Collection of Necromatic Oddities
This thread is an attempt to catalogue the various types of undead that can be created
(not summoned) by player characters via spells. I'm planning on expanding this to include comments on each of the various types of undead, but wanted to get this posted so that the CO boards could catch any creatable undead that I missed.Note about format:
Parenthetical asides are organized by (Source, level requirement followed by class, if specified)Animate Dead
Comments: The Gold standard when it comes to melee Undead. The ability to create Skeletons with hd exceeding your own, combined with the versatility of being a template, makes the Skeleton the de-facto
choice for most necromancers
Comments: The Zomble serves better as a literal meat-shield than as a combatant. The Slow special quality, and the increased natural armor compared to Skeles, force zombies into the catagory of damage-sponge rather than damage-dealer.
Dragon Skeleton (Draco)
Comments: Removes the HD cap from the default Skeleton. Other than that, about the same as a old fashioned Skeleton.
Dragon Zombie (Draco)
Comments: No doubling of HD and the removal of the HD cap is good. Unlike typical zombies, dragons retain a weakened version of their breath weapon.
Comments: Lacks the versatility of Skeles/Zombies due to not being a template. It does get Max HP and an additional 2hp/die; however, it takes extra damage from slashing and piercing weapons. Also, these count as double their HD for purposes of Control/Creation.
Necrosis Carnex (MM4, 11+)
Comments: These can effectively provide out of combat healing with their Necrotic Touch ability. Malign Aura is useful, seeing as it's a -2 unnamed
penalty to saves. Get one or two for the free post-combat healing of your other front-line minions.
Comments: It costs an additional 1000gp to create, has only 12 Str, and maxes out at 6 hd. The Frightful Presence only works on creatures that have less HD than it has, making it unusable against most enemies. It does have a decent fly speed though.Create Undead:
Bonespur (MM5, 8+)
Comments: The combat ability of this undead is unremarkable compared to a well-designed Skeleton at this level.
Serpentir (MM5, 10+)
Comments: This has the Dual Actions ability (2 rounds worth of actions) and has a decent attack routine (4 Claws). In addition, it has 60 Blindsense (Living creatures only) and 8HD. Can hold its own in combat. Very good Magic Jar
target, seeing as Dual Actions is an automatic ability;thus, retained by the body you inhabit.
Ghoul (SRD, 11 or Lower)
Comments: Mediocre combat ability compared to the enemies you are facing.
Deathfang (RoF, 11+)
Comments: A small, 1HD undead with Improved Grab/Constriction? At level 11? Doesn't seem very good.
Ghast (SRD, 12-14)
Comments: See Ghoul
Bonesinger (Ghostwalk, 12 Cleric)
Comments: Templete that is applied to Bards. The Cooperative Magic ability can make groups of these pump out high DC spells.
Dread Ram (Ghostwalk, 12+ Cleric)
Comments: A 6HD undead mount. This just doesn't hold up at this level, seeing as Skeletons are tougher and can serve the same purpose.
Lesser Bonedrinker (MM3, 12+ with 7 Ranks Know: Religion)
Comments: Inadequete combat ability makes its signature ability almost impossible to use effectively.
Flameskull (LEoF, 14)
Comments: The rejuvenation ability makes this 4HD undead rather potent. It Can be combined with Destructive Retribution for reusable Kamakazis.
Defacer (MM4, 14+)
Comments: This Undead has both the Earth Glide ability and the Spring Attack feat; making it a potent hit-and-run combatent. The free Shaken effect on enemies is just a bonus.
Baneguard (LEoF, 14+ Cleric)
Comments: The thing that makes this undead stand out is Magic Missile at will every 1/3 rounds. In every other respect, the Baneguard is lackluster.
Spectral Steed (Ghostwalk, 14+ Cleric)
Comments: An Incorporeal mount. Too bad it doesn't have the HP to survive combat at this level.
Undead Martyr (Ghostwalk, 14+ Cleric)
Comments: This can fill the healing role in a similar manner as the Necrosis Carnex. However, the Undead Martyr can be carried on an undead's back effortlessly and has 1/day Shield Other.
Crypt Thing (FF, 14+ Cleric)
Comments: A 6HD Undead at level 14 isn't very good. Worse, the one thing that differentiates it from other undead is a 1/day ability with a low save that merely teleports enemies in a random direction.
Mummy (SRD, 15-17)
Comments: The defaut Mummy in the Monster Manual is, once again, lacking in the combat department for something expected to fight in CR 50+ encounters. Mummy Rot really doesn't come into play when used by PC minions and the Dispair ability has a low save DC.
Deathshead (ToM, 15-17)
Comments: Has weak combat stats, but has the ability to use Dominate Person
on a grappled foe. Note that they have to maintain physical contact with the victim to maintain control of the victim. With proper use, these can be a valuable asset in a necromancer's arsenal.
Sanguineous Drinker (MM5, 15+)
Comments: It just doesn't have the stats to back up its melee special abilities.
Bonedrinker (MM3, 15+with 10 ranks Know: Religion)
Comments: See Lesser Bonedrinker
Direguard (LEoF, 16+ Cleric)
Comments: See Baneguard, except it also has See Invisibility.
Necroplasm (Ghostwalk, 16+ Cleric)
Comments: A coporeal undead that Creates Spawn. Doesn't have sufficient combat ability for its level, and Wights have been availible for many levels now via level drain effects.
Juju Zombie (UE, 16+)
Comments: Better than your typical Zombie. The climb speed, Retention of intelligence, and the bonus feats help to make this undead actually usable.
Comments: Not very good in combat, but the Mohrg does have a use. Mohrgs can create Zombies with their Create Spawn ability, which are unaffected by the HD restrictions of animate dead
(Specifically, "If the base creature has more than 10 Hit Dice (not counting those gained with experience), it can’t be made into a zombie with the animate dead spell" (SRD, Zombie Template).
Blackwing (MM5, 18+)
Comments: While the picture for this creature looks AWESOME
, you could've had a Skeletal Nightmare as a mount for many levels now. The Blackwing also only has 12HD
Comments: Rather similar to the Dread Warrior in terms of utility. However, the Curst is far
harder to kill and you also don't automatically have control of them upon creation.
Bone Creature (BoVD)
Comments: Better than the Skeleton in terms of ability. Retention of feats and flight, regardless of initial form, makes these very good. Like the corpse creature, you don't automatically have control of them. Also, Phoenix00 pointed out that Bone/Corpse creatures retain SL, EX, and SU abilities, making creatures such as Beholders (Eye Rays) and Efreet (Wishes) a very good choice. Finally, using craft contingent spell, one could animate themselves
as a Bone/Corpse creature.
Corpse Creature (BoVD)
automatically gives you control, while Create Undead
does not.Create Greater Undead:
Spectral Rider (MM5, 12+)
Comments: A 7HD undead at level 12 is asking to be turned/destroyed in combat. With a +8 to hit, it also won't be hitting that much either. The most useful ability they have is their Desecration Aura for the arcane necromancer who can't cast Desecration themselves.
Shadow (SRD, 15 or Lower)
Comments: An Incorporeal undead with Create Spawn. Serves as a replacement for the Wight in Spawn army tactics. Against anything that can harm Incorporeal creatures, Shadows will die fast. Note that one can summon a Shadow, then have it spawn via Summon Undead 5. Take control of resulting spawn can start the Shadow army at 9th level.
Wraith (SRD, 16-17)
Comments: Similar to the Shadow, except it has a few minor extras and more HD.
Spawn of Kyuss (MMII, 16+ Cleric)
Comments: Not really any better then the Wight. A low HD undead, practically useless in high level combat, with the ability to Create Spawn.
Spectral Mage (MoF, 16+ Cleric)
Comments: A template that is applied to an arcane caster, making them incorporeal with a few goodies besides (not to mention keeping their class features). Seems nice to me, assuming you have an arcane caster to reanimate. Note that, after being created, the Spectral Mage cannot advance via class levels, only by racial HD.
Spectre (SRD, 18-19)
Comments: Same as Wraith
Devourer (SRD, 20+)
Comments: Too few HD to survive combat when you can make them. The SLAs are interesting, but not all that useful due to low DCs.
Husk Vermin (DotU)
Comments: Besides being reminiscent of the Crypt Fiends from Warcraft 3, these are actually pretty useful. Templete that can be applied to any vermin and has no HD cap. This, along with the fact that Create Greater Undead has no HD cap, means that you can theoretically make a Husk Devastation Vermin
at level 15. Warning: You do not have automatic control over such a monstrosity. Also has Energy Drain and Create Spawn.Magical Ritual:
Plague Walker (MM4, 6+)
Comments: Meh. A 6hd Undead with a minor disease (DC 13, Sickened) and enemies ignore penalty for firing into melee against it, I'll pass. It looks like it was intended to be a suicide bomber undead, but it's costs more and is worse than Skeletons created by someone with the Destructive Retribution feat.
Salt Mummy (Sandstorm, Walker in the Waste only, 8th level class feature)
Comments: The LA 0 template for PCs who want to become undead. If a player wants to be undead, this is the way to go.
Dracolich (Draconomicon, Dracolich Brew and Phylactery items)
Comments: Good luck getting this. You'll need to "convince" some evil dragon to drink a specially prepared poison and spend a lot
of gold to aquire/create a phylactery for it. If you can manage that, as well as controlling said dracolich, you've got a very good minion that will be almost impossible to permanently destroy.
Spectral Savant (CPsi, Expensive Psionic ritual)
Comments: Well, this template only applies to Psion/Erudites and can only be initiated by the one seeking to transform. You're going to have to "convince" a Psion that it is in his best interest to apply this themplate to himself, then take control of him the hard way. If you can somehow manage this, you get an Incorporeal manifester who feeds off of others PP to regenerate his own reserve.Special:
Dread Warrior (LEoF, Create Dread Warrior UE)
Comments: Undead humanoids that retain class features and feats? Hell yeah! To get the best possible candidates, your going to have to find high level NPCs (melee classes work best, since they suffer least from the mental stat penalties) and kill them. Note that the Create Dread Warrior
spell has a large XP cost, but this can be sidestepped via Spellstitched SLAs.
Crypt Spawn (MoF, Undeath after Death or Create Greater Undead by 18+Cleric)
Comments: A very generic undead template, similar to a Necropolitan. Unlike Necropolitan though, Crypt Spawn can be applied to any living creature, making it useful for animating creatures with a large number of Special abilities (similar to how Bone/Corpse creatures can be used).
Skulking Cyst (LM, Necrotic Burst)
Comments: It can't handle combat very well due, once again, to low HD and low combat stats. However, the Skulking Cyst does have some good skill mods: +11 Spot, +21 Hide, +19 Move Silently, making it a decent scout.
Necrocarnum Zombie (MoI)
Comments: Better than a standard MM Zombie. Can only have one by default, but it's pretty good. Hint: get some temporary hp before making it, and take the damage from the soulmeld to temp. hp that couldn't be healed anyways.
Wight (SRD, Created when someone dies of Negative levels)
Comments: Rather hard to rate since the way they are created is so generic. The Create Spawn ability can result in an army, but the lack of Incorporeality makes this army trivial at higher levels. Basically, if you can make and
control a Wight at low levels, the Spawn army can dominate. Incorporeal Undead are better for the spawn army , but Wights can be more accessible at lower levels. Summon Undead 5, followed by controlling said Wight Spawn, can also result in a Wight.
Fell Drain (LM)- +2 Metamagic that gives a negative level on target, no save
Enervation (PHB, 4th lvl)- 1d4 Negative levels. Ranged Touch attack
Necrotic Skull Bomb (LEoF, 5th level)- A negative level "fireball", so to speak.
Energy Ebb (LM, mayby SC, Sor/Wiz 7), 1 Neg. level/round for 1round/lvl
Spectral Touch (LM, Sor/Wiz 6)- touch/round gives negative level. lasts 1 round/level
Holy/Unholy arrows (DMG)- give them to someone of the opposing alignment.
Tiny Wight (BoVD, Grim Revenge)
Comments: Very interesting idea. You have to be undead to cast it, but I'd use this over enervation
(Neg levels) for Wight creation. I'd also take this over using Summon Undead 5 for a normal Wight. After all, it does have a +4AC and +4 Attack over a normal Wight.
Bodak (BoVD, Bodak Birth)
Comments: You'll need to find a willing
target for this spell in order to create a Bodak and the spell itself provides a limited form of control (can be circumvented though). Their Death Gaze has a low DC; however, if you create enough of them, you should be able to make use of it. After all, everyone rolls a 1 sometime.
Any Incorporeal Undead (CA, Spirit Binding chain, sort of)
Comments: This chain of spells functions as Planar Binding
spells, except that they work on spirits. Incorporeal undead are, luckily, considered spirits. If you bind an undead that: creates spawn, have it create spawn, then gain control of said spawn, you can gain access to a fair amount of otherwise unaquirable undead. Note that this spell is exclusively a Wu-Jen spell.
Crypt Chanter (LM, 7HD)Undead-enhancing Templates:
Dream Vestige (LM, 17HD)
Murk (LM, 3HD)
Umbral Creature (LM, Template)
Bhut (FF, 8HD)
Incarnum Waith (MoI, 6HD)
Silveraith (City of the Spider Queen, Template)
Urdark (MoE, 6HD)
More coming soon
Spellstitched (CA, Craft Wonderous Item, enhances previously created undead)
Comments: Costs A LOT
of XP. Worth it if you're a Necropolitan, but don't do it unless you have the Wis score to benefit from the SLAs. Alternatively, Spellstitch a Stitched-flesh familiar (LM).
Fiendish (MM, via Vile Death spell from SC)
Comments: The biggest problem with applying this template is that you no longer have control over the undead. If you have the means of gaining control of it afterwords, this can give some energy resistances and other minor boosts.Alternate Spells for Creating Undead:Field of Ghouls
(Hunger Domain, 7th)- dying creatures who fail a Will save become Ghouls under your indefinite control (2 HD/level cap still applies).Plague of Undead
(Sorc/Wiz 9th) -- 4 HD/level of Skeletons and Zombies, and you can control up to 4 HD/level of undead with this and Animate Dead. Also have max HP and, as JaronK pointed out, don't have the normal HD cap.