Tamarack - The Undead Agricultural Giant


Homebrew

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Liberty's Edge

Claxon wrote:

You can do what you like certainly, but it doesn't make much sense for the poor to be around. You're going to be filling all the roles the poor would traditionally do with an undead labor force.

Not to say that the poor would immediately disappear. Some would definitely try to learn new trades, some would leave for other countries. Some would die out. There would probably be a transition period where the poor would flock to cities and be begging in the streets, if you wanted to go that direction. In my opinion though, the conditions for the poor should be bad, on the verge of death and being wiped out.

It's actually a problem the modern world is going to face soon with automation. We are reaching a point where robots can do a lot of jobs more quickly and accurately than most human workers, and we are poised on a point of eliminating a lot of jobs that support much of the population. Unless the government does something specifically to keep these people cared for, they will be bereft of income/food/well being.

Both in your country you are imagining and in the real world.

Perhaps in your world you can encourage the poor to join military service. I believe I read something about protracted wars with a neighbor. Maybe you can say the government allows anyone who joins the military service not to be turned into an undead after service instead of paying the tax, or maybe if they achieve a certain rank within the service. This keeps a steady supply of soldiers coming in, with the never ending war providing a method of distraction and direction for what would be massively unemployed groups of people.

I assume that the majority of bodies would be claimed from the enemy and would supply the undead servants which serve as the labor force of the country.

I think we are already seeing a lot of that happening right now in our society. What I think you are missing is that these are people. You seem to be assuming that the poor would just be left behind to die. Do we do that now in our society?

No.

We give them shelter, food, clothing, and a basic education...just because they do not participate in the advancement or even survival of a society does not mean they are not valued by someone.

I think that they will, in fact, be valued highly by the rulers. Those in control will eventually need more skeletons and zombies. They will need a pool to draw from and they won't do it with their children.

Liberty's Edge

My Self wrote:
Irranshalee wrote:

And the beauty of this area is that it has only been populated for a few hundred years. I can have those skeletons and "mummy" zombies as an initial burst that would let me get to a settled, secured market. This country has to be able to withstand the attacks from other countries and the party.

The three major areas that could be opposed and had strength to do something about it are:

Jord Karn - A dwarven mine that will be supplying onyx at a steep rate to Tamarack. This group of dwarves are known to do business with all races including duergar and drow. They are a neutral people and not very well liked by their brothers in other Jords, but they just live too far away to be of an immediate concern for the other goodly folk. In fact, most of the western nations are newly established and tend towards survival/neutral beliefs. The eastern nations have been there a long time and have grown into good or evil nations. For several reasons the two have not been in contact with each other. That has just changed with the party finding a pass to the west.

Again, I want to bring up the fact that the method of transforming people into undead needs to be relatively cheap compared to the alternatives. If your country was wiped out by a plague, the alternative would be to get foreigners to move in, settle, and farm, which many might do because of the prospect of cheap land. I assume your land isn't difficult to access or inhospitable, given that it is supposed to be an agricultural trading nation, so people would probably be glad to move in. If it's a business venture, the businesspeople had better expect to turn a profit within their lifetime, hopefully within a few years (longer for elves, undead, etc.) If you want to have undead be practical options, the dwarves can't be gouging your country on onyx prices, unless you subscribe to the idea that you only need to have spent 25 gp on onyx, instead of having a certain minimum mass of onyx that is typically worth 25 gp. If nobody...

I do see your point. What suggestions do you have?

The dwarves could have seen onyx as useless and just been stockpiling it somewhere.

I could have the mine produce an uncanny amount of onyx.

I do not see the dwarves gouging immediately. It would be at a later date when the process and need is within full swing, no way to stop it.

Liberty's Edge

Set wrote:
Irranshalee wrote:

Afterlife group – people who would comfort families and help them see the good in raising family members as undead. They would try to make others view it as a honor, continuing to serve their families.

Collector's group – people who get corpses. There would be two subgroups: one legitimate, the other would be an underbelly of society. They type that would kill homeless people, infect villages, get paid for killing rivals of other important people.

Creator's group – people who animate and sell the undead as well as the devices to control the undead. Is this dirty work or more...

Random thoughts;

1) There are associations with undead and disease or vermin, in some settings, and some instances (plague zombies, ghoul fever, kyuss worms). While, mechanically, negative energy is antithetical to life, and a zombie, infused with negative energy, would be bacterial-free and sterile, as a result, not all settings or scenarios make that assumption, and have zombies be carriers of plague, because it's more important to the agenda of the writer that zombies be gross than that the mechanics of the game or setting be consistent.

Using zombies as agricultural labor, as a result, might be problematic. Even if the zombies are 100% sterile, there are going to be folk-with-agendas who are going to spread stories about zombie-harvested grains or fruits (or cloth made from zombie-harvested cotton or linen) spreading plague, making it harder to export and market such produce. As a result, even if the GM decides that negative energy is consistently antithetical to life, and that animated corpses are therefore sterile, the *belief* that 'zombies are dirty' could affect the culture's ability to sell their goods.

2) Skeletons and zombies need to be controlled, and there's not going to be nearly enough clerics around to handle that. You've already mentioned that undead control 'devices' will have to be part of the base assumption, with some 'overseers' having badges or control rods...

Great ideas. I will definitely use the first of your thoughts. I will have to research your second thought to see if maybe I should go all skeletons. It would hurt your first idea a bit though. And I will definitely use your third thought. Thank you.


I think the most interesting thing here is just how many different things that could go wrong. Zombies getting infected with the living dead virus and going out to feed. Liches looking for a ready made kingdom of the dead. Any monster better at controlling the undead than the humans.

Liberty's Edge

Daw wrote:
I think the most interesting thing here is just how many different things that could go wrong. Zombies getting infected with the living dead virus and going out to feed. Liches looking for a ready made kingdom of the dead. Any monster better at controlling the undead than the humans.

I have my own deities. One of them is a lord of the undead. He is ecstatic, well if he was the type of deity to get excited.

http://thepa.obsidianportal.com/wikis/eadiac

If you read his entry, please ignore the unholy symbol. It is written so terribly that it may not make sense to you.

I also have a demi-god lich that is banished to an island in the south. He would love to break the chains and gather the resources in the north.

I agree, so many things are possible. This is one of my favorite countries and I cannot wait to get the PCs into the mix!


Irranshalee wrote:

I think we are already seeing a lot of that happening right now in our society. What I think you are missing is that these are people. You seem to be assuming that the poor would just be left behind to die. Do we do that now in our society?

No.

We give them shelter, food, clothing, and a basic education...just because they do not participate in the advancement or even survival of a society does not mean they are not valued by someone.

I think that they will, in fact, be valued highly by the rulers. Those in control will eventually need more skeletons and zombies. They will need a pool to draw from and they won't do it with their children.

Maybe I missed where you said this was a good government, because I think that's the part you are missing.

And we aren't really seeing it yet, not in our society. The automation that I'm talking about is going to remove most jobs. You wont have fast food workers to take your orders, or flip burgers. You'll have one technician to manage and over see all the robots making the food and the food.

And existing governments have no idea what to do about that sort of thing.

Just because they are people, that doesn't matter. Especially in a government that isn't good. An evil government certainly wont care about their citizens, especially the poor and weak. Of course in such a society the poor would basically be left to die, or somehow used and directed so as to be distracted and not be a threat to the government. Like an ongoing unceasing war to funnel the youth into.

And as far as our society providing for the poor, they do a s&!+ job of it.

As for having bodies to pull from to get more servants, that's what the war is for. Raiding for more fresh bodies.

Unless the government is going to spend a lot of money supporting people to do nothing (the former poor) then yes the poor will essentially be forgotten or ignored. And the cost associated with doing this will be monumental.

The best case scenario I can imagine is that the country builds the equivalent of section 8 housing for all the poor (now unemployed) people who spend their days waiting in line for food. With people becoming unruly and prone to violence. The worst case scenario I can imagine is they keep the poor people around only to produce more bodies to place into the work force.


Claxon wrote:
Irranshalee wrote:

I think we are already seeing a lot of that happening right now in our society. What I think you are missing is that these are people. You seem to be assuming that the poor would just be left behind to die. Do we do that now in our society?

No.

We give them shelter, food, clothing, and a basic education...just because they do not participate in the advancement or even survival of a society does not mean they are not valued by someone.

I think that they will, in fact, be valued highly by the rulers. Those in control will eventually need more skeletons and zombies. They will need a pool to draw from and they won't do it with their children.

Maybe I missed where you said this was a good government, because I think that's the part you are missing.

And we aren't really seeing it yet, not in our society. The automation that I'm talking about is going to remove most jobs. You wont have fast food workers to take your orders, or flip burgers. You'll have one technician to manage and over see all the robots making the food and the food.

And existing governments have no idea what to do about that sort of thing.

Just because they are people, that doesn't matter. Especially in a government that isn't good. An evil government certainly wont care about their citizens, especially the poor and weak. Of course in such a society the poor would basically be left to die, or somehow used and directed so as to be distracted and not be a threat to the government. Like an ongoing unceasing war to funnel the youth into.

And as far as our society providing for the poor, they do a s#+$ job of it.

As for having bodies to pull from to get more servants, that's what the war is for. Raiding for more fresh bodies.

There's such thing as a robot barista in San Francisco.

Basically the different in cost between hired help and automation is when you pay. Hired help, you pay decent amounts at regular intervals. Robots you pay all upfront, (with only a little bit of upkeep). In the long run, robots will be more profitable, but there still might be a job for humans in spontaneous, hard-to-access jobs that just pop up.

Irranshalee wrote:

I do see your point. What suggestions do you have?

The dwarves could have seen onyx as useless and just been stockpiling it somewhere.

I could have the mine produce an uncanny amount of onyx.

I do not see the dwarves gouging immediately. It would be at a later date when the process and need is within full swing, no way to stop it.

Naturally occurring phenomena, or upfront payment, will make it cheap to make undead. Perhaps there is an area where undead spontaneously, naturally arise from corpses. Or your country purchases the mineral rights to the onyx upfront. Or you spend ~10k gp on creating an area where undead spontaneous arise from corpses (as per Cursed Earth). Remember, you can still make your country dependent on other countries by control of your country's trade routes/waterways.


Blood Money could be used to avoid the onyx shortage.


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Melkiador wrote:
Blood Money could be used to avoid the onyx shortage.

At minimum, you'd need a 7th level Wizard. Perhaps a setup as such: A 7th level head Wizard, with a pair of 3rd level Cleric acolytes, and a bunch of corpses in a 20-foot radius pile. Assuming the 3rd level Clerics follow a neutral deity, they could have some Channel Positive ready. If they're Evil, they will want to have the Death (Undead) domain. They'll also want the Healing (Restoration) domain regardless, which is a little weird. They will probably prep Desecrate once between the two of them, then fill the rest of their 2nd level slots (probably 5 total, NPC array 13+2 racial WIS) with Lesser Restoration, to heal about 3.75 STR damage per Cleric, or 7.5 STR damage total. If they are Ecclesiastheurges, they might be able to eke out another couple 2nd level slots, which will let them cast 7 times and heal 10.5 total. The Cleric's 1st level spells would be a few Infernal Healings, maybe a Hide From Undead, a Curse Water, and a domain Cure Light Wounds. Their casting of Desecrate will cost 50 gp (25 gp worth of silver dust, and a potion of unholy water, which uses 25 gp worth of silver dust). The 7th level Wizard would be a Necromancy specialist, perhaps also a Thassilonian Specialist (fits with Blood Money, gets the extra slot). 4th level spells will be entirely Animate Dead (3 or 4 uses, assuming 13+1+2 INT and item Arcane Bond). 3rd level spells will probably be a number of Hastes equal to the number of Animate Deads, then maybe Gentle Repose. 2nd level spells would have a bunch of Command Undeads, 1st level would have Blood Money equal to Animate Deads, then some Infernal Healing, or Sculpt/Restore/Decompose Corpse. 3-4 Blood Moneys to cover CL 7 Desecrated Animate Dead will be 6 or 8 points of STR damage, 3d6 or 4d6 regular damage, and will make 84 or 112 fast zombies or a day. If the Wizard saved up for a +2 INT headband, and took Spell Focus, Spell Specialization, and Varisian Tattoo (all Necromancy, and Animate Dead), we could push the CL to 10 and the casts to 4 or 5, which would deal 3 STR damage per casting, or 15 total, and would produce 160 or 200 fast zombies. However, if the Wizard cut back on each casting by 1 zombie, they could push STR damage back to 2 (8-10 STR damage total), while only losing 4 or 5 zombies per day.

If you wanted to push CL up further, you could have the Clerics have the Magic (Arcane) subdomain instead of Death (Undead). I think each would apply a +1 CL, though maybe it doesn't stack. The Bloatmage Initiate feat earns your Wizard another +1 CL. However, it is somewhat inefficient past CL 10, since you need to hire more Clerics to keep up with the STR damage demands of Blood Magic.

So you basically need a 7th level Wizard, a pair of 3rd level Clerics, and 50 gp a day to make 195 fast zombies a day. Or 195 regular skeletons, or 95 variant skeletons. The only other issue is the cost of finding and hiring or training Wizards and Clerics of that level/specialization, who are willing to touch ~200 corpses a day.


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You get 1 caster with the false focus feat they can just run around animating human corpses for free (for the most part). No need for blood money.

In any event, there are definitely ways around needing onyx to pay for the material component of the spell.

I expect that this country wouldn't need to be able to have 1 trio of casters animating ~200 undead each and every day. Unless they start slaughtering their poor to turn into undead, they probably wont have hundred of undead each day.


Claxon wrote:

You get 1 caster with the false focus feat they can just run around animating human corpses for free (for the most part). No need for blood money.

In any event, there are definitely ways around needing onyx to pay for the material component of the spell.

I expect that this country wouldn't need to be able to have 1 trio of casters animating ~200 undead each and every day. Unless they start slaughtering their poor to turn into undead, they probably wont have hundred of undead each day.

Yeah, but the False Focus thing still needs a Cleric 5/Arcane Caster 1 or a Wizard 7. And 20-25 corpses (16-20 from Animate Dead, 4-5 from Lesser Animate Dead) a day is rather few if you need to get a lot of undead quickly (such as if you are converting a city graveyard). If you didn't need ~200 undead every day, you could downgrade to 1 Wizard 7 and 1 Cleric 3 and be able to get up to ~200 undead every other day, same cost. Or just wait to do a batch every 195 corpses you get. Regardless, you're going to need a Wizard 7 or a multiclassed Cleric of nearly the same level. And the Wizard 7 can be the same Wizard 7 in either case, (can do mass conversion as well as free small conversion) since all the feats fit.


My Self wrote:
Claxon wrote:

You get 1 caster with the false focus feat they can just run around animating human corpses for free (for the most part). No need for blood money.

In any event, there are definitely ways around needing onyx to pay for the material component of the spell.

I expect that this country wouldn't need to be able to have 1 trio of casters animating ~200 undead each and every day. Unless they start slaughtering their poor to turn into undead, they probably wont have hundred of undead each day.

Yeah, but the False Focus thing still needs a Cleric 5/Arcane Caster 1 or a Wizard 7. And 20-25 corpses (16-20 from Animate Dead, 4-5 from Lesser Animate Dead) a day is rather few if you need to get a lot of undead quickly (such as if you are converting a city graveyard). If you didn't need ~200 undead every day, you could downgrade to 1 Wizard 7 and 1 Cleric 3 and be able to get up to ~200 undead every other day, same cost. Or just wait to do a batch every 195 corpses you get. Regardless, you're going to need a Wizard 7 or a multiclassed Cleric of nearly the same level. And the Wizard 7 can be the same Wizard 7 in either case, (can do mass conversion as well as free small conversion) since all the feats fit.

Retroactive late edit: You could use a Wizard 5 or Cleric 3/Arcane Caster 1, if you were content with 4-5 corpses a day (same maximum paid or free). But you get significantly more corpses with a character level even 2 levels higher: 5x as many free, ~40x as many paid.


Time to see Shaun of the Dead again . . . .

Liberty's Edge

How do you animate at 5th lvl wizard?

Liberty's Edge

One of my big problems has been that very, very few people in my world are above 5th level. And of those above 5th, nearly no one is 10th or higher. Which means that I have to figure out how to make Tamarack happen without the use of a large group of higher level necromancers. I think I found the way around it.

I will not use a vampire. I have Krulean, a demigod lich that is banished to an island in the south. He may not be able to leave his island but he definitely could have made scrolls of Cursed Earth. He could have made a ton of headbands that Control Undead. And one would think he has interest in extending his reach.

I can have a necromantic core take these resources from his island and curse their own land to gain control of the government. What requirements would I need from the necromantic core to be able to use the Cursed Earth scrolls and not have them fail? Are there any good choices of an intelligent undead to lead the necromantic core? Someone or something that could stay hidden within a large city, yet be able to walk in public if necessary.

I also have a problem with the amount of money it would cost to make headbands to control the undead. I can solve that with Krulean as well. He has been alive (existed) for nearly 3500 years. He pretty much has unlimited funds. Why not have him be responsible. I mean, what else is he going to spend his fortune on?

If I have this much cash on hand to use as I wish, what other options might I have to throw at Tamarack?

I think this is the best solution to start the country of mindless slaves. At this point, I would just have to have some of the necromancers poison a few small villages and the plague would start.


Ok, Cursed Earth would be seriously difficult to control for anyone, including the lich, who are trying to make undead slaves.
[quote=Cursed Earth description}Effect
Range touch
Area 1-mile radius emanating from the touched point
Duration permanent
Saving Throw none (see text); Spell Resistance no

Description
You lay a terrible curse upon the land, blighting those who live and die there. Choose one of the following effects.

Famine: All normal plants in the area reduce their growth and food production by half, as if affected by the stunt growth effect of diminish plants.

Living Death: Any creatures of Small size or larger killed in the area rise as uncontrolled zombies 24 hours after their death, as do corpses buried in the area. Burning or dismembering the corpses prevents them from rising as zombies.

Plague: Every day at sundown, all creatures in the area must make a Fortitude save or catch one of the following diseases (your choice, decided at the time of casting): blinding sickness, bubonic plague, cackle fever, filth fever, leprosy, mindfire, red ache, shakes, or slimy doom. The disease is contracted immediately (the onset period does not apply). Use the disease’s listed frequency and save DC to determine further effects. This is a disease effect.

Unless you can reliably wall off the entire 1 mile radius (ca 6.3 miles of wall) you are going to have uncontrolled zombies mixing in with the "tame" ones. OK, I love the idea of the disruption and poor morale this would cause.


You don't need scrolls of Cursed Earth, you just need one casting, since it's a permanent 1-mile radius effect. It's permanent and effective on a mass scale, although it's also a 9th level spell.

The Lich just needs to have levels in Cleric, Sorcerer, Wizard, or Witch, and a DC 18 caster level check. If your Lich was once Human, they could get Defiant Luck and Inexplicable Luck to get +8 to one check a day. That gives you a 60% to activate the scroll with only one level in one of these classes. This is compatible with your character being a 7th level Wizard, if you so wish.

Lesser Animate Dead is available to Clerics at 3rd level, and Wizards at 5th. You get one zombie or skeleton per cast, max.

Remember, you still need skilled labor and overseers. The whole country can't be mindless.


Daw wrote:

Ok, Cursed Earth would be seriously difficult to control for anyone, including the lich, who are trying to make undead slaves.

[quote=Cursed Earth description}Effect
Range touch
Area 1-mile radius emanating from the touched point
Duration permanent
Saving Throw none (see text); Spell Resistance no

Description
You lay a terrible curse upon the land, blighting those who live and die there. Choose one of the following effects.

Famine: All normal plants in the area reduce their growth and food production by half, as if affected by the stunt growth effect of diminish plants.

Living Death: Any creatures of Small size or larger killed in the area rise as uncontrolled zombies 24 hours after their death, as do corpses buried in the area. Burning or dismembering the corpses prevents them from rising as zombies.

Plague: Every day at sundown, all creatures in the area must make a Fortitude save or catch one of the following diseases (your choice, decided at the time of casting): blinding sickness, bubonic plague, cackle fever, filth fever, leprosy, mindfire, red ache, shakes, or slimy doom. The disease is contracted immediately (the onset period does not apply). Use the disease’s listed frequency and save DC to determine further effects. This is a disease effect.

Unless you can reliably wall off the entire 1 mile radius (ca 6.3 miles of wall) you are going to have uncontrolled zombies mixing in with the "tame" ones. OK, I love the idea of the disruption and poor morale this would cause.

Plant it on a mountain, in your fortress of undeath, or in some scarcely-populated place with only one route or easy access.


Remember that you do need to arrange for the incipient zombie to actually die in the Cursed area as well if your plan is to use this as your zombie generator.

Liberty's Edge

The lich (demigod - not your typical lich) that would make the scrolls cannot travel to where they need to be cast. I also do not think he or the necromantic core would care if anything was walled off. All the better to incite fear. They would cast more than 1 Cursed Earth on most of the villages and probably the capital city. The necromantic core would be hailed as the saviors of the villages because they came and took the zombies away.

My question is what type of creature or caster do I need to cast the scrolls without them going to waste too often. Isn't there spell failure for those who cannot cast 9th level spells?


Irranshalee wrote:

The lich (demigod - not your typical lich) that would make the scrolls cannot travel to where they need to be cast. I also do not think he or the necromantic core would care if anything was walled off. All the better to incite fear. They would cast more than 1 Cursed Earth on most of the villages and probably the capital city. The necromantic core would be hailed as the saviors of the villages because they came and took the zombies away.

My question is what type of creature or caster do I need to cast the scrolls without them going to waste too often. Isn't there spell failure for those who cannot cast 9th level spells?

Notice my earlier post. A Human turned lich can use two feat slots to pick up Defiant Luck and Inexplicable Luck to get a +8 to a d20 roll every day (no level requirement). An Android turned lich can get 3+level (minimum 1) to a number of d20 rolls per day, which can be +8 as soon as 5th level. Death Knell, which requires a living sacrifice, nets you an additional +1 effective CL, but can be performed by a 2nd level Cleric or Witch, or with a scroll.

Liberty's Edge

But, the lich cannot travel to the spot where the casting needs to take place.


Irranshalee wrote:
But, the lich cannot travel to the spot where the casting needs to take place.

So just take a group of non-lich Witch 1s, make sure they have the Defiant Luck and Inexplicable Luck feats, and each will individually have a 60% chance to make the caster level check. Each additional caster level increases this chance by 5%. Once you get above 95%, you go to 99.75%, since you can reroll natural 1s (which usually limits scroll casting to 95% chance). Witches have the Coven hex available to them at 1st level, which lets a 1st level Witch buff another Witch's caster level by 1. There is no limit to how many witches can use this sort of aid another, so long as they are within 30 feet. You could do ridiculous stuff by shrinking people and having halfling witches, but you only need +8 (or 40%) to make it as much of a sure shot as you're going to get, since you need to roll 18, and have already got a +8 from luck, 1 base caster level, and (a chance of) auto-fail on 1. That means 8 Witches who are guaranteed to make their roll. Luckily for you, each Witch can boost their own Aid Another (DC 10) using Defiant Luck, to make it a sure shot: +8 from luck, 1 base caster level, and (a chance of) auto-fail on 1. The only other thing to note is that the head Witch (the one that casts the scroll, not the aid another ones) needs INT of 19 or higher. So a group of 9 1st level Witches should work, if they all have the Coven hex, and the Defiant and Inexplicable Luck feats.

Alternatively to having human backup witches (Which might not boost caster level, depending on how you read the Coven hex), you can have a group of Changeling witches with the Coven Caster feat. Humans with Racial Heritage (Changeling) and Coven Caster work as well. They should still have the Coven hex, of course. These witches will have a higher aid another failure rate, probably ~40%, instead of ~0.25%, and thus you might need more of them to boost CL by 8. However, this amount should still be able to fit within 30 feet of the primary caster. And the way Coven Caster is worded, it definitely boosts CL in a way that helps you cast from scrolls.

Dark Archive

Irranshalee wrote:
One of my big problems has been that very, very few people in my world are above 5th level. And of those above 5th, nearly no one is 10th or higher. Which means that I have to figure out how to make Tamarack happen without the use of a large group of higher level necromancers. I think I found the way around it. [SNIP]

Cursed Earth seems overly big for what you need.

The ability to control undead comes in a potentially 1st level Cleric with Command Undead feat, or a 2nd level Wizard spell command undead, making magic items of such an ability likely cheap, compared to other stuff. 3rd level Clerics or Wizards with Craft Wondrous Item could pump them out, and an organized temple or wizards/crafters academy or guild that's friendly to necromantic naughtiness would be able to serve that demand, particularly if the area already had some lying around pre-made (a former necromamncer-king used these amulets, and the local guilds are just working off of his formula, for instance, after liberating some from the elaborate pyramid-tombs his long-dead empire left behind).

The ability to create undead requires higher level magic, unless you, as GM, introduce lower level or custom options.

A spell to animate a single skeleton or zombie could be 1st or 2nd level, and I remember seeing 3rd party examples back in 3.X, if not also in PF.

If that's 'too easy,' there could be a lower level *ritual* that requires multiple (low-level) casters, possibly even simple adepts, to animate a single skeleton or zombie over the course of an hour or so.

Finally, there could be 'free-range' skeletons and zombies, a legacy of some terrible past (cue that long-gone necromancer-kingdom mentioned above?), or a rift to the negative energy plane that causes people who die out in the Plains of Black Sand to rise as zombies/skeletons, and the locals might organize 'hunts' to restrain and capture these wandering menaces, bringing them back in cages-on-wheels, or binding them with command undead spells or abilities, to bring them in and sell them at an undead slave market. This idea has the bonus option of providing built in adventure seeds, as a party of low-level PCs could be sent out into the 'badlands' to wrangle up some skeletons, for sale, or even be sent to round up some uncontrolled skeletons being prepped for sale that escaped their enclosure, and need to be recaptured before they cause significant harm and cause financial / legal problems for their owners (whose rune is emblazoned on the skeletons skulls, so that anyone seeing them will know it's Honest Jeb from Honest Jeb's Discount Skeletons to blame for these out of control undead running around downtown!).

There's also the potential of using an item, location or creature that creates undead, around which the society is built. Any body left overnight in the Well of Souls rises as an unquiet skeleton or zombie. The Heart-Ripper dagger turns anyone slain by it into a zombie under the control of the person who delivered the coup de grace, and is a relic of the local temple, which uses it to perform executions and create zombies for sale. The Corpse-Drinker is a small animal that drinks the blood of a person and then animates their corpse and rides around on it. If restrained, it can be separated from the corpse, which leaves it an uncontrolled zombie, ripe for alternate uses, while the ferret-sized 'drinker' is allowed to attach to another corpse (or person about to be executed...). These are examples off the top of my head, and there are plenty of actual examples out there, such as the Urgastata or whatever (giant worm what makes undead).

As GM, designing this, you don't really need to fuss around with how a PC could do it, to make a kingdom able to do it. A PC doesn't have to be able to make the Sun Orchid Elixir, or make a Thrice-Damned Pact to take over a nation, or call down eternal winter on an entire country, or dig up the bones of a dead demigoddess and turn them into a lich loyal to themselves, for those sorts of options to be available to Thuvia, Cheliax, Irrisen or Geb, after all! Go nuts!

While the 1st and 2nd level 'create a single skeleton or zombie' spells are probably the easiest route to go, and might seem the most 'fair' in the sense of giving PCs the same tools as the NPCs have, you can decide for your own game if you want 1st level parties using skeleton servants the same way some use purchased riding dogs. If that's cool, then cool. If you don't want that, then limit the skeleton/zombie creation to higher level magics, lengthy rituals, specific areas that are coterminous with the negative energy plane, a special altar deep in the bowels of the halls of justice, etc.


A single-undead Animate Dead is actually printed by Paizo - Lesser Animate Dead is a 2nd level Cleric spell, 3rd level Wizard spell from Ultimate Magic. It only animates a single corpse, but the cost is the same per corpse.

The Heartripper dagger doesn't seem to turn people into zombies, and is roughly the same price as a Cursed Earth scroll. ~14,000 gp is a fair bit in any case, but given how much it can affect, it's a decent investment. Or aforementioned 7th level necromancer Wizard with a 3rd level Cleric buddy, who would make a decent enemy boss as well.

But I agree with Set, since this is your game - unless your player absolutely demand/want a technical way for undead to sprout up, you can just say "they do, because (plot magic)", and let it hang there. The only real necessities is for the undead to be plentiful, cheap, and controllable, or absolutely necessary to survival. Besides money, survival, or collective insanity, I don't think there are a whole lot of reasons why a group of people would desecrate the mortal remains of the dead (See: Donner Party, Tutmania, necrophiliacs).


As far as broad social impact, you might want to compare to Molthune which has used Animated Objects for mass labor work. This is parallel with liberation of at least some of lowest classes, and even immigration to supply labor for tasks outside mass labor agriculture - as in advanced armories etc for their war.

People are discussing future robot automation, but the thing is, you don't have to extrapolate futures, the 19th Century industrial revolution already did achieve mass automation of work displacing labor. Undead "automation" of mass agriculture and industrial processes should be able to roughly parallel real world Industrial Revolution effects. And you can see 'magical' version of that in Molthune already following trajectory of real states.

I agree you don't need to slave yourself to high level magic scenarios, or involvement of high level Lichs/Undead Cabals, there is really no reason not to justify it all based on low level undead creation. If necessary, just invoke some magic items or process the nation has gotten ahold of that allows it to create Undead economically. Boom, that's all you need, you don't need to distort your concept to compensate for PC-centric game mechanics.


My Self wrote:

A single-undead Animate Dead is actually printed by Paizo - Lesser Animate Dead is a 2nd level Cleric spell, 3rd level Wizard spell from Ultimate Magic. It only animates a single corpse, but the cost is the same per corpse.

{. . .}

In addition, Horror Adventures introduced the Undead Master Wizard, which gets Lesser Animate Dead at 3rd level and Animate Dead at 5th level, like a Cleric, and also gets the Command Undead feat in place of Scribe Scroll if not a Necromancy specialist(*), or Improved Channel in place of Scribe Scroll if already a Necromancy specialist even before considering the archetype.

(*)However, this is very inefficient, requiring the expenditure of 3 uses of another Arcane School's 1st level power to get 1 use of Command Undead.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:
My Self wrote:

A single-undead Animate Dead is actually printed by Paizo - Lesser Animate Dead is a 2nd level Cleric spell, 3rd level Wizard spell from Ultimate Magic. It only animates a single corpse, but the cost is the same per corpse.

{. . .}

In addition, Horror Adventures introduced the Undead Master Wizard, which gets Lesser Animate Dead at 3rd level and Animate Dead at 5th level, like a Cleric, and also gets the Command Undead feat in place of Scribe Scroll if not a Necromancy specialist(*), or Improved Channel in place of Scribe Scroll if already a Necromancy specialist even before considering the archetype.

(*)However, this is very inefficient, requiring the expenditure of 3 uses of another Arcane School's 1st level power to get 1 use of Command Undead.

So an Elf or Human Wizard could be pushing out 3 castings of CL 7 Animate Dead at 5th level, and 4 castings of Lesser Animate Dead. A 3rd level Ecclesiastheurge Cleric with the Healing (Restoration) domain could counter Blood Money stat damage with 4 castings of Lesser Restoration, and health damage with regular cure or Infernal Healing. This will produce 88 zombies if Desecrate is applied, or 46 if it isn't. The Wizard will wind up 50 gp poorer, and with an extra 1.5 STR damage if they use Desecrate, since the Cleric will have to have prepared Desecrate instead of another Lesser Restoration. Without using Desecrate, they won't even use all the Lesser Restorations. If they Desecrate, but avoid giving the Wizard the extra STR damage, they'll wind up with 61 zombies. Alternatively, the Cleric can drop in a Remove Paralysis, or the Wizard can drop in Haste. This will cost some combination of STR damage and 0, 14, 19, 28, or 42 zombies, depending on how you want to end up. On one end, the Wizard sucks up the extra 1.5 STR damage (for a total of 3 STR damage, 50 gp spent), and winds up with 88 fast zombies. Or the Cleric pulls a Desecrate, Wizard casts Haste, and they wind up with 0.5 STR damage, 60 fast zombies, and 50 gp spent. On the other end, the Wizard plays it safe, and gets 46 fast zombies with no additional expenses or damage (although they are all out of 3rd and 2nd level spells).

Small edit: I guess you get an extra highest-level spell from Arcane Bond that I missed, but I'm not going to stick it up right now. You basically just add another 4, 19 or 28 zombies, prepare another Blood Money, and take 0, 1, or 2 extra STR damage, and give your Cleric more work. Or I guess you blow it on Haste, to make your zombies faster.

Extra edit: I think the Cleric casting Remove Paralysis wouldn't make the zombies any faster, since it requires the creator to do the casting. So you need a 1:1 ratio of Haste to Animate Dead, which cuts down on your returns (but also thankfully on your Blood Money STR damage).

Basically:
Elf (Overwhelming Magic) or Human with Spell Focus feat
Wizard (Undead Master) [Necromancy School] 5, with INT 13+1+2, and the Spell Specialization, Varisian Tattoo (Necromancy), and False Focus feats
With Animate Dead prepared 2-3 times, and Haste prepared 0-1 times, as well as Lesser Animate Dead prepared 4 times, and Blood Money prepared 2-3 times
and
whatever race Cleric (Ecclesiastheurge) [Healing (Restoration) Domain] 3, with WIS 13+2, with whatever feats
With Lesser Restoration prepared 1-3 times, Desecrate prepared 0-1 times, and Remove Paralysis prepared 0-1 times, and maybe Infernal Healing prepared 1-2 times

Congratz, infinite free undead at 5th level. Just add corpses.


Daw wrote:
Remember that you do need to arrange for the incipient zombie to actually die in the Cursed area as well if your plan is to use this as your zombie generator.

not necessarily... include the local graveyard in the cursed area, and whoever gets buried there will rise too.


I missed the buried part somehow. Thanks.
Makes it a useful option, while retaining huge potential for things to go horribly wrong.

I can see zombies for jobs requiring more strength, but what method will you use to prevent globs of rotting flesh from falling into the harvested crops? Orange jumpsuits?


Daw wrote:

I missed the buried part somehow. Thanks.

Makes it a useful option, while retaining huge potential for things to go horribly wrong.

I can see zombies for jobs requiring more strength, but what method will you use to prevent globs of rotting flesh from falling into the harvested crops? Orange jumpsuits?

Skeletons, probably. Although I suppose rotten flesh might make decent fertilizer.


More thorough than that -- you just make sure you have insiders in the Tamarack Department of Agriculture.


Melkiador wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
If you start this practice in a millennia old culture that's been entombing their dead the entire time, then you will already be sitting on generations of material.
However lacking modern preservation techniques, only the more recent corpses would be intact enough for use.
Mummies are thousands of years old. Skeletons can last for thousands of years if the climate is arid.

And are the beneficiary of extremely sophisticated and expensive preservation techniques. Which in the mummy's case include the removal of much of the internal organs.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
If you start this practice in a millennia old culture that's been entombing their dead the entire time, then you will already be sitting on generations of material.
However lacking modern preservation techniques, only the more recent corpses would be intact enough for use.
Mummies are thousands of years old. Skeletons can last for thousands of years if the climate is arid.
And are the beneficiary of extremely sophisticated and expensive preservation techniques. Which in the mummy's case include the removal of much of the internal organs.

I could see it happening. More formal rites for the organs (the important parts for life), leaving the bonesuit to keep on working.


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Have you also considered using Worms that Walk? The worms can help aerate the soil and act as "elite" working undead.

Also, have you thought about bringing the good word of Demon Lord Kabriri into your life? He not only has a unique connection with the Ghouls and Ghuls, but his unique summoning rules also imply that he has fiendish shaitan working for him. If that truly is the case, then you can also work with outsiders to help you fetch onyx and other materials rather than just dwarves.

Also also, I'm just curious, has anyone read a piece of work from /tg/ called The Millennial King? It's about an undead city with an undead work force much like your own, only it's good aligned instead. It won't work with the Pathfinder rule of "Undead = Always Evil", but it's still food for thought.


^That's pretty cool. Now where on Golarion might one insert such a n Undead nation(*) that ISN'T Geb? I doubt we could find any space in Avistan or northern Garund; maybe in Casmaron, southern Garund, or Tian-Xia, but probably Arcadia is a more promising candidate.

(*)Suppose that the Pathfinder rule of "Undead = Always Evil" (which is already canonically known to be not quite 100% true) was just a description of the situation up to the time of founding of this nation?


UnArcaneElection wrote:


(*)Suppose that the Pathfinder rule of "Undead = Always Evil" (which is already canonically known to be not quite 100% true) was just a description of the situation up to the time of founding of this nation?

That's why it's a RULE. So that the non-evil exceptions are appropriately rare AND special.


Well since it's more of a Golarion setting rule than a rule baked in the Pathfinder System I'd say either don't put the nation on Rovagug's Cage in the first place or since you are houseruling anyway...

Reduxist wrote:

Have you also considered using Worms that Walk? The worms can help aerate the soil and act as "elite" working undead.

The Millennial King

the worm that walks is not undead. Granted, with template stacking you might make undead ones but...


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Here's an idea to consider for the future of the setting: perhaps the undead that exist long enough begin to show signs of a rudimentary intelligence emerging. Perhaps even moments of memory. If left unchecked, or overlooked, it might even lead to a small rebellion of newly sapient undead.

This could prompt either a Logan's Run/Bladerunner like set-up where undead have a cancellation date say five years from their creation at which time they must be brought in for destruction. This would also require a constant supply of "replacement" materials as well.

It might also lead to an undead sympathetic social movement: "zombies were people too" kind of thing, where undead that have recovered partial memories stir the longing of those who wish for their deceased loved ones back.


^Warm Bodies . . . .

Dark Archive

Scythia wrote:
It might also lead to an undead sympathetic social movement: "zombies were people too" kind of thing, where undead that have recovered partial memories stir the longing of those who wish for their deceased loved ones back.

Playing off of this, even if the undead don't retain or regain memories on a conscious level, the existence of spells like speak with dead indicate that some sort of psychic impressions or 'ka soul' remains with the body / remains. Purists might believe that the body still retains some sort of psychic connection to the long-departed soul, and that animating the body 'troubles' the soul, in whatever afterlife it occupies, and that even mindless undead are an act of cruelty against those souls. The more radical among them want to burn the whole system down (and are even willing to destroy the animated dead to end this proposed 'spiritual pain' of which they have no proof, and even against some of their own beliefs, that the destruction of the bodies would cause even worse spiritual pain to the spirits of the dead...), while the more philosophical among them practice rituals to try and mitigate this harm, going against the local customs of dehumanizing the undead / depersonalizing them and removing all traces of their past lives, instead trying to find out what specific people their undead servants and workers were, so that they can address them by name and treat them as if they were still alive (supposedly to pay respect to the people they used to be, and not trouble their departed spirits). To non-believers, they'd seem bizarre, even disturbing, going out of their way to learn about the lives of undead workers around them, and dress them and address them by their names, etc. instead of the local tradition of treating them like furniture and trying to pretend that they aren't the mortal remains of people.

Without changing anything mechanically, there could still be a pretty strong movement, with several different factions within it, dividing society's impressions on the matter of the undead workers.

Liberty's Edge

Just want to let all of you know that I am finally introducing Tamarack to my players. I cannot wait. I am so very blessed to have had your help in fleshing it out. Thank you! It is going to be a spectacular introduction to this horrific situation.

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