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Ethically Sound Necromancy
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Ethically Sound Necromancy:

 126 deathpigeon, Sun, 7th Oct '12 1:34:25 PM from Bread, It Is Bread that the Revolution Needs! Relationship Status: One True Dodecahedron
Kaspar the Friendly Spook
I said almost universally, not universally.
My Blog.

ACAB.

"The great are great only because we are on our knees. Let us rise." - Max Stirner
 127 Ira The Squire, Sun, 7th Oct '12 1:41:30 PM from No idea. Measuring speed
Phyrexian Dalek
Specifically lichdom maybe, but ironically for other things with similar effects not so.
betaalpha
I don't know if becoming a lich is seen as bad in these settings, it's either that the person doing these things is already evil or becomes such after centuries of forgetting its humanity. Unless the process of becoming a lich is inherently evil, such as pleasing a god with horrible sacrifices.

Funny that no-one thinks of liches as giant nerds - they love their spell books so much they want to read 'em forever. Some become liches just because they forget to eat one week too often! But noooo, they're just eviler than vampires because you wouldn't want to do one. Presumably. That and they're truly awesomely cool enemies.

 129 Kyler Thatch, Sun, 7th Oct '12 4:46:28 PM Relationship Status: Don't hug me; I'm scared
literary masochist
The problem, I think, is because you mostly see liches in settings where necromancy is inherently evil, so the process of becoming a lich is an evil, corrupting thing by extension.
And now it is your turn
Your turn to hear the stone, and then your turn to burn
 130 Lawyerdude, Sun, 7th Oct '12 6:09:24 PM from my secret moon base
Citizen
In fantasy worlds like D&D, everybody knows that the gods are real and that you can expect an eternity in an appropriate afterlife. A good person knows that when they die they get to go to the equivalent of Fluffy Cloud Heaven, so why would they want to bind themselves in a rotting body? An evil person probably knows that they're going to end up someplace pretty horrible, or they're so attached to the material world that they don't want to let go. A good person wants to move on to their eternal reward. An evil person is more interested in preserving their frail mortal coil.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
 131 Ira The Squire, Sun, 7th Oct '12 8:29:49 PM from No idea. Measuring speed
Phyrexian Dalek
[up] There are those who do it due to dedication to their duty though.

edited 7th Oct '12 8:32:30 PM by IraTheSquire

 132 Heavy DDR, Sun, 7th Oct '12 9:28:30 PM from Central Texas
What's Gravity Falls.
I gotta admit, a lot of times, the D&D verse makes good and evil way too black and white and uses circular logic to justify it. "Why is this character evil?" "Because they worship an evil deity." "Well why do they worship an evil deity?" "Because they're evil."
I'm pretty sure the concept of Law having limits was a translation error. -Wanderlustwarrior
 133 Blurring, Mon, 8th Oct '12 1:42:24 AM from Ampang, Selangor, Malaysia.
Come see the roboteching.
Maybe I'm mistaken, but D&D gods seems to gain strength by any acts that within their portfolio. If somebody loves kicking puppies and kittens in a D&D world, the god of kicking puppies and kittens will become stronger, and may results in the said god appointing that person to spread more kicking of puppies and kittens.
When firing the wave motion gun is the only practical way to clean it.
 134 Lawyerdude, Mon, 8th Oct '12 7:39:57 AM from my secret moon base
Citizen
One of the things that defines a "good" alignment in traditional D&D is valuing life over death. Evil characters tend to value death over life, or enjoy spreading death. There are few good-aligned gods of death in the D&D Pantheon.

If you take the view that death is a natural part of life, and that therefore things that are dead should stay dead (the world is for the living), then efforts to prolong your existence beyond your appointed time are an affront to the gods, or life, or the natural order of things.

I appreciate the creativity of coming up with good-aligned liches, but instictively it seems to me that if your gods wanted you around to accomplish some important goal, they'd give you more life or some sort of blessing, not turn you into a festering abomination.

For example, there's the Risen Martyr prestige class from the Book of Exalted Deeds. If you die in a Heroic Sacrifice, your gods can send you back in a new body for the purpose of accomplishing some goal, and when it's accomplished they let you Ascend, presumably accompanied by a choir of angels or something.
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
 135 Exelixi, Mon, 8th Oct '12 9:46:47 AM from Alchemist's workshop Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Lesbarian
D&D isn't exactly the best source of moral advise. The fact that the baby Kobold dilemma has been challenging Paladins for three decades is evidence enough of this.

Personally, I think a skeletal workforce would solve a lot of issues. It would have every benefit of slave labour and more, without the drawbacks. Non-ensouled skeletons would essentially act not only as robots but as perpetual motion machines. Get some skeletons and turbines together and, bam, energy crisis solved. Manual labour? Skeletons. Hell, want a personal servant to take care of your errands? No problem.

As far as ensouled undead... Involuntary raising would, of course, be a serious felony. But if people wanted to stick around, why not? The issue of the dead giving advice and controlling the living is a problem, aye, but not one that cannot be solved with creativity. Perhaps undead wouldn't be allowed to be politicians. That's fine; most people don't want to rule anything. Personally, if I could achieve through Lichdom an otherwise unattainable goal- immortality- I would embrace it. Without a need to eat, I wouldn't be wasting resources; I'd never sleep, meaning I could work (as a history teacher) more often; the only drawback I see is the lack of sex and drugs. (Rock and roll would still definitely be a thing.)
Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
 136 Lawyerdude, Mon, 8th Oct '12 10:02:25 AM from my secret moon base
Citizen
The economics of necromancy is related to its ethical implications.

Every labor-saving device needs to have energy come from somehwere. We burn fossil fuels because the energy that they store is much greater than the energy cost to obtain them. They store all that energy because they're the remains of life forms that hold energy obtained from sunlight and food.

Likewise, in order to raise a workforce of skeletons to be remotely practical, it would have to take less energy to create them than the energy that they could produce. This is where "magic" comes in. Is "magic" an infinitely-renewable power source that produces no pollution, or are there some unwelcome side effects? Because if you could mass-produce an army of robots that produced unlimited work at no ongoing cost, you'd be able to solve just about every problem of limited resources out there.

edited 8th Oct '12 10:03:08 AM by Lawyerdude

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.
 137 Exelixi, Mon, 8th Oct '12 10:06:20 AM from Alchemist's workshop Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Lesbarian
As mentioned previously, if they need resources, they're not the same resources we need. If it's some magical substance, it's unlikely to be one living need to survive. The question is what, exactly, said resources are.
Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
 138 Heavy DDR, Mon, 8th Oct '12 10:48:06 AM from Central Texas
What's Gravity Falls.
Well, D&D also has Lesser Animate Dead, which doesn't require the 25 gp, but functions almost exactly the same - the only real limit is that the raised creature has to be size Medium or smaller, where as Animate Dead has no limit on size. So essentially, it costs a little bit of onyx to raise a human back from the dead. A very small price.

And then those skeletons (we're assuming skeletons, right? Zombies are useless outside of combat in contrast to skeletons) can work infinitely without becoming tired, since skeletons are immune to fatigue. They pay for themselves quickly, assuming we're being forced to use Animate Dead and not its lesser casting.

We could also animate horses and other laboring animals. We can go back to horse-pulled wagons for most of our transportation, and we wouldn't have to spend money on oil or metal or plastic for cars. We don't need to feed them either.

Also, bones are pretty light. We could transport skeletons very easily to one another when we need some more.

The only real cost at this point is raising and training necromancers, which would require teachers, classrooms, etc. But I mean, I figure it wouldn't be any harder to animate a skeleton with magic than it is to make a Powerpoint. We could teach kids through their basic education system how to animate dead, so by the time they enter college, they can raise their own dead and control them.

Eventually, we'd have limited our only purpose to raise and control dead. All other jobs are taken up by skeletons. Moral conflict may crop up when we realize our purpose is really, really small, but I mean, we have computers and artificial intelligence doing so much for us right now. It wouldn't be significantly different. And if we had technology behind us, too, we'd still need innovators to create that as well.
I'm pretty sure the concept of Law having limits was a translation error. -Wanderlustwarrior
 139 Qeise, Mon, 8th Oct '12 1:06:32 PM from sqrt(-inf)/0 Relationship Status: Waiting for you *wink*
Professional Smartass
Lawyerdude:
I appreciate the creativity of coming up with good-aligned liches, but instictively it seems to me that if your gods wanted you around to accomplish some important goal, they'd give you more life or some sort of blessing, not turn you into a festering abomination.
So what? The fact that gods don't want to give us immortality (assuming they would be capable of doing that) doesn't mean it's evil. God's don't define good and evil, at least for me.

Heavy DDR
Eventually, we'd have limited our only purpose to raise and control dead. All other jobs are taken up by skeletons. Moral conflict may crop up when we realize our purpose is really, really small, but I mean, we have computers and artificial intelligence doing so much for us right now. It wouldn't be significantly different. And if we had technology behind us, too, we'd still need innovators to create that as well.
Not so. Manual labour would be done by skeletons. Any job that takes a brain to do would still need humans to do it.

edited 8th Oct '12 1:07:39 PM by Qeise

Laws are made to be broken. You're next, thermodynamics.
 140 Ira The Squire, Mon, 8th Oct '12 1:19:34 PM from No idea. Measuring speed
Phyrexian Dalek
I appreciate the creativity of coming up with good-aligned liches, but instictively it seems to me that if your gods wanted you around to accomplish some important goal, they'd give you more life or some sort of blessing, not turn you into a festering abomination.

I do not recall any archlich who was tured by a god, and which is more efficient: turn you into an immortal that can keep doing something that needed done for eternity (like guarding a place) or renew your life every hundred years or so? Would be a very interesting campaign idea to have a god forgetting to renew a guardian's life and a Big Bad is getting out of its can.

edited 8th Oct '12 1:22:23 PM by IraTheSquire

betaalpha
All this kinda makes me think of another reason we might have a Zombie Apocalypse - they Turned Against Their Masters ! So you'd best be nice to your zombie slave or else come the revolution...

Speaking of ethically sound, some undead are pretty good at CPR.

edited 8th Oct '12 1:31:18 PM by betaalpha

 142 Kyler Thatch, Mon, 8th Oct '12 4:49:50 PM Relationship Status: Don't hug me; I'm scared
literary masochist
Soulless automatons aren't intelligent enough to rise and revolt on their own.

And if they did have a soul... well, we probably wouldn't be using them as slave labor.
And now it is your turn
Your turn to hear the stone, and then your turn to burn
 143 Heavy DDR, Mon, 8th Oct '12 11:14:37 PM from Central Texas
What's Gravity Falls.
Well, undead are technically only as smart as their necromancers, in that if you tell them exactly how to design an intricate computer program, they will, but you'll need to show them step by step until they get the motion.
I'm pretty sure the concept of Law having limits was a translation error. -Wanderlustwarrior
 144 Kiefen, Mon, 8th Oct '12 11:27:15 PM from Germany Relationship Status: It's not my fault I'm not popular!
MINE!
I once had the idea of a capitalistic necromancer, that rises the dead as cheep mineworkers (souless-automaton-style).

The justification would be, that he gets the bodies donated, in exchange for a percentage of the income that the zombie produces. (though of course he also forcibly raises his enemies)

He gets tolerated, because he produces an income for widows and orphans and also a decent number of organ donations.

edited 8th Oct '12 11:27:50 PM by Kiefen

 145 Ramidel, Tue, 9th Oct '12 5:11:00 AM Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
GURPS Technomancer mentioned that Louisiana had come to impose sentences of "death plus hard labor" for its worst criminals.

betaalpha
They might be hiding their intelligence, or the necromancer is covering it up (eg. by sewing their mouths shut). But they're waiting... and planning... And so on - pretty much any trope from Robot War and Turned Against Their Masters can work into this.

Similarly, would anyone who campaigns against undead-as-cheap-labour end up being called necro-luddites? Would you get movies where Will Smith is chasing a super-zombie into a necropolis where he sees thousands of 'em, all standing to attention, and the stiff he's after is hiding amongst them?

edited 9th Oct '12 5:14:02 AM by betaalpha

 147 deathpigeon, Tue, 9th Oct '12 5:17:43 AM from Bread, It Is Bread that the Revolution Needs! Relationship Status: One True Dodecahedron
Kaspar the Friendly Spook
I imagine that the ACLU and/or PETA would have a field day over the proper treatment of undead.

edited 9th Oct '12 5:19:03 AM by deathpigeon

My Blog.

ACAB.

"The great are great only because we are on our knees. Let us rise." - Max Stirner
 148 Cassie, Tue, 9th Oct '12 5:42:33 AM from Malaysia, but where?
The armored raven
Difference is, people can come to similar conclusions about treatment of the dead, without the involvement of those vocally retarded groups.

I think we are getting more and more off focus. Supposedly this topic is about discussing whether or not necromancy can or can't be ethical. So far I've been reading about utilizing and stuff, but what about from the standpoint of other factors? Would cremation be a trend that leads to new gas/oil shortage? Would the society become not only dependant on humans themselves, but also riding their futures on their deceased selves? Would dependency on 'died' wisdom lead to over idyllic and stagnant society?

edited 9th Oct '12 5:43:15 AM by Cassie

What profit is it to a man, when he gains his money, but loses his internet? Anonymous 16:26 I believe...
 149 Ramidel, Tue, 9th Oct '12 6:26:38 AM Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
Calling the ACLU retarded is a trifle unfair.

Anyway.

Would the society become not only dependant on humans themselves, but also riding their futures on their deceased selves?

If you mean skeletons used as robot labor, they'd create the same problems as any other hypermechanization: jobs that can be done cheaper by dry bones will no longer be available for humans, but their production will essentially be pure surplus. The issue of a sapient humanity able to live off of the fruits of a nonsapient slave caste gets into a whole mess of social reconstructions that are not directly related to necromancy, though.

Would dependency on 'died' wisdom lead to over idyllic and stagnant society?

We don't necessarily know that Immortals Are Conservative, so I'm not sure that this would follow. If it does, then it depends on the society in which said immortals come to be. In America, we don't really respect the wisdom of our elders all that much, so simply calling up ghost advisors isn't going to lead to social stagnation (the next generation will tell Great-Grandpa Casper that he's out of touch), but if these undead start gathering fortunes, then there'll be a significant amount of social revolution caused by this. Again, this aspect is not peculiar to necromancy.

Short form: Ethically sound necromancy is almost certainly possible, but there are plenty of social minefields that it makes possible. Just like any revolutionary technology, really.

 150 Kyler Thatch, Tue, 9th Oct '12 6:28:50 AM Relationship Status: Don't hug me; I'm scared
literary masochist
So it would be like a magic-induced equivalent of the Industrial Revolution, then?
And now it is your turn
Your turn to hear the stone, and then your turn to burn
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