While they are not a single group with a power structure, the practitioners of necromancy follow the same practises and traditions, and resort to many of the same evils. While the practise of necromancy is treated no differently from the other schools of magic, any mage who knows a few necromantic spells does not a Necromancer make. A Necromancer is one who develops and uses the darkest of spells, those that manipulate the forces of death to bring pain and misery to their opponents and manipulate the life energy and the souls of their victims. These are the Necromancers, reviled and hated by all as they practise their dark art in seclusion, dabbling in dark forces beyond their understanding.
While there are some spells under the purvey of necromancy within the standard repertoire of a magic-user - spectral hand and vampiric touch, for example - this is just the tip of the iceberg. In truth, as practitioners of the darkest path of magic the Necromancers have been refining their art almost since magic first surfaced upon Morus, and have many dark spells at their disposal. The "Complete Book of Necromancy" contains a comprehensive list of the many spells that Necromancers have developed throughout the years, which are almost without exception spells of pain, misery, and the manipulation of life and the human soul. It is not the final word, however - the practitioners of Necromancy are often experts in magical theory and often produce new forms of magic, both in the form of spells and more obscure rituals.
Raising the Dead
The undead that can be found upon Morus are numerous and foul, the process to create each more dark than the last.
Skeletons and zombies are the easiest to produce, and the most common. At 1st level, the corpses of animals can be animated with Animate Dead Animals. At 5th level, a humanoid corpse can be temporarily animated with Bone Dance. At 9th level, large numbers of skeletons and zombies can be animated through Animate Dead. Bruteforcing the reanimation of corpses with powerful magic, however, is only the least subtle path to this end. There are a number of dark rituals that draw upon the powers of blood sacrifice and other heresies, by which even weaker practitioners can raise the dead. The ju-ju zombie is a particularly powerful undead servant that can be created by slaying someone with an Energy Drain and animating them with Animate Dead. It can also be done with a Finger of Death spell; see the spell description for details.
Shadows can be summoned from the 9th level of experience with Summon Shadows, which will draw them willingly and bind them to service for a time; they come freely for the oppurtunity to feast upon the vitality of the living. While the safest, this is certainly not the only way to attract or call up shadows, and as they are free-willed creatures, shadows may well be persuaded to serve a necromancer in the long-term.
Ghouls and ghasts are relatively easy to create, but very difficult to control. The spell Ghoul Gauntlet can be employed to create a ghoul. Most ghouls, however, were once human before they were twisted and corrupted into the monstrous beings they are now by feasting upon human flesh. This provides the morally flexible necromancer another method to produce ghouls. Ghouls are free-willed, relatively intelligent creatures that also tend to be needlessly violent and chaotic, and as such are extremely difficult to control. Ghasts, in particular, will rarely aquiesce to serve except when great offerings are made, and even then are likely to turn on their master. Ghasts are often made only as experiments and then either destroyed, imprisoned to serve as unwilling guardians or set loose into the countryside.
In its own way, the wight is similar to both the ghoul and the vampire. There is no spell or mechanism for easily controllling a wight, and they are as intelligent in death as they were in life. Anyone slain by a wight's energy drain will become a wight themselves under the command of the one who created them, with half of their class abilities and hit dice. If a wight is slain, all his thralls become full, free-willed wights themselves. This makes a wight a terrifyingly powerful, intelligent form of undead. Although they are intelligent and free-willed, they may be induced to serve a necromancer either through magical means or with the promise of the life-force which gives them sustenance; in this way, they are similar to shadows. There is no known way to produce a wight, but they are usually found in ancient barrows, crypts and tombs.
Mummies are in a more mundane sense, simply corpses preserved after the style of the Ancient Githites. To make a mummy, a corpse should be soaked in a preserving solution (typically carbonate of soda) for several weeks and covered with spices and resins. Body organs, such as the heart, brain, and liver, are typically removed and sealed in jars. Sometimes gems are wrapped in the cloth. However, the process of animating a mummy as a guardian is one lost to the ages, though perhaps it could be unearthed in the legendary tombs of the Ancient Githites. The process for creating Greater Mummies is just as mysterious, but it is believed by some that only powerful high priests of the Ancient Githites became such beings.
The incorporeal undead such as ghosts, wraiths, banshees and spectres are amongst the most difficult of all to summon and control. The process for creating one is often difficult to pin down; for example, ghosts usually arise from those who were either horribly evil in life or whose deaths were extremely emotional, a set of circumstances which are difficult to replicate. Far easier than creating such an undead is summoning one that already exists, which can be done with the 6th-level wizard spell, Ensnarement. As with any summoning of an extraplanar creature this holds considerations and dangers of its own. The 4th-level wizard spell Summon Spirit is used to call up the spirits of the dead from a corpse to answer questions; however, it is a dangerous spell that can attract the attention of an angry spirit. If cast with the corpse of someone who has become a restless spirit such as a ghost or wraith, it could call up the undead they have become, though controlling them may nevertheless be difficult. Spells of Protection from Evil, Protection from Evil 10' Radius and Dismissal are essential when dealing with spirits. Finally, Contact Other Plane is extremely useful for seeking an audience with powerful spirits, and has the advantage of being a passive request which they may answer or ignore as they please, reducing the risk to oneself. As always, direct magical means are not always the answer, and many specific undead or types of undead can be called through ritual and formulae - the art of necromancy is a constantly evolving one.
Vampires are considered by many to be the most dangerous and insidious type of undead. Indeed, an entire sect of the priesthood of Ravi known as the Sacrament of Vigilance is devoted to wiping them out. The creation of new vampires solely through the power of necromantic magic is not an easy one; there are whispers of dark rituals that can be executed to change a man to a vampire, but they are almost as difficult to locate as the legendary Liber Animus of Acerak. Many religions teach that vampirism is a gift or curse of dark gods, visited for some great transgression. The easiest way to control and create vampires, of course, is simply to become one; anyone drained dry by a vampire who is subsequently buried may return as one if they were of sufficient strength in life; they are usually also under the absolute command of their creator, especially if buried with them. Vampires are terrifying and efficient servants, despite their many weaknesses and drawbacks, and are one of the few undead that can move within demihuman society without necessarily drawing attention.
The most obvious purvey of Necromancy is the control and manipulation of death itself. This manifests itself in many ways - the reanimation of corpses, the creation of sentient undead, the manipulation of the soul. But the ultimate purvey of Necromancy, the final goal, is to attain immortality by seperating the soul from its fragile mortal shell and preserving it endlessly. There are many ways through which this can be done, but the end result is always the same - the being known as a lich is produced, an immortal undead being who has achieved longevity by preserving their soul outside of their body. Lichdom is believed by many necromancers to be the ultimate goal of their art.
Many necromancers spend their entire lives trying to perfect the process of transferring the soul to an external vessel and never succeed; others believe that they have been successful, only to find how wrong they are when they attempt it and lose their soul. Some necromancers resort to deals with dark powers - the denizens of the Lower Planes, or worse the Outer Gods or Great Old Ones if they are particularly foolish. The ranks of the liches are very few, and they have not shared their knowledge - the only tome on Lichdom ever written is the Liber Animus, believed to have been written by the lich Acerak in his early years. Three copies of this text survive - one is held by the Sacrament of Vigilance in the Pandaemonium Fortress. Another is held by Acerak himself, buried within his Tomb of Horrors at an unknown location. The third was lost, and it is unknown whether it has even survived, though each book was enchanted to protect it from harm. The Liber Animus is written in Old Vintish.
The Liber Animus is a comprehensive work on the nature of the soul, and even the philosophical and mundane portions of the text are of immense use to a necromancer and anyone with an interest in the workings of the soul and how the body, soul and spirit relate and interact with the afterlife, the ethereal, the astral plane, and so on - it is a comprehensive examination of the life essence of sentient creatures. The tome also contains several spells, all of which are either required for the process of creating a lich or are related to the entrapment and control of the human soul: Enchant an Item, Magic Jar, Permanency, Reincarnation, Wraithform, Cone of Cold, Feign Death, Trap the Soul, Energy Drain and Animate Dead. The last part of the text is written in a complex cipher that cannot be cracked without a great deal of time and effort, the key to the cipher being collated from each of the spells included in the text. When deciphered, it will reveal the process by which a lich is created.
In order to become a lich, the wizard must prepare its phylactery by the use of the enchant an item, magic jar, permanency and reincarnation spells. The phylactery, which can be almost any manner of object, must be of the finest craftsmanship and materials with a value of not less than 1,500 gold pieces per level of the wizard. Once this object is created, the would-be lich must craft a potion of extreme toxicity, which is then enchanted with the following spells: wraithform, permanency, cone of cold, feign death, and animate dead. To this potion must be added a liquid that bears a powerful spiritual imprint to disrupt the natural passing of the wizard's soul when drunk; Acerak favoured the blood of a trusting innocent slain by the caster's own hand. When next the moon is full, the potion is imbibed. Rather than death, the potion causes the wizard to undergo a transformation into its new state. A system shock survival throw is required, with failure indicating an error in the creation of the potion which kills the wizard and renders him forever dead.
If the process is successful, the wizard's body dies and his soul is transferred into his phylactery, his consciousness animating his prepared body and giving him the power to exert control over it. When the lich is first created, his body will appear as it did in life, though it will be cold to the touch and devoid of sensation, and its eyes will burn away, replaced by twin pinpoints of light. While its form will not rot, the lich's body will lose moisture within a year, becoming drawn and skeletal and resembling a wight or mummy. Once this has happened, they retain this appearance forver - being destroyed and reformed will not make them appear living again. A lich's remains will not decompose for as long as it is active, but when it eventually loses the need for its physical form and rests, it will eventually decompose and become a demilich.
Once they have awoken as a lich, the wizard will take on all the properties and abilities of a lich. Note that while liches constantly exude an aura of power that strikes awe into those around them, it only causes enemies of the lich to flee when they are angered and in combat, and is not "always on". For example, when speaking with the lich you may simply be struck speechless with awe at his immense power, but when he turns his ire upon you your thoughts are filled with nothing but fleeing.
Many aspiring necromancers who are unable or unwilling to find the secrets of immortality through lichdom settle with the use of the Magic Jar spell to preserve their essence. While this can give a kind of immortality, it is far from perfect - the caster requires a host body to occupy, and will die if it is slain unless the receptacle is within range.