The Undiscovered Country
Treatise on Practical Necromancy - by Mortimer Greysprocket
Preface and Explanation:
Dear Scholar; I, Mortimer Greysprocket, desire and design, in these pages, to record my thoughts and applications of Practical Necromancy, believing, as I do, that I may be the only practitioner of said art left alive in this time and place. The hows and wherefores of my coming to be in this situation are a tale for another time. I am not here to tell tales, but record practical magic in the new and experimental discipline surrounding the creation, deployment, and application of residual human resources.
In my own studies of some 25 years (quite how those years relate to my current time frame I will not speculate here), I have read many many theorems on the art of necromancy, all of which have approached the problem from unique but ultimately unsuccessful angles. The Blood Mages of the teachings of Kel’Rath sought to animate the physical remains of a body as they would harness the life energy of the blood. In doing so however, they grant a reverence to the body, treating it as they would the living essence a mortal, a wholly romanticised notion that sabotages their efforts, their own reverence lending a small amount of divine protection to the fallen thus protecting them from all but the most powerful workings.
The Death Priests of the Citadel of Bone (such as it was before the queen’s armies razed it) sought to call down divine favours from whatever gods would hear them (and I do not want to speculate there) to grant them control over the dead. This had limited success I understand, but always ultimately met in tragedy. For the gods have little interest with the mortal remains, even if they can be made to ride in them for a time. It is the souls of the living (and the foolishly greedy), they truly covet.
My own Grandfather pioneered the practice of moving the soul from one vessel to another, a suitable host, being it a biological construct or a suitably prepared artificially one. He had two fold problems however; with a supply of willing souls (for his experiments with unwilling ones were disturbing even to a hardened Necromancer…), and with ‘compatibility issues’. I could find no record of his success in this field.
I have even read artificers and alchemists propose that the right chemical preparations and harnessed lightning could reanimate the dead for a time. Sadly I know of none that have dodged the various ‘hazards’ of their chosen profession sufficiently long enough to have perfected the process.
This left me the only option of approaching the problem from a different direction. Thankfully I am nothing if not a practical man.
In fact, if I may take a moment aside at this point to address: ‘Why Necromancy?’ As I say I am a practical man and not a zealous cultist or crazed sorcerer. I chose to practice and design the magic of the dead for one reason; if I may, in my more common parlance: “if ya caant buy components, take whatcha got and call it Residum!”
I did not, living in a besieged city, surrounded on all sides by powerful armies raised by powerful wizards, and being but a
lowley gnomish scholar, have access to residum and essence of nether bloom, or distillate-ambrosius… The fine tools of the Thaumaturge I lacked. What I did have, in a time of nothing but war, was access to the stupid fools that insist on fighting, and dying, in said infernal things.
Now do not, dear scholar, mistake my dispassion for the fallen as cruelty. Merely the practicality that lead me to practice the art. You see I have no romanticised, nostalgic view of a fallen body. To me it is a construct, of meat and bone instead of metal and wood, but a construct just the same.
I do not make light of the immortal soul/spirit/ghost of a person, that I treat with due respect (and caution) for it is the domain of divine magic, and what ever wretched gods might still exist, and while I can manipulate a spirit, I do not make the rules in that game.
The meat and bone construct left behind the recently departed then… that is a thing, an object, nothing more. Unlike the spirit which might be described by philosophy or poetry, the body can be described in cold reason and math.
Herein lay my breakthrough:
Cadaver as Spell Methodology:
When a wizard casts a spell, they create with thought, word, and deed, a construct of acranic design. Into which they poor raw arcane energies of the world, before sealing the whole package with the keystone, the incantation that balances the equation, that allows the conceptual structure to hold together, and the spell is wrought.
So it occurred to me that if I thought of the body, not as a part of a self aware being, but as a construct of defined lengths and variables, weights and tolerances… well then; 70% of my spell casting work was done for me! The ‘Formatio’ of the spell weaving had been done for me by nature’s meandering methods. I was free to proceed to the ‘Pænitentiam’ phase, channeling the arcane energies into the cognitive (or in this case flesh) construct, and then finish with the ‘Ligabis’ completing the spell, or, in this case, re-animating the dead, and binding the meat and bone form to one purpose!
With this fresh approach in mind I took a simple cantrip, the first spell a novice learns when they move beyond envoking and into spell-crafting. A Mage Hand spell.
Usually I would shape/construct the Forma of the spell with word and gesture, add a little arcane power, and finish the spell, thus creating a simple assistant in an anthropomorphised shape we’re all happy with, to wit: a hand.
Now, suppose we let nature do the forming part of this process for us, and use an actual hand. Much of the work then is done for us, and left lying around, or wasted buried under the earth or burnt! So I acquired a hand (which is much simpler than a whole body!), the construction part done for me I applied arcane energy and closed the spell the traditional way.
Now I am not going to lie and say I had success immediately however, my ego isn’t that large. No instead there were setbacks, not least that a spell is a conceptual construct, it has nothing to be harmed by the addition of arcane power… a flesh construct on the other hand, does. It will burn out if too much power is applied to quickly, and power must be added along channels that nature formed in the hand, or again it will be damaged. (I may write another thesis on the removal of necrotic matter from clothes and fittings, post detonation.)
Finally the closing, the binding of the spell is not as straight forward as spell-weaving. The wizard did not form the construct that is the hand, he didn’t design it to fit with the final part of the spell from the beginning, thus, finding the correct ‘fit’ is trickier and requires a finesse that only comes with understanding the ways of arcane energies, and how dead flesh ‘feels’ in to the wizards mind.
The latter puts off many wizards from the practice of necromancy, exposing ones Sigh, and existential self to the working of cold dead flesh is as different to the working of book learnt arcana, as demonic invocation must be. The Art therefore, is not for everybody. If you are made of the stuff unphased by such things then I wish you well in your studies dear reader. For my own part I have once again found myself in a time of war. When civilised men will value results and overlook methods. I find myself with fresh “raw materials” to work with and feel ready to try larger reanimations. I believe I shall start with a reworked “Unseen Servant” spell, as I have a fondness for the classics…
If you meet with success in your own administrations, and have found these notes informative, perhaps some collaborative studies could be mutually beneficial?
“In morte ibi est verum”