No Good Necromancers

A DnD YouTuber my husband told me about does not believe in good necromancers. I understand his position;  if an act is evil and/or highly unappreciated/feared, like necromancy,  it’s hard to see someone realistically pull off a “good” version of the act.

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No one in Breath of the Wild likes it when you approach them with a Stalkoblin head.

As I’ve no great love for the undead,  you may expect me to agree there are no good necromancers. But I feel like it’s like saying there are no good murderers: yes, arguably, there are. Always in ambiguous, gray areas, but it’s not like all murderers are relegated to evil villains, end of story.

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There’s always nuance, room for exploration of morality, and exceptions when telling a story. (Do you think it could be possible that Yagami could have not become a villain?)

The best part of “you can’t!” is all the ways it inspires, “yes I can!” so I’ve invented my own character concept of a morally ambiguous necromancer I’d actually like to play in a future session now. As per what seems to be usual, a lot of the edge of wickedness of necromancy is cut with humor: my guy is always drunk or hung over and doesn’t ever remember raising that skeleton, but now it’s stuck to him like another bad headache.

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But I’m sure there are other executions that don’t rely on humor – primarily because Tyler brought up the YouTuber as context for his own, non-humorous, non evil necromancer. Finding exception to evil, turning it gray, is usually an interesting and fun exercise; consider its inverse, however, and you get a lot of useful motivations or acts for villains, especially those that are the heroes of their own stories.

There are no good necromancers, and there are no evil humanitarians.

Right?

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About Rii the Wordsmith

An aspiring author, artist, avid consumer of storytelling medium, gamer, psychologist (insomuch as one with her bachelor's is a psychologist), wife, mother, DM, Christian, a friend to many, and, most importantly, an evil overlord.
This entry was posted in General Writing, Making Villains (Making Villains la-la-la!) and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to No Good Necromancers

  1. LoopTheLup says:

    A friend of mine found a way to play a lawful good gnome necromancer.

    Any time his character’s party would kill a villain, he would quietly raise the corpse and use his illusion magic to give it a friendly appearance, then add one more member to his theatre troupe. He believed that having the corpses perform entertaining shows for children, he was helping the villains slowly work off the weight of their sins.

    Alas, the paladin strongly disagreed when he found out, and this resulted in a TPK and a ban on such characters going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dutch says:

    I would argue that Ed Elric is a perfect example of a good necromancer. All he wanted was to bring his mother back. That could have easily been the start of a hero’s tale, or a villain’s.

    Like

    • It’s definitely hard to cry “evil!” when the motivation is love. The Elric brothers are totally a good example, thanks for bringing them up! (I didn’t think of them myself? And I claim to be an FMA fan.)

      Like

  3. Bret Spencer says:

    In the Guild Wars 2 book, Ghosts of Ascalon, there was a Sylvari (plant people) necromancer. It’s been awhile since I read it but this character was good. She didn’t have a good feel for why meat based beings had a revulsion toward her raising the dead, since they made golems out of wood and stone, and that’s the same thing, right? There were other discussions on the matter that I don’t remember and I don’t have the book anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I don’t fully believe that morality is subjective, I believe there’s enough subjectivity in morality that speaking in absolutes is a terrible idea – and all the counterexamples to the proclaimation that there are no good necromancers is exactly why.
      Also that sounds awesome.

      Like

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