Necromancy and/or Undead race

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Home Forums Age of Wonders 3 Discussions Necromancy and/or Undead race

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    “Sometimes it’s hard to talk with you, russians…”

    your nationalism does not look like strong argument too.



    I really liked reading your answers on the questions I asked earlier, but you have not yet fully explored what being undead does not define :p

    Like Lennart said:

    “Some classes (esp the Rogue and a possible future Necromancer class that’s still on the drawing board) have certain skills that could be a catalyst on sending your alignment going south a lot quicker than other classes.  think of transforming an entire population to undead.”

    So yeah… what would that population be before the transformation? What does being undead NOT define? ;p

    (Yeah I like teasing you, sorry ^^, also, we’re talking about a class that, as said, is still on the drawing board!)



    your nationalism does not look like strong argument too.

    You just don’t like all russian.” (c)



    I am happy to share the details of my view of the philosophy of undead, if it is useful. Based aow1 I designed the universe, drew a map of the continent and wrote a short story. All races alternativyne stories. Units were already out aow2, but with a different description.

    Unfortunately the language barrier prevents properly convey my opinion.

    In aow1 i saw all the races in the game as people with different cultures and values ​​(not just as good and evil). I am glad that this idea was further developed in AOW3. And I get inspiration for new stories 🙂


    To me, Narvek teases hint at that there might be no Undead RACE anymore, rather it might be a unit STATUS that can be afflicted by Necromancer skills, spells, whatever and which brings certain further stats, attributes, boni, mali with it. Maybe it can be reversed too. Just an idea.



    I get the impression he’s implying that the Archons, while being undead, won’t be typical undead. Maybe they can still think for themselves. Maybe they’re still good to an extent. AoW 3 seems to a re-imagining of the series itself, so it’s my guess that anything could be possible at this point.


    What I was trying to say is that they won’t be undead Archons right from the bat. They will rather be produced as normal units and then be made or transformed to Undead status  through their leader versed in Necromancy skills/spells. Same goes for other races, they can all be made undead (and maybe won’t need anymore or only low upkeep pay afterwards) so we might be looking forward to undead goblins, elves, dwarfs, titans, what have you. Might even be technically not SO difficult if you are having some kind of bone structure in every creature anyway.

    Read again post #1 and Narveks reply in conjuction.
    Sounds like an active Necromancy system.



    goblins, elves, dwarfs, titans,

    Halfling-zombie! Magic people, voodoo people! )))



    @narvek: That’s because it’s naturally easier to define what something is rather than what something isn’t – in most cases, the latter is a much bigger category. 😛

    To narrow down the question, though, one could ask: What are some things commonly accepted as defining features of being undead, that actually are not?

    The elephant in the room on that question is alignment. Undead are commonly held to be always or nearly always evil, and settings with undead often have justifications for this – undead don’t have souls, the dark magic that creates undead corrupts the soul, only evil souls become undead (usually allowing for the possibility of a necromancer to summon an evil soul to inhabit a newly created undead if the original soul of the body was not evil) or just because the undead state encourages a lack of empathy for the living.

    However, if you push that aside, the main reason for undead being usually evil is evolutionary. Undead need to convert the living to create more undead, and most living beings don’t want to become undead – thus, undead societies that are willing to force the issue against the desires of their “recruits” are more likely to grow and thrive. However, it’s easy to imagine an undead society that only converts volunteers or that isn’t interested in expanding at all, and such a society would have no reason to be evil over other holding other moral viewpoints.

    This is something that’s been done before – the Deathless Court in Eberron is one example, and the Tomb Kings in Warhammer are another (some of the Tomb Kings are evil, including Settra, but the Tomb Kings largely hold the same range of moralities that they did in life).



    Why a skeleton warrior needs soul?Its a pile of bones nothing else. Why should a necromancer bound soul to a lifeless corpse? With soul a creture gain identity and necromancers dont want it because they need loyal servants who do their orders without questions. A corpse can only “live” again with the help of magic  and if this magic gone it will fall to the dirt again. So as you said undead dont have soul, thus in my opinion they cant be evil on their own . How could you recognise good or evil without soul?Having soul is the privilage of the living. For me the undeads would be the true example of being neutral. Can they do evil thing? Ofcourse if the master command them but at the same time they water a plant or nurse a kid if that is the master wish. Most of the undeads are just tools like the golems or any other “creation”.



    Depending on the setting, lacking a soul does not necessarily mean that you lack intellect. It’s the standard explanation for vampires, in fact – part of becoming a vampire is losing your soul (what happens to the soul is often left unexplained) and while the intellect remains, the loss of a soul means they can no longer feel empathy, compassion, genuine love, and other positive emotions. Ergo, evil.

    The skeleton warrior is an interesting case. The impression I got from Age of Wonders 1 was that even the lowliest skeleton warrior was possessed and animated by a damned soul as part of the army of the infernal realms. Age of Wonders 2 low-level undead are a little less clear-cut and and do show signs of being automatons, although higher-level undead such as vampires, spectres and reapers* are certainly intelligent if controllable by a sufficiently powerful wizard. It probably depends on the undead in question – some have souls and are intelligent in their own right, others are simply puppets of their creator.

    Any undead that are effectively automatons, however, are not really contributing to alignment. They don’t have neutral alignments, they have no alignment. Instead, the alignment of an undead society where most of its number are of the automaton form is going to be defined by who’s giving the orders, whether that’s the intelligent undead or the leader binding the undead to their service. And, for the evolutionary reason I gave above, such societies are naturally going to tend towards evil, since if they’re willing to forcefully convert the living into undead they have a greater potential to grow (consider, for instance, how death magic can encourage razing or pillaging a city, since you can simply cast Animate Ruins on it afterwards to get an undead city back out of it), but do not have to be.

    *Personally, I’ve thought for a while that the Reapers may not technically be undead per se but a demon of death and unlife, but it comes down to much the same thing for the purpose of this discussion.



    Undead can be an interesting subject, especially for a group identity. The general moral code of “good” in fantasy games is often based on the idea that appropriate actions result in a some sort of reward, and often this is represented (since much of medieval fantasy has at least the tinge of Judeo-Christian ethical system) as having an existence in a paradise like realm (of course this is not solely or uniquely associated with Abrahamic religions in a real world context, nevertheless is can be argued that it has the biggest influence on much of the genre). Now imagine how returning from the dead, or dying and not achieving this state alters the way you view the world. If you lived in a moral context where performing good acts resulted in a blissful afterlife, yet you have died, not only have not received said afterlife, but your experience has shown that said afterlife is in fact a lie (whether or not it maybe is something else entirely; for those who have become undead involuntarily, the actual presence of a blissful afterlife is kind of moot, since obviously they did not achieve it). This sort of thoughtful application of the ramifications of involuntary, conscious undead could be quite interesting.


    EDIT – Ugh, buggy forums cutting my posts. To continue….


    The other side of development of cultural identity of undeath is of course reproduction. Always a touchy subject (does making someone else undead “damn” their souls, does it keep them from entering their culturally appropriate afterlife,  would that matter to you, as an undead, who has not been granted said afterlife, and you might not even believe in such an afterlife and actually view it as saving an individual from oblivion?). One of the most fascinating and nuanced representations of this is a Star Trek Voyager episode called “Ashes to Ashes,” ( ) which centers around a culture that can only reproduce by genetically altering the bodies of the dead of other species.




    The AOW series did not give me the impression that undead besides the heroes have “souls”.  Undead archers, swordsmen, riders are portrayed as fairly mindless.  Of course, Archons likely have more in them preserved.  The Nekron character especially, does not give the impression of representing a force with intellect behind it.  The undead of AOW1 do not give me the impression of being an arm of demonic forces, their access likely being tenuous at best and likely guarded against by the archons, rather they have similar interests.  Undead Inioch does not invite demons hosts (it is not stated…) to take hold of the world with his victory (alternative ending) in AOW1.  Rather, he wishes to make everyone dead, and not because he wants an “undead society”.  Inioch’s undead are not a society.  Mostly they are bones.

    As for their managers defining the nature of undead, the statement from AOW2 that the undead “whisper promises of power to those who will pay the stiff price of death’s allegiance”, likely answers that.  But this as a voice from a largely unthinking urge toward death and carnage.  I think that the undead in general, and they do exist outside of the control of necromancers (who I would suggest often serve undead interests unintentionally), would best be described as a crawling.

    From my understanding of AOW undead, the statement “the main reason for undead being usually evil is evolutionary. Undead need to convert the living to create more undead”, is not at all correct here.  The undead are not a society.  The undead wish to create more undead to create more death.  The undead are a force with little consciousness that wishes (longs, perhaps) to (re)turn everything to dust, this is stated in the description.  The undead heroes can have other motivations, like the vampire who wishes to be eternally beautiful.  Of course, she does this through constant slaughter.


    Undead here!

    BlaneckW, I totally agree with u!



    Sometimes my problem with fantasy worlds  that as Stryges said they are filled with typical judeo-christian beliefs/misbeliefs. Im an atheist maybe thats why im seeing the whole undead question differently. I think when i will die my soul die with my because it belongs to me and not goes up to the bearded good guy or down to the horned evil one.

    Depending on the setting, lacking a soul does not necessarily mean that you lack intellect. the standard explanation for vampires, in fact – part of becoming a vampire is losing your soul (what happens to the soul is often left unexplained) and while the intellect remains, the loss of a soul means they can no longer feel empathy, compassion, genuine love, and other positive emotions. Ergo, evil.”

    A serial killer dont have soul?He lost it when he walked on the road?Because you said good things (empathy,campassion ect.) come from the soul and intellect is the one which “helps” you do bad things   “Oh what have you done u have no soul” this is again a typical judeo-christian misbelief.Every living creature have soul no matter how good or bad he is. If you have no soul you cant feel any emotion not just the good ones thus undead cant be evil or good.They can do good or bad things but because they feel nothing when they do anything they cant characterize as good or bad. Killing someone is bad?yes.But if you have zero emotions u cant see this as a bad thing.Helping someone is good?Yes.But again if u have zero emotions you wont see this as a good thing. Vampires are not undead. Why?In my opinion to be undead you have  to die once.”Cheating” death or pacts or longer life not enough.Can be a skeleton warrrior killed?U can break the spell that keep him “alive” but you cant kill him becuse he is already dead.He died 10,100 or 1000 years ago. Vampires can be killed?Yes thus they are not undead. This is not the “usual” fantasy description of vampires or undead but this is my opinion 🙂


    Swordsmen, archers, zombies and bone horror, it is just the bone with no soul. But the vampires, ghosts and necromancers already have a soul.  They control the army of bones and study the problems of existence. They do not need expansion, bone after any war or plague many. in my story 🙂



    @BlaneckCW: Actually, if you take the Keeper-Lizards-Undead arc, the final journal entry talks about your character hiding from demons streaking through the skies. Inioch transforms all in the world to the dead and undead, but this is the same as what the demons want. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the other relevant journal entries to hand, but the impression I remember having going through the campaigns was that AoW1 undead were animated by damned souls drawn from the demonic realms.

    AoW2 undead appear to have lost that direct connection with the infernal, although some (vampires, spectres, reapers) are clearly intelligent.

    @tomipapa: I’m not going to get into an argument over what the effects of not having a soul would or should be, I was simply stating what vampire mythology traditionally says on the matter. I think the general concept behind it is that someone with a soul can still choose to ignore their conscience, while a being without a soul lacks a conscience to ignore. (It’s also worth noting that some people do describe truly merciless living people as soulless as well.)

    On that matter, technically speaking people being transformed into vampires do die, then rise again as vampires. One could regard that as a transformative state that resembles death, but there is certainly a period in which all life functions cease in the proto-vampire.



    From the manual of AoW 1:

    The masses of Undead found their way to the land of the living through a planar rift,opened when the Trumps of Doom were sounded.

    As You said they changed in AoW 2 so i think they will change again somehow



    By teasing us like that, I’m guessing Narvek imply that there will not be an Undead race in AoW 3.


    Undeath is not a race, actually. It’s a status, a condition. Well they did rally under the same banner in AoW 1, but now with all the world evolving that might not be the case. Moreover, the idea of a Necromancer class emphasizes the fact that there will not be a undead race, because as a Necromancer from any race, we would be able to create and undead army. What’s the point to add an undead race then ?

    I want to distinguish differents groups of undeads : the mindless ones, like zombies or skeletons, who just got called back from the death by a necromancer or a kind of evil summoner. They got no will, and so they can actively be a part of the uniformization of cultures that the Commonwealth Empire seems to have in mind ; on the other hand however, we see the strong-minded ones, like Vampires, Liches or big powerful warriors, who magically fought dead  to come back in an active way. They chose to be undead, and so they might have a very strong sensibility regarding their freedoms or their goals, which will make them not so willing to be a part of the Empire, but they will make good candidates for rebelling against.

    This opposition (but I’m still speculating) makes it clear to me that we won’t see an Undead race, but surely loads of undead units. Undeath does not define race, alignment, nor agenda IMO.


    And sorry for my english, French over here !


    From what’s been said, I gather that the Rogue and potential Necromancer classes will have certain skills that allow you to access Undead versions of your selected race.

    The definition of Undead is dead, but still technically animated. As for what it does not define, there are infinite possibilities, but most of them aren’t relevant 😛

    I could hazard a guess that to access Undead units, you use animation magic to bring back these dead units and they will cost mana upkeep like any other summoned unit. After all, makes sense (to me, at least :P) that if you’re going to have the Necromancer as a potential caster class that it would do something like this :3

    On the other hand, I could be entirely wrong 😛



    “The impression I remember having going through the campaigns was that AoW1 undead were animated by damned souls drawn from the demonic realms.”

    There is nothing I know of to give that impression, other than the fact that undead and (AOW1) hell hounds/demons tended to hang around together for destructive purposes, or are otherwise both used by “dark wizards”.

    Also, Undeath has, in the AOW series, up to this point, largely defined alignment and agenda, except in cases of minor heroes (namely Joseph, which is more silly than anything). Meandor is a Shade.



    The undead have their own motivations, which consist almost entirely of causing death.



    I think it comes up mostly in the high men campaign – it’s the reason why the high men/archons are so focused on fighting undead. It’s not the undead per se that they’re opposed to, it’s that the undead are serving as the foot soldiers of the demonic realms.

    To be fair, this is something that seems to have fallen by the wayside in AoW2, especially with the question of where the shadow demons come into play (especially since the archons in the final mission claim it’s the shadow demons that they rescued the world from in ancient times, when in AoW1 it’s at least strongly implied to be the undead-backed demons).

    As I recall, Meandor’s bio states quite clearly that he died and returned – although it is unclear just what process becoming a shade entails. However, Merlin is definitely undead throughout the campaign – he actually died when he fell off the airship before being raised by Gabriel, and he realises this near the end of TWT when he picks up death magic faster and with less help than any of the other magic types.



    They’re opposed to the undead because they had grown strong and had the potential to wipe out humanity.  I do not recall demons as having ever been mentioned.



    The undead are not an arm of demons.  If the undead were victorious, there would not be a world left upon which to stage your demonic invasion.


    AoW 1 Undead race had Hellhounds and Demons as purchasable units. Not sure about the lore behind that back then, but the gameplay was too good for me to care 😛

    AoW 2 Undead race didn’t have none of that and there were no actual Demons other than the Shadow Demons, which were entirely different (unless you count things like Hellhounds and Efreeti as Demons).

    But yeah, I think the main reason for the Hellhounds and Demons being a part of the Undead race in AoW 1 was:

    1. They needed a flyer

    2. They needed something with Fire Strike

    3. It was cool



    Hell hounds serve demons or powerful wizards, and live wherever the Undead hold strong dominion.


    You seem to be ignoring the presence of the Demon in the original Undead race 😛

    Also do remember that in AoW 2, Hellhounds were obtained through the use of Fire Magic, which was predominantly used by the original Orc Wizard and the original Tigran Wizard



    Blaneck: That’s pretty much what the AoW1 demons are after… for the entire universe. The undead aren’t clearing the way for invasion, the undead (with the demons) are the invasion.



    The undead want to see the world obliterated.  The demons, if they are following the same judeo-christian schema as the Archons, do not.  Certainly they want to see the world ruined.  Certainly they serve as leaders for the undead, but they are not one and the same for the reason stated.  The demons want to see humanity and good races destroyed, the undead wish to see everything destroyed.  This is not one and the same thing.  Others try to use the undead for their own purposes.

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