have you considered these two feats from Complete Divine:

Consecrate Spell Make Evil spell good (but one level higher)
Divine Meta-Magic: Consecrate Spell For 2 turning attempts, make Evil spell Good at same level

So now you can make Animate Dead a Good spell. Bingo! Positive energy undead, or as we in the philosophy biz like to call them, P-zombies.

:smallbiggrin:

Fuzzy_Juan
2009-06-18, 09:27 PM
Have you considered these two feats from Complete Divine:

Consecrate Spell Make Evil spell good (but one level higher)
Divine Meta-Magic: Consecrate Spell For 2 turning attempts, make Evil spell Good at same level

So now you can make Animate Dead a Good spell. Bingo! Positive energy undead, or as we in the philosophy biz like to call them, P-zombies.

:smallbiggrin:

You sir and/or mam, win a cookie. :smalltongue:

Imagine a good unholy word *lol*

Lamech
2009-06-18, 09:40 PM
Wouldn't that hit you too? Of course, you could have spell immunity.

ZeroNumerous
2009-06-18, 09:48 PM
As pointed out there's no reason given for why necromancy is evil other than because the Rules Decree It.

By RAW, channeling negative energy(which Animate Dead does) is an Evil action. That's why Animate Dead is Evil. Should it be? No, but then again the entire alignment system is borked up so I suggest chucking the entire thing. But by RAW it is a 100% Evil action.

Set
2009-06-18, 10:14 PM
Somewhat amusingly, Mummies were empowered by *positive* energy, back in 1st edition, since they generated life (in the form of disease) instead of nullifying life (like level-drainers).

As recently as 3.0, the Manual of the Planes listed the negative and positive energy planes as neutral, and mindless undead as neutral and mindless. 3.5 changed them to mindless and *evil.* (Exactly how something that is mindless and incapable of malice aforethought can be *evil,* isn't very clear. Apparently, small rocks and fluffy clouds can be evil, too, under the new 3.5 paradigm.) Conjuring elemental fire up to burn a nunnery to the ground is naughty, but not [evil], summoning a hound archon and ordering it to eat a peasant child is naughty, but counts as a [good] spell and could threaten to turn a neutral Cleric good, if he did it too often!

If the negative energy plane is neutral, then conjuring energy from that plane should be neutral. If one wants to play a game where it is a malign evil plane, then, logically, the positive energy plane should be a benevolent good plane, and conjuration (healing) spells that call positive energy into the world should have the [good] alignment descriptor, and be forbidden to evil Clerics.

It would be a very different game, and, to be fair to the forces of evil, some sort of naughty vampiric life-transfer spells or something would have to be created to allow evil clerics to heal themselves and their followers, as they'd be as forbidden to cast [good] spells and bring positive energy into the world as good clerics would be forbidden to bring [evil] negative energy into the world.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-18, 11:40 PM
By RAW, channeling negative energy(which Animate Dead does) is an Evil action. That's why Animate Dead is Evil. Should it be? No, but then again the entire alignment system is borked up so I suggest chucking the entire thing. But by RAW it is a 100% Evil action.
I don't know why you felt the need to restate what I've just said, but okay.

AB
2009-06-19, 02:57 AM
Apart from Good/Evil-Discussions...

Complete Scoundrel has the Malconvoker PC, a good spellcaster who summons evil creatures to serve good. - Maybe you as the GM can combine the Dread Necro base class with some Malconvoker-Flavour, or the Dread NEcro can take 1 or 2 Levels in this PC?

T.G. Oskar
2009-06-19, 04:04 AM
Oddly enough, I've seen here a lot of ideas about making "positive energy undead" and not one single mention about Deathless.

They're not BoED exclusive, though they aren't quite extended yet. If you're on Eberron, elves of Aerenal have both the good vibe and the unnatural extension of life. Most of them actually end as deathless, which can be rebuked by positive energy and turned by negative energy. The inherent act of creating a deathless is a good act (you're manipulating positive energy), but the deathless has the slight trouble of having a limited time around.

For your (in)satisfaction, though, all deathless tend to be intelligent. They come from the lowly sacred watchers to the more beefed up Undying councilors. All you'd need is to take the spells that animate dead, and create a new version that create deathless instead. Make that Necromancy (Good) spells instead.

Otherwise, a Neutral Dread Necro isn't a bad idea. Though, a Cleric of a good god, with an army of deathless corpses wandering around, without a need for awakening, and capable of being healed by Cure X Wounds spells and powered by Consecrate? That's something to be seen. Of course, after a while, DO grant them their eternal rest. They don't like being brought to do your bidding for an extended amount of time, tho.

Leliel
2009-06-19, 04:20 AM
See, this is where 4th edition manages to get it's facts straight. I know this is 3e, but hear me out.

Instead of this nebulous quality of evil, 4e necromancy is (usually) evil because it draws upon evil spirits. A ghoul, for example, is not the person who became the ghoul, but is rather a spirit animating his flesh to wreck havoc upon the living. Similarly, a wraith is not the soul of a dead person, it's a bit of his life force which a spirit has congealed around.

This, combined with the fact that animating corpses requires a bit of an amoral point of view to begin with usually means that necromancers are evil, since they allow malevolent shades into the world.

That said, the guy who just animates a few zombies who will collapse into bones when he's gone, maybe a flameskull or two is probably not evil. He might even be good, if he resists temptation enough.

Totally Guy
2009-06-19, 04:33 AM
I'm confused.

Why not simply rule him evil? As in Detects as evil to Paladins and a valid target for a smite.

But as this is a player character just have him act as good as he wants to be. Forsaken from the alignment table. Misunderstood.

It'd be tragic but no matter how benevolent his deeds he'd still be evil. Ta daa! We have a character goal!

vicente408
2009-06-19, 04:36 AM
While an army of positive-energy undead is a bit too much of a stretch for me, a hand-waved "holy necromancer" who raises corpses temporarily with positive energy, in order to do good and noble deeds, seems like a pretty cool concept. As in, he gives the dead a final chance to make a difference in the world by temporarily using the services of their mortal shell.

Sereg
2009-06-19, 06:01 AM
As already mentioned, you could use deathless.

Also, remember that necromancy doesn't only create undead. There is a character in my setting who studied necromancy because she really hates undead and wants to understand their weaknesses so that she can kill them more easily. She would never create undead, but she's happy to cast other necromancy spells.

potatocubed
2009-06-19, 06:24 AM
Imagine a good unholy word *lol*

I figure it would go something like:

"Fu... dgenuts!"

:smalltongue:

shadow_archmagi
2009-06-19, 06:53 AM
But as this is a player character just have him act as good as he wants to be. Forsaken from the alignment table. Misunderstood.

It'd be tragic but no matter how benevolent his deeds he'd still be evil. Ta daa! We have a character goal!

This idea is good. I can imagine some final scene where the necromancer has sacrificed himself for the good of everyone, and he's lying on the floor bleeding to death, and the party paladin is like "DETECT EVIL!" and the DM is like "You don't sense any" and everyone realizes the poor guy finally got what he wanted.

Eurantien
2009-06-19, 07:06 AM
The thing you seem to have forgotten in your original post is that ultimately, as the DM (I assume you're the DM?) you make the rules. But as for the Necromancer, does your player want to animate the dead or do they simply enjoy the abilities of the Necromancer class? Because if the latter, you could change the descriptor to all sorts of things, keeping the stats of the "undead", but calling it a golem, or some similar construct, or even an extra-planar being summoned to help.

kamikasei
2009-06-19, 07:09 AM
I'm confused.

Why not simply rule him evil? As in Detects as evil to Paladins and a valid target for a smite.

But as this is a player character just have him act as good as he wants to be. Forsaken from the alignment table. Misunderstood.

It'd be tragic but no matter how benevolent his deeds he'd still be evil. Ta daa! We have a character goal!

That just renders the entire concept of "evil" meaningless.

Totally Guy
2009-06-19, 07:18 AM
That just renders the entire concept of "evil" meaningless.

Yeah, I know. I don't really see it as a big deal in this case.

I'm assuming there is an evil requirement to continue to take levels in the class. Are we talking about a Dread Necromancer or something?

When you level up you have the opportunity to learn anything, how to hit harder, how to cast spells like a wizard, like a cleric... But this guy is forsaking these options to learn how to be optimal and cast more evil spells. That's the sort of intent that keeps one in the evil side of the spectrum without needing to roleplay into the "pointlessly evil" box.

DeathQuaker
2009-06-19, 07:21 AM
From a fluff perspective.... necromancy is generally considered evil because it involves the desecration of corpses and traditionally if your corpse is desecrated, your soul can't rest/petition on its appropriate plane. Knowingly and willingly doing an act that would keep someone's soul from going to its deserved final destination I would say is a pretty damn selfish and cruel thing to do.

So, while you're looking at changing the rules, you may also need to change the fluff around a little.... that corpse reanimation still releases the soul and does no harm to it. The good necromancer would not be willing to create shades or wraiths, because those in fact ARE tormented souls, no matter how you look at it, unless you really change the concept behind that.

kamikasei
2009-06-19, 07:25 AM
Yeah, I know. I don't really see it as a big deal in this case.

If you're rendering the concept of alignment meaningless, it seems better to me to drop it entirely than to try to dance around it to no end.


I'm assuming there is an evil requirement to continue to take levels in the class. Are we talking about a Dread Necromancer or something?

When you level up you have the opportunity to learn anything, how to hit harder, how to cast spells like a wizard, like a cleric... But this guy is forsaking these options to learn how to be optimal and cast more evil spells. That's the sort of intent that keeps one in the evil side of the spectrum without needing to roleplay into the "pointlessly evil" box.

This is just "alignment as teams". The question is whether a necromancer has to be evil. Well, according to the RAW, animating dead is for some reason evil, so yes a necromancer who animates dead a lot pretty much has to be at best a dark neutral... but there's no real reason for the act to be evil in the first place, so since the OP is the DM in this situation, there would be no negative side-effects to just saying "screw that, necromancy is a morally neutral act" and letting the player get on with it.

Incidentally, Dread Necromancer's requirement is only "nongood", not evil.


From a fluff perspective.... necromancy is generally considered evil because it involves the desecration of corpses and traditionally if your corpse is desecrated, your soul can't rest/petition on its appropriate plane.

Of course, nowhere else in D&D do people seem to give a fig about the disposition of bodies. Nothing is said about needing to give people proper burials or observe any particular rites before they become able to either petition or be resurrected. As with so many other issues, it's a problem of internal logic, or lack thereof, jamming contradictory elements together into one system with no thought for their interaction. Even the different types of undead and their interactions with various spells make it hard to construct a model of what happens to a soul a) on death and b) on reanimation.

Simplest though is probably to do as you suggest and say that any mindless, physical undead uses only the body and leaves the soul unaffected, while intelligent or incorporeal undead do use the soul and are therefore more problematic. It's simple enough to say that a soul on its appropriate plane doesn't care about the use to which you put its body until/unless someone tries to raise it.

Totally Guy
2009-06-19, 07:38 AM
If you're rendering the concept of alignment meaningless, it seems better to me to drop it entirely than to try to dance around it to no end.

It still has to mesh with the mechanics that use evil, main one being paladins which I explicitly stated a ruling. It's more like a single unique status "This character counts as evil independent of actions", which it turns out I was wrong for anyway as non-good fits as well.

I think the player should decide how the character should act without being penalised by not being able to gain new class levels due to misalignment. If that is the issue.

JeenLeen
2009-06-19, 08:06 AM
There is the Deathless type, a good version of Undead, introduced in Book of Exalted Deeds. I don't recall the fluff around them, but they would make sense as a corpse animated by positive energy.
If the fluff around negative energy is changed, I would recommend having the "Create Deathless" spell be Conjuration (healing), since it is conjuring positive energy to suffuse the corpse or other 'undead'. Probably Cleric spells, though ones Dread Necromancer can have access to as arcane (like Harm.)

I could see making this all an alternative class feature for Dread Necromancer, where their Create Undeads are replaced by Create Deathless and they turn undead instead of rebuke.


On the fluff (feel free to ignore this):
To my understanding, negative energy is suppose to innately drain away life, joy, etc, hence why most evil-descriptor spells deal expressly with suffusing something with negative energy or with causing pain or anguish. It is antithetical to life and happiness. Hurling a fireball can do such, but it does so indirectly and not necessarily. This is not to start a moral debate, and I would agree upon a neutral DN by RAW with the 'good deeds modifying evil actions' idea. And, of course, the DM is welcome to modify the fluff as they wish, but it's always made sense to me as it stands.

kamikasei
2009-06-19, 08:13 AM
It still has to mesh with the mechanics that use evil, main one being paladins which I explicitly stated a ruling. It's more like a single unique status "This character counts as evil independent of actions", which it turns out I was wrong for anyway as non-good fits as well.

I think the player should decide how the character should act without being penalised by not being able to gain new class levels due to misalignment. If that is the issue.

That's what we call an "Irish solution" (at least, we call it that in Ireland...). Problem: player doesn't want to be evil, but class has an alignment restriction. Solution the first: class no longer has an alignment restriction, character isn't evil, no evil anywhere, all is well. Solution the second: class keeps its alignment restriction, character remains a non-evil person doing good works for good reasons, but an additional ruling is layered on top to say that he counts as evil anyway and can be detected and smote. Seems obvious to me that the first solution is the superior one.

Dagren
2009-06-19, 08:21 AM
I think the player should decide how the character should act without being penalised by not being able to gain new class levels due to misalignment. If that is the issue.But do you think that should go both ways? Are you arguing that Paladins shouldn't need to be good after all? That certainly seems to be what your words imply, even if it's not what you meant.

Totally Guy
2009-06-19, 08:31 AM
But do you think that should go both ways? Are you arguing that Paladins shouldn't need to be good after all? That certainly seems to be what your words imply, even if it's not what you meant.

Yes. But only for player characters.

In fact I'd go as far as remove the implications of an objecive morality system but to do so would make the OP's issue meaningless, which it's not.

Eurantien
2009-06-19, 08:42 AM
To my understanding, negative energy is suppose to innately drain away life, joy, etc, hence why most evil-descriptor spells deal expressly with suffusing something with negative energy or with causing pain or anguish. It is antithetical to life and happiness.

Good clerics can, if they so wish, cast harm etc can they not? Or a wizard rays of negative energy. It doesn't make it evil. I still reckon the easiest option would just be to rule it as playable by a neutral character and drop the fluff calling necromancy evil

JeenLeen
2009-06-19, 08:45 AM
But do you think that should go both ways? Are you arguing that Paladins shouldn't need to be good after all? That certainly seems to be what your words imply, even if it's not what you meant.

Does it state any penalties for the alignment changing to good? Or is there a general rule that states that, if one no longer meet the prereqs for a class, one can no longer progress in that class?

In the PHB, it is explicitly stated that the alignment-restricted classes must remain in their alignment, but I don't recall seeing such for DN. (Although I admit it makes sense. If a class is evil and one stops being evil, it would be hard to justify continuing in that class. (I know that as DN is just non-evil, it's not an example of that. But the Thrall classes from BoVD are examples.))

RagnaroksChosen
2009-06-19, 08:46 AM
I'm sure this has been mentioned in past arguments, but could not said necromancer just do enough good acts toout weight said undead animating?

I meen the spell is evil so his alignment would start to shift twords evil but if he then did a good act would he not shift back twords good?

Eurantien
2009-06-19, 10:35 AM
Hold on, didn't you say the DN just had to be non-good? Doesn't that solve the problem in itself?

Starbuck_II
2009-06-19, 10:43 AM
RaW, no. Animate Dead is an Evil act. Which is dumb, since therre is no reason given for Uindead to be only usable for Evil. You're DM, just rule Animate Dead and most of the rest of Necromancy is non-evil, and it works.

After all, Evocation(burning people alive), Enchantment(taking away free will), and Divination(spying on people) are all non-evil. Why is reanimating a corpse bad?

Psst, casting an evil spell doesn't make you evil.
If it affects alignmeant it only leans you toward that alignment. Only repeated acts can change aligbment according to the PHB.

Only divine caster can't cast opposed spells. Good Wizards are allowed to cast evil spells a few times with no fear of aligment change.

Repeated castings with no good acts to balance this are dangerous to stay good, but then why play a good guy if not into doing good eventually.

Set
2009-06-19, 11:01 AM
casting an evil spell doesn't make you evil.
If it affects alignmeant it only leans you toward that alignment. Only repeated acts can change aligbment according to the PHB.

Which leads to the fun option of casting spells of the opposite descriptor to cancel out any alignment slippage.

Neutral Cleric - "Oh, I cast Animate Dead, that's 3 levels of [Evil], I'll have to cast Summon Monster II (Celestial Giant Bee) and Protection from Evil before I go to bed to cancel that out with 3 levels of [Good]! I've got an extra Summon Monster II left over, too, so I'll summon another Celestial Giant Bee or something, so that I end the day at Good +2, in case I want to Death Knell some fool tomorrow..."

"Oh dear, that Helmet of Evil / curse / demonic taint changed my alignment, and I don't have a Wish spell or 17th level caster Remove Curse handy. I'll just Summon (celestial) Monsters every day with every spell slot for a week until the accumulated [Good] makes me turn neutral again! But since I'm currently evil, I'll make those summoned Badgers of Heaven (tm) fight each other to the death for my amusement until then. Angelic animals are so cute when they fly into an uncontrollable Rage that doesn't end until they are dead..."

"Wow, that Chaotic Shortsword of Doubling that uses a backgammon doubling cube instead of a d6 for damage rocks! Too bad I'd have to be chaotic to use it. Hey, my god is neutral, so I could use it if I was Chaotic Neutral! Here, let me prepare Protection from Law and Magic Circle of Protection from Law every day for the next week, until the accumulated [Chaos] takes me over the limit and I can use the sword!"

Eurantien
2009-06-19, 11:19 AM
Angelic animals are so cute when they fly into an uncontrollable Rage that doesn't end until they are dead..."
Badger enters rage! Has anyone noticed how badgers and barbarians have the same abilities? In fact, I think a dire badger might even have the same stats and skill bonuses as your average barbarian. So, at the risk of having my head displayed on a totem, I vote for replacing the barbarian class with the badger class! 'scuse connotations.

Dagren
2009-06-19, 11:33 AM
Yes. But only for player characters.OK, seriously? You want to say that the player's alignment shouldn't be related to their actions? Cleric of Pelor who burns down orphanages for fun on the weekend but writes NG on his sheet because he has to be the same alignment as his god? Don't you see how silly that is? A monk who acts with all the hallmarks of a chaotic character but writes Lawful on his sheet so he can keep his class? The paladin from Origins reminds me of that sentiment. The alignment system may not be perfect, but it sounds like you'd turn it into an outright farce. (Not to mention that it says in the rules that the DM has the power to change a character's alignment if he feels they aren't living up to it)

UserClone
2009-06-19, 11:37 AM
There are the Deathless from Book of Exalted Deeds. You could make a create deathless spell that is the same as animate dead, but with the [good] descriptor instead of [evil].

Alternatively, I have a Scarred Lands book which has create vinedead, a level 3 Druid spell that weaves creeping vines throughout a skeleton's structure, and it becomes a construct that looks like a skeleton with vines in it. No negative energy required, just some plant-animation.

Doug Lampert
2009-06-19, 11:38 AM
Wait. Wait. Wait. What's evil about casting a spell with the [evil] descriptor? Where does it say that?

I don't believe it does anywhere in Core. I'm sure it didn't say it in 3.0 (there was exactly ONE act in all of 3.0 core specifically stated to be evil, and that was channeling negative energy, casting evil spells lacked any such statement; I believe 3.5 is identical but am not sure).


While one is 'barred' from casting spells opposite your alignment

Only if one is a cleric, no other core class has any restriction on spells based on alignment.


By RAW, channeling negative energy(which Animate Dead does) is an Evil action. That's why Animate Dead is Evil. Should it be? No, but then again the entire alignment system is borked up so I suggest chucking the entire thing. But by RAW it is a 100% Evil action.

Channeling negative energy specifically refers to the cleric's Rebuke power. Similarly in 3.5 inflict and harm use negative energy and are NOT evil descriptor spells. So simply using negative energy is not evil.

Nero24200
2009-06-19, 11:49 AM
The [Evil] Descriptor might not always be applied simply because of negative energy. Remember that an undead creature also brings more and more negative energy into the world, which is bad.

But at the same time, somthing doing the same for positive energy might also be considered bad (espescially when you factor in that, on the positive energy plane, you could die in the space of a few seconds due to too much positive energy).

I think you need to ask - Why do you want undead and not to simply summon creatures? I think the [Evil] descriptor should be left in, since theres plenty of other ways to acheive the "Minion Master" role in a non-evil way. Really, it sounds, to me at least, that you just want the evil abilities but not to have the "evil" tag that goes with it.

Eurantien
2009-06-19, 11:51 AM
Originaly posted by Dagren
The alignment system may not be perfect, but it sounds like you'd turn it into an outright farce.
I have to agree. The alignment system may be messed up, but you can't deny your alignment and keep it. A lawful monk MUST be lawful - or find a way of persuading himself his actions are (like our paladin friend from OOTS, Miko). But even then, only in character, and only to a certain extent.
I think the ultimate solution here ought to lie with the DM. It's your world - do what you will. You can decide if an action is Evil enough to move your alignment.

Set
2009-06-19, 12:03 PM
Alternatively, I have a Scarred Lands book which has create vinedead, a level 3 Druid spell that weaves creeping vines throughout a skeleton's structure, and it becomes a construct that looks like a skeleton with vines in it. No negative energy required, just some plant-animation.

Ooh, that's awesome sounding! Which book? I thought I had all of the Scarred Lands stuff, but I don't recognize that one!


Another option for non-negative energy undead is using *one's own life-force* to animate dead. Take some temporary Con damage, to give the undead critter a bit of your own life-force, and you're good to go. In a harsh (or low-level) version, the life-force can't be recouped until the undead is de-animated. In a higher level version, the life-force (Con damage) heals normally, as your living body creates more. Negative energy won't heal these undead, only you can heal them, which hurts you...

A temporary version would lower your Con similar to Ray of Enfeeblement, and animate the bodies in question. When the spell ends (or the 'undead' are destroyed), your Con penalty vanishes (again, like Ray of Enfeeblement).

Totally Guy
2009-06-19, 12:27 PM
OK, seriously? You want to say that the player's alignment shouldn't be related to their actions?

No. I'm saying it shouldn't be a straight jacket to access classes.

I posted to say I was confused about something. I'm the confused one. I'm the one with a question, a question, and you're all looking to me for solutions to those age old debates that plague the forums forever and ever. Why would you do that?

Come on.

It's not going to happen.

Talya
2009-06-19, 12:30 PM
By RAW, nothing prevents a good arcane spellcaster from casting [evil] spells. And there are a lot of spells in the necromancy school that are not evil at all, and are in fact the very epitome of good. (There's one where you transfer your own life to heal another person, for instance.)

That said, raising undead minions is, itself, an evil act. Good characters who do so regularly are going to run into alignment questions with an attentive DM.

Eurantien
2009-06-19, 12:30 PM
No. I'm saying it shouldn't be a straight jacket to access classes.

I posted to say I was confused about something. I'm the confused one. I'm the one with a question, a question, and you're all looking to me for solutions to those age old debates that plague the forums forever and ever. Why would you do that?

Come on.

It's not going to happen.

I think we probably misinterpreted what you said a while back. The problem with long threads is you lose track of peoples' original position. I have to agree about straightjacket alignment, but it should be subtly abused, and only with the DM's permission.

UserClone
2009-06-19, 12:51 PM
Ooh, that's awesome sounding! Which book? I thought I had all of the Scarred Lands stuff, but I don't recognize that one!


It was in that adventure trilogy, starting with the free The Serpent's Amphora, on SSS's website. I think it was the 2nd or 3rd in the trilogy (not including the free one).

erikun
2009-06-19, 12:54 PM
Hey there, TempesT. You've unfortunately run into one of the great forum debates, equal to (and mostly part of) the whole debate about D&D alignment. For all our sakes, I'll sidestep the whole issue and make a suggestion about creating "good" undead.

In my view, the reason most undead are evil is because they are unwilling. Read most text about undead, especially still concious undead, and find words like 'bound', 'hunger', and 'unresting' - indications that it isn't pleasant. As such, in my mind, the way to make a "good" undead is to use someone who is willing.

I would think of the good necromancer as someone who has access to a large number of souls willing to be used for animation - probably ancestors, or something like the Sapphire Guard (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0449.html). If you want to make them clearly different, perhaps give them an intelligence score, or have them carry weapons. An army of skeletons wielding shields and swords projects a different impression than a horde of zombies, although it still has the uncanny uneasiness to it.

The other option is for undead to be literally mindles and neutral, doing nothing unless attacked or ordered. In which case, they're basically minor flesh golems with a funny way of being created.

Eurantien
2009-06-19, 01:04 PM
I liked erikun's ideas. The Saphire Guard-eque one in particular. Willing participants coming to your aid - ancestor guardians protecting you from your enemies using the flesh of the dead?

HamsterOfTheGod
2009-06-19, 06:00 PM
Don't know if this was mentioned before, but the character Callos DeTerran in the (closed) GiantITP pbp campaign The Necromancer's Pact VI: Lake of Tears was an excellent example of a good necromances. My kudos to the DM and plaeyrs. Parts of the campaign can be found in the archives http://www.giantitp.com/forums/archive/index.php/index.php?t-15922.html

To the OP, I would say that, yes, you can have a "good" dread necromancer. He's not good good in that he is good in alignment but I think he can still act for the good. He can be neutral or evil in alignment but still act for the good in his own dark way like for, for example, Belkar most of the time.

Nothing says that an evil character must do evil acts...well at least not really serious evil acts. The "good" dread necromancer can stradle that edge. I would say he can raise skeletons and zombies, especially those of fallen foes, or take on an undead graft. That's mild "evil", as in evil descriptor evil, IMHO. And of course such thing can alienate him from party members and NPCs which leads to RP fun. But some things, like for ex creating intelligent undead, or using some spells from the BoVD, should not be done by the "good" dread necromancer.

T.G. Oskar
2009-06-19, 06:45 PM
I would think of the good necromancer as someone who has access to a large number of souls willing to be used for animation - probably ancestors, or something like the Sapphire Guard (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0449.html). If you want to make them clearly different, perhaps give them an intelligence score, or have them carry weapons. An army of skeletons wielding shields and swords projects a different impression than a horde of zombies, although it still has the uncanny uneasiness to it.

Doesn't that pretty much describes deathless?

The deathless are actually the souls of the creatures that temporarily enter their old corpses in order to fulfill one task before leaving again to their resting place. They won't desire to remain for a long time, but they can stay for a while and aid a good necromancer, the one that "gives some of their lifeforce to heal another" or "fatigue/exhaust opponents so that they cannot fight anymore, but not kill them or drain their levels or whatnot". They may be a bit scornful of those who drain levels and whatnot, but it's not like they'll refuse (because those spells aren't evil, actually, or so it seems) Just your luck, mostly all deathless are smart, and some even retain the abilities they had in life. Well...not all of them, but they don't degrade to mindless, lower HD beings. And when they finish their job, simply do a high-five and tell them any message you want to send to your ancestors and whatnot.

Again, it's not BoED exclusive (though the ghost wannabe and the skeleton wannabe, aka the Sacred Watcher and the Crypt Warden, are good looks); the Eberron books have actually the spells to create deathless and to create greater deathless. Of course, those are domain-limited spells, but that doesn't mean you can waive the requisites as a DM. Archivists can actually get them, and good-fluffed dread necromancers can replace those for animate dead, create undead and create greater undead. If you want it, you can even ditch the domain prerequisite and add them to clerics and wizards at the same level as with the domain. As well, you can take the dread necromancer class, work it as a PrC, reduce to ten levels, and fluff it with all of those abilities. Of course, probably with less spells, or using a progression for Necromancer.

Since this is a debate which can reach epic proportions, I usually consider it most prudent to evade the entire problem altogether and simply work around the mechanics for a solution.

Actually...I like the good-flavored "Dread" Necromancer PrC. You can end up as an Undying Councilor (or reasonable facsimile).

Ravens_cry
2009-06-19, 07:18 PM
Deathless remind me of Discworld zombies, a soul stuffed back into a decaying corpse, running the machine by willpower more or less.
Life in D&D runs on a life force, an elan vital. Replenishing that heals these creatures. Negative energy is harmful to those that run on positive energy as is visa the versa, just like oxygen is deadly to many creatures that thrive in an abiotic environment. Again, visa the versa. My 'theory' is that the cravings and mindlessness that many undead suffer comes from incompatibilities of a dead body made to use positive energy been infused with the alien negative energy. Mummies are the closest to a fully adapted undead, as they only suffer from the ability to transmit a deadly disease, mummy rot, and a rather decayed appearing visage. And what do you know, they are only mostly Evil.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-19, 08:03 PM
It still has to mesh with the mechanics that use evil, main one being paladins which I explicitly stated a ruling. It's more like a single unique status "This character counts as evil independent of actions", which it turns out I was wrong for anyway as non-good fits as well.

I think the player should decide how the character should act without being penalised by not being able to gain new class levels due to misalignment. If that is the issue.
Just make paladins able to smite evil creatures *and* undead.

Ta-da. Problem solved. This is much more sensible than WOTC's approach of rebranding every non-sentient undead creature as Evil.

Roupe
2009-06-19, 09:35 PM
In a game setting, and fantasy game roleplay i read.

there was necromancers that used undead as rescue workers, and even animated dead people at the scene to aid with the disaster relife.
Like searching for survivors and digging them up from a earthquake demolished runined city block.

They also had the undead as hospital workers, able to gather, carry & work on infectious patients and preventing contagious diseases from spreading.

--
another use of skeletons in a another setting, was to use them like industrial robots. and have a production line rivaling a modern factory.

citizens of the necromancers empire, even after death are put to work.

Eurantien
2009-06-20, 04:19 AM
Original post by Roupe
citizens of the necromancers empire, even after death are put to work.

Sounds like a standard case of lawful evil - using organised evil acts to achieve ends that benefit you/society as a whole.


Original post by T G Oskar
And when they finish their job, simply do a high-five and tell them any message you want to send to your ancestors and whatnot.

Has any one played Oblivion? In the DB quest where you go to that family crypt? "Why, Aunt Margaret. You're looking the worse for wear" (she was a zombie)

AvatarZero
2009-06-20, 12:41 PM
I was thinking, since you're the DM for your campaign you could pick the answer you like and then work back from it, ie. animating the dead is Evil/not Evil, therefore...

You could make a point that the undead are tortured souls, or you could show that the field a skeleton army marched across fifty years ago still won't support crops. If you wanted to tread really horrible ground, you could apply that barren-making aspect to pregnancy, but I wouldn't recommend that sort of detail for every group of players. Farmers will revile necromancers over just the lost field, especially if you're playing in a setting like Eberron and undead legions are common. Basically, if the spell is [Evil], show the players that it is significantly and fundamentally worse than a Fireball.

Alternatively, you could remove the [Evil] descriptor and say that necromancy isn't evil, despite being unpleasant and practiced by evil people. If you raise an army of zombies (which must be an idea I like based on this post) then that's an army of people who don't have to die for the war you're waging. In that world, soldiers may volunteer their bodies to the army in the event of their death for that propose. I can't think of a more noble use of necromancy.

I don't recommend moral ambiguity in a world where a first level character can look at a pickpocket and say "Yep, Evil." or "Nope, just hungry.". I think most of the posts above this one agree with that. It's difficult to pull off. As for whether Necromancy can be practiced by good people, I think the answer is "Not under RAW, and if you don't like it, you can change it."

hamishspence
2009-06-20, 05:04 PM
Fiendish Codex 2 is the first to assign a concrete level of evilness to casting an Evil descriptor spell (very low- as minor a Corrupt act as it gets)

BoED and BoVD both stress that "casting evil spells is an evil act" but don't say how much.

BoVD stresses separately that creating undead is an evil act.

While, accoding to Champions of Ruin "routinely doing evil makes you of Evil alignment" this may be more for serious acts.

Heroes of Horror, under Dread Necromancer, says "while committing evil acts is a function of the class, some balance this with good acts and intentions, enough to make them Neutral"

so, even with normal alignment rules, you could have a non-evil creator of undead.

Heliomance
2009-06-20, 08:41 PM
Not without re-doing how undead work. You can play it Neutral (good ends justify evil means) or (it's better to use things that are already dead instead of living troops).

If you change them so that their undead are powered by positive energy (they're filled with so much energy that they walk around, rather than their drained of all energy and doomed to unholy incarceration) then you could use Good Necromancers. Make the Good aligned Gods ok with it and it'll be fine.

Tell me, where in D&D does it say that negative energy is inherently evil and positive energy inherently good? Is the negative energy plane evil-aligned? Didn't think so.

hamishspence
2009-06-21, 04:18 AM
"Channelling negative energy is an evil act, Channelling poositive energy is a good act." PHB.

This only really applies to Turn and Rebuke Undead. Cure and Inflict spells are neither evil nor good.

While the Negative Energy Plane is not evil in itself- given its bad effects on the living, I think the idea is that intentionally putting a big chunk of negative energy (That which keeps the undead being functional on the Material Plane, "bringing it to life" so to speak), is evil by default.

In the D&D novels such as Black Wizards, just the presence of the undead (zombies, skeletons) causes plants to die around them.

T.G. Oskar
2009-06-21, 04:50 AM
Since the discussion has branched out a bit, and apparently the idea of a good Necromancer temporarily manipulating Deathless, I'll put this to think:

Undead are supposedly mindless, driven by "instinct". Or so it's interpreted as. Compared to the closest thing to compare around, which are animals, you can see why most undead (even the intelligent ones) are usually evil, and why the act itself becomes evil eventually.

Mindless undead (like zombies and skeletons) have no balancing urges to their naturally offensive and destructive nature. By nature, all zombies tend to have a ravenous hunger, or a ravenous desire to end the life of the living, when left to their whims. They turn on their controllers when liberated and they seem like the closest source of food around, they don't have any degree of understanding anymore. Their driving nature is to kill, to destroy.

Animals, on the contrary, are driven to "betrayal" and hunger at their very limit. You can't potty-train an undead so that it only eats what it wants, or that it guards a room, without the source that animates them (negative energy). That manipulation of energy, in that sense, may not be entirely an evil act (even though it's much as driven towards evil as a good creature is driven to turn). However, the act of creating an undead is considered evil because, eventually, you won't always be controlling that undead. You're animating an entity that, left to it's base desire, will commit evil acts out of pure nature. They don't know about satisfaction because that base desire was taken from them; they only know, so to speak, to snuff the living.

Intelligent undead are a bit more capable of restraint and perhaps a sense of "noble" acting, but eventually they succumb. Not, perhaps, to the negative energy that fuels them, but to the desires that it brings. A vampire can attempt to restrain their hunger for blood, but they can't starve forever; and a vampire can't live from rats alone. The desire for warm, potent human blood (and technically, even warmer and more powerful elven, dwarven, or even draconic blood) will drive them mad. Liches turn to evil because of the detachment to base human needs on their quest for knowledge, which can never be satiated and usually end increasing the thirst; mummies slowly begin to lose any form of merciful rationale, bound to their tombs and spreading plague for entirely no reason but to punish the tomb raiders, be they greedy adventurers, to pious adventurers seeking to consecrate the old tomb, to even possibly their own descendants, because their years of solitude end up causing them to disconnect from emotions.

The act of manipulating undead may not be seen as an evil act by many (technically, those who turn undead manipulate the undead by causing them to flee or cower), but making one eventually is. You can make a sword, which serves for no other purpose but for to kill; however, the sword can't act by itself. You can train an animal to become the epitome of evil, and perhaps one moment will happen where it will break conditioning and act against orders. But undead...well, you're pretty sure that, if you make up undead without controlling them, they WILL work evil. And that is what eventually makes Animate Dead and the improved spells Evil spells. Not much because of the animating energy, but because of what the end result turns out.

Perhaps this won't make much sense for those necromantic apologists, but it's an attempt to add rationale to the debate. The Negative Energy Plane isn't Evil because it's a force of nature; the creation of undead is an evil act because the end result can only lead to evil acts, regardless of the attempt to control it towards good means. The Positive Energy Plane is another force of nature, and it can be used for horrendously evil means, but usually the end result of filling a body with positive energy is "satisfaction", which usually is good until you get to excesses. Then it's bad.