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In my world, there is a religious cult that worships the god of death. They are semi-immortal and have superhuman speed. They can raise corpses that are not too severely damaged.

They need a melee weapon that synergizes with their speed that will not render corpses useless - it must avoid brain and nervous system damage.

Any type of unobtainium is allowed.

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    $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters: The problem cannot be fixed if the OP is not made aware of it. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Feb 28 '17 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ I've deleted some sarcastic comments. I do agree with @Frostfyre; some information as to why someone is voting to close is extremely helpful and will likely lead to a better question. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Feb 28 '17 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ I have still not seen anyone comment on why this is either opinion-based or too broad. So I don't see why it is being voted closed. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 1 '17 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion "Any type of unobtainium is allowed" + magic tag whilst not defining the magic system. Hi, I'll just introduce unobtainium XYZ here which has the magical properties to do exactly the right amount of damage while synergizing with the speed required. It definitely won't damage any brain and nervous systems. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 1 '17 at 6:16
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    $\begingroup$ Of course, killing someone by "stopping" (stabbing) their heart, or stopping them breathing, will kill them exactly by causing brain damage due to lack of oxygen. In fact, all death is ultimately brain damage then death due to lack of oxygen. So as brain damage is inevitable, you need some handwaving about the nature of the brain damage allowed. Sounds like you're basically looking for "no headshots" so best say so in the question. Currently none of the answers are valid because they all cause brain damage!! :-) $\endgroup$ – Grimm The Opiner Mar 1 '17 at 12:24

12 Answers 12

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Ordinary knives, scalpels, daggers, just about anything slim and sharp and maybe 8 or 9 inches long. This kind of weapon would allow lethal blows without likely...dynastic surgeries... that remove heads, limbs, etc. A big part of training would be in how to use these slim blades to open throats, puncture the armpit going for the brachial artery in an armored guy.

The blade needs to be sharp, and able to slide between ribs and puncture vital organs.

Additional weapons might be a ratcheting strangulation cord and all sorts of poisoned darts and caltrops.

All of these should be able to kill with minimal damage to the corpse that would render it unusable.

I just read through my answer and am mildly alarmed that this came to me so quickly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can scythes or kusarigamas work? $\endgroup$ – Seraph Myrmidon Feb 28 '17 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe, remember, the emphasis is lethality without bits flying everywhere. A Scythe, while terrifying, would be hard to wield in such a way as to kill without losing huge chunks of person. Kusarigama would be better as the blade is smaller. Think puncture wounds, not slicing stuff open. Think of the human body as a big series of levers. cut through a muscle group and you effectively lose that range of motion. If you sever too much your zombie minion will be weaker, and they may trip on their own entrails $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Feb 28 '17 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ A rapier or other slim, thrusting blade, would also be good (and better reach) $\endgroup$ – Thomo Feb 28 '17 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Thomo Stiletto knives. They were practically designed for just that purpose (not necromancy, fast and lethal stab work!) $\endgroup$ – Iwillnotexist Idonotexist Mar 1 '17 at 1:03
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    $\begingroup$ Of course. But I was suggesting something longer than a knife (because let's face it. Sorcerer's always use a knife). And rapiers were often worn as fashion as well. Also the defensive abilities of a rapier exceed a dagger (rogue necromancers anyone). And you can use both at once. $\endgroup$ – Thomo Mar 1 '17 at 1:06
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The original Thugs actually were a death goddess cult, worshipping Kali. http://www.unexplainedstuff.com/Secret-Societies/The-Thuggee.html

They had a special weighted handkerchief the Rumal that they used to quietly strangle the victims. That would seem to me ideal for corpse preservation. The linked article has other interesting stuff about them: their goal of 100% mortality, the prohibition on shedding blood (only strangulating) and so on.

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A very fine stiletto dagger coated with a toxin that instantly stops the heart would be your necromancers' best friend here. Why?

1) Toxins and necromancers go together like peanut butter and jelly, come on.
2) Super-speed means that their main advantage is the element of surprise - their first strike should be their only strike. In this case, a lightweight, easily-concealed weapon is ideal.
3) Piercing weapons arguably cause the least physical damage (compared to slashing or bludgeoning the poor guy), which I assume you want to prevent.

Of course, I have my doubts about preventing brain damage here since the worst possible damage to the brain would come from oxygen deprivation, main cause of which is... um... death. But the medium of an unobtainium toxin could serve nicely as a plot device to bypass that, perhaps.

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Hypodermic needles filled with air. Use your super human speed to get by their defenses and stab them, creating an air embolism.

An air embolism occurs when one or more air bubbles enter a vein or artery and block it.

Air embolisms can definitely be fatal.

These air bubbles can travel to your brain, heart, or lungs and cause a heart attack, stroke, or respiratory failure. Air embolisms are rather rare.

Assuming a stroke doesn't cause "brain and nervous system damage" contrary to your initial post's conditions, you're good to go!

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    $\begingroup$ This technique will be easier and less expensive than injecting an overdose of succinylcholine, but I wonder whether it will be as effective. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Feb 28 '17 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ You would actually have to hit the vein here. You would have to be incredibly skilled to cause an embolism at speed. If you missed the vein and pumped air into the muscle, nothing would happen. $\endgroup$ – EvSunWoodard Mar 1 '17 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ @EvSunWoodard Precision would be required - but for semi-immortals with "superhuman speed", is it so hard to believe they could "aim" in an incredibly short amount of time (say, a few microseconds)? What to us would be an impossibly fast aim/strike to them might be a leisurely sedate and precisely aimed jab. $\endgroup$ – Ghotir Mar 1 '17 at 17:05
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Nerve gas. No high speed needed. Just let it loose then come back and pick up your latest crop.

This is the strip mining version of necromancy. This will probably really annoy your neighbors but if they lose a city's worth of production and you gain a city's worth of army, what are they going to do about it?

The best thing is that you could sneak a small force behind enemy lines and build a power base by popping one city. That should give you enough forces locally to cause a lot of trouble.

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  • $\begingroup$ This one would add a really nice angle to a story, towns suddenly & unexpectedly becoming zombies. $\endgroup$ – MER Mar 2 '17 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ Except wouldn't nerve gas qualify as "brain and nervous system damage", which was specifically excluded in the OP? $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Mar 2 '17 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @DoktorJ, most nerve agents don't actually cause damage to nerves. They block or amplify the chemicals that allow messages to be transmitted from one nerve to the other. Depending on how the magic of necromancy works here, the necro may or may not have to wait until the chemical breaks down. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Mar 2 '17 at 19:08
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Your best weapon is the good old spear.

All the fancy poison, needle, special whatever need considerable skill, will wear off after some time, can be dangerous to the user and have a dozen other drawbacks.

Slashing or smashing weapons of any kind will leave considerable damage that is of interest to a reanimated corpse, i.e. bones and muscles.

Piercing weapons are intended to kill by puncturing vital internal organs - the thing that the walking dead don't have much use for.

Among the various piercing weapons, the spear has the greatest reach and flexibility, can be used to block or slash in case you need it, is relatively easy to learn, but can be deadly in the hands of a master. It also fits your specific type of immortals very well as most spear fighting styles depend more on speed and accuracy than on raw power.

Sure, you will want a dagger as a secondary weapon for any case and because it's useful to cut your lunch as well, but the spear will kill your enemies efficiently while leaving them useable for your dark magic.

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Finger claws

Using their super human speed, the cultists plunge their hand into the victim's chest, and remove the heart.

Clawed gloves not only are used as a status symbol depending on material and decoration, but are also a practical weapon. And help keep fingers clean for dinner.

One advantage of this method is that the still beating heart can be used in any number of rituals.

Mortal Kombat Fatality

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Before I present my answer, any deaths involving blood loss would result in brain damage - so as some of the comments pointed out, you need to decide what sort of brain preservation you're looking for. Is it acceptable as long as the victim's brain stays in their head?

Once you've decided on the actual allowable killing method, you can proceed to read my suggestion, which may sound wrong at first - but carry on reading as I appeal to your writer's instincts.

Tetrodotoxin

  • Can be harvested from puffer fish, blue-ringed octopuses and poison dart frogs.
  • Is a venom which blocks motor neuron pathways to skeletal (voluntary) muscle, causing paralysis.
  • Paralysis of the intercostal muscles of the lungs and diaphragm means that the victim would not be able to breathe, sending them into a coma and eventually death from lack of oxygen to the brain.

(Source:https://bigpictureeducation.com/venoms-and-nervous-system)

Why it's Ideal

Although at first, it seems like it's doing the exact two things you don't want it to, given that your necromancers are super fast, it's actually the best thing they can have:

  • From the first strike, your victim would become increasingly sluggish, allowing your Necromancers to take full advantage of their superhuman speed and for your slow-moving corpses to catch up! Think, "are the zombies getting faster, or am I getting slower?".
  • The effect of the toxin is gradual, your Necromancers can use the time between the comatose state and death (total damage to the brain and nervous system) to do their Necromancing and turn these half-dead victims into un-dead. Of course, your Necromancers would need to act fast... lucky for them they have superhuman speed, eh?
  • It's subtle, you can coat a needle, you can coat a sharpened end of an umbrella, a spiked ring during a handshake, let your writer's imagination have a field day!

Why I Think it Qualifies

I think this method qualifies under your brain and nervous damage restrictions, as your Necromancers would intervene before total brain and nervous system damage. Besides, this partial damage will also explain away why your un-dead horde isn't the most co-ordinated lot.

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Time
If these necromancers are semi-immortal and able to travel at super human speeds all they really need to do is keep an eye on the obituaries and funeral announcements for several nearby towns.
Once a report comes out that someone tragically died with minimal injuries (through sickness or just sheer luck) they just pop round raise the corpse and leave before anyone notices.

Since they are around for semi-forever they are at complete liberty to play the waiting game for when the perfect corpses to show up and not risk having to make precision attacks at high speeds where human error could come into play.

For any other sort of conflict they can simply run away until the other party is dead.

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  • $\begingroup$ While it's a great way to supplement one's undead army, it's not useful in direct combat situations (kill the other guy and make him your minion), and "running away until the other party is dead" would make them very nomadic (and would their zombie armies be able to follow at the same speed?) because otherwise their enemies would just sit and wait for them at their homes and the necromancers would end up inconvenienced for a year or two while their enemy tried to camp them. $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Mar 2 '17 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ This supposes that they are trying to build an undead army, at which point their most effective weapon becomes an undead army, which can be built up rather stress free via a nomadic couple of centuries stockpiling undead minions. Also on the subject of enemies as the necromancers would only be committing the crime of grave robbing, and often getting away with it scott free they could probably cultivate some pretty good PR for their cult meaning fewer foes waiting on their doorstep or at their campsite. $\endgroup$ – GoodMorning AndWelcomeTo Mar 2 '17 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'd just like to add that on reflection this answer seems less of a "what would be most culturally appropriate" and more "why wouldn't they just do this" I think a cult trying to court a death god might not like the image of being the religious organization equivalent of Rincewind the wizzard, but who knows. $\endgroup$ – GoodMorning AndWelcomeTo Mar 2 '17 at 18:54
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Magic

I can't believe nobody mentioned it before. I think the Necromancer should wield a shield and some sort of enchanted device (matching whatever setting you happen to have).

I don't think that they really need a weapon. If they can transfer life into a human body, they can surely transfer it out of one as well. They might not even need the shield if they have enhanced speed, since they can easily dodge and get to a safe distance to cast whatever dark life-stealing spells they have at the attackers.

The reason I suggest a shield is for them to hide behind while they command their legion of the damned in battle. I would expect them to maybe enhance the shield with magic resistance against other spellcasters. This is how I personally would fight, if I was a necromancer in your setting. If you insist on a weapon, I would go with a spear for the reasons stated in that comment. EDIT: The spear also goes great with the shield, and a tower shield is just useful in general. Don't believe people who tell you 2-handed spear is good, it isn't.

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Since a loud enough noise can be lethal it might be a good one, since it would cause minimal physical damage. It could be done by plugging something in the victim's ears so that the sound is only loud enough to kill the intended target. I'd probably use something like devices worn on fingers like rings that could easily be plugged to the subject's ears by a fast-moving entity.

Another similar method would be to use the olfaction to cause the death. In essence such a 'strong' scent that is lethal to normal living beings. Again this would leave the body practically intact. Of course it should be a shockingly strong sensation rather than a nerve agent (that would probably leave the nervous system in a very messy state).

And then there is acute stress disorder that could cause death by witnessing something horrible. One could imagine that the "death cult" people could easily be able to instill such a fear in the subject.

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The good old handkerchief with chloroform. With superhuman speed it will not be difficult for you to approach your victim inadvertently. Once unconscious, you can end up by choking him.

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    $\begingroup$ Chloroform is actually quite slow acting, not like you see on tv. $\endgroup$ – GreySage Mar 1 '17 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Best chat up line of all time though: "Hey, does this rag smell of chloroform to you?" $\endgroup$ – Sobrique Mar 2 '17 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ @GreySage What a disappointing discovery. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Mar 2 '17 at 12:47

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