Greatest Hits 2009: The Necromancer

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on December 30, 2009

While the Dungeon’s Master team enjoys some well-deserved vacation time, we’re breaking out the greatest hits and shining a spotlight on a few of our favourite articles from 2009. We’ve searched for hidden gems that our newer readers might have missed and our long-time readers will enjoy reading again. Enjoy a second look at these greatest hits from Dungeon’s Master.

The Necromancer

The Necromancer

The sixth post at Dungeon’s Master was the Necromancer: Heroic Tier, published way back on February 4, 2009. When you consider that two of the preceding posts were launching soon and our official launch post, the Necromancer series was the fourth content post on the site. As a result the series of articles on the Necromancer have a long history. They have also been one of the most surprising series of posts we’ve written.

The articles were originally written to address the lack of specialist Wizards. The release of 4e and the creation of power sources altered the way several classes worked in previous editions and I felt that the Wizard class was most deeply effected. I always enjoyed the idea of specialists and felt that the Necromancer series was a way to address that. I honestly expected to see more about specialist Wizards in Arcane Power, but that was not to be.

As I mentioned, the Necromancer series has been with us since the beginning and has been one of the biggest surprises about the site. The keyword “Necromancer” is one of the most used terms that drives traffic to our site from search engines. Ameron and I were genuinely surprised when we consistently saw that the Necromancer articles were getting multiple pages views a day, months after being published. This trend has not slowed down. What really surprises us is if you just search necromancer through Google, which is how the majority of people find these articles, I’m not sure if we are ranked in the first ten pages. If you add 4e D&D to the search, we come up a bit higher but those keywords are used less frequently.

As a result of the frequency the original articles were being found through Google we decided to write a follow-up piece on the Necromancer. This article, found below, is our take on the Necromancer from a role playing perspective. Resulting from that article were some comments and criticism on the powers for the original series which prompted a revision. You’ll find the links to the original series and the updated powers contained within the article below.

We hope you enjoy our take on the Necromancer. We’ve been enjoying the traffic it has generated and we plan to do more with the class in the future. We also haven’t forgotten about specialist Wizards, they are still an issue that I think have a lot of potential to explore in 4e D&D to push the power system even further.

From October 6, 2009, Dungeon’s Master once again presents: 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 span. 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. Their 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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