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    Default Low-Level Necromancy

    I noticed some people complaining that there are no real necromancy spells below 3rd-level. Therefore I have put together a few spells to give novice necromancers a taste of the power they crave! Let me know what you think!

    You can now find these spells in a shiny pdf right here.


    Animate Body Part
    1st-level necromancy

    Casting Time: 1 minute
    Range: 10 feet
    Components: V, S, M (a drop of blood, a piece of flesh, and a pinch of bone dust)
    Duration: Instantaneous

    This spell creates an undead servant. Choose a severed body part from a Medium or Small creature within range. Your spell imbues the target with a foul mimicry of life, raising it as an undead creature. The target becomes a zombified body part (the DM has the creature’s game statistics).
    On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature you made with this spell if the creature is within 60 feet of you (if you control multiple creatures, you can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one). You decide what action the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor. If you issue no commands, the creature only defends itself against hostile creatures. Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
    The creature is under your control for 24 hours, after which it stops obeying any command you’ve given it. To maintain control of the creature for another 24 hours, you must cast this spell on the creature again before the current 24-hour period ends. This use of the spell reasserts your control over up to four creatures you have animated with this spell, rather than animating a new one.
    At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you animate or reassert control over two additional undead body parts for each slot level above 1st. Each of the creatures must come from a different part of a corpse - for example, you cannot cut one long tentacle down to make multiple smaller tentacles.


    Exhume
    1st-level necromancy (ritual)

    Casting Time: 1 action
    Range: 60 feet
    Components: V, S, M (a drop of blood)
    Duration: Instantaneous

    Choose an unoccupied 20-foot square of ground within range - note that the square must have solid earth beneath it; this spell fails if cast on the upper floor of a building. This spell then causes one pile of humanoid bones to rise out of the ground within that square. If you cast this spell within a burial place such as a graveyard, mausoleum or barrow, 1d4 piles of bones are exhumed instead of 1. The ground itself is not changed or disturbed by this spell; the bones simply appear out of the ground.


    Lesser Animate Dead
    2nd-level necromancy

    Casting Time: 1 minute
    Range: 10 feet
    Components: V, S, M (a drop of blood, a piece of flesh, and a pinch of bone dust)
    Duration: Instantaneous

    This spell creates an undead servant. Choose a pile of bones or a corpse of a Small or Tiny beast, monstrosity or plant within range. Your spell imbues the target with a foul mimicry of life, raising it as an undead creature. The target becomes a skeleton if you chose bones or a zombie if you chose a corpse or a plant (the DM has the creature’s game statistics, which should represent an undead form of whatever creature was targeted).
    On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature you made with this spell if the creature is within 60 feet of you (if you control multiple creatures, you can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one). You decide what action the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor. If you issue no commands, the creature only defends itself against hostile creatures. Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
    The creature is under your control for 24 hours, after which it stops obeying any command you’ve given it. To maintain control of the creature for another 24 hours, you must cast this spell on the creature again before the current 24-hour period ends. This use of the spell reasserts your control over up to four creatures you have animated with this spell, rather than animating a new one.
    At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you animate or reassert control over two additional undead creatures for each slot level above 2nd. Each of the creatures must come from a different corpse or pile of bones.


    Undead Lieutenant
    3rd-level necromancy

    Casting Time: 1 action
    Range: 30 feet
    Components: V, S, M (a symbol of authority such as a badge, sceptre or flag)
    Duration: 1 hour

    You imbue one undead creature that you control with an enhanced sentience and, if required, the ability to speak one language of your choice, such that you can delegate some degree of command to it. When you cast this spell, you may explain an objective or set of objectives for the lieutenant to achieve. These may be as abstract and complex as you wish, and the spell's power compels the target to understand your orders. You also designate up to 4 other undead creatures that you control. Those creatures then remain under the command of the lieutenant for the duration of the spell (even if your own control over them would expire within that time).
    On each of its turns thereafter, the lieutenant can use a bonus action to mentally command any of its subordinates, as long as they are within 60 feet of it - it will use this ability whenever it can in pursuance of the objective(s) you set. It can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one. If it issues no commands (such as if it is incapacitated or out of range), the subordinates only defend themselves against hostile creatures. Once given an order, a creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
    At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the duration becomes 8 hours and when you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the duration becomes 24 hours.
    Last edited by Ninja_Prawn; 2017-03-01 at 06:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Here are a few new monsters, to support the spells.

    Spoiler: Body Parts
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    Creeping Foot
    Tiny undead, neutral evil

    Armour Class 11
    Hit Points 2 (1d4)
    Speed 20 ft.

    STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
    14 (+2) 13 (+1) 11 (+0) 5 (-3) 10 (+0) 4 (-3)

    Damage Immunities poison
    Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned
    Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 10
    Languages understands Common but can't speak
    Challenge 0 (10 XP)


    Turn Immunity. The foot is immune to effects that turn undead.

    Actions

    Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) bludgeoning damage.


    Flapping Wing
    Tiny undead, neutral evil

    Armour Class 12
    Hit Points 2 (1d4)
    Speed 10 ft., fly 30 ft

    STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
    13 (+1) 15 (+2) 11 (+0) 5 (-3) 10 (+0) 4 (-3)

    Damage Immunities poison
    Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned
    Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 10
    Languages understands Common but can't speak
    Challenge 0 (10 XP)


    Turn Immunity. The wing is immune to effects that turn undead.

    Actions

    Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage.


    Rolling Head
    Tiny undead, neutral evil

    Armour Class 9
    Hit Points 3 (1d4+1)
    Speed 20 ft.

    STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
    14 (+2) 9 (-1) 12 (+1) 7 (-2) 12 (+1) 6 (-2)

    Damage Immunities poison
    Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned, prone
    Senses blindsight 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
    Languages Common
    Challenge 0 (10 XP)


    Turn Immunity. The head is immune to effects that turn undead.

    Actions

    Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) piercing damage.


    Slithering Tail / Wriggling Tentacle
    Tiny undead, neutral evil

    Armour Class 12
    Hit Points 2 (1d4)
    Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

    STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
    13 (+1) 14 (+2) 11 (+0) 5 (-3) 10 (+0) 4 (-3)

    Damage Immunities poison
    Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned, prone
    Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 10
    Languages understands Common but can't speak
    Challenge 0 (10 XP)


    Turn Immunity. The tail/tentacle is immune to effects that turn undead.

    Actions

    Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 11). Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained, and the tail/tentacle can't constrict another target.

    Spoiler: Templates
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    An aberration, beast, dragon, giant, humanoid, monstrosity or plant can become undead. When a creature becomes undead, it retains all of its statistics except as noted below.

    Corpse type. The most common kinds of undead are skeletons and zombies. If a creature was reduced to bones before it was raised, it becomes a skeleton; otherwise, it will be a zombie. Neither needs to eat, drink, sleep or breathe.
    Alignment changes. All skeletons are Lawful Evil and all zombies are Neutral Evil.
    Ability score changes. A skeleton has its Intelligence score reduced to 6, its Wisdom reduced to 8 and its Charisma reduced to 5, unless they were already lower. Its Constitution is changed to 15, regardless of what it was before. A zombie has its Intelligence score reduced to 3, its Wisdom reduced to 6 and its Charisma reduced to 5, unless they were already lower. Its Dexterity is changed to 6, regardless of what it was before.
    Immunities. All skeletons and zombies are immune to poison damage and the poisoned and exhausted conditions. Additionally, skeletons are vulnerable to bludgeoning damage.
    Skills and saves. Skeletons and zombies lose any skill and saving throw proficiencies they had in life.
    Senses. All skeletons and zombies have darkvision out to a range of 60 feet and no other special senses, even if they had more/better senses while they were alive.
    Languages. Skeletons and zombies know the languages they spoke in life, but lose the ability to speak.
    Simple servants. Skeletons and zombies lose any special traits and features they had in life, including spellcasting. If they had any limited-use or recharge-type abilities, they lose those as well. If their attacks included magical or supernatural riders (such as inflicting petrification on their targets), those effects are also lost.
    Zombie flaws. Zombies have all their movement speeds reduced by 10 feet (to a minimum of 5 feet, unless it was 0 to begin with) and are unable to use any kind of armour.
    Zombie fortitude. Zombies gain the Undead Fortitude trait and proficiency in Wisdom saving throws.
    Last edited by Ninja_Prawn; 2017-04-09 at 05:56 PM.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Maybe I missed it, but did you specify which classes get these spells?

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Final Hyena View Post
    Maybe I missed it, but did you specify which classes get these spells?
    I didn't specify - if a DM wants to use my spells, I'm happy for them to decide which list(s) they go on. That said, I see these as sorcerer/wizard spells and I will list them as such when I add them to my master document (which I will do this evening).
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    I didn't specify - if a DM wants to use my spells, I'm happy for them to decide which list(s) they go on. That said, I see these as sorcerer/wizard spells and I will list them as such when I add them to my master document (which I will do this evening).
    Maybe Cleric as well?

    The Lesser animate dead spells seems just as strong as animate dead, in fact you could argue it's easier to find beasts at that level (not to mention buying your own).

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Final Hyena View Post
    Maybe Cleric as well?

    The Lesser animate dead spells seems just as strong as animate dead, in fact you could argue it's easier to find beasts at that level (not to mention buying your own).
    Maybe. Death clerics should probably have access, if nothing else.

    Small and tiny beasts may be common, but none of them are all that scary. Is a zombie cat really worth a 3rd-level spell slot? A skeletal jackal? None of them are capable of using weapons - most couldn't even open a door.

    As an aside, which do you prefer: Lesser Animate Dead or Animate Lesser Dead?
    Last edited by Ninja_Prawn; 2016-03-17 at 06:19 AM.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    Maybe. Death clerics should probably have access, if nothing else.
    I mean clerics get most of the necromantic spells especially the ones that are focussed on the dead.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    Small and tiny beasts may be common, but none of them are all that scary. Is a zombie cat really worth a 3rd-level spell slot? A skeletal jackal? None of them are capable of using weapons - most couldn't even open a door.
    But the spell simply says they become a skeleton which the DM has stats for. Excuse my ignorance as I'm not too familiar with the MM but are there any animal skeletons? As read it seems like they just turn into regular skeletons, but as your comment suggest they turn into undead versions of themselves. That should be clarified in the spell, but more importantly where does the DM get stats for that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    As an aside, which do you prefer: Lesser Animate Dead or Animate Lesser Dead?
    Lesser Animate Dead.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Final Hyena View Post
    But the spell simply says they become a skeleton which the DM has stats for. Excuse my ignorance as I'm not too familiar with the MM but are there any animal skeletons? As read it seems like they just turn into regular skeletons, but as your comment suggest they turn into undead versions of themselves. That should be clarified in the spell, but more importantly where does the DM get stats for that?
    The MM has three different zombie and skeleton stat blocks and I'd expect a competent DM to be able to extrapolate 'zombie cat' &co from them. I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to let 'the cat turns into a human zombie' fly; that's just ridiculous.

    I was planning to add a few samples to the second post of this thread though, when I get chance. Maybe even templates, though I haven't done any of them before.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    The MM has three different zombie and skeleton stat blocks and I'd expect a competent DM to be able to extrapolate 'zombie cat' &co from them. I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to let 'the cat turns into a human zombie' fly; that's just ridiculous.

    I was planning to add a few samples to the second post of this thread though, when I get chance. Maybe even templates, though I haven't done any of them before.
    Just because it's ridiculous doesn't mean people wont argue that by RAW you can do it, things should be clear.

    There are a few problems with having a DM extrapolate, the DM has to stop mid session to do this. The spell varies based on what the DM believes the spell should do. There are small monstrosities stronger than a skeleton/zombie.

    Perhaps it should be more in line with the regular animate spell and turn all tiny/small beasts/monstrosities into a specific undead creature. It avoids any misconceptions, arguments and saves the DM time.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Fair enough. I will make the cockatrice and darkmantle skeleton/zombie as examples - and make them weaker than their living versions. It stands to reason that they'd lose some of their supernatural abilities when they get turned into undead.

    Edit: and I've edited the 'DM has the creature’s statistics' clause.
    Last edited by Ninja_Prawn; 2016-03-17 at 07:35 AM.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Lesser animate dead;
    The DM has to look up a humanoid
    then look up skeleton/zombie
    Then he has to compare them
    then he has to look up the creature raised
    then he has to modify it
    then he has to check it's balanced

    Animate dead;
    look up skeleton/zombie

    I honestly feel that the way the spell is right now most DMs just wont want to bother with it.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Undead Lieutenant looks like the deep desire of breaking action economy better.
    But I like that spell which makes me remember the 3.5 spell with a similar name.
    The lower level animate dead allows to have some character concepts earlier(so the players can see an evil animator of stuff at lower level or be one) but is turn immunity that common at low level?(I forgot if it was the case in dnd 5e)

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by noob View Post
    The lower level animate dead allows to have some character concepts earlier(so the players can see an evil animator of stuff at lower level or be one) but is turn immunity that common at low level?(I forgot if it was the case in dnd 5e)
    I thought that since it was so small it wasn't to be turned... now destroyed on the other hand is a totally different story. Its not like the little thing will last, plus what's the point in making them if they get turned so easily?
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    They have turn immunity because the crawling claw has turn immunity. Also, clerics don't turn heads; you need a charisma-based class to do that.

    And I don't see how Undead Lieutenant breaks action economy any more than having five undead servants already does. All it does (action-economy-wise) is allow some of your servants to change their orders without you needing to spend your own bonus action. And remember, the orders to the subordinates are now being given by the DM, via a lieutenant who may well have a negative Int modifier...
    Last edited by Ninja_Prawn; 2016-03-17 at 04:08 PM.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Use the Templates on PG 282 of the DMG when creating non-humanoid undead. There are a bunch of templates.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by manny2510 View Post
    Use the Templates on PG 282 of the DMG when creating non-humanoid undead. There are a bunch of templates.
    *sees this after spending half an hour crafting my own templates*

    I knew I'd seen them somewhere. When I couldn't find them in the MM, I figured I must have imagined it... oh well. At least my templates are more thorough than WotC's.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Just imagine warlock-1/wizard-or-cleric-1 with Animate Body Part in his spellbook or prepared. Up to 32 body parts, if he has 8-hour shift. Hell Yeah!
    (Yes, starting at 6-th character level, there is this problem with Animate Dead too, I just specially homeruled that you can't cast it with warlock spellslots, but RAW allows it)
    Last edited by Kellendros95; 2016-03-19 at 04:47 AM.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Kellendros95 View Post
    Just imagine warlock-1/wizard-or-cleric-1 with Animate Body Part in his spellbook or prepared. Up to 32 body parts, if he has 8-hour shift. Hell Yeah!
    (Yes, starting at 6-th character level, there is this problem with Animate Dead too, I just specially homeruled that you can't cast it with warlock spellslots, but RAW allows it)
    It's hard to see any DM allowing that. If it were me, I'd be inclined to say "you're not getting more than three short rests per long rest".

    And besides, animated body parts have like 2HP. Is having 32 of them actually better than casting any other 1st-level spell that many times?
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    It's hard to see any DM allowing that. If it were me, I'd be inclined to say "you're not getting more than three short rests per long rest".

    And besides, animated body parts have like 2HP. Is having 32 of them actually better than casting any other 1st-level spell that many times?
    Three short rests? OK, 16, not 32. Still decent.
    And 2 hp is not 2 hp. 2 hp is one hit. 32 body parts is not 64 hp. 32 body parts is 32 hits.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Kellendros95 View Post
    32 body parts is 32 hits.
    Unless your opponent has a spellcaster. Burning Hands isn't some mysterious arcane secret, lost to time. Also, the body parts are tiny, so they can't block the passage of medium creatures. Thus it's hard to force someone to keep attacking them if they don't want to.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Final Hyena View Post
    Lesser animate dead;
    The DM has to look up a humanoid
    then look up skeleton/zombie
    Then he has to compare them
    then he has to look up the creature raised
    then he has to modify it
    then he has to check it's balanced
    Or the DM could realize that one of his players is aiming to play a necromancer-type caster in this low level game and prepare for it accordingly. It's a bit more work, but it's not everything that you suggest it is. You're acting as if a DM should be *surprised* that one of his players is casting the spell.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    What kind of vision are the various parts using? It just occurred to me that it isn't specified. It makes sense that the head has normal vision, but the foot? Should the others have tremorsense or blindsight instead?
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Flashy View Post
    What kind of vision are the various parts using? It just occurred to me that it isn't specified. It makes sense that the head has normal vision, but the foot? Should the others have tremorsense or blindsight instead?
    Well, the crawling claw has blindsight. I could change it to that. I guess the animating magic provides the parts with a kind of short-range ESP or something.

    Edit: done.
    Last edited by Ninja_Prawn; 2016-03-19 at 06:32 PM.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned it, but these spells are just screaming for Undead Thralls + Spell Mastery. I don't know whether that's intentional on your part so that Necromancers can be BBEG, or unintentional because you think PCs will never reach those levels, but it's kind of a big change.

    Nigh-unlimited hordes of high-HP zombie body parts? Sign me up! Or, ew. Maybe not. Unlimited beast skeleton hordes though are okay.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Does Exhume pull forth bones even if nobody was buried there? (As written, seems 'yes'.)

    If yes, wouldn't transmutation (create from earth, or, if already there, move the earth to make them rise) or conjuration (create from nothing... or, um, something if in a burial place?) make more sense than necromancy as the school?

    Definitely a spell for necromancers, but just questioning the school based on what it does. (This might be 3.5 metaphysics seeping into my thought.)
    Last edited by JeenLeen; 2016-09-19 at 01:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen View Post
    Does Exhume pull forth bones even if nobody was buried there? (As written, seems 'yes'.)

    If yes, wouldn't transmutation (create from earth, or, if already there, move the earth to make them rise) or conjuration (create from nothing... or, um, something if in a burial place?) make more sense than necromancy as the school?

    Definitely a spell for necromancers, but just questioning the school based on what it does. (This might be 3.5 metaphysics seeping into my thought.)
    The intention is 'yes'. The Watsonian 'logic' is that the world is old. Thus, wherever you go, there are good odds that somebody has died there at some point in history. So, using necromantic magic, you can now reconstitute the 'psychic energy' of departed spirits into actual bones and have them rise out of the ground.

    The Doylist reason why I wrote the spell is because Animate Dead requires a pile of bones to work. That's not always going to be available, so this spell gives you a way around that.

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned it, but these spells are just screaming for Undead Thralls + Spell Mastery.
    Honestly? I didn't think of it. Yeah, that's a pretty strong combo, even if it would need a mighty supply of fresh corpses. Moreover, it's a massive headache to actually manage, logistically, at the table. I'd hope that most DMs would gently discourage a player from going down this path, but that's no excuse for poor design. Any ideas for how I could ameliorate this situation without compromising my design objectives (creation of undead via necromancy with 1st and 2nd level spells, giving the crawling claw some company)?
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    The intention is 'yes'. The Watsonian 'logic' is that the world is old. Thus, wherever you go, there are good odds that somebody has died there at some point in history. So, using necromantic magic, you can now reconstitute the 'psychic energy' of departed spirits into actual bones and have them rise out of the ground.

    The Doylist reason why I wrote the spell is because Animate Dead requires a pile of bones to work. That's not always going to be available, so this spell gives you a way around that.
    That makes sense, on both counts. I could even see Exhume getting the Ritual tag, since it's basically "provide material components". The caster is already spending a spell slot and time to make the undead, so a little more time and no spell slot seems fine for the materials.

    Also, for Animate Body Part, should "Each of the creatures must come from a different corpse or pile of bones." in the higher levels portion be changed to "from a different body part"? Seems like you should be able to 'undead' two feet from the same dude.

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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen View Post
    I could even see Exhume getting the Ritual tag

    Also, for Animate Body Part, should "Each of the creatures must come from a different corpse or pile of bones." in the higher levels portion be changed to "from a different body part"?
    Yeah, probably. To both.
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    Default Re: Low-Level Necromancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninja_Prawn View Post
    The intention is 'yes'. The Watsonian 'logic' is that the world is old. Thus, wherever you go, there are good odds that somebody has died there at some point in history. So, using necromantic magic, you can now reconstitute the 'psychic energy' of departed spirits into actual bones and have them rise out of the ground.

    The Doylist reason why I wrote the spell is because Animate Dead requires a pile of bones to work. That's not always going to be available, so this spell gives you a way around that.
    Fair enough, though you might want to specify if it works on something like the ground floor of a building with (presumably) a solid floor in the way or through rock, such as in a cave.
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2016-11-04 at 02:42 PM.
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