So, say you’re interested in raising yourself an army of the undead. They have a variety of uses (as indicated here) and can be seen as a good investment if you have the proper materials and instruction in the unholy arts. I’ll decline to speculate on where you might get your necromantic training for a reasonable rate, but I think we can have a practical discussion on where one might acquire the dead people to get yourself started. Believe it or not, this is harder than it might seem.
Now, a novice might assume the obvious answer to your dead-body acquisition needs would be a graveyard. Well,
unless you have a backhoe, a lot of time, and are only interested in a small handful of undead minions, graveyards make poor locations to start. Why? Well, consider this: all your prospective servants are buried under 6-ish feet of packed earth (which is hard enough to dig out of to begin with, even for the undead), but are also usually encased in coffins. Coffins are very often made of steel, at least in this country. So, before you can actually use your new undead friends for scaring the neighbors, walking the dog, or conquering the local Wal Mart for your exclusive use, you’ve got to dig them up and spring them from a steel box. I don’t care how strong you think your undead buddies are, or even if the coffin is made of simple pine – that is no mean feat. You’ll be lucky if the undead make it out of the earth at all, let alone in any kind of useful condition or in a timely manner.
Okay, so no graveyards. Impractical and, hey, if it’s one of those consecrated deals, it might not even be possible to work your fiendish magic on the site, and todays marketplace is all about convenience, right? But where else can a guy with an itch for ghoulish minions find large supplies of the dead?
The next place on the list would be hospital morgues. These places have a number of advantages – the bodies are usually fresh, the conditions sanitary, and there are probably a few dozen bodies available on hand at any given time. In some places, there could be several hundred (though that is probably rare). There are a couple problems, though. Firstly, most morgue drawers lock closed like an old refrigerator door – you’d need to go around opening all the doors to let your minions out. Secondly, and probably more problematic, is that hospitals usually have a lot of personnel and security on hand to stop things like would-be necromancers running in and snatching their dead bodies (well, maybe not precisely that, but close enough). If you’re the black-hearted necromancer type, then maybe you don’t mind staging a bloody heist or some kind of clever theft, but this article presumes you’re more of the warm-hearted philanthropic necromancer which, I feel, ought to be more common.
Okay, so hospitals are good, but not ideal. What is, then? How can you get the stereotypical masses of zombies and skeletons emerging from the earth to do your bidding? Well, you pretty much need to find battlefields or mass graves. These, thankfully, aren’t all that common and this means not every necromancer in every corner of the Earth is going to have unfettered access to such things. Also, you can usually assume bodies that were dumped in mass graves will be in the worst condition possible and the longevity of their usefulness will likely be limited. You can’t have everything, can you?
Now, of course, there’s always trawling for bodies in rivers (optimally near high bridges), robbing funeral homes, or (God forbid) making your own dead bodies, but all of these methods are either obviously cruel and immoral or extremely inefficient. If you plan on committing a grave robbery, at least make sure you get more than one zombie out of the deal. Necromancy, as you no doubt are realizing, is a tough racket. Don’t despair, however – despair is something your enemies ought to feel, as your shambling horde descends upon them in the dead of a moonless night.