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In many fantasy universes, necromancers are feared. They are regarded as generally evil, forces of chaos, and defiers of the natural order.

Now consider a world like our own, where a select few use not magic but science to raise the dead. Obviously some are 'evil', rasing armies of the dead to ead attacks upon the world, but some would be 'good', trying to use their newfound 'powers' to cleanse the world of darkness. Hell, there might even be some playing a role similar to Garth Nix's Abhorsen, a style of necromancer who lays the dead to rest.

My question is this: Would the use of a scientific necromancer be viable in modern warfare? Consider that:

  • The dead will follow the necromancer's will, but only by force. They use some kind of mind control drug-collar-thing.

  • Raising the dead requires a laboratory to do. It cannot simply be done on the battlfield.

  • Raising the dead takes a vast ammount of energy (Say 1 minute of the machines running uses the energy generated by 1 reactor in a nuclear power plant in the same time).

  • Due to the energy taken, only 1 necromancer can work in a location at a time. No, it doesn't make much sense, but just roll with it.

  • Just like regular zombies, you kill the raised by destroying the brain. Hence, the bodies must be fresh when delivered, as the brain decomposes rapidly.

Bearing this in mind, would a modern army want to use these necromancers? If so, to what extent? And if not, what sort of changes would the necromancers have to make to their methods to make them viable?

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    $\begingroup$ If you have the power to raise the dead, you also have the power to simply make fresh humans which actualy is probably not only easier but much more viable in warfare... If you don't agree with this maybe you should explain what exactly you mean by "raise the dead". As in fix every dead cell at a molecular level? Reconstitude damaged tissues? Honestly with the level of detail you've provided us you might as well just say it's magic: magicians can have laboratories as well. $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Jan 12 '17 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ As @AngelPray says, perhaps you could elaborate on the extent that this technology reaches. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 12 '17 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ Raising the dead takes a vast amount of energy how many soldiers per batch on average, and how long does each batch take? That will greatly impact the cost. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 12 '17 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe you could clarify how zombie-ish these undead are. You say will of the necromancer but presumably you'll want some independence of action. Modern militaries seem to be moving away from cannon fodder. $\endgroup$ – user25818 Jan 12 '17 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ Short answer - not likely. Flesh is weak, far weaker than metal. Your army of ghouls/zombies/walkers/whatever you call them won't be that useful for pretty much anything but psychological attack, and these will work just a few times. Unless you are making an army of Arnold Schwarzeneggers (i.e. dead abody with metal framework)... but that's not exactly the same thing. $\endgroup$ – Mr Scapegrace Jan 12 '17 at 8:36
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You should take the captured opposing soldiers and execute them. Next, resurrect them, put a suicide vest under their uniforms, using the "mind control" make them return to their own bases, and then detonate them.

To be moral about it, say that this is being done to soldiers who would have died anyway. And, say that doing this demoralizes the enemy such that the war will end sooner and thus save lives.

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    $\begingroup$ I think executing prisoner violate law of war. $\endgroup$ – DTN Jan 12 '17 at 4:14
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    $\begingroup$ So would mind control. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 12 '17 at 6:53
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    $\begingroup$ And then you get countermeasures - soldiers getting small explosives implanted in their skulls that detonate when their heart stops for x seconds, preventing resurrection. $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Jan 12 '17 at 6:59
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    $\begingroup$ @DTN I would be willing to bet you a dollar, that if necromancy were real, it too would violate the laws of war. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 12 '17 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ It may demoralize some enemies. It may enrage and strengthen others. Using necromancy to commit terrorist atrocities seems pretty deep in the domain of the 'evil' necromancers. By comparison, a good necromancer might be using corpses to de-mine and clear rubble. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Oct 17 '17 at 20:09
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They would not, but it's an interesting story idea

  • You have passed the moral threshold. Of course some necromancers will have good intentions as they bring back dead veterans, then force them to die again and again for their country, without a true, respectful burial, but the public will not accept this method.
    Put differently, if the majority of the world rejects abortions (note that I am not trying to express my personal opinion on that topic) then seeing their comrades, friends, and neighbors brought to life to be killed again and again will in no way be more easily accepted.
  • The living are cheaper. Assuming you can revive a decomposing body (and keep it fresh), you will need to reteach or retrain it in order to make effective use. Unless these "zombies" are exactly like people, you will need to spend a substantial amount of time and energy providing enough basic rehab to get them fighting - let alone making informed decisions. Coordinated, healthy, living recruits, who only need training once, and who can return to their families without severe mental illness, are less expensive.
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    $\begingroup$ The comment about recruits returning without mental illness doesn't sit well with me. I know far too many veterans - some returned with missing limbs, some returned with damaged minds - just the wounds of war. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Jan 12 '17 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @pluckedkiwi A better way of phrasing it is "less likely". I acknowledge it will be a serious problem for both groups, but it may be worse if one group is allowed brain death and decay. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 13 '17 at 2:16
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Yes but only if you make them require less energy to raise the Dead. The whole point of of a necromancer that he can produce a large army for very very cheap. All he really has to do is show up on the battlefield and snap his fingers and just like that yes a couple thousand corpses. That's what makes them so Unstoppable.

Your a scientific necromancer's should not have it that easy because science is harder than Magic but still the process should be relatively quick and cheap. Otherwise no point in having a necromancer on your side whether he's using science or Magic. So yeah if you want the Necromancer to be any use to your army then either you need a lot of energy in your world we need to make necromancy cheaper.

Some thoughts to consider 1. Does your zombies retain some of their skills they had in life? Could they still fire a gun drive a tank? If the answer is yes then you can see the zombies replace humans on the battlefield. If the answer is no then the zombies might still make it to the battlefield but they be used to take strategically. And most of your army would still be living troops.

  1. Does the necromancy process slow down or even completely turn off the decay of the undead. If the answer is yes then you'd see a lot more zombies on the battlefield if the answer is no then there'll be a lot of battles without zombies at all. They would be used strategically to turn the tide of battle in certain situations but they couldn't be kept to use the second time so there will never be a large force of them at least not one that lasted long.
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    $\begingroup$ That's a good point. In my head I'd kind of imagined the process being like in Frankenstein, where you put consciousness back into an inanimate object. The consciousness wouldn't be the same as that of the original person, but if the brain works like I think it does, all the same connections should be there. As such, skills would be retained alongside memories and the like. To all extents and purposes, it would be the same person, even though it's not. And if the brain started working, then the heart would follow, kicking up the immune system etc; and so there would be no further decay. $\endgroup$ – Sirama Jan 12 '17 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Sirama if that's the case I can see a lot of arguments for replacing Soldiers with zombified soldiers it'd be a lot cheaper than robots and you won't have to worry about then rising up against you $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Jan 12 '17 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Of course robots don't rot away in a few months. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 13 '17 at 2:58
  • $\begingroup$ @John he already said that the can stop the decay process and besides there always more corpses $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Jan 13 '17 at 17:24
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The most useful use of a necromancer like this isn't to make soldier but to collect information.

Alive, people can resist torture and/or truth drugs and people might kill themselves to escape questioning but if you can question the dead, there is no escape.

Osama got killed by military but imagine how much information you could get out of him if you could question his corpse?

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This method is too expensive too see any real use raising an army of dead soldiers, but I can see it becoming useful by reanimating only very important individuals.

If the zombies are similar enough to living humans, you can use them as spies and as a way to plant false information. You can also kill an enemy general or important politician, raise them and use the authority they still carry to disrupt the enemy issuing counterproductive orders.

If it is easy to differentiate the dead from the living, they can still be used as a way to lower enemy morale, if the zombie was important/loved enough while alive. Just imagine what it would feel to have the President of the United States killed and turned into a brainless servant of ISIS.

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