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Oracle of Bone - animate dead?


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

Sovereign Court

Could we swap out the animate dead spell out of the Oracle of Bone's bonus mystery spell list in favor of something else?

Animate dead seems like a whole bag of unpleasantness for PFS play. First of all it's a permanent spell (which I know ends with the session and cannot carry over to the next session, but seeing as item creation feats and crafting items are forbidden) why allow spells that have a permanent duration for PCs? It would save a lot of time and trouble to just ban permanent spells from PFS altogether.

Second, without starting a whole new alignment debate, it's an evil spell and that in of itself is bound to cause controversy with GMs and players alike. Could we just avoid the entire debate by switching the spell for something else? Maybe a spell from UM or UC, or even a summon spell that summons undead instead of creating them?

I'm sorry if this has been covered elsewhere, but I did do a search on this topic but didn't find anything definitive.

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

There are players who like the spell. It wouldn't be fair to these players to do this while they have advanced in level and the spell always was legal.
On a personal level - my longest ever rule debate in PFS on a table happened when I wrested conrol over some con tolled undead away from an Oracle of Bone and the player felt targeted.

Just have a look at the Undead Lord discussion.

You will have to accept it and deal with it at the table. As GM - don't target undead controlled by a player just because you dislike them.

Sovereign Court

My problem is I'm looking at it from a player's perspective, I get three spells at 6th level: a cure spell (because my character is a positive healer), a spell of my choosing, and animate dead. If I choose not to use animate dead 33% of my 3rd level spells are useless to me, but if I use animate dead I run the risk of upsetting other PCs and possibly being turned evil by the GM. Too me that's a pretty bleak situation. What I'd like is a animate dead to be swapped out of the mysteries' bonus spells and then anyone who's willing to take the gamble with players and DMs could select it on their own.

Also, from a flavor aspect, my oracle worships pharasma and I don't see how I explain my deity giving my character the ability to animate the dead whilst forbidding her own priests from performing the same task. This is of course nothing to do with PFS, in a home game I'm sure it would be an easy task to convince my GM to make the swap, but this is PFS and I just wish I had some options.

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber
Guy Humual wrote:

My problem is I'm looking at it from a player's perspective, I get three spells at 6th level: a cure spell (because my character is a positive healer), a spell of my choosing, and animate dead. If I choose not to use animate dead 33% of my 3rd level spells are useless to me, but if I use animate dead I run the risk of upsetting other PCs and possibly being turned evil by the GM. Too me that's a pretty bleak situation. What I'd like is a animate dead to be swapped out of the mysteries' bonus spells and then anyone who's willing to take the gamble with players and DMs could select it on their own.

Also, from a flavor aspect, my oracle worships pharasma and I don't see how I explain my deity giving my character the ability to animate the dead whilst forbidding her own priests from performing the same task. This is of course nothing to do with PFS, in a home game I'm sure it would be an easy task to convince my GM to make the swap, but this is PFS and I just wish I had some options.

I think there was a blog a while ago in regard to Pathfinder Tales - Heretic of Death that exchanged Animate Dead with another spell for Pharasma worshippers.

Worthwhile to check it out. It would make sense if it applies to Oracles as well - but I would need to find it and read it to know.

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

Here is what you probaly want - Paizo sometimes has done it already before you even could complain - you just need to know about it:

Paizo Blog wrote:


But while I'm on the topic of domains and subdomains, there's something else I want to talk about—Pharasma. Turns out that nonevil goddesses of death sort of wreak havoc on the domain system—especially if they're as stringently anti-undead as Pharasma is. Because pro-undead spells always seem to sneak onto domain spell lists when you start talking about death and souls and stuff. It's easy enough to simply not prepare domain spells that create undead, but it still feels kind of disappointing to me that Pharasmins "miss out" on some domain spell options. For those of you who want a more Pharasma-friendly version of the Death domain and the Souls subdomain... behold!

Pharasma-Friendly Death Domain 3rd-level domain spell: Replace animate dead with speak with dead. 6th-level domain spell: Replace create undead with antilife shell. 8th-level domain spell: Replace create greater undead with symbol of death.

Pharasma-Friendly Souls Subdomain 3rd-level domain spell: Replace animate dead with speak with dead.

Go to Additional Resources - pretty at the bottom. The blog entries from February 2011. This is PFS legal !!

Edit: Good you mentioned you worship Pharasma - as this is Pharasma specific. But it should solve your issue.

Sovereign Court

Thod wrote:

Here is what you probaly want - Paizo sometimes has done it already before you even could complain - you just need to know about it:

Paizo Blog wrote:


But while I'm on the topic of domains and subdomains, there's something else I want to talk about—Pharasma. Turns out that nonevil goddesses of death sort of wreak havoc on the domain system—especially if they're as stringently anti-undead as Pharasma is. Because pro-undead spells always seem to sneak onto domain spell lists when you start talking about death and souls and stuff. It's easy enough to simply not prepare domain spells that create undead, but it still feels kind of disappointing to me that Pharasmins "miss out" on some domain spell options. For those of you who want a more Pharasma-friendly version of the Death domain and the Souls subdomain... behold!

Pharasma-Friendly Death Domain 3rd-level domain spell: Replace animate dead with speak with dead. 6th-level domain spell: Replace create undead with antilife shell. 8th-level domain spell: Replace create greater undead with symbol of death.

Pharasma-Friendly Souls Subdomain 3rd-level domain spell: Replace animate dead with speak with dead.

Go to Additional Resources - pretty at the bottom. The blog entries from February 2011. This is PFS legal !!

Edit: Good you mentioned you worship Pharasma - as this is Pharasma specific. But it should solve your issue.

Thanks! But are you absolutely certain this is PFS legal?

The Exchange ***** Venture-Captain, England—Cambridge aka Wintergreen

Guy Humual wrote:
Thod wrote:

Here is what you probaly want - Paizo sometimes has done it already before you even could complain - you just need to know about it:

Paizo Blog wrote:


t a more Pharasma-friendly version of the Death domain and the Souls subdomain... behold!

Pharasma-Friendly Death Domain 3rd-level domain spell: Replace animate dead with speak with dead. 6th-level domain spell: Replace create undead with antilife shell. 8th-level domain spell: Replace create greater undead with symbol of death.

Pharasma-Friendly Souls Subdomain 3rd-level domain spell: Replace animate dead with speak with dead.

Go to Additional Resources - pretty at the bottom. The blog entries from February 2011. This is PFS legal !!

Edit: Good you mentioned you worship Pharasma - as this is Pharasma specific. But it should solve your issue.

Thanks! But are you absolutely certain this is PFS legal?

It is PFS legal but it only refers to the domain spell not the spell granted by the Bones Mystery so unfortunately it isn't helpful for (or applicable to) the Oracle.

Sovereign Court

David Harrison wrote:


It is PFS legal but it only refers to the domain spell not the spell granted by the Bones Mystery so unfortunately it isn't helpful for (or applicable to) the Oracle.

Drat. Back to square one.

Silver Crusade **

Guy Humual wrote:
David Harrison wrote:


It is PFS legal but it only refers to the domain spell not the spell granted by the Bones Mystery so unfortunately it isn't helpful for (or applicable to) the Oracle.
Drat. Back to square one.

Casting a spell with the evil descriptor is not evil. If players can't handle animate dead, that is their problem. Positive energy *rarely* gets spammed in combat in my experience because it tends to heal enemies, so your undead buddy can lumber around safely. If the enemy is undead, use yours as a trap spotter. Trot him out, see if anything tries to jump him. Undead can be a perfectly fun way to play, and just as valid as the Lawful Good paladin. You can't be so evil you pick up the evil alignment, he can't be so lawful good he can't work with others. Fair is fair.

Liberty's Edge

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:
David Harrison wrote:


It is PFS legal but it only refers to the domain spell not the spell granted by the Bones Mystery so unfortunately it isn't helpful for (or applicable to) the Oracle.
Drat. Back to square one.
Casting a spell with the evil descriptor is not evil. If players can't handle animate dead, that is their problem. Positive energy *rarely* gets spammed in combat in my experience because it tends to heal enemies, so your undead buddy can lumber around safely. If the enemy is undead, use yours as a trap spotter. Trot him out, see if anything tries to jump him. Undead can be a perfectly fun way to play, and just as valid as the Lawful Good paladin. You can't be so evil you pick up the evil alignment, he can't be so lawful good he can't work with others. Fair is fair.

First, casting a spell with the evil descriptor is an evil action actually. It has been called out as such here (though I don't have a link to any particular post).

Secondly, Pharasma, the OP's god, hates undead. That means he's not going to want to go around animating dead.

Personally, if you can't get it changed, I'd look at it as a roleplaying opportunity. You know the spell, you know you can do it. And you know Pharasma hates it. Yet you can still do it. Why? Does that mean she's not the source of your power? Does that mean perhaps there's a side of you that really hates her?

Silver Crusade **

ShadowcatX wrote:
Alexander_Damocles wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:
David Harrison wrote:


It is PFS legal but it only refers to the domain spell not the spell granted by the Bones Mystery so unfortunately it isn't helpful for (or applicable to) the Oracle.
Drat. Back to square one.
Casting a spell with the evil descriptor is not evil. If players can't handle animate dead, that is their problem. Positive energy *rarely* gets spammed in combat in my experience because it tends to heal enemies, so your undead buddy can lumber around safely. If the enemy is undead, use yours as a trap spotter. Trot him out, see if anything tries to jump him. Undead can be a perfectly fun way to play, and just as valid as the Lawful Good paladin. You can't be so evil you pick up the evil alignment, he can't be so lawful good he can't work with others. Fair is fair.

First, casting a spell with the evil descriptor is an evil action actually. It has been called out as such here (though I don't have a link to any particular post).

Secondly, Pharasma, the OP's god, hates undead. That means he's not going to want to go around animating dead.

Personally, if you can't get it changed, I'd look at it as a roleplaying opportunity. You know the spell, you know you can do it. And you know Pharasma hates it. Yet you can still do it. Why? Does that mean she's not the source of your power? Does that mean perhaps there's a side of you that really hates her?

I can't prove a negative, I'd want to see the ruling where evil spells are evil acts and thus not allowed. If evil spells were evil acts, how do we get wands of infernal healing in PFS? Also, as an oracle you gain power from a specific mystery, which is associated with several gods, not just one. It could be that he worships pharasma, but as an oracle he does *not* gain his power directly from her.

Sovereign Court

Actually guys could we not debate that here? This is sort of the thing I'm trying to avoid ;) I have an opinion on the matter, and as a DM I'd have no problem allowing animate dead at the table, but this is the can of worms that I want to avoid.

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber
Guy Humual wrote:
David Harrison wrote:


It is PFS legal but it only refers to the domain spell not the spell granted by the Bones Mystery so unfortunately it isn't helpful for (or applicable to) the Oracle.
Drat. Back to square one.

Sorry getting up your hopes. I haven't played an Oracle yet and when Pharasma was mentioned I thought there is a solution.

Sovereign Court

Thod wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:
David Harrison wrote:


It is PFS legal but it only refers to the domain spell not the spell granted by the Bones Mystery so unfortunately it isn't helpful for (or applicable to) the Oracle.
Drat. Back to square one.
Sorry getting up your hopes. I haven't played an Oracle yet and when Pharasma was mentioned I thought there is a solution.

No, I appreciate the thought, I just wish there a solution for an oracle as I suspect that animate dead may cause some controversy.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

Animate dead causes controversy in a very few instances. The times that you hear about there being problems at the table are outliers, due to personality conflict at the table more than anything else. Most players and GMs want to have fun and don't squabble at the table over 'evil acts' and their distaste for undead. If you want to use animate dead as a PC, go nuts. I have found most of the time it is not used due to the expense rather than due to other factors.

The Exchange *****

I now have a 12th level oracle of bones who used animate dead all the time.
The kicker that VERY FEW PEOPLE are willing to do is pay the 25gp/HD component cost. Trust me... It's hurdle for A LOT OF PEOPLE.

I did spend on average 400-600gp/scenarios for my undead minions.

Expect table and GM variation. Don't fret or panic over it. You do not have to use the spell just because its on your spell list (for free).

JP

Sovereign Court

Using the spell and paying the component cost aren't the big worry at this point. If I have the spell on my spell list I have no reason not to use it, having all my cash in onyx is probably easier then carrying gold 10 000+ gp in cash, the biggest problem in my eyes now (apart from the whole 'raising dead is evil' argument) is how do I justify having the ability as an oracle of Pharasma? Pharasma doesn't like undead.

Shadow Lodge

Are we back to this again? There were threads on all this recently. Here goes.

Pharasma can grant animate dead to her worshipers for the purpose of counterspelling the spell cast by an enemy. It's 1 standard action to cast, so the likelihood of it being used in combat is pretty good. Better to prevent the soul being ripped from the afterlife than to let it be animate and soon after put back.

Spells with evil descriptors are evil acts, though a PFS character can cast them if there are no alignment restrictions. Committing an evil act has its consequences but an evil spell isn't a wontonly evil act. What you do with the undead may be though. So best not to be a jerk to your GM and fellow players.


JP Chapleau wrote:

I now have a 12th level oracle of bones who used animate dead all the time.

The kicker that VERY FEW PEOPLE are willing to do is pay the 25gp/HD component cost. Trust me... It's hurdle for A LOT OF PEOPLE.

I did spend on average 400-600gp/scenarios for my undead minions.

Expect table and GM variation. Don't fret or panic over it. You do not have to use the spell just because its on your spell list (for free).

JP

How has that worked out for you? Oracle of Bones I mean. Honestly oracles seem less capable compared to clerics, than sorcerers do to wizards.

And the Bones mystery seems like it is awful.

Now you have to pay gp every session to animate your undead minions?

Sovereign Court

Nickademus42 wrote:
Are we back to this again? There were threads on all this recently. Here goes.

I hadn't realized threads like this were popping up all over the place. This isn't a good vs evil debate. This is a "please tell me there's an alternate spell list for Pharasma worshiping oracles of bone" or "please give me suggestions as to why my character has this ability when most clerics of pharasma don't" kind of thread.

Nickademus42 wrote:
Pharasma can grant animate dead to her worshipers for the purpose of counterspelling the spell cast by an enemy. It's 1 standard action to cast, so the likelihood of it being used in combat is pretty good. Better to prevent the soul being ripped from the afterlife than to let it be animate and soon after put back.

That seems like a terrible use to me. In my 20 years of gaming I don't think I've ever seen someone use animate dead in combat. NPC villains usually start an encounter with them already animated. I'll give you that I never would have thought of using the spell to counter another, I suppose that it could happen (perhaps it's more common in PFS?) but I seriously can't see myself using it for only that reason. My character will summon the dead. I just need a RPing reason for her to do that.

Nickademus42 wrote:
Spells with evil descriptors are evil acts, though a PFS character can cast them if there are no alignment restrictions. Committing an evil act has its consequences but an evil spell isn't a wontonly evil act. What you do with the undead may be though. So best not to be a jerk to your GM and fellow players.

This is a non issue in this thread. Thanks for the links though :)

Shadow Lodge

Guy Humual wrote:
In my 20 years of gaming I don't think I've ever seen someone use animate dead in combat.

I do it. Raise the minions to attack the BBEG. I've even had a skeleton get the kill shot before. It was humorous.

Guy Humual wrote:
This is a non issue in this thread. Thanks for the links though :)

Some people were starting to go there, so.

Sovereign Court

sunbeam wrote:


How has that worked out for you? Oracle of Bones I mean. Honestly oracles seem less capable compared to clerics, than sorcerers do to wizards.

And the Bones mystery seems like it is awful.

Now you have to pay gp every session to animate your undead minions?

I realize this question wasn't directed at me, and although my character has only just hit 6th level, I have to say my oracle is pretty stompy at times. The Bleeding Wounds Revelation is pretty nice with all those cause light wound spells, but usually we have lots of people to take the front lines in combat. Mostly my character is able to ALWAYS have the bless and bane spells up. My team mates love me for it. Although I don't have channel energy I usually have ample healing. Over all I'd say a oracle is pretty darn useful in PFS, though if I were to start my character from scratch I'd say the knowledge mystery would have been a better choice.

Grand Lodge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Note #1 - Oracles do not worship gods. That is the major thematic difference between clerics and oracles. If a Bones Oracle decides that Animating Dead is the best solution to a problem, then Pharasma can go pound salt. The Oracle doesn't pray to a god for his spells, he just has them. (Not well defined in the rules, we treated as a sorcerer in terms of regaining spells the one time it came up).

Note #2 - I have played a variety of oracles and sorcerers (I prefer high Charisma characters) and I would agree that the sorcerer is closer in power to the wizard than the oracle is to a cleric. I attribute this to the wizard/sorcerer spell list being superior to the cleric/oracle spell list. The spontaneous casters have a limited number of spells known and they gain them slower than the casters who prepare spells. Divine spells do not scale in the same manner as the arcane spells and a big chunk of them are so situational that they are unusable by a spontaneous caster. My PFS Oracle of the Heavens is effective because of awesome display and the level 12 cap.

Sovereign Court

sieylianna wrote:

Note #1 - Oracles do not worship gods. That is the major thematic difference between clerics and oracles. If a Bones Oracle decides that Animating Dead is the best solution to a problem, then Pharasma can go pound salt. The Oracle doesn't pray to a god for his spells, he just has them. (Not well defined in the rules, we treated as a sorcerer in terms of regaining spells the one time it came up).

I assume you mean that they're not as dependent on their deity for spells as a cleric. I'm sure there are oracles that don't worship gods, that aren't at all devout, they certainly don't need to pray to them to get their spells, but my character is quite religious (she's had Pharasma's holy book tattooed across her body) and she'd hate to think of doing something that displeases her deity.

In regards to note #2 I'd have to agree that the divine spell list doesn't feature quite as many spamable spells as the arcane, targeted cure spells are always useful and the buff/debuffing spells are equally useful. The oracle isn't going to be dealing massive amounts of damage, nor are they going to be the most optimal front line fighter, but like the cleric the oracle is a solid support character and teams that have a divine caster are usually far more successful then teams without.

Shadow Lodge *** Star Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

sieylianna wrote:
Note #1 - Oracles do not worship gods. That is the major thematic difference between clerics and oracles. If a Bones Oracle decides that Animating Dead is the best solution to a problem, then Pharasma can go pound salt. The Oracle doesn't pray to a god for his spells, he just has them. (Not well defined in the rules, we treated as a sorcerer in terms of regaining spells the one time it came up).

I think that this is left vague so that we can fill it in. Yes, you could have a background that involved your character worshiping a god. I have a concept for my next Oracle (Ancestors) who worships Milani but whose relationship is that the goddess is revealing her past lives.

You could do a Shaman/Animistic character easily who doesn't get their power from the gods but from the nature spirits.

You can also have fun with it. My current Bone Oracle is the 'Beloved of Zyphus' (they met at an Opera in Oppara). He helps her out by 'accidentally' killing the 17 people between her and a noble title, bringing the brother he killed at the Opera back as a Zombie servant and teaching her Opera in memory of how they met. Eliese wasn't sure how she felt about it at first, kinda having that ewwh gross reaction, but over time, gods tend reach into your soul, finding all the right moves in a warped and twisted ways.

The Exchange *****

sunbeam wrote:

How has that worked out for you? Oracle of Bones I mean. Honestly oracles seem less capable compared to clerics, than sorcerers do to wizards.

And the Bones mystery seems like it is awful.

Now you have to pay gp every session to animate your undead minions?

Naadhira is an awesome character. She is extremely flavorful and one character very few people want to see around them (I can understand). Her power is fine and she does what she needs to do: buff the party so they spread chaos and destruction.

I have her online ON MY WEBSITE. I kept a diary of animated creatures (though I started later). And more than once has a cleric in my party destroyed my "beloved".

I have also played with Kerney's oracle and really like them. They are creepy and fun.

Flavor has really been the name of the game, with Kerney's and my own character.

Since none of the spells you cast persist between adventures, I do have to animate new creatures every adventure and pay for them every time. I like to say that Naadhira sends them to build a mausoleum in the Osiriani desert. She talks of them "for flavor" (still referring to my ghoulfriends or Gradil the morgh). So yes, I have to pay 25hd/lvl to animate the things (learning how to make a zombie or a skeleton quickly is key) and they don't remain from adventure to adventure.

JP

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

JP Chapleau wrote:

Naadhira is an awesome character. She is extremely flavorful and one character very few people want to see around them (I can understand). Her power is fine and she does what she needs to do: buff the party so they spread chaos and destruction.

I have also played with Kerney's oracle and really like them. They are creepy and fun.

Flavor has really been the name of the game, with Kerney's and my own character.
JP

Having played with both JP and Kerney's characters, I can say that they are both fun, from a player perspective. Yes, we ended up at loggerheads on many occasions, but we all know it's just in the game, and that made it fun to play with.

As for power level, I don't think they had any issues, at all.

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