How many undead can we create from a single corpse?


Advice


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

With the advent of the Bestiaries and other official Pathfinder supplements, we now have undead creatures that are essentially animated eyes, hands, brains, skin, skeletons, etc.

I believe there is also a rule saying that someone who has been so animated can't be resurrected unless its undead counterpart has been destroyed first. I thought that animating a corpse as multiple undead might be a cool way to keep a nemesis from returning to life.

Just how many distinct undead creatures can we create from a single corpse? Let's brainstorm!


Zombies, Ghouls, Vampires, Mohrgs, Zombies...

Not undead but Kytons are made out of people and flesh golems.

Worm that Walks is kind've pseudo-undead.


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MageHunter wrote:

Zombies, Ghouls, Vampires, Mohrgs, Zombies...

Not undead but Kytons are made out of people and flesh golems.

Worm that Walks is kind've pseudo-undead.

I'm not asking for how many undead we can make. I'm asking how many undead we can make from a single corpse before running out of body parts and other materials.

Incorporeal undead might make it even trickier; could you get both a spectre AND a shadow from one person I wonder?


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Two Isitoq (or one beheaded), as many crawling hands as you can afford to cut their hands off and regenerate before the person dies+2, have a shadow kill them so they become a shadow, se create greater undead to make shadows/wraiths/spectres (it requires a corpse but it doesn't animate the corpse so you can theoretically cast it an infinite amount of times), shred skin, skeletal undead, and either incorporate the rest of the corpse into a necrocraft or create a ghoul/ghast/mummy/mohrg.

Outside of this scenario You could also theoretically clone a person over and over while they're still alive and use the resultant corpses for undead parts to have an army of undead made from your enemy for just additional creepy-ness and no one knowing which undead are made from their "true" corpse.

If 3.5e material was also allowed you could also turn their brains into undead in the form of brains in a jar.


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Is there a way to reanimate just skin? If so you could skinsend while wearing a ring of regeneration, then animate the skin to create an endless army of skinsacks. Closest I could find was the meat puppet template, but it's not quite there...


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Pathfinder changed zombies to work on any creature with a corporal body.

Animate object every bone independantly, kill them without smashing them to pieces , then animate them all as zombies.


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Onyx Tanuki wrote:
Is there a way to reanimate just skin? If so you could skinsend while wearing a ring of regeneration, then animate the skin to create an endless army of skinsacks. Closest I could find was the meat puppet template, but it's not quite there...

The Shredskin, mentioned in passing by Milo above.

Edit: There's an ioun stone which is cheaper if slower than a ring of regen., especially if cracked.


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I'll add doing just the entrails (or portions thereof...) the CR6 Tekenu from the Mummy's Mask AP:

Tekenu


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Wow. Feels like we might just be getting started. :D

Isn't there hair and feces somewhere too?


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Animated hair is an ooze rather than undead iirc.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yep. We got undead fecal matter alright.

Is nothing sacred anymore?

(Not to a necromancer, apparently.)


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Waste not, want not.


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If you don't mind borrowing a concept from another game for homebrew material, maybe toenail golems? Toenails are dead cells, but they are generated by a living body. If you get a whole bunch of people producing an abundant supply of tonails, you could animate an army of toenail golems.


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Ravingdork wrote:
MageHunter wrote:

Zombies, Ghouls, Vampires, Mohrgs, Zombies...

Not undead but Kytons are made out of people and flesh golems.

Worm that Walks is kind've pseudo-undead.

I'm not asking for how many undead we can make. I'm asking how many undead we can make from a single corpse before running out of body parts and other materials.

Incorporeal undead might make it even trickier; could you get both a spectre AND a shadow from one person I wonder?

I'm going by the rule of one undead per corpse, whether it's whole or just a body part. Your choice of whether you make a skeleton, zombie, or creepy walking hand, but only one per corpse.


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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
MageHunter wrote:

Zombies, Ghouls, Vampires, Mohrgs, Zombies...

Not undead but Kytons are made out of people and flesh golems.

Worm that Walks is kind've pseudo-undead.

I'm not asking for how many undead we can make. I'm asking how many undead we can make from a single corpse before running out of body parts and other materials.

Incorporeal undead might make it even trickier; could you get both a spectre AND a shadow from one person I wonder?

I'm going by the rule of one undead per corpse, whether it's whole or just a body part. Your choice of whether you make a skeleton, zombie, or creepy walking hand, but only one per corpse.

I'm pretty sure you can get a ghost and a zombie from the same corpse, at the least.


Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
MageHunter wrote:

Zombies, Ghouls, Vampires, Mohrgs, Zombies...

Not undead but Kytons are made out of people and flesh golems.

Worm that Walks is kind've pseudo-undead.

I'm not asking for how many undead we can make. I'm asking how many undead we can make from a single corpse before running out of body parts and other materials.

Incorporeal undead might make it even trickier; could you get both a spectre AND a shadow from one person I wonder?

I'm going by the rule of one undead per corpse, whether it's whole or just a body part. Your choice of whether you make a skeleton, zombie, or creepy walking hand, but only one per corpse.
I'm pretty sure you can get a ghost and a zombie from the same corpse, at the least.

I'm going to say no.. simply to put the nail on the coffin for the exploit Raving Dork put this question up for. You don't get to make 50 separate undead for all the body parts you can carve up a corpse into.


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Well, Drahliana's made her ruling. That's that. You lose, RD.


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Exploit?

The cost of animating them stays the same. Why would it matter if the parts came from one corpse or several?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Corpses can be considered a cost in their own right I guess. The less corpses you need, the lower the corpse cost.

I started another thread in the rules forum for the purposes of determining the legitimacy of multiple undead from a single corpse. This thread is mostly for fun and discussion (and operates under the assumption that this "exploit" is allowed).


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According to Magic Jar, intelligent undead have a soul. The implication is that the original soul of the body is bound and trapped to provide the undead created with intelligence. So I'd say that, while you may be able to create several mindless undead from a single corpse, you can only create one intelligent undead.


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Interesting question, considering I made a thrifty necromancer NPC for the third level of Infinite Dungeon that glommed on to this idea.

If you don't mind your undead being blind, you could go for a blind beheaded, a headless (and handless) zombie, two isitoq, and a pair of crawling hands.


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If you ripped the eyes out of a corpse to make Isitoq, and then cast Restore Corpse, would the eyes in the corpse grow back?


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a headless and handless zombie would be pretty useless for anything except creeping people out.

Of course, if you only want them to creep people out you're golden.


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Kazaan wrote:
According to Magic Jar, intelligent undead have a soul. The implication is that the original soul of the body is bound and trapped to provide the undead created with intelligence. So I'd say that, while you may be able to create several mindless undead from a single corpse, you can only create one intelligent undead.

Is there a rule stating that corporeal or incorporeal undead use up the soul of the person that was animated? I'd like to see it if that is the case.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Is there a rule stating that corporeal or incorporeal undead use up the soul of the person that was animated? I'd like to see it if that is the case.

It does not state that as rule. If it was, it would mean you be no-save killing an outsider everytime you create undead.


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Does making an augur out of someone's eye count?


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James Jacobs has been pretty clear about the fact that undead of any kind (intelligent or not) do not contain their original mortal soul.

The reason for that is because that soul is already gone to the Boneyard. Pharasma is not about to let a soul get yanked back to the mortal realm just because some magical joker with some shiny black rocks decided to make a new friend.

That's the reason evil churches can't just raise dead paladins as undead to yank them out or paradise and trap them in their own corpse.

This is, of course, Golarion specific, but the Necromancy rules in Pathfinder are written with that view in mind.

So, intelligent/incorporeal undead are not "trapped souls." At most, they are some kind of "spiritual echo" of their former selves.

The ghost is the only exception to this, since it's rules specifically list it as a trapped soul.


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Doesn't the existence of the ghost, lich, and raise dead spell seem to refute that though?


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I'm almost completely positive he was only referring to the mindless undead.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Doesn't the existence of the ghost, lich, and raise dead spell seem to refute that though?

Kinda seems like it, doesn't it?

The Necromancy rules have pretty much never made sense. It comes from 15 years of different designers who were on different pages in regards to what Necromancy is supposed to do.

So now, we have rules that actually contradict each other, and setting design that doesn't work with some of the rules.

Personally, when the rules and the setting material are at odds, I tend to defer to the setting design stuff, because the rules are supposed to provide a framework for the story (so the story is higher up the hierarchy, so to speak).


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Ravingdork wrote:
Doesn't the existence of the ghost, lich, and raise dead spell seem to refute that though?

Not really because they are each special case undead. The ghost is someone held back from Pharasma's judgement because something unresolved prevents them from reaching the after life. The Lich is something that's generallly self-inflicted, and the raise dead spell requires consent by the spell's target who will know both the alignment, and the patron diety of the spellcaster.


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Well from what I can find:

Isitoq (2), Eyes
Crawling hand (2), Hands
Beheaded or Demilich (1), Head
Shredskin (1), Skin
Skeleton (1 headless), Bones
Tekenu (1), Organs
Ghost or other incorporeal (1), spirit.

and in the right conditions:

Pickled Punk (1), fetus.

You could possibly use the remaining gore to make the worst zombie ever, but you'd probably be better off using it for a Hungry Flesh and some Boilborn oozes.


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Dotting.

Grand Lodge

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'Sani wrote:

Well from what I can find:

Isitoq (2), Eyes
Crawling hand (2), Hands
Beheaded or Demilich (1), Head
Shredskin (1), Skin
Skeleton (1 headless), Bones
Tekenu (1), Organs
Ghost or other incorporeal (1), spirit.

and in the right conditions:

Pickled Punk (1), fetus.

You could possibly use the remaining gore to make the worst zombie ever, but you'd probably be better off using it for a Hungry Flesh and some Boilborn oozes.

You can actually make a zombie out of a skeleton-less corpse. Zombies don't need skeletons, heads, hands, eyes, skin, spirits, or organs to attack, so there would be a lot of bashing with the forearms.

+1 zombie
+1 undigested swarm

Grand Lodge

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'Sani wrote:

Well from what I can find:

Isitoq (2), Eyes
Crawling hand (2), Hands
Beheaded or Demilich (1), Head
Shredskin (1), Skin
Skeleton (1 headless), Bones
Tekenu (1), Organs
Ghost or other incorporeal (1), spirit.

and in the right conditions:

Pickled Punk (1), fetus.

You could possibly use the remaining gore to make the worst zombie ever, but you'd probably be better off using it for a Hungry Flesh and some Boilborn oozes.

You can actually make a zombie out of a skeleton-less corpse. Zombies don't need skeletons, heads, hands, eyes, skin, spirits, or organs to attack, so there would be a lot of bashing with the forearms.

+1 zombie
+1 undigested swarm

Total: 11 undead (so far)


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This needs to be explained in someone's home game when people are infiltrating a School of Necromancy.

It's called "Budget Necromancy 101," and tons of students are there taking notes.

Hell, this thread's title would make a MAGNIFICENT opening question for the PCs to overhear. "Assuming we have a normal humanoid body - say, a halfling or human - with no irregularities, deformities, or mutilations, how many undead can we create from this single body?"

Grand Lodge

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But as more bestiaries are published, the number of undead from a single body will increase, so the students would never truly have the correct answer D:


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

What new options has the Bestiary 6 and other new resources given us as of late?

I've heard that there is the lovelorn now for the heart. What else?


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Why not just extrapolate and expostulate things like Browterpillars, Flapping Ears, Slippery Nipples, Funnybones, Hammertoes...


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Thornborn wrote:
Why not just extrapolate and expostulate things like Browterpillars, Flapping Ears, Slippery Nipples, Funnybones, Hammertoes...

Table variance. Published monsters are much more likely to be allowed by many GMs.

Shadow Lodge

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This concept doesn't look broken/OP to me, partially due to the cost of animating corpses (unless you're using that spell that circumvents it), and partially due to the fact that most of these bits have few HD and thus low HP - one positive channel could easily blast all the bits at once.

Of course, since the original intent was to stop someone from getting Resurrected until every undead piece was killed, this might make for a fun, if gross, quest for the PCs. The perpetrator might have undeadified both the victim's eyes, then put one in a jar and hid it somewhere while carrying the other on their person.


Flame Effigy wrote:
Dotting.

Me, too!


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I agree with Mongoose, creating multiple undead from a single corpse makes sense. It's not like you cut off the hand from a corpse and you can no longer animate the rest as a Zombie after all.

Just remember that whatever is left will be missing important bits. Don't expect the handless Zombie to be able to open doors or pull levers for you.


Just your average clone wrote:
But as more bestiaries are published, the number of undead from a single body will increase, so the students would never truly have the correct answer D:

Well, I mean, it's a trick question, anyway; as soon as restore corpse entered the picture, you've basically got a limitless supply of flesh...

Shadow Lodge

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One time, a GM let me animate a beheaded corpse into a goopy skeleton, and the skull into a hovering head with eye-lasers (the flame-based ranged attack, basically).

I tied the skull to the spine with string, so that the whole thing would look like one undead but was actually two. The GM also allowed that, by "Attack", the skull would use its eye-lasers at range and try to headbutt any adjacent living thing. Hopefully, opponents would try to smash the skull, only to find the rest of it still slapping them with its bony fingers.

Everyone thought this was a great idea until both head and body got blasted to bits by one channel against which they both saved. That's when I started looking into necrocrafts; instead of making five undeads out of once corpse, how about gluing two dozen bodies into one big one?


The Shifty Mongoose wrote:
the skull into a hovering head with eye-lasers (the flame-based ranged attack, basically).

Oh, a flame skull? Awesome! Those are a classic mo-

The Shifty Mongoose wrote:
got blasted to bits by one channel

- oh, never mind. I thought I saw where you were going, and was wrong.


anyone bring up a shred skin and skeleton combo.

Dark Archive

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I'd just like to say, while it's not Pathfinder, in 3.5 (specifically in Eberron) there was a thing called "Siege Undead" which the Necromancer kingdom made.

You take one corpse, skin and debone it.
You sew the skin up and stuff it with straw and sawdust.
You replace the bones in the meat with sticks.
You bind the bones together at the joints with wire.

Then a single ritual animated all three.
The Skin and the Meat were effectively Zombies and the Bones was a Skeleton.

So, within 3.5, it is canon specifically possible to make more than one mindless undead from a single corpse.

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