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Create Undead


Rules Questions


Few questions about this spell and create greater undead..

The 15 lvl cleric kills a cave giant, he then casts create undead upon this corpse, he creates a Mummy with the spell.. what would the stat block be?
A simple 8hd large mummy?
A 17 hd large mummy? (9hd for giant/8 form mummy)
something else?


BEGS wrote:
The 15 lvl cleric kills a cave giant, he then casts create undead upon this corpse, he creates a Mummy with the spell.. what would the stat block be?

Wouldn't it just be a Mummy?

Mummy is not a template, like skeleton or zombie.


so the spell is weaker then animate dead?

A much more potent spell than animate dead, this evil spell allows you to create more powerful sorts of undead: ghouls, ghasts, mummies, and mohrgs. The type or types of undead you can create is based on your caster level, as shown on the table below.

Also the stat blocks for ghoul giants retain the original hd of base creature

Ghoul, Cyclops
CE Large Undead
Init +1; Senses Darkvision; Perception +7
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 17, touch 10, flat-footed 16 (+1 Dex, -1 size, +7 natural)
hp 65 (10d8+20)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +9; +2 vs. channel
Defensive Abilities Channel Resistance +2; Immune ability drain, bleeds, death effects, energy drain, exhaustion, fatigue, physical ability damage, disease, mind-affecting, non-lethal damage, paralysis, poison, sleep, stunning, Undead Traits
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee Bite (Ghoul, Cyclops) +12 (1d8+6/x2) and
Claw x2 (Ghoul, Cyclops) +12 x2 (1d8+6/x2)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks Paralysis (1d4+1 rounds, elves are immune) (DC 17)
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 23, Dex 13, Con -, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 14
Base Atk +7; CMB +14; CMD 25
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +3, Climb +11, Fly -1, Perception +7, Stealth +2, Swim +8
Languages Common
SQ Disease (DC 17)

--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Channel Resistance +2 +2 bonus to save vs. Channel Energy.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Disease (DC 17) (Su) Ghoul Fever: Bite-injury; save Fort DC 13; onset 1 day; frequency 1/day; effect 1d3 Con and 1d3 Dex damage; cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Charisma-based. A humanoid who dies of ghoul fever rises as a ghoul at the next midnight. A humanoid
Immune to Ability Drain Immune to ability drain
Immune to Bleeds You are immune to bleeds.
Immune to Death Effects You are immune to death effects.
Immune to Energy Drain Immune to energy drain
Immune to Exhausted You are immune to the exhausted condition.
Immune to Fatigue You are immune to the fatigued condition.
Immune to Physical Ability Damage Immune to ability damage to your physical abilities.
Immunity to Disease You are immune to diseases.
Immunity to Mind-Affecting attacks You are immune to Mind-Affecting attacks.
Immunity to Non-lethal Damage You are immune to Non-Lethal Damage
Immunity to Paralysis You are immune to paralysis.
Immunity to Poison You are immune to poison.
Immunity to Sleep You are immune to sleep effects.
Immunity to Stunning You are immune to being stunned.
Paralysis (1d4+1 rounds, elves are immune) (DC 17) This special attack renders the victim immobile. Paralyzed creatures cannot move, speak, or take any physical actions. The creature is rooted to the spot, frozen and helpless. Paralysis works on the body, and a character can usually resist it with a
Undead Traits Undead are immune to death effects, disease, mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, phantasms, and patterns), paralysis, poison, sleep, stun, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects

Cyclops
NE Large Humanoid (giant)
Init -1; Senses Low-Light Vision; Perception +11
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 15, touch 8, flat-footed 15 (-1 Dex, -1 size, +7 natural)
hp 65 (10d8+20)
Fort +9, Ref +2, Will +4
Defensive Abilities Ferocity
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 21, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 8
Base Atk +7; CMB +13 (+15 Bull Rushing); CMD 22 (24 vs. Bull Rush)
Feats Alertness, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack -2/+4
Skills Fly -3, Intimidate +12, Perception +11, Profession (soothsayer) +10, Sense Motive +5, Stealth -5, Survival +6
Languages Common, Cyclops, Giant
SQ Flash of Insight (1/day)

--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Cleave If you hit a foe, attack an adjacent target at the same attack bonus but take -2 AC.
Ferocity (Ex) Fight without penalty even while disabled or dying.
Flash of Insight (1/day) (Su) Once per day as an immediate action, a cyclops can peer into an occluded visual spectrum of possible futures, gaining insight that allows it to select the exact result of one die roll before the roll is made. This effect can alter an action taken by
Improved Bull Rush Bull Rush at +2 to push back. No attack of opportunity.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Power Attack -2/+4 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.

Kinda makes me think all undeads from the create undead/create greater undead spell should have been a template

Designer

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Create undead doesn't let you make a "ghoul giant," it lets you make a ghoul from the Bestiary. All the creatures in create undead refer to the basic monsters in the Bestiary, not new monsters created after the Core Rulebook was published.


School necromancy [evil]; Level cleric 6, sorcerer/wizard 6
Casting Time 1 hour
Components V, S, M (a clay pot filled with grave dirt and an onyx gem worth at least 50 gp per HD of the undead to be created)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target one corpse
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance no

Does that mean that a corpse of a large,huge or even bigger cant be animated at all or does that mean that it "shapechanges" to a medium size ghoul/ghast/mummy etc?

Designer

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BEGS wrote:
Does that mean that a corpse of a large,huge or even bigger cant be animated at all or does that mean that it "shapechanges" to a medium size ghoul/ghast/mummy etc?

The create undead spell doesn't say. I'd probably have it create an undead out of part of the target corpse's body, meaning you could create multiple undead out of one big corpse with multiple castings of the spell.

Edit: Added quote text and clarified to specifically refer to the create undead spell.


Somewhat related question: Undead Anatomy, templates or no templates? Polymorph usually prohibits them, but the spell lists Skeleton and Zombie as examples, and has a bunch of abilities culled directly from other templates like Lich and Vampire. Seems to be implying they should be allowed, but is against the letter of the rules.


so if this cleric cast animate dead on the giants corpse the stat block would also be a medium sized skeleton/zombie?

or would this be the stat block?

Cyclops
NE Large Undead
Init +4; Senses Darkvision; Perception +8
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 11, touch 9, flat-footed 11 (-1 size, +2 natural)
hp 45 (10d8)
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +7
DR 5/bludgeoning; Immune cold, Undead Traits
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee Claw x2 (Skeleton) +11 x2 (1d6+5/x2)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 21, Dex 10, Con -, Int -, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +7; CMB +13; CMD 23
Feats Improved Initiative
Skills Fly -2, Perception +8, Stealth -4
Languages Common, Cyclops, Giant

--------------------
Special Abilities
--------------------
Damage Reduction (5/bludgeoning) You have Damage Reduction against all except Bludgeoning attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Immunity to Cold You are immune to cold damage.
Undead Traits Undead are immune to death effects, disease, mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, phantasms, and patterns), paralysis, poison, sleep, stun, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects

Might just be herolab that is confusing me :)


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Create undead doesn't let you make a "ghoul giant," it lets you make a ghoul from the Bestiary. All the creatures in create undead refer to the basic monsters in the Bestiary, not new monsters created after the Core Rulebook was published.

Wow, that's incredibly verisimilitude destroying ... the giant goes poof and out pop a bunch of Juju zombies retaining "abilities they had in life" except they never lived ... yeah, no.


Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

thanks SKR!!!

As SKR have said, you create a medium skeleton as found in Bestiary
Skeleton

The part Creating a skeleton is for GM if he want create a new monster, not for PC who use the Animate Dead spell.
So you create a basic skeleton with 4 HP with this spell (the same for zombie).

As SKR said too, in his game he'll probably allow to create multiple skeleton/zombie with a big corpse.


yes, but this also means that the creation of undeads is a really poor option for player characters and very weak compared to summon monster spells.
Yes the undeads lasts forever but they will be next to useless in actual combat.


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SKR was talking about Create Undead, Animate Dead works a little differently.

The template says :

Quote:
Hit Dice: A skeleton drops any HD gained from class levels and changes racial HD to d8s. Creatures without racial HD are treated as if they have 1 racial HD. If the creature has more than 20 Hit Dice, it can't be made into a skeleton by the animate dead spell. A skeleton uses its Cha modifier (instead of its Con modifier) to determine bonus hit points.

Lesser Animate Dead says :

Quote:
This spell functions as animate dead, except you can only create a single Small or Medium skeleton or zombie. You cannot create variant skeletons or zombies with this spell.

It is not iron clad because !A => B does not necessarily mean !B => A ... but the way it's worded it becomes incredibly silly to argue it doesn't in this case though.


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Before someone reads too much into what he said: He was specifically talking about the create undead spell and its application to creating non-templated undead like ghouls and mummies, not the templated undead created by the animate dead spell.

That spell would create the appropriately-sized skeleton or zombie.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Am I allowed to read into his statement about create undead and apply the same logic to Summon Monster / Summon Nature's Ally, such that they can't be used to summon Bestiary 2 elementals?


Pinky's Brain wrote:

SKR was talking about Create Undead, Animate Dead works a little differently.

The template says :

Quote:
Hit Dice: A skeleton drops any HD gained from class levels and changes racial HD to d8s. Creatures without racial HD are treated as if they have 1 racial HD. If the creature has more than 20 Hit Dice, it can't be made into a skeleton by the animate dead spell. A skeleton uses its Cha modifier (instead of its Con modifier) to determine bonus hit points.

Lesser Animate Dead says :

Quote:
This spell functions as animate dead, except you can only create a single Small or Medium skeleton or zombie. You cannot create variant skeletons or zombies with this spell.
It is not iron clad because !A => B does not necessarily mean !B => A ... but the way it's worded it becomes incredibly silly to argue it doesn't in this case though.

This does make animate dead a better spell then create undead...and considering that animate dead is 3rd/4th lvl and create undead is 6th lvl spell that makes very little sense..but if that is what you have to pay for mental stats on your undeads...

Designer

Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:
Somewhat related question: Undead Anatomy, templates or no templates? Polymorph usually prohibits them, but the spell lists Skeleton and Zombie as examples, and has a bunch of abilities culled directly from other templates like Lich and Vampire. Seems to be implying they should be allowed, but is against the letter of the rules.

Considering that undead anatomy specifically limits you to a list of special abilities, I don't think it matters if that ability comes from a template or a base creature. So if you want to make yourself look like a lich or a vampire, have fun.

Designer

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Cheapy wrote:
Am I allowed to read into his statement about create undead and apply the same logic to Summon Monster / Summon Nature's Ally, such that they can't be used to summon Bestiary 2 elementals?

I'm sure that's the intent, otherwise that's just doing an end-around the "we're not adding new monsters to the summon lists because that makes the summoning spells more powerful with each monster book" design decision.


BEGS wrote:
This does make animate dead a better spell then create undead

Up to a point ... in the end the animated dead are usually going to be limited to being some extra DPS or grapplers. The biggest advantage of an intelligent undead servant is magic item activation.


Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Pinky's Brain wrote:
BEGS wrote:
This does make animate dead a better spell then create undead
Up to a point ... in the end the animated dead are usually going to be limited to being some extra DPS or grapplers. The biggest advantage of an intelligent undead servant is magic item activation.

i agree.

And i was too fast and didn't look very well at Animate Dead, so i confuse with Create Undead.


Intelligent undead can alos propagate themselves alot of the time as well. Wight army!!


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Considering that undead anatomy specifically limits you to a list of special abilities, I don't think it matters if that ability comes from a template or a base creature. So if you want to make yourself look like a lich or a vampire, have fun.

Well, it matters mostly because of the polymorph rules. Specifically:

Quote:
Polymorph spells cannot be used to assume the form of a creature with a template or an advanced version of a creature.

Which means there is nothing can give you fiery aura, fiery death, DR 15/bludgeoning and magic, etc. If templates are allowed it also opens up the whole list of humanoids and monstrous humanoids (as the only requirements are undead and "vaguely humanoid"), allowing you to pick the perfect combination of powers (such as a lich version of something with four arms, pounce, or a desired movement type). Sort of makes the difference between the spell being pretty "meh" and really awesome.

Might be worth a FAQ/errata/official statement, at least for the PFS crowd.

Designer

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{Sort of makes the difference between the spell being pretty "meh" and really awesome.}

Yep, which is really why polymorph spells should just give you a list of possible abilities to pick from, allow you to choose a certain number of them, and the rest of the changes are cosmetic. Want to look like a tiger, have a Dex bonus, claw/claw/bite, and pounce? Sure. Want to do the same thing, but look like a bear instead of a tiger, even though bears don't have pounce? Sure. A bear with pounce is pretty cool.

The effects of the spell shouldn't be balanced according to an existing set of creatures, because the game always has room for more creatures and that'll always be changing which animal shape is the best choice for the spell. The spell should be balanced by what things it lets you do all at once, and in that way you don't end up with some polymorph choices being weaker than others (as in "I had to use my spell to blend in with a bunch of horses in the bandit camp, but horses suck in combat so that was kind of a waste").

Doing this also would let you have magic items or class abilities that say, "once per day you can turn into an X, and gain abilities A, B, C, D," even if the real X doesn't have one of those abilities, and those magic items or class abilities could all be balanced against each other: a ring that let you turn into a "tiger" once per day (Large, 3 natural attacks, +2 Dex, pounce) would cost the same as a ring that let you turn into a "horse" once per day (Large, 3 natural attacks, +2 Str, trample).

Many of the 3E problems stem from the concept of "I have to build monsters the same way I build PCs, and conversely if a PC turns into a monster it should have all the abilities of that monster." It doesn't have to work that way. Just because a PC turns into a tiger with a low-level spell doesn't mean the PC tiger has to have Large, low-light vision, scent, +3 natural armor, claw/claw/bite, pounce, rake, +4 to Acrobatics, +4 to Stealth (+8 in tall grass).

A low-level polymorph spell could just make you look like the animal, but your size doesn't change; you would get 3 natural attacks, and that's it; you'd look like a size-appropriate version of the creature, and would be able to "fake" being one, but you wouldn't be identical to the creature. A more powerful spell could increase the number of abilities you'd get. A level 1 "I'm a tiger" spell makes a pretty crappy tiger... but it's still cooler than not being a tiger at all.

And higher-level spells probably would give a number that's higher than the number the actual animal had, but that's okay because you'd just select additional cool powers like "even more natural armor" and "I get grab with my claws" and "I get swallow whole with my bite" and "my Str bonus is even higher," and that just means that you'd be a badass "animal" that has cooler abilities than the normal version of the animal, because you're a badass and you're not a normal version of the animal."

And this would get rid of the whole "you can't become a creature with a template" limitation. Currently, because a tiger is Large, you can't turn into a tiger until beast shape II (spell level 4), even though in theory you could turn into a "tiger with the young creature simple template" which would be Medium. Using the above method, you could turn into a Medium "tiger" at level one. Heck, a Small gnome could even become a Small "tiger" with a level 1 spell; she'd be a weak "tiger" compared to real tigers and wouldn't have most of the abilities of a tiger (maybe she'd only have 1 natural attack, no pounce, no rake, no ability score bonuses, no natural armor), but she'd at least be able to look like a tiger for the purpose of Disguise checks. Like how disguise self gives you the illusory guise of an "orc" but doesn't give you any different abilitise, and how alter self can physically morph you into the shape of an "orc" but can't give you the orc's ferocity ability.

In other words, casting a 9th-level beast shape IX spell to become a "TIGER" had better well make me a lot more badass than the 4th-level beast shape IV spell used to become a "tiger"; I don't care if a real tiger is normally CR 4... if you're using a 9th-level spell to become a "TIGER," for it to be worth it you had better become the kind of "TIGER" that jumps over city walls, kills an elephant with one hit, and can wrestle an iron golem. Because it's a 9th-level spell and you're not a real tiger—you're a "TIGER."


Zardnaar wrote:
Intelligent undead can alos propagate themselves alot of the time as well. Wight army!!

That way lies madness ...

Really the whole chaining command thing is broken, both for players and for the world ... vampires should have taken over the world by now. It really needs some houserules, for instance :

- Commanded/dominated creature lose any magical command they have over other creatures, those follow their last commands to the best of their abilities.

- A creature with the spawn ability can only command spawn up to 4x his own HD, any spawn created in excess of this limit whether by him or his progeny is born free willed.

You can still get infestations, but you won't have some apex predator with absolute discipline in his army sitting on top. Also there is a reason for a Vampire to run a tight ship and have a small entourage, they aren't looking for the extra free willed competition.


Sean, I really like that take on the polymorph spells!

I wish they had been printed that way; that would have made them far easier to use (eliminating the necessity of looking through the Bestiary to find creatures with the abilities you want), and more useful in addition (by allowing the combination you want even if no creatures exist with that combination).

Is there any chance you could put that functionality into errata? Or would it be too much of a change for anything sooner than a theoretical Pathfinder v2?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Are, I believe the Beastmorph Alchemist archetype actually works that way. So I think it's in the game already :) It's pretty nifty in that you can just choose the abilities from the spells you want, as far as I can tell.


Yes, the beastmorph alchemist is pretty cool. But I want druids to be the bad-ass shapechangers :)


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Are wrote:
Is there any chance you could put that functionality into errata? Or would it be too much of a change for anything sooner than a theoretical Pathfinder v2?

I've said it before, Pathfinder really needs an unearthed arcana type book ...


The problem with animated dead and why it seems it a lower is because the cleric has to give them commands. The other those greater undead are not mindless, making them more powerful. I guess a Gm giving command to zombie could make it a standard action or swift action as it is with some magical items. With other undead cleric would not have to do that.

I will get back to you on your cyclops template I am trying to figure out the natural armor bonus because they are listed to way in published mats. see my thread http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2oza6?Zombies-and-Skeletons-oh-my

but you could make a skeleton or zombie cyclops with animated dead, your creature looks correct, you can also make fast zombie and burning skeletons also with animated dead. The rules are in the monster book.


Back to the original topic at hand:

The Undead Revisited book presents rules for creating a number of additional undead with the create undead and create greater undead spells; mostly via casting another spell in combination with the undead-creation spell.

One could certainly expand that functionality to include other undead creatures, like the giant ghoul mentioned above.


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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Good Stuff

Okay, I'll stop derailing after this.

But seriously, trap anyone who opposes this in a closest and rewrite the polymorph rules along these lines. Pathfinder did a lot to stop the "dumpster diving" aspect of polymorph, and this would finally kill it for good. Getting an "official" word on undead anatomy is way less important that being able to wildshape into a bear because bears are awesome, rather than always picking cats or dinosaurs because they are so much stronger.


KainPen wrote:
I guess a Gm giving command to zombie could make it a standard action or swift action as it is with some magical items.

He could, but it would be a houserule (speaking is a free action).


Putting in my vote for official errata to make shapechange abilities of all kinds work as SKR just laid out.

Designer

Are wrote:
Is there any chance you could put that functionality into errata?

Doubtful. Erik doesn't like sweeping changes like that added to the game via errata (there's a difference between "this doesn't work, we should fix it," and "this works but could work so much better, let's fix it"). But maybe I'll have the opportunity to write something like that for a future book.

Designer

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Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:
But seriously, trap anyone who opposes this in a closest and rewrite the polymorph rules along these lines. Pathfinder did a lot to stop the "dumpster diving" aspect of polymorph, and this would finally kill it for good. Getting an "official" word on undead anatomy is way less important that being able to wildshape into a bear because bears are awesome, rather than always picking cats or dinosaurs because they are so much stronger.

Hear hear. :)

By the way, the idea that animal companions have a set of base statistics and you level them up as you level, instead of swapping out your companion entirely when your level qualifies you for a better animal type? My idea. Because having a bear companion at level 1 should be cool and playable, as should having an eagle companion at level 20. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My group always liked that change.

Weren't there rough plans for having the summoner have the same type of model for their Eidolons? It's always cool to learn about the classes before they became what they are today!


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Are wrote:
Is there any chance you could put that functionality into errata?
Doubtful. Erik doesn't like sweeping changes like that added to the game via errata (there's a difference between "this doesn't work, we should fix it," and "this works but could work so much better, let's fix it"). But maybe I'll have the opportunity to write something like that for a future book.

Dragons, undead, and evil outsiders everywhere appreciate that you guys were willing to get Erik to let you make an exception to this rule for paladin smite damage!


Cheapy wrote:
My group always liked that change.

Same here. I hated switching companions every few levels because the previous one became non-viable (or not switching, and having it killed because of non-viability). SKR, thanks for one of my favorite Pathfinder changes. Yay for allowing alternate flavor while the mechanics stay close enough to work!

Wait, shoot, I said I wasn't going to derail anymore. Um... I should say I support both "more templated undead" and "expanded summon/animate lists in bestiaries." Templates are great for allowing you to create an interesting undead out of that ogre you just killed or whatever, while expanding the lists of available options allows interesting options and choice (I know this has been avoided to avoid making the spells too powerful, but at the rate Paizo publishes Bestiaries it shouldn't become a serious bloat problem for many years).


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
By the way, the idea that animal companions have a set of base statistics and you level them up as you level, instead of swapping out your companion entirely when your level qualifies you for a better animal type? My idea. Because having a bear companion at level 1 should be cool and playable, as should having an eagle companion at level 20. ;)

Well this is awkward ... sorry I can't let this slide. I have no problem with mistakes being made in a system, I liked 3e well enough ... but if you can't recognize how completely FUBAR the new animal companion system is you can't hope to ever substantially improve on 3e. While the idea is sound, the bear is not cool and playable.

The problems with the animal companion system are these :

First of all the stat block is made "realistic" for the size and animal instead of appropriate for the level ... then ON TOP of that the bonuses from the level upgrade are ALSO dependent on the size ... then ON top of that there is absolutely no accommodation made for the actual threat of an animal companion.

In 3e you could have huge animals sharing a tire with large ones because their attack patterns were less useful. In PF you don't even have huge animal companions, in theory it would be possible to compensate with other abilities and more strength, but you don't do any of that.

So now we arrive at the current situation in PF where you seriously can have one druid running around with a land based medium animal companion with a single attack and 12 base strength and another equal level druid with a land based large animal companion with 5 attacks on a pounce and 21 base strength.

The animal companion system in PF is easily the worst change Paizo made from 3e ...

PS. you actually made bears in general completely uncool in PF, as actual animals, as animal companions and as summons ... there is nothing cool left about them. Cats, now those you really seem to like ...

Designer

Well, it was my idea, I suggested it to Jason. If you don't like how he implemented the idea, Jason's in Italy right now, go demand answers. ;)


Looking forward to "Utimate Alternatives" book ;) Stealth rules, Polymorph rules, more words of power and archtypes ect.


(I didn't realise this thread got derailed away from Create Undead until now.)

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Yep, which is really why polymorph spells should just give you a list of possible abilities to pick from, allow you to choose a certain number of them, and the rest of the changes are cosmetic.

Obviously there are people who agree with you, since that's how the Words of Power polymorph spells in the Advanced Player's Guide (Altered Form, Bestial Form, Monstrous Form) work, not to mention the metamorphosis powers in Dreamscarred Press's Psionics Unleashed. Unfortunately, neither one worked out very well (in my opinion).

So what was the problem? They both tried to gloss over the issue of cosmetic changes, but cosmetic changes matter. They matter in two ways:

  • There are important aspects of a polymorph form that exist outside of a stat block. For instance, suppose Dave the Druid wants to turn into a snake using the wordspell Bestial Form, so he picks a bite attack, the grab ability and a +4 bonus to natural armor as his three abilities, and every other change is "cosmetic". Does that mean Dave has legs? Can he be tripped? Does he have arms? If he doesn't have arms, can he still hold objects like a human can? Can he wrap himself around a tree branch? If he really truly has all the abilities of a human when he's in snake form (including walking on two legs, holding things in two arms, etc.), then how can he possibly convince anyone he's a snake? And if he doesn't have all the abilities of a human, how are those cosmetic changes?
  • Polymorph effects that don't encourage you to take multiple ("poly-") forms ("-morph") are lame. (Obviously this is a matter of opinion.) In an ideal world, I would want to see a druid turning into a bear to fight on land, a shark to fight in the sea, and a giant eagle to fight in the air; I don't really want to see a druid turning into a bear on land, an water-breathing, super-swimming bear in the sea, and a helium-powered, super-flying bear in the air.* Even moreso, I don't want to see a wizard turning into an I-look-exactly-the-same-as-I-usually-do-except-I-have-a-natural-armor-bonus -and-flight-and-a-better-Con-score; if the spell Polymorph doesn't encourage a wizard to turn into a unicorn or a dragon or a giant ape, that's a step backwards, IMO.

    Frankly, I think Pathfinder's current polymorph rules do a pretty good job of walking the fine line between saying "yes, you really look and act like a bear when you turn into a bear" and "no, you can't grant free wishes if you turn into a genie".

    *The only place I want to hear the words "bear in the air" is in the song "Convoy", thank you very much.

  • Designer

    hogarth wrote:
    In an ideal world, I would want to see a druid turning into a bear to fight on land, a shark to fight in the sea, and a giant eagle to fight in the air; I don't really want to see a druid turning into a bear on land, an water-breathing, super-swimming bear in the sea, and a helium-powered, super-flying bear in the air.*

    Don't let the special effects and animal trainer budgets of 80s movies and TV shows limit what your druid character should be able to do. If a swimming druid needs to turn into a bearshark, she should be able to turn into a bearshark. If she's 18th level and needs to become ubershark that's better than any shark in the ocean, she should be able to do so.

    hogarth wrote:
    Even moreso, I don't want to see a wizard turning into an I-look-exactly-the-same-as-I-usually-do-except-I-have-a-natural-armor-bonus -and-flight-and-a-better-Con-score

    Of course, because that would be lame. But don't take "Sean's one-paragraph rant about how polymorph should work" as "exactly how many words we're ever going to devote to improving polymorph effects in the game, ever." Currently, the game devotes over 700 words to describing the polymorph subschool; I'm sure fully detailing my suggested system could fill that much space and prevent the "wizard with thick skin" problem. In any case, a wizard using polymorph to gain flight should definitely have wings of some kind... if your physical shape isn't changing when you poly-morph, your game stats shouldn't be changing, either.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Was that partially the reason for the translucent outline of the synthesist?

    Designer

    I don't think so, I think that was more of a "we want your opponents to know you're a humanoid inside a funny suit instead of actually being a magical monster so they know they can still hit you with humanoid-affecting spells."

    In the same way that the summoner and eidolon have big glowing matching runes so you know, "aha, that's an eidolon, if we take out the summoner then the eidolon goes away."


    I would say that you could create a giant mummy just as "Animate Dead" can create a giant skeleton with the "how to" rules from the skeleton entry in the Bestiary applied.

    Just keep in mind that Create Undead does not give the caster control over the new undead. That has to be established, and maintained, by separate means. Best be snappy about it since the new mummy might not be very happy with the caster.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Ah! That does make sense. My assumption was that it was about making sure people knew that it wasn't some random horror that did act X, but was actually a humanoid. I guess those reasons are pretty close though. I recall a lot of people wondering about that, so thanks.


    So essentially "Create Undead" is a useless spell that should never under any circumstances be used. As at CL 11 you can only raise Ghouls which are CR 1 creatures, which with only 13 HP (they don't even have DR) would be destroyed in 1 hit in any CR appropriate encounter for the party, thereby wasting your 100 GP investment vs. at CL 8 my party killed a few cyclops and I animated them into bloody skeletons which are CR 6 with the template, they have a nice juicy 85 HP (10HD +2 per HD from charisma and +2 per HD from casting near an altar with a desecrate spell), DR 5/Bludgeoning, fast healing 5, and unless destroyed by holy forces (unlikely in my campaign) they come back to unlife in 1 hour if destroyed, meaning that my investment of 500 GP is never wasted. Even if you rule that 5 Ghouls could be raised from the corpse of 1 Cyclops (10 HD per cyclops/2 HD per Ghoul) which would technically make them CR 5.5 altogether and also cost 500 GP, but as we all know it is always much easier to kill many of a very weak thing than it is to kill only 1 of a much stronger thing. And even if the Ghouls were able to manage to make a passable threat to your enemies, many of them would be destroyed every encounter creating a never ending money sink.

    As far as ease of control goes, it is much, much easier to control a mindless undead, you give them a command and they do it, plain and simple, if you have an evil GM they may force you to specify your exact wording, and punish you if the exact wording results in something you don't want, but then you just have to make sure your commands are clear and concise. Giving such a command is a free action as all it requires is speech.

    Intelligent undead are a problem from day 1, first you have to either cast the command undead spell or use the command undead feat to bring them under your control. If you use the command undead spell you will be constantly rolling opposed charisma checks to get them to so much as shuffle their feet, ability checks are generally considered to be standard actions. Essentially in order for you to get them to be effective on a battle field you will be arguing with them every round of battle instead of casting buffs, debuffs, and engaging in battle yourself. Using the feat, the undead gets a save to throw off its bonds of slavery every day, and if your GM is evil they will choose the worst opportunity for this save to be made (like in your sleep, or in the middle of a challenging combat) after which the undead will almost certainly try to kill you (you specifically, they will probably ignore your party unless they get in the way)

    All of this so they can have they ability to use magic items, but why in the world would you equip what essentially amounts to cannon fodder with extremely expensive equipment? If they had any amount of UMD or spellcasting ability, I could see this as a worthy investment and hand them a wand, but otherwise, it is much better to keep the magic items in the hands of the PCs. I would instead invest a much smaller amount of money in equipping my skeleton cyclops with a Mwk Breastplate and a Mwk Greataxe and calling it a day.

    About the only way this spell makes sense is that the intelligent undead can technically gain class levels, but even this is shaky as they would unlikely be spending much energy on improving themselves while chaffing under your commands. Even if you got a friendly GM to say sure, lets train those Ghouls up a bit, with your party being at 11th level it will take a long time for that Ghoul to be a formidable threat, and will likely die in combat long before that time, unless you decide to keep it in the back of combat until it is ready, I suppose you would avoid all those pesky opposed charisma checks for a while.

    To put simply this allegedly superior spell isn't superior at all, and it makes little sense mechanically speaking or Roleplaying-wise. Mechanically a 6th level spell should be an improvement on a 3rd level spell, if a comparable one exists, and in the case of create dead vs animate dead, create dead clearly loses. Roleplaying-wise, it seems that undead created via animate dead retain much more of their past-life abilities than one created via create dead, even after stripping a whole bunch of abilities off via the template a few things remain for your skeleton, such as its size, strength, dexterity (gets a small boost for sloughing off all those extra pounds), its weapon and armor proficiencies, its HD, its general anatomy, its movement speeds (including dig, climb, swim, and in some cases fly), it even keeps a few special qualities if they improve melee or ranged attacks. While if you cast create undead on a creature such as an Ancient Red Dragon and decide to create a ghoul out of it, you end up with the colossal carcass either transforming into a medium sized humanoid, or splitting into several medium sized humanoids, losing all of its natural attacks, losing its fly speed, losing all of its spellcasting ability, getting new ability scores that have absolutely no relation to its original ability scores, etc, etc, etc. At best the only thing that "might" remain from the creature's lifetime is its memories, but if you really want to interrogate the dead for information they might know there is another 3rd level spell, Speak with Dead, that is much more effective. I really don't know what the author of this spell or perhaps the author of the monster entries was thinking, in order for this to be a good spell casting option at all this spell should have either raised intelligent undead more on par with the caster's level, ghouls at level 11 are just worthless, or the monster entries should have been templates similar to the skeleton and zombie entries allowing the players to create powerful undead allies, a ghoulish cyclops might actually be fun to have in the party and worth the pains of controlling it, while a plain old ghoul is just a nuisance and a hulking bloody skeleton standing as a silent sentinel over the party as they sleep is really kinda creepy, even if it is an amazing combatant.

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