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"The Priests of Rathma—or necromancers, as outsiders call them—have long remained shrouded in mystery. Deep within the jungles of Kehjistan, they train to preserve the delicate balance between the forces of life and death. Now Sanctuary has need of their unique power, and the Priests of Rathma will answer."

The Priests of Rathma, otherwise referred to as Rathmites, Rathmians,[2] and Speakers of the Dead,[3] are an order of Necromancers who base themselves in the eastern jungles of Sanctuary.


"What do you see?"

- Anonymous(src)


"The protectors of the Balance must stand on the edge of two worlds, accepted by neither, masters of both."



A Necromancer

Of all the practitioners of magic, none are so widely maligned and misunderstood as the Priests of Rathma.[4] It is rare to catch a glimpse of a priest in the midst of their dark affairs.[5]

As with most users of magic, the priests of the cult of Rathma hail from the far Eastern jungles. They reside in a vast underground city located deep within those jungles. Their specific geographical locale is particularly secluded, however, preventing their assimilation into a formal mage clan. But it is this same isolation that allowed them to pursue their distinct kind of arcane science. For it is through the teachings of Rathma, as well as through years of research and physical experimentation, that these men and women have come to understand and hold sacred the delicate balance of life and death and are able to twist the line that borders the two. For although the minions of Hell have long possessed this power, among mortals the knowledge to reanimate and control the dead belongs to these priests alone. It is this practice that has lead outsiders to refer to them as "Necromancers." They truly comprehend the balance of all things, and understand and accept their place in what they refer to as the Great Cycle of Being.[4]


A low ranking Necromancer

Although their art is considered "dark," and the people of the outside world shun the priests who practice these arts, these mysterious cultists never suffered the epidemic of corruption that plagued the ancient Mage Clans.[4] They will accept any spellwork provided it does not cause its user to become corrupted.[2] Pragmatists in the truest sense, they are above temptation. They see death merely as a natural part of life and do not seek to deny its arrival. Their singular knowledge of the unknown allows them to face death without fear. These ideals, coupled with an understanding of the natural balance between Order and Chaos, explain why they have not fallen prey to the influences of evil.[4] However, their serious demeanor and the powers of life and death they manipulate often lead others to suspect them of having more sinister motives.[6]

The Priests of Rathma have often been at odds with the Zakarum church, which has historically used any excuse it could to hunt down Necromancers.[2]

Necromancers do not sleep much. Instead, they sink into a trance that allows their bodies to get the rest they need while their senses remain active.[2]

Ever since the first days of their order, the priests have collected instruments of power from a variety of sources.[7]

Priests of Rathma tend to avoid cities, as the masses seldom take kindly to their presence.[8] They do not seek comforts.[2]



A Necromancer with skeletons

Necromancers are adept at stealth, and are easily able to blend into the shadows.[2] They are capable of utilizing blood magic,[9] in addition to their powers of necromancy.[4] Necromancers rely on a substance called Essence, which can be harvested from beings both living and dead, in addition to the Necromancer's own body. Through this substance, Necromancers are able to summon and command the dead, as well as cast curses upon their enemies. Through Essence, a Necromancer is rarely without power.

Necromancers prefer to strike from a distance, unleashing destruction from afar. The skeletal undead under their command overwhelm enemies before they have a chance to strike, and the horrific curses the Necromancers employ cripple even the most resistant of demons.


A Necromancer with scythe in hand

In physical combat, Necromancers favor the use of unerring scythes. Their scythes are used not to hew crops, but to collect the life force of their foes, and to slice open corpses, powering some of their most horrifying spells. Whether they wield massive curved blades at the end of long poles, or curled, light blades more appropriate for finely harvesting organs, Necromancers are deadly with any scythe. They're also trained in the use of phylacteries, which enhance their power over the dead.[10]


"All that grows must also wither and die. All dies and rots, and will then nourish the living. This is the Great Cycle of Being, and we, the Priests of Rathma, use our dark art to protect it."
D3 Crest Necromancer

A Necromancer's crest

The Priests of Rathma live and die by a simple philosophy: that the eternal struggle between light and darkness is never-ending, and that Sanctuary is threatened by both sides of that war. Only by preserving the Balance and keeping those opposing forces at bay, one can hope to make the world a better place.[10] However, there are certain moral lines the Necromancers refuse to cross.[11]

The priesthood resents any force that would treat humanity as part of a cosmic game. They are willing to ally with the forces of Order, but only to the point of restoring the Balance.[4] The Necromancers' long term goal is to rid Sanctuary of all non-mortal intervention.[7]


A Necromancer

The Necromancers do not see their actions as good or evil, simply obedience in service to the Great Cycle of Being.[12] They view any challenges they face related to the Balance in academic terms.[6] The Necromancers believe that even the slightest imbalance in the Cycle can lead to catastrophe,[2] and strive to use their powers only to serve the Balance, never to upset it. To the priests, the mere presence of the Prime Evils on Sanctuary upset the natural symmetry of the Balance, and as such they find it abhorant.[7]

Trag'Oul is the closest thing the priesthood has to a deity—he is the focal point of the Balance, and it is from him that the Necromancers draw their powers.[13] They believe that it is on Trag'Oul's back that Sanctuary lies.[14] Trag'Oul has not been seen for many years, which carries dire implications, but the priesthood has not lost faith.[15] The priests likewise venerate Rathma, whom they depict as a great writhing serpent.[16]

The priests believe that when one dies, their soul passes into the next plane of existence, where they will fulfill another role for the Balance.[17] They believe that numbers influence the Balance, and that certain numbers will shift it in one way or another.[2]

Training and Organization[]

"I speak now to those who heed a darker call. Those bold enough to cross the line of Sin for deeper knowledge, who'll follow an unquenchable yearning, born of blood and bone...To unlock the forbidden secrets and foulest black rituals, calling forth life from death. To truly embrace this power, you must take it into the world. But you will be shunned, scorned...marked as a living sacrifice to this profane knowledge. You will be a Priest of Rathma. A Necromancer. And you will not confront the darkness alone. We are the Speakers of the Dead, and the Dead have no mercy."

- A Necromancer(src)

Master Necromancer

A Master Necromancer

Many of the priests' strongest spells were written by Deathspeaker Mykan during the early days of the order.[18]

After becoming a member of the priesthood, a Necromancer must forsake any surname they might possess, and any prior affiliation.[2] It takes many years of training to become a priest.[19] When one begins training, they are expected to set emotional connections aside in their quest to uphold the Balance.[17] Necromancers are controlled, calculating individuals.[12] While others might rush headlong into battle, Necromancers are taught to control their emotions in order to better wield their dark magic—lest the powers they wield end up controlling their user instead.[6]

Every Necromancer is taught to choose their own path as to how to best maintain the Balance. Few Necromancers reach the end of their natural lives; most perish in their service to the Balance, such is the dangerous nature of their calling.[2]

The following ranks exist within the priesthood:

  • Deathspeaker (leader of the priests)
  • Master Necromancer
  • Necromancer[20]
  • Apprentice/Acolyte (possibly separate ranks)[21]
  • Initiate (inductee rank)[22]
Elite Necromancer

A fully armored Necromancer

By the edict of Kalan, all priests are to display bones in their armor as symbols of their mastery over death.[23] Newly anointed priests dress in basic clothes; dark clothing that protects as much as thin vellum and light weaponry—whatever they can scrounge from defeated enemies. Adroit Necromancers face more dangerous foes, and thus exercise more care in protecting exposed areas of their bodies with resistant shoulderpads, leather tunics, and shinguards. Elite Priests of Rathma are frightful visages of calcified bone and marrow, covered head to toe in thick armor that’s resistant even to the most terrifying demons.[10]

A tradition exists of Necromancers taking on apprentices,[6] though only a few are chosen to join the priesthood, and fewer still manage to master necromancy.[22] When a priest reaches the rank of Master Necromancer, are honored with a few bones from the skeleton minions that once served Rathma. These artifacts are generally used in the priest's gloves.[24]


"Be ready to cross long distances and difficult terrain. The Balance is seldom disturbed in a series of convenient locations."

- Deathspeaker Mykan(src)

Early History[]


A Necromancer

The culture of the Priests of Rathma stretches back to a time before magic was formalized into strict disciplines. Their culture subsisted in the shadow of the Mage Clans.[4] During the Sin War, Mendeln ul-Diomed[25] was instructed in the art of necromancy by the nephalem Rathma and Trag'Oul, the guardian of Sanctuary. At the end of the conflict he was instructed to travel into the jungles of Kehjistan, which were rife with magical energy (and thus a good place to instruct students). Kalan was instructed to gather followers to preserve the Balance, thereby preventing both angels and demons from having too much sway over humanity.[1] In the years that followed, Kalan named his group the "Priests of Rathma." He began to teach others his skills and impart his understanding of the Balance, while recording said knowledge in the Books of Kalan. The Necropolis was constructed, and once properly trained, each of his followers ventured out on their own, seeking places where the Balance had been disrupted and working to restore it. Each of these students would continue the tradition of finding and taking apprentices.[6]

The priests strove to uphold the Balance, but always feared that one day, it might be lost.[26] The priests spent many years studying the Balance.[27]

There is evidence that the order played a role in the Mage Clan Wars.[28] It is known that after the conflict, the Priests aided the Vizjerei in hiding Bartuc's body away from the sight of Men, as it couldn't be destroyed.[29]

The Coming of the Three[]

Necromancer DI-cncpt

A Necromancer

By the 13th century, the Priests of Rathma had been fighting the servants of the Prime Evils for centuries in their bid to maintain the Balance. The order engaged in much internal debate as to what the extent of their actions should be.[2]

The return of the Prime Evils to Sanctuary disrupted the symmetry of the mortal realm and that of the Balance itself. This event brought the Necromancers out of their isolation to destroy Diablo once and for all, and to rid Sanctuary of non-mortal intervention altogether.[4] Dark forces swelled in both Kehjistan and Scosglen, and the Priests were more stretched out than at any point in their history.[17] One Necromancer notably allied with a group of fellow heroes who were able to defeat the Prime Evils, though at much cost, including the destruction of the Worldstone.[16] This was a potentially disastrous event, as it left Sanctuary open to angelic and demonic intervention.[30] Dark portents were observed after the Worldstone's destruction, and they tried to decipher them. For the Priests, it was clear that a looming disaster was coming, but they couldn't be sure what form it would take.[27] With the Worldstone gone, demons were able to travel further east than they had done so before, coming into conflict with the priests.[31]

The End of Days[]

"Death...has ravaged our world. And the Balance that sustained us...has been lost. We feared this day would come. When the lands are ruined, and the champions of the Light can no longer save those in need. But I will. For I wield the power they cannot. And a new army of the dead shall rise at my command. All who threaten the Balance... beware."

The Necromancers prepare for battle

With the coming of the End of Days, the Balance was threatened.[32] With Sanctuary in need of their unique powers, the priests answered the call to arms.[33]

Not long afterwards, the Priesthood became at odds with Malthael due to his raising of the dead, and consequent disturbance of the Balance.[34] Many of the priests were killed by the Reapers, Deathspeaker Jurdann among them. While the Nephalem was able to defeat Malthael, the priesthood was left leaderless.[27]

The Great Enmity[]

Decades after Malthael's genocide, the Priests of Rathma remained active, yet still feared and despised by the peoples of Sanctuary.[3] During the Great Enmity, the priests infiltrated the Cathedral of Light, disguising themselves as Cathedral priests.[5]

Known Members[]


A Necromancer



The deathspeaker is the leader of the Priests. Aside from Mendeln, known deathspeakers include:

  • Daros (second deathspeaker and successor of Mendeln)
  • Mykan (one of the first deathspeakers)
  • Jurdann (the most recent deathspeaker, deceased)

Master Necromancers[]


A female Necromancer

Other Members[]


This section contains facts and trivia relevant to this article.
  • The Hand of Naz mentions a group called the "Bright Circle," of which the Necromancer Cairo belonged to. It is unclear whether this is a separate group of Necromancers, or an order within the Priests of Rathma itself. The Arreat Summit would indicate the latter, establishing that only the Priesthood possesses humans who can practice necromancy.[4]


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