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Animate Dead Questions


Rules Questions


Pathfinder Campaign Setting Subscriber

I like the ability of a player to create undead, but I'm finding a very small amount of guidelines for it.

Is there any place I can find more details of how it works? Specifically, I'm curious about things like how you make a fast zombie or other variants in place of a normal one, whether size HD count against the total you can control, and other things like that.

I'd love to employ undead on the player's side in a game, but I want to know what's been written before I sit down and come up with rules on my own.


Ill gladly offer what Wisdom i own.
But first: One of my players is a Agend of the Grave Undead-Lord Cleric. Right now he has 5 lvl5 Zombies with bardiches and a lvl 6 Corpse Companion. Having so much raw meatshield and brawn in the party makes most encounters fairly simpel (if you figure out how to transport them without attracting EVERY paladin in the same hemisphere.)

First: There are two major spells Animate Dead and Create Undead

Animate Dead: Only skelletons and Zombies. The raised follow you automatically. You can controll a number of HD four times your Casterlevel. As a Zombie gains Bonus HD I would rule that those count towards the limit just like size HD do (otherwiseyou could just raise an equal amount of lvl 5 Giants who are far more powerfull instead of lvl 5 humans). With Animate Dead you can create variant Zombies and skelletons like a plague bearer. The Hit die of variant Undead count double towards your limit. So a medium plague bearer Zombie from a lvl 5 humanoid would count as 12 HD towards your limit
Variants for skelletons. and Zombiesare listed at the bottom. Carefull with self replicating undead though those are a b#@~+ in the Hands of players.

Create undead: Pretty much any Form of Undead Horror. can be made if your caster level is high enough. The created undead are NOT under your controll. You may however attempt to controll them via the Command undead channeling Feat.

You will need to adjust your encounters though. A standart campain path can be incredibly easy with quickly healed and replenished undead at ones disposal.
As guidelines: Splash damage is your friend. Flying enemies are your friend. Stronger necromancers that just snatch away the undead and steal them are your friend. Antimagic zones are your friend. and there is nothing more scary than a LG Party of Npcs that Hunt the Pcs for their evil ways containing of a Paladin with the Leadership Feat. An Inquisitor with the Leadership feat. Two Clerics with the leadership feat. And a Wizzard who is great with Scrying and Evocations.

Also: Creating undead is ALWAYS evil. There is no "good cause" to it. Make the undead creepy. and Occasionally show minimal signs of willfullness or odd behaviour. This will unsettle your players and make them carefull with the power they wield. A Zombie who without beeing ordered to makes a few steps towards a sleeping PC can be crazy scary.


AdamMeyers wrote:
Specifically, I'm curious about things like how you make a fast zombie or other variants in place of a normal one, whether size HD count against the total you can control, and other things like that.

Works like this.

Upon casting, you can animate only CLx2 HD of undead (CLx4 if Desecrating, which you should -always- do when animating undead).

Templated undead count as twice as many hit dice as the regular kind at the moment of casting.

So, if you're a 5th level cleric, you could (assuming Desecrate):
- Animate a 20 HD skeleton or zombie (How the hell did you get your hands on that corpse?)
- Animate a 10 HD bloody skeleton / fast zombie / other templated undead

After casting, the templated undead counts only as as many HD as it actually has for purposes of controlling it.

In other words, templated undead are better, and more expensive to animate. However, you can't add templates on corpses that are more than twice your level in HD to animate, whereas you -can- animate corpses far beyond that in HD.


The only templated undead which are explicitly able to be created by Animate Dead are fast zombies, plague zombies, bloody skeletons, and burning skeletons. These four all note in their bestiary and PRD entries that they can be created this way. (Fast zombies also require Haste or Remove Paralysis to be cast during their creation, and plague zombies require Contagion.) The other zombie and skeleton templates do not have such notes and as such cannot be created with Animate Dead by default; for the most part, it is up to an individual DM to determine how they are created.

The only nonevil way I know of to create undead is via an oracle with the Juju mystery. Developers have stated that they are not keen on nonevil undead at all and recommend against it being allowed to players, but have not issued an errata or clarification against it either.


Benly wrote:
The only nonevil way I know of to create undead is via an oracle with the Juju mystery.

Creating a Simulacrum of an Undead is also a (rather expensive) option. The resulting creature is still Evil, but the spell isn't.

Osirion

One thing to be very cognizant of is that when you animate a corpse via Animate Dead, you ONLY get a 1hd skelly. So even if Bill the Exalted lvl 20 Paladin falls in combat, as a human when you animate him, he loses all his class levels and is a 1hd skelly. Same with zambies. No class levels.


Bomanz wrote:
One thing to be very cognizant of is that when you animate a corpse via Animate Dead, you ONLY get a 1hd skelly. So even if Bill the Exalted lvl 20 Paladin falls in combat, as a human when you animate him, he loses all his class levels and is a 1hd skelly. Same with zambies. No class levels.

To be clear on the first point, "you only get a 1HD skeleton" is only true of races that have only one HD. In any case, you get a skeleton without class levels, but (for example) a stone giant cleric will still animate as a perfectly serviceable stone giant skeleton.

Osirion

Benly wrote:
Bomanz wrote:
One thing to be very cognizant of is that when you animate a corpse via Animate Dead, you ONLY get a 1hd skelly. So even if Bill the Exalted lvl 20 Paladin falls in combat, as a human when you animate him, he loses all his class levels and is a 1hd skelly. Same with zambies. No class levels.
To be clear on the first point, "you only get a 1HD skeleton" is only true of races that have only one HD. In any case, you get a skeleton without class levels, but (for example) a stone giant cleric will still animate as a perfectly serviceable stone giant skeleton.

Yes. The point I was trying to reiterate was that the corpse loses class levels. Most of the campaigns I am in involve significantly more humans than anything else.

Go for big monsters.


reread the Hit die for skelletons. I was shocked to see that i got it so wrong. The Class HD actually completely disappear.


Benly wrote:
The only nonevil way I know of to create undead is via an oracle with the Juju mystery.

From dirge bard archetype:

Dance of the Dead (Su): At 10th level, a dirge bard can use his bardic performance to cause dead bones or bodies to rise up and move or fight at his command. This ability functions like animate dead, but the created skeletons or zombies remain fully animate only as long as the dirge bard continues the performance. Once it stops, any created undead collapse into carrion. Bodies or bones cannot be animated more than once using this ability. Unlike animate dead, dance of the dead requires no components and does not have the evil descriptor. This performance replaces jack-of-all-trades.


bards dont count. They are cheating anyways.


Cornielius wrote:
Benly wrote:
The only nonevil way I know of to create undead is via an oracle with the Juju mystery.

From dirge bard archetype:

Dance of the Dead (Su): At 10th level, a dirge bard can use his bardic performance to cause dead bones or bodies to rise up and move or fight at his command. This ability functions like animate dead, but the created skeletons or zombies remain fully animate only as long as the dirge bard continues the performance. Once it stops, any created undead collapse into carrion. Bodies or bones cannot be animated more than once using this ability. Unlike animate dead, dance of the dead requires no components and does not have the evil descriptor. This performance replaces jack-of-all-trades.

Unfortunately, I'm not really sure I'd count this - in practical terms, it's more like a limited summon than it is like Animate Dead, since it only lasts as long as your bardic music does. Skeleton Summoner also gets a skeleton under your control for a short duration without an evil descriptor, but I don't really count it as "creating undead", if you know what I mean.

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