Thursday, June 25, 2015


Has anyone stopped to consider the role of necromancy in fantasy fiction? I mean on one hand death is evil. Ending a thinking being remains the yardstick of "el wrongo" in any ethical system worth its salt. Necromancy, however, does not equate with murder any more than does cannibalism. In fact, of the various forms of fantasy RPG necromancy, the several which allow the subject to retain individuality (ghosts, vampires and the likes of liches) present an intrinsic good as longevity treatments. Of course forcing a good-aligned character into undeath and therefore preventing same from receiving just rewards for a righteous life in some sort of unbelievably dull harpy paradise might be considered wrong, but then maybe you're preventing a formerly evil soul from being dragged down to a harpy hell, offering a chance at redemption. Or maybe the good soul you're raising is just so damn good it wants to keep itself out of the heavens just so it can do more good deeds. Such digressions from form are in fact referenced in D&D but only about as often as zombie zit-cream or skeleton polish. Add to this the fact that necromantically raising dead material without trapping the soul (skeletons, flesh golems, etc.) is in fact an objective good, putting flesh to further use without incurring any moral dilemmas whatsoever and you have to wonder why every game paints necromancy as icky.

Well... because it's just... icky, that why!
There's little more to it than our frugivorous primate heritage instinctively reeling away from decaying, infectious flesh as a survival adaptation, a visceral urge reinforced by tens of thousands of years of religious scheisters building up the mystique of death as supernatural to lend themselves credibility. Were we descended from an at least part-time scavenger species like wolves, our attitudes would likely be quite different. We are only now learning to stop persecuting those dealing with "unclean" materials for the greater good, so you'd think necromancers would catch a break in our oh-so-polite modern society's escapist interactive fiction. After all they're just the Dalits of the Forgotten Realms.

Boy, the Political Correctness Police are really dropping the ball on this one.

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