D&D + supernatural = Obsolete

Sorry, long post about a subject that bothers me since years about D&D. And sorry about the bad english, but I can't see where it is bad to correct it Wink
Edit : And sorry about not having given a true title to the thread !
Edit : A kind hearted person has repaired my mistake, thank you !




In the past, fiction was accepted as something that didn’t need any strong root.


In Science Fiction, you could claim that being really precise in your perception of the world could render you able to teleport across galaxies, or that the earth was hollow with big dinosaur in it.
In Heroic Fantasy, you could take incredible liberties with biology and sociology, and having a long living fantasy race reasoning like humans and rewriting their racial characteristics.
A private detective could do things on a regular basis that would have resulted in death or jail for any normal people before the tenth chapter of the first novel.


It has changed a lot. In fantasy, the better known agent of this change is Michael Moorcock, particularly with the Elric saga.
It was willingly made as anti-Tolkien and anti-Conan as possible.
And what it changed the most, is the fantasy world itself. It has its own “logic”.


Even if it’s not easy to tell what are the rules of supernatural in the saga, it’s clear that they have their own logic and rules, and magic is not just a justification to do anything, like an elf deciding that the next day, she will stop being immortal to espouse a human. Magic with Moorcock, like everything, have an origin and needs means to use it, before having consequences.
 


All the good modern stories follow the new rules followed by Moorcock. No more endless quivers for bows or endless magazines for handguns. You want magic, you sell your soul or find another way to gain it. No more “I was lucky to find this [thing]”, or “I was lucky that you arrived in time with the right tool, my friend”. When these things happen, now, the story is no more considered as good (except for the last Batman with pocket motorbikes, night/day incoherence, or armored guy not breaking the ice when the light ones break it, but I personally don’t consider it a good story).


The Lost series is good example. There were causes and consequences, and we were waiting for the revelation of the nature of the causes. And everything was okay, even when the causes stayed unanswered, because we felt the mysteries followed rules. The fanbase exploded in the end, because the story ended with : it’s mystic, there nothing more to know, the solution to all these mystery was it’s mystic.
The end would have been accepted by everyone if the answer had been : you learnt more than most people, but the mystery remains. Because it works like science, each solution brings more questions, it’s a kind of rule in itself.


Answering with : You should stop asking question, because the origins and consequence are just beyond our comprehension, so everything is justified when the storyteller needs it doesn’t work anymore with a lot of people.



And D&D is just doing that with supernatural.


D&D, with the 70’s/80’s spirit, mixed an awful lot of concepts, like mixing the Law/Chaos opposite forces with the classic Good/evil angle, even when Moorcock had developed the Law/Chaos concept in direct opposition to the old fantasy clichés, or mixing new ages concepts with mainstream  theology.


It was a mess.                                               
Magic using astral plane or travel, which are directly derived from new age, and ended different from psionics.
Psionics were using a modern paranormal terminology (which was new age influenced) about concepts predating religions.
Monks being different than psionics, but clearly based on oriental concepts… just like psionics that even used the mind, body and soul trope.


And today, even after the “power sources” attempt to clarify things a little, D&D has not evolved at all.                                         



What is magic in D&D ?


First, we have arcane magic and divine magic. The term magic, and the mechanics, means they have something in common. What is this thing ?


Are arcane and divine two tags put on something just called “magic” ?
Nowhere in D&D is explained why there are references to magic as an unified element.


There are arcane spells, divine spells, but no “magic” spells.


Magic in D&D has no origin or cause, it seems to be a generic term to refer to two different concepts with just some mechanical things in common. Game mechanics.
 


And then we have the way “magic” enter in existence.


We still don’t know what is magic before this state, as divine and arcane are not the same things, but if someone do the right sequence of gestures and words, a spell is cast.
Is there a specific mental process in top of having to handle complicate gestures and speech ?


Is magic mobilized through language ? Then each gesture and word means something and then is understood by something. Maybe the true name mechanic encountered in some spells are based on this option ?


Then, D&D has to determine how this language interact with the world, and why divine is not the same as arcane regarding this language. And if there are more than one language, who or what answers it and why. And if there are different languages, we should talk about magics, not magic as a singular thing.
 


It’s too easy to leave the situation as it is and saying that DMs will decide for their worlds.
Why a warlock arcane magic, obtained through another entity, is still tagged arcane when a cleric just do the same thing and is tagged divine ? Why a paladin divine magic doesn’t express itself the same way as an armored clerics with the same mindset and stats ?
 


What is magic in D&D ?
The current answer is “what you want it to be”.


But the problem is that we can’t build a coherent story on incoherent elements, so the stories in D&D have to stay away from revolving around the nature of magic. Almost all the D&D novels centerd on the spellcasting and the nature of magic are crap, the exceptions being Dragonlance and Dark Sun. In Dragonlance, all magic was divine, so there was just magic with specialties. But as a campaign setting, the crap returned immediately. In Dark Sun, the problem is zapped, as Divine is a thing of the past.

4th edition tried something with power sources, but then the answer was “everything”. Which could also be the answer if the question was “what is science ?”


I really think that D&D could stop a lot of its obsolescence by really streamlining its supernatural aspect and giving it a logic we could find in how we talk about it and how we play with it.


Magic : why the singular term ? there are at least two magics in D&D since the start.


Arcane and Divine : what is the nature of the difference, and how can they be the same thing (magic) ? If psionics are not magic, what is the nature of the difference with arcane and divine magics ?


Psionics : Why a “scientific” approach of the psychic powers when it’s not the case for magics ?
Where do the term psionics come from in a fantasy setting ?
How can psionics affect atom or molecular level in worlds with physics based on four elements ? The powers or spells references should come from alchemy, not modern science.


 


D&D + supernatural = Obsolete + Absurd.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

Yet another problem cause by trying to make wizards cover dozens of mythic and mythological archetypes. Because DnD tries to make wizards every robe wearer who ever spouted a cryptic phrase it means magic  ends up a massive incoherent conglomeration of a thousand mythological traditions.
D&D need not define these things at all. They need not define the back end "science" or meta-physics of magic.  More precisely they should not define these things.  I should be able to make that up on my own table.  Heck I should be able to change those definitions from campaign to campaign or if the DM is so willing character to character.  The only thing these explanations need have in common is the defined mechanics of the system.  I should be able to invent my own explanations as I see fit.

Great post Monsieur_Moustache! For myself I really like the fact that D&D leaves the "roots" and reasons of magic for the DM to create. I have put together a couple of explanations for magic over the years and unraveling those mysteries has been great fun at the table and a source of story and adventure. If there was a fixed logic and explanation for magic in D&D it would be more difficult for a DM to create her own reasoning for them. And so the story and DM creativity would be limited.

But what you say is very true; a common explanation would open the door for published adventures and novels to explore those mechanics. Which would be very interesting to see.

So for myself I'm good regardless of how it works out.  



"Magic" is the thing that people don't understand, where "the people" includes everyone other than dedicated specialists who spend their entire lives studying it.  It is a lot like science, in that regard.

Wizards try to understand the underlying physics behind channeling energy from the planes, in order to get consistent results.  Clerics don't try to understand it, and just let someone smarter deal with it (where, in this case, "someone smarter" means "a god").  Again, the parallels to science are significant.

If the books ever explain exactly how magic works, which seems to be what the OP is asking for, then it will cease to be "magic" to anyone who learns it.  The nature of magic can be an important question which should vary between settings, which is why I am happier if they don't address it anywhere within the core material.

The metagame is not the game.

D&D + supernatural = Obsolete + Absurd.



Do we really need more science in our fantasy?

Isnt there a seperate category for you to adventure in called science fiction?

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I would like to DDN kill the arcane/divine barrier and simply call a spellcaster:

Mage.

there could be 8 schools of magic and everyone could learn spells from only 6.

If you wanted to be a specialist you could only learn 5 schools and some would be pre picked as unavailable.

I.E. an elementalist would be banned as a healer, and a healer would be banned from elemental and necromancy, etc...
I really, really like how Shadowrun deals with the philosophy behind "how" magic works.

The metagame is not the game.

D&D + supernatural = Obsolete + Absurd.



Do we really need more science in our fantasy?

Isnt there a seperate category for you to adventure in called science fiction?

I don't know why you translate this quote as an intention of enforcing science in D&D.
I said in my post that D&D should be coherent, including enforcing the four elements based D&D physics instead of bringing modern science in it (a part about psionics).

Coherence doesn't mean science or definitive explanation of the nature of different kind of supernatural manifestations, but a logic in the different terminologies and interactions. Leaving a mystery up to the imagination is okay, often better than giving a definitive answer (my Lost series example).

And Heroic Fantasy is already a science-fiction subcategory. The evolution in the two categories are similars, from women writers type of influence to the "cosmology streamliners" like moorcock or Asimov.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

D&D + supernatural = Obsolete + Absurd.



Do we really need more science in our fantasy?

Isnt there a seperate category for you to adventure in called science fiction?

I don't know why you translate this quote as an intention of enforcing science in D&D.
I said in my post that D&D should be coherent, including enforcing the four elements based D&D physics instead of bringing modern science in it (a part about psionics).

Coherence doesn't mean science or definitive explanation of the nature of different kind of supernatural manifestations, but a logic in the different terminologies and interactions. Leaving a mystery up to the imagination is okay, often better than giving a definitive answer (my Lost series example).

And Heroic Fantasy is already a science-fiction subcategory. The evolution in the two categories are similars, from women writers type of influence to the "cosmology streamliners" like moorcock or Asimov.



4e power sources are probably the closest you are going to find to a defined terminology.

But if we already can not agree on terminology for classes like the Paladin, what hope is there for things that are already as changable as "magic"?

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"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke.
Yeah, I gave up on internal consistency from D&D long ago. The flip flop between Psionics are or aren't maigc was a particularly funny one. The idea that people who live in inherently magic worlds where physics as we understand it obviously just don't work (Any place with an underdark, I'm looking at you, for starters) are bound by what we would consider realistic is hillarious... but that is what it is.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
Coherent doesn't mean realistic.

The  idea is that magic should have a source and rules associated with its use and capabilities.

For example the forgotten realms have the weave as a source and most magic classes have ways of accesssing the weave.

The OP is pushing for magic to  be treated with care and precision rather than being a sloppy hodgepodge of every supernatural effect ever scribbled.

Or that's what I'm seeing anyway. 
Fundamentally I agree with the OP. The "foundation" for magic should get an explanation. Nothing scientific or concrete but something to add another level to the explanation of why throwing a wad of sulfur and batcrap while doing Riverdance makes a fireball. The explanation doesn't need to be deep, in fact shouldn't be. Simple things like the Forgotten Realms Weave or the ring of Siberys in Eberron are the source for magic.
This, however, isn't something for a PHB and should definitely be in campaign settings. The DMG should have guidelines for developing theexamines of settling details.
Also, currently rereading the Elric Saga right now.
Coherent doesn't mean realistic.

The  idea is that magic should have a source and rules associated with its use and capabilities.

For example the forgotten realms have the weave as a source and most magic classes have ways of accesssing the weave.

The OP is pushing for magic to  be treated with care and precision rather than being a sloppy hodgepodge of every supernatural effect ever scribbled.

Or that's what I'm seeing anyway. 


I understand that, but I think that's something that has never been a part of D&D, and is likely never to be a part, unless it is in a specific setting.
By leaving it vague, conceptually, it leaves room for different settings to have different magical theories with less wasted page count.  
Personally, if I want a developed magical theory... or even coherence, I go to Ars Magica. 
I'm not saying internal consistency is bad, just that we are highly unlikely to get it here. 
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
Maybe not for the whole game but what if each class had to be coherent?

The main problem I have with wizard and cleric stems from cramming too many magic systems and religions int single classes.
Maybe not for the whole game but what if each class had to be coherent?

The main problem I have with wizard and cleric stems from cramming too many magic systems and religions int single classes.


I had that issue for years, then I played games where such things were propperly compartmentalized. Once D&D stopped being my immediate go to, and got to be just a niche game, it stopped being an issue.

Mind you, I liked AD&D's Priest of a Specific Mythos as sorta a nice mid ground for different religions. 
So, while I agree in theorey, I doubt D&D will ever get to a better place in this regard. I mean, I would rage for hours on end about "Psionic Magic" when I first read it. Then I just... stopped caring, because I would either fix it for my game or use a better system for what I wanted.

Now if they want D&D to be a base from which many other game styles (other than low-magic fairly mundane fantasy) can spring, they'll need to retool. But i doubt such ambitions are seriously entertained.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
See I think DnD becoing the king of RPGs again would be better then hobbling itself to an increasingly tiny niche.
See I think DnD becoing the king of RPGs again would be better then hobbling itself to an increasingly tiny niche.


You have been reading the playtests, right?
Is there anything at all you've seen so far that indicates they aren't going for a relatively narrow description "Iconic D&D" rather than a more wide ranging general fantasy system?
I keep hearing about modularity, but I'm really not seeing it. It's trying to be King of it's nitche. It isn't even pretending to look beyound. 

Let's play a game.
You post the playstyles the game encourages, and I'll post the ones it completely fails to support.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
The difference between D&D and some other systems is that's it's meant to be kind of setting generic. Yes it's fantasy, but you can really throw it into whatever fantasy backdrop you want, and most of them have some sort of explaination for magic. It's the same if you go look at BESM, Unisystem, Savage Worlds, or any other setting generic system. Magic is magic, and they let the setting fill in the gaps.
My two copper.
Aye, a little flexibility wouldn't go amiss, or have different builds for example athas might favor two builds of wizard, preserver and defiler, while Krynn has three red, black, and white. The core wizards could be segragated by school spec for example, the point being to limit and unify the wizard's abilities so that while the class can still do all the things a dnd wizard ought, it doesn't turn into Swiss army wizard.
Yet another problem cause by trying to make wizards cover dozens of mythic and mythological archetypes. Because DnD tries to make wizards every robe wearer who ever spouted a cryptic phrase it means magic  ends up a massive incoherent conglomeration of a thousand mythological traditions.


The wizard, fighter and to a lesser degree, have a lot of problems from tryng to represnt too much IMO. I wish we could tear them down and do something better...
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
Yeah the fighter has some of the same problem, but at least his mechanics usually force him to choose which archetype instead of the way the wizard gets to be merlin, the oracle at delphi, Chandra Nalaar, and lord voldemort all at the same time.
See, there's a 3.5 book called complete mage that encourages a DM to create and define their own rules for all of this. Yagamifire actually had a great post about this on the question of "why." You keep asking, "why is this?" Until you arrive at a point where you can't create an answer to why anymore.

The specific example he used was actually magic in a setting. This was actually something I wanted to do with my last PC. Specifically, it was a focus on necromancy and the manipulation of life and death. It was a lot of fun while it lasted, but I may be able to revive the character concept in a month or so.
See, there's a 3.5 book called complete mage that encourages a DM to create and define their own rules for all of this. Yagamifire actually had a great post about this on the question of "why." You keep asking, "why is this?" Until you arrive at a point where you can't create an answer to why anymore.

The specific example he used was actually magic in a setting. This was actually something I wanted to do with my last PC. Specifically, it was a focus on necromancy and the manipulation of life and death. It was a lot of fun while it lasted, but I may be able to revive the character concept in a month or so.

Necromancy is one of the biggest incoherence in D&D.

Why do necromancy is related to life force in D&D ? If you are the master of death and undeath, then life force is not in your domain of competence at all.

How DMs can build an immersive world when something like being master of death consist in being a master of life force manipulation ? And when being master of healing doesn't grant any mastery on death force which would be undeath…
That is one of the numerous incoherences that make me think that someone just cared about mechanics before thinking about the game, just to give more spells to the necromancer specialists or something like that.

It's one of the reasons why I don't like the eight schools of magic, too much schools having to be balanced against each others (and half of them are totally redundant), leading to bad decisions, like making necromancers masters of life force when undeath as its own concept should have been developped in opposition to life force.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

The thing about Necromancy, is that it isn't about death and undeath. It's traditionally defined, both in the real world and in 3e D&D, as the school of magic that manipulates the energies of life and death. The reason for this is because in a lot of ways the lack of one equates to the presence of the other, and vice versa. It's a very Taoist concept.

My character gets to do really cool things like, say someone is wounded, and we have limited methods for healing them. Well, we've got a prisoner left over, or an animal nearby. I kill it with vampiric touch, and then use healing touch on the person I want to heal. Healing touch actually makes me sacrifice my own hp, but since I'm loaded up on temporary hp from vampiric touch, that goes first. I'm effectively taking the life force of another creature, and giving it to someone else. Now that is power over life and death.

I'm not going to go into the pages and pages of notes for how magic works in the setting that I was playing in, but I will say that co-developing that and actually getting to play in a system where I understood the meta-physics of the setting was a blast. The flavor for my powers was pretty sweet too.

I won't argue that the schools of magic could stand a re-working. Illusion and enchantment should have been fused a long time ago, and some of the schools in evocation and aburation should have been yanked from each other and combined into their own school, and then the rest of evocation and abjuration should have been melded into their own more specialized school. Those are just a couple of the changes I think they should make to those.
The thing about Necromancy, is that it isn't about death and undeath. It's traditionally defined, both in the real world and in 3e D&D, as the school of magic that manipulates the energies of life and death. The reason for this is because in a lot of ways the lack of one equates to the presence of the other, and vice versa. It's a very Taoist concept.

I don't have the same references. I didn't see  this reference to life force in necromancy a lot outside D&D (I'm being prudent, but the fact is I don't remember any at the moment).

Most revolve about divination, death/resurection, inflicting agony or decay, dead summoning and necromancy as mastering entropy.

But if D&D keeps this necromancy point of view, coherence would make healers able to inflict death and decay with healing spells.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

The thing about Necromancy, is that it isn't about death and undeath. It's traditionally defined, both in the real world and in 3e D&D, as the school of magic that manipulates the energies of life and death. The reason for this is because in a lot of ways the lack of one equates to the presence of the other, and vice versa. It's a very Taoist concept.

I don't have the same references. I didn't see  this reference to life force in necromancy a lot outside D&D (I'm being prudent, but the fact is I don't remember any at the moment).

Most revolve about divination, death/resurection, inflicting agony or decay, dead summoning and necromancy as mastering entropy.

But if D&D keeps this necromancy point of view, coherence would make healers able to inflict death and decay with healing spells.




Well, clerics already have access to two sets of spells that are little more than two sides of the same coin. Cure/Inflict. Interestingly enough, they even have reveresed effects against some creatures. I've seen positive energy spells actually deal damage to living targets, and negative energy heal living targets. I've also seen the two have opposite effects on undead as well. You'd be surprised what you can do with the right effects.
The thing about Necromancy, is that it isn't about death and undeath. It's traditionally defined, both in the real world and in 3e D&D, as the school of magic that manipulates the energies of life and death. The reason for this is because in a lot of ways the lack of one equates to the presence of the other, and vice versa. It's a very Taoist concept.

I don't have the same references. I didn't see  this reference to life force in necromancy a lot outside D&D (I'm being prudent, but the fact is I don't remember any at the moment).

Most revolve about divination, death/resurection, inflicting agony or decay, dead summoning and necromancy as mastering entropy.

But if D&D keeps this necromancy point of view, coherence would make healers able to inflict death and decay with healing spells.




Well, clerics already have access to two sets of spells that are little more than two sides of the same coin. Cure/Inflict. Interestingly enough, they even have reveresed effects against some creatures. I've seen positive energy spells actually deal damage to living targets, and negative energy heal living targets. I've also seen the two have opposite effects on undead as well. You'd be surprised what you can do with the right effects.

These spells were the same spells before, you had to memorize them as the version you wanted, healing or the wounding. They were necromancy spells.

Vampire touch was another bizarre conception. It was just a transfer of life force, it could have been enchantment, conjuration or alteration, but it was tagged necromancy for just one reason, necromancy was just the bad boy spell list. Any spell that caused a moral problem, like clone or contagion, was put in the necromancy school.
Creating a clone from a living being has nothing to do with death, and a contagion inflicted disease, something that is not even about the life force abstraction.

But necromancy is still just a revealing detail regarding the incoherences of the supernatural in D&D.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

I never saw any conflict with the Necromancy sphere; it's all about manipulating life energy.  You can restore life energy to heal someone, or take away life energy to hurt someone (but only a living creature - not a construct).  Even the clone spell is about imbuing something with life energy.

Life energy (positive energy) is one of the few things in D&D that has usually been pretty consistent. 

The metagame is not the game.

I never saw any conflict with the Necromancy sphere; it's all about manipulating life energy.  You can restore life energy to heal someone, or take away life energy to hurt someone (but only a living creature - not a construct).  Even the clone spell is about imbuing something with life energy.

Life energy (positive energy) is one of the few things in D&D that has usually been pretty consistent. 



This.

These spells were the same spells before, you had to memorize them as the version you wanted, healing or the wounding. They were necromancy spells.



Sounds to me like they should bring that back.

Vampire touch was another bizarre conception. It was just a transfer of life force, it could have been enchantment, conjuration or alteration, but it was tagged necromancy for just one reason, necromancy was just the bad boy spell list.



The only other school it could have possibly gone under given its nature was transmutation. Due to the effect and theme of the spell, a school that manipulated life made the most sense by far. How the hell does something like that sound like mind control or summoning something to you? I really don't get that.

Any spell that caused a moral problem, like clone or contagion, was put in the necromancy school.



What about all of the evil-aligned spells that are found in other schools then?

Creating a clone from a living being has nothing to do with death, and a contagion inflicted disease, something that is not even about the life force abstraction.



That's because necromancy has never been about just death, but about the manipulation of the energies of life and death. A clone (In D&D.) is just a body with no soul anyway. Sounds like necromancy to me. Contagion, that one's all about sickness and death. Sounds like necromancy to me.
Necromancy by definition is all about death (and divination, but the term is already wrongly used).
Saying that life force falls into the domain of death is not logic at all for me, if we don't consider that a healer should be able to manipulate undeath and creat zombies.
Life is not Death, even if the two are linked. Just like cold is not heat, even if the two are linked. Full is not empty, even if none of them exist without the other as a reference.

I don't understand how a living body, even without soul, can be the offspring of mastering death and undeath.

Contagion is about disease, strictly. Death is not mentioned at all in the 2nd edition spell.

It's like we are not talking about the same word at all, lol !

Everywhere I look, nothing support the life force being the domain of necromancy, except when it concerns D&D take on necromancy.
And my position then cannot vary from the fact that D&D necromancy is an anomaly.
 

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

DND magic tends to be an incoherent mess, we've covered this.
Ah, I missed the part about enchantment and conjuration for vampiric touch.

You can conjure life force form someone or somewhere, healing spells in 3rd edition were conjuration spells, based on this idea.

And enchantment being strictly mind affecting spells is not supported by all editions of D&D. Some people even think that alteration should have been merged with enchantment school, and charms with illusion school.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

Everywhere I look, nothing support the life force being the domain of necromancy, except when it concerns D&D take on necromancy.
And my position then cannot vary from the fact that D&D necromancy is an anomaly.

The cleric has, as far as I know, always been both the traditional healer and perfectly capable of making zombies.

I'll grant that the way D&D does it, where mastery of life energy is a unified principle that grants both healing/harming and resurrection/zombies is not the way most other things deal with it.  It is, however, internally consistent with itself.  And wasn't that the original point of this thread?

The metagame is not the game.

Everywhere I look, nothing support the life force being the domain of necromancy, except when it concerns D&D take on necromancy.
And my position then cannot vary from the fact that D&D necromancy is an anomaly.

The cleric has, as far as I know, always been both the traditional healer and perfectly capable of making zombies.

I'll grant that the way D&D does it, where mastery of life energy is a unified principle that grants both healing/harming and resurrection/zombies is not the way most other things deal with it.  It is, however, internally consistent with itself.  And wasn't that the original point of this thread?

No, it was about a global coherence.
Clerics are just a detail in the mess, and D&D clerics are just the D&D view on the concept. And even D&D is not okay with healing devoted specialists raising zombies as the norm.

A wizard able to cast fire and cold spells is as okay as a cleric casting necromantic and healing spells, but fire elemental description doesn't describe itself as being able to create cold effect by controlling the heat and negating it.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

Necromancy by definition is all about death (and divination, but the term is already wrongly used).
Saying that life force falls into the domain of death is not logic at all for me, if we don't consider that a healer should be able to manipulate undeath and creat zombies.



Well, if you can manipulate life, it stands to reason that you can move it from one place to another...say, out of someone's body. If you can manipulate death, it stands to reason that you can move it from one place to another...say, out of someone's body. Removing death, placing life, what's the difference when one is merely the absence of another? I get the use of the root, believe me, and its "real world" origins, but "real" necromancy has been used for the increase and empowerment of life, or rather the trading or exchange of life, for a very long time now.

Life is not Death, even if the two are linked. Just like cold is not heat, even if the two are linked. Full is not empty, even if none of them exist without the other as a reference.



Disclaimer: I am merely discussing source material and various world-views on said material. In no way am I making any categorical statement or value judgment on any of those views or the source material. Any and all offenses caused are firmly and definitively the fault(s) of the reader(s).

Depends on how you look at it. The Bhuddist would argue that the two are in fact one and the same, while the Taoist would say they are two halves of the same thing. When you get right down to it, the difference is remarkably thin. Other mystic traditions like Sufism, Gnosticism, or Hermeticism have similar views, with a couple minor differing points here and there.

I don't understand how a living body, even without soul, can be the offspring of mastering death and undeath.



"Oh wretched man that I am, who will come and deliver me from this body of death?"

There is a wonderful essay out there by the author George MacDonald who wrote about the very real state of living death that some people persist in in their daily lives.

Contagion is about disease, strictly. Death is not mentioned at all in the 2nd edition spell.



What's a pathogen but microscopic life? The relationship between virus and host is the decrease and weakening (Death.) of one and the increase and strengthening (Life.) the other.

It's like we are not talking about the same word at all, lol !

Everywhere I look, nothing support the life force being the domain of necromancy, except when it concerns D&D take on necromancy.
And my position then cannot vary from the fact that D&D necromancy is an anomaly.



Well, it kind of depends, a lot of different people have their own take on necromancy and magic in general. Most people who actually believed and practiced this stuff at least acknowledged the connection between life and death.
And this whole argument makes me look at Mage: the Awakening, see that it clearly has a Death Arcanum and a Life Arcanum, and wonder why something like that couldn't be done in D&D.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

The thing about Necromancy, is that it isn't about death and undeath. It's traditionally defined, both in the real world and in 3e D&D, as the school of magic that manipulates the energies of life and death. The reason for this is because in a lot of ways the lack of one equates to the presence of the other, and vice versa. It's a very Taoist concept.


Quibble with the bolded.
Traditionally, in the real world, necromancy is defined as divination by means of comuning with the dead.

Now, if we discard the name itself, we find many mystical and medicinal traditions that explore the interplay of life, vis, chi, ect... in animate and inanimate objects, some of which look for the overlap between the currently living and the formerly living. For some this is a spiritual quality unique to the individual, for others, it is a trait of the world itself, yet others consider it an electrical field. 


I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
The difference between D&D and some other systems is that's it's meant to be kind of setting generic. Yes it's fantasy, but you can really throw it into whatever fantasy backdrop you want, and most of them have some sort of explaination for magic. It's the same if you go look at BESM, Unisystem, Savage Worlds, or any other setting generic system. Magic is magic, and they let the setting fill in the gaps.


D&D however, isn't as generic as BESM or Savage Worlds (I am not acquainted with Unisystem).
It can't be easily thrown into mythic fantasy (Ala Exalted) or romantic fantasy... the system either does not focus on those things, or is explicitely against it. There may be sub rules that drastically change the core assumptions, but at center, it is a bland (but not generic) Low-Mid Magic, Low Tech, Fantasy. When the Magic system has a degree of flexibility (those alternate casting modules) that may change... however, the fire and forget is very nitche. The Class system also makes it nitchie.
Don't even get me started on race.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
...

It has changed a lot. In fantasy, the better known agent of this change is Michael Moorcock, particularly with the Elric saga.
It was willingly made as anti-Tolkien and anti-Conan as possible.
And what it changed the most, is the fantasy world itself. It has its own “logic”....



Err, I know this is a thread about magic in D&D not literary criticism, but I think you are misrepresenting Michael Moorcock's intention with Elric. While he was most definately writing in a style very different to Tolkien, Elric was never supposed to be "anit Conan". Elric was concieved as being a counterpoint or inversion of Conan, as someone of effete background who chose to embrace barbarism as an escape from the parts of himself he was not able to face.


Also, while I agree with a lot of what you are saying with regards to internal consistancy, and while I am a HUGE fane of MM, I think that you are misrepresenting his writing. Mike has talked about how much he hates "world building" and a lot of what appears to be consistancy is actually extensive ret-conning. Characters dont have endless quivers, but MM has openly stated that he does these things purely for story reasons, not because he cares that quivers only hold n arrows. Rakhir runs out of arrows to advance the plot, not because of mechanics. If Mike doesn't want "low ammo" to be a story point, the quiver will indeed be bottomless.