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    Default Non-Evil Necromancy

    I'm wondering what makes for a good-aligned Necromancer possible. This isn't specific to any one system, although I personally dislike the notion that Necromancy is somehow more evil than Enchantment/Mind Control is as far as D&D/Pathfinder is concerned.

    Now, beforehand, for the sake of the kinds of discussion I'm looking for, I'll throw out some basic assumptions that predicate the discussion.

    1. Reanimation in-and-of-itself, for the sake of discussion, is not evil.
    2. Religious (real or fictional) objections are not what's being discussed. If you can ground the same objection in secular philosophy, free free to make it. This is a forum heuristic anyway, it just bears overt mentioning in the context of morality and zombification.
    3. Controlling or enslaving the undead is a separate issue from creating them, and is very much something I'd like to hear thoughts about.
    4. The original soul/essence of the reanimated being returns to the corpse under normal conditions, although mix-and-match necromancy is possible but not necessarily more or less difficult.
    5. All undead created have the same basic nature they did when alive, although their memories of life are somewhat fuzzy, especially towards the time of their passing. No undead can recall the actual moment of death, but some may remember the process of dying if it took more than a few minutes.
    6. None of the undead have any memories of an afterlife regardless of your opinion as to whether one exists or not.
    7. All undead created retain the same mental faculties they had at the prime of their lived lifespan, and this will not deteriorate or advance as time goes by. Sapient individuals remain sapient, sentient individuals remain sentient.
    Examples:
    • A "teenaged" undead has the mind of a teenager, and will continue to have an adolescent mind centuries down the line.
    • An "old man" undead who had dementia in later years of life no longer has dementia.
    • An undead dog, steed, or other animal retains any training it received in life.

    8. The undead form new memories just like anyone else.
    9. As far as capacities go, an undead being has as much agency as a living person does. Whether or not undead people are people is up to your opinion. I like to think they are, as far as this thread is concerned, but mileage will vary.



    So, thoughts on good-aligned necromancy? Do you still think it's impossible? What kind of stuff would separate the good from the bad from the neutral?




    EDIT: The bar I'm setting is more along the lines of being as morally relative as a Fireball or a Charm Person, rather than needing to be entirely above reproach in all circumstances.
    Last edited by ThinkMinty; 2015-10-26 at 01:47 AM.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    What would be, in this specific context, the difference between undeath and being brought back to life with everlasting youth?

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    This kind of undeath where you retain full agency and mental presence is basically the same as uploading someone's mind into a robot body.

    New and weird and sometimes uncomfortable, yes, but still a greatly expanded lifespan. It's easy to argue for semi-immortality.

    Now if you do that against someone's will and the body they end up in isn't to their liking, then you might have a problem. I assume the dead person's body retains the condition it was in upon death, which might in some cases be a horrifying thing to inhabit. Especially if your mind is still sharp and present.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    What would be, in this specific context, the difference between undeath and being brought back to life with everlasting youth?
    How you eat, how healing magic works on you, general differences between life and undeath.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Comet
    This kind of undeath where you retain full agency and mental presence is basically the same as uploading someone's mind into a robot body.
    Possibly better in that you do not have to deal with the existential distress of being a duplicate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Comet
    I assume the dead person's body retains the condition it was in upon death, which might in some cases be a horrifying thing to inhabit. Especially if your mind is still sharp and present.
    That's also my default assumption when I hear "undead", unless vampires are involved. Speaking of which...

    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkMinty
    How you eat, how healing magic works on you, general differences between life and undeath.
    So, how do you eat? Do you thirst for the blood / life force of your former species?

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    Possibly better in that you do not have to deal with the existential distress of being a duplicate.
    Yup. Being dead is easier to handle than the idea of being fake.

    That's also my default assumption when I hear "undead", unless vampires are involved. Speaking of which...
    Depends on how you got reanimated. A some processes would repair you to a reasonable facsimile of function, others literally just rip you out of the grave as-is. The rotting stops, and there's stuff to help you deal with and/or reverse it, though.

    So, how do you eat? Do you thirst for the blood / life force of your former species?
    Depends on the kind of undead you are. Skeletons just need to compulsively chew on things sometimes, ghouls need meat, vampires need blood, etc.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    The thing with undeath is that it is supposed to be a faulty immortality. Maybe your moral compass is broken, or you are in constant pain, or you can only survive by taking other people's lives, or... There is a catch somewhere and it is horrible.

    This is often used to deliver some "any form of immortality would be bad" moral. But since the rules are made up for start to finish, it is not really convincing.

    When a story does not want immortality to be so faulty, the word "undeath" will likely not show up at all. Either that or ghouls and vampires are now decent and happy people who just look a little funny. Maybe they can survive on animal meat and blood or maybe they can even be vegans. But such "undeath" is a joke.

    So my idea for a good aligned necromancer would be as follows. They see undeath as an unsatisfying prototype for the form of immortality they are trying to obtain for themselves and others. Many call their quest delusional and reckless, which would be true in most settings but not necessarily in this one. And they only create sapient undead with the informed consent of the souls.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    The thing with undeath is that it is supposed to be a faulty immortality. Maybe your moral compass is broken, or you are in constant pain, or you can only survive by taking other people's lives, or... There is a catch somewhere and it is horrible.

    This is often used to deliver some "any form of immortality would be bad" moral. But since the rules are made up for start to finish, it is not really convincing.

    When a story does not want immortality to be so faulty, the word "undeath" will likely not show up at all. Either that or ghouls and vampires are now decent and happy people who just look a little funny. Maybe they can survive on animal meat and blood or maybe they can even be vegans. But such "undeath" is a joke.

    So my idea for a good aligned necromancer would be as follows. They see undeath as an unsatisfying prototype for the form of immortality they are trying to obtain for themselves and others. Many call their quest delusional and reckless, which would be true in most settings but not necessarily in this one. And they only create sapient undead with the informed consent of the souls.
    I figure the good-aligned necromancer would lean more on the other parts of the grab-bag, like the fear effects, shadowy stuff, and the dessication/decay/rot/entropy kind of things, saving the undeath magic for animals or special occasions.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkMinty
    I figure the good-aligned necromancer would lean more on the other parts of the grab-bag, like the fear effects, shadowy stuff, and the dessication/decay/rot/entropy kind of things
    That's what I would call the darkness / spookium elementalist side of the job. Probably the part that pays the bills. However, this is not what I would play the class for.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkMinty
    saving the undeath magic for animals or special occasions.
    This is.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Your kinda talking more about an ''immortal clone'' then you are ''undead''. How do you even see a living being as separate from undead?

    Undead, at there very most basic, are living creatures that have been keep aware and active after they have died. And this has the basic assumption that reality means for things to die as part of the natural order of things. And to bring something back that has died, goes against that order. If you don't have that basic assumption, you can't have undead.

    I have never used the silly 3e/P idea that all necromancy is evil. I use the more 2E idea, where it depends. You can split necromancy into three types: White, Gray and Black. White and Black are easy to see, it is the Gray that you need to be careful of...

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    The Death Curse from Harry Potter is the cleanest kill possible. The target is alive, and then it's dead. No suffering, no agony, no pain, and a clean body for the funerals. It's the most merciful way to kill someone, and clearly fits in the necromancy box. And it's less evil than any other way of killing someone, like fireballs or disintegrations.

    And about undeads : saying they are 'always evil' is ridiculously stupid. The main evil thing about undeads is how their new way of sustenance often involve the pain and suffering of living creatures. Make an undead who doesn't hunger for blood/brains/flesh of living people, and the resulting creature may not be evil. Undeath is a tool like any other, and the only 'evil' thing about it is the 'desecrating body' part, wich is moot if you got permission beforehand.
    Last edited by Cazero; 2015-10-24 at 10:17 AM.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkMinty View Post
    5. All undead created have the same basic nature they did when alive, ...
    I actually take issue with this one point. The reason is straightforward, if you have the same nature as when you were alive you are not a member of the undead, you are alive. That is the fundamental difference between "resurrection" and "reanimation".

    And the word reanimation is actually illustrative here. Even if taken to not be evil resurrection (your premise #1), what is an animation? It is a moving picture, an image that has nothing behind it besides the thoughts and intentions of the creator. Most undead are more advanced than that, even the generic swarm zombie can dumbly react to its surroundings, but the point remains they are not quite "complete" humans. Well I can't actually say you're wrong (in fact I have broken this rule myself on occasion) but I think you are missing the "point" of the classic undead.

    Admittedly the point of the classic undead runs quite counter to what your trying to discuss here. Perversions of life, disrespect of the dead, loss of the individual and so on. You don't have to use those things, but you shouldn't forget that is where they came from. And no this doesn't mean that undead have to be evil but an undead should be different on some intrinsic level from the living.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron
    Undead, at there very most basic, are living creatures that have been keep aware and active after they have died. And this has the basic assumption that reality means for things to die as part of the natural order of things. And to bring something back that has died, goes against that order. If you don't have that basic assumption, you can't have undead.
    That's true. What I would suggest is to treat "the natural order" as an ideal of "true neutral" alignment, mostly uphold by druids. A character who pursues goodness, who wants to better the world, can be dissatisfied with the ways of nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cazero
    The Death Curse from Harry Potter is the cleanest kill possible. The target is alive, and then it's dead. No suffering, no agony, no pain, and a clean body for the funerals. It's the most merciful way to kill someone, and clearly fits in the necromancy box. And it's less evil than any other way of killing someone, like fireballs or disintegrations.
    Since the HP universe has ghosts and Avada Kedavra initially appeared to leave none, I had been wondering if perhaps the spell denied its victims any form of existence after death, annihilating their very soul. That would justify the spell being such a taboo. A certain passage kinda ruined my theory, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew
    I actually take issue with this one point. The reason is straightforward, if you have the same nature as when you were alive you are not a member of the undead, you are alive. That is the fundamental difference between "resurrection" and "reanimation".
    Yes and I think that a good aligned necromancer would make more sense in a setting without any "positive vs negative energy" / "Revive kills zombie" nonsense. Instead, reanimation would be the messy bridge between healing and resurrection.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    The way I play it in my setting, raising a soulless dead body to do menial tasks isn't really considered evil, you won't make any friends with it to be sure, but it's no different from making a golem. It's only considered crossing the line into necromancy when you start screwing around with souls, binding ghosts or forcing undead curses like vampirism or revenancy on living souls.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    3.5/3.0 has the idea of negative energy, which tends to mess things up a bit. A lot of settings (including those from other games) have undead be associated with some sort of contamination, be it either spiritual or physical. I would say that if your undead creations leak bad mojo all over the place, you probably shouldn't be making them.

    I would also say that making non-sentient undead is fine, if perhaps a little squicky to some cultures. Great-grandpa's dead, he's not using that body anymore. We can either leave it in the ground to fertilize some daisies, or have it do some dangerous mining. I could imagine a lot of people don't want to see their relatives get up and move around, but I wouldn't say it is necessarily evil, either.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Cazero View Post
    The Death Curse from Harry Potter is the cleanest kill possible. The target is alive, and then it's dead. No suffering, no agony, no pain, and a clean body for the funerals. It's the most merciful way to kill someone, and clearly fits in the necromancy box. And it's less evil than any other way of killing someone, like fireballs or disintegrations.
    True. However, the other methods leave room for survival, where as an insta-dead has the spoopy effect of making someone dead as a doornail. I think the Death Curse had "you want them dead" as a spell component, which means it's only of use for the more murder-happy kind of wizard. Maybe it's bad because it makes killing so easy? I don't know Rowling's reasoning though. It could just be because it's a scary spell that kills people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    Yes and I think that a good aligned necromancer would make more sense in a setting without any "positive vs negative energy" / "Revive kills zombie" nonsense. Instead, reanimation would be the messy bridge between healing and resurrection.
    Oddly enough I like the positive/negative thing/revive kills zombie thing, if only for its inverse where a necromancer has magical maiming magic for maiming. I have a soft spot for the kind of magic that can just snap an arm for arm-snapping's sake.

    It's one of the things that keeps necromancy's toolbox wider than just being "make the zombies".

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I actually take issue with this one point. The reason is straightforward, if you have the same nature as when you were alive you are not a member of the undead, you are alive. That is the fundamental difference between "resurrection" and "reanimation".
    By nature I meant more along the lines of "So and so was always quiet, but friendly." than the nature of being alive or dead. Sort of a "who you are" rather than "what you are" kind of thing.

    And the word reanimation is actually illustrative here. Even if taken to not be evil resurrection (your premise #1), what is an animation? It is a moving picture, an image that has nothing behind it besides the thoughts and intentions of the creator. Most undead are more advanced than that, even the generic swarm zombie can dumbly react to its surroundings, but the point remains they are not quite "complete" humans. Well I can't actually say you're wrong (in fact I have broken this rule myself on occasion) but I think you are missing the "point" of the classic undead.
    Is it something that is a twisted reflection of life? Yes. Does a sizeable percentage of the population recoil in horror if a friendly skeleton says hello? Yes. Are these undead intrinsically evil; starving loons out to eat your brains and babies? No.

    Sort of "Undead as People" rules, I guess. They do make a lot of jokes about it, not all of which are good.

    Admittedly the point of the classic undead runs quite counter to what your trying to discuss here. Perversions of life, disrespect of the dead, loss of the individual and so on. You don't have to use those things, but you shouldn't forget that is where they came from. And no this doesn't mean that undead have to be evil but an undead should be different on some intrinsic level from the living.
    I mean, I was still gonna include the stigma, but have the structure of the cosmos not stacking the deck in favor of it because that's just...boring.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Good-Aligned necromancy would stand most campaign settings on their head.

    Preventing or simply allowing a body to not be re-viable would be a mortal sin. Presumably you would try equally hard to get a dead body out of a fire (for reanimation even if raise dead were not available) as a living person. Search and rescue would basically not have a cut off as you could still expect to revive a skeleton after arbitrary long delays.

    Suicide (or allowing yourself to be killed if avada kavadra or similar is less painful) to preserve your body at full strength (say in your mid twenties or so) is only slightly problematic. Depending on the local religions, it may well look on such in much the way it looks on simply killing yourself to visit heaven early (presumably any real historical church that believed that died out really fast).

    [D&D specific ideas follow]

    Note that there would always be disadvantages to being undead. Since undead can't be raised, I'm pretty sure that you can't re-animate the same corpse twice (without raising the living). Being undsovereignead means you can't use raise dead, it takes at least a resurrection (7th level, 10kgp). This would make characters think twice about being reanimated before nearing death due to age.

    The whole idea of undead being unraiseable should give the good necromancers pause. If you can't raise the undead, but you *can* raise the host it inhabits, are they two separate creatures (as Rich's rules work). Note that raised dead have limited memories of being dead (although I have difficulty believing Durkon would forget being imprisoned) and it may be possible that the dead are participating in a mass masquerade to convince the living to keep creating more undead. This would be far easier somewhere like Eberron where one good church has good undead (the Sovereign Host) and the other "good" church has a god that is at least as evil as good and is thoroughly infiltrated with evil.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkMinty
    Oddly enough I like the positive/negative thing/revive kills zombie thing, if only for its inverse where a necromancer has magical maiming magic for maiming. I have a soft spot for the kind of magic that can just snap an arm for arm-snapping's sake.

    It's one of the things that keeps necromancy's toolbox wider than just being "make the zombies".
    In a setting without the positive/negative energy distinction and only life magic, the necromancer himself could still very much harm his enemies. Instead of pumping them up with death, just drain the life out of them. Or you could remember that germs are alive too, and buff those. Or you could turn people into giant tumors. Those last two options might be too cruel for a good necromancer, though.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    "Good undead in the sovereign host"? Elaborate?

    A player of mine came up with a reason for a good-aligned necromancer; he worships the gods of honorable battle, and so believes raising the dead gives their souls a second chance to find honour on the battlefield. Not necessarily the same battlefield, but the chance to die a "good death" as some would put it. Of course, this is Eberron, where one of the major religions glorifies they undead as martyrs and country has to field an undead army to not be overrun by the living constructs everyone else was using.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Osiris is a good-aligned undead deity.

    I can see a certain amount of consent being involved. Someone might be willing to donate their body to being reanimated as a mindless corpse for dangerous/hard labour so that others don't have to. Your typical evil necromancer is a grave-robber or someone who murders people to serve as his zombies.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Well Necromancy, despite some stereotypes, does not start and end with corporeal undead.

    A zombie might be unsettling to watch (let alone smell) but that's hardly the only use for Necromancy. Ghosts in particular can be quite useful.


    Necromancers could be used for all kinds of murder investigations. Briefly reanimate a murder victim, question it about how it died and whether it saw who murdered it. By the same token, afterlife or not, you can give surviving family members at least some small measure of comfort.

    I suppose one can also call the spirits of all sorts of wise or otherwise experienced and skilled people to ask them for advice in any given crisis. Even better, one can use Necromancy to preserve all sorts of people for posterity in case their advice or leadership is ever needed. On a voluntary basis, of course. The same applies to great warriors. The greatest protectors of the realm are honoured by getting stored alongside their equipment so that they can be reanimated whenever the land is in peril.


    I'd think the main difference between good and bad necromancy would be the issue of who is to benefit from its use and whether or not consent is involved.

    Also, while evil necromancers might go for the rotting corpse look for added terror, I'd assume that any necromancer who actually has any real skill at his craft can restore a body to near lifelike conditions. Especially if we go with all undead having some measure of awareness it's rather important to keep the bodies of any volunteers in as pristine a condition as possible. The more lifelike they appear, the less unsettling to watch they'd also become, I'd say. If you can't at first glance tell who's alive and who is undead you're doing a good job.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    What about someone who wants to use undead for medical purposes, such as studying anatomy (specifically the way certain structures work when they're moving)?

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkMinty View Post
    By nature I meant more along the lines of "So and so was always quiet, but friendly." than the nature of being alive or dead. Sort of a "who you are" rather than "what you are" kind of thing.
    But I don't think that the two are completely unrelated. Although some "what"s are just labels that people apply, but I think living vs. dead is less arbitrary. Even if it is something not "evil" like they don't develop any new habits nor does there personality shift even when subjected to situations that would usually effect someone.

    Speaking to the main topic I don't really see a problem with it unless someone tries to go long-term with it and try to achieve immortality. Simply because eventually the old should move out of the way for the young. Because if you don't have a notable death rate than you can't have a notable birth rate and... well there is a lack of data about civilizations with really high populations of immortals but I don't think it would work out well. And I can't see a system to distribute it to a few fairly.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkMinty View Post
    1. Reanimation in-and-of-itself, for the sake of discussion, is not evil.
    This assumption is the entire argument. If there are forms of necromantic reanimation that are non-Evil, then a necromancer who only uses non-Evil necromancy and is otherwise Good is Good. If the process of reanimation is inextricably linked to doing something else that is always Evil, then the distinction is meaningless.

    That said, I do think creating any kind of mindless undead is quite disrespectful to the person whose body you just reanimated, viewing the person's body as nothing more than a tool for whomever possesses it. If the spirit of the deceased is trapped within the mindless body, then that's straight-up Evil.
    Last edited by Mando Knight; 2015-10-24 at 06:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I have never used the silly 3e/P idea that all necromancy is evil. I use the more 2E idea, where it depends. You can split necromancy into three types: White, Gray and Black. White and Black are easy to see, it is the Gray that you need to be careful of...
    Why does this nonsense persist after 15 years? I can't speak for pathfinder but 3.X categorically does -not- say, at any point, that necromancy is evil.

    Necromancy is a whole school of magic full of spells that have nothing to do with undeath and the majority of which are not labeled as evil in any way.

    The only thing that's labeled, very specifically, as evil is the creation of new undead. Not controlling them or empowering them, just creating them. That's it. The spells that do so just happen to be in the necromancy school.

    Outside of D&D it's more a matter of societal views on desecration of the dead in any way being associated with the classically evil powers of that society's shared beliefs that makes the idea of undeath, a form of ultimate desecration, something evil and wrong. Somehow, I'd have to look into the details, the term "necromancy," which originally comes from an idea that certain specially trained and/or gifted people could simply speaking with the dead, got associated almost entirely with undeath in all its forms throughout fiction so people use it as a shorthand for that instead of its D&D specific or classical meanings.

    As to the OP's version of "undeath," he's already curtailed any real argument beyond "it's just too distastefully squicky." It's a drastically different version from any of the classical versions of the concept that deliberately strips out all of the things that make undeath unacceptable under most other versions. It's an inherently theological discussion and he said not to discuss theology.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkMinty View Post
    I'm wondering what makes for a good-aligned Necromancer. This isn't specific to any one system, although I personally dislike the notion that Necromancy is somehow more evil than Enchantment/Mind Control is as far as D&D/Pathfinder is concerned.

    Now, beforehand, for the sake of the kinds of discussion I'm looking for, I'll throw out some basic assumptions that predicate the discussion.

    1. Reanimation in-and-of-itself, for the sake of discussion, is not evil.
    2. Religious (real or fictional) objections are not what's being discussed. If you can ground the same objection in secular philosophy, free free to make it. This is a forum heuristic anyway, it just bears overt mentioning in the context of morality and zombification.
    3. Controlling or enslaving the undead is a separate issue from creating them, and is very much something I'd like to hear thoughts about.
    4. The original soul/essence of the reanimated being returns to the corpse under normal conditions, although mix-and-match necromancy is possible but not necessarily more or less difficult.
    5. All undead created have the same basic nature they did when alive, although their memories of life are somewhat fuzzy, especially towards the time of their passing. No undead can recall the actual moment of death, but some may remember the process of dying if it took more than a few minutes.
    6. None of the undead have any memories of an afterlife regardless of your opinion as to whether one exists or not.
    7. All undead created retain the same mental faculties they had at the prime of their lived lifespan, and this will not deteriorate or advance as time goes by. Sapient individuals remain sapient, sentient individuals remain sentient.
    Examples:
    • A "teenaged" undead has the mind of a teenager, and will continue to have an adolescent mind centuries down the line.
    • An "old man" undead who had dementia in later years of life no longer has dementia.
    • An undead dog, steed, or other animal retains any training it received in life.

    8. The undead form new memories just like anyone else.
    9. As far as capacities go, an undead being has as much agency as a living person does. Whether or not undead people are people is up to your opinion. I like to think they are, as far as this thread is concerned, but mileage will vary.



    So, thoughts on good-aligned necromancy? Do you still think it's impossible? What kind of stuff would separate the good from the bad from the neutral?
    You've already declared that animating dead and creating undead isn't evil, and the undead themselves aren't evil, so there would be nothing inherently evil about being a necromancer. Evil necromancers would use their undead minions for evil ends and treat them like slaves. Good necromancers would treat their undead minions kindly and try to win their loyalty and seek to do good by their actions. Neutral might not be particularly kind to their minions, but are not cruel nor seeking evil goals.

    The thing that normally makes necromancers evil is because they usually focus on the act of creating evil creatures aka undead, which is always an evil thing to do (because undead serve no purpose but to terrorize the living). In your world, you have redefined what it means to be undead, so it isn't an issue. My question is, what's the point of redefining undead? Why shouldn't they be evil monsters? Is there a point in emphasizing the point that necromancers don't have to be evil? Most people that want to play as a necromancer are planning on an evil character anyway, even if it isn't forced on them. They just want an excuse to write neutral on their sheet, so paladins and good clerics don't come after them.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Let's travel to Tamriel, the land of the Elder Scrolls, where there is a culture that engages in necromancy and isn't treated as a bunch of evil monsters to be pilloried at the first opportunity. I speak of the Dunmer, or Dark Elves, who practice necromancy as a form of ancestor worship. In many of the ancestral tombs of Morrowind, you can find Ancestor Shades or Bonewalkers, crafted undead specifically made and charged with defense of the honored ancestors' ashes. The Dunmer are violently opposed to any other form of necromancy, and have a religious authority specifically meant to hunt necromancers.

    Back to the real world; many ancestor-worshipping cultures have a shaman who "speaks" to the dead. This is probably the safest way to handle necromancy under the gaze of the paladin or a western-based fantasy. Spells like Speak with Dead and Commune are extended to ask the 'remnant' left in the corpse for help, or call up the spirits for a brief time on a matter important to the spirit in question.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    You've already declared that animating dead and creating undead isn't evil, and the undead themselves aren't evil, so there would be nothing inherently evil about being a necromancer. Evil necromancers would use their undead minions for evil ends and treat them like slaves. Good necromancers would treat their undead minions kindly and try to win their loyalty and seek to do good by their actions. Neutral might not be particularly kind to their minions, but are not cruel nor seeking evil goals.

    The thing that normally makes necromancers evil is because they usually focus on the act of creating evil creatures aka undead, which is always an evil thing to do (because undead serve no purpose but to terrorize the living). In your world, you have redefined what it means to be undead, so it isn't an issue. My question is, what's the point of redefining undead? Why shouldn't they be evil monsters? Is there a point in emphasizing the point that necromancers don't have to be evil? Most people that want to play as a necromancer are planning on an evil character anyway, even if it isn't forced on them. They just want an excuse to write neutral on their sheet, so paladins and good clerics don't come after them.
    I'm one of those "rejects Always Evil as a reflex" kind of fantasy fans, that's why.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    As to the OP's version of "undeath," he's already curtailed any real argument beyond "it's just too distastefully squicky." It's a drastically different version from any of the classical versions of the concept that deliberately strips out all of the things that make undeath unacceptable under most other versions. It's an inherently theological discussion and he said not to discuss theology.
    How is it inherently theological? It's inherently philosophical. I don't mind someone taking a theological objection and making that as a person rather than an adherent, I just don't want culpability for anyone's points being exported to a book or text I can't argue with, which is why I took theology off the table.
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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    As I see it, as with so many things, it ultimately comes down to a question of consent. I'm going to apply the standard used for battery in most common law jurisdictions to explain and shape this view. Generally speaking, any physical interference with or touching of a person is unacceptable unless the person consents to it or it's the type of everyday interaction that they implicitly consent to by existing in society (ie tapping someone on the shoulder to get their attention)*. For example, getting into a fight without some justifying factor (such as self defence) is generally considered unacceptable**; have both sides agree to it - and everything that it entails - and it's now a popular sport such as boxing or other martial arts.

    If we apply the same standard posthumously that we apply in life, it follows that reanimating a corpse without consent is interfering with their person without consent and is thus unacceptable, but reanimating a corpse with the reanimatee's freely given informed consent should not be considered evil. This would apply even without the extensive list of provisos given in the OP.


    * It's actually a lot more complicated than this, but that's the basic concept and is enough for our purposes.
    **Note: I'm looking at this from a wider perspective than just D&D. Even in that narrow view, though, murderhoboism needs some form of justification to avoid being evil. Just starting a barfight for ****s and giggles is evil, so my point still stands.
    Last edited by DCraw; 2015-10-25 at 03:15 AM.

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    Default Re: Good-Aligned Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by DCraw View Post
    As I see it, as with so many things, it ultimately comes down to a question of consent. I'm going to apply the standard used for battery in most common law jurisdictions to explain and shape this view. Generally speaking, any physical interference with or touching of a person is unacceptable unless the person consents to it or it's the type of everyday interaction that they implicitly consent to by existing in society (ie tapping someone on the shoulder to get their attention)*. For example, getting into a fight without some justifying factor (such as self defence) is generally considered unacceptable**; have both sides agree to it - and everything that it entails - and it's now a popular sport such as boxing or other martial arts.

    If we apply the same standard posthumously that we apply in life, it follows that reanimating a corpse without consent is interfering with their person without consent and is thus unacceptable, but reanimating a corpse with the reanimatee's freely given informed consent should not be considered evil. This would apply even without the extensive list of provisos given in the OP.


    * It's actually a lot more complicated than this, but that's the basic concept and is enough for our purposes.
    **Note: I'm looking at this from a wider perspective than just D&D. Even in that narrow view, though, murderhoboism needs some form of justification to avoid being evil. Just starting a barfight for ****s and giggles is evil, so my point still stands.
    I included a lot of provisos because the other threads I read on the subject beforehand devolved into, "No, you can't still, because my X gives me the", and I just pre-emptively sniped the arguments I thought would waste everyone's time. I did that because I wanted opinions on what would make it work, not people hemming and hawing over the idea and offering nothing but thumb-nosing.

    Not that there isn't room to disagree, but it does ultimately come down to consent if you're using sapient remains. Reanimating a sentient animal is different, but I'd break it down this way...

    These three things are already true:
    1. People can use animals for food, and that only bothers vegans. For clarity's sake, I mean this in the context of milk, eggs, and honey rather than eating their flesh.
    2. People can use animals for work, and that's only as bad as the conditions are.
    3. People can use dead animals for food, and that's more subjective, but not so much intrinsically evil as it is gruesome. Some carnicultural practices are certainly cruel to the point of abject wickedness, though.

    So given those, there's a missing corollary:
    4. People can use dead animals for work, and that's not any better or worse than using live ones, although it may be more efficient.

    Oddly enough, murdering people (or animals) to acquire the corpse sounds evil to me, outside of some kind of consensual-assisted-suicide-into-reanimation sequence for the purpose of treating a terminal illness.
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