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I'm writing a short story about a man who faces off against a Necromancer, and am wondering what sort of defenses the main character and/or his party might employ against the Necromancer's magic.

I would call the general setting of the story hard fantasy - magic exists, but few are able to practice it and even fewer are interested in doing so. The story takes place in roughly the 14th century (think Black Plague, English Longbow, Hundred Years' War). Otherwise, things are pretty much what you might expect in (a place similar to) 14th century Europe.

The Necromancer is a former apothecary who fled the city to practice his dark art in peace. I haven't quite decided what magic will be available to him, but if you're familiar with the canon, that's about right - he can raise the dead, spread a pestilence, etc.

The main character is a mage hunter, of sorts. He's not so much the "great mage slayer of legend" as he is "the best we've got." Situations like this pop up rarely in my world, so few have ever had to deal with such. The main character, having dealt with mages twice previously (not necessarily a Necromancer) has the most experience and thus is chosen to take care of the Necromancer.

The basic idea that I'm trying to convey here is that standard armor (plate, mail, shield, etc.) would be useless against such a foe. At this point in the story, the main character is making preparations and I would like for him to grab one or several items that may (or may not) be useful in the coming fight. Many people in this world have little to no experience with magic, though the main character has dealt with it once or twice. Assuming he has some experience with this sort of thing in the past, what items might the main character bring along with him to protect him against the Necromancer?

Some additional info from comments:

  • The main character (and some as-yet undetermined party) are sent out to deal with the Necromancer
  • They are commissioned by the King to do so, as travelers have started going missing in the area where the Necromancer is believed to live
  • The Necromancer has "standard" Necromantic magic available to him. He can raise the undead and cast a number of offensive spells
  • The incantations must be uttered, so casting these spells takes time and requires line of sight to the target
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closed as too broad by AndreiROM, Xandar The Zenon, WhataTiberius, Hohmannfan, a CVn May 17 '16 at 14:54

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello, levelonehuman! Love the screen-name, btw. I'd like to point out that your question, as it currently stands, falls under the close category of "primarily opinion based". The reason for this is because you don't A) tell us exactly what the necromancer's location/defenses/offensive powers are, B) because you also because you don't tell us what our hero's defenses/offensive powers are, and lastly C) because you don't tell us what your success parameters are. You ask how the hero could defend himself, but under what circumstances are they fighting? Why are they fighting? $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 17 '16 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ @levelonehuman - "I can appreciate that but..." <- the problem here is that there is no "but". That may have sounded mean, so I'll clarify: WB SE has certain rules and regulations (the scope of the site). It's certainly not my prerogative to impose my views and interpretations on your question, but I've been around long enough to know when a question doesn't fall within WB's scope. Your question only has 24 views, and already 2 close votes. This is a pretty good indication that I know what I'm talking about. My guess is that your question will be on hold in an hour or two max $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 17 '16 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @levelonehuman - I've read your edits, and I can see where you're trying to go with your question. I don't really have a clear idea on how you might tighten your specs, so I'll describe the issue I'm seeing a little more clearly. Your hero needs to kill this mage, not just convince him to go away, right? So why not simply pack a longbow, locate his lair, and sit around until he gets a clear shot at him? Perfectly valid reasoning, right? But what if the necromancer has roaming patrols of undead around his castle? Well? Does he live in a castle? Does he have guards? An army? Help us help you. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 17 '16 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ I would suggest that you either drop by in Worldbuilding Chat (there are usually some regulars in there who would likely be happy to help you out) or even better use our question sandbox to refine your question such that it can be reopened. $\endgroup$ – a CVn May 17 '16 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ @levelonehuman - I'm very glad to hear you say that, and are very welcomed. One of the issues which WB has run into over and over again is how to educate new users on what a "good" question is. Heck, sometimes we can't even agree. The problem is that most people don't take it well that you criticize their post, or tell them they shouldn't have answered a poorly asked question. So how does one go about spreading this knowledge without discouraging, or offending new users? Difficult balance. I'm glad you weren't discouraged, and look forward to your next post! $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 17 '16 at 17:27
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There is a few methods the hero can take, I will outline as best I can

tl;dr - basically when defending the hero wants to use the counter of the magic the necromancer has used so less energy is wasted (wood > fire, fire > earth kind of thing) hit-and-run tatics would be best as the hero can attack without being attack (at least not easily done right)

Defensive Scenario 1 - Hero has the advantage

In this situation the hero has the upper hand of a supprise "attack" Now I know you are wanting defensive approaches however @dot_Sp0T "A Good Defense is a Good Offense" would likely be the best way for your hero regardless of how the fight comes to be.

But In the willing of the question I shall explain how a supprise "attack" can bt used for defensive means. A stun/paralysis attack, this could be an eletrical attack or a gas based attack. If the necromance cannot do anything then your hero (and party if he has one) will be unscathed, no better out come in my opinion.

Defensive Scenario 2 - Hero and Necromancer meet head-on

In this case the Hero and Necromancer will have a nice chat, realise they cant come to an agreement and then begin throwing magic at each other. At this point it becomes vital we know what arsenal the hero and necro have, if there is too large a gap in their power the fight becomes one sided but for arguments sake lets say they evenly matched (with the hero slightly less powerful but is willing to go further to save humanity or whatever he is doing).

So the hero is fighting an upwards battle, best thing he can do is use guerrilla tatics/hit-and-run, conserve his own energy and make the necro waste his. For his defensive magic if it is just manipulating real world material (Wood/stone/water/fire/air etc etc) then he will need to know each elements counter, IE dont use wood agaisnt fire, he can then either deflect the attack away from himself (or back to the necro if possible) using the least amount of energy possible. Once the necro is sufficently worn our then the hero can move in for the "finishing blow"

Defensive Scenario 3.1 - The hero is caught off guard

The evil necro has used a underhanded, sly and cheap technique and the hero is in a ... well lets call is a bad situation.

So the hero is wounded, its not fatal but he could have done without the injury agaisnt such a foe.

  • If the hero isnt the smartest the best choice would be to charge the necro as it would be the least expected move and the hero is unlikely to make any plans in the few moments he has before the necro has to kill him.

  • If the hero is about average intelligence then the best option to him would to "haul-ass" he will know he is in a bad situation and needs a bit of time to think what he can do, this goes back to guerrilla tatics and hit-and-run but with alot more desperation and cussing.

  • If the hero is a genius at this sort of thing, I leave it up to him, if I was a genius then I could help however I'm not, he could taunt the necro into making a mistake and taking that oppotunity to counter the necro


There are many more scenarios which would take into account terrain, additional party members, what can and cannot be done with magic and so forth but as you havent mentioned anything to do with that I have left it purely about the combat, there is alot of offensive manoeuvre but that is because its alot harder to fight if you soly defend yourself

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure that your gorilla tactics will prove to be no match for the necromancer. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 17 '16 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ Good reading: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/3120/… $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 17 '16 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM since the necro can summon skeletons/undead then it will make it harder but depending how the summon works they are likely to just be mindless zombies that attack anything that moves or move towards sound ... ive yet to see a necromance micro manage all of the summons they have $\endgroup$ – Mr.Burns May 17 '16 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, sorry, I was being a bit (a lot :P) sarcastic above. It's "guerrilla" tactics, not "gorilla". It has nothing to do with the animal. That's all that comment was meant to point out. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 17 '16 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM , thats ok, I know my spelling/gramma isnt the best. I also fall flat on my face when people are sarcastic so im glad you pointed it oit for me, I updated the correct term ^^ $\endgroup$ – Mr.Burns May 17 '16 at 23:39
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The best Defense is a good Offense

Adhering to this simple but effective rule, the most likely way to get rid of the necromancer would likely be to first shoot/stun him with a simple firearm or something similar, a firearm should be uncommon enough for the apothecary to not expect it.
After that it's simply a race of killing him off before he can recover from the shock. Especially assuming that magic users are as scarce as water in the desert.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this, mages are squishy. I'm having a hard time thinking of any trinkets or such that might be useful in this case, but blasting him to bits sounds good. $\endgroup$ – levelonehuman May 17 '16 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @levelonehuman well, gunpowder is pretty much the embodiment hard fantasy in my personal humble opinion $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T May 17 '16 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ As far as I know, guns were kind of just starting to pop up in Europe around this time. As it were, I'd prefer to keep with a bow/crossbow. Regardless of firearm or not, the idea of "get him before he gets you" is about what I was looking for. I'd like to wait a while and see if anything else comes up, but thanks again for the answer! $\endgroup$ – levelonehuman May 17 '16 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ Good reading: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/3120/… $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 17 '16 at 17:10

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