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To Be A Young Necromancer In Love

November 13, 2012

The title entry into a series I have dubbed, “To Be A Young Necromancer In Love,” updating Tuesdays and whenever the hell I feel like it.

So I told you that last story, largely so I could finally tell you this one. Kudos to those of you have been keeping along with this side-project of mine to grapple with ethical issues through the concept of gaming. I think a lot has changed since I originally envisioned this as a way of looking specifically at Fantasy Ethics, or the moral questions that can only arise in situations like magic. I don’t consider this a bad thing, as it has become a more general way of looking at how we conduct ourselves in our daily lives, rather than during impossible situations, which is probably more important. I have finally decided to discuss the story that lends this whole project its name because even though there are more stories from more games to tell, we’ve reached the arbitrarily significant number of twenty-five articles. Also, recently the blog surpassed two hundred entries and I forgot to take note of it.

At this point in the Fantasy Pirate game, the player of Squee had departed the game (surprisingly not over his character’s public execution or the players unanimous decision not to spring him from jail). This left the forces of Vyalatan, Bug, and Bill the Multi-Titled sailing the seas in search of ancient mysteries, treasures, and power. Returning from a recent adventure and on their way to learn more about the ancient artifact that they acquired, their ship was faced with a particularly nasty storm.

Rather than foolhardily sail into it, the party took the more sensible route as suggested by their first mate (the dwarf Rowkar) to quietly anchor in the protection of an island’s natural harbor. Luckily, on their way out into the unknown they had noticed several such protective islands on their current course, and were able to sail into a picturesque harbor just as the storm seemed to encompass the entirety of the horizon. The only surprise was that the island was inhabited by a small Elven village. Of course, the Elves recognized the ship’s necessity for safe harbor, and also weren’t about to demand that an Imperium warship that for some reason wasn’t crewed by an Imperium crew pay any sort of docking taxes. So, everything seemed like it would be just peachy while they waited out the storm…

And it was. During the storm.

After the storm however, the ship awoke to find an angry mob at its gangplank demanding that they return what they stole and face retribution to their crimes against all basic notions of decency.

Before the arrival of the party’s vessel, a young woman had died in a tragic accident. The young woman’s name was Lellin, and she was a beautiful, athletic, and wonderful young Elven maiden. Her death occurred as the result of a diving accident while enjoying an afternoon of exploration and companionship with her betrothed. Her fresh grave has been disturbed, and her body missing, all done under cover of the storm. The town accused the party of being either cannibals, necromancers, or working for such people.

Recognizing the danger in defying an extremely enraged town filled with several elves that have access to magic, the party took the high road. They let the townspeople search their ship and prove that they weren’t trying to hide anything. After some prodding, the townspeople realized the far more disturbing truth; that one of their own had committed the crime.

Having nowhere else to turn, and wanting to avoid the calamity of neighbors and family members accusing each other, the town elders asked the party members to assist in this matter. The party, intrigued by the insanity of what had occurred, agreed.

Making use of their own knowledge of magic, tracking, and deviousness, the characters didn’t take long in finding a set of tracks from the grave site that lead deeper into the island. Despite, while on the trail being attacked by animals that were clearly enhanced through druidry, the party pressed on intent upon finding at least the stolen corpse.

The party came upon a glade, lit by the post-storm sun, and enchantingly peaceful. At the center of the glade, seated beneath a tree with a wonderful picnic spread before her was an amazingly beautiful Elven maiden. Rather than immediately confront the reanimated corpse, or inform the town, the party paused intrigued by the fact that a picnic was set up.

It did not take long for the necromancer to return.

The necromancer turned out to be none other than her cousin. The cousin who had introduced her to his best friend, her betrothed. A cousin that supposedly could not do magic.

After a brief fight, the party sat down and spoke with the clearly troubled young man. They learned of these cousins and their love for each other, a love he claimed that went well beyond death. The marriage was always to be a cover-up, not that the husband was aware of its true nature. Most disturbing was the revelation that she had, at least according to her Necromancer-cousin, agreed to this most foul of magics being cast upon her corpse.

A long deliberation occurred amongst the party. Setting aside any issues with Necromancy itself, they began to question many things; the woman’s right to decide what became of her body after death, society’s hang-ups with necrophilia, the notion of creating objects solely for sexual pleasure, the issue of incest, if incest carried harm after death, and many other questions.

Eventually, it was decided to turn him over to the townspeople who were far less inclined to be distracted by moral quibbles and promptly hung him. The party was given gold with the understanding that they would never speak of what transpired here, and left.

 

As can be plainly seen, there were a lot of issues that came out of this session.

Rather than go with my usual style of just taking a moral issue and expounding upon it, I’d prefer to lightly touch upon a few subjects so that you may think more clearly upon them.

 

Bodily Ownership:

While I would like to think that we all agree that as adults with free will, we have control over our own bodies in life. However, there are clearly still arguments over that when we look at questions of abortion, and rape, within our own society. Yet, that’s merely the hot button, what about more benign issues like medical decisions. When someone is unconscious but in need of medical attention, whether in some kind of coma or not, proxies are chosen or the doctor’s best interests are all that is left to guide them. Is this morally right?

After death, all that we have left to speak for us is anything we might have had the forethought to write down while still being of sound body and mind. Normally, one only writes down express instructions for their death if they care what happens to them. Otherwise, it’s left to surviving relatives or friends, who may have no idea what someone wanted done and thus default to the standard burial or cremation.

Even if someone has expressed certain desires, do they own their body anymore? The people who survive them might wish to commemorate them through a burial or urn, even when the person wanted their body donated to science.

What if someone’s desires for their body post-death are considered abhorrent, taboo, or just plain weird? Cannibalism and Necrophilia are certainly options that leap to mind, but what if a farmer wanted to be fed to his pigs? Strange but well, infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

What do we do? Who owns this body? The person that once inhabited it, or their family, or their friends, or the community that they live in?

 

Sexual Objectification:

And not just the kind you’re thinking of!

Following her reanimation, it was quite clear what the Necromancer was going to do with his cousin’s body. It would have been creepily sweet what with the picnics, and the like, but it ultimately would have devolved into sexual realms. At which point, we’re talking about the creation of an object, solely for the purpose of sexual pleasure, as well as the reduction of a person to nothing more than an object for the purpose of sexual pleasure.

Now, I personally don’t think there’s much wrong with dildos or fleshlights. Humans have urges, and it is certainly better that they are expressed and dealt with in a healthy fashion lest they consume us. However, sometimes I do find something disturbing with the notion that we’ve eliminated this human element out of such a natural act. Especially when the objects aren’t relegated to just being shadows of reality, they can be, “better.” What is to become of our society if we just start making “better,” sex dolls? Is there something wrong with eliminating the natural? Is there something wrong with creating something solely for our own pleasure? If we were to create a life form for this purpose, dulling its senses and abilities to this narrow niche?

There’s also the more general and common sexual objectification. In a world where her thoughts, feelings, and words are driven by necromancy, what is this girl besides the Necromancer’s puppet? This is the thing that we fear with sexual objectification, the true removal of any sense of personality, humanity, or self, being left with just a body that contorts to the wills of its external master. The question, I’d hope, is not “is this wrong?” but in dealing with the fallout of the obvious answer to that question. How many of us are guilty of this? How do we marry the proper ethical choices with healthy sexual behavior and exploration?

How do we deal with this reality, on the societal level?

 

Necromancy is Unnatural!

In the game world, Necromancy does carry costs beyond its own ickiness. The way that it brutalizes the joining of mind-body-soul, and how it tears holes in the fabric of reality, actually harms the natural order. In other words, Necromancy is so unnatural that it actually results in nature being harmed (creatures die, rivers dry up, milk sours inside of females, etc).

Yet, what if it weren’t?

What if this was just Frankenstein animating flesh or a gay couple holding hands?

The argument that something is “unnatural,” comes up fairly frequently in our society. Generally, as time progresses the unnatural argument sometimes fades to the way side, but in many cases it continues to persist. Continues to persist despite many efforts that prove it is a silly argument.

People make this argument not just because something is new and different. It’s an argument that comes from a fear of the unknown, and a reaction to society changing around us.

I don’t think anyone sits around and argues that cell phones are unnatural and therefore wrong. However, many would argue the way that recent generations have begun to socialize in the post-internet age is unnatural, immoral, and just plain weird. Google is not just a company but a verb, online dating services have quickly become a normal part of social interaction in comparison to countless dating services before that, and cats are now a valid source of humor. Our lives are now sources of data to be collected and cataloged.

To some this outrageous, and wrong. To most of us, it’s just a part of life.

Yet, what will we say when people start wearing exoskeletons or genetically engineering their children? We will fear it, we will consider it unnatural, and we will call it morally wrong.

However, nothing is morally just for being unnatural…

 

Well, except for necromancy.

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