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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Zombies! (New Spells)



weaseldust
2016-01-11, 09:18 PM
These are intended to allow playing a low-level necromancer in the manner the name suggests someone who has creating and controlling undead as their main focus. Later spells also allow for turning more varied creatures into zombies than just humanoids.

All spells are added to the Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard lists. Commentary is in green.


Corpse Puppet
Necromancy Cantrip
Casting time: 1 action
Duration: Concentration (1 minute)
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a sceptre carved from bone)

You grant limited animation to an intact Small or Medium humanoid corpse you can see within range. It becomes a Zombie under your control for the duration, moving and acting at the end of each of your turns. It cannot act except to push, drag, or pick up objects or willing or unconscious creatures, unless a spell or other feature grants it the ability to do more. The Zombie becomes an inanimate corpse again when the spell ends or as soon as it is more than 60 feet away from you.

This is significantly better for carrying stuff than Mage Hand, but it doesn't let you do anything more complex with an object than carrying it, requires a corpse (which can be destroyed if you keep using it to trigger traps, for instance), is less mobile, and occupies your concentration.


Empower Zombie
Necromancy Cantrip
Casting time: 1 action
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S

You channel necromantic energies through a nearby undead servant. One Zombie under your control within range uses its reaction to make a Slam attack against a creature you can see. The damage it deals is necrotic and it gains temporary HP equal to the damage dealt until the start of your next turn. The Zombie may add your proficiency bonus to its attack roll.

When you reach level 5, the Zombie's attack deals an additional d8 necrotic damage on a hit. The extra damage increases by d8 when you reach levels 11 and 17.

This is obviously intended to work with Corpse Puppet and Zombie Servant (below) to allow you to play as a necromancer who mostly works through their undead servants. It does similar damage to Chill Touch except that it has a more limited range, doesn't have the riders of Chill Touch, uses your Zombie's reaction, but does also make it tougher. Adding your proficiency bonus keeps the Zombie's attack modifier in line with your spell attack modifier (probably +5 at level 1).


Zombie Servant
Level 1 Necromancy
Casting time: 1 minute
Duration: 24 hours
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (an item or uniform bearing your personal insignia and worth at least 20GP, which the zombie wears for the duration and which cannot be removed until it is destroyed)

You touch the intact corpse of a Small or Medium humanoid and raise it as a Zombie under your control. The Zombie understands and obeys simple commands from you and you alone, so long as it can hear you. Once it is given a task, it will pursue it until commanded otherwise. It cannot attack unless granted the ability by a spell or other feature, but it will attempt to avoid being damaged or destroyed so long as that does not contravene a direct order from you.

The Zombie is capable of the tasks a footman or butler would be expected to accomplish, such as serving wine or driving a carriage. It may add your proficiency bonus to ability checks made in the line of its duties as a valet (for instance, to pour wine on a ship buffeted by waves, or to steer your carriage down a narrow mountain track).

When the spell ends, the Zombie returns to its former status as a lifeless corpse. You may re-cast this spell on a Zombie you created with it, or on the corpse it leaves when destroyed, in order to extend the duration of its service to 24 hours again.

When you cast this spell from a slot of level 2 or higher, the Zombie's maximum HP is increased by 10 for each level above 1.

A low-level necromancer can cast this once per day and then use Empower Zombie to attack with it most rounds. Or they could just use it as a harmless Zombie Jeeves. You could cast it again and again to get loads of Zombies, but, unlike with Animate Dead, it will almost never be worth having a horde of the things.


Zombie Rage
Level 2 Necromancy
Casting time: 1 bonus action
Duration: 1 minute
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a piece of red meat)

You infuse a corpse you can see within range with hatred of the living. You target either the intact body of a Small or Medium humanoid or a Zombie that is under your control. In the first case, the corpse rises as a Zombie under your control. It falls down again as an inanimate corpse when the spell ends.

For the duration of the spell, the Zombie's movement increases by 10 feet. When you cast the spell, and as a bonus action on subsequent turns, you may cause it to Dash or to make a Slam attack against a creature you can see within 5 feet of it. This attack may not target an object, construct, or undead creature.

When you cast this spell from a slot of level 4 or higher, you may target an additional corpse or Zombie for every 2 levels above 2.

This is intended for necromancers to be able to boost their damage output in tougher encounters at low levels without turning to un-necromantic means like evocation spells. However, the spell is also written to be usable for casters who don't already have undead servants around. It should be balanced against Spiritual Weapon it's a bit more mobile, but it ends early if the zombie dies.


There are more spells below but they rely on the following rules for making zombie-like creatures besides the Zombie in the MM:

The intact corpse of a humanoid, beast, giant, dragon, or monstrosity can be zombified. It then returns to life as an undead creature with the same statistics it had in life except for the below alterations.

Its creature type changes to Undead. It gains darkvision to a range of 60ft, unless it had better. Any movement speed it has is reduced by 10ft, to a minimum of 10ft. It cannot speak. It can understand languages it previously knew and can understand simple words and sentences spoken by its creator in any language. Its intelligence score is set to 3.

The only special actions it remains able to take are weapon attacks and the Multiattack action. It also loses any special abilities except those relating to its weapon attacks, senses, and movement. In particular, it loses any legendary or lair actions it had in life and it cannot cast spells.

In addition, the zombified creature gains immunity to poison damage and the poisoned condition. It also gains the Zombie's Undead Fortitude feature (viz, when reduced to 0HP, except by radiant damage or a critical hit, it can make a constitution save against 5 plus the damage dealt to be reduced to 1HP instead).

A zombified creature is unintelligent, but it may retain those aspects of its previous personality that do not require higher intelligence, like a tendency towards belligerence or cowardice.

When a zombified creature is destroyed and its corpse remains intact, that corpse is treated as the corpse of the original (non-undead) creature for the purposes of further zombification.

Note that a zombified creature is not a Zombie. A Zombie is a specific creature from the MM. For instance, Empower Zombie is specifically written not to work with zombified creatures, only with Zombies.

(I would suggest that an 'intact' corpse mean one where the creature's head and any appendages required for movement are attached to its torso, and it is structurally sound enough to support its weight, to move, and to attack. I would also suggest that the player be able to stitch a body together well enough for it to be zombified using the Mending cantrip or a dexterity (Medicine) check.)


Zombie Steed
Level 2 Necromancy
Casting time: 1 minute
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a bridle of black iron worth at least 50GP, which cannot be removed from the steed until it is destroyed)

You touch the intact corpse of a creature that is at least one size category larger than you, has an anatomy suitable for riding, and is of a type that can be zombified. The creature's CR in life must have been at most 1. It then rises as a zombified mount under your control.

The creature acts as a controlled (unintelligent) mount and will serve only you. It understands and obeys commands you give it to move or to carry particular items. It cannot perform other actions except those permitted to a controlled mount. The mount cannot fly even if it could in life.

The mount serves almost as an unnatural extension of your own body. Whenever you cast a spell that targets only yourself, you may choose for it to also target the mount.

When you cast this spell from a slot of level 2 or higher, the limit on the CR of the creatures whose corpses you can target increases by 1 for every level above 1. When you cast this spell from a slot of level 6 or higher, the mount can fly if it could in life. When you use a slot of level 9, there is no limit on the CR of the creatures whose corpses you can target.

This is to let you ride a zombie horse, or a zombie dragon at high levels. It's good for show and OK for mobility, but the zombie can't attack for you.


Lesser Zombification
Level 4 Necromancy
Casting time: 1 minute
Duration: Concentration (1 hour)
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a needle and thread)

You touch the intact corpse of a creature of a suitable type and cause it to be zombified. The corpse must belong to a creature of CR no greater than 4. For the duration, the zombified creature obeys simple commands you give it, acting at the end of your turn. When the spell ends, it returns to its former status as a corpse.

If you lose concentration before the spell ends, control over the creature passes to the DM, who should decide on its actions based on the kind of creature it was in life and any personality traits it may have retained. You may re-cast the spell on a zombified creature you created to extend the duration to 1 hour again and to regain control over it if necessary.

When you cast this spell from a slot of level 5 or higher, the maximum CR of the creatures whose corpses you can target increases by 1 for each level above 4. When you cast it from a slot of level 9, there is no CR maximum.

Now you can make zombie giants! I felt this belonged at level 4, between Conjure Animals and Conjure Elemental, since a zombified creature can have unusual senses and movement abilities but doesn't have the powerful special actions of an elemental. It's intended to be mostly for extra HP and attacks, like Conjure Animals.


Mass Zombification
Level 6 Necromancy
Casting time: 1 minute
Duration: 24 hours
Range: Self (30-foot radius)
Components: V, S, M (dust from a destroyed wight, vampire, or lich)

You choose up to 5 intact corpses within the affected area that belong to creatures of appropriate types. None of the creatures may have had a CR greater than 1 in life and their combined HP in life must not exceed 60. The creatures are zombified and obey simple commands you give them, acting at the end of your turn. When the spell ends, the zombified creatures become inanimate corpses again.

When you cast this spell from a slot of level 7 or higher, the combined HP you can target increases by 30 for every level above 6.

This competes with Create Undead. You can get more undead with it, it doesn't require your bonus action to command them, and they don't become dangerous when the spell ends. On the other hand, the HP cap makes it hard to get 3 CR1 creatures to compete with the 3 ghouls Create Undead gives you and whatever creatures you create won't be intelligent.


Greater Zombification
Level 9 Necromancy
Casting time: 1 minute
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a carved jade heart of appropriate size for the target corpse and worth at least 2000GP, which beats inside the zombified creature and cannot be recovered until it is destroyed)

You touch the intact corpse of any creature of an appropriate type and it rises as an independent, intelligent zombified creature. Unlike an ordinary zombified creature, its intelligence score is not replaced and it can speak any language it knew in life. The soul of the original creature does not return and it does not remember anything except the last moments of its life, but it retains the instincts and habits it had in life, and perhaps personality traits that do not depend on higher intelligence.

The DM should invent an intelligent personality for the new creature based on its physique and the circumstances in which it died or is raised. For instance, the corpse of a red dragon is likely to retain a predatory nature, but if it is raised to life in a pleasant woodland glade it may also develop an appreciation for nature. If it died defending its eggs against another dragon, it might retain a strong parental instinct, or it might feel an instinctive hatred for the type of dragon that killed it.

The zombified creature is not under your control, but it is charmed by you for the first hour of its new life and it hears and understands any verbal address you make to it during the casting of the spell.

This lets you make intelligent zombified NPCs, but at the cost of having to negotiate with rather than control them.

Ancalidormis
2016-01-12, 04:54 AM
I wish these were in pathfinder...

Fast Jimmy
2016-01-12, 05:03 AM
Before responding to any of these individually, I think it might be worth pointing out that every casting class has limits on the number of spells known (even wizards, although their limit is more DM influenced) as well as a definite limit on the number of spells ready for any casting class. So having a half dozen spells that all do relatively the same thing (summon a zombie undead) eats into that limited spell space. Sure, you'd have a caster who was a zombie master... but at the cost of them not being able to do much of anything else you'd expect a caster to do.

Possibly have less spells that scale with higher spell levels? That way, a master necromancer can pick up one scalable zombie spell, one scalable skeleton spell, one scalable ghast spell and then still be a fairly functional (if specialized) caster at the end of the day? Having a million and one spells that are just slightly stronger versions of other spells is a real bane in D&D, especially for a system designed for built-in scalability.

weaseldust
2016-01-12, 10:26 PM
I wish these were in pathfinder...

Well, you can summon, create, or control more varied zombified creatures in PF because of the template system. I tried to look in the SRD to see if there was anything similar to the cantrips and low-level spells I made, but it's not cooperating with my browser very well. (How come the ads all load perfectly within seconds but the rest of the page arrives a minute later or not at all?) I did find this archetype (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/cleric/archetypes/paizo---cleric-archetypes/undead-lord) which gives you an undead companion and, via that page, this feat (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/skeleton-summoner) which lets you summon skeletons with a 1st-level spell.


Before responding to any of these individually, I think it might be worth pointing out that every casting class has limits on the number of spells known (even wizards, although their limit is more DM influenced) as well as a definite limit on the number of spells ready for any casting class. So having a half dozen spells that all do relatively the same thing (summon a zombie undead) eats into that limited spell space. Sure, you'd have a caster who was a zombie master... but at the cost of them not being able to do much of anything else you'd expect a caster to do.

Possibly have less spells that scale with higher spell levels? That way, a master necromancer can pick up one scalable zombie spell, one scalable skeleton spell, one scalable ghast spell and then still be a fairly functional (if specialized) caster at the end of the day? Having a million and one spells that are just slightly stronger versions of other spells is a real bane in D&D, especially for a system designed for built-in scalability.

It's not like I just made Create Zombie I, Create Zombie II, up to Create Zombie IX. All of the spells do different things, I already used scaling with slot level about as much as is feasible, and I don't really see any two of them I could combine.

For example, Lesser Zombification and Mass Zombification might look superficially similar, but they differ significantly in duration and riskiness, because the former is meant to make powerful allies like Conjure Elemental and the latter is meant to make minions like Create Undead. I could try to write one combined spell more like Conjure Animals, so you could get one strong ally or multiple, less powerful allies, but that would (a) prevent the CR of the strong ally from increasing with slot level and (b) prevent the two kinds of uses from having different durations, unless I wrote horribly convoluted rules for the different uses and their different scaling.

Besides, you don't need to take all the spells to be a competent zombie-controller. It would be enough to take the two cantrips and one higher-level spell. I do, however, intend that someone who really wanted to focus on zombies could take all of them (and Animate Dead, Create Undead, and Finger of Death). I also don't really accept that every caster should be expected to do things besides necromancy and I designed these spells so that they could choose not to.

PoeticDwarf
2016-01-13, 05:36 AM
I LOVE THIS
Seriously, these spells are very cool, and especially the low level spells 100% balanced :D