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Necronomicon Vol. 1: The Uniqueness of Necromancy

Tags: #Tips and Tricks Guides  #Tips and Tricks Magic  #Necronomicon 
  • May 10, 2016

    Hello and welcome back.  If you haven’t read the intro for this little series you can find the Prologue here.  For those of you returning you’ll remember that today’s discussion will be about the unique mechanics associated with necromancy.  So let’s get started.

    In the school of Conjuration there are three main disciplines, Summoning, Binding, and Necromancy.  While the three branches overlap in certain areas it’s helpful to categorize the various spells in this way.


    Summoning is manifesting an entity of the planes of oblivion in the physical world, and exerting control over said entity.  A simple form of this would be the spell Conjure Flame Atronach. 

     Binding is the art of capturing a soul for use in enchanting and the binding of aetheric energies into semi-corporeal weapons.  The simplest form of this branch is the spell Soultrap.  It should be noted that there is a great amount of synergy between the Conjuration skill and the Enchanting skill.

     Necromancy is the reanimating of a corpse and the primary subject of this series, as simple example of this branch would be the spell Raise Zombie.



    Challenges of Necromancy

    There are two unique challenges to the discipline of necromancy randomness and aim.  First there is the level of randomness, when you summon an atronach you know what you are getting, the spell Conjure Flame Atronach always has the same result.  This certainty does not exist with necromancy.  Necromancers are dependent on the materials (corpses) they can find or what is readily available.  Every corpse is unique and it will be up to you to weigh their strengths and weaknesses against your current needs. 

    Additionally necromancy requires some skill at aiming.  Summon spells can be cast with little attention paid to where you are summoning; allowing them to be quickly fired off on the fly while your attention is elsewhere.  Not so with necromancy, you need to hit the corpse with the spell which requires aiming, a skill not normally associated with the conjuration school.  I suggest casting a few Raise Zombie spells in a safe place just to get a feel for how this type of spell travels and the distance you have to work with.  Up close reanimations by nature require little aiming ability but sometimes you may need to reanimate a target that is out of reach or in an area unsafe to traverse.  Learning how to target your spell is particularly useful in combat situations when you won’t have the luxury or time to properly place your spell.

    These drawbacks are rather significant and should be noted.  A summoner will always have an atronach available when they need it, a necromancer will not always have a corpse.  Because of this the necromancer needs to be more strategic when encountering enemies.  There are three steps that I as a necromancer take before every encounter.

    1. If possible bring your own zombie, at least to start the fight with.  Low level necromancies short duration often makes this impossible, but when you can you should.

    2. Note the location of any available bodies that could be raised, especially important if you didn’t bring your own zombie since raising an available body will be how you start the fight.

    3. Note likely enemies that will be slain by your zombie as replacements should your current zombie fall in combat.   Especially important if your reanimation technique turns the body to ash.

    These steps are important for survival as a necromancer and should be considered before combat is engaged.  This means that many necromancers will also be interested in the Sneak skill allowing them to scout out areas before engaging an enemy. 

    Strength of Necromancy

    What was previously stated as a short coming is also necromancies greatest strength.   The randomness of available corpses can be mitigated by seeking out individuals with the desired skillsets.  Every raise dead spell can reanimate a wide variety of targets.  Just about every creature in Skyrim becomes a viable necromantic weapon or tool.  What summoning has in consistency necromancy makes up for with variety.

    Again this will take some planning on the mages part, and low level necromancers will still find themselves resorting to whatever is available much of the time.  It helps to be aware of surrounding areas when approaching a dungeon or bandit camp.  Sometimes the best weapon can be found in a neighboring cave.  For instance spriggans make powerful minions when attacking out door camps of bandits or forsworn since they will summon nearby animals to their aid.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are some undead summons available to the adventurous necromancer.  As I stated previously there are some spells that overlap and in this case that would be the Soul Cairn summons which are summon spells that channel undead spirits from the Soul Cairn instead of entities from Oblivion.  Be aware that dealing with the Ideal Masters is dangerous, but can be very rewarding.

    Next time I will take a more in-depth look at the specific necromancy techniques available in Skyrim and weigh their strengths and weaknesses.

    Until then,

    Sincerely in service of the King of Worms,


  • Member
    May 10, 2016

    Vargr, I love this!  Interesting and flavorfully-written strategy guides are always a blast to read, and often fire me up to try a particular playstyle.  I'm eagerly awaiting more!

  • Member
    May 14, 2016

    Yep, this is cool

  • May 26, 2016

    Very nice, Vargr! I wonder what more you have in store for me. 

  • May 26, 2016

    You know I never thought about doing something as simple as practicing my aim with the spell