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Brewer's Guide to Undeath - A Necromancer's Handbook


Advice

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I've got a new mini-guide for those casters that are wanting to have some undead minions.

The Guide: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5kvBvq2DEHjRWFhSWc1ZzAzaDg/edit


Oh, by the way, this one is starting out a bit more rough-draft than my other guides; I did a lot less proof-reading and verification on it.

If anyone sees any improvements, clarifications, or rules issues, please bring them up.

Anyway, time to start going back and getting the other guides back up to date...


Quote:
While spending a standard action to heal your party 5d6 as a 10th level character is a waste of a turn, that same character spending the action to heal his minions 5d6 and hurt all the enemies for 5d6 is actually making a difference.

You cannot both heal and harm with a single action. You must declare whether you are targeting all living creatures within range or all undead creatures within range when using this ability. The phrasing is very subtle, but it's there.

Quote:

Stay away from this feat - it's a trap. It doesn't increase your

bucket sizes for Animated or Controlled dead.

Wow, I've never noticed this before. What a useless feat :-(

Quote:
Think about that for a minute: Kael, a 7th level character, has minions that view a CR+2 encounter as being levelappropriate

Not to understate the power of the minions here, but you need to be mindful not to mix the APL guidelines with the CR guidelines. Pathfinder isn't designed for PvP so there's no symmetry between them.

As a (very) rough rule of thumb, APL = CR-4. So a CR 9 group of undead is roughly equivalent to APL 5, and the "level-appropriate" range for that would be CR 4-8.


That is brilliant! I wanted to try and see what I had available to make a necromage with the highest amount of HD under him (I think the max I found was 240 ish?) and this goes a long way to helping that goal. I also plan on using 3PP and seeing what is available through them. Undead leadership looks great! Its a whole nother bucket.

Aside from that, have you thought about including a section on the different classes that you could use to this end? I know that you can use the wizard and the oracle, but what about the other classes? I would imagine a sorcerer would do good. I also know that the mystic thruge can be good for this.

You mentioned the staff of command undead. I have never used staves before and I was unable to find it on the SRD. I assume that you can create a staff of any spell and that is what you did here right? Second you mention a double charge version that costs half as much. What is this? I dont actually know what double charging means :P

Also would you mind putting up more items that are good, even if not mandatory? Would be great to see some more of them up :)

Btw I have 2 threads about this that you or others might enjoy reading.
Necromancer fun times!
Necromancer bad times ;)


I'd like to make a suggestion from KBrewer's Words of Power guide

By gaining the Experimental Spellcaster feat, you can pick up the Undeath Word of Power. It functions similarly to Animate Dead except that it has NO material cost and is a 2nd level spell for Clerics. Not sure how it functions regarding applying templates, but still very handy.


I love that sheets at the end: great resource for the community!

However, your guide makes me sad. All that talk about onyx costs and keeping things safe, and not a single mention of blood money? For shame!


Interesting. Clerics don't have access to blood money...

There is the false focus, while not useful for higher undead, it is useful for low level undead and the dessicrate spell. Trading money for feats...

Cacodaemon familiars can create soulgems to offset the costs of animating dead.


You don't HAVE to be a cleric to use animate dead. A wizard or sorc could add some combat effectiveness really easily with minimal resource investment. It's not the horde a cleric could have, but for two spells and a casting of lesser restoration its a pretty smart move.


Okay, this one has been bugging me for about a week since this thread first came up: Can the undeath word of power create variant undead?

Strict RAW would indicate that it can't do variant skeletons but it can do variant zombies. This contradictory reading leads me to believe that this is an oversight and we have to look for RAI in this case. Unfortunately, there's little to go on and I'm not sure which way to go.

On the one hand, its spell level would indicate to treat it like lesser animate dead. On the other hand, the lesser animate dead spell has an explicit clause regarding templated undead whereas the undeath word is silent. I generally will say "yes" in situations like these, but variant undead two levels earlier than normal without the regular material component cost is a bit much.

Sovereign Court

On the whole: nice work. You do seem to be focusing on the cleric-necromancer only. Do you consider the wizard necromancer so hopeless?

Minor nitpick: your undead sheets don't factor size into CMB/CMD.


Nice Guide!

However I've got a question: In your example the Cleric carried a raised Babau with him and was planning on making an Undead Nabassu.
There seems to be nothing against it in the rules. The skeleton and Zombie Templates cann be added to any corporal creatures and the Outsider entry in the MM only forbids Raising them. So there seems to be nothing against it in the rules.

However I always thought those beings wouldn't leave a body behind when slain-Their soul and body are one and their souls return to their homeplane.
Any clarification on this?


DOT


A Dirge Singer Bard might be a good consideration too.

EDIT: They even get their own Bucket at 10th level.


I am really confused. I am making a bones oracle for PFS and I had looked into the undead master feat to increase the level of the Command Undead feat HD restriction, since I get it as a revelation. I also figured it'd be nice since I can't carry over undead anyway--not to mention I would rather like to be able to control larger undead to prevent them from messing up my party.

However, when I read it, I'm still confused. Are you saying it's just bad because it doesn't save money, or because it actually doesn't do anything? If it's that bad, what feat would you suggest a bones oracle take instead? Keep in mind I probably wouldn't be casting a whole lot of animate dead every scenario because that would add up way too fast and I can summon a few skeletons for free each day.


Awesome guide. Interested to see your take on JuJu Zombies.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Dotty dot dot. Very well written, though I do think you should make a short blurb about Wizards, Oracles, and Witches as reanimators too.


Quote:
I am really confused. I am making a bones oracle for PFS and I had looked into the undead master feat ... However, when I read it, I'm still confused. Are you saying it's just bad because

If you read the feat carefully, all it does is allow you to animate more undead with a single casting. It does not actually increase the number you control.

When he's talking about "saving some gold", he means using the undead master feat instead of casting the desecrate spell (which is better in every conceivable way, but costs gold to cast).


The feat needs to be reworded very badly. Because honestly it can be read both ways. It's like they forgot to add words or added too many.

Luckily my DM takes it as the feat does add a +4 to your effective level as far as Command Undead is concerned, which is a big boon at lower levels before you've got desecrate.


Dasrak wrote:
Quote:
I am really confused. I am making a bones oracle for PFS and I had looked into the undead master feat ... However, when I read it, I'm still confused. Are you saying it's just bad because

If you read the feat carefully, all it does is allow you to animate more undead with a single casting. It does not actually increase the number you control.

When he's talking about "saving some gold", he means using the undead master feat instead of casting the desecrate spell (which is better in every conceivable way, but costs gold to cast).

Which still confuses me, because the whole point I saw of taking the feat was to augment Command Undead so you could enslave stronger enemy undead or enslave more undead with a single Command Undead channel, which was the whole point I saw of taking it, not for raising more dead at once (because honestly, like I said, in PFS I don't have much of an incentive to pay out the butt to raise a ton of skeletons when they'll inevitably be gone when the scenario finishes).


Okay rerereading the feat I think I finally get it.

Animate dead controls 4hd per caster level. With one casting you can only create twice your caster level.

Undead Master adds four levels to the create ceiling but does nothing for the control ceiling.

This still helps when creating that big undead dragon in the middle of a fight when you're not wanting to blow a round on a desecrate though, right?

I feel like I understood this at one point but then I read the poorly worded feat and went all derpderp.


Great guide! I'm playing a cleric necromancer in my current campaign. My DM is pretty loose though. He's allowed my undead companion to be either a juju zombie or skeletal champion, and at level -2 instead of half level. A juju zombie ranger at level -2 is pretty helpful :)

I love the undead roster, and will be using it in our next game. As well as the advice on what creatures to animate. Thanks! How do you feel about adding other templates ontop of the bloody one? I have a bunch of bears that are bloody and elemental damaging. Working pretty good so far, but I'm on the lookout for some higher HD critters :)

Sczarni

I will just add small comment that Bless doesn't affect undead. It's morale bonus.

Sczarni

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

I have one question tho regarding Animate Dead, but I don't feel like making another topic, so I will slightly hijack the thread.

What to do with scrolls/wands/oils of Animate Dead? Since the Onyx per HD material component goes in, you would have to guess literally what to put in. Is there any way around this small problem?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I disagree with the Undead Lord hate. If playing from level 1, its the only way to be a true necromancer with a minion and all. Plus it may only be one, but he does level with you and can be resummoned infinitely, which makes for no need to have a trapspringer.

"Is the hall safe?"

"Let's find out. Timmy, go check"

Skeleton walks down hall, blows up.

"Looks like we're gonna need another Timmy! But at least the hall's probably safe."

"Unless it's a resetting trap."

"Timmy, go check."


Bloody skeletons

Because traps never heal you when set off


2 people marked this as a favorite.
thegreenteagamer wrote:

I disagree with the Undead Lord hate. If playing from level 1, its the only way to be a true necromancer with a minion and all. Plus it may only be one, but he does level with you and can be resummoned infinitely, which makes for no need to have a trapspringer.

"Is the hall safe?"

"Let's find out. Timmy, go check"

Skeleton walks down hall, blows up.

"Looks like we're gonna need another Timmy! But at least the hall's probably safe."

"Unless it's a resetting trap."

"Timmy, go check."

Really? That's your example? You're missing something, then:

"Unless it's a resetting trap."

"Okay. Let's wait around 8 hours while I do a ritual to make a new companion to check it out."

... 8 hours later ...

"Timmy, go check."

And, no, your minion really doesn't level with you. Your Hit Die cap does go up each level, but that definitely doesn't mean the minion is scaling along with you. A level 2 character can get a CR=1 skeleton - a one level difference. A level 9 character? Only a CR=4 skeleton (5 levels difference). A 20th level character? Only a CR=8 skeleton (12 levels difference.)

To drive it home further, let's take that 9th level character, who with the Undead Lord feat, can animate a 9 HD skeleton as a CR=4 minion. Or, they could cast Animate Dead on a Bloody Tyranosaurus Skeleton - which would be a CR=9 minion.

So... on one hand we've got a CR=4 creature that takes 8 freaking hours to animate... or we've got a CR=9 creature that *won't die*. To be honest, even if you found a candidate creature you'd make an Undead Lord minion out of, it'd probably be better to just Animate it, then use the Control Undead spell on it.

And to get this bad ability, you're choosing a substandard domain and outright losing the second.

I definitely stand by the Undead Lord hate.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Is this link not ipad friendly?

I can't get it to work :(


Globetrotter wrote:

Is this link not ipad friendly?

I can't get it to work :(

Yeah, I've been hearing from a number of people about Google Docs not posting mobile friendly versions.

I'm still trying to figure out how to do it differently. I've been uploading PDFs... maybe I need to upload Docs, or HTML, or some other format - or maybe ditch google docs and find another hosting site?

Anyone have any ideas?


KBrewer wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:

I disagree with the Undead Lord hate. If playing from level 1, its the only way to be a true necromancer with a minion and all. Plus it may only be one, but he does level with you and can be resummoned infinitely, which makes for no need to have a trapspringer.

"Is the hall safe?"

"Let's find out. Timmy, go check"

Skeleton walks down hall, blows up.

"Looks like we're gonna need another Timmy! But at least the hall's probably safe."

"Unless it's a resetting trap."

"Timmy, go check."

Really? That's your example? You're missing something, then:

"Unless it's a resetting trap."

"Okay. Let's wait around 8 hours while I do a ritual to make a new companion to check it out."

... 8 hours later ...

"Timmy, go check."

And, no, your minion really doesn't level with you. Your Hit Die cap does go up each level, but that definitely doesn't mean the minion is scaling along with you. A level 2 character can get a CR=1 skeleton - a one level difference. A level 9 character? Only a CR=4 skeleton (5 levels difference). A 20th level character? Only a CR=8 skeleton (12 levels difference.)

To drive it home further, let's take that 9th level character, who with the Undead Lord feat, can animate a 9 HD skeleton as a CR=4 minion. Or, they could cast Animate Dead on a Bloody Tyranosaurus Skeleton - which would be a CR=9 minion.

So... on one hand we've got a CR=4 creature that takes 8 freaking hours to animate... or we've got a CR=9 creature that *won't die*. To be honest, even if you found a candidate creature you'd make an Undead Lord minion out of, it'd probably be better to just Animate it, then use the Control Undead spell on it.

And to get this bad ability, you're choosing a substandard domain and outright losing the second.

I definitely stand by the Undead Lord hate.

Touché. Still only way to raise undead from level 1 though...


With the mobile hate, sign back in. I waited forever to see it on my S3, because nothing gave the indication that I wasn't signed in. Signed back in, loaded right up.


thegreenteagamer wrote:
Touché. Still only way to raise undead from level 1 though...

Summon Monster I has an optional bloody skeleton addition on the pfsrd. I just went with that for a few levels.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
thegreenteagamer wrote:
KBrewer wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:

I disagree with the Undead Lord hate. If playing from level 1, its the only way to be a true necromancer with a minion and all. Plus it may only be one, but he does level with you and can be resummoned infinitely, which makes for no need to have a trapspringer.

"Is the hall safe?"

"Let's find out. Timmy, go check"

Skeleton walks down hall, blows up.

"Looks like we're gonna need another Timmy! But at least the hall's probably safe."

"Unless it's a resetting trap."

"Timmy, go check."

Really? That's your example? You're missing something, then:

"Unless it's a resetting trap."

"Okay. Let's wait around 8 hours while I do a ritual to make a new companion to check it out."

... 8 hours later ...

"Timmy, go check."

And, no, your minion really doesn't level with you. Your Hit Die cap does go up each level, but that definitely doesn't mean the minion is scaling along with you. A level 2 character can get a CR=1 skeleton - a one level difference. A level 9 character? Only a CR=4 skeleton (5 levels difference). A 20th level character? Only a CR=8 skeleton (12 levels difference.)

To drive it home further, let's take that 9th level character, who with the Undead Lord feat, can animate a 9 HD skeleton as a CR=4 minion. Or, they could cast Animate Dead on a Bloody Tyranosaurus Skeleton - which would be a CR=9 minion.

So... on one hand we've got a CR=4 creature that takes 8 freaking hours to animate... or we've got a CR=9 creature that *won't die*. To be honest, even if you found a candidate creature you'd make an Undead Lord minion out of, it'd probably be better to just Animate it, then use the Control Undead spell on it.

And to get this bad ability, you're choosing a substandard domain and outright losing the second.

I definitely stand by the Undead Lord hate.

Touché. Still only way to raise undead from level 1 though...

Agreed. Reread what I wrote not longer after I posted it and winced a bit. Didn't mean to be prickly - sorry if I came across the wrong way.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Xein wrote:
With the mobile hate, sign back in. I waited forever to see it on my S3, because nothing gave the indication that I wasn't signed in. Signed back in, loaded right up.

That did it. I signed out and it loaded fine.

Odd feature.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Oh boy a necromancy guide!

So first:

Animate Dead is a third level, not a 2nd level spell.

Lesser Animate Dead is the 2nd level version.

Beyond that the guide is short and sweet and could do with some expansion.

Somethign else to bear in mind is that skeletons retain their weapon proficiencies making them good candidates for holding spare swords and what not.

Also command undead (the feat) really is best to use for utility critters like incorporeal undead (Shadows) or particularly potent and useful critters (Dullahan's provide a free ride and a crazy good a bility with a somewhat harsh save.

Also Ditto on the undead lord hate. You can do so much better with other options.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

How does improved channel allow you to heal and harm at the same time?

There is a domain ability that allows this, but not the feat.

Liberty's Edge

Great guide there.

I tried the Undead Lord for one level with some wonderful backstory for it. I happily switched back to 2 domains.

"Because of this, Command Undead feat is an excellent place to put low HD from your Animation Bucket whenever you're close to an overflow - they won't have very good Will saves, and won't get any save beyond the first."

It is even better than you wrote. Because you are controlling the undead you animated. Just order them to accept your dark mastery (ie, "willingly" fail their first Will save).

Concerning the Undead Master feat, I feel that it is bound to be errataed to increase the bucket size (otherwise it has no effect on the Command Undead feat which it specifically mentions). In which case it is far from a trap.

BTW : great image with the buckets. It really helps.

Of course, in that case, Spell focus : Necromancy gets even better.

If you have some means of channelling positive (Versatile Channeler for example), Turn Undead could be quite useful to get rid of Undead you cannot control, either because of their HD or because your buckets are full. In the latter case, you first order them to fail their Will save against the Turn.

For the skills, Bluff and Disguise (take 20 when disguising your zombies as lepers) are quite useful too ;-)

UMD can be interesting since you probably have good CHA.

Equipment : I would add the Wand of Command Undead. Use with UMD (or get a level in Wizard (Necromancer)).

Some variants/multiclass that can be of interest (for a Cleric character) :

- One level dip in Wizard (Necromancer) to get the Turn Undead feat as well as some positive channels to go with it. Use the wand of Command Undead right away (no need for UMD). You also get a wizard bond with all the associated goodness. And either Scribe Scroll (RAW) or Spell Focus (let's say in Necromancy) if using the PFS rules that forbid crafting feats (like my GM does).

- One level dip in Oracle of Bones (for a character focussed on channeling negative energies) with the Black-Blooded Oracle archetype.
You get Command Undead for free through the Undead Servitude revelation, as well as some channels dedicated to this, which frees your base negative channels for heal/harm. You can heal yourself when you channel to heal your undead. You get some nice spontaneous casting keyed to CHA (which should be your primary stat). And you can get additional revelations later on thanks to the Extra Revelation feat.


The PDF isn't working for some reason.


The black raven wrote:


If you have some means of channelling positive (Versatile Channeler for example), Turn Undead could be quite useful to get rid of Undead you cannot control, either because of their HD or because your buckets are full. In the latter case, you first order them to fail their Will save against the Turn.

Why would you want to turn the undead? If you can command them to fail the save, they're still under your control. You'll have to take up a couple of feats, use one of your channel energies, and make sure none of your other undead are close enough to be affected, just to make the unwanted undead run away for 1 minute. If you're not in combat, just tell it to run away and not stop. Wait a minute, then do whatever you were going to do that would release it from your control. Or, order it not to defend itself, and either have your undead minions destroy it, or pound it down yourself.

Liberty's Edge

Rocky Williams 530 wrote:
The black raven wrote:


If you have some means of channelling positive (Versatile Channeler for example), Turn Undead could be quite useful to get rid of Undead you cannot control, either because of their HD or because your buckets are full. In the latter case, you first order them to fail their Will save against the Turn.
Why would you want to turn the undead? If you can command them to fail the save, they're still under your control. You'll have to take up a couple of feats, use one of your channel energies, and make sure none of your other undead are close enough to be affected, just to make the unwanted undead run away for 1 minute. If you're not in combat, just tell it to run away and not stop. Wait a minute, then do whatever you were going to do that would release it from your control. Or, order it not to defend itself, and either have your undead minions destroy it, or pound it down yourself.

You are right of course. I was feeling a bit off when writing it as a way to avoid buckets' overload. Your point is far better.

It still holds true for uncontrolled undead though ;-)


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Would a mystic thurge get twoanimate dead buckets, one from wizard caster Leven and one from cleric? If so, that becomes a very attractive option,30 caster levels in 20, and every thurge level would gt8 additional hit dice.thoughts?


akolbi wrote:
Would a mystic thurge get twoanimate dead buckets, one from wizard caster Leven and one from cleric? If so, that becomes a very attractive option,30 caster levels in 20, and every thurge level would gt8 additional hit dice.thoughts?

For sheer horde size, yes, but you're boned if you try for controlling that one bad mamma Jamma in front of you, cause you don't have the effective cap of your single class compatriots for the same level. No hasted plague cryohydra for you, sir. No vampiric lord with caster levels of his own. Nope. Just a shambling group of tinder twigs destroyed by a single widened fireball.


Level 15 is decently respectable,especially I'd you get it twice,I can see where you have a point, though, you don't get the same total cap as a single, but it sort of fits with the thurge mentality, quantity over quality.


Quote:
For sheer horde size, yes, but you're boned if you try for controlling that one bad mamma Jamma in front of you, cause you don't have the effective cap of your single class compatriots for the same level. No hasted plague cryohydra for you, sir. No vampiric lord with caster levels of his own. Nope. Just a shambling group of tinder twigs destroyed by a single widened fireball.

First of all, the magical knack trait will almost completely cancel this out. You're only 1 caster level behind as a result of this.

But even then, the mystic theurge gets access to both the wizard and cleric spell list. This gives him both desecrate and command undead (AFAIK this is the only way to get both on one character without items). The desecrate spell doubles the number of HD you can raise with a single casting, and the command undead spell gives you a good method to handle overflow caused by raising a big monster.

For an 11th level mystic theurge (not even counting magical knack) you've got caster level 8 in each class. This gives you a limit of 16 HD per casting, or 32 hit dice with the desecrate spell. While you might not be able to create a bloody skeleton of a powerful monster, you'd certainly be able to create a fast zombie from its corpse.


Dotting for interest!


1. Magical knack only works for one class and you can't take it twice.
2. Until you get to higher levels you suck. Few campaigns hit past 12-15 and most start from level one. While in theory upper level MTs are awesome, I'd hate to work my way up to it


We're starting at 5 on fast.they hit their stride around 8-9 i think


Quote:
1. Magical knack only works for one class and you can't take it twice.

True, but that still means your largest bucket is only one level behind; the rest is just gravy.

Quote:
2. Until you get to higher levels you suck

We are talking about mystic theurge, correct? I presumed that was agiven.

Quote:
We're starting at 5 on fast.they hit their stride around 8-9 i think

For the purpose of an animator, it will be 10th level for a wizard-theurge or 11th level for a sorcerer-theurge that they hit their stride. That's when your arcane class gets access to 4th level spells for animate dead.


but a cleric gets it at level 8, and i already have lesser animate dead, not to mention, the wizard side has so much more offensive potential, the cleric side is minions and buffing, minions at lower levels, moreso.


Quote:
but a cleric gets it at level 8, and i already have lesser animate dead, not to mention, the wizard side has so much more offensive potential, the cleric side is minions and buffing, minions at lower levels, moreso.

Yes, the Cleric side will get animate dead at the 8th character level, but you're still paying through the nose for having qualified as mystic theurge and have yet to fully-access the pay-off of the second bucket.

The lesser animate dead spell cannot handle variant undead (such as bloody skeletons and fast zombies) and as such isn't nearly as useful as the regular animate dead.

My point is that the payoff for having invested all those levels in multi-classing comes at the 10th level when you get full access to two buckets worth of variant undead.


minor editing issue:

Pg2: Create DEAD spell should be Create UNDEAD
Pg3: Bloody Zombie should be Bloody Skeleton

hmmmmm - I should have been a proofreader/editor in another life lol

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