Necromancy

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Necromancy is a form of magic practiced by Necromancers. 'Necro–' meaning 'dead', it specifically deals with re-animating dead things and returning dead souls from the Underworld.

Magic

Nearly all necromancers can use the magic of necromancy to one degree or another; for most, it is fairly limited. Anyone demonstrating a high degree of potential with the art will be made a part of the priest caste, and assist with the temple's rituals.

Necromancy itself has two major parts: the re-animation of the undead, and the raising of souls from the Underworld. Necromancers have also found ways to turn their power to various other endeavors, often wielding it in a fashion similar to more main-stream Magic. There are some caveats; necromancy has no healing capability, nor can it see or harness the elements. But it can be used to grant great strength and to perform attacks.

Many necromancers are also competent, occasionally highly-skilled mages along the normal lines of magic.

Re-Animation

Re-animation magic is the mainstay of the Necromancer's workforce, and perhaps their best known trick. The process involves animating a dead life-form and making it un-dead. The basic form of this spell typically has a very short duration, and the fresher the corpse, the easier it is to animate. Re-animation is typically focused around creating mindless worker-drones who can preform simple tasks and follow orders; part of the magic is in simply controlling them. A necromancer can directly control a single undead to carry out complex steps, or impose will over a group to guide them through a simpler task. Anything requiring a great deal of skill still requires a living touch, but undead can also provide a useful power-source. Necromancer farms require no mills, for the undead turn the cranks day and night and need no rest.

Some undead can be made to carry out more difficult tasks if they had preformed such tasks in life. A cobbler, for example, when re-animated and sat before a workbench and supplied with tools and materials, can be made to continue producing shoes. In such an instance, the undead would be able to produce only a single design of shoe, over and over again, but could likely achieve the same level of quality as in life.

Undead must be preserved and maintained, so mummification is often undertaken. In wetter climates where keeping a body dry is impractical, necromancers will often strip the flesh and keep only the skeleton, which alone can be animated with ease.

Raising of Souls

The raising of souls involves bringing back a shade or ghost of the dead from the underworld and allowing them to commune with the living. This is completely different from re-animating corpses, as the shade has all the memories and personality of its former life, and is fully cognizant of its surroundings.

A raised soul has a fusion of both the conscious and the unconscious mind of the individual, granting access to much greater knowledge and understanding than it may have had in life. They shade can speak, though only in its native tongue, and can even move about. Depending on the strength of the shade, the skill of the necromancer, and the potency of the spell, the shade may even take on a fully corporeal form. In most cases, it will appear only as a shadow; sometimes only as a head, with only vaguely distinguishable features.

Shades can only exist in the living world within a ritual site, and will return to the underworld if the ritual is disturbed. A necromantically-summoned shade should not be confused with the widely known creatures of darkness caused by the abuse of dark magics.

The most difficult task among necromancers, the fusion of the undead with the raised, creates a powerful being called a Litch.

Terminology and Belief System

Necromancy is practiced by mages called Necromancers, to whom it is both a religon and a form of magic. Their entire culture revolves around this practice.

The group noun for necromancers is cult, so a bunch of necromancers would be called a cult of necromancers. This term can be used to describe either a number of necromancers or a specific settlment. A permanent settlement is called a Temple; this refers both to the structure and to the necromancers therein.

Necromancers worship death, understanding that it is not an end but a change, and one they can reverse to a degree. They value history and are known for extensive record-keeping. Much information about the Mage Wars was chronicled in Necromancer temples.

Ideologies in Necromancy

Grey Temple and Green Temple describe two differing ideologies of Necromancy, with all Grey Temple necromancers having been put to death by the end of the fifth century of the Third Age at the order of Pendragon Soratami. This followed the Necromanic Wars.

Leadership

Necromancy temples are lead by a group of High Priests and Temple Chantresses. Men become priests, women become chantresses(though some newer temples also allow women to join the priesthood). Interestingly, the Chantresses have more power and fewer restrictions.

Invention

Necromancy was invented by Rubiceye in the early part of the Mage Wars, roughly 3500 B.G.A., though it is well known that the sorcerer began work on the magic long before. It is also well known that he made numerous failed attempts before perfecting the technique.

After its creation, Necromancy became hereditary in familial lines. Unlike other magicks which could be learned and practiced by any, Necromancy could only be performed by necromancers.

Culture

The necromancers' culture is very rich and deep.

Nomenclature

Necromancy cannot be learned; only those born with it can practice it. The power is believed to occur within an artificially created gene, originally bestowed by Rubiceye.

The Necromancer, then, is both a people group and a type of mage.

The members of a particular group are called a temple, which also the name of the structure where most necromancer's live and practice. The collective noun for necromancer's is 'cult'. Often, this term will be used to refer to the entire temple; however within necromancer parlance a 'cult' specifically means "any gathering"

Caste System

The Necromancer's temple population is divided into four castes: Priest, Scholar, Warrior, and Worker (with the latter sometimes described as "Tradesmen"). Young necromancers usually follow into their parents' caste, but changing castes is not uncommon. Most necromancers belong to the worker caste. The priest caste rules the temple, the warrior caste defends it.

The most diverse caste is that of scholar. Originally, the function of the scholar caste was closely tied to the priests; the scholars were responsible for recording the history the temple and helping the priests to inscribe spell books. In addition to history, the scholar-caste was responsible for recording any knowledge gained by the temple, and later with sharing this knowledge with other temples.

During Necromancy's Golden Age, the scholars largely remained just that: adding to the temple's knowledge, whatever was learned from outside sources. During this era, doctors, builders, and planners belonged to the worker-caste. As time passed, and the bodies of knowledge grew more complex, these and other jobs gradually shifted to the scholar-caste. Since most necromancers begin their caste-training in their early teens, this means that, for example, a doctor can begin studying at a very young age. Any trade, then, that required a great deal of study, became a part of the Scholar caste, which in turn caused the caste to grow.

While no necromancer is considered to have a dual-caste, there are many within a given temple who may have a gray area regarding their exact caste.

Physical Description

Because all necromancers are descended from a particular people group, they all tend to have a similar physical description. They are on average shorter than the general population by around 6 inches. 'Tall' for a necromancer is 'average' for everyone else. They have olive-skin complexions, usually with dark hair and green or brown eyes. Hair is usually straight. They are known for smooth skin and very little body hair.

Clothing

Typical necromancer attire consists of long linen robes. Necromancer culture began in a desert region, and as such their style and aesthetics retain elements of these attributes. These are often tied at the waist with a sash and may be embroidered with beads. Bracelets and necklaces are also popular, as well as rings and earrings. Nearly all necromancers, both male and female, have pierced ears.

Females typically wear their hair tied back or braided, while males cut their hair short. A wide variety of hairstyles exist. Males and females also both typically wear heavy eye makeup. The cosmetics black out the entire area around the eye, stopping at the bridge of the nose but sometimes covering the eyebrows and down onto the cheeks. This is believed originally a ritualistic component evolved into every-day wear. There is no symbolic signficance to the eye makeup, and the exact shape and area covered is completely a matter of fashion.

In warmer climates, lighter, thinner robes are popular, as well as shorter ones. In especially warm areas, men might wear a half-robe that covers from the waist to the knees. The traditional female robe, or "temple dress", is a single piece of linen that covers them from about the knees up to just above the breasts. It is strapless and leaves the shoulders bare, and has a lon slit up the right hand-side that ends just above the hip. While formally a ceremonial garment, the temple dress is quite popular and many fashioned inspired by it can be seen in day-to-day wear.

Family Unit

Necromancers maintain a traditional family unit (mother, father, children) but live in a highly inter-conected society. Consanguinity is kept high in mind;–– that is to say knowing how various others are related to you and to what degree;–– but is only used to prevent inbreeding. Living in such close-knit groups, it is very important to keep the bloodline diverse.

Since necromancers typically live in communal buildings, a family unit might have a room or suite of rooms to themselves, used for sleeping, dressing, indoor recreation, and storing personal items. The family would be responsible for cleaning and maintaining these rooms.

Cooking and bathing are communal activities. Large kitchens produce meals for the entire temple, with dedicated staff who carry out all the requisite duties. A larger temple might have multiple kitchens. Cooking is usually done on a fairly large scale, and necromancer cuisine is not known for diversity.

The baths are segregated by gender and age, to degree determined by the size of the temple. A very small temple may have only one bath, and designate different times of the day for men and women. The larger temples will have separate facilities in both genders for youth, young adults, older adults, and even the elderly. Young children typically bathe with their parents, while older children (starting around 8) go to the children's bath.

Marriage

Though it varies by temple, arranged marriages are not uncommon in necromancer society. There is no defined age of majority or age of consent, and the age of marriage also varies by temple. In larger temples, it is not uncommon for youth as young as 15 or 16 to marry, though this is a hold-over from the early days when life expectancies were much shorter.

Nearly all necromancers marry, including the priesthood (it is a requirement in some temples). A necromancer who remains single into adulthood is highly uncommon, and given the arrangments of necromanic society they would have a very difficult time.

Amongts the necromancers, a great deal of love poetry has been produced and preserved throughout the ages. It is perhaps one of the youth's favorite subjects upon which to muse.

Marriage outside the cult is unheard of, and happens extremly rarely. In the nearly 7,000 years between the creation of Necromancy and the destruction of the last temple in the mid Third Age, only a few cases are documented. Of those, all took place in very small temples (populations of less than 100). Anyone marrying into the cult could never truly be a necromancer, and would be unable to participate in the ritualistic aspects of the necromancer lifestyle.

Some necromancers are known to have left the temple to wed an outsider. However, the archives do not give any indication of what happened to them.

Arranged Marriage

Arranged marriages typically happen amongst slightly older couples (late teens, early 20s), and is usually encouraged by the parents when neither party has found a suitable mate of its own.

Love is a very highly valued thing within the necromancer culture. Many of what are recorded as arranged marriages do happen between loving couples who merely seek the approval of their elders to wed.

Still others employ the help of matchmakers to find a suitable partner. Only very rarely are marriages arranged for political reasons.

Parentage, Love, and Sexuality

Necromancers typically consider the physical act of sexual contact to be separate from romance or love. While not common, if a father is unable to give his wife a child, she may go to another man; in this case there is no shame nor is the act considered adulterous. However, if a man were to express romantic feelings for a woman other than his wife, this would be a sacrilege.

Sexual activity is divided into three categories: for procreation, for spiritual enlightenment, and for physical pleasure. While all three of these can be put together in any combination, they are still regarded as highly distinct. Necromancers lack concepts such as orientation and virginity, and view sex as extremely natural and normal activity alongside eating and breathing. The only thing Necromancers find unusual is inter-generational relationships, so long as the partners are no more than a few years apart in age, virtually anything is acceptable.

Economy

Internally, Necromancers do not use a monetary system. Because their organizational strucutre is communal, food, clothing, and housing are provided by group effort. The support systems for these areas are also carried out communaly, with individuals learning trades as needed. Basic personal items are provided to indivudals by crafters, who often emblish them with artistic decorations. A barter system is very common within the temple, with craftsmen trading wares and favors.

One Necromancer explained it thusly: "If I am a Hatter, I make hats. I am provided with tools and materials as needed. If you come into my workshop and ask me for a hat, I shall provide you one. However, if you desire a particularly fine hat, you should bring me something to offer in trade."

Necromancers typically value the effort placed into producing an item over any precised monetary value of the materials. Hence, golden jewelry could be traded for wooden beads, if the beads took more work to produce.

This system, however, does not extend outside of the temple, and Necromancer traders who sell their wares to outsiders are known to be particularly shrewd. It does help that what they sell tends to be of the highest quality.

Games

Ko'r't

Ko'r't, commonly translated simply as 'court' or spelled phonetically as 'kort' is a blanket title for a variety of ball games. In many ways, Kort is roughly analgous to soccer, but has numerous derivations and levels of rules and strategy. The games are played by Necromancers as well as outsiders who may live in the vicntity, with Necromancers commonly inviting their neighbors to a friendly game. While much ritual signfigance has been ascribed to the various derivations of kort, the Necromancers will readily admit that it really is just a game.

While hundreds of permutations exist, Kort is most often played in three different forms: Traditional, Floor, and Foot.

A traditional game of Kort requires a playing field with a hardened floor and a painted series of grids, flat walls on three sides, and a hoop for the goal mounted on one wall. The hoop can be as large as a few feet across or just barely bigger than the ball, depending on the skill and seriousness of the players. The game is played with two teams of two or three each, depending on the size of the playing field. In traditional Kort, only the hands and elbows can be used to engage with the ball, and the ball must bounce off of at least one surface before making a goal or being engaged by another player. Players are allowed to catch and throw the ball, but must bounce it off either the wall or floor. The grid on the floor also denotes what spaces where the players are allowed to set foot. Traditional Kort is the oldest and most ritualized form, and while competition between temples is often fierce, outsiders are still frequently welcomed to join in. While not a formal part of the religion, Kort is frequently used to resolve disputes or to make decisions.

Floor Kort is more common as the requirements for a playing field are far lower. A raised circular goal and a flat surface are still necessary, but the walls and grid are not. Floor Kort works on the same principles of bouncing the ball and striking only with the hands and elbows. As high quality rubber became more common, notions of 'dribbling'(similar to basketball) entered the game.

Foot Kort is far and way the most common and is, for all intents and purposes, soccer. No one is entirely sure which game was actually invented first, and how much was appropriated. The Necromancer 'version' of the game has a very different rule-set and still uses a grid(like in Traditional) but changes from hands and elbows to feet and knees, and uses a soccer-style goal. Strangely, much more ritual significance is ascribed to Foot Kort by outsiders than to Necromancers(who by and large regard it as healthy fun). Many outsiders, wrongly assuming certain things about Necromancy, will often assume all forms of Kort are treated the same, and believe Foot Kort is an ancient, highly ritualized game that is a matter of life and death.

Wrestling

The Necromancers have a traditional form of wrestling or grappling that is an intrinsic part of their ritual life. The sport is played in a round sand pit, usually wetted to provide a more comfortable surface for falling and rolling on. The game requires two participants and a drummer to keep time. Much like Kort, wresling is used to resolve disputes, but very much unlike it the skill of individual competitors is deliberately not tracked or considered.

The participants usually wear very little clothing. Barefoot with a small loincloth, or possibly a piece of cloth wrapped around the breasts if the competitors are female. Hair is tied back into a braid or bun. Matches are very short, and over when the first competitor's shoulder touches the sand. Usually the ring will be surrounded by observers who will call out once they see a touch. The objective is to knock your opponent down on their back.

The time keeper is a drummer beating a very large and loud drum. While matches are sometimes held outdoors, most often they are in special chambers underground where the time keeper's rythm can reverberate off the walls. The time keeper always faces away from the competitors. When a match is declared, the timekeeper begins a rhythmic beat, while the competitors hold absolutely still. When the timekeeper stops(at a time known only to him) the opponents move and attempt the win. The time droll can land anywhere from a few seconds to an entire hour, with an important part of the ritual aspect being how tightly the competitors can hold their stance.

All physically fit Necromancers between the ages of thirteen and thirty-five are trained in this form of ritual combat, though those aged sixteen to twenty are preferred. The priests will choose two competitors of the same gender and similar height and build, and dispatch them to the ring while a timekeeper is called. The competitors will strip down and prepare, while the priests will either observe from afar or even wait in another chamber. The competitors will intentionally not be told which priest selected them or for what purpose, they will only be asked to compete.

The ritual significance of the rite holds that the fighters are enacting the will of the Necrosages, and the ritual is used as a way to let them settle disputes without being consulted directly. The ritual aspect of this ceremony is used to settle disagreements between priests, effectively as an elaborate coin-flip.

Converts

Not possible until after the Necromancers were freed in the first year of the Age of the Dragon, converts, called Acolytes or Necromancer Acolytes, are outsiders who have adopted the necromancer faith. Acolytes subscribe to the spiritual aspects of Necromancy and participate in non-magical rituals. While Acolytes cannot join the priesthood(because they lack the magical ability), they are given the same respect within the cult as full-blooded Necromancers. Children born with one Acolyte parent and one Necromancer parent are similarly not stigmatized, and typically have full access to Necromancer magic; indicating the power might not be limited to their lineage.

History

Ancient History

"Long ago during the Mage Wars, a wizard named Isolia fell from the purer faith, and created the Cult of Necromancy."

Rubiceye was widely known to have many followers in the early days. Though not considered a politician, he was a good leader and an entire nation formed around him. He was a powerful mage and had many other powerful mages following him, and with the Mage Wars already in full swing, many people flocked to him.

The original name of his people group is now lost to history, though it is believed to have been similar in pronunciation to the name of the magic Rubiceye was to create. The customs and practices of those people, while not initially magical, were later adapted into the rituals of Necromancy.

Mage Wars

Around the middle of the First Chaotic Period, early Necromancers made their home on the Arcol Steppe at the north-eastern corner of the Agras Plain. The area was a high-altitude desert at the time, cold and very dry: ideal conditions for the activities Necromancers are known for. From B.G.A. 3528 until 3021, everything was going swimingly. This era is often known as the Golden Age of Necromancy. The magic and ritualistic lifestyle of necromancers solidified largely during this time; and while the region was mostly a loose association of temples, it was still a powerful force in the region.

The millitary and magical might of the Necromancers were able to defend their borders until the end of the First Chaotic Period. However, as the Intermediate Period began, they soon lost ground to other, stronger empires which had the advantage of off-world holdings to supply troops and war material.

Amidst the peril of looming conquest, a Litch known as Kozek rose to power. Necromancers, while willing to defend themselves, had always been at their core a peaceful lot. Kozek had other ideas, and thought that, with some effort and guile, Necromancers could command a vast multi-world empire of their own.

His push caused a schism within the necromancer world. The region of Arcol, while large and populous, had never been an empire in its own right. Prior to Kozek's rise, the area had been a loose association of city-states that tended to cooperate well and support each other, but had no central leadership. Kozek sought to crown himself emperor, but not all necromancers agreed. Kozek's ideology became known as the Grey Temple, and for the first time a true Necromancer nation was founded.

This, in turn, led to a mass exodus of Arcol, of many necromancers who refused to live under Kozek's rule. Still others remained in Arcol, bent on maintaining "the old ways" (by then known as Green Temple ideology). Weakened by the exodus and torn apart by internal struggle, Kozek's empire collapsed. The entire region of the Arcol Steppe, with its ancient and hallowed temples, had to be abandoned as the then-new Marcon Alliance had taken a liking to the territory.

Necromancers then spread throughout the known worlds, founding new temples wherever they settled. Many Green Temples were initially welcomed with open arms, for the services they provided. Grey Temples sought more remote areas to settle, either landing in un-populated regions or enslaving local peoples. Many an empire rose and fell while backed by Grey Temple necromancers throughout the rest of the Mage Wars.

Alliance Era

When the Golden Age began, some Necromancers sought to reclaim their ancestral homeland, but found Arcol (by this time a fertile and temperate region) populated by other peoples. Some Necromancers still lived there, and others were able to relocate; but the hope of rebuilding the old nation was impossible.

Instead, a large number of Necromancers settled in Serreth, on the Sword Coast, with designs on building a 'Most High' temple at the site. Others settled in Stormreaver Valley, where yet another temple of supreme importance was constructed. These temples unfortunately saw both grey and green necromancers alike, as both ideologies sought a strong, centralized Necromancer nation.

~History~

In the Third Age, the Grey Temple under Arch-Lich Honoreck began a campaign to take over the Known Worlds; but they were stopped ultimately by Lal Soratami. This time-period is known as the Necromanic Wars. The few survivors (both Green and Grey) were corralled in Arindell for the next 3000-odd years, until the reign of Hunter Jusenkyou; or else dispersed to obscure Planets, where they became the Dark Orders.

Other

The Okina Gaori is an ancient Necromancer book and is often described as "the only think most outsiders know about Necromancy". In addition to hundreds of illustrations, it includes in-depth descriptions of many rituals. While parts of the book are still in use, necromanic scholars are quick to point out that none of the rituals described were ever actually used.

History (Original)

Taken from The Reunion of the Eighth Power from The Path to Ascension:

Long ago during the Mage Wars, a wizard named Isolia fell from the purer faith, and created the Cult of Necromancy. Using underworld magics he and his followers created a new path of magic: the Path of Necromancy. Together they raised ghoulish armies from the fallen corpses of their enemies, and trapped souls to be converted into terrible spells. By the time the Mage Wars had ended, Necromancy had solidified into a full-blown religion. All the Necromancers were blood descendants of Isolia and his original followers, and all possessed the gift of Necromancy passed down from him. Because there were so many, Eieber decreed that the Necromancers could be allowed to live, if they swore never again to practice their grotesque birthright.

A hundred years passed, and Eieber went into the Light.

For five generations, the Necromancers had kept silent, staying in their own quiet villages, practicing their trade only amongst themselves. Now with Eieber dead they felt no reason to hide their art anymore.

Two great followings were established: the Grey Temple and the Green Temple. Necromancers of the Green Temple believed the power of Necromancy could be used for a greater good. They reanimated corpses for use as laborers, and raised souls only to comfort those left alive after a tragedy.

Despite their intentions, the Green Necromancers were much hated and feared by people who simply didn’t understand them, and so more and more Necromancers turned to the Grey Temple.

The Grey Necromancers used their power for one thing: gaining more power. An uneasy alliance was forged, but the Grey Necromancers still grew rapidly in numbers, and spread across the Multi-Verse like a slow tide of terror.

Finally, over two thousand years after Eieber’s death, the Necromancers of the Grey temple plunged the Multi-Verse into a chaotic battle the likes of which had not been seen since the depths of the Mage Wars.

Despite fighting valiantly against the Grey Necromancers, the Green Temple was still much hated and feared, and their highest pantheon was ransacked and burned. Even with this crushing blow, the Green Necromancers still forged an alliance with the Slayer Dragons to strike out against the real enemy.

After forty years of fighting, the Grey Temple finally fell, and the Necromancy Wars ended. Lal Soratami, the Pendragon anointed during the war, outlawed Necromancy once and for all, and gathered up all the remaining Necromancers in a new temple where he could watch them.

Those who did not willfully enter the Necromancy Temple established in Arindell were killed, and their bodies burned: the greatest insult a Necromancer could know. The temple in Arindell became the last bastion of Necromancy in the World of Life.

Things must have been desperate if they were using a Necromancer.

The sword he carried was a simple one-handed short sword that was inexpertly crafted, and it looked like he was talking to it.