Spell Spotlight: Animate Dead – Posts

Spell Highlight is a sequence the place we do a deep dive on a few of Dungeons & Dragons’ most fascinating, helpful, and sophisticated spells. At the moment, we’re taking a look at a spell that many spellcasters contemplate controversial at finest and appalling at worst: animate useless. It isn’t unusual for magical factions to outright ban using necromancy, and for good cause. Those that dabble at nighttime arts typically don’t have good intentions, resembling these wizards who’ve given in to their lust for energy and immortality by changing into a lich.

That being mentioned, if you wish to command a military of the undead to conquer your foes, or perhaps you simply want a pal who’s a very good listener, you’ll discover what you’re on the lookout for in animate useless.

What does animate useless do?

zombies emerging from a pool of water

Animate useless is a Third-level necromancy spell that does precisely what the identify implies. Casting this spell on a close-by pile of bones or corpse creates an undead servant so that you can command. If focusing on a pile of bones, a skeleton is created, and a zombie is created if focusing on a corpse. In case your undead servant is inside 60 ft of you, you possibly can problem a command to it on every of your turns utilizing a bonus motion, resembling guarding an space or attacking an enemy. This spell begins to shine at increased ranges as you possibly can start reanimating or reasserting management over a number of creatures with a single casting, at a fee of two further creatures for every spell slot above Third degree.

Notably, the creatures you reanimate solely stay beneath your management for twenty-four hours. So, be sure you recast animate useless earlier than time runs out, or your undead pals will flip their sights on you! Additionally, do not forget that the goal needs to be a Small or Medium humanoid, so, sadly you received’t be flying any undead historic gold dragons into battle with this spell.

Your undead pals could also be dispensable, so that you is perhaps tempted to switch them, however that requires accessing useless our bodies and being surrounded by individuals who don’t thoughts you taking them. Generally it’s simply simpler to maintain those you have already got round, particularly as a result of Jeremy Crawford has said that undead minions can spend Hit Cube. (Although your Dungeon Grasp might rule in another way.)

The fabric parts, a drop of blood, a chunk of flesh, and a pinch of bone mud, shouldn’t be too exhausting to come back by. Since you might be possible already surrounded by demise and decay if you’re enthusiastic about casting this spell, simply swipe a bit of every when you select your favourite physique to carry again to life.

Utilizing this spell as a DM

Given the unfavourable connotation surrounding using necromancy spells, having an antagonist forged animate useless in entrance of the participant characters is a good way to allow them to know what sort of individual they’re. Even when the resurrected skeletons or zombies are used for guide labor as an alternative of fight, this observe instantly creates an ethical quandary surrounding the NPC. Whereas most might consider that it’s respectful to the useless to allow them to relaxation in peace, others could also be merely discovering methods to make them helpful in demise.

If as an alternative, you need that NPC to instantly seem evil, the resurrected our bodies might be harmless individuals slaughtered by the antagonist or fallen comrades of a number of of the characters, giving them a cause to really despise this foe.

Animate useless may also be used as a method to drop hints about your “large unhealthy” lurking someplace on the earth. Think about a situation the place your gamers have not too long ago arrived at a destroyed village that was attacked by the antagonist of your story. Of their wake, the evil NPC forged animate useless on a number of of the murdered townsfolk, instructing them to lie in wait in strategic positions to ambush unsuspecting investigators of the wreckage. An observant character (maybe with a Knowledge (Perception) examine) would possibly deduce that the zombies have been clearly ordered to take action by whoever attacked the village, as a zombie with out instruction is a senseless killing machine.

Who can forged animate useless?

A skeleton wearing armor and and shield

The one two courses which have animate useless on their spell listing are clerics and wizards. Clerics needs to be cautious when selecting to include necromancy into their character, as many domains oppose such practices. Most notably, Grave area clerics vow to destroy all undead they arrive throughout. Maybe the probably candidate for animate useless could be Dying area clerics, who manipulate energies surrounding demise and unlock the spell at fifth degree.

Wizards, however, have a a lot simpler time and are top-of-the-line candidates to be taught animate useless. Selecting the Faculty of Necromancy improves the effectiveness of the spell by buffing hit factors and harm, in addition to permitting you to forged the spell on further targets.

Circle of Spores druids and Oathbreaker paladins additionally unlock animate useless as they degree up, and the spell matches properly into their respective lore. Circle of Spores druids deliberately encompass themselves with demise and decay, believing undeath to be as pure because the cycle of life and demise. Oathbreakers are the antithesis of what it means to be a paladin, pursuing solely self-interest and energy, and subsequently would don’t have any drawback leaving undead of their wake.

Why we love this spell

A zombie wearing tattered clothing

The obvious use for animate useless is in fight. Top-of-the-line methods to enhance your probabilities for fulfillment in any battle is to extend your motion financial system — that’s, what number of alternatives you will have per flip to take an motion. With animate useless, you will have a very good use to your bonus motion as a method to deal harm. Keep in mind you can nonetheless problem a command, resembling “kill all the things that assaults us”, and your undead servants will observe the command till the duty is full. This implies you can release your bonus motion for different makes use of in case you don’t want to problem instructions each flip.

You additionally received’t have to fret about spells like dispel magic ruining your undead social gathering. It received’t have any impact on the creatures you create.

Even exterior of fight, animate useless has loads of makes use of. Zombies and skeletons don’t require meals, air, drink, or sleep, placing them as much as duties that mere mortals will not be up for. Your undead servants make wonderful guards as they will keep up all night time when you get your much-needed lengthy relaxation. You received’t want to fret about feeding them on the highway, and you’ll even stick them in your bag of holding if you want to disguise them. If in case you have any guide labor that wants doing round your own home, they will work with out relaxation or breaks. Simply don’t neglect to recast animate useless otherwise you would possibly get up to a nasty shock in the midst of the night time.

In case you don’t really feel significantly hooked up to your undead pals, have one maintain a keg of gunpowder and run towards your enemies, exploding it when it will get shut. Or, ship them out forward of you in a dungeon to set off the traps for you. If the traps contain poison, they’re immune anyway. In the event that they don’t, properly … you possibly can all the time discover one other corpse to reanimate. 

FAQ: Animate useless

Does animate useless use focus?

Animate useless doesn’t use focus and can’t be dispelled. You might be free to do no matter you would like in your flip, together with casting different spells that use focus.

What occurs when animate useless wears off?

After 24 hours, your zombies and skeletons will not take heed to you! Make sure to recast the spell earlier than time runs out or go away the undead behind in case you not want to have them close by.

Can creatures created utilizing animate useless use weapons and armor?

Sure. In keeping with the primary guidelines, skeletons “can struggle with weapons and put on armor” and “a zombie armed with a weapon makes use of it”. So far as which weapons and armor they will put on, this needs to be as much as your DM’s discretion.


Mike Bernier (@arcane_eye) is the founding father of Arcane Eye, a web site centered on offering helpful suggestions and methods to all these concerned on the earth of D&D. Outdoors of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time taking part in video games, climbing together with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants which have invaded his home.



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