The Necromancer

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on October 6, 2009

The Necromancer

The Necromancer

Necromancy, the study of the Black Arts.

Necromancers study death in a way that few other mortals would contemplate. Motivated by power, knowledge, greed or life eternal, these individuals will stop at nothing in their search for the understanding of life and the secrets it holds.

Our exploration of the Necromancer in 4e D&D continues at Dungeon’s Master. We’re expanding on our initial Necromancer articles and focusing on the motivation behind this often misunderstood class. In our previous examination of the Necromancer we provided powers and resources that you could use in your regular games.


We’ve recently undertaken the process of updating these articles to balance the powers.

Over the past few weeks we’ve noticed increased activity on these pages and as we enter into October and Halloween draws nearer, this article on the Necromancer is the first of several articles that will discuss the undead and their place in Dungeons & Dragons.

Traditionally in D&D, the Necromancer was portrayed as an evil individual, manipulating dark magic for their own benefit. However, the Necromancer can take may guises from benevolent to malevolent.

Dark Arts Necromancer

The Dark Arts Necromancer is motivated by power and knowledge. However, he knows that these things are fleeting, that at the end of life they fade and become meaningless. To this end the Dark Arts Necromancer leverages his resources to expand his own life spawn. As his ambitions run contrary to the ideals of society he finds himself pushed to the fringe of society, an outcast who is misunderstood.

This rejection combined with the study of the Black Arts plants the seeds of jealousy and revenge in his soul. The Dark Arts Necromancer becomes introverted and untrusting. However, he has not relinquished his obsession, his desire for power and knowledge.

As his life span increases through elixirs of life and blood rituals, the Dark Arts Necromancer begins to loose the vestiges of his humanity. His skin turns a pale blue, his hair thins and his teeth rot. While his life force remains strong, his appearance reveals the corruption of his soul.

Eventually, the Dark Arts Necromancer realizes that his flesh is too weak to support him and will seek the mysteries of Lichdom. Upon mastering this ritual the Dark Arts Necromancer will bind his life force to an external object of power and import.

The journey of the Dark Arts Necromancer is long and unpleasant. While it requires great sacrifice from the individual it also reaps destruction and devastation on any community living in close proximity. The Dark Arts Necromancer requires sacrifices, both living and dead, for his experiments and rituals. Few oppose him due to fear or displays of his power. Those who do challenge him end up as new sacrifices to fuel the Dark Arts Necromancers quest.

True Necromancer

None can claim mastery over the undead like the True Necromancer. This individual harnesses negative energy and use it to power or destroy the undead.

The motivations of such an individual are various. Some seek power and dominance over the lands of men. They know the flesh is weak and men are unreliable. They raise undead armies to fight for them, to sow the seeds of tyranny. Their armies fight without fear and with the single minded obsession that is the True Necromancers.

Still others see the undead as a perversion, a blasphemy towards all that they hold sacred in life. True Necromancers of this calling use their power to destroy the undead where ever they are found. These individuals rally others about them leading crusades against the corrupting forces of the undead.

Life Seeker

The Life Seeker approaches the arts of necromancy for different reasons than others. Not motivated by power, greed or knowledge, the Life Seeker studies the dark arts of necromancy to learn about the human condition. These selfless individuals toil that they might cure the diseases that blight humanity. Their fascination ranges from devastating plagues that eradicate villages in weeks to unknown diseases that destroy the body from within.

The path of the Life Seeker is a lonely one. Often misunderstood in their goals, they live in seclusion on the edges of society. There behaviour often alienates them from the people they would save. In order to learn more about the diseases they seek to cure, the Life Seeker is required to dig up the bodies of the recently dead. An unsavoury task to say the least and one that if the local townsfolk realized was occurring the Life Seeker might find himself facing a mob ready to burn them at the stake.

Not all Life Seekers study the arts of Necromancy. Those that do are willing to push the limits of their knowledge to the edge. For the Life Seeker it is all about finding ways to preserve life and improve the human condition.

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1 Wyatt October 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Hey guys, I just went through all the articles. I like what you’re doing here and I offered a few critiques on each of them from my own experiences analyzing how 4e powers work and writing a few myself. I’m no Mike Mearls, I’ve never published diddly except on my blog, and I frankly have no more weight than any of you in this field, but I hope my insights help you guys out.
.-= Wyatt´s last blog ..Combat Styles Part 3: Stylish Range =-.

2 Wimwick October 9, 2009 at 7:13 pm

@ Wyatt
I haven’t had the opportunity to digest your comments on the other articles in detail, but they are certainly welcome. I’m not a game designer either. The emphasis of the articles was to fill a hole which I think has been left between 3e and 4e, namely specialist wizards.

3 Necrobegginer February 19, 2011 at 10:37 am

🙂 I need help on spells 😀

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