Necromancy

Magic has always been part of the world. We just lacked the means to fuel anything more then parlor tricks.   Once we did, we conquered Death.  
— Elaine Rae, Master Nekrobiotek of the Korero-Take Republic
    Necromancy is the most widely practiced school of magic in the known world. It is the science of controlling dead tissue by will and ritual, forcing cadavers to rise again or failing organs to function. With its true potential unlocked, humanity has changed the world and made an industry out of what they once feared most.    

4d2e88e2a7f0ffe6ce7a203ab373fb6a.jpg

    The most common title given to the necromancer in the modern day is Nekrobiotek; they are surgeons, scientists, engineers and wizards. They are feared and respected, but an integral part of human civilization.  
In the Shinomas Magocracy, Nekrobioteks rule in all but name. While the warrior-noble caste hold court and pronounce edicts, it is always with a glance behind their shoulder for the approving nod of a necromancer.
     

Science of Death

  Necromancy work by intent and will. A heart ravaged by injury or disease keeps pumping because the Necromancer wills it so and intends for the person to still live, without needing to know the specifics. But the more the necromancer knows and the more clearly they can formulate their intent, the greater their magic becomes.    
The difference between apprentice and master is akin to that of a surgeon, wielding either hacksaw or scalpel.  
— Elaine Rae, Master Nekrobiotek
    As humanity's understanding of anatomy has progressed, Necromancy advanced along with it. Where the early Necromancers could do little more then raise the dead or the most crude of manipulation, the Necromancers of today are able to work comparative wonders.   At its core, Necromancy is performed in three steps:  

    Intent, where the Necromancer gathers her will and formulates the intent behind her spell: to raise the dead, to force a beating heart to decay or holding death at bay in face of mortal injury. Much of the ritual and ceremony surrounding magic exist to aid this step.   Charge is when the Necromancer gathers the energy required to fuel her spell. The power comes from the most elemental of sources: electricity. The more drastic the magic she seeks to weave, the more power her spell requires.   Execute happens once the intent, focus and power are all in place. The Necromancer unleashes the spells into the world.

 

ed687a2feca779dfc74a7ddd0f0bb400.jpg

   

Limitations

  Magic obeys certain rules, and Necromancy is no different. It cannot create or transform things, only manipulate and control them. Experimentation and research have progressed Necromancy further than any other art of magic, but it remains bound by these same limitations.   The power the spell requires is increased with the complexity of the intent and scope of manipulation being attempted. There are entire coal-plants dedicated to single cabals of Nekrobioteks to fuel their spells and rituals.    

Backlash

  Magic is not without danger. Even simple spells requires a substantial magnitude of electricity and the Magi must channel it through themselves with little more then a steady hand and iron will. When things go wrong, as they invariably do from time to time, the Magi suffers backlash.  

9410a3615a9b7cac04419a98abb364fa.jpg

  Backlash is when the Magi is struck by the power meant to fuel their spell. It occurs either because the Magi lost concentration, was sloppy or negligent. Skilled Magi are able to divert the worst away from themselves, sometimes using specialized grounding rods, but amateurs can be electrocuted. Poor form have ended the apprenticeship of more then a few would-be Nekrobiotek.    
What of the Soul?   The hope of every grieving family ever since the first charlatan promised he could bring them word from beyond the grave was that Necromancy would finally answer the question of the human soul.   The answer was a disappointing quiet. Entire religions reeled and fractured while scholars sought answers and constructed theories. Some think the magic that reaches the soul is still beyond mankind. Others have accepted that the soul is not real and never was.   Neither is true. Since the first great awakening of magic, the Occultarum have feasted on every soul that escaped their failing flesh. Wherever souls once went or where they lingered, most are now lost and devoured.
   

0b6af10f1c43ac378e81dfbc0e0ef690--fantasy-monster-monster-art.jpg

   
Necromancy ambiance
 

Other Schools

  Necromancy is not the only school of magic practiced in the world. Most are limited in their use by the requirement of power and made obsolete with the progress of technology; after all, why waste the output of a coal-plant for a spell of Pyromancy, when artillery does the job much better?   Some remain in use as a matter of tradition or habit. Others are constantly being poked and prodded at by mage-scientists to see what new avenues of magic may be discovered. So far, none have seen use in the fields of the Great War.    

s_conjuration.jpg

   

In Olden Days

  Before mankind learned to harness electricity, magic was limited in the world. Small secret societies treated the few spells they could muster without external sources of energy as hallowed secrets.   In its current form, magic is only one or two centuries old. It was first conceived when the Skaldi Society saw a traitor from their ranks surrender his fellows and their secrets to the Abhimaan Monarchy. They were the first Great Power to explore magic and it soon spread.    

s_Sublime.jpg

   

A New World

  In the last century, the world see more and more undead raised to work in farms, in factories, mines, and more. Corpses are currency and cemeteries have been quarried for usable material, families selling their dead relatives to factories and Nekrobioteks. There's even a market for individual limbs, which have made some doctors a little quick to resort to the hacksaw in response to illness or injury.    

s_Rising.jpg

    The undead now do much of the manual labor throughout the world. They are workers that never tire, grow sick or whose injury is just a matter of some wire or a new limb. It did not take long for those very same workers to be armed and used for war. Nor did it take very long for the Nekrobiotek to experiment with the corpses of animals.. Or stranger things.   The very same magic has been used to prolong the life of the rich and powerful. Failing organs and decaying flesh is kept in working order by near constant currents that maintain the spells.    

s_Concept.jpg



Cover image: by Victoria Rockmetalico

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
27 Aug, 2018 19:57

Extensive article as always! I would love to know of any horror stories where necromancy has gone wrong in your world, and am also intrigued to know if a necromancer can animate a very large fallen creature.

27 Aug, 2018 20:13

That gives me some ideas. I'll add a section about what happens if they mess it up!   And yeah, they can. but it's a world pretty similar to ours, so you might see zombie cows or elephants occasionally. :)

27 Aug, 2018 20:01

Editor Notes:

  • "... made and industry ..." probably should say "an"
  • "... respected, and have ..." no comma needed
  • "... clearly then can formulate ..." then should be they
  • "... the greater effect that can achieve." Multiple ways to change this up. Perhaps something like "..., and the greater the effect that can be achieved." or maybe "..., and a greater effect (may/can) be achieved."
  • "... understanding anatomy ..." should add "of" between these words
  • "... so have Necromancy ..." You have 2 tenses in this sentence and since they relate, they should be the same; have should be has
  • "... progressed along it." Should read "... progressed along with it."
  • "... from a most elemental ..." May read better if "a" is replaced with "the"
  • "... power have are all in place, the ..." Remove the word "have" and instead of using a comma, replace it with a period and start a new sentence with "The" or put "and" in front of "the"
  • "Magic obey certain rules ..." Should be "obeys"
  • "... further the any other art ..." the should be than
  • "... magic to reach the soul ..." Might read better as ".. magic reaches the soul ..."
  • "... is still beyond mankind others have ..." Would recommend changing this to: "... it is still beyond mankind. Others have ..."
  • "... first, great ..." No comma needed
  • "Where-ever ..." no dash needed. "Wherever ..."
  • "... stayed... Most are now lost, devoured." Personal opinion, I would remove the ... and put "... stayed, most are now lost, devoured by the Occultarum.
  • "... popular and by far the ..." comma needed after popular
  • "... artillery do the job ..." do should be does
  • "... prodded as scholars and theurgs ..." I think this should read "prodded at by"
  • "... hollowed secrets ..." I think you mean hallowed
  • "... world see more and more ..." should be "the world has seen"
  • "... in factories and mines; and more." I would reccomend "factories, mines, and more."
  Overall opinion:  

I really enjoyed this article and I think it is very well thought out and written. I loved your accompanied graphics, especially the poster near the top. :)

27 Aug, 2018 20:53

That's super-useful feedback! Both on stuff I really missed xD   I did a pass on all that. Thank you so much!

27 Aug, 2018 20:26

Great article! My only major critique would mostly be that the articles are so large that they edge out your writing, and when they take up most of the screen they prevent use readers from seeing some of the words ahead which might captivate us and compel us to keep reading.   How much skill does necromancy take? Can the process itself be automated?

27 Aug, 2018 20:47

Thanks and good call!   I made them smaller and I'm going to add some more text tomorrow!   The process can be automated in the oldest way in the world: get low-level apprentices to do all the shit work. Other then that, not really, though some of the preliminary steps (like embalming etc) can sort of be, but those are purely mundane worksteps.

28 Aug, 2018 04:58

An amazing article, I absolutely love the unique magitech take on necromancy. I particularly love the philosophy surrounding souls because it opens up avenues for all kinds of discussion, story prompts, and rpg adventures. I'm curious to know if there are any taboo subjects or areas that necromancers are supposed to stay away from, and what the consequences for such actions might be?

28 Aug, 2018 07:26

I'm glad you liked it! :D   As for taboo... I don't know. I hadn't thought about it. They've turned the entire thing kind of industrial and taboo tend to go out the window in favor of pure practicality often. What do you think? Can you think of any? :)

28 Aug, 2018 07:30

I'd need to know more about the rest of the culture to really go into detail, but relatively simple things that come to mind would concepts like not using the corpses of children, or not actively shortening a life for the purpose of reanimation, etc..

28 Aug, 2018 07:46

Then again, we did make kids work in coal-mines...   But that's something to think about. I have some other things to add (like what happens if they mess up a spell), I'll add a bit about this when I do because I like what it might say about those cultures.   Now I just need to figure out what that is. :D   I also realized they probably put on like pit-fights between zombies for entertainment, though.

21 Sep, 2018 21:24

"Magic is not danger." I think you forgot the "without" in there. Did you mean "Magic is not without danger."?

21 Sep, 2018 22:04

Yup! Fixed! Thanks!

29 Sep, 2018 10:35

Dark, gross, creative and with a lot of art, as always in your worlds. I liked reading this. ^^ The electricity thingy really gives me some Frankenstein vibes.

I got a question: You said that undead are being used for all kinds of manual labor, but you didn't mention the war front. Why aren't they at the very place where the risk of dying is the highest?