Necromancy, or the summoning/controlling of the dead by way of magic, is something that is generally understood as an evil act. For a long time Dungeons and Dragons listed all necromancy as “evil magic” in their spell books and required that a character had an evil alignment to even learn the spell. DnD isn’t the only game to take this stance either. In The Elder Scrolls, you will frequently come across random evil wizards, and more often than not they dabble in necromancy. There is a Daedric prince in these games that actually conscripts you to kill necromancers, for no other reason than the use of necromancy. (Side note: these necromancers in particular are evil, but the prince specifically hates what they do and makes that very clear.) Suffice it to say, this form of magic in particular is not very positively looked upon.

But why? Why is necromancy considered evil for tampering with the natural order of life and death, but other magic isn’t? Don’t transmutation and divine healing magic do the same thing? Why is it holy to tamper with one’s soul, but demonic to affect the body that it came from? My opinion on the matter is simple. Magic is a tool, neutral in the eyes of the gods and nature. It is neither good nor evil unless a person uses it for those purposes. A sword will not kill unless thrust at another being, an arrow will not harm unless aimed. The same is true for magic. Barring accidents and freak occurrences, magic will do nothing more than it’s caster desires. This is true of ALL magic. It is a force, with no sentience or morality.

Now let’s talk specifically of necromancy. It is, in essence, the magic of undeath. While clerics and paladins use divine magic to heal the body or mend the soul, necromancers use their magic to occupy the cadavers left behind when a soul is lost. Not only that, necromancy can also damage a present soul to avoid the “waiting” phase of death (represented by any mechanic similar to death saving throws) and immediately sever the connection to the body. If divine magic is light, then necromancy is darkness. It is a mantra used time and time again, but there are any number of magical essences that can be substituted into that saying. If fire is good, then water is evil. If Earth is good, than air is evil. Etc, etc, etc.

At the end of the day, the point is simple. No magic is inherently evil. People all have “alignments” that can tell us whether they are good or evil, but magic does not have a conciseness present with which to develop a moral compass. Magic is simply a tool like any other, albeit slightly more dangerous.

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