Necromancers are amongst the most cursed of all those who practice the magical arts, for they have exchanged their humanity for the ability to raise the dead and command them to wage war upon the living. Strange as it may seem, these depraved madmen have made this dread pact willingly. At the heart of each Necromancer's morbid obsession is the need to subjugate and punish those who have persecuted him in the past, regardless of the cost.
It is usually men, rather than the longer-lived races, that delve into the study of necromancy. Perhaps because Elves have such vast lifespans, they do not feel the need to prolong them by unnatural means. Dwarfs have no aptitude for magic, let alone a desire to defile the honoured dead. Orcs and Goblins have little concept of their own mortality and do not fear death in the way men do. Most Skaven are too caught up in their own scuttling pursuit of the way of the Horned Rat. Thus it is usually only men who set their feet on the path that will lead them either to a peculiarly horrible form of everlasting life, or to eternal damnation. These individuals are not necessarily evil to begin with. Some may desire knowledge for its own sake; others may seek immortality, or to prolong the life of a loved one. Regardless, something about their unnatural pursuit invariably turns them to a darker path. Perhaps it is the horror and revulsion their fellows feel for them, or perhaps the pulsing energy of Dark Magic, that warps their minds. Either way, when men take to the path of necromancy, madness is never far behind.
Mystery shrouds the study of necromancy. To learn the dark art, an aspirant must find either a Necromancer or Vampire and become his apprentice, or acquire a forbidden book rich in the secrets of undeath, such as one of the fabled Nine Books of Nagash. It is this intrinsic mystery that drives Necromancers to become servants of the Vampire Counts, hoping to learn firsthand from the masters of undeath. For the majority of these would-be wizards, once they are in the thrall of a Vampire, they can never leave their service - Vampires are notoriously domineering and loath to let their devoted subjects depart. Even finding a Vampire willing to be a tutor has its obvious difficulties. Many of those who have sought apprenticeship with a Vampire have ended up serving in a more menial way; as an animated corpse, for instance, a light snack, or as raw ingredients for a particularly difficult enchantment. Given the morbid reputation and dreadful habits of Vampires, it is perhaps safer to confine oneself to the study of blasphemous tomes instead.
Seeking out books of forbidden lore has its own perils. Many are copies of older texts from long-forgotten times, and there is no guarantee that any of the rituals found in them are correctly transcribed. Some simply do not work at all, and others may go disastrously wrong, such as when the infamous Jacques de Noirot accidentally animated all of the corpses in the cemeteries of Mousillon and then found he could not control them. Possessed of an insatiable desire for human flesh, the Zombies devoured the hapless Necromancer and rampaged through the city streets. After feeding on hundreds of peasants, merchants and men-at-arms, they were eventually destroyed by the King of Bretonnia's household knights.
As a man follows the dark path of the Necromancer, he becomes ever more detached from his mortal roots. Morbidly questing after the secrets of death, a Necromancer deeply steeped in the lore of the dead stands on the threshold between worlds, neither wholly alive, nor one of the Undead. His body twisted with unholy power, his mind seared by the horrors he has witnessed, a Necromancer often has more in common with his lurching, moaning minions than with the living he seeks to slay.
- Nagash, the first and greatest of all necromancers.
- Heinrich Kemmler, the Lichemaster.
- Dieter Helsnicht, the Doomlord of Middenheim.
- Frederick van Hal, one time count of Sylvania.
- Arkhan the Black, one of Nagash's first ever students.
|Attention, Adept of the LEXICANUM!|