Non-human necromancy

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turin
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Non-human necromancy

Post by turin »

I'll preface this by saying that this topic ha a decent chance of, as some of you would put it, "degenerating" into a discussion on fantasy in general. Just a friendly warning. ;)


So... my question is, is necromancy in Wesnoth strictly a human phenomenon? Or do elves, orcs, dwarves, drakes, etc (elves in particular), practice it as well? I don't think there's anything about the magic of necromancy that would make it strictly human, but look at the psychology of it.

Necromancy's intent is to give the necromancer eternal life - Lichs are at least limitedly immortal, right? But what use do elves have with that? They're already limitedly immortal - elves don't die of old age. So from what I can tell Elves have nothing to gain from necromancy. In that case, what is the form of corrupted magic among the elves (it is necromancy among men)? Perhaps they, being immortal, wish to be mortal (a la Tolkien), and so have some sort of suicide cult... but in that case, it doesn't seem that dangerous; necromancy is dangerous because it not only makes the user undead and immortal, it also gives him the power to force this upon others. So it seems that this theoretical elvish suicide cult might be a murder-suicide cult - a cult of elves who turn berserk, charging into battle and fighting to the death using dark magic. A truly perverse elf, then, would have as his ultimate goal the destruction of all life, ending with himself.

This is all just brainstorming. What are people's opinions on this? Am I wrong in saying that elves would not be interested in necromancy? If so, why? And if I'm right - then what, exactly, happens to elvish sorcerers when they turn evil? Anyone else like my suicide cult idea? Any does anyone want to stretch this further - discuss whether dwarves, orcs, etc, would also be interested in necromancy, or whether it is strictly a human phenomenon?
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Post by JW »

Elves don't use necromancy and dwarves don't use magic. -LOTR.
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Post by kshinji »

LOTR is no bible for me.

Elvish dark magic would be nature connected. Id imagine that elf which turns evil, (not that does bad things feeling they are good but the corrupted one) becomes a dark elf. Then if he is corrupted elvish mage, he will probably control dark creatures. If it wasnt already my idea to make arachnoids race, id say s/he would control spiders & co.

Alernatively, as corrupted humans hate humans, he could be elf hatred, and therefore full of will to destroy forests. So he could become cirrupted fire mage. Not that i actually like this idea i just brainstormed too.

This or that, corrupted elf must be wearing black clothing. 8)
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Post by zookeeper »

Well, first of all I didn't know that elves were supposed to be immortal. :? But anyway, a lich for example probably has quite a lot more to play with than just the immortality - he can likely get his hands on all kinds of nifty little secrets about life, death, other planes of existence (a "realm of the dead", for example) and such to make it very possible for a member of any race intelligent enough to be intrigued and allured by the "undead immortality", undeath, or whatever we're supposed to call that. So I wouldn't say that immortality is the only driving force involved in becoming a necromancer and wanting to become a lich. Even if elves were immortal - meaning that they do not die of old age - that might make death an even more curious thing for them. Sure, lots of elves die in fighting and such, but death is not necessarily a natural thing for them, meaning that some of them might see necromancy, which allows one to control death, all the more interesting exactly because of that. So yeah, I'd say that some elf might certainly be interested, but it's probably a more rare tendency in elves than in humans.

I have difficulty imagining drake necromancers, perhaps because I don't see drakes as potential magic users in the first place. They're somewhat magical creatures, but I don't see them as creatures that can use or control magic. But that's another discussion.

Orcs and saurians I can see being able to do necromancy. My initial feeling about them would be that they can practise necromancy in a different way than humans and elves would - not by studying magic "formally", but through shamanistic means. I'd also say that they aren't intelligent (as in formally educated in theory of magic etc) enough to actually become liches, but can raise corpses and scry into "lands of the dead" and similar stuff. But the skill needed to becoming a lich would require a more sophisticated understanding of magic and necromancy, and orcs and saurians are just a bit too simple for that.

EDIT: With orcs I mostly only meant the shamans.
Last edited by zookeeper on September 2nd, 2006, 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Dragon Master »

Here's a big IMO:
Just like humans, and all sentinent beings, some elves would be willing to sacrifice their Humanity (elfmanity, whatever) in order to experience the benfits of necromancy. As far as I know, elves do die of old age, but they live a lot longer than humans. Since elves are nature based people, I assume their necromancy would involve rot and almost decaying beings instead of corpses. Things like animated rotting trees, spiders, moss or fungus creatures, and reanimated elf corpses. Elves wouldn't be as willing to use necromancy as humans based on their culture and ideas.
Dwarves shun magic, so they would all be opposed to necromancy. I'm sure it's possible for a dwarf to be a necromancer, but what would he reanimate? In caves you have little space to bury your dead, so I would assume corpses are burned or sunken in underground streams/lakes. Theoretically, a dwarf necromancer could find a suitable army of undead if he/she was located near a very large and very old lake with thousands of preserved corpses in it. Dwarf ncromancy would probably include a lot more skeletons becuase bones would be the best preserved thing.
I think orcs would be open to necromancy, having your warriors be able to fight for two life times would be useful. I can't imagine orcs being liches, but it would be possible for orcs to have battle necromancers who command living armies and reanimate fallen warriors. It might be possible to have multiple orcish necromancers who constantly reanimate each other.
I don't belive drakes would be necromatic. They seem to have so many advantage that they just wouldn't be interested in necromancy or any magic for that matter. Besides, as we can see drakes are burned to ashes when they die. I guess it's possible for a drake necromancer who summons poisonous ash elementals.
Suarians seem like a prime race to use necromancy. Swamps would contain many rotting and well preserved carcasses. I'm sure they would rarely delve deep enough to become liches, but it would be possible to have an experienced saurian necromancer.
I doubt any other races (nagas, mermen, woses, etc.) would have the intelligence or insterest to enter necromancy.
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Re: Non-human necromancy

Post by Sly »

turin wrote:In that case, what is the form of corrupted magic among the elves (it is necromancy among men)? Perhaps they, being immortal, wish to be mortal (a la Tolkien), and so have some sort of suicide cult... but in that case, it doesn't seem that dangerous; necromancy is dangerous because it not only makes the user undead and immortal, it also gives him the power to force this upon others. So it seems that this theoretical elvish suicide cult might be a murder-suicide cult - a cult of elves who turn berserk, charging into battle and fighting to the death using dark magic. A truly perverse elf, then, would have as his ultimate goal the destruction of all life, ending with himself.
If I remember the Warhammer world correctly (I haven't played it for a long while) there is some sort of this cult : the Evil Elf God Khaine.
His followers worship him by murdering others and suiciding themselves.

I don't see how this could be make into some Wesnoth units but it could be fun.
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Post by turin »

JW wrote:Elves don't use necromancy and dwarves don't use magic. -LOTR.
That's because there's no such thing as necromancy in LotR, and because NO races use magic outside of elves (and even they only know what they have been taught by the Valar, really). In fact, I can't really recall any instances of particularly impressive elven magic - all they could really do was enchant objects, like the doors to Moria. The Istari were the only true magi in Middle Earth.

Besides, WINLOTR.
Dragon Master wrote:As far as I know, elves do die of old age, but they live a lot longer than humans.
My understanding is that in Wesnoth, at least, this is false.
Dragon Master wrote: Since elves are nature based people, I assume their necromancy would involve rot and almost decaying beings instead of corpses. Things like animated rotting trees, spiders, moss or fungus creatures, and reanimated elf corpses. Elves wouldn't be as willing to use necromancy as humans based on their culture and ideas.
So Woses are the results of Elven malomancy*? :twisted:

Dragon Master wrote:Dwarves shun magic, so they would all be opposed to necromancy.
All decent men and elves are opposed to malomancy, too. I thought that was the whole point - it is a perverted magic.

And dwarves have magic - runes. A different type of magic, yes (more mechanical, less artful), but magic nonetheless.

With regards to orcish malomancy, I agree with zookeeper. Orcs wouldn't know how to turn into a lich (it requires a great deal of sophistication), and they might not even know how to raise the dead to fight for them. What they would be best at is raising the dead to give them information. I can also envision orcs raising spirits, imprisoning them within crystals or somesuch, and then throwing the crystal into the enemy ranks, where it would then break, releasing a ghost among the enemies. But they probably wouldn't be able to control the ghost so it didn't attack their own kind.
Sly wrote:If I remember the Warhammer world correctly (I haven't played it for a long while) there is some sort of this cult : the Evil Elf God Khaine.
His followers worship him by murdering others and suiciding themselves.

I don't see how this could be make into some Wesnoth units but it could be fun.
This reminds me of the Wild Elf Furies. Perhaps Wild Elf malomancers have something similar. They wouldn't have a god, of course.

*: I'm using "malomancy" because it's the best word I can think of that expresses the concept of perverted magic, but not necessarily magic dealing with the raising of the dead.
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Post by Stephen »

Just my 2 Cents.

Dwarves are like barbarian's they could care less about being all wise and using magic. And a evil elf? IMPOSSIBLE!! A troll is a elf that had been tormented and has sofered long enough. If you see the skin colors are much alike. Just if you ask me one should be badly burned and the normal elf should be well dressed.

Elfs are in line with nature. Nature is assosiated with healing. So and elf that is desructive?
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Post by JW »

turin wrote:
JW wrote:Elves don't use necromancy and dwarves don't use magic. -LOTR.
That's because there's no such thing as necromancy in LotR, and because NO races use magic outside of elves (and even they only know what they have been taught by the Valar, really). In fact, I can't really recall any instances of particularly impressive elven magic - all they could really do was enchant objects, like the doors to Moria. The Istari were the only true magi in Middle Earth.

Besides, WINLOTR.
No duh. I brought it up as a starting point and qualified it.

Besides...isn't there a race of wizards in LOTR? Hmm....*thinks*...Gandalf wan't an elf, was he? Was Sarumon?

Anyway, where in Wesnoth does it say elves are immortal? WINLOTR.

Also, I just happen to agree with LOTR because it makes the most sense until outside storyline is provided to alter from that interpretation. LOTR and DnD are similar in this, except that Dwarves can use magic in DnD whereas I don't think any dwarves in LOTR used magic.

Why don't you just make up what you want and see how well it goes over? I mean, if you're worried about "canon" then all I can say is that if it hasn't been defined in one way or the other....you get the liberty of filling in the blanks.

Think of it as a wiki page.
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Post by Elvish_Pillager »

JW wrote:Besides...isn't there a race of wizards in LOTR? Hmm....*thinks*...Gandalf wan't an elf, was he? Was Sarumon?
Both maiar, in the guise of men. Neither of them is anything like an elf. :)
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Post by Stilgar »

I don't think Wesnoth's Elves are the "immortal" kind, but I don't recall anything official saying either way. But, hasn't it been said somewhere that the Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs in Wesnoth are meant to have descended from a common ancestor?

Regarding Elves and undeath, there's two mentions that I recall, one in Tale of Two Brothers, where an Elf strikes a deal with the Dark Sorcerors to raise him after death (this one seems a bit odd to me). The other one is in The Rise of Wesnoth, where Haldric has to clear the island of undead who are said to be Elven dead.

From TRoW, my impression has been that an Elvish necromancer would become a vampire rather than a lich :twisted: (Yes, I'm aware that Turin doesn't like vampires :P)

As for the death cult idea, that could be cool too.
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Post by turin »

Elvish Pillager wrote:
JW wrote:Besides...isn't there a race of wizards in LOTR? Hmm....*thinks*...Gandalf wan't an elf, was he? Was Sarumon?
Both maiar, in the guise of men. Neither of them is anything like an elf. :)
Like I said, only Istari use magic in LotR. Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and the two Blue WIzards are the Istari.
Master Stilgar wrote:I don't think Wesnoth's Elves are the "immortal" kind, but I don't recall anything official saying either way.
There's never been any official pronouncement, because it was always understood, AFAIK, taht they are immortal. And many unofficial campaigns, which are considered "lesser canon", have elves being immortal.
JW wrote:Also, I just happen to agree with LOTR because it makes the most sense until outside storyline is provided to alter from that interpretation.
The problem with basing anything to do with magic in Wesnoth on LOTR is that magic in Wesnoth can be wielded by men, elves, etc, whereas in LotR it can't.
Master Stilgar wrote:From TRoW, my impression has been that an Elvish necromancer would become a vampire rather than a lich :twisted: (Yes, I'm aware that Turin doesn't like vampires :P)
Eh, vampires aint so bad. At least they're humanoid. When they turn into bats, though, there's a problem.
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Post by Zhukov »

Big [IMO] on this post.

Well, lesse now...

I would see Elves as usually not inclined toward mucking around with dead stuff, that is to say, not raising the dead. I'll try to explain why. Elves, like humans, are made somewhat 'seperate' from nature by their intelligence and technology. However, unlike humans, they do not seek to isolate themselves from nature but rather live alongside or 'above' it. (To help flesh out what I mean by this, I would see Orcs as living within nature in the way a non-human animal does. I hope all that makes sense.) Now, to get back to the point, life after is death is unnatural, and Elves recognise it as such. So raising the dead would be seen as an ugly voilation of the natural order. I can imagine them tolerating something like communicating in a benevolent manner with the dead, but most likely not as a mainstream practice.

The idea of Elves being in some way facinated by death is not a bad one. Some kind of murder-suicide cult thing could be viable...just. Something like this would depend on whether Wesnoth Elves just live for a very long time (as in thousands of years), or if they actually live forever (until accident, voilence or illness).

Actually, how about this? Their society generally does not have to deal with death on a regualar basis and at every level. What if some Elves, perhaps veterans from a war during which they have been brutally confronted by the ugly deaths of many Elven comrades, were to become so afraid of dying that they seek to use magic to give themselves some kind of undead afterlife if they die... They come to see death as alien to their race and thus try to safeguard against it (as opposed to a human who tries to deny an integral of his/her race through necromancy/lichdom). The result could be the Elven Undead that Haldric has to destroy in TRoW. Just an idea.

Like I already mentioned, a very important aspect of the Elven relationship with death (and by extension necromancy) is just how 'immortal' Wesnoth Elves are.
Super long-lived but die eventually or can only die through accident/voilence/illness...? I've always imagined them to be the latter, for no particular reason.

:P But that's quite enough about those bloody attention-hogging Elves, on to the other races:

I would say definately no necromancy for Dwarves. They are rather rustic in character (to demonstrate what I mean, consider how they prefere to practice magic by etching symbols (runes) rather then 'summoning icy winds from the ethereal plane' or 'warping the forces that hold reality together'). Their view of necromany isn't idealistic or high-and-mighty like that of an Elf, rather it is mostly superstitious. As far are they are concerned, if something is dead then it should damn well stay dead, no need to muck with it.

As for Orcs/Trolls, I'm not quite sure. I could more-or-less agree with this:
"I agree with zookeeper. Orcs wouldn't know how to turn into a lich (it requires a great deal of sophistication), and they might not even know how to raise the dead to fight for them. What they would be best at is raising the dead to give them information. I can also envision orcs raising spirits, imprisoning them within crystals or somesuch, and then throwing the crystal into the enemy ranks, where it would then break, releasing a ghost among the enemies. But they probably wouldn't be able to control the ghost so it didn't attack their own kind." -turin.
If they are going to meddle with necromancy it would be very crude, possibly of questionable effectiveness.
As a side note, I always thought of Orcs and Trolls as somewhat scornful of undead generally ("Bah! Useless bone sacks. C'mon boys, let's show 'em how to really mash Elves. GRAAAAH!!")

For some reason I can't see Drakes being interested in necromancy. Then again, I don't know much about their character in Wesnoth.
On the other hand, I can see a Saurian raising the dead. They have magic users and are quite intelligent. I can't think of anything in their nature that would prevent it.

Misc other races.
Merfolk: I remember reading somewhere that they hate undead. That works for me.
Naga: No idea. (Actually, these guys could really do with some characterization. I like them and they're kinda cool but currently rather blank.)
Ogre: Nah, not smart enough for any magic.
Wose: Nah, if they have any magical ability, it would be plant-based.

:shock: That proved...rather long.
Oh well - you want fantasy discussion, you get fantasy discussion ;).
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Post by Jetrel »

turin wrote:
JW wrote:Elves don't use necromancy and dwarves don't use magic. -LOTR.
and because NO races use magic outside of elves (and even they only know what they have been taught by the Valar, really).
Dwarves do use very powerful magic, but very subtle magic. They built those doors to moria, and also the one on the lonely mountain; they also, I believe, helped forge narsil (although it was reforged by the elves).

Dwarven magic was the primary source of their races's astonishing hardiness and durability, and they could pour their magic into their craft - it made everything they did with their hands come out much better - often to the point of being supernaturally well done. Almost as if by magic (hint, hint).
turin wrote:In fact, I can't really recall any instances of particularly impressive elven magic - all they could really do was enchant objects, like the doors to Moria. The Istari were the only true magi in Middle Earth.
There were some striking instances - Luthien, for example, overpowered Sauron in sort of a magic duel, and (IIRC) trapped him in a spell. All of this through a song.

Also, the three rings, which had not been touched by sauron, were driven by purely elven magic. They were subtle, though - Nenya, the ring of Adamant, was the only thing keeping Lothlorien alive against Dol Guldur, and (don't know the name) the ring of Fire, was given to Aragorn, who used it to "rekindle" the spirit of his people.
That's because there's no such thing as necromancy in LotR,
There was one necromancer in LotR, the necromancer of Dol Guldur.
His other alias was Sauron.

(And seeing how he was one of the Greater Maiar/Less Valar, it was something that only a creature of that order would be capable of.)


If I had made a game like wesnoth, things would have been structured very differently from the get-go. Oh well. I just draw the pictures.
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Post by irrevenant »

All IMO:

Elves are a lot more centred emotionally than humans. Since they presumably have 'childhoods' of numerous decades, and maturity appears to be greatly prized by their culture, an adult elf is highly unlikely to be swayed to 'the dark side' by drives such as lust for power or fear of death. I see them as embodying 'the long now', appreciating that 'this too shall pass' and being at peace with it.
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