The New Necromancer

June 20, 2010 at 8:03 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 12 Comments
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Very little evidence has surfaced in all this Guild Wars 2 hype about the necromancer. It was left out of the profession specific artwork we’ve seen (like in this post) and there has been extremely little mention of it. We know that there are 3 scholarly classes in GW2, with the elementalist taking the only announced spot, and the unique mesmer likely taking a second. Here is where I make a case for a new kind of necromancer taking the 3rd.

It was one of the most popular classes in the original Guild Wars for various reasons. Early on you could raise a giant army, with few limits to how many minions you could take with you. This quickly made it one of the most powerful builds. Even with the nerf to minion masters that limited the number of minions, it still continued to be one of the most used builds. That isn’t to say it was the only way to play necro, you could use the diverse number of hexes, curses, and other dark rituals to damage your enemies.

It being so popular does lend some logic to the necromancer being a class in GW2. It would also be the only original core profession (forgetting for a moment that monks will be drastically changed) not in GW2 if it was left out.

Lets jump into some evidence. In the Guild Wars 2 Art book, there is art (various pieces, none of which reveals much about necromancers) pictured with the caption “Sylvari necromancers like Trahearne revel in the life-and-death cycle of nature. As the cycle isn’t “evil”, neither are they, despite their more sinister appearance.” Its a concept art book, so I won’t draw too solid a conclusion from it, but it does seem stated with confidence.

Nox recently put up a post detailing a necromancer like skill effect from the Races trailer. Its difficult to see but it does give a solid clue.

Hail Cthulhu!

The above image has some pretty distinct green flash coming from it. Guild Wars was quite known for color coordinating classes, necromancy being green.

Believe it or not that’s all the solid evidence. Everything else is concept art. Various armour, scenes, and mood. It can’t be counted on to confirm a necromancer profession. However, I feel its kind of like bedrock for Guild Wars professions. Foundation that can’t really be torn down. The above evidence is enough for me.

So why do I think it will be different than the original GW necro?

Well, a certain lack of evidence for one. We’ve seen a lot of things that directly point out other professions. We saw warriors, and rangers and elementalists in the Races Trailer carrying swords and bows and casting fire magic. Assassin like animations in some battle scenes and very mesmer like armour (yes I know armour isn’t tied to profession) being worn.

Profession concept art

Specific concept art that seems to portray typical profession traits for each original core profession (including the vastly different monk and the Factions profession assassin) yet none for the necromancer.

I may not be acquainted with anyone at Arenanet but I have heard that at one point they were testing as many as a dozen or so professions, one of which was described as a Summoner. Indeed, rumours, but this isn’t exactly a court room.

Why would they go through so much trouble if the necromancer were similar in concept to the old necromancer? I think they want a nice surprising reveal for a class that has been overhauled. Warriors, elementalists, and rangers probably haven’t changed enough to surprise anyone, and that’s why they’re being released first.

How would they be changed? Well if you’re keeping the profession itself, but changing it, you’d look for influences inside the original GW first.

For instance with Factions, the ritualist was released. It is a profession that for the most part centers around summoning spirits from the beyond. It has always been kind of sharing some of the same conceptual space as necromancers. There hasn’t been a hint of the ritualist in concept art or any other source. If I were to change the necromancer I could consider borrowing from the entire ritualist profession.

Also, around when Factions was released, the number of minions was reduced. At the same time an Elite Skill, the Flesh Golem was released. A single minion that was more powerful. A move from many minions to fewer but more powerful allies.

With each new game release there was a move away from having numerous minions to having more individual help. Nightfall introduced more skills that destroyed minions (to heal others) than new minion skills. In Eye of the North, they introduced PvE only skills that summoned various non undead creatures. Summon Ruby Djinn, Summon Naga Shaman, Ebon Vanguard Sniper Support.

Another thing I’d note is that in a move from an instanced world to a more persistent one, minions (and pets lets hope) would have to take that step as well. They were very temporary creatures, and I would say that was their biggest flaw. Its not as though anyone ever got attached a to a minion like they would even to the flawed pet system in GW. I think a necromancers minion in GW2 would have to be more persistent. I’m sure plenty of people would like to become attached to their undead servants just the way Eve did to Adam.

Evidence from GW2 is slight. There are many examples of racial skills that do summon however. A human skill that summons the hounds of Balthazar, a (norn?) skill that summons a flock of birds to attack. Video of a sylvari bringing to life an ancient Forest Guardian. And although I doubt the following are summoned, it is not beyond reason. Asura which control golems, charr which controls effigies and siege machines.

This image is different from the art book version

Of course I’m not saying these are necromancer skills, just evidence that summoning exists on some level and that large allies can be called upon to defend ourselves.

I believe that’s all the evidence I have, and I agree, its scant. I really do think that the ritualist and necromancer shared some of the same conceptual role, and therefore it only makes sense to fold them into one another. I expect (but will not be outraged like some GW2Guru nut) that the new necromancer will be a summoner. He’ll have one or perhaps two allies at a time, they will be large and interesting. They will perform roles apart from simply attacking, such as buffing, warding, and defensive tactics. Probably having skills of their own. What other types of spells will the new necromancer have? I don’t know, perhaps the same blood, curses, and death magic, perhaps not.

Can’t wait to see though.



  1. My brother and I were musing the other day about possible ways of implementing summoning skills. By no means speculation as I have no conviction that these are what they are going to do. Just ideas based on the skill system, traits, and what they said about attributes being more generalized.

    First 5 skills based on weapon set.

    Required heal.

    Required elite.

    Traits enahance specific skills & skill types, essentially taking place of the current attribute system in regards to how they effect your build.

    Attributes more traditional rpg style.
    Intellegence: +spell damage, + Max energy, and + energy regen.
    Strength: + weapon attack damage, + crit chance, + crit damage.
    Vitality(constitution): + max health, + health regen.
    Dexterity: + attack speed, evasion chance maybe? though I dont see that fitting in to Guildwars as it has always been skill based.
    Really no clue what they will be and what effects they will have. I think they are going to keep it minimalized though for balance sake. One or two for physical strength & dex, and then same for casters intellegence & wisdom maybe. Then most likely vitality (constitution, stamina) for all.

    My Idea

    Summoned creatures would be more like a pet. The necromancer(summoner) would have only one or two maybe three possible summoning skills: melee (flesh golem), ranged (bone Fiend), caster (something new). They could make the skills for the optional slots, or they could base it on what weapon type you are weilding e.g. staff or wand = caster, bow or gun = ranged, daggers or sword = melee. There might be traits to enhance the specific minion types or more generalized effecting all of your summoned creatures or both.

    Rather than just being a meat shield or damage dealer, the minions could be much more dynamic with their own small set of skills. For instance a caster minion might have one or two offensive spells and a healing spell. The melee minion might have a closing skill, an armor buff, and an attack skill or two.

    The minions would have behavior controls like we have for pets and heros rightnow. This would give the minion master much more control over where there minion is on the field of battle, who or what their minion is targeting, and help reduce accidental aggro. This would also give the minion master a much easier means to target their minion for heals and buffs. Having control over what the minion is targeting enables the summoner to have their minion act as an offtank grabing aggro on any foes that break from the warrior.

    Now I am thinking that they would most certainly have to put a small limit on how many minions a person could have in play at a time, one or two or one of each type. these minions would be considerably more powerful and effective than the current types.

    My Brothers idea:
    One Skill to Rule Them All.

    Rather than having many different skills to summon all the different types of minions. The summoner would have a single skill that summons all the different types. This skill would be an optional skill or possibly elite allowing the summoner to carry it with them at all times if they choose. Let me break it down with two possible examples.

    Example 1: The skill summons a minion based on the archetype of the foe e.g. Soldier = warrior (Bone Horror), Adventurer = ranger (Bone Fiend), Scholar = caster (spirit).

    Example 2: [ELITE] The skill summons a minion based on the specific profession of the foe e.g. Warrior (Bone horror), Ranger (Bone Fiend), Assassin (Ghoul), Knight (Flesh Golem), etc etc.

    These minions would have roughly the same amount of power that the current minions have and the same limitations on the amount of minions. This would give the minion master the ability to raise a small army and play essentially the same role as the current Guildwars minion master.

    Ok now I will speculate a bit.

    Currently in Guildwars a minion master pretty much designates their entire skill bar to summoning buffing, and maintaining their minions. With weapon sets dictating what skills are on our bars I personally find it difficult to picture a profession designated specifically as a summoner. Unless they were to set it up as weapon = minion type. If we do have a necromancer, and I admit it is likely. I think its summons will be optional skills while its weapon based skills will be generalized between blood magic and curses and non minion oriented death magic.

    Unless they approach it in a similar fashion to the elementalist and give it “attunements” to switch between the different schools of magic. I also think that may be how they are going to approach the mesmer aswell, the ability to switch between the schools of magic, or generalized and perhaps fast casting as a toggleable skill acting kind of like the warriors stances.

    And for your viewing pleasure one of the coolest looking summons I have ever seen in a game. In the video it is just an enemy mob, but the summoners get a banshee summon aswell (AoE and Heals). Unfortunately its AI is kinda crappy it tends to cast its AoE before it is in range and then trys to tank.
    But it looks friggin awsome!

    • EDIT: My idea and your idea of how minions will be handled seem pretty much verbatim, sorry about that, its early my coffee hasnt kicked in yet and I forgot most of what I read.

    • well at least i’m not the only one over thinking stuff. all very well thought out matt.

    • I’m wondering if maybe the Necro/Rit will be converted to a kind of controller class. I see it being similar to the Elementalist in that they may be able to change summons quickly (like the attunements) and the 5 skill weapon bar section would change to that particular summons’ abilities, similar to the different spells the Ele will get on changing attunements. Just throwing it out there, the main reasons I doubt it will be like this is that it really means only 1 summon at a time for the summoner, and that it is too close a ‘gimmick’ to the Elementalist one. But it’s possible, and it would be different.

      • hmm interesting point about attunements. Hard to say what set up they’d go with, but I am leaning towards something significantly different from the other classes.

  2. Can’t wait for the real Necro to be revealed.

    • I’m thinking ranger, assassin and mesmer are going to be up first, then monk, necro and the new class. so we’re in for a wait.

  3. My thoughts:

    Necro & Rit will be combined to allow for aspects of the ritualist in GW2. Necro will have minion mechanics that are likely to include spirits and (hope hope hope) demons. They will also rely on dark magics such as death magic and blood magic (the latter mostly for self heal). Curses will likely be relegated to mesmers, but not necessarily (I think they’d benefit from more than one profession having hexes).

    I can see both necromancer and summoner professions. The former would have minions and spirits that are uncontrolled cannon fodder and perhaps a couple skills that allow for more controlled minions/spirits (e.g., flesh golem) using the pet mechanics. I think two skills would cover it: raise dead and summon spirit. The type of minion/spirit you get is based on the enemy’s corpse (spirits can be summoned from non-corpses such as earth elementals). Alternatively, the new environmental mechanic could be used where the necro selects a corpse and is able to 1) raise minion, 2) summon spirit, 3) steal soul (self-heal), 4) create well, 5) explode (outward AoE damage).

    As for summoners, I can see a more critter-specific emphasis akin to GW1 Rangers who play as beastmasters. Perhaps a benign summoning skill in each weapon bar for access to summons at all times (this would summon X uncontrolled critters…think Hounds of Balthazar), and several different summoning skills allowing for a larger summoned critter that uses pet mechanics and changes your skillbar into commands, such as 1) attack, 2) special attack 1, 3) special attack 2, 4) self-heal, and 5) dismiss.

    That’s what I’m thinking. Both are viable, but there is a lot of overlap in concept, especially with ranger pets.

    • “Alternatively, the new environmental mechanic could be used where the necro selects a corpse and is able to 1) raise minion, 2) summon spirit, 3) steal soul (self-heal), 4) create well, 5) explode (outward AoE damage).”

      So like when you target a corpse it proc’s these options say above or beside your regular skill bar?
      I like the idea, it would pretty much make death magic only available when death is present, which kind of makes sense. This would allow them to focus the remaining schools of magic Blood, Curses, Soul Reaping(though I could see that playing off of death aswell), etc into the persistent skills (skill bar).
      Theoretically the idea sounds great to me it would add a very intersting dynamic to playing the profession. The only problem I see with it is a logistical one targeting the corpses. I can think of two ways to handle it.

      1. Program corpse targeting into the targeting hotkeys for the necromancer(summoner) Tab and C. I dont know anything about how they do this stuff so I cant say how difficult that would be.

      2. Leave corpse targeting as it is and simply make the skills proc when the player is within the vacinity (arbitrary range) of an exploitable corpse. They could even add a trait line that increases this range and the effectiveness of these skills.

    • I really don’t think there are going to be stationary spirits, it takes away from gw2s whole movement thing.

      Nor do I think theres going to be a lot of uncontrolled cannon fodder, that seems like a step back to exactly what the MM did in gw1.

      but hey, its too early to tell and yeah, theres a lot of overlap going on.

      • I agree about stationary spirits. They are an awful hindrance for a player/group on the move. Perhaps a floaty spirit that follows you around.

        Regarding uncontrolled cannon fodder, I can see your point. I’m curious about the summoning and pet mechanics of GW2. They mentioned the elite human racial skill “Hounds of Balthazar” which summons 2 fiery dogs, so the concept of multiple summoned creatures already exists. We haven’t yet heard if summoned creatures can be controlled. My hunch is that there will be summoning skills for multiple (small numbers) weak uncontrollable creatures and there will be pets or pet-like creatures that are more powerful and able to be controlled.

        In my opinion, if necromancers exist, there will be some form of minions. If summoners exist, they will likely utilize both summoning mechanics (duh!) and pet mechanics, the latter for stronger summoned creatures. If both necromancers and summoners exist, I believe minions will take a backseat to other necro abilities and summoners will shine in the critters-for-hire service.

        • yeah thats pretty solid reasoning, especially the bit about hounds.

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