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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Best use for command undead (3.5)

    I understand that command undead can be used for mega cheese, especially if the undead has no intelligence, as it gets no save. So my question to you is what undead shenanigans can i pull, that is, what is the best unintelligent undead i can control with this puny level 2 spell. Also consider undead that I might reliably be able to force the save upon as a low level (less than 10) dread necro. Assume hit dice doesn't matter.

    Bonus points if they have higher wisdom.
    Last edited by Skullruss; 2018-10-13 at 12:00 PM.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Any undead you run into.

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    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Chain Spell allows you to control multiple undead for a very low cost, especially mindless undead. I'm not sure what the best undead are in general, but zombie dragons (Draconomicon) are pretty good, depending on breath weapon, and fire giant skeletons are a classic.
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    Libris: look at your allowed sources. I don't think any of your options were from those.
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    At least when it comes to skeletons (maybe, maybe zombies), the duration of command undead can be ignored, as skeletons will always follow the last command they were given. Hand your commanded skeleton an axe and tell it to go cut down a forest and it will, regardless of how big the forest is (though the local flora and fauna may have something to say about it). Want to get rid of a mountain range? Though it may take ten thousand years, a single casting of command undead will have a skeleton do it one swing of a pickaxe at a time without rest. Have a mill but no nearby river to run the wheel? A commanded skeleton will ensure the wheel is always spinning. As long as your command is set-and-forget, command gives you a permanent servant to carry it out.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    At least when it comes to skeletons (maybe, maybe zombies), the duration of command undead can be ignored, as skeletons will always follow the last command they were given. Hand your commanded skeleton an axe and tell it to go cut down a forest and it will, regardless of how big the forest is (though the local flora and fauna may have something to say about it). Want to get rid of a mountain range? Though it may take ten thousand years, a single casting of command undead will have a skeleton do it one swing of a pickaxe at a time without rest. Have a mill but no nearby river to run the wheel? A commanded skeleton will ensure the wheel is always spinning. As long as your command is set-and-forget, command gives you a permanent servant to carry it out.
    Do you have an official source/ruling for this? I always assumed that if an unintelligent undead became uncontrolled, it would immediately start killing all living things it could see (admittedly I dont have a source for this either)
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperMagnum357 View Post
    I think I would agree with Boggartbae

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Boggartbae View Post
    Do you have an official source/ruling for this?
    It's called the Monster Manual:
    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Manual
    A skeleton does only what it is ordered to do. It can draw no conclusions of its own and takes no initiative.
    "Oh, I have no more master, I can stop what I'm doing and go on a killing spree" would be drawing a conclusion and taking initiative.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    A Dread Necro in my party uses Command Undead to keep some of his minions in line. He's been liking the zombie babau and the skeletal allosaurus.

    (Allowing a necromancer into a dungeon that auto-reanimates dead bodies as zombies after 2-3 days was perhaps not a wise idea).

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    (Allowing a necromancer into a dungeon that auto-reanimates dead bodies as zombies after 2-3 days was perhaps not a wise idea).
    Uh ohhh, DM is having second thoughts
    LOL

    I've been "good" though! I did destroy most of the raptor bodies so they wouldn't come back. Yes I set some up for reanimating but some will be left behind as reserves to come back for just in case. I know better to not have an army of undead on the battlefield. I read elsewhere (a DN handbook?) about someone burying undead everywhere so he'd always have reinforcements to go back for. I like that idea.

    He's been liking the zombie babau and the skeletal allosaurus.
    ...the former skeletal allosaurus. RIFP (Rest in Final Piece) Ally! *sniff sniff*
    Now to go kill a T-Rex, wait for the Complex to animate it, then Command it, simple!

    Gotta admit, they've help prevent several TPKs so far. What were the ECLs of those raptor fights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    As long as your command is set-and-forget, command gives you a permanent servant to carry it out.
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    Back to Skullruss' original post... Beware having your mass undead army turn against you suddenly with one casting of (Greater) Dispel Magic. I was riding the above skeletal allosaurus (called Ally) when the soon to be zombied babau dispelled my control. Ally then spun its head 180 degrees (no muscles flexibility to worry about!) and tried biting its rider (me) in half. Good times to be had! Having multiple intelligent undead suddenly regaining freedom will greatly reduce chances of reaching lichhood

    Another idea... can you order your undead to follow the orders of other party members? Give each party member a personal guardian while having your own minions too. Should go over well with the Good party members
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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Though Allips and Shadows may not have many HD, at the CR that you encounter them very few, if any monsters have anything that can damage them, unless they have the right spells or SLAs.

    If you just want to control one absolute unit of an undead, the Hulking Corpse is a 20HD CR 9 undead, but with no int he's commanded without fail.
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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    At least when it comes to skeletons (maybe, maybe zombies), the duration of command undead can be ignored, as skeletons will always follow the last command they were given. Hand your commanded skeleton an axe and tell it to go cut down a forest and it will, regardless of how big the forest is (though the local flora and fauna may have something to say about it). Want to get rid of a mountain range? Though it may take ten thousand years, a single casting of command undead will have a skeleton do it one swing of a pickaxe at a time without rest. Have a mill but no nearby river to run the wheel? A commanded skeleton will ensure the wheel is always spinning. As long as your command is set-and-forget, command gives you a permanent servant to carry it out.
    'Permanent' is a relative term. A pickaxe will wear down before the mountain will; having no initiative means that the skeleton will then wear itself to nothing trying to remove a mountain with its own bony hands.

    (Arguably, most undead and automata should break themselves apart over time even given adequate tools, since they don't self-repair.)

    Edit: flavor encounter idea: the party comes across a hugely enhanced skeletal monster swinging the broken haft of a pickaxe at the air. It will leave them alone if they don't interfere with its attempts to 'dig a tunnel.'
    Last edited by Lapak; 2018-10-15 at 07:30 AM.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    It's called the Monster Manual:

    "Oh, I have no more master, I can stop what I'm doing and go on a killing spree" would be drawing a conclusion and taking initiative.
    That only applies until something living comes within range to set-off its unending yearn to kill living things...

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    "Oh, I have no more master, I can stop what I'm doing and go on a killing spree" would be drawing a conclusion and taking initiative.
    That doesn't show that they will continue to work past the duration of command undead. Once the spell wears off, I see no reason why the undead would keep working, since they no longer view your commands as favourable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperMagnum357 View Post
    I think I would agree with Boggartbae

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    That only applies until something living comes within range to set-off its unending yearn to kill living things...
    Mindless undead have no such thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Boggartbae View Post
    That doesn't show that they will continue to work past the duration of command undead. Once the spell wears off, I see no reason why the undead would keep working, since they no longer view your commands as favourable.
    Which has nothing to do with unintelligent undead, who don't view things as favorable or unfavorable. They follow orders and are prohibited from drawing conclusions and taking initiative. They have an order to follow. They cannot react to changing conditions due to the prohibitions. That is all that matters.

    Further, let's go to the Book of Bad Latin:
    Mindless undead merely respond to preset commands or stimuli, driven by nothing other than the energy that animates them. These undead have no outlook; they are robbed of thought. They are nearly mechanical in their actions, and often those actions are as easy to anticipate as the revolution of a water wheel.
    Last time I checked, you don't have to wonder how close you can get to a water wheel before it's burning hatred for all non-spinning things takes over and causes it to try to kill you. Gazeebos, on the other hand...

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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Mindless undead have no such thing.
    Since when an uncontrolled mindless undead will attack when it sense a living creature

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Since when an uncontrolled mindless undead will attack when it sense a living creature
    I have provided quotes from two sources that are the Primary Sources on monsters and undead that say otherwise. They trump whatever unsupported opinion you may have on the matter.

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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    so then how does a mindless uncontrolled undead that has never been controlled function, does it just stand there doing nothing even when attacked?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    On nonabilities from the SRD:

    Intelligence

    Any creature that can think, learn, or remember has at least 1 point of Intelligence. A creature with no Intelligence score is mindless, an automaton operating on simple instincts or programmed instructions. It has immunity to mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects) and automatically fails Intelligence checks.
    Just because something is mindless does not mean it just stands there like a powered down computer until it receives magical input-otherwise, all Vermin and most Oozes would starve to death because they would not hunt and feed without outside direction. Mindless does not mean empty-it means the creature reverts to instinct in lieu of outside command and instruction, whatever that may be. There might be mindless constructs and the like that will just stand there when being attacked unless directed otherwise; but Mindless Undead specifically shift to Neutral Evil unless possessing different template characteristics, indicating at least some instinctual inclinations. Compare that with the typically True Neutral alignment of most Vermin, Constructs, and Oozes.

    Skeletons are weird, though.
    Last edited by ViperMagnum357; 2018-10-15 at 03:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    so then how does a mindless uncontrolled undead that has never been controlled function, does it just stand there doing nothing even when attacked?
    By RAW, yes. It does nothing. This is why there is a big question about whether animate dead deserves to be an [Evil] spell, as it does nothing except employ negative energy on a corpse to turn it into a machine, no more innately harmful than a lawnmower or an automatic door opener.

    Quote Originally Posted by ViperMagnum357 View Post
    Ignoring the part about skeletons specifically being prohibited from taking initiative or drawing conclusions.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Fair enough, since that is Skeleton specific, but the point stands for any other mindless Undead, including Zombies. Really weird distinction for Skeletons, though-it makes them useless as random encounters. I think I would agree with Boggartbae in regards to Command Undead specifically-once the spell ends, the Skeletons are no longer controlled and revert to passive mode until someone takes command of them again.
    Last edited by ViperMagnum357; 2018-10-15 at 03:13 PM.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    By RAW, yes. It does nothing. This is why there is a big question about whether animate dead deserves to be an [Evil] spell, as it does nothing except employ negative energy on a corpse to turn it into a machine, no more innately harmful than a lawnmower or an automatic door opener.
    In general I believe if you are taking a rule to an dysfunctional extreme like this you are misinterpreting the rule. But hey I am not actively trying to break the game...

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Another key thing regarding command undead is that it doesn't care what the HD are. The biggest, heaviest-hitting skeleton or zombie you can find is only one casting of the spell for days of obedience.

    I believe the Hulking Corpse or something in Libris Mortis is a very durable 20-HD mindless undead.

    If you are into chain command undead, consider picking up a trio of Slaymates that you keep around to let you prepare it out of a second-level spell slot, too.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    In general I believe if you are taking a rule to an dysfunctional extreme like this
    Point of order. The definition of "dysfunctional" is not "outcome I don't like."

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by ViperMagnum357 View Post
    I think I would agree with Boggartbae
    Hey can I sig this?
    LGBTitP

    Quote Originally Posted by ViperMagnum357 View Post
    I think I would agree with Boggartbae

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Boggartbae View Post
    Hey can I sig this?
    Fine by me.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    Point of order. The definition of "dysfunctional" is not "outcome I don't like."
    Ya because not work outside of being controlled to do something isn't dysfunctional at all and I am the only one who thinks that reading is dysfunctional...

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Ya because not work outside of being controlled to do something isn't dysfunctional at all and I am the only one who thinks that reading is dysfunctional...
    Considering 99.9% of skeletons are created already controlled, and those that don't typically have powers that explicitly define their actions after creation (specific being > general), that does make it only a reading you dislike. That other people also think the reading is dysfunctional is fine: you can have company while being wrong.

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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Deophaun View Post
    By RAW, yes. It does nothing. This is why there is a big question about whether animate dead deserves to be an [Evil] spell, as it does nothing except employ negative energy on a corpse to turn it into a machine, no more innately harmful than a lawnmower or an automatic door opener.
    I found it interesting that I couldn't find anything in 3.5e that says zombies or skeleton hate and attack the living. Though I did find it in 5e.

    However I have to say to the age old argument that if you summon dark energies that somehow block the return of a soul to animate a lawnmower then yes, it is an evil act. You may continue to neatly trim the lawns of everyone low income person in the neighborhood with your Dark Lawnmower and those are good acts, but then it's just a mixed bag. 3.5e is unclear on exactly how it the process of animating is evil. But you can't say "RAW doesn't tell me the details therefore it's not that bad. RAW also says it's evil but I'm just going to ignore that and disagree with that part of RAW". Rather it means the details are for the DM to decide. Perhaps it traps kitten souls, who knows.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2018-10-15 at 09:40 PM.
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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    For the record, I don't think Deophaun's reading is dysfunctional, and it's RAW--the skeleton entry is clear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Read ExLibrisMortis' post...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keledrath View Post
    Libris: look at your allowed sources. I don't think any of your options were from those.
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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post
    For the record, I don't think Deophaun's reading is dysfunctional, and it's RAW--the skeleton entry is clear.
    I dunno if it's dysfunctional or not. It depends on your fluff I think. The 3.5e SRD is lacking in fluff. I really like how 5e has fluff and it's quite interesting. I managed to spook my players a little bit, then have some fun RP... before they waltzed all over the easy kills. They hadn't read the 5e version. I also added in my own fluff too. I think every DM should pick some kind of fluff. I also kind of like the idea that there is nothing at all wrong with your mindless undead robots doing mundane chores except for the little part that they're powered by dark energies created by some unspeakably evil ritual.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2018-10-15 at 09:45 PM.
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    Default Re: Best use for command undead (3.5)

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    However I have to say to the age old argument that if you summon dark energies that somehow block the return of a soul to animate a lawnmower then yes, it is an evil act.
    There is a lot of D&D's fluff I dislike. Blocking a soul from returning doesn't strike me as evil: if anything, you're preserving the natural balance on that end. The Inevitables should be pleased. Trapping a soul to prevent it from leaving, however, does. So if you were using negative energy to bind a soul to a corpse to use as an animus, I'd get it. But that's not the fluff. The fluff is that negative energy itself moves the body, and the use of the body in this way makes returning the soul--which you really shouldn't be doing from a natural perspective--more difficult (not impossible, just difficult).

    But yeah, I do like my undead dangerous. The kindly mage raising the dead to work the land and provide bountiful food for starving peasants should run the risk of accidentally unleashing an army that screams hate for all the living. You honestly don't even need to change the mechanics themselves, just throw in something about the very existence of undead thinning the barrier between this world and the next to allow worse things through. Maybe a corpse charged with negative energy is easier for a malicious entity to possess, so the skeleton farmers will all go on a killing spree eventually. Just something.

    As it is, the only thing is the [Evil] tag, as if Asmodeus just got all the gods to agree creating undead was an evil act as a concession for casual Wednesdays, and that was that. Bad fluff. I don't knock anyone who wants to change it.

    Still doesn't make it dysfunctional.

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