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Lysander
2010-05-01, 02:01 PM
There are two major theories/DM options about how negative energy functions:http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19527634/Tome_of_Necromancy

I suggest reading that article but in summary:
#1) Crawling Darkness - Negative energy is inherently evil.
#2) Playing With Fire - Negative energy is dangerous, but not evil

I would like to present option number three:

#3) Disturbing the Natural Order

Is this model negative energy does not truly exist. It is merely a lack of life energy, the same way cold is merely a lack of heat and vacuum is merely a lack of air.

Life energy originates in the infinite wellspring of the positive energy plane, and is drawn from there by the infinite consuming vacuum of the negative energy plane. On its journey it passes through and enriches other planes. This actually makes the negative energy plane a good thing with an important function - without it life energy might never leave the positive energy plane, leaving the multiverse lifeless.

In this model necromancy isn't the release of negative energy. It's rerouting and redirecting life energy, like an engineer damming a river or diverting water into a canal. And much like a river, a poorly conceived or selfish project can harm all those downstream. A lot of necromancy involves diverting life from this metaphorical river into stagnant pools or private pipelines, unfairly hoarding it instead of letting it continue down the river through the rest of the plane and other planes, nourishing countless creatures and plants on its course to the negative energy plane.

In short necromancy isn't evil because of what you're using it for. It's because when you use it...plagues are a little more common. More children are born sickly or premature. The elderly die a few years younger than they might otherwise have. Grain doesn't grow quite as tall. The damage is subtle and spread out until necromancy is widespread. Then there is a brief period of prosperity as armies of skeleton slaves tirelessly build palaces and work the fields...until one day the grain won't grow. And mothers can't conceive children. And even the trees and grass wither and die. And for hundreds or thousands of years all that exists where these proud kingdoms once stood is a barren desert of windswept ruins, filled with the mournful rustling of the undead.

So in this system what are undead? It varies. Some, like skeleton or zombies are stagnant pools that unfairly hoard energy for eternity. [edit: better explanation is DragoonWraith's whirlpool analogy below] Others like vampires are siphons, that must forever steal energy from others and divert it into themselves.

Offensive negative energy attack spells like harm are the sudden diverting of energy, leaving stretches of the river dry. For a living creature this can be deadly, like a fish stranded on dry land. For an undead creature that exists outside the normal stream this is like an influx of stolen energy. Positive energy spells like heal are now conjuration spells for a good reason, they directly link to the positive energy plane to draw in fresh energy without stealing it from another being.

WarKitty
2010-05-01, 02:07 PM
Hmmm...this could be interesting with a druid around. There's some actual RAW support here, since druids are supposed to be antithetical to the undead. It would definitely make the druid, rather than the paladin, the natural enemy of the undead and the necromancer.

Ravens_cry
2010-05-01, 02:08 PM
If it is merelly an absence, then what is death? Not undeath, ordinary death.
And why does the 'nothing' heal undead ?
I never liked Undead as Evil personally, looking at magic as technology, a tool, whose evil purely depends on how it is used.

Lysander
2010-05-01, 02:15 PM
If it is merelly an absence, then what is death? Not undeath, ordinary death.
And why does the 'nothing' heal undead ?
I never liked Undead as Evil personally, looking at magic as technology, a tool, whose evil purely depends on how it is used.

Death is the absence of life energy. Undeath is the misuse of life energy.

A harm spell is the diverting of energy. When a living creature is targeted it dismissed the ambient life energy of their body. When an undead creature is targeted they become the place ambient energy is diverted to.

In this system necromancy isn't necessarily evil. Just harmful to the universe if used frequently. It's use can be justified morally as long as the side effects are worth whatever you're using it for.

Radar
2010-05-01, 02:15 PM
I love it!
It has a great RP potential and gives many possible ideas for world-building. It is also a very solid reason to consider necromancy a major crime.

WarKitty
2010-05-01, 02:15 PM
If it is merelly an absence, then what is death? Not undeath, ordinary death.
And why does the 'nothing' heal undead ?
I never liked Undead as Evil personally, looking at magic as technology, a tool, whose evil purely depends on how it is used.

Ordinary death could be seen as your life energy returning to the earth. Which would fit - becoming a lich is evil because you are attempting to prolong your life unnaturally, thus separating yourself from the flow of nature that you are part of.

I might also allow for some types of undead to be non-evil under this system. Namely things like ghosts, renevants, etc. You could have certain forms of undead that are attempts at restoring the natural balance by avenging an "unnatural" death.

Prodan
2010-05-01, 02:19 PM
So when you cast healing spells, kids are born healthier and old people live longer?

shadow_archmagi
2010-05-01, 02:20 PM
Okay, so, when I use "Cause Serious Wounds" and it's exactly the opposite of "Cure Serious Wounds," rather than one firing life-energy and the other firing unlife-energy, they're both life, but one is "Inappropriately used"

???


They seem to be designed as polar opposites, not as different "styles" of the same thing

Ravens_cry
2010-05-01, 02:23 PM
Argumentum ad naturam
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy)
Pah, I say again, pah.

Lysander
2010-05-01, 02:24 PM
Okay, so, when I use "Cause Serious Wounds" and it's exactly the opposite of "Cure Serious Wounds," rather than one firing life-energy and the other firing unlife-energy, they're both life, but one is "Inappropriately used"

???


They seem to be designed as polar opposites, not as different "styles" of the same thing

A negative energy attack spell is the sudden removal of life. You're not adding unlife, you're merely taking away life. Think of it like heat and cold. There is no cold, just a lack of heat.


Argumentum ad naturam
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy)
Pah, I say again, pah.

It's not so much that anything unnatural is bad. It's that some unnatural things are bad. Cars for example are good overall. The pollution they cause is not. And a nuclear powered car that sprays radioactive waste behind it as it drives would be REALLY BAD even if it was a comfortable ride that got you where you wanted to go.

erikun
2010-05-01, 02:33 PM
So is Positive Energy usage [Good] under this definition? Because it makes things grow better and live longer?

This logic seems to run into a few roadblocks, namely that there are some things you don't want healthy and thriving (diseases), even if anyone who dies from it gets "replaced" by a larger next generation. It would also imply that using Necromancy would be good if we wanted, or needed, to keep something "dead". Casting a lot of necromancy over the corpse of a Tarrasque, for example, to keep it from reviving.

Ultimately though, this just feels like Playing With Fire. Negative Energy is still a natural occurance, just the reason why it is dangerous is just slightly different.

Lysander
2010-05-01, 02:39 PM
It is playing with fire, except here even if it goes well there are negative side effects. Call it "Playing with nuclear power"

DragoonWraith
2010-05-01, 02:45 PM
I like it, from a flavor standpoint, and agree that this doesn't really constitute argumentum ad naturam.

Basically, the creation of undeath involves the creation of a link to the negative energy plane, which is basically a hole through which positive energy flows. Much like a whirlpool, positive energy flows through this hole instead of continuing downstream, animating the creature but denying those downstream its energy.

Normally dead creatures are simply objects - Positive Energy flows through them, but does not animate because it doesn't "hold", so to speak. The hole to the Negative Energy Plane essentially forces Positive Energy to siphon in large amounts through the dead body, and at those kinds of volumes enough of it 'sticks' to animate the creature.

A Harm spell works similarly to the animating ones - it opens a small, temporary opening to the Negative Energy Plane, through which your own positive energy flows - the hole isn't open long enough for your total positive energy to dip so low that you absorb it from your environment, but it does deprive you of some of your own. Over time, you'll heal thanks to homeostasis, but in the short term you're low. Sudden enough drop in positive energy results in death.

The Cure spell does the opposite - it opens a small opening into the Positive Energy Plane, not only infusing you with energy, but adding to the overall energy to be found on your plane. Since it's coming directly from the Positive Energy Plane (which is infinite), you don't have to worry about "over-using" it. Meanwhile, the magics that open such a hole would first close any hole to the Negative Energy Plane, thereby hurting the Undead.

Anyway, I really like this.

PhoenixRivers
2010-05-01, 02:48 PM
The problem is that in D&D, there are certain differences in physics. Cold is not an absence of heat. It's an energy in its own right.

So too, does negative energy get its own type. It can't be misused positive energy, else positive energy would protect from it.

Weezer
2010-05-01, 02:51 PM
Okay, so, when I use "Cause Serious Wounds" and it's exactly the opposite of "Cure Serious Wounds," rather than one firing life-energy and the other firing unlife-energy, they're both life, but one is "Inappropriately used"

???


They seem to be designed as polar opposites, not as different "styles" of the same thing

How about there are two different things that fall under negative energy, one is destroying someones life energy (harm, cause x wounds etc.) while others siphon it off for unnatural uses (animate dead, lichdom etc.)

Nero24200
2010-05-01, 03:00 PM
I always thought the reason druids hated undead was because they were an unnatural conduit for negative energy. Negative energy isn't evil - inflict spells do not have the evil descriptor.

The reason why you see some books saying "It's evil" even though rules (such as the inflict spells) or other books say it's not is because theres a distinct lack of comminication between WOTC employees. Even if the mechanics don't mesh well, alot of the more unusal splats would have been far better if the fluff was at least consistant.

hamishspence
2010-05-01, 03:01 PM
In Black Wizards (book 2 in the Moonshae trilogy) the prescence of undead seems to cause plants to wither, and animals to flee in terror.

In this case, the druids appear to have a very strong antipathy for it.

Realms of Chaos
2010-05-01, 03:22 PM
This is a very interesting view-point from a perspective of flavor. However, there's one point that seems to beg asking.

I understand how raising the undead in this variant redirects life-force from elsewhere into the undead to keep it animated, weakening life around it.

However, on the opposite side of the spectrum we get spells like harm, which would simply banish someone's life-force from their body. Wouldn't this sudden ejection of life-force increase the ambient supply in the environment, making things better?
Actually, I could imagine desperate necromancers using death effects on commoners as a last-gasp attempt to maintain crops and life within their domains.

PhoenixRivers
2010-05-01, 03:37 PM
This is a very interesting view-point from a perspective of flavor. However, there's one point that seems to beg asking.

I understand how raising the undead in this variant redirects life-force from elsewhere into the undead to keep it animated, weakening life around it.

However, on the opposite side of the spectrum we get spells like harm, which would simply banish someone's life-force from their body. Wouldn't this sudden ejection of life-force increase the ambient supply in the environment, making things better?
Actually, I could imagine desperate necromancers using death effects on commoners as a last-gasp attempt to maintain crops and life within their domains.

To paraphrase a Slipknot song title, "Commoners=Fertilizer" :smallbiggrin:

TheMadLinguist
2010-05-01, 03:45 PM
But then how do you have elementals made of negative energy?

oxybe
2010-05-01, 04:14 PM
negative energy isn't naturally more evil then fire is. i mean, do you call the "-" side of a battery evil? last i checked, regardless of how you use it on a human, dog, cat, goblin or griffin 1d6 fire will hurt the creature as much as 1d6 negative energy.

though i'm in a weird boat. i honestly don't see zombies or skeletons as "evil" creatures... IMO they're entirely neutral since they're mindless with no real intent of their own behind their actions. left to their own devices they can be destructive if left unattended in a population of squishy humans, but the same can be said of a tiger running amok or rats spreading the plague... neither does that because they have an intent to cause harm, they just want to eat and reproduce. zombies and skellies are closer to vermin in how they act.

i feel it should be repeated... how does this theory work with the fact that negative energy heals undead? if the use of negative energy consists of the removal of life force, how does this interact with a zombie's open stomach wound? a skeleton's chipped skull? a vampire's emo whining? going by your theory (if i understand correctly), an undead has no "true" life energy to begin and just hoards it upon creation with so there is no real life energy there to interact with when trying to "heal" an undead using Inflict Wounds... truthfully going by your theory the IW type spells should actually hurt the undead by redirecting it's current pool of stagnant energy somewhere else.

On energy types: yeah, energy in D&D is weird. [Cold] is [Cold] and not the absence of heat. electricity does [Lighting] damage instead of burning you. an [Acid] spell doesn't deal less damage if cast while submerged (and thus diluted) in water. based on the descriptions alone few [Fire] spells actually light things on fire (fireball VS wall of fire, for example). the only consistent thing is "it's magic"

Optimystik
2010-05-01, 04:31 PM
Don't Druids get their share of Necromancy too? Including Finger of Death, Miasma of Entropy, Blight...


Hmmm...this could be interesting with a druid around. There's some actual RAW support here, since druids are supposed to be antithetical to the undead. It would definitely make the druid, rather than the paladin, the natural enemy of the undead and the necromancer.

I always considered them more opposed to constructs and aberrations myself.

Lysander
2010-05-01, 05:11 PM
i feel it should be repeated... how does this theory work with the fact that negative energy heals undead? if the use of negative energy consists of the removal of life force, how does this interact with a zombie's open stomach wound? a skeleton's chipped skull? a vampire's emo whining? going by your theory (if i understand correctly), an undead has no "true" life energy to begin and just hoards it upon creation with so there is no real life energy there to interact with when trying to "heal" an undead using Inflict Wounds... truthfully going by your theory the IW type spells should actually hurt the undead by redirecting it's current pool of stagnant energy somewhere else.




I think DragoonWraith really nailed the mechanics of how spells and creatures would work under this system. Thinking of undead as a whirpool to the negative energy plane is the best analogy.

If we go with the theory that an undead creature has a link to the negative energy plane that sucks away life from the ambient area to power itself, a harm spell is just a spell that creates a brief link to the negative energy plane. In a living creature which has no link this just deducts some of their energy. In an undead creature which uses a link to power itself, the spell strengthens the link that's already there, healing the creature.


So when you cast healing spells, kids are born healthier and old people live longer?

To a small extent, but the overall side effects of a one time spell like heal or harm is far less than the constant permanent drain of energy caused by an undead creature.

Ravens_cry
2010-05-01, 07:23 PM
However, on the opposite side of the spectrum we get spells like harm, which would simply banish someone's life-force from their body. Wouldn't this sudden ejection of life-force increase the ambient supply in the environment, making things better?
Actually, I could imagine desperate necromancers using death effects on commoners as a last-gasp attempt to maintain crops and life within their domains.
Hmm, that's actually a really neat idea. A lot of old timey traditions included sacrifices to make the crops grow, even human ones. What if it worked? It really adds a level of moral quandary. 'The good of the many out weighs the needs of the few'.

Loxagn
2010-05-01, 07:35 PM
Zom the Neutral Good Necromancer takes offense to this theory!
Seriously. He's the nicest guy. He's just a mite zombie-happy.
In all seriousness however, this is a very well thought-out theory, and makes for great fluff. Good work.

Lysander
2010-05-01, 07:50 PM
Zom the Neutral Good Necromancer takes offense to this theory!
Seriously. He's the nicest guy. He's just a mite zombie-happy.
In all seriousness however, this is a very well thought-out theory, and makes for great fluff. Good work.

Thanks. It's still possible for there to be good necromancers...but whatever they're using negative energy for would have to be worth it. An army of skeletons might be acceptable to save your world from an army of demons. It would leave the land barren for years but it might be morally superior to the alternative.

And of course on small scales its more neutral than evil. A necromancer with two or three skeleton servants by themselves isn't going to ruin the countryside. The harmful side effects only become apparent on a large scale. On a moral level using a small number of skeletons as guards or servants is kind of like building a factory that releases a lot of pollutants. The more skeletons you have, the more factories you have. At a certain point you end up with a toxic wasteland but that doesn't happen overnight.

Mastikator
2010-05-01, 08:37 PM
I like the concept, but there's only one problem: It makes absolutely no sense

Why?
Because if negative-energy based magic re-routes life-energy, then shouldn't it make the land LESS barren? Since you're re-routing life-energy AWAY from the specific point you want to kill and INTO everywhere else?
This means that healing one person ultimately causes everyone else (nearby) to take the damage.
This means that negative energy based magic is [good] when used on evil because it re-routes life energy away from evil and into everything else, and positive energy based magic (such as, say heal) is [evil] because it re-routes life energy away from everything and into a small point.

Instead, you could make it so that negative energy based magic stops the flow of life energy, and positive energy based magic increases the flow.

Lysander
2010-05-01, 09:18 PM
You're not rerouting energy to/from the surrounding area. You're either adding or removing it from the plane entirely.

So if you cast Harm on a person you're sending part of their life energy directly to the negative energy plane, not giving it to adjacent creatures. It's lost forever. If you cast Heal on someone you're not forcing ambient life energy into their body, you're importing entirely new life energy for them from the positive energy plane.

This actually makes a lot of sense because healing spells are conjuration spells. What are you conjuring? Life energy. Negative energy spells on the other hand banish life energy.

Lord_Gareth
2010-05-01, 09:23 PM
Y'know, I've never quite understood the obsession with "proving" negative energy to be evil. Inflict is little different from ice storm in moral terms. Zombies are cheap labor that don't, y'know, need to consume anything, take breaks, or, frankly, do anything but work. WotC only knows what crackhead added the [Evil] descriptor to DEATHWATCH but not, I dunno, ENERGY DRAIN. Then again, I love gray morality, so I've always been a "playing with fire" kinda guy.

Graymayre
2010-05-01, 09:36 PM
Perhaps positive and negative energy work like seperate magnetic poles. For all of their flash and posturing, under the skin they are both the same energy. Negative would be no more evil than Positive.

It would explain why they hurt each other, positive attracted to negative and negative attracted to positive. Positive damage on a zombie would be nothing but a piece of positive energy attracted to the negative creature (thus interferring with the strength of the negative pole).

It's always up to the definer to decide what is evil and what is not. If you say negative is evil then so be it. But it is rare to ever find something that is truly bifurcated.

Lysander
2010-05-01, 10:01 PM
Y'know, I've never quite understood the obsession with "proving" negative energy to be evil. Inflict is little different from ice storm in moral terms. Zombies are cheap labor that don't, y'know, need to consume anything, take breaks, or, frankly, do anything but work. WotC only knows what crackhead added the [Evil] descriptor to DEATHWATCH but not, I dunno, ENERGY DRAIN. Then again, I love gray morality, so I've always been a "playing with fire" kinda guy.

I don't think it's necessarily better or worse for negative energy specifically to be evil. But sometimes it does make a story more interesting for the "dark" or "forbidden" arts to actually have a reason for being bad. I mean, imagine if in Pet Sematary the cemetery actually brings creatures back to life with no harmful side effects. Or if in Lovecraftian fiction if Cthulu was a really nice guy and eager to help humanity out. Whether it's necromancy that's evil or some other field of magic its useful for story and world-building purposes to have [evil] with brackets magic.

Lycanthromancer
2010-05-01, 10:34 PM
Or if in Lovecraftian fiction if Cthulu was a really nice guy and eager to help humanity out.You mean, he isn't? (http://ursulav.deviantart.com/art/Fursuit-Cthulhu-87124827)

CockroachTeaParty
2010-05-01, 10:35 PM
How would deathless fit into this theory (positive-energy powered undead-ish creatures; see Eberron and the Book of Exalted Deeds)?

Ravens_cry
2010-05-01, 10:53 PM
How would deathless fit into this theory (positive-energy powered undead-ish creatures; see Eberron and the Book of Exalted Deeds)?

All undead would be deathless, as they are powered, just like the living, by positive energy.

Lycanthromancer
2010-05-01, 10:55 PM
How would deathless fit into this theory (positive-energy powered undead-ish creatures; see Eberron and the Book of Exalted Deeds)?They're still anti-undead. They're like white holes to the vampire's black ones.

Basically they're conduits to the positive energy plane.

Steward
2010-05-01, 11:09 PM
I don't think it's necessarily better or worse for negative energy specifically to be evil. But sometimes it does make a story more interesting for the "dark" or "forbidden" arts to actually have a reason for being bad. I mean, imagine if in Pet Sematary the cemetery actually brings creatures back to life with no harmful side effects. Or if in Lovecraftian fiction if Cthulu was a really nice guy and eager to help humanity out. Whether it's necromancy that's evil or some other field of magic its useful for story and world-building purposes to have [evil] with brackets magic.

What about something like Deathwatch? I have never, ever heard a convincing explanation for why it is evil but a spell such as Status (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/status.htm) is not evil. The only difference between Deathwatch and Status is that Deathwatch is a much more useful and effective spell.

Lysander
2010-05-01, 11:15 PM
How would deathless fit into this theory (positive-energy powered undead-ish creatures; see Eberron and the Book of Exalted Deeds)?

I think they'd use positive energy the same way living creatures do, using magic to make up for their lack of a body. Basically a living creature or plant is a machine ideally suited to channeling ambient life energy. Corpses are not suited to channeling life energy so you can animate them one of two ways. You can either pump a huge amount of energy through them by creating a link to the negative energy plane through them, or you can use magic to replicate the way a body channels ambient energy. Since deathless don't require any more life energy than a living creature and don't permanently remove it from the plane there's no harmful environmental effect.

Merk
2010-05-01, 11:21 PM
Why would anyone intentionally create environment-harming undead instead of environment-friendly deathless?

Lycanthromancer
2010-05-01, 11:25 PM
Why would anyone intentionally create environment-harming undead instead of environment-friendly deathless?Why would anyone prefer to buy a car that devours gasoline by the gallon instead of environmentally friendly cars that run off of sunshine?

Prodan
2010-05-02, 01:09 AM
Why would anyone prefer to buy a car that devours gasoline by the gallon instead of environmentally friendly cars that run off of sunshine?

Because Deathless do not function well on cloudy days?

Icewraith
2010-05-02, 01:25 AM
Since Negative Energy has its own plane and everything I can't justify seeing it as "unnatural." It's part of the d&d universe after all. Air and Earth, Fire and Water, Negative and Positive Energy.

We shouldn't be oppressing the undead just because they use a different energy source than us, we should be making friends! Just so we don't end up as bigoted as those fire/water hypocrites.

:D

Frosty
2010-05-02, 02:54 AM
I find the concept that life is "powered" by the Positive Energy plane to be completelyy off-kilter. I guess you can create a multiverse like that, but really...life is run by CHEMICAL energies. Life happens due to the laws of physics and chemistry working together to create self-replicating entities that react to the world around them. Note that under this definition, many constructs are alive too.

hamishspence
2010-05-02, 05:12 AM
What about something like Deathwatch? I have never, ever heard a convincing explanation for why it is evil but a spell such as Status (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/status.htm) is not evil. The only difference between Deathwatch and Status is that Deathwatch is a much more useful and effective spell.

Interestingly, some of the book writers seem to agree. BoED has Deathwatch on the Slayer of Domiel list (despite the fact that as an Exalted PRC, it Falls if it ever commits an evil act) and Miniatures Handbook has it on the Healer list (Healer is a class that must be of Good alignment).

Lysander
2010-05-02, 07:01 AM
I find the concept that life is "powered" by the Positive Energy plane to be completelyy off-kilter. I guess you can create a multiverse like that, but really...life is run by CHEMICAL energies. Life happens due to the laws of physics and chemistry working together to create self-replicating entities that react to the world around them. Note that under this definition, many constructs are alive too.

You're completely right. But this is D&D we're talking about here. They wanted a simple explanation for how healing spells work. Positive energy = health.

I think maybe, to not completely offend your inner scientist, to think of positive energy not as what powers the body but as a regulating force that urges the body to keep functioning smoothly. The same way law and chaos are universal forces in D&D, life is a universal force.

PonceAlyosha
2010-05-02, 09:30 AM
Since Negative Energy has its own plane and everything I can't justify seeing it as "unnatural." It's part of the d&d universe after all. Air and Earth, Fire and Water, Negative and Positive Energy.

We shouldn't be oppressing the undead just because they use a different energy source than us, we should be making friends! Just so we don't end up as bigoted as those fire/water hypocrites.

:D

I guess it depends if positive energy is necessary for anything to exist. If the positive energy plane, elemental being-ness is the center of the cosmos, and radiates outward, then you can't really say that impeding the flow of positive energy is against nature, because it already heads in all directions. IF it flows from the top down, then you could say that "negative energy" accumulates 'beneath' where positive energy stagnates, like shadows underneath a solid. Perhaps positive energy is the medium of time?

Now that idea I like. Vampires and Liches have to drink other people's time to stay in their present form, because negative energy has no future other than to yield to positive energy. Very dao.

Saph
2010-05-02, 09:45 AM
It's a nice theory, I like it. I think it's better than either of the previous two ones. Consider this yoinked for my future campaigns. :)

Amiel
2010-05-02, 09:46 AM
I would also suggest that necromancy forces an addictive effect in its users; the necromancer craves its power, while the undead craves its energy.

To me, negative energy or its encapsulated use in necromancy isn't inherently evil, but its abuse, in the creation of malicious undead (liches, vampires), as opposed to zombies and skeletons, causes random malignancies, like cancers upon nature.
It is an inherent energy, yes, however, its overuse causes deleterious effects; this of course will be dependent on the application and scale of the spell.
It is a necessary energy, without negative energy, there will be no death, disastrously the overabundance of life will prove its own "evil." I also see the energy as a sort of check and balance, existing to check and balance too much positive energy and exuberant life in the world and existence; the inverse of which is undeath and seepage from the negative energy plane.

Ravens_cry
2010-05-02, 10:29 AM
I find the concept that life is "powered" by the Positive Energy plane to be completelyy off-kilter. I guess you can create a multiverse like that, but really...life is run by CHEMICAL energies. Life happens due to the laws of physics and chemistry working together to create self-replicating entities that react to the world around them. Note that under this definition, many constructs are alive too.
It''s an old theory actually, back when they thought that life was different from non life by a specific Úlan vital.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89lan_vital)
The way I thought of negative energy was not as some redirection, but as an alien life force, with incompatibilities with our physiology. No more evil then antimatter.

Fishy
2010-05-02, 11:07 AM
Now I want to see a necromancer building the Positive Energy equivalent of Hoover Dam.

Milskidasith
2010-05-02, 11:40 AM
Problem with this: if the positive and negative energy planes are infinite, there is no way that you could staunch the flow with finite magic

DragoonWraith
2010-05-02, 12:08 PM
If the source was infinite but the rate at which energy could flow from it was finite (read: it's the positive energy equivalent of an ideal heat source), the system would work as described.

Milskidasith
2010-05-02, 12:28 PM
If the source was infinite but the rate at which energy could flow from it was finite (read: it's the positive energy equivalent of an ideal heat source), the system would work as described.

The rate can clearly be changed with both positive and negative spells. Furthermore, if the rate was finite and constant, life would always be increasing unless necromancy could outpace it. Plus, if positive energy flows to a vacuum, using necromancy would increase the flow to fill the void in the material plane, unless there was a giant cosmic limit on the rate, which would make positive energy magic impossible because it would increase the rate above the max for a short time.

Ravens_cry
2010-05-02, 12:32 PM
If the source was infinite but the rate at which energy could flow from it was finite (read: it's the positive energy equivalent of an ideal heat source), the system would work as described.

However, that would also mean magically healing with positive energy would also be 'environmentally damaging'.

Milskidasith
2010-05-02, 12:35 PM
However, that would also mean magically healing with positive energy would also be 'environmentally damaging'.

Or impossible, as stated above.

hamishspence
2010-05-02, 12:35 PM
Still think "Making Undead is evil" is easier to justify than "negative energy is evil"

For example, the Revive Undead spell, in Libris Mortis, works on skeletons and zombies as well as other undead, but also states "the animating spirit must be willing to return"

Implying that Undead (including skeletons and zombies) actually have an animating spirit.

Ravens_cry
2010-05-02, 12:41 PM
Still think "Making Undead is evil" is easier to justify than "negative energy is evil"

For example, the Revive Undead spell, in Libris Mortis, works on skeletons and zombies as well as other undead, but also states "the animating spirit must be willing to return"

Implying that Undead (including skeletons and zombies) actually have an animating spirit. You could have a spirit of some sort bound to the undead, like how golems are made by being a earth elemental spirit. Weirdly enough, golem creation isn't specifically Evil.

hamishspence
2010-05-02, 12:47 PM
Except flesh golems- which require Animate Dead to create.

It is a bit odd that others don't. Perhaps because you're not bringing an evil spirit to the Material plane.

How sentient are the elementals used in elemental bindings?

Saph
2010-05-02, 12:54 PM
How sentient are the elementals used in elemental bindings?

Entirely sentient, as far as I know. Monster Manual Elementals all have low but human-range Int scores, which makes campaign settings such as Eberron a little disturbing.

Lysander
2010-05-02, 01:06 PM
The rate can clearly be changed with both positive and negative spells. Furthermore, if the rate was finite and constant, life would always be increasing unless necromancy could outpace it. Plus, if positive energy flows to a vacuum, using necromancy would increase the flow to fill the void in the material plane, unless there was a giant cosmic limit on the rate, which would make positive energy magic impossible because it would increase the rate above the max for a short time.

Another analogy: imagine a series of waterfalls, each leading into a shallow pool. Each pool is a separate plane. Water constantly trickles in from above and spills out when the pool is full. If enough water is siphoned from the pool it will be dry, or mostly dry, even though water keeps falling in from above. And even worse when the pool is depleted that prevents any water from falling to the next pool down.

This is just a very simple analogy though. I wouldn't be satisfied if the actually specifics of how life energy flows from plane to plane is any less complex than quantum physics. Each metaphorical pool is probably fed from numerous waterfalls, and spills out into numerous different pools. Different pools may have different depths. Some waterfalls may carry more water than others. The position of pools may change.

hamishspence
2010-05-02, 01:08 PM
Planar Handbook does have Elementite Swarms, described as "barely sentient" which are INT 2, and are swarms of tiny elementals.

Milskidasith
2010-05-02, 01:41 PM
Another analogy: imagine a series of waterfalls, each leading into a shallow pool. Each pool is a separate plane. Water constantly trickles in from above and spills out when the pool is full. If enough water is siphoned from the pool it will be dry, or mostly dry, even though water keeps falling in from above. And even worse when the pool is depleted that prevents any water from falling to the next pool down.

This is just a very simple analogy though. I wouldn't be satisfied if the actually specifics of how life energy flows from plane to plane is any less complex than quantum physics. Each metaphorical pool is probably fed from numerous waterfalls, and spills out into numerous different pools. Different pools may have different depths. Some waterfalls may carry more water than others. The position of pools may change.

That would imply that spells destroyed energy, rather than send it to the negative energy plane, and makes positive energy spells make water from nothing, which is more ridiculous. If you want it to be an "it is this way because it is, that is fine, but it's not going to hold up to scrutiny.

Lysander
2010-05-02, 04:03 PM
That would imply that spells destroyed energy, rather than send it to the negative energy plane, and makes positive energy spells make water from nothing, which is more ridiculous. If you want it to be an "it is this way because it is, that is fine, but it's not going to hold up to scrutiny.

For all intents and purposes the negative energy plane destroys life energy. Maybe it just spreads it out or renders it useless without technically destroying it. Maybe it does destroy it somehow. Either way once energy is sent there it's no longer usable by anyone.

Positive energy spells also don't create energy. They merely conjure it from the positive energy plane, which is an infinite source of energy.

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-05-02, 04:15 PM
That would imply that spells destroyed energy, rather than send it to the negative energy plane, and makes positive energy spells make water from nothing, which is more ridiculous. If you want it to be an "it is this way because it is, that is fine, but it's not going to hold up to scrutiny.

In this analogy, positive energy spells would create another (temporary) flow from the highest pool, which is always full, and negative energy spells would temporarily open a drain in a pool to let the water flow out. Nothing has to be created or destroyed here.

Lysander
2010-05-02, 04:40 PM
One hole in the theory that needs an explanation is that undead are healed on the negative energy plane and hurt on the positive energy plane. A possible explanation for that (if you don't want to change that so undead are healed on the positive/hurt on the negative) is:

Positive Plane - Undead are hurt there because their link to the negative energy plane is overwhelmed with energy. While a living creature takes a while before the excess positive energy starts to harm them this process occurs instantaneously with an undead creature. They're basically trying to drink the ocean. This raises an interesting possibility for a homebrew creature - undead with a very weak link to the negative energy plane. On most planes they couldn't survive but on the positive energy plane they take in just enough to exist with being harmed.

Negative Plane - Undead are healed here because they become the terminal end for energy from other planes. The link in them that usually connects to the negative energy plane instead connects to other planes. They take in energy that would otherwise get dispersed in the negative energy plane anyway, so an undead creature on the negative energy plane is actually harming nobody. There's nothing evil about animating dead or using harm spells on the negative energy plane (nor on the positive energy plane for that matter, although undead won't survive long)

NEO|Phyte
2010-05-02, 06:17 PM
Uh, going strictly by RAW, NEP doesn't heal undead, and the PEP does. (Heal them, that is.)

Leliel
2010-05-02, 06:35 PM
I like this.

While the natural fallacy is present, just because it's a logical fallacy doesn't mean it's untrue. Using a void to animate life reeks of environmental recklessness to me.

I would put the Deathless-creating spells under the purview of necromancers using this though-the "Right-Handed Path" to the "Left-Handed Path" of normal undead.

Lysander
2010-05-12, 10:56 PM
I like this.

While the natural fallacy is present, just because it's a logical fallacy doesn't mean it's untrue. Using a void to animate life reeks of environmental recklessness to me.

I would put the Deathless-creating spells under the purview of necromancers using this though-the "Right-Handed Path" to the "Left-Handed Path" of normal undead.

It would be interesting to create a good necromancer class based entirely on benign uses of necromatic principles such as deathless servants and healing spells.

hamishspence
2010-05-13, 04:03 AM
Complete Arcane suggests this is one reason why most necromancers are either Good or Evil, but not usually Neutral- with Good necromancers doing benign things and Evil necromancers doing harmful things.

Yora
2010-05-13, 04:13 AM
I see necromancy as the magic of manipulating life force in any way. Which makes all healing spells necromancy spells.

Riva
2010-05-13, 11:53 AM
Well, OP, I think you have a really interesting and flavorful idea. As has been pointed out and fielded quite well by Lysander there are a few holes in the theory.

But with that said I think your idea is interesting enough that if I were to develop a campaign around it, I'd simply restructure the way undead work just a tidge bit.

Further, to everyone finding some really strange holes, D&D is not the real world. Say it with me now. Its not, and it does not run using the same rules. So relax.

Well done OP, well done.