Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-5: The Luckless Dead

A number of cliches fall by the wayside with the introduction of the most horrific school of magic going, Necromancy. Dead men tell no tales. They do to the Necromancer. The lucky ones are the ones who died. They don't feel that way when the Necromancer gets their hands on them. There are only two things in this world that are inevitable, death and taxes. The Necromancer can't help with your taxes, though the taxman attacked by one might wish otherwise. The Necromancer can make sure that the finality of death is anything but a certainty. Even the epitaph "Rest in Peace" holds no sway. There isn't even necessarily any respite for the cremated either. Not flesh, bone, blood, ashes, or the essence of a person is safe from this monster of a magician.

This leads to the first question asked for a setting where Necromancy will be introduced. If some other aspect hasn't already asked it for, now it must be decided, do people have souls, spirits, or similar, that live on after the death of the body? If the answer is yes then they fall under the power of this school of magic. The full repertoire of the Necromancer is available. If the answer is no, then some avenues of horror need to be set aside, but not all of them. A victim's consciousness may be used in place of a soul in many an evil binding. It just requires tighter control over the timeline. A consciousness is more fragile and decidedly fleeting in comparison to a spirit. Then, beyond the living consciousness, are their echoes, which may stand in as ghosts.

Perhaps an atypical use of Necromancy is the use of bodily materials in modifying, or enhancing the Necromancer. This begins with the comparatively innocuous imbibing of blood to gain strength, or bathing in it to maintain youth. From there the Necromancy might make personal use of an additional limb, or organ, including sensory organs. A different approach could be the creation of living dead monstrosities that will make people wish for the halcyon days of only having to deal with zombies. Then there are the undead, the vampires. Will Necromancers have any power over the children of the night? They are biologically dead, for the most part, depending on the setting. Either way, the vampires can be friend or foe, beyond just being more parts to put to use.

Music: Good To Be Bad by Whitesnake and The Golden Age Of Rock 'n' Roll by Def Leppard.

Whitesnake: Good To Be Bad
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Def Leppard: Yeah!

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