Saturday, October 5, 2013

Halloween Specialist Wizards

It's October and that means Halloween season and that means that the Pumpkin tries to focus on Halloween related content more often than not.  As opposed to the normally thought provoking and controversial material covered during the off season.  I have covered wizards as they relate to Halloween before , indeed twice before, so today's post should come as no surprise.
Specialist Wizards, a term bandied about in RPG circles, refers to practitioners of magic that choose to focus in a narrow or themed area of expertise rather than the broad generalist wizard.  How specialization comes about depends on the game really (or author as this happens in books and films as well).  I suppose with the freedom to choose spells as you level comes the option to select spells along a similar theme, which could certainly result in a named type of wizard, but when we think of specialists we think of wizard subclasses with a name and theme such as today's subject THE NECROMANCER.
This is the Necromancer from the board game Mage Wars: skulls?  Check.  Bone accents?  Staff and necklace.  Creepy as hell?  Check-o-roonie.
Historical Origins: From the Greek, necromancy is divination by speaking with the dead.
Fantasy Origins: Necromancy and necromancers are wizards who specialize in working with death and the dead.  They are intentionally spooky, often evil (but not always, but then people tend to frown on disturbing the eternal rest of sapient beings) and rely heavily on their use of "pets".  In early literature necromancer was often a synonym for "evil wizard" and even in the modern milieu you aren't likely to see one in pink riding a standard rainbow shitting unicorn.  Oh no, necromancers ride nightmares and wear skulls.  Tolkien used a necromancer as a background character in The Hobbit, although the necromancer of Mirkwood was, of course, Sauron of The Lord of the Rings.  They are popular villain figures, often used as overlords rather than simple straight forward attack villains.  If you are looking to run a creepy adventure or two for Halloween you can't go wrong with a necromancer as the main villain and his castle of undead minions.  And if that necromancer is also a VAMPIRE your name is Tracy Hickman.
See the skull?  That's a neon sign that says "I'm a necromancer".
Skulls are pretty much de rigueur for necromancers as our examples above and below show.  Occasionally they go all out with bone accents on the robes, maybe some bone armor pieces, a flayed (human?) skin robe, pale skin, the whole lot.  A tattered robe is a nice accent, but by no means required.  They usually grow their beards late in life, if they grow them at all, and tend toward the goatee and van dyke.  
Yes, even the French have necromancers.
In wizard school the necromancers are pretty much the Goth kids.  They dress in black, act intentionally creepy to get attention, stare at you a long time for no good reason and listen to minstrel acts that nobody has ever heard of.  Necromancers get voted most likely to become a lich by their fellow wizard school classmates.  Their association with the dead, however, makes them popular around Halloween but they still don't get invited to many parties.
Is this image cool to you?  You might be a necromancer.
Why choose necromancy as your magical specialty?  Because it looks cool!  Necromancers are about being cool, at least to a certain segment of the population.  Skeletons, zombies, spells with names like chill touch, life drain, withering blast, screaming headbanging metal skull, and flense douchebag jock football player all add up to badass, cool, and wicked awesome.  To use an older term, this is more than black magic, this is blackest magic.  So what if you don't have any friends?  Friends are for the weak.  You can just kill people and MAKE them into your friends!
Say "hello" to your new friends.
Which is what you are going to have to do because hanging around with the undead and having no helpful or healing spells is not going to get you invited to parties of the adventuring kind, let me tell you.
It's not all skeletons and zombies, you know.  Spirits are part of the necromancer's bailiwick as well.  In fact, expect to be having conversations with a lot of these things, although I warn you, they are not very interesting, they are practically transparent.
Necromancers speak to and command the undead.  That is their baseline occupational focus.  When another wizard is flipping some feeble magic missile a necromancer is raising a skeleton to rend the flesh of his foes.  There are many frightening and powerful characters out there, but one that can kill you, THEN raise you back up as his servant and/or rip your soul from your body and bind it forever to the earthly plane for his amusement is pretty scary.  Scary awesome, that is.  Practically all of their spells are in some way tied to death and negative energy.  If a necromancer has a heal spell you best believe the hit points he is giving you came from someone or something else just seconds before.  Here's a tip, if you have just been given a heal and you see dead squirrels and grass around you...that was a necromancer that healed you.
What, if anything, this has to do with necromancy I cannot say.
It's not all bad, right?
Well, no, it doesn't have to be.  Necromancy naturally tends toward badness if not outright evil.  You can't be expected to be called a "good guy" if you force the bones of the dead to rise up and get your latte.  And that's okay.  The "good guys" don't have to be "good".  We love an antihero.  You could use necromancy in a positive way, however.  You could learn the magic of death and undeath and then use it solely to protect villages from the rampaging undead, or use your speak with dead spells to become an exorcist, solving the problems of sad ghosts trapped by their undeath and needing to have their desires fulfilled to pass on out of the material plane.  You can be a HAPPY NECROMANCER.  It's up to you.
Or you can be a glowing skeleton of DOOM and BADASSNESS!  It's Halloween (soon) and that's what its all about!  We love the monsters!  We love the spooky!  We love to abuse the exclamation point!  We all know my love for Skeletor, but there is my second favorite, Scareglow!  That's where your necromancy is leading, friends.  Summoning a glowing skeleton with a cape and a poleaxe.  You can get a job working at a haunted attraction and not only will you be THE most valued employee, the attraction will become THE legendary MUST SEE event of the Halloween season!
When the wizards get together for their wizard school reunions though, the necromancer is still going to be the unpopular guy.  Sorry, it's truth.  Of course he's also the one that poisons the punch and raises the whole lot of them as part of his 20 year revenge scheme and then holds the former wizard prom queen hostage to "make (her) love me HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA".  It won't work, of course.  She's still going to say you are creepy.

Stay tuned, kiddies, there are more Halloween wizards to come!

Keep your zombie pumpkin minions lit.


  1. Don't have much to say about these creatures, but I have to give you kudos on the work you put into each post. Bravo!

    1. Stay tuned, it's all building up to something insane.

  2. Wizard Prom Queen why does that make me think of Rupaul??? Oh wait I forgot Pierre Le Fabuleux who would have been the prom queen but he was a Necromancer, so that B1$%H Gandalf got it.