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Good - Neutral party with necromancy... help!


Advice


Hey guys, need a little DMing advice here.

I recently let a new player into the group, who has selected to become a neutral cleric. Unfortunately, the player has an affinity for necromancy and selected to have channel negative energy, both of which are valid selections for a neutral aligned character.

My concern is that using animate dead, he can have up to 32HD of undead following him, including his own 8 HD, he literally controls half of the total power in the party (or at least half the hit dice). In the last session, he let slip that he was planning on animating a juvenile dragon that the party took out just before he joined.

Is there a good way of dealing with a party that has a small group of zombies/skeletons following them? Should I scale up my encounters to adjust for these extra "members," and if so how much? Would it be fair/advisable to have good NPCs antagonize the party?

Contributor

Rionus Nailo wrote:

Hey guys, need a little DMing advice here.

I recently let a new player into the group, who has selected to become a neutral cleric. Unfortunately, the player has an affinity for necromancy and selected to have channel negative energy, both of which are valid selections for a neutral aligned character.

My concern is that using animate dead, he can have up to 32HD of undead following him, including his own 8 HD, he literally controls half of the total power in the party (or at least half the hit dice). In the last session, he let slip that he was planning on animating a juvenile dragon that the party took out just before he joined.

Is there a good way of dealing with a party that has a small group of zombies/skeletons following them? Should I scale up my encounters to adjust for these extra "members," and if so how much? Would it be fair/advisable to have good NPCs antagonize the party?

The reasonable way to deal with characters who want to wander around with a parade of undead is to let them deal with social repercussions.

Let's say the party comes to a town. What is the response going to be of the town guards? The town council? The regular citizenry? Having the cleric explain that he's a neutral cleric of some neutral god who's fine and dandy with undead is nice, but as even a LE town council would explain, they're not fine and dandy with undead. They're ugly, unsightly, a public health hazard, bad for tourism, and moreover a risk to safety if the neutral cleric suddenly chokes on a fishbone and his undead run off uncontrolled.

And even in a town that allows undead, there's matters of undead rustling. Does the cleric have the tax stamps and brands to prove that these are legally his undead, or did he just pick them up somewhere, because there's a necromancer in town who's complaining that some of his zombie servants have gone missing.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:


And even in town that allows undead, there's matters of undead rustling. Does the cleric have the tax stamps and brands to prove that these are legally his undead, or did he just pick them up somewhere, because there's a necromancer in town who's complaining that some of his zombie servants have gone missing.

Love it. Stealing it for my DM toolbox. thanks!

Greg

Andoran

The Animate dead spells have the (evil) descriptor. Cast that enough times (up to DM really as to how many times is enough times) and your Neutral days are history. Personally I would allow that schtick, for a time, assuming the player(s) were working hard to keep the things from being a public nuisance and such. However, if it started to get out of hand...well let's just say there are Paladins and Clerics aplenty who would begin to investigate the shenanigans of a necromancer who used their powers so openly...


Band of undead roaming about the countryside...where are all the adventurers and super heroes? While PCs might be cool with it because the undead minions are useful in a fight, other heroes would see it as a desecration. Surely in any setting you play in there are legendary heroes or even just other skilled adventuring groups that would hear about it and go after it.

Kevin Andrew Murphy points out some good options. They're non-aggressive RP options that you could use to highlight the differences of the many different towns/cities. I think you can add in the family members of your undead getting angry that you've got one of theirs as your undead servant. Might be a bit of payback coming the groups way. Good encounter option there.

Best option is probably the social troubles that would come when you're roll'n with undead out in the open. Theres a reason why undead minions aren't a common element in cities of the various published settings. Time to reinforce it.


The spell Animate Undead is not just listed as (evil).
The Skeleton or Zombies Undead themselves are also evil.

Many DM are too forgiving when letting people use this spell. Give the player a warning that this is an evil spell. Using once or twice, might not shift there alignment, but 5 time or more should.

(Many will argue over this, but like i said, sick and tired of players treating alignment as a loophole.)

....................

If caster dies, undead become free willed, and go on a rampage to kill all living animals, including the party members.

If the necromancer does not hide them, there will be social problems. If he does hide them, when there is logistics on were they are, how to get to them, and when or if he can use them in some setting (like the city).

Any Good cleric or paladin (other than the party members) will look at cleric as evil..... if the party is with him, then they will be suspected of being evil as well.

Any non-evil cleric or paladin in the group will have there bosses come down on them, if they find out that thy are hanging out with a Necromancer. After all the paladin is tarnishing his name (and his orders reputation) at the very least being with him, even if he is using the undead for a good reason.


Well as several others have already given good ideas as to dealing with the role-playing elements I’ll try to focus on dealing with the fights.

1 – AoE is great if it’s a lot of little undead so spells like fireball can really shine
2 – there are a number of cleric spells that do extra damage to undead such as searing ray
3 – a neutral cleric in an evil group could have positive channeling
4 – enemies could have a scroll with a higher-level spell like undeath to death handy, particularly if a BBEG is aware of the party and decides to take steps to deal with them.

Keep in mind as you are destroying his undead, the animate dead spell requires a onyx gem worth at least 25 gold per hit die so killing off the undead here and there is likely going to become a steady drain on the clerics resources. This may cause him to rethink always having a hoard of undead on hand.

As for the adjusting encounter levels, over all I’d tend increase the number of enemies and avoid increasing their levels. The number of creatures to add will vary depending on what the group is fighting and how many undead are currently following the party so use your best judgment. With the undead acting as cannon fodder even if you misjudge and make the encounter is a little too tough the party will probably be able to retreat to safety.

Btw if a group of undead is left outside of town for a day or more I’d say there is a fairly good chance reports will make it to the town guard and result in a resident cleric being called to smite them to oblivion.

Keep in mind that while there are a lot of good ideas on this thread don’t be tempted to go overboard as start obliterating his undead all the time. He and his undead army should be allowed to really shine in some combats, just not all the time :)

Finally, there was a thread I read recently discussing using animate dead where someone asks how its used and how to get them to do what you want etc. It was brought up that the undead aren’t very bright and thus commands given to them need to be thought out a little at times or they may not do what you intended. Here's a link.


Used in combat i.e. bad guy falls down you run over touch him and he gets back up on your side and helps you win the fight.

If you then release/destroy him/them at the end of combat so you don't have undead walking around with you I think you could reasonably stay neutral. As by the end of combat your foe's have all been laid to rest

but having undead walking around with you to following your every whim and command yeah you gonna be evil quite quickly.

having an undead dragon follow you around, well lets just say you'd be attacked by pretty much all civilizations who would immediately be hostile to an undead dragon at thier gate.

not to mention any dragons you come across are going to single you out for death first.


Rionus Nailo wrote:

Hey guys, need a little DMing advice here.

I recently let a new player into the group, who has selected to become a neutral cleric. Unfortunately, the player has an affinity for necromancy and selected to have channel negative energy, both of which are valid selections for a neutral aligned character.

My concern is that using animate dead, he can have up to 32HD of undead following him, including his own 8 HD, he literally controls half of the total power in the party (or at least half the hit dice). In the last session, he let slip that he was planning on animating a juvenile dragon that the party took out just before he joined.

Is there a good way of dealing with a party that has a small group of zombies/skeletons following them? Should I scale up my encounters to adjust for these extra "members," and if so how much? Would it be fair/advisable to have good NPCs antagonize the party?

Well he needs an Onyx IIRC that cost 25 gp per HD. Those add up pretty soon. He also needs a place to keep his undead. I will rephrase that. He needs a place to keep them where people won't accidentally find them, and/or kill them. After blowing enough GP that could have been spent on magical items he should come around. I would not scale the encounters, nor would I have good NPC's go after the party until he was discovered. Depending on how well he hid them there may be a percentage roll.

I normally give players just enough rope to hang themselves. If you think it will really be an issue talk to him about it. Onyx gems are probably not easy to find everywhere the party will go so keep that in mind also.


The existence of undead are, more or less, the same as summoned monsters.
Do you bring in more goblins when the wizard casts summon monster 3?

Do you always up the HD of monsters because your wizard often casts fireball?

Those are powers of the class, and he is 'rated for it', its his power attack or fire ball, they just happen to be undead.

disguise works great on undead.
A couple of cloaks, armor or weapons from conquered enemies ,ever wonder what to do with those 12 short swords and 12 leather armors you just "won" by killing the last set of bad guys put them on your undead! It will add to their "illusion".

Prestidigitation works wonders for covering up something like smell and not to mention mass invisibility would as well.

If someone wants to travel the world with 15 fast zombies, I say let them.

I had a Priest of Tempest, back in the day. Tempest was the god of Battle, who allowed undead and either inflict or heal spells (depending on your mood)
My character was Chaotic Neutral (as was the god).
I raised undead out of the host of fallen enemies to fight for me all the time. (was sort of the tenant of the diety to begin with). I did not however, keep them around as a host of followers.

I know however there has been alot of discussion on these boards about undead followers or minions for necromancers, similar to the black guards fiendish servant.

I think trying to conceal undead and have them travel with you as a small army would be fun.


Rionus Nailo wrote:

Hey guys, need a little DMing advice here.

I recently let a new player into the group, who has selected to become a neutral cleric. Unfortunately, the player has an affinity for necromancy and selected to have channel negative energy, both of which are valid selections for a neutral aligned character.

My concern is that using animate dead, he can have up to 32HD of undead following him, including his own 8 HD, he literally controls half of the total power in the party (or at least half the hit dice). In the last session, he let slip that he was planning on animating a juvenile dragon that the party took out just before he joined.

Is there a good way of dealing with a party that has a small group of zombies/skeletons following them? Should I scale up my encounters to adjust for these extra "members," and if so how much? Would it be fair/advisable to have good NPCs antagonize the party?

Get the player and group together and talk this out with the players.

You might be able to talk him out of using the undead.
You might talk out a compromise, using undead just for short duration (animate undead for 1 round per level, drop the gem/gp cost)
He might talk the party into letting him keep the undead, which might shift the whole party toward neutral alignment.
He might talk the paladin, into falling, and having more fun as a neutral or evil fighter :)
You might just put your foot down, as say that using undead is evil. Use them at the risk of your own soul. Let the other party member decide to kick him out or risk corruption.

.............

The real problem is that people on the boards, think that all players should be able to play anything they want.

They should not have to suffer alignment changes because of it.

That Mixed group (good and evil), should not be a problem with the other side, when in reality... mixed group should break apart.... or redeem/corrupt the other half.

There are no easy answers.

............

When i play evil, i love playing evil. But in a party of neutrals, i try to hide that i am evil. When in a part of good, i really really try to hide playing evil, or risk death by hanging by my own party.


Rionus Nailo wrote:
Would it be fair/advisable to have good NPCs antagonize the party?

Oh definitely. Any paladin and goodly cleric will not stand the sight of undead, and should attack on sight. If my paladin encounters the undead, he destroys them. Doesn't matter who made them, and for what intent. Undead are a blight on the world, a perversion and desecration of the once living, and an unquestionable evil. I would also assume the cleric controlling them was evil, and be rather surprised when my smiting attempt fails.

After the knowledge of the party's practice becomes common knowledge, all non-evil NPCs should be hostile or at least unfriendly initially. They should not be let into cities and have bounties on their heads in goodly lands.


Kamelguru wrote:
Rionus Nailo wrote:
Would it be fair/advisable to have good NPCs antagonize the party?

Oh definitely. Any paladin and goodly cleric will not stand the sight of undead, and should attack on sight. If my paladin encounters the undead, he destroys them. Doesn't matter who made them, and for what intent. Undead are a blight on the world, a perversion and desecration of the once living, and an unquestionable evil. I would also assume the cleric controlling them was evil, and be rather surprised when my smiting attempt fails.

After the knowledge of the party's practice becomes common knowledge, all non-evil NPCs should be hostile or at least unfriendly initially. They should not be let into cities and have bounties on their heads in goodly lands.

Ya walking around with undead you created has a stigma not unlike people who fondle alter boys and then walk around with a big sign saying I carry a torch for kids who carry candels.

There is no explaining it away or trying to justify it, its just no cricket and your gonna take a beating if you get caught.

notice I say caught as I like the invisible undead idea, if no one knows your doing it then NPC's won't harass you. I still say your going to pikcup a evil alignment doing it, there is just no "good" way of using undead long term as per the lore/rules


Pendagast wrote:

The existence of undead are, more or less, the same as summoned monsters.

Do you bring in more goblins when the wizard casts summon monster 3?

Undead are nothing like summoned monsters.

A) Summoned monsters are basically capped at HD equal to your own, and it costs a higher level spell slot for higher power monsters. Animated dead are capped at 2x your HD for a 3rd level spell, or 4x your HD for a 2nd level + 3rd level spell.
B) Summoned monsters have a duration of 1 round/level. While this can be increased, it has a cap. Animate dead has unlimited duration. Meaning he can spend his 2 spell slots, rest 8 hours, now he's got full casting capacity and 4x his HD in followers.

Andoran

Go for it!

I had a player in one of my campaigns who played a N elf necromancer. Not only was he openly raising the dead in a party with a NG human fighter, and NG dwarf cleric, and an LG half-orc paladin, but he was working towards his endgame of unlocking the secrets of lichdom.

And it worked (mostly)!

Talk with the player about this first, and make sure he knows the implications of open undead use. Townsfolk are going to freak out, the clergy might hunt him down, necromancers will steal his minions, etc whatever. Let him know if the simple creation of undead will tilt his alignment towards evil.

The player in my campaign (we'll call him Necroelf) got by his undead use by being intelligent and subtle. He didn't bring undead to town unless they were in a sealed barrel or decked out in full plate (and calling them his 'animated constructs').

Necroelf got around the alignment dilemma by balancing the evil act of creating undead with acts of good. A lot of players roleplay Neutral as "morally apathetic", but this was a more dynamic attempt. He would tithe to any good church he came across, give money to townsfolk to help them rebuild after monster (or player character) attacks, and give jobs to the needy (granted, he was running a brothel, but it was church run and all above board).

Necroelf never animated something unless it had already been killed by the party for being evil. When they were done using an evil undead, he would let the cleric and paladin smash it to bits (with a few exceptions, see below).

Balance can be a huge issue. Necroelf had a few gold-plated skeletons that he was fond of, and convinced the party to let him keep. As the party lacked a rogue, they made great trap fodder. They were nice to have in combat, but were not overpowered by any means. Eventually, they all died opening doors and walking down halls.

Later, he was able to rebuke a ghost. The ghost was not very powerful, but had a near-guaranteed attack with intangible touch. It could also do ability score damage, which was murder on some foes. Eventually, Necroelf set the ghost free.

Shortly after that, he managed to animated a stegosaurus. Big creatures like that can massively unbalance a game. It had an attack much greater than the party fighter and did almost as much damage. Its Huge size kept it from following the party everywhere though.

Later, the party defeated their primary villain, a young adult red dragon. After saving up as much onyx as possibly, Necroelf animated that dragon into a zombie. It did more damage than the fighter, and had almost as many attacks (more if you discount the two-weapon fighting). This beast was very overpowered, almost equivalent to another PC. Keeping it around did drain the party's resources a lot (they did not have anyone who could channel negative energy, so healing required a sizable investment in wands and cleric spell slots).

Zombie dragon could also fly very fast for a very long time. We called it "The Dumb Bullet". It was too clumsy for flying combat (fly speed 200 ft., clumsy maneuverability, and a Fly skill check of +0 meant that it couldn't travel less then 100 ft./round without crashing, couldn't make turns less than 45%, etc), but had an overland flight speed of 240 miles/day. Since it didn't take damage from forced march, it could actually travel up to 720 miles/day.

That's the width of the USA (2540 miles) in about three and a half days. That sounds bad, but at that point Necroelf could cast Teleport and travel 1,000 miles twice a day. There just comes a point that the party is done with traveling between places.

Anyway, I've rambled. If you decide to let him go forth and raise the dead:
Make sure he knows the consequences of using undead in the world.
Make sure you know what he can animate/create/rebuke.
Make sure that a player raising the dead won't derail the campaign.
Make sure the rest of the party isn't slighted by the versatile dead.
And MOST IMPORTANTLY
Make sure he knows that if the game become less fun as a result of all this undead shenanigans, you'll pull the plug on it. It's not a penalty or punishment, it's just keeping things fair and fun.

P.S. I never got a chance to sic an angel-backed LG inquisitor on the party (the player eventually retired Necroelf to try out a summoner), but having the party try and figure out how to deal with good-aligned antagonists can be a blast.


Pendagast wrote:
disguise works great on undead.

+1 it works wonders, I love disguising undead. I wouldn't worry about it though, every time you kill one the character loses gold, fair trade really


All this talk of paladins & clerics, but nobody mentions the poor druid? Druids lose their ability to even be druids if they stop worshipping the sanctity of nature & the natural world. That means that any druid of any alignment will not tolerate the existence of undead under any circumstance- after all, even tolerating them could be interpreted as accepting them, and they are a mockery of the natural cycle of life.

Paladins are likely to be a contender in the "I hate undead" club, but they've generally got a stick up their butt about something or another. Druids are gonna be hellish on any necromancer, and that's a hell you've got to deal with from 5 different points on the alignment chart. Good luck. :)


Sean FitzSimon wrote:

All this talk of paladins & clerics, but nobody mentions the poor druid? Druids lose their ability to even be druids if they stop worshipping the sanctity of nature & the natural world. That means that any druid of any alignment will not tolerate the existence of undead under any circumstance- after all, even tolerating them could be interpreted as accepting them, and they are a mockery of the natural cycle of life.

Paladins are likely to be a contender in the "I hate undead" club, but they've generally got a stick up their butt about something or another. Druids are gonna be hellish on any necromancer, and that's a hell you've got to deal with from 5 different points on the alignment chart. Good luck. :)

Wouldn't that mean druids hate most arcane magic? Its entire purpose is just to mess with the natural world. Undead aren't much different then animate object


Shadow_of_death wrote:
Wouldn't that mean druids hate most arcane magic? Its entire purpose is just to mess with the natural world. Undead aren't much different then animate object

Hardly. Arcane magic harnesses the fabric of the universe through force of will, but doesn't necessarily "mess with the natural world." Clerics are gifted magic by the gods, druids gain magic by attuning themselves to the rhythm of the universe, and wizards/sorcerers simply take the power for themselves. All in all, it's the same deal and from the same vague source.

However, animate object is entirely different from animate dead. For starters, animate object imbues an object with fleeting mobility by charging it with raw magical energy. Druids do this sort of thing to plant life to create animate plants, so it's not really a big deal to them.

Animate dead, however, builds on a base concept in DnD: Anything alive, living, and/or capable of being birthed is wired to respond to positive energy. Positive energy, for all intents and purposes, is the energy of life. Negative energy is the opposite and has destructive results on all forms of life. In most instances it can simply be seen as another element, like fire or electricity, until you get down to the fundamentals of magical concept. Animate dead creates a permanent link between the negative energy plane and the corpse, allowing it a semblance of "life." This animated corpse is destroyed by channeling the essence of pure life into it, and can only be healed by affecting it with negative energy.

Undead are the antithesis of life and the natural cycle of the world. It doesn't get much more anti-nature than that.


Personally, I never understood how a skeleton can be automatically be classified as evil when it doesn't even have a brain. Without orders it would probably just stand there like a statue. But ultimately it comes down to the world you are playing in and the willingness of the party to deal with the consequences of having undead around. Some worlds treat undead, or at least unintelligent undead, as neutral, and at least partially tolerated, while most published worlds make even an chicken skeleton evil. If certain undead are viewed as neutral, than npc reaction should vary according to local events and concerns, as well as the type of undead the party is trying to use. A town dealing with a vampire problem may cringe a bit until the party proves their worth, while a town that has never had undead problems in its entire history may simply require a licensing fee. In this scenario, even good churches and heroes probably wouldn't automatically hunt the party down, but would be watchful to make sure they didn't cross the line. If all undead are seen as evil, enforce the evil subtype for the spell thoroughly and completely. In all cases, any undead that inflict energy or level drain would certainly be viewed as evil, but a lich would probably be borderline based on his past deeds and future goals.


All Undead attack life, all life, unless constrained to do some (controlled).
Once the controller dies, the skeleton and zombies then go off attacking all life. Any person, animal, party member it can get its hands on.

........

I am at the point were. If you cast an evil spell, give the player a warning that casting this spell will shift your alignment.

If they go ahead and cast it, they right then and there they slide from Good to neutral, or neutral to evil.

If the cleric is still one step within his alignment, great. Otherwise they loss the ability's.

BUT BUT I DID It for a good cause....

Cool, First chance you get, go to a church and get an atonement spell. Explain why you used the evil spell, and how it was used for good. If the DM agree with you, your alignment is restored, and your back in business.

If the DM feels you did the spell for Personal Gain, because you were to lazy and this was the easy way out, or if you did not destroy the undead and released them; to cause destruction on their own. Well, live with the corruption apon your soul.

......

Think this is two harsh... well i do not. The player was clearly warned before hand. If they Choose to take that risk, it was there option, and what they risked was themselves.

.......

If you want to be neutral, do not cast spells with the Good or Evil notation. Really there are not that many spell.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Oliver McShade wrote:


I am at the point were. If you cast an evil spell, give the player a warning that casting this spell will shift your alignment.

Protection from Evil is a Good spell, so by this logic if a neutral cleric casts Protection from Evil five times then his alignment shifts to Good and he risks losing all of his abilities. Would you warn him about casting Good spells in the same way? What happens if he alternates between Protection from Evil and Animate Dead? Are you going to track his spell use every day? "That's three good spells and two evil spells today. You're starting to feel like a little angel.."

Whilst the PHB does state that the DM is final arbiter of what constitutes playing within alignment, it also states there are no hard and fast rules, that the player should be able to play his character as he wishes and that alignment is just a convenient shorthand to summarize the general attitude of the PC. It's that attitude that should ultimately determine his alignment imho. A spell descriptor isn't going to change anything.

If the character spends years casting solely evil spells then maybe, just maybe, it might be worth having a word with the player and asking if he's willing to change alignments. If you want to intervene earlier than that then maybe servants of his deity, other priests who share the same religion, will come and have a kindly word with him to tone it down. He'll be giving his religion a bad name if his army is too obvious. If the deity write-up lists the God's attitude to undead as hostile then that's a different matter of course; Pharasma will likely cut him off from his spells pretty damn quick if he raises an undead army!


Not 5 times

1 Time,

Protection from evil, is a good spell.
There for if you are good alignment, you can use the spell all you like.

If you are a neutral priest, then you should not be using protection form good. (You are not good after all).

I will be first to admit that neutral cleric need a general Protection spell vs summoning. But since there are none. Well that is the price you pay for being neutral.

............

There is no difference. And yes, a evil cleric using a protection from good spell would shift to neutral alignment after one use. Shift from neutral to good after another use.

............

Give the player a warning that it will shift there alignment. If the player choose to cast the spell, it was there choose.

If the player can give a good explanation why they made that choose for there alignment, then they can restore that alignment with a atonement spell.

.........

You can take the long road to alignment change, with a lot of what if's.

I am tired of the argument, and prefer the short road. Give them the option and Warning. If they hang themselves, that was there option. They can alway choose not to use good or evil spells.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Oliver McShade wrote:
If the player can give a good explanation why they made that choose for there alignment, then they can restore that alignment with a atonement spell.

Hah! By your logic there's absolutely no need for an atonement, if they become neutral for casting an [evil] descriptor spell and want to go back to being good, they simply need to cast a single spell with the [good] descriptor, problem solved.

So, clearly you can animate as many undead as you like, so long as you summon a celestial dire rat each time you do.


Brutesquad07 wrote:
The Animate dead spells have the (evil) descriptor. Cast that enough times (up to DM really as to how many times is enough times) and your Neutral days are history.

That completely voids any possible use of Neutral Necromancy, ever. Perhaps we can think of a real solution?


Necromancers are evil.

The solution is not to have neutral necromancer. A neutral necromancer is like a neutral paladin.


It's probably too late for you at this point, but in my campaigns I've made it clear that, as far as socially acceptable hobbies go, animating the dead is on a par with cannibalism and necrophilia. Even if the practitioner is not evil per se, the majority of civilized society would be horrified by performing indigities on a corpse.

As far as XP goes, I don't use them. But if I did, I would certainly reduce them if the PCs have powerful NPCs traveling with the party.

Contributor

I think the main part of the problem here is the question of whether mindless undead are evil and the related question of what is evil anyway.

I mean, you have a necromancer animate a skeleton. Even if it was the skeleton of a washerwoman who never used a sword a day in her life, that skeleton somehow gets full weapon proficiency and knowledge of how to use it like it just popped out of a Harryhausen film. Then the necromancer dies and the question comes of whether the skeleton just stands there until someone able to command undead gives it an order or if it takes the initiative on its own and goes off to slay the living because it's undead and all undead intrinsically hate life and wish to end it.

Even if you go with the second interpretation, there's a question of whether this burning desire to end life is the same thing as evil. After all, if the skeleton finds a helpless victim, it doesn't go out of its way to frighten them, torture them, call them bad names, or sexually assault them. It likely just efficiently and coldly pokes them with its weapon as many times as it takes to make the hated life go out. After that, there's no dancing on their graves or otherwise desecrating the corpse, looking for holy relics to defile or statues of Iomedae to draw mustaches on. The skeleton just wanders off to find something else living to destroy, even if it's just waiting in a tomb for a century waiting for a tomb scarab to crawl out of a crack in the wall so it can step on it.

Even with this interpretation, it's reasonable to play a neutral necromancer so long as he takes moral responsibility for what it is he unleashes. Yes, the skeleton is evil, but it's currently attacking the evil orcs who are trying to attack the village, and even if something unfortunate happened and the skeleton ran off uncontrolled after the battle that would still accomplish about the same amount of evil as having the orcs still around, and probably less, as the skeleton doesn't care who it kills and will just as happily slaughter orcs as villagers.

Admittedly this is using evil magic to good ends, but then again, that's one of the ways to play neutral.

Saying that simply casting an evil spell makes you start cackling and twirling the mustache you spontaneously sprout when you do this is a bit of silliness that may work in Ravenloft or other Calvinist morality fables, but honestly doesn't fit with any world more nuanced than that.


Oliver McShade wrote:

All Undead attack life, all life, unless constrained to do some (controlled).

Once the controller dies, the skeleton and zombies then go off attacking all life. Any person, animal, party member it can get its hands on.

So do bears, I coulda sworn they were neutral.... good to know I can smite those furry bastards.


hogarth wrote:

It's probably too late for you at this point, but in my campaigns I've made it clear that, as far as socially acceptable hobbies go, animating the dead is on a par with cannibalism and necrophilia. Even if the practitioner is not evil per se, the majority of civilized society would be horrified by performing indigities on a corpse.

+1

Of course, if you're spending a lot of time around evil societies where desecrating the dead for your convenience isn't looked down upon ("You used Grandma to set off traps and take the brunt of attacks? Meh. Cost you a dollar. I never liked her."), some of the social impediment to having an undead army is gone. But I think some spells have the Evil descriptor for a reason, and I agree that using them should endanger your alignment with continued use.

Or, if in your world brutalizing the dead loved ones of other people isn't considered evil, then get rid of the Evil descriptor and the social problems.

I also agree with Hogarth in that using powerful "NPCs" should mean they get their share of the XP, essentially. Down into the bottomless ravening gullet of undead hunger for life! ;) If both the cost of raising and maintaining all these undead, the social stigma and the XP cut aren't enough to discourage use of an undead horde, well, more power to 'em. They obviously know what they want out of their character's life.


Page 250 Bestiary = Skeleton = Alignment NE

"While most skeletons are mindless automatons, they still possess and EVIL cunning imparted to them by their animating force -- a cunning that allows them to wield weapons and wear armor"

Page 288 Bestiary = Zombie = Alignment NE

"Zombies are the animated corpses of dead creatures, FORCED into foul unlife via necromantic magic like animate dead."

"Zombies are unthinking automatons, and can do little more than follow orders. When left unattended, zombies tend to mill about in search of living creatures to slaughter and devour. Zombies attack until destroyed, having no regard for their own safety."

Page 241 Pathfinder PHB = Animate Dead spell

Animate Dead
School necromancy [EVIL]

...........

Evil spell, that created Evil undead. If they are not controlled, they have an Evil cunning that they use to slaughter and devour the living.

..........


Oliver McShade wrote:

Necromancers are evil.

The solution is not to have neutral necromancer. A neutral necromancer is like a neutral paladin.

Raising Orcs to fight for you is markedly more evil than slaughtering them wholesale?


Oliver McShade wrote:

Necromancers are evil.

The solution is not to have neutral necromancer. A neutral necromancer is like a neutral paladin.

This is certainly the default assumption in most worlds, but it is possible for homebrew worlds to vary; I know the one I'm developing does, at least slightly. I don't think it is too harsh to say that its automatically evil, but I do think that whatever the particular worldview for that world is, it needs to be made clear to the player as soon they show that they are going down that road and an opportunity be given to adjust the character if adjustments are required based on that information.

Grand Lodge

Cartigan wrote:
Oliver McShade wrote:

Necromancers are evil.

The solution is not to have neutral necromancer. A neutral necromancer is like a neutral paladin.

Raising Orcs to fight for you is markedly more evil than slaughtering them wholesale?

Obviously...yes. Practical is evil don't ya know.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Remember, too, that only neutral Clerics of Evil deities (or Neutral deities that can channel negative energy) can do this. And a cleric can't cast spells that are of an alignment opposed to his deity's alignment.

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