Bones Oracle, Raise the Dead Mystery and PFS Query


Pathfinder Society

Liberty's Edge 1/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Bondi Junction

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Hi all,

I have a question as per the heading regarding the Bones Oracle's Raid the Dead Mystery.

It states:
Raise the Dead (Su): As a standard action, you can summon a single skeleton or zombie to serve you. The undead creature has a number of Hit Dice equal to your oracle level. It remains for a number of rounds equal to your Charisma modifier. At 7th level, you can summon a bloody skeleton or fast zombie. At 15th level, you can summon an advanced skeleton or zombie. You can use this ability once per day plus one additional time per day at 10th level.

Now my question is this. At home games the summoned monster could be anything that a player can have his GM approve of I suppose, but what about for PFS? This is an issue so as to minimize table variation.

Does the skeleton have to be human? Can I go through the Bestiaries looking up various 1 HD creatures to get the best bang for buck?

As an example compare the attribute arrays for a

Human Skeleton:
Str 15, Dex 14, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 10

vs
Orc Skeleton:
Str 17, Dex 13, Con -, Int -, Wis 10, Cha 10

or

Human Zombie:
Str 17, Dex 10, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 10

vs
Orc Skeleton:
Str 19, Dex 9, Con -, Int -, Wis 10, Cha 10

What happens when I get to level 2? Do I start summoning Gnolls or some other superior 2 HD monster or do I summon a 'generic' 2HD creature.

3rd level Bug bear or bear or whatever ...

Unfortunately this isn't all. At 7th level I start summoning Fast Zombies or Bloody Skeletons.
Once again if I can 'cherry pick' what kind of creature I can summon then ...

has anyone considered this?:
Fast Zombie Barghest. Young Bloody White Dragon Skeleton which are both 7 HD ...

Ultimately my question here is: there an official PFS Ruling regarding the types of creatures that can be Raised by the Oracle. Or is it considered that given it is a relatively short duration limited use ability, anything that is a legal animated target is ok?

Liberty's Edge 5/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

For this I would fallback to the example of the Summon monster Line of spells with them summoning of elementals being limited to the ones found in the first Bestiary.

So yes, only human skeletons and human zombies that are changed or advanced as appropriate when you advance in level

Liberty's Edge 1/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Bondi Junction

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
ryukadsgc wrote:

For this I would fallback to the example of the Summon monster Line of spells with them summoning of elementals being limited to the ones found in the first Bestiary.

So yes, only human skeletons and human zombies that are changed or advanced as appropriate when you advance in level

Thanks for your reply on this but this shows the problem I'm stating. YOU as a GM would tell me 'No I can only do Human skeletons/zombies'.

This would mean I would have to develop a line of non official xHD skeletons/zombies, which while I think is a fine solution, may be considered illegal by another GM. This is about PFS not home grown.

Im not insisting that a PFS head honcho or a developer answers me immediately but can people maybe flag this for FAQ.

(otherwise Im going to have to create a series of Bestiarys with every allowable monster having the skeleton, the zombie, the bloody skeleton and the fast zombie templates applied AND also a series of Generic advanced Human Skeletons and Zombies with increasing HD until 20th ... which actually doesn't sound like that bad an idea. Anyone know where I can grab the entire beastiaries as a spreadsheet or xml form ...)


Looks like you are doing a lot of work for nothing. The ability calls for a generic skeleton, not a "make your own". As with most summons, there is a fixed set of stats, that do not allow you to break things down to find a better option. Not sure on PFS ruling, but as normally they are about streamlining for simplicity, it would seem they would have people making massive spreadsheets of variables. Good luck though.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

You always get the generic version of the creature. The human skeleton whose stats exist in the Bestiary is the one you get, no questions asked, do not pass go, do not collect a 200 gp chunk of onyx. You don't get to pick a skeleton and apply a template.

Liberty's Edge 1/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Bondi Junction

The Morphling wrote:
You always get the generic version of the creature. The human skeleton whose stats exist in the Bestiary is the one you get, no questions asked, do not pass go, do not collect a 200 gp chunk of onyx. You don't get to pick a skeleton and apply a template.

I can accept that , but the HD of the skeleton or zombie increases with my level as well.

So given that, all I can suppose is as I progress in levels I start adding 'Racial' HD as per the advancing a monster rules.

Only problem is eventually as per those rules the Skeleton or Zombie will become large at around I think 5th level and eventually huge at 9th if my understanding of the advancement rules due to HD is correct.
Which once again becomes something of an issue if a PFS GM turns around and says 'no sorry that not how it works'.

Trust me Im not looking to make awesome engines of destruction - I am quite happy to get a vanilla generic skeleton or zombie with appropriate advancement due to increased HD, BUT is it PFS legal?

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Nikolaus Athas wrote:
if my understanding of the advancement rules due to HD is correct.

It's not.

Why in the world would you think a human skeleton would grow Large or Huge?

Shadow Lodge 2/5

You don't get a generic skeleton, though. You get a skeleton with HD equal to your level. There are no generic human skeletons straight out of the bestiary with 2+ HD.

Liberty's Edge 1/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Bondi Junction

The Morphling wrote:
Nikolaus Athas wrote:
if my understanding of the advancement rules due to HD is correct.

It's not.

Why in the world would you think a human skeleton would grow Large or Huge?

Because isn't that what it states under advancing a monster with racial hit dice?

Step 1: Plan the Monster

When advancing a monster by adding racial HD, you should start by deciding what you want the monster to become. In most cases, this means merely a tougher, stronger version of an existing monster. Note the desired CR of the new monster. This is also the point at which you should decide whether the creature is going to increase in size. As a general rule, creatures whose Hit Dice increase by 50% or more should also increase in size, but GMs should feel free to ignore this rule if warranted by the individual creature or situation.

Now the general rule is that the creature should increase size. Individual GMs can ignore this rule. So the default easy rule is that they increase in size. The exceptional case is that the GM can ignore it which by definition it is opening this ability to table variation, which I thought was the whole point that PFS was trying to stop.
What is the PFS case?

Also nowhere in the description of the ability does it state human skeleton or zombie or even that it is the same race as the Oracle.
Case in point my Oracle is an Aasimar so do I summon Aasimar skeletons?
Where does it state that I am in any way restricted to humanoid forms?

Please everyone understand - I am not trying to stretch rules to gain amazing overpowering advantages - but I am not going to short change myself from a class ability either.
As I stated before I would be ok just using human skeletons or zombies (as much for the flavour of this particular character) but I would not be ok with them being exceptions to the rules for advancing creatures via HD.
Which is why I would like clarifications. So far I am getting peoples opinions which I am indeed happy to listen to, but it would be nice to get something a little clearer that I could show to a GM or that is shown to me for the purposes of PFS play.

Silver Crusade 3/5

You get a skeleton with HD equal to your level. It gains hit points, saves, BAB, and ability score boosts with increased HD just like any other creature. It is mindless, so it does not get any skills or feats.

As a creature with good Will saves and a BAB of 3/4 it's HD, it uses the same BAB and base saves as your oracle. Convenient.

It's hp will advance as follows: 4, 9, 13, 18, 22, 27, ...

That's it.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Clarification has been given to you. You get exactly the default skeleton, nothing more, nothing less. When you advance it in hit dice, you don't get to make any judgment calls, GM adjudication, or 'logical' things that seem to make sense to you but aren't in the rules.

The "advancing a monster" guidelines are for a GM to use when designing new creatures - not for summoners to use when determining statistics. You just add Hit Dice and (for an intelligent creature) Skill Points/Feats.

The default skeleton is in the Bestiary and you use that. You get exactly what it says, and nothing else.

Silver Crusade 3/5

Nikolaus Athas wrote:
As a general rule, creatures whose Hit Dice increase by 50% or more should also increase in size, but GMs should feel free to ignore this rule if warranted by the individual creature or situation.

Let us, for the sake of argument, assume this is correct and follow it to its logical conclusion.

At level 1, your skeleton has 1 HD. That means that at level 2, it has increased its HD by 100%, so it should be size Large. At 3rd level, it has increased its HD by 50%, so it should be size Huge. At 5th level it has increased its size by 66.66%, so it should be size Gargantuan. At 8th level, it will be size Colossal.

This doesn't seem correct to me.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
The Fox wrote:
Nikolaus Athas wrote:
As a general rule, creatures whose Hit Dice increase by 50% or more should also increase in size, but GMs should feel free to ignore this rule if warranted by the individual creature or situation.

Let us, for the sake of argument, assume this is correct and follow it to its logical conclusion.

At level 1, your skeleton has 1 HD. That means that at level 2, it has increased its HD by 100%, so it should be size Large. At 3rd level, it has increased its HD by 50%, so it should be size Huge. At 5th level it has increased its size by 66.66%, so it should be size Gargantuan. At 8th level, it will be size Colossal.

Also, it's a human.

I'm no doctor, but how many Gargantuan (or even LARGE) sized humans do you see on a daily basis?

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

The Fox wrote:

You get a skeleton with HD equal to your level. It gains hit points, saves, BAB, and ability score boosts with increased HD just like any other creature. It is mindless, so it does not get any skills or feats.

As a creature with good Will saves and a BAB of 3/4 it's HD, it uses the same BAB and base saves as your oracle. Convenient.

It's hp will advance as follows: 4, 9, 13, 18, 22, 27, ...

That's it.

Much like everyone else (wow, we came to a consensus?) I am of the belief that you get a standard human skeleton or zombie, and advance its HD.

BUT...

What if, when it reaches 4 HD, you give it a stat increase of +1 INT?

Now it qualifies for feats, and skill points.

But that's about the only table variation I see happening. The rest seems clears to me: advance a generic human skeleton/zombie, not a white dragon skeleton/zombie.

Silver Crusade 3/5

Nefreet wrote:

What if, when it reaches 4 HD, you give it a stat increase of +1 INT?

Now it qualifies for feats, and skill points.

A skeleton doesn't have an Intelligence score. You cannot add 1 to a nonexistent score.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Sure you can. Druids do it to their Vermin Companions all the time.

In fact, somewhere, there are rules for what happens. The creature loses the mindless quality, and gains retroactive skills points/feats.

Silver Crusade 3/5

Good to know.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

So, as to the OP's predicament, if he wants to have an Intelligent Skeleton/Zombie, I'd suggest bringing two versions to the table: one that has feats/skills already factored in, and one that doesn't (but has a +1 in a different stat).

That way, if you encounter GMs who don't like the idea of an intelligent undead, you have a backup plan.

(much like how, when I bring my Int 3 Constrictor Snake to games, one version has Improved Unarmed Strike, and one doesn't, in case I randomly run into Andrew Christian as a GM)

5/5 *** Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

Nefreet wrote:

Sure you can. Druids do it to their Vermin Companions all the time.

In fact, somewhere, there are rules for what happens. The creature loses the mindless quality, and gains retroactive skills points/feats.

It's from Ultimate Magic and I believe a rule for vermin companions, not a general rule.

Vermin Companions:
Vermin companions have no Intelligence score and possess the mindless trait. In spite of this, vermin companions may learn one trick, plus additional bonus tricks as noted on Table: Animal Companion Base Statistics. If a vermin animal companion gains an ability score increase (at 4 Hit Dice, 8 Hit Dice, and so on), the druid can apply this increase to the companion's Intelligence, changing it from — to 1, at which point the companion loses the mindless quality and is able to know up to 3 tricks per point of Intelligence, plus the additional bonus tricks, as per Handle Animal. Vermin companions have no skill points or feats as long as they have the mindless quality.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Hmm. Perhaps. But I know of no general rule that says you can't raise a score from - to 1.

Also, we have rules for how many skill points intelligent undead get per HD, and what their class skills are:

Undead Type wrote:
Skill points equal to 4 + Int modifier (minimum 1) per Hit Die. Many undead, however, are mindless and gain no skill points or feats. The following are class skills for undead: Climb, Disguise, Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), Perception, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Stealth.

I suppose that means there's just another avenue of table variation that this idea could encounter.

It's probably best to avoid in PFS to begin with.

Shadow Lodge

Nefreet wrote:
Hmm. Perhaps. But I know of no general rule that says you can't raise a score from - to 1.

A "-" means they don't have that ability score, and you can't increase something you don't have. A mindless undead couldn't increase their Intelligence any more than they could increase their Constitution.

The vermin companion rules are literally the only exception to this, as far as I know.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Interesting. In my search I've found it odd that "mindless" is not in the Universal Monster Rules. It's only referenced in other creatures' types and subtypes.

That seems like something that, if it had its own listing, would cut down on word counts elsewhere.

Perhaps you cannot increase an Undead's Int from - to 1 through ability increases. Though I'd imagine that some GMs will invariably disagree.

My suggestions for either 1) bringing different versions of your undead to the table or 2) just not playing a Bones Oracle (or not selecting this revelation in particular) are still in effect.

4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It says you can summon a skeleton or zombie with HD equal to your oracle level. I don't see any reason why you couldn't choose any valid creature to apply the skeleton or zombie template to.

This ability is usable once per day, and gives you a skeleton for a number of rounds equal to your charisma modifier. Having an example creature in the bestiary doesn't make every skeleton that example.

I agree the ability could be clearer about what you should do.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

There doesn't need to be a rule that you can't increase - by 1. - isn't a number. You can't increase a human's breath weapon range by 10 ft - humans don't have breath weapons.

Same principle. Humans don't have breath weapons. Skeletons don't have an intelligence score.

Do you think you could increase a skeleton's constitution by 1? Would it cease being an undead if you did? Obviously not - you can't give it a con score any more than you can give it an int score by applying a bonus.

Liberty's Edge 1/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Bondi Junction

Thanks for all the input people, but unfortunately once again what I am seeing here is more table variation. You realise that under the description of the ability it doesn't even specify a range?
Never the less it appears I will just have to hope that there will be an FAQ release about this.

Thanks once again all

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