Necromancy originated out of a desire of mortals to understand the bitter reality of death and dying. More often than not, the dangerous art is used as an aid of evil, than a servant of good.
The Basic Concept of Necromancy
In the realm of Gielinor, necromancy offers two different functions. The first of these is perhaps the more infamous of the two. Necromancy allows the user to summon, raise, and communicate with the dead. If this is done in either a deliberately or accidentally corrupted fashion, the result is...monstrous. If care is taken, and several important steps are observed, a healthy, fully functional being will be resurrected (provided resurrection was the intended result). If this is not the case, however, the necromancer will find that they have risen a corrupted, putrid undead creature.
The second application of the magic of necromancy is a much more wondrous one, and was perhaps the motivation for the development and study of such a wicked craft. This use is resurrection. Should a comrade fall in battle, and a necromancer sensitive and powerful enough be present, they may have the ability to reverse something so definite as the aforementioned death.
Study and Active Practice of Necromancy
Necromancy is an exhaustively complicated form of magic. Typically, spells cast are either ritualistic in nature, or just plain tiresome to cast. Because of this, seeing a young creature, either in masterful or novice form is generally rare. An up and starting necromancer won't be seen summoning hordes of skeletons, sending them off to invade Falador. In this actions stead, an adventuring party is much rather to find the novice out in a graveyard, digging up old graves for spare parts and fleeing from ravenous packs of hungry ghouls. Necromancy requires years of dedications and study to understand and use. Even with such heavy study being preformed, summoning and resurrection are not the first to be learned... rather, wiggling of bones and the understanding of decomposition will come. By any such time that real progress is made in the study of necromancy, most necromancers will have either died of old age, and been eaten by their own poorly summoned creations.
Offensive Methods for Using NecromancyThe necromancer on an offensive intent has a distinct advantage over his foes. By means of necromantic summoning, the dark caster may call forth all manner of undead minions to fight his battles for him. The standard fighting method for a necromancer is to act as a puppet-master. These undead work like completely docile, obedient minions, ready to tear their enemies asunder with a simple command from their master. These minions can perform any multitude of simple tasks. Guards, soldiers, messengers, and other such positions that require little to no thinking. This usefulness is motivation enough for some necromancers to not waste their undead thralls as cannon-fodder in battle.
Lesser necromancers, being inexperienced, especially in regard to raising the undead, are typically only capable of summoning one, two, or maybe three skeletal minions. The capability of each of these creatures is the same, regardless of total number in the necromancers horde, but still, the fewer the caster has, the higher value they will place on an individual. More powerful necromancers, being well seasoned in the act of raising the dead, will sometimes choose to summon a large number of weak undead and use them in an expendable manner - for example, they could be organized to fight like goblins for Bandos, using sheer overwhelming numbers, rather that individual strength to win their battles.
There is a direct relationship between the power/experience levels of a necromancer and the type/number of undead followers he can animate and control. A young man around the age of 20-25 learning necromancy could at the very most handle one or two moderately weak animations. Not until middle ages would a necromancer really be able to call himself experienced, as this particular art is much more sensitive and dangerous than just about any other form of magic.
It should be noted, though, that even the most masterful casters of necromancy cannot even being to attempt to raise the dead while under pressure or in serious peril. The ritualistic basis on which necromancy was founded is far too complex to be done haphazardly. The attempt of calling forth minions that hadn't already been summoned prior to combat can actually prove dangerous for the necromancer, as it would pull their attention completely away from the task at hand.
Defensive Methods of Using Necromancy
There are two sides to the necromancer's defensive coin. The first of these two sides is the age-old concept that a good offense is a good defense. To be put simply, a necromancer could easily defend himself by sending forth the undead, shambling forces he had risen from the grave to fight off any attackers. The necromancer could hide away in some dark crypt, never even having to get his hands dirty, keeping all sorts of forces at bay.
The other side of necromantic defense is that, when your life's work is committed to mastering and defying the forces of life and death, you view this ultimatum in new light. For a necromancer, death isn't always the end. The caster can bring back those lost to the eternity of death, making him a good ally to have. In the most dire of situations, the necromancer may grow desperate enough to shed their mortality, life, and humanity away by means of wraithood.
Along the same vein of self-preservation, the necromancer may be able to strive for the ultimate, and most serious form of self preservation. The necromancer may reach a point in their power and knowledge where they feel that mortality serves little purpose for themselves. By means of performing immensely complex, dark, and mysterious ritualistic magicks, in addition to the brewing of a deadly potion, and the forging of a priceless artifact, the necromancer may strive for lichdom. The priceless artifacts is known to the living as a phylactery. Following the completion of the dark ritual, and an act of self termination, the casters soul is forced into the phylactery. In this sense, the necromancer willingly embraces eternal undeath. Once the soul is safely stored in the phylactery, the mind and body of the necromancer is permitted to live on indefinitely. The crafting of this artifact is no simple task, requiring great planning, collecting, and preparation. Even with such careful steps being made to arrange the act, success is still not guaranteed, and the necromancer is put at great risk of simply dying. Should, however, the necromancer reawaken following the ritual, they return a lich. The destruction of the powerful totem means mortality for the lich. As such, great care must be made in protecting the phylactery. Some necromancers choose to keep the phylactery on their person, so as to keep an eye on it. This makes the caster very exposed however, openly revealing themselves for what they are to those sensitive to necromantic forces. Others choose to lock their phylacteries away, sealing them in remote locations, guarded by wards and monsters alike.
Prerequisites for Resurrection
Powerful necromancers have the ability to resurrect humans who have died without turning them into undead monsters. This process is very delicate and can be disrupted by an extensive list of issues. The following are the conditions necessary for a necromancer to successfully resurrect someone:
- There must be a complete, largely undamaged body. If any vital organs are pierced, removed, or otherwise unable to function, the victim would be resurrected only to die again. This includes the brain, heart, stomach, lungs, central nervous system, digestive system, circulatory system, etc. The body, obviously, must still have its head.
- The soul must be available for resurrection - a body is only good for undead necromancy without its paired soul. If the soul is bound to an item not present, if it has already been reincarnated into a baby, or if it has been sent to the spirit plane, it cannot be used in a resurrective process.
- Without extensive ritual or sacrifice, the resurrection must take place in a matter of minutes after death. When oxygenated blood stops flowing to the brain, brain cells begin to die. Resurrection that takes place after catastrophic cell death would bring the victim back to life with severe retardation, if not as a complete vegetable. Thus, a sacrifice is necessary, unless you want to have the person you tried to resurrect be mentally retarded or a vegetable.
- Resurrection must not be disturbed on any level or else it risks failure. Particularly in instances where there is not a sacrificial body in the ritual, any interference as simple as a touch or a startling noise could not only terminate the resurrection, but it also risks the death of the necromancer. (This is used in roleplay to balance the power - at the chance of restoring a life, the necromancer risks his own life.)
- If the body of the victim has begun to decompose or if it is missing a vital component, then a sacrifice can be used in the resurrection ritual that would replace the original body. That is, if a sacrifice were to give his life (willingly or not), that empty body could then be used as a vessel for the person being resurrected.
- The necromancer must be in a strong state to resurrect someone. The process is very magically exhausting, and would necessitate a recovery period (days or more) after completion.
- It is worth a moment to consider the requirements of ritualistic resurrection used in Underground pass; Kardia needed Iban's blood, shadow, spirit, and body to resurrect him with her necromantic powers.
Miscellaneous Uses of Necromancy
While a necromancy can be used in combat, offense, defense, and resurrective processes when dealing with humanoid conflicts, there are functions that necromancy can serve in addition to these.
- Necromancers can communicate with the dead by means of rituals (if physical, or at least incorporeal form has not yet been taken), or directly, should the dead be actually present in an undead existence.
- A necromancer can save a farmer's seasonal crop that has been wiped out by pestilence and raise it from death back into a healthy plant before harvesting season.
- Subsequently, A necromancer can, by means of spreading disease and pestilence, cause the farmer's crop to fail in the first place.
- Necromancy, with its own font of knowledge of death, can offer its wielder with an understanding of the aging process, functionality of diseases, and even reasons for passing.
This category addresses traits that players, often new ones, give their necromancer characters but that aren't actually legitimate or acceptable traits in users of necromancy.
- A necromancer would not be Guthixian. Necromancy upsets the delicate balance between life and death, and therefore conflicts drastically with Guthixian ideals. If your character practices necromancy, they are not Guthixian, or are against the practice of the religion.
- Devout Saradominists do not object to Necromancy if it returns order, proven by the Centaur Fern, a devout Saradominist, opting to use it to return her race, and even Saradomin himself.
- "Young" and "experienced" are not two adjectives that can both describe a necromancer. An experienced necromancer can appear young but actually be much older, but to have a genuinely youthful character who is experienced at necromancy is highly unrealistic.
- If a character uses a phylactery, the player is required to announce in any important situation that the phylactery emits a magical aura detectable to any nearby necromancer or experienced mage. It cannot be hidden in your pocket or under your shirt; the only way to keep a phylactery undetected is to store it somewhere not on your person, which can be a dangerous choice.
- Sacred clay may not replace an entire body. While useful for replacing unvital body parts, all sacred clay degrades over time. A soul resurrected into an entirely clay body would simply die again.
- It's important to know when to die, when to live, and when to be revived. As a player with the option of resurrection, be sure to consider if it's really reasonable for your character to be resurrected before you allow it to happen.
- It often takes a very powerful necromancer to create an undead horror, a beast that is created with different body parts and bones then reanimated.
- The undead summoned by a necromancer can follow basic instructions, limited in complexity.
NPC quotes on Necromancy
- Most Mahjarrat have necromancing abilities and used them frequently when they were first brought to Gielinor by Icthlarin.
- When a necromancer animates a corpse into an undead, the spirit of that corpse is disturbed. Without its remains restored to their proper burial place, the restless spirit is eternally doomed to roam the plane as a ghost. This is one of the most distinct reasons that necromancy is considered a dark, evil magic by everyday people.