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  • I'm thinking necromancy is probably generally ickier, but no more evil than not... just there's a TENDENCY for the people attracted to it to be evil of some stripe.



    ​When noise turns to silence, when colors dull and pale, when reality no longer makes sense, there shall you find me. There, in the dreams of the River of Faceless Millions, do I dwell.

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    • Asking because a friend got into a a nerd fight with someone who insisted all undead were inherently evil and wouldn’t listen to anything, especially arguments that some settings explicitly have tons of neutral and Good undead.


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      Female pronouns for me, please.

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      • Onyx Path's own Scarred Lands has Hollowfaust, a city of necromancers. But that's its own setting where necromancy and undead aren't black holes in the world.

        Mind Libris Mortis was pretty much a 3.* book and things have changed a lot in 4th and 5th edition.
        Last edited by nofather; 11-30-2017, 06:42 PM.

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        • Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
          Borrowing an argument from elsewhere: do you believe necromancy is inherently evil?
          I know it's a bit of a cop-out but it really depends on the setting.

          For example, in the Pathfinder setting, it's very explicit that undead are naturally evil and using negative energy slowly twists and poisons the world around them. So drawing negative energy into the world by using it to animate undead creatures is an inherently evil act. You might be able to animate undead once or twice and maintain a good alignment, but frequently making undead would definitely make someone neutral even if they were using those zombies to save people lives and do other good things with them.

          In other settings however, negative energy is no worse than positive energy, so there's nothing inherently wrong with animating corpses. Using zombies is no different than using fire elementals. Still, you probably aren't going to see very many Good aligned people making extensive use of the undead. Even Hollowfaust (which is a fantastic setting) is very much a Lawful Neutral city.

          So for the most part I'd say, depending on the setting, animating undead might not be an inherently evil act, but it's very probably not going to be a Good act. Typically animating corpses will be evil at worst or neutral at best.

          That said, there's lots of other magic spells that fall under Necromancy (fear spells, command undead, and in older editions healing spells) and those sorts of spells shouldn't count as inherently evil.

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          • Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
            Borrowing an argument from elsewhere: do you believe necromancy is inherently evil?
            In a world where racial genocide is not inherently evil (i.e. any D&D setting in which "proper society" labeled with good alignments can have a policy akin to "kill literally every orc you can"), it is very difficult to consider anything to be inherently evil (or even inherently any other alignment).

            As of the 5th edition of the game, however, there is finally some explanation of which circumstances alignment is an inherent quality in (that being only that alignment is an essential part of the nature of celestials and fiends, so each sort of those cannot have a different alignment without being a completely different creature - i.e. a devil that became some alignment other than lawful evil would no longer be a devil at that point), and of which circumstances alignment is a moral choice in (that being all except the previously mentioned, but with types of creatures created by evil deities having a strong tendency towards evil alignments because their creator doesn't want them making moral choices for themselves).

            So no, necromancy is not inherently evil. That's just some horse-shit that WotC added to the game back in the day by A) inventing the healing sub-school of conjuration magic to B) remove all the "manipulate the forces of life and death" from the necromancy school of magic, while C) also slapping arbitrary [Evil] tags on some spells even though it apparently still matters how you use a spell, not that the spell is what it is, that could burn down an entire village in an instant.


            Not so noble anymore.

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            • Yeah so much of this question relies on setting, some settings its going to be a no necromancy is just another school of magic and hey zombies make a useful labor force, and in other settings its a no, raising the dead desecrates the corps and damns the persons soul to damnation or something like that. tbh i see dnd more as a rule system for fantasy roleplay and not a specific setting or metaphisic
              I mean i honestly prefer the former but that might just be the small bit of teenage edge lord still left in me (to be clear i haven't been a teen in a few years)

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              • Another way of looking at it, is in which circumstances is necromancy socially acceptable. (If this goes too much besides the point for you just say it and i'll drop the subject)
                What i do is i state circumstances in which the society can accept the usage of necromancy. For example, priest (or clerics) using it for funerary rites is concidered acceptables. But mages (and other casters) mucking about just to see what happens (a stereotype for sure but thats how people see it) is not accepted.
                I do the same thing with the enchantment school. Its okay when bards, minstrel and entertainers use it, but otherwise it is not well seen.

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                • TL;DR - No necromancy is not an absolute evil in d&d because there are setting where it isn't evil, ergo you cannon make such a sweeping generalization!

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                  • Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
                    Asking because a friend got into a a nerd fight with someone who insisted all undead were inherently evil and wouldn’t listen to anything, especially arguments that some settings explicitly have tons of neutral and Good undead.
                    This depends on the setting. In some settings where good and evil are objective cosmic forces, it would be reasonable for all undead without exception to be aligned with the force that is called evil. Conversely, in a setting where morality is relative, it wouldn’t make sense for undead to be unilaterally evil, because evil is an undefined value. And neither of these possibilities really say anything about whether Necromancy is inherently evil or not, since the practice concerns itself with more than just the creation of undead. Indeed, in D&D, most resurrection spells are classified as Necromancy, and in most settings resurrection as opposed to the creation of undead is depicted as good, or at least neutral. So, ultimately it comes down to the setting.

                    In my homebrewed setting, Necromancy is a tool; it is no more good or evil than a sword is, what matters is what sentient beings do with it. Raising undead minions such as zombies and skeletons is an evil act (though the minions themselves are unaligned). Propagating the curse of vammpirisim is an evil act (though vampires are ataunomous sentient beings and their alignment is therefore determined by their individual actions - of course, lots of things vampires tend to do are evil). Ghosts, wraiths, and similar remnants of the formerly living are usually created by evil acts, and their alignments generally depend on what anchors them to the world of the living. Making one’s self a Lich is an act of severe evil, and that evil marks the soul of the individual who undergoes the process, though it would not be inconceivable for a Lich to seek redemption, though whether or not it’s attainable is an open question. But, Necromancy can also be used for good. For example, it was the Raven Queen’s mastery of Necromancy in life that allowed her to kill Nerul and take his place as god of death, which is pretty much universally recognized as an act of exceptional good, though she herself is neutral with respect to good and evil.


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                    • I like evil gods. Like with full-fledged religious organizations you see in D&D.

                      Not just the 'there's this evil god that this one group worships in the basement of a building in one city in the far south.'

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                      • I’m biased as far more of an Eberron fan than a general D&D fan (that setting has a nation that has widespread necromancy use that isn’t considered evil, and then the dominant elf culture creates Good-aligned undead), so the entire debate thoroughly confused me. Even Forgotten Realms has Good undead!


                        Call me Regina or Lex.

                        Female pronouns for me, please.

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                        • Originally posted by nofather View Post
                          I like evil gods. Like with full-fledged religious organizations you see in D&D.

                          Not just the 'there's this evil god that this one group worships in the basement of a building in one city in the far south.'
                          Religious organizations in the sense that they have legal recognition, or in the sense that they are large and complex? Like, if Tharizdun’s cult is as widespread and his fanatics as numerous as those of the good gods, but operate in strict secrecy, is that still a religious organization? Or if Gruumsh worship has no organized dogma, but is officially recognized and (perhaps begrudgingly) afforded legal protections as such for the sake of upstanding half-orc citizens?

                          Oh, speaking of half-orc, how do people feel about the idea of half-whatever races? I don’t like them personally, but I’m open to hearing why other people do, if they do.


                          Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                          My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                          Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                          • Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
                            I’m biased as far more of an Eberron fan than a general D&D fan (that setting has a nation that has widespread necromancy use that isn’t considered evil, and then the dominant elf culture creates Good-aligned undead), so the entire debate thoroughly confused me. Even Forgotten Realms has Good undead!
                            Yeah, I think the argument that all necromancy amd/or all undead should be evil without exception is a pretty silly one.


                            Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                            My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                            Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                            • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                              Oh, speaking of half-orc, how do people feel about the idea of half-whatever races? I don’t like them personally, but I’m open to hearing why other people do, if they do.
                              My problem with the Halves (well one of them) is that its so selective. So its only two races (a couple more if you add dragonborn, tiefling, aasimar and genasi) and humans. But strictly with humans because .... what ... its their racial ability??? I get that half-halfling and half-elf can get complicated to explain as a race but still.
                              In my games i actually remove the half-elf and half-orc, tho any race can mix with any other race. The offspring is from one of the parent and you can explain some non-mechanical traits (like a beard or pointy ears) as coming from the other parent but thats it.

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                              • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
                                Religious organizations in the sense that they have legal recognition, or in the sense that they are large and complex? Like, if Tharizdun’s cult is as widespread and his fanatics as numerous as those of the good gods, but operate in strict secrecy, is that still a religious organization? Or if Gruumsh worship has no organized dogma, but is officially recognized and (perhaps begrudgingly) afforded legal protections as such for the sake of upstanding half-orc citizens?
                                I like them both, really, but I like the recognized ones much more. The Church of Bane was a favorite of mine in Forgotten Realms.

                                Oh, speaking of half-orc, how do people feel about the idea of half-whatever races? I don’t like them personally, but I’m open to hearing why other people do, if they do.
                                Same. I was going to say I almost always play humans but thought of my various characters, including a half-elf, a yuan-ti, hyaenadon, and several drow so I guess I can't go with the vanilla angle. But I've no problem against people who want to play them, or like them. I do think it gets a bit overdone. I remember a book during the d20 days that had like half-hellhounds and half-unicorns and half-blink dogs, half-umber hulks. Bastards & Bloodlines. Great art, though.

                                I'll admit some of it is probably trying to avoid the 'Mary Sue' flag, even though I know it takes considerably more than being half-whatever to fit the type. Most of it is probably not really seeing the excitement in being part of two racial groups that (usually) don't want you. I was never really drawn in by any of the half-breeds in stories, like Tanis and Rikus.
                                Last edited by nofather; 11-30-2017, 10:09 PM.

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