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Old 10-15-2009, 12:10 PM   #1
b-dog
 
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Default Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

I am just sort of wondering why magically animated undead like zombies would be turned by a holy cleric. It would seem to me that the process of creatig a zombie would not not be dependent on moral forces and it could be animated as an automaton just as a wizard could animate a suit of armor. The magic spell would just provide the energy to move this zombie around. Is there more to the spell than this? Does the spell invoke the soul of the deceased to some degree? Or are their darker forces that the necromancer taps into? Just curious, thanks.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

This is completely setting specific, but since this is GURPS, I'm going to give you more than one:
  • Holy powers are anathema to undead beings, since they represent positive energies, while in order to create undead, one needs negative energies. These negative energies can result either from channeling unholy powers, or from special flavors of mana.
  • Gods consider the barrier between life and death to be their domain, and find necromancers to be poachers.
  • Returning from life to unlife taints the soul of the deceased with primal darkness
  • A wizard made it

All are valid (for appropriate definitions of valid). There are no ultimate or absolute truths in GURPS, not even in DF.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

The gods determine and defend the natural order of most cosmologies. Dead people getting up and running around generally runs counter to the natural order, so the gods and their mortal mouthpieces do what they can to combat that. It doesn't actually matter how dead people are being reanimated; it's the concept itself that's objectionable. And gods being gods, their ability to do something about it isn't especially limited by power source.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

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Originally Posted by b-dog View Post
I am just sort of wondering why magically animated undead like zombies would be turned by a holy cleric. It would seem to me that the process of creatig a zombie would not not be dependent on moral forces and it could be animated as an automaton just as a wizard could animate a suit of armor. .
These animations are carried out by binding (rather stupid) spirits into the objects in question. But the kind of spirit that can be used to animate a corpse is a good deal less neutral than the kind of spirit that can be used to animate statues or suits of armor. Nor is divine power incapable of affecting magic anyway.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

Of course, if you want things to be otherwise in your campaign, you're entirely free to do so.

If you have a cosmology where the body is completely separate from the soul and of no importance, and raising zombie simply animates the body as it would a statue, than perhaps no gods object to any use that you put the body to.

Most earthly cultures have strong taboos about disrespect for the dead, however, and such a paradigm would seem alien to most players. Not that there's anything wrong with running against expectations, but it's important to be aware when you are so that you can "earn it" with sufficient justifications that don't sound like excuses.
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:13 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

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Originally Posted by aesir23 View Post
Of course, if you want things to be otherwise in your campaign, you're entirely free to do so.

If you have a cosmology where the body is completely separate from the soul and of no importance, and raising zombie simply animates the body as it would a statue, than perhaps no gods object to any use that you put the body to.

Most earthly cultures have strong taboos about disrespect for the dead, however, and such a paradigm would seem alien to most players. Not that there's anything wrong with running against expectations, but it's important to be aware when you are so that you can "earn it" with sufficient justifications that don't sound like excuses.
Absolutely. After all, clerics can't turn Voodoo zombies, right, since they aren't really dead? (Something like that.) If you want to say that zombies being moved around by magical energies aren't any more liable to turning than animated statues or golems, go ahead. Just warn the cleric's player as far ahead of time as possible...
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

It would be possible to offer some answers based in real world doctrines involving the preternatural (often for dissolving it away because it's harmful, tainting and dangerous), but I'm not going to do it, excepting a brief comment: I would change the term "spirit" linked to things as "skeletons" (or whatever) for "some immaterial psychic components left by the deceased" (and subjected to further putrefaction), instead: the spirit of the deceased can't be really present anymore despite certain pretenses. BTW, the fairly recent Spiritist movement doesn't know how these things really work, despite themselves are heavily involved in necromantic practices (Spiritism is a seemingly bland variation of necromancy, even posing as a sort of morally comforting religion): by definition their practitioners are unable (and unwilling) to distinguish between the spirit of "someone" and the immaterial psychic components left in the world by its departure. These latter remnants constitute the only matter treated by necromancy and Spiritism.

But nevertheless there are already some good enough answers in this thread, useful and enough approximate to the point of view from which I'm answering.
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Old 10-15-2009, 03:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

For D&D, if I recall correctly, animating undead uses energy from the Negative Plane, same energy used to cast Cause Light Wounds, Harm, etc. Clerics by turning undead channel energy from the Positive Plane, same energy used for Cure spells. Living beings are infused with Positive energy are cured by Positive spells and harmed by Negative ones. Undead are infused with Negative energy and work the opposite way.
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Old 10-15-2009, 04:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

I think where all this is leading is: you'll want to figure out how involved divine forces are, especially where things like magic are concerned. If you want your world's gods to ignore all things magical, then it's a reasonable corollary that the gods' agents don't have any particular effect on magical things. But work it out ahead of time if possible, so you have internal consistency. (You don't want questions later like, "If I can turn magic-spawned zombies, why can't I call on my god/dess to counter that magical spell?")

D&D came up with one way to do it, and you can certainly use it. But this is GURPS, so roll your own if you'd rather. Your players shouldn't expect that your world works the same way some other one does, not in this respect. (In respects like gravity, physical laws, sure, but gods and magic are up to you same as TL, government, etc.)
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Old 10-15-2009, 05:32 PM   #10
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Default Re:

Why would magically animated undead like zombies be turned by a holy cleric?

Here's an answer.

Death is an implacable and non-negotiable fact of existence. Many cultures throughout history have attributed Death to any number of gods — after all, a force that is more powerful than any human, the ancients reasoned, must come from the gods. Call it Xanatos, Hades, Charon, Anubis, Azrael, Odin, or Orcus, whatever.

With most cultures, the presumed existence of gods further implies the existence of some kind of "afterlife" or "warrior's reward" realm. Christians call it Heaven; the Greeks called them Elysium; the Vikings called it Valhalla. It was where you went when you died.

Therefore, in order to return from beyond the grave requires the power of gods, or requires the power of someone invested with the power of the gods. If some warrior has already gone to his god-mandated eternal reward, drinking mead from the skulls of his enemies and lounging in firelit halls with buxom sopranos of negotiable hospitality, mere mortals have not the power to intervene.

And that's how you get to the notion that a) necromancy is evil, and b) powers of necromancy can be countered by religion.

The question is, can a Buddhist priest turn undead?
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