I remember being immediately drawn to the concept of the necromancer from Diablo 2. Their backstory depicted them as the priests of a dragon-god called Rathma, and that they were dedicated to maintaining the balance between good and evil. They weren’t all nasty-evil baddies who had to be destroyed, they fought alongside the heroes, and to me, the power to raise the dead and create skeletal minions sounded awesome.

The powers of the Diablo 2 necromancer are divided into three “trees” of themed powers — one for summoning minions, which includes creating golems from earth, iron, blood, and fire. One tree is for “poison and bone” powers, which includes creating cages, walls, and shields of bone, spraying enemies with magically-hurled teeth, launching spears of bone, and envenoming a dagger or inundating an area with noxious, plague-death. The last tree is for “curses,” which seems to be a catch-all for “powers that make an enemy’s stats worse” — often useful in ways that only make sense if you’re familiar with the game’s internal rules system.

In practice, the necromancer played pretty faithfully to its depiction in the supplemental material that came with the game. The necromancer was spooky and could create armies of minions to overrun his cursed and sickened enemies. Up to a certain point, of course. You’d quickly find the necromancer loses his teeth when he has to face an end-of-act boss by himself, where corpses to create minions are in short supply, and the bosses frequently have more hit points than can be quickly drained with poison, and the curses — well, you need to damage to kill the boss, and curses are also typically slow-going effects created with the intent to de-fang an enemy while your minions tear it apart.

The necromancer is definitely cool, but it fails to deliver on practicality across all fronts. I’ll come back to Diablo 2’s necromancer as I review other death-themed classes.