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    Default Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    So, I realize this question has come up many a time before, but unfortunately my google-fu is weak, and it never really seems to get a clear or "universally accepted" answer, so I'll ask again:

    How much money should someone pay to buy a corpse in D&D? I'm asking this, because I have a guy who wants to start off as a Dread Necromancer, and he wants to have an undead elephant (hasn't decided on skelephant or zombiephant), and I don't want to give it to him for free, exactly, since that's a huge asset (no pun intended), but I don't want to have him go across the world hunting for an elephant either. (Actually, I can't even find the price of a regular elephant to buy, or I'd have just gone from there.) The question here is not exactly WHERE you would buy such things, but rather, how much? In a D&D setting, you can imagine there's probably SOME weirdo who knows necromancers pay good money for corpses, so that's not an issue, but I really just want some sort of idea on costs of corpses.

    My rough brainstorm here is that the cost of a corpse should probably take into consideration the HD of the corpse, the weapon proficiencies of the corpse, and the size of the corpse, but that's just a thought. What do you think?
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Buy a living animal. Pay the market price for animal, and no one has to know you are necromancer.

    Kill it.

    Job done. You don't need bodies if you have the real thing.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    If you can get access to Fabricate, you can turn any body into any other body. So you can make a body of a Cryohydra out of a bunch of goblin bodies.

    Arcane Disciple is probably the easiest way to do this.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Deth Muncher View Post
    So, I realize this question has come up many a time before, but unfortunately my google-fu is weak, and it never really seems to get a clear or "universally accepted" answer, so I'll ask again:

    How much money should someone pay to buy a corpse in D&D? I'm asking this, because I have a guy who wants to start off as a Dread Necromancer, and he wants to have an undead elephant (hasn't decided on skelephant or zombiephant), and I don't want to give it to him for free, exactly, since that's a huge asset (no pun intended), but I don't want to have him go across the world hunting for an elephant either. (Actually, I can't even find the price of a regular elephant to buy, or I'd have just gone from there.) The question here is not exactly WHERE you would buy such things, but rather, how much? In a D&D setting, you can imagine there's probably SOME weirdo who knows necromancers pay good money for corpses, so that's not an issue, but I really just want some sort of idea on costs of corpses.

    My rough brainstorm here is that the cost of a corpse should probably take into consideration the HD of the corpse, the weapon proficiencies of the corpse, and the size of the corpse, but that's just a thought. What do you think?
    If I were you, I'd compare it to the price of hirelings. Let's put this into perspective. A Heavy Horse costs 200gp. Now, since this is the corpse you're buying, you have to realize that he pays 50gp/HD to turn it into undead. So 50x11=550gp just to animate it. A heavy horse has 1/2 as much strength. So I would put the price of a live elephant at 400gp. The Corpse should be reduced in price, because it should be more expensive to buy a live one. so probably 200gp for a elephant corpse.

    So in total, it costs your player 750gp to get an elephant zombie/skeleton. Honestly, he's better off just getting horses or something, but if he wants an elephant(It would be cool) than he needs to pay the price.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    If you can get access to Fabricate, you can turn any body into any other body. So you can make a body of a Cryohydra out of a bunch of goblin bodies.

    Arcane Disciple is probably the easiest way to do this.
    This may be the creepiest idea I've ever read. Btw, what kind of craft check is that?


    @OP: Realistically, most "suppliers" would be willing to give you a corpse for free, unless the animal is exotic (in the magical sense). Most people that have animals would be all to happy for a stranger to offer to cart it off without charging them. If you're shooting for verisimilitude, you're aiming in the wrong direction.

    If you're aiming for balance, as in "it wouldn't be fair for him to just get corpses for free" then LoM has a good starting point. A live creature is worth CR^2 X 100gp. This price is supposed to be for slaves, but I don't see any reason it wouldn't be a good rule of thumb to buy any living creature.

    If you found a necromancer corpse broker (anyone else would happily part with most corpses for free) he might charge half that, providing you're inquiring about the corpse of something easily found. Exotic corpses could easily cost the same as a live specimen, or even 2-3 times that, since they have to be preserved and/or transported. If you buy the live specimens, you may still have to pay extra for exotic creatures.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Elephant keepers might give the corpses away when they die, but given the elephant's long life and the corpse's stinkiness after a couple days it's highly unlikely that they have one in stock. So this way it simply can't be done without extreme luck or buying a live elephant.

    You'd have to buy corpses from a necromancer willing to collect, transport and store the bodies. Unguent of timelessness costs 75 gp per year so preserving is the easy part. The body is too big for shrink item so he needs to prepare several floating disk spells coming to about 900 gp (at spell level x caster level x 10 gp). A locked cottage to store it in is about 1,000 gp. The cottage might be reusable but a corpse is going to stay in inventory a very long time before being sold. To make a profit I'd say he needs to charge about 4,000 gp.

    If a live elephant is cheaper then you're better off buying a live elephant and no necromancer would bother stocking the corpse. Griffons are lower CR and cost 8500 gp, but griffons fly and elephants don't so who knows.

    Smaller bodies would be much cheaper, except for rare creatures. Then transportation and storage might be cheap but finding the body is more costly. Unlike the elephant where finding it is basically free (for a shopkeeper with years to wait, not an adventurer). Intelligent creatures would run into legal issues, so they'd face a black market price hike.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    I would say CR^2 X 100 for a live or lifelike quality corpse that has no rot, 4900 for an elephant. Maybe 1/2 that for the rotted corpse, say 2450. Skeletons can be stored for long periods with little problem and are much easier to move, so maybe 1/2 the cost of a rotten corpse, 1225.

    If the party just wants a packbeast then fine. If makes a good mobile fort to sleep in at night, and there is no need to even stop for sleeping.

    That is a lot of HP though, so be careful. If he has corpse crafter feats and an unhollow area with an alter you could be looking at 100's of hp to be use to tank damage.

    Beware of spellsitching. A wisdom booster and off you go for 3rd or 4th level spells from the elephant. On a good day it casts gentle repose on itself to stay nice looking. On a bad day it casts summon monster 4 to tie up battlefields. Also DR 5 / silver AND magic is not a common defense and makes the HP tank even tankier.

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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    Buy a living animal. Pay the market price for animal, and no one has to know you are necromancer.

    Kill it.

    Job done. You don't need bodies if you have the real thing.
    As an added bonus, since you generally don't want zombies, you get a nice set of meals out of the deal for whatever or whoever needs feeding, or can partially recoup your expenses by selling the meat and hide.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    what kind of craft check is that?
    I would probably say something along the lines of "Craft (corpsecrafter)" and put the ranks that you have in that skill to as much use as possible. You could house-rule in some usages for it, and even make bone equipment. From the DMG, bone weapons are ruled to take a -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls, with a minimum of 1 point of damage. That may seem underpowered, but keep in mind that you can create powerful forms of undead with it, AND have the ability to make decent weapons and kick-ass armor (I mean, it's made out of BONES. How is that not cool?).

    Another application of this skill is to repair dead bodies. You can repair seriously damaged bodies that can no longer be reanimated (as the spell calls for "mostly intact" bodies), or even repair a body enough that it does not require Resurrection, but merely a Raise Dead spell.

    You could also make some weird hybrid forms of undead by combining two dead bodies, such as an ogre body with umber hulk arms and several kobold hands wielding short swords that are fused to snake bodies that reach out from the back of the ogre.

    Wow. I just realized that I put way too much thought into that hybrid...

    Anyway, Craft (corpsecrafter) could work on that check.

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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by karkus View Post
    You could also make some weird hybrid forms of undead by combining two dead bodies, such as an ogre body with umber hulk arms and several kobold hands wielding short swords that are fused to snake bodies that reach out from the back of the ogre.

    Wow. I just realized that I put way too much thought into that hybrid...

    Anyway, Craft (corpsecrafter) could work on that check.
    Yeah, I liked the idea of such things enough to start working on some homebrew for that a while back. Need to pick it back up and finish it, haha. x.x
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Coidzor View Post
    Yeah, I liked the idea of such things enough to start working on some homebrew for that a while back. Need to pick it back up and finish it, haha. x.x
    There's so much potential for necromancers, but the undead=evil mentality limited it greatly.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Madara View Post
    There's so much potential for necromancers, but the undead=evil mentality limited it greatly.
    Yeah, but you'd really think there'd have been some level of mish-mash and oddjob creatures or templates that they'd have done up so that DMs could throw all kinds of whackjob evil necromancers at their parties at least.

    I think the closest are the bloodhulks which by default aren't even fluffed as the looking like the result of various creatures being cobbled into one so much as one creature with the blood and maybe some muscle of several others and flesh golems which aren't even properly necromantic.
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2012-09-23 at 04:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    I think the most important factor in determining the cost of a elephant (or it's corpse) is deciding what role elephants in the location where you're trying to purchase them.

    If they're a common beast of burden, one could be purchased for it's value as a few thousand pounds of low quality meat. You could check for availability since only a few will die each year or assume the PC was on the lookout for a few weeks/months before the start of the game, he may need to bid 10-15% over market price to assure he gets it.

    If they're non-indigenous they may be nearly impossible to acquire by normal means, you may essentially be hiring adventurers to go hunt one for you, corpses will just never be on the market under normal circumstances. Even if an eccentric countess has a pet elephant she'll probably have it buried when it dies.

    If you're from a country that imports monsters for gladiatorial games you may be able to purchase one at the back door of the arena. This could be legal or illegal at the DM's discretion, it may even be an open secret amoungst necromancers and be a good place to network with like minded individuals. However, this would drive up prices though probably up to a solid proportion of LoM slave prices, maybe close to LoM minus the 50gp per hd that animating costs.

    If you're game is in a society that has legalized and embraced necromancy then there's probably a thriving body trade functioning somewhere around 1/2 LoM or warbeast prices.

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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Hoo buddy, lotsa good responses here. I have some general responses, but first:


    Quote Originally Posted by ShneekeyTheLost View Post
    If you can get access to Fabricate, you can turn any body into any other body. So you can make a body of a Cryohydra out of a bunch of goblin bodies.
    I...just...what. How interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    This may be the creepiest idea I've ever read. Btw, what kind of craft check is that?


    @OP: Realistically, most "suppliers" would be willing to give you a corpse for free, unless the animal is exotic (in the magical sense). Most people that have animals would be all to happy for a stranger to offer to cart it off without charging them. If you're shooting for verisimilitude, you're aiming in the wrong direction.

    If you're aiming for balance, as in "it wouldn't be fair for him to just get corpses for free" then LoM has a good starting point. A live creature is worth CR^2 X 100gp. This price is supposed to be for slaves, but I don't see any reason it wouldn't be a good rule of thumb to buy any living creature.

    If you found a necromancer corpse broker (anyone else would happily part with most corpses for free) he might charge half that, providing you're inquiring about the corpse of something easily found. Exotic corpses could easily cost the same as a live specimen, or even 2-3 times that, since they have to be preserved and/or transported. If you buy the live specimens, you may still have to pay extra for exotic creatures.
    Verisimilitude isn't what I'm going for at the moment, for one reason, which I'll get to presently. I wasn't aware of the LoM guides towards live creatures, though, so that's really helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Madara View Post
    If I were you, I'd compare it to the price of hirelings. Let's put this into perspective. A Heavy Horse costs 200gp. Now, since this is the corpse you're buying, you have to realize that he pays 50gp/HD to turn it into undead. So 50x11=550gp just to animate it. A heavy horse has 1/2 as much strength. So I would put the price of a live elephant at 400gp. The Corpse should be reduced in price, because it should be more expensive to buy a live one. so probably 200gp for a elephant corpse.

    So in total, it costs your player 750gp to get an elephant zombie/skeleton. Honestly, he's better off just getting horses or something, but if he wants an elephant(It would be cool) than he needs to pay the price.
    This is also great, as it's another good foundation of labor pricing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hand_of_Vecna View Post
    I think the most important factor in determining the cost of a elephant (or it's corpse) is deciding what role elephants in the location where you're trying to purchase them.

    If they're a common beast of burden, one could be purchased for it's value as a few thousand pounds of low quality meat. You could check for availability since only a few will die each year or assume the PC was on the lookout for a few weeks/months before the start of the game, he may need to bid 10-15% over market price to assure he gets it.

    If they're non-indigenous they may be nearly impossible to acquire by normal means, you may essentially be hiring adventurers to go hunt one for you, corpses will just never be on the market under normal circumstances. Even if an eccentric countess has a pet elephant she'll probably have it buried when it dies.

    If you're from a country that imports monsters for gladiatorial games you may be able to purchase one at the back door of the arena. This could be legal or illegal at the DM's discretion, it may even be an open secret amoungst necromancers and be a good place to network with like minded individuals. However, this would drive up prices though probably up to a solid proportion of LoM slave prices, maybe close to LoM minus the 50gp per hd that animating costs.

    If you're game is in a society that has legalized and embraced necromancy then there's probably a thriving body trade functioning somewhere around 1/2 LoM or warbeast prices.
    And this is a pretty awesome and concise breakdown for building a campaign world, and is full of good ideas.

    However, to clarify something: I didn't so much want this in terms of what someone could go pay for, but rather, what it would represent in terms of character wealth (i.e. WBL). Since the characters are just being created, I wanted to have some sort of basic idea of what something like an undead elephant would represent in terms of the character's overall wealth.

    That being said, you guys have all given me some really cool ideas, since the characters are going to be hopping around to different places a lot, so it will be interesting to have different regions have different ideas when it comes to things like this. I appreciate the help.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Deth Muncher View Post
    However, to clarify something: I didn't so much want this in terms of what someone could go pay for, but rather, what it would represent in terms of character wealth (i.e. WBL). Since the characters are just being created, I wanted to have some sort of basic idea of what something like an undead elephant would represent in terms of the character's overall wealth.
    Well a skelephant is CR 5. Summon monster V or VI is 450-1125 gp or 660-1650 gp. Skeletons are multiple use until destroyed and don't take a turn, but not as portable. Keep in mind the player also pays 1000 gp in onyx so subtract that off of the corpse value.

    As a ballpark figure... somewhere in the low thousands.

    However while the character might not find an elephant, he'd probably find some random high HD beast while adventuring pretty easily and for free. Maybe undead are simply better than summons and he shouldn't pay a penny beyond the onyx. In terms of character creation value I might charge a small portion of "low thousands" because he got his preferred creature instead of a random creature. That's different from wandering around and suddenly one day saying "I want a skelephant and I want it right now". He's had time.

    For character creation purposes only charge a few hundred gp IMO, plus the onyx. EDIT: And for random corpses I'd charge exactly zero, plus onyx costs. However this should count towards his 25% WBL limit on expendables to avoid having an epic army one day and nothing the next day.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2012-09-23 at 10:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Now that I see your intent. This is the solution I'd go with: Don't let him create his character with undead minions already in tow, and don't hold any he makes during play against his WBL unless he puts gear on them. Undead minions are pretty much always weaker than an equivalent level summon monster, nevermind any called creature.

    Undead HD tend to have you hit the 4X CL cap pretty quick, especially if you're making zombies. Holding them against WBL is just a stealth nerf. It's not even a particularly good one. The other players aren't going to count any corpses he brings out of the dungeon against his share of the loot, after all.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    Now that I see your intent. This is the solution I'd go with: Don't let him create his character with undead minions already in tow, and don't hold any he makes during play against his WBL unless he puts gear on them. Undead minions are pretty much always weaker than an equivalent level summon monster, nevermind any called creature.

    Undead HD tend to have you hit the 4X CL cap pretty quick, especially if you're making zombies. Holding them against WBL is just a stealth nerf. It's not even a particularly good one. The other players aren't going to count any corpses he brings out of the dungeon against his share of the loot, after all.
    I was actually really tempted to just not let him start with any, but he's got a pretty interesting character concept, so...you know what, let me just tell you, and hopefully it'll demonstrate itself.

    So the guy is playing a Dread Necromancer. Specifically, he used to be part of an evil cult, but is now repentant of his evil ways, and wants to use his powers for...well, not evil at least. Maybe not full on good guy, but definitely for utilitarian purposes. And so, he runs a packing and shipping business in a port town the PCs are starting in. His few undead minions help him load and unload ships (under the cover of night, of course - just because he's realized the utilitarian purposes of the undead doesn't mean everyone else has). He wants an elephant, I think, because it would allow him to actually branch out into the trade part of the business and actually use the undead elephant as a tireless beast of burden to ship packages by land.

    So part of me wants to give it to him for free, but part of me sees it as he's a character with a business venture, and you've gotta pay for your capital, right?
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    I see. That's probably unwise. If he "forgets" and animates something during his adventures he could loose a now uncontrolled undead creature in civilized lands. This will uncover the nature of his labor force, which in turn will probably result in a witch hunt, what with the people wanting his head on a pike and all. That's a great NPC background, but not such a good idea for a player.

    If he insists on doing it, move it from backstory to present story. Say you'll accept his character as having just abandoned the cult and make setting this business up part of the game.

    Btw, none of the rest of the party is playing the kind of goody-goody that'd have a problem with this idea, right?
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    IMO force him to put tenser's floating disk on his spell list or another way of shipping. Then make it free, or a small amount to get help loading it on the disks. Assume he was able to stick around long enough to wait for one to die. During adventures time is more limited and you could be more strict, mostly forcing him to raise what the party kills unless he puts in some work or money.

    Why not bring the remaining zombies along? Or leadership up a neutral cleric or another necromancer and leave him behind to handle management and cover ups.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Coidzor View Post
    As an added bonus, since you generally don't want zombies, you get a nice set of meals out of the deal for whatever or whoever needs feeding, or can partially recoup your expenses by selling the meat and hide.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Castings of Gentle Repose can help minions appear to be not undead, perfectly preserved the way they were in life.

    As far as worrying about having minions back home go out of control because he picked up a new pet... well, that's part of the challenge. Keep a tally of his HD cap, if he exceeds it, the next time he goes back home, he gets an... interesting... reception. If he's got a lot of bluffomancy, he can even pass it off as "Clearly, someone has framed me!" or "Surely some opponent of mine has killed them, then raised them as undead in order to hide their crime until they were long gone" or somesuch.

    Besides, this is a Dread Necromancer we're talking about. Charisma mod + CL * 4 control cap. Not gonna run out of that any time soon.

    The Illusion college may also be of benefit to concealing the undead nature of his minions. That would, of course, require cooperation with another party member... so hey, now he's a team player!
    Last edited by ShneekeyTheLost; 2012-09-24 at 07:34 AM.
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    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Just have the party bard diplomance the city into thinking it's a good idea to have an undead workforce. A minion in town with a eternal wand of control unread with a good CL will allow permanent control of large numbers of skeletons without control cap issues.

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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Fouredged Sword View Post
    Just have the party bard diplomance the city into thinking it's a good idea to have an undead workforce. A minion in town with a eternal wand of control unread with a good CL will allow permanent control of large numbers of skeletons without control cap issues.
    Undead workforce means higher unemployment rates, a good idea for an owner but not what I would call a win-win situation for the city.

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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Only way it really works out well is by having Mr. Pump style situations for the undead where they're doing jobs that living creatures simply can't do.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Well if you want an Elephant, look at Arms and Equipment Guide pg. 81. Indeed, this will also give you prices for several other mounts.

    As for dead bodies in general, that will depend on how he gets them. Does he have a deal worked out with a local prison warden to pay him some extra on the side for the bodies of executed criminals? Is there already an established black market for such things? Is it actually perfectly legal to sell dead bodies (for scientific purposes of course )? All this will need to be up to the DM to decide.

    Or you can check out the book The Secret College of Necromancy by Green Ronin publishing. The book has prices for all your necromancy related needs (page 44 I believe).
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Twilightwyrm View Post
    Well if you want an Elephant, look at Arms and Equipment Guide pg. 81. Indeed, this will also give you prices for several other mounts.

    As for dead bodies in general, that will depend on how he gets them. Does he have a deal worked out with a local prison warden to pay him some extra on the side for the bodies of executed criminals? Is there already an established black market for such things? Is it actually perfectly legal to sell dead bodies (for scientific purposes of course )? All this will need to be up to the DM to decide.

    Or you can check out the book The Secret College of Necromancy by Green Ronin publishing. The book has prices for all your necromancy related needs (page 44 I believe).
    ... actually, are there any other schools of magic that use corpses? One would think 'scientific purposes for corpses' in dnd is just another way of saying 'IMMA NECROMANCER!!!!!1111one11!!oneoneone"
    Last edited by Snowbluff; 2012-09-24 at 09:52 PM.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    How advanced are the countries in your campaign culturally? If there are some that are advanced enough, then make acquiring the skeleton a quest.

    Case a museum.
    Break into said museum.
    Animate displayed elephant skeleton.
    Ride said skeleton out the front door causing general mayhem.

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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    ... actually, are there any other schools of magic that use corpses? One would think 'scientific purposes for corpses' in dnd is just another way of saying 'IMMA NECROMANCER!!!!!1111one11!!oneoneone"
    I think transmutation might use some body parts.
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    Personally, I'd try to come up with an all-purpose formula. Something based on hit dice (bigger is pricier) and creature type (animals are cheap, magical beasts less so, and outsiders are crazy expensive), with an extra premium on top for things that are harder to get (intelligent creatures, exotic-but-useless animals like tropical birds, etc).
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    Default Re: Corpses-Я-Us: Or, Buying Dead Bodies For Fun And Profit

    If you're high enough level, commission a statue, or make one yourself, of whatever you want to undertake necrolurgical engineering upon.
    Then, Stone to Flesh. It explicitly says "a statue becomes a corpse".
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    Last edited by Ravens_cry; 2012-09-26 at 10:08 PM.
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