Necromancer NPC as an ally?

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Hi all, I thought it might be an interesting situation/role reversal for my group to meet and possibly ally with a necromancer, who may not necessarily be evil. My campaign has the PC's attempting to restore the gods to their respective seats of power (Raven Queen, Bahamut, etc etc.)

Can anyone think of motivation for a necromancer to be doing things other than just being a bad guy? Or how I could fit this in without the PC's instantly trying to kill him/her just for being a necromancer? 
Necromancers are also very good undead-slayers, and raising the undead is a very, very small part of what necromancy is.  It's not at all difficult to be a good necromancer, so there's really no issue.  I played one in 3e that used feats from the Book of Exalted Deeds.
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What made your NPC become a necromancer in the first place?  If you can determine that, his motivations for helping the PCs should become apparent.  Maybe they have a common enemy.  Maybe he owes one of the PCs a life debt. Maybe he just sees the PCs as a tool for acquiring more power.  Maybe he's just pragmatic and realizes that if the god of death is not restored to power, he will run out of corpses.  The whole "death is a part of life" cliche.
Next thing you will tell me Browbeat is bad.
Agree with Salla Necromancy never was meant to be mega evil it just all the fanboys turned it into such. Necromancy dabbles in the negative energy plane which can be viewed as bad but its just another tool in which its user is evil not the tool itself. The necromancer in the party can have nearly any motitive or goal just like any fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard has to adventure and do the quest.
There was a DDi article "Secrets of the City Entombed" about a group of necromancers excavating a city buried by a volcanic explosion. The necromancers were actually the good guys, in a manner of speaking. The city was widely considered evil, and the group was trying to either gain the lost secrets to further their own studies or to keep evil artifacts out of the wrong hands. It was a neat twist on both necromancers and secret societies.

The article is here, but you may have to be a DDi subscriber to read more than the opening blurb. You can try anyway, just to make sure, some of the early articles were open to the public:

www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/d...
Necromancers who are seeking to unravel the secrets of death may be members of the church of Ioun and at odds with cults of Vecna.  If the PCs are fighting a cult of Vecna they may find sympathy or even a temporary alignment with those necromancers in order to get the job done.
In a campaign I'm about to start I'm going into detail on my version of the Raven Queen's background.  To that end I'm saying that in her mortal life she was a powerful necromancer that did unspeakable acts while serving Nerull, but was playing "the long game".  In her mind having Nerull as the god of death was worse for the world as a whole than anything she could do as one of his agents.  So she debased herself more and more as his consort until she was able to find his weakness and slay him.

There are people who would say this version of the Raven Queen's background makes her Chaotic Good (Always the Greater Good no matter the cost).

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It also makes me think of Verin of the Brown Ajah who was later found to be Black Ajah.  If what she says is to be believed she only joined the Black on pain of death and once she was a member she worked as a double agent to try to foil their plans from the inside.
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Alternatively, They are good people who raise dead and use them for good purposes. After all, the corpse won't mind, and it's better than having a potential resource rotting in the ground, so an army of zombies acting for a good cause = good necromancers. And using death magic isn't necessarily evil either. It may kill people, but so do fireballs, and they hurt, so using death magic could be seen as far more justifiable than most other offensive magics.
Read the books Geist and Necromancer. They are about people who work with the spiritworld, in both positive and negative ways. Very cool books that aren't normally in my realm, but were very enjoyable.
Maybe some of the in-game conversations could have some of these points come up:

Non-zombie argument(s):

Necromancers are also very good undead-slayers, and raising the undead is a very, very small part of what necromancy is.  It's not at all difficult to be a good necromancer, so there's really no issue. 


Pro-zombie argument(s):

Alternatively, They are good people who raise dead and use them for good purposes. After all, the corpse won't mind, and it's better than having a potential resource rotting in the ground, so an army of zombies acting for a good cause = good necromancers. And using death magic isn't necessarily evil either. It may kill people, but so do fireballs, and they hurt, so using death magic could be seen as far more justifiable than most other offensive magics.


Anti-zombie argument(s):

What happens if a necromancer loses control of the undead, either through personal negligence or outside interference? Fireballs only last a few seconds, and only at very specific x, y, and z coordinates, whereas un-controlled undead would be far more unpredictable.

Also, the corpse really would mind: having your dead body turned into an undead prevents your soul from being resurrected even if somebody else has another piece like a severed finger, which wastes a cleric's valuble spell slot and tens of thousands of gold if the person's friends don't know that attempting a ressurection wouldn't work.

However, that last part could just be weaponized by only animating slain foes who served evil in life.

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If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

Forgot about the mentire resurrection argument, but on the other hand there are several people who couldn't afford a resurrect. I mean, you've got your commoners, who would probably be willing to sell the body that they can't afford to ressurect in return for enough money to maintain a comfortable standard of living, and the knowledge their relative is serving a purpose.
As for the unpredictable undead, this links into the zombie peasants- said undead would be weak, mainly acting as disposable minions. As a result, any rogues could be fairly simply pruned. In the event of a mass loss of undead, you've got a bunch of necromancers cleared up to deal with it, having just lost an army.
Agree with Salla Necromancy never was meant to be mega evil it just all the fanboys turned it into such. Necromancy dabbles in the negative energy plane which can be viewed as bad but its just another tool in which its user is evil not the tool itself. The necromancer in the party can have nearly any motitive or goal just like any fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard has to adventure and do the quest.


Fanboys?
How about decades of history of fantasy literature/movies/games, as well as the negative association with those who communicate/collaborate with the dead.  I hardly think "the fanboys" are to blame, the primary association with necromancers is that they are evil.

Exceptions are posible, of course, but they are a minority.

One good way to do a nonevil (heck even a good) necromancer would be to have a culture that sort of resembles Ancient Egypt.  At least, in terms of the reverence for death and the dead.  A necromancer in such a society could be enormously well-respected, well-liked, and even be a good guy.  Obviously in terms of animating the dead, certain corpses (such as kings and priests) would be off-limits for animation, but the corpses of criminals should be acceptable.  Heck, it could even be a part of their sentence, that they are never allowed final rest, so their corpses get animated to serve the cause of the righteous (in this case, the society's necromancers). 
Necromancy is simply death magic...and conversely life magic in my eyes.  Raising undead hordes is really, a very very small part of what necromancy is.

Think of a bomb tech.  In order to defuse a bomb, the tech must have exacting knowledge of how bombs work. 

An undead slayer is in the same boat.  If he wants his magic to take down the undead, he has to understand the magic that makes it work...so he can undo it so to speak.  So, a white necromancer, would have to be an expert in death magic and the undead to properly do his job.

Much like a EOD bomb tech can easily make a bomb due to his specialist knowledge, he doesn't necessarily actually make them.  He only takes them apart.  So in that light, a white necromancer probably knows how to raise zombies, he just doesn't necessarily do it.  He just destroys them.
Necromancy is simply death magic...and conversely life magic in my eyes.  Raising undead hordes is really, a very very small part of what necromancy is.

Think of a bomb tech.  In order to defuse a bomb, the tech must have exacting knowledge of how bombs work. 

An undead slayer is in the same boat.  If he wants his magic to take down the undead, he has to understand the magic that makes it work...so he can undo it so to speak.  So, a white necromancer, would have to be an expert in death magic and the undead to properly do his job.

Much like a EOD bomb tech can easily make a bomb due to his specialist knowledge, he doesn't necessarily actually make them.  He only takes them apart.  So in that light, a white necromancer probably knows how to raise zombies, he just doesn't necessarily do it.  He just destroys them.



Precisely.
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Fair enough, but when discussing the negative perception of necromancy, direct manipulation of a living being's life force carries more negative connotation than hurling force magic or fire.  What kind of individual prefers to harm enemies by damaging their soul or attacking the connection between their life force and their physical flesh as opposed to something that damages only the flesh, such as fireball?

I'm not discounting the possibility of good necromancers, simply stating that there is a good reason for the common perception of them as evil.  In fact, a PC "white necromancer" having to work against that common perception makes for great roleplay opportunities.

I really like the idea of the "Egyptian culture" kind of guy who does everything a necromancer does, including animation of the dead, but still reveres the sanctity of death at the same time, using life and death magic in an "ethical" way.  At least to him. 
It really depends on your view of Necromancy. It does have plenty of negative conotations for good reason, many cultures honor and respect their dead, raising the bodies of their ancestors would obviously be a very orrible thing for them.

Some people see Necromancy as a tool, like any magic. It's dark magic yes, ut Dark isn't always Evil, same as Light being not always Good(see, almsot every evil Cleric), and how it's used is up to the indvidual using it.
It really depends on your view of Necromancy. It does have plenty of negative conotations for good reason, many cultures honor and respect their dead, raising the bodies of their ancestors would obviously be a very orrible thing for them.

Some people see Necromancy as a tool, like any magic. It's dark magic yes, ut Dark isn't always Evil, same as Light being not always Good(see, almsot every evil Cleric), and how it's used is up to the indvidual using it.



And, again, creating undead is a very small, very unnecessary part of what necromancy entails.  If doing so is evil, then you simply DON'T DO IT.  I played a LG Exalted necromancer in 3e.  I simply didn't cast any spells with the Evil descriptor (and there were not very many of them; I think there are six in the PHB?).  Not a difficult task.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
This seems to be an older topic so you may have already created and used your necromancer character but I'm just going to add my two cents.

  While it's true Necromancers aren't inherently evil and have many other skills aside from just raising the dead.  Who says the Necromancer has to be a good guy to be an ally? Perhaps the Necromancer simply shares a goal with the party and feels it is best to offer an alliance or offer to help them? He doesn't even have to betray them afterwards either, although if you think it'd be a good twist that could add to the fun.

  I understand you want a Necromancer, somethign that is popularly considered evil to be an unlikely ally, but still, an ally doesn't mean they have to be a good guy. It's a lot more fun when they aren't.  My main group that I DM consists of evil characters, they enjoy being evil. Ironically a lot of their allies would be considered either neutral or good, infact two of their biggest current enemies are evil. The reasoning is because of Motive Which is huge when it comes to creating characters/NPC's.

here's an example of what I mean; My players biggest allies are the Dryads which are responsible for nature on the continent. The party made an alliance with them solely out of fear, because the dryads had a Treant army and were scary strong. That alliance has blossomed into a strong bond due to other factions hating the dryads, and them being the players enemy as well, not because they love nature, but because the nature has teeth and they're scared of them AND they can use those teeth to fight said enemies. They recently discovered the heart tree of the dryads, by burning it, it would kill them all. I'm sure down the road, if they feel they don't need teeth anymore or their enemies are gone, they'll burn it to the ground.

So your necromancer doesn't HAVE to be good, just similar motives, or the same enemy, and while alliance shifts are fun when motives change, just because he's evil, he doesn't need to betray them if they still share the same enemies/or whatever.

I love Motivations.

Edit: If your players are super righteous add a hook that may make them think twice about killing the necro, like if they work together it could help thousands or whatever. Im sure you could think of something better than that though. My players are evil bastards but they are considered heroes in one city because the alliance with the dryads and fighting off some other enemies have made them prosperous. They could care less about being heroes but it benefits them so they go with the flow.

2nd Ed Necromancers' book had a great section on why it was hard to be a Good aligned Necromancer.

The teacher sacrifices the apprentice to his god and raises him a couple days later (no harm done, right?) to make sure the apprentice has a sufficient fortitude (Constitution) to be able to handle necromancy. Lots of stuff like that. Very good reading material.

But that was in the bad old days. New game allows it easily enough, if you are creative.
Thanks for your input, everyone! I haven't made the character yet but these are great pieces of advice! My general idea is to have the necromancer as an agent of the Raven Queen, who as I mentioned before, has been forcibly been removed from her seat of power by Tiamat. (homebrew). She's getting kind of pissed and is resorting to drastic measures to regain power, or to keep it.

The Necromancer will likely make a couple of appearances in which he neither attacks nor helps the party, and I'm assuming they're going to immediately hate him for being a necromancer. Low and behold, he is actually in service to the same god that the party is working for, and he is still very much a raiser of the undead.

Also, not sure how relevant it is, but my party's overall direction leans towards "good" but with the player's personalities, they lean more towards "chaotic unalligned" to sometimes downright evil. 
Fair enough, but when discussing the negative perception of necromancy, direct manipulation of a living being's life force carries more negative connotation than hurling force magic or fire.  What kind of individual prefers to harm enemies by damaging their soul or attacking the connection between their life force and their physical flesh as opposed to something that damages only the flesh, such as fireball?

I'm not discounting the possibility of good necromancers, simply stating that there is a good reason for the common perception of them as evil.  In fact, a PC "white necromancer" having to work against that common perception makes for great roleplay opportunities.

I really like the idea of the "Egyptian culture" kind of guy who does everything a necromancer does, including animation of the dead, but still reveres the sanctity of death at the same time, using life and death magic in an "ethical" way.  At least to him. 



Only if he rolls around with a staff made from the bones of the dead, and topped by a skull.  Most common peasants probably can't tell one kind of magic from the next, so unless he's advtively advertising that he practises necromancy, the guy'd likely just call himself a mage and be done with it.  That's what I'd do.  If the necro doesn't advertise, then nobody has to know.
Thanks for your input, everyone! I haven't made the character yet but these are great pieces of advice! My general idea is to have the necromancer as an agent of the Raven Queen, who as I mentioned before, has been forcibly been removed from her seat of power by Tiamat. (homebrew). She's getting kind of pissed and is resorting to drastic measures to regain power, or to keep it.

The Necromancer will likely make a couple of appearances in which he neither attacks nor helps the party, and I'm assuming they're going to immediately hate him for being a necromancer. Low and behold, he is actually in service to the same god that the party is working for, and he is still very much a raiser of the undead.

Also, not sure how relevant it is, but my party's overall direction leans towards "good" but with the player's personalities, they lean more towards "chaotic unalligned" to sometimes downright evil. 



I'm more of a forgotten realms/dragonlance guy, so I don't know the Raven Queen well, but doesn't the RQ hate undead...and by extension the people who raise them?
I'm more of a forgotten realms/dragonlance guy, so I don't know the Raven Queen well, but doesn't the RQ hate undead...and by extension the people who raise them?


As we've already covered, not all necromancers need raise undead. Necromancy can also cover other areas, such as using spells that debilitate enemies or calling up the spirits of the dead for guidance and knowledge.

Let's not forget that 'necromancy' started out as a way to divine the future by casting bones.

And, failing that, who better to fight undead than someone trained in their intricate workings? Who better to undo spells cast to raise the dead than someone who knows those spells? (Which is, incidentally, probably why a Cleric makes a better necromancer in 3e than a wizard...)


Heck, you could also stat up a necromancer as a possible healing, since who is better at driving back death than someone trained to master death itself?

There's this manga/anime called "Shaman King" where one of the main characters is a necromancer. Yes, he can raise an army of skeletons. But by the end of the series he acts more as the team's medic than anything else.
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yes that has been covered.  In previous posts, I made an argument to that effect.  BUT,  he said he wanted his necromancer to raise undead.

I quote: " Low and behold, he is actually in service to the same god that the party is working for, and he is still very much a raiser of the undead."

I'm just saying that his vision is at odds with my understanding of how the Raven Queen operates.
I'm just saying that his vision is at odds with my understanding of how the Raven Queen operates.


It's my understanding that the Raven Queen will raise Revenants (or allow their raising, being the god of death) as long as it serves her purposes. A "fight fire with fire" sort of thing, perhaps.

The necromancer can use his knowledge of the undead to the Raven Queen's advantage. If he wants to help the Raven Queen, why wouldn't she let him use his full range of abilities to assist her? It could just be that he has to request the Raven Queen's blessing or permission because he'll raise undead.

"Thou shalt not murder/kill" didn't stop the Crusades in our world, so I fail to see how the Raven Queen making an exception is so hard to grasp.
Gunmage, a homebrew arcane striker. (Heroic Tier playtest ready.) GDocs link. (More up to date.)
It's not hard to grasp.  Just throwing it out there is all.  If I can shoot a hole in his story, his players might too.  Bringing it up /now/ gives him ample opportunity to prepare for those questions.  I'm not sure what's so hard to grasp about /that/.
One can also consider that religious writings are some of the easiest things in the world to interpret in the way that one chooses to interpret them.  He read some of the RQ's writings, came to his own conclusions about what they said, and thus he does what he does.  Since 4e does not have direct god-cleric links or the thread of power loss, merely a link to the infinite power of the Astral Sea, the fact that his powers function would be proof in his mind that he is not wrong.
In our campaign, there was this terrible relic that gave Tiamat the ability and power to pretty much boot all the important gods out of their domains. The Raven Queen being one of them, I think it would be reasonable for her to be rather pissed off and use her control of death and whatnot to make sure she doesn't get unseated again. Extreme measures, I guess. The necromancer would be taking orders directly from her.
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