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Let's say, my PC is a human cleric of demons, and I have created an undead horse as my mount. It's great, because the horse does not need to sleep, nor feed, and it does not become fatigued. So riding long tracks is quite easy. The horse is in disguise, so ordinary people will see it as a normal horse.

But when I enter a civilised city sitting on it, and some cleric / wizard or similar would do a "detect undead" on the horse, it would be recognized as being undead. So, is it probable that the city guard would stop / arrest me for riding on an undead horse?

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"What? My horse is undead? I should have known that a tireless magic horse is too good to be true! Confound you, mysterious used horse dealer!" – Gustav Bertram Jul 2 '14 at 8:40
up vote 14 down vote accepted

I agree with Hey I Can Chan, this really depends on the campaign - and on the specific city in question. That's something you should ask your DM.

Note however that on the Pathfinder SRD entry for undead, the list of "Five Things Almost Everyone Knows About Undead" contains the following:

The following are a few facts that are considered common knowledge among civilized peoples.
3. Undead are invariably evil, as are the means to create such beings.

This list represents the beliefs of most "civilized peoples" - not necessarily the truth or the beliefs everyone, but it does set the default on "yes, it is evil to ride an undead mount" - if that holds for your game may of course vary.

Also, note that skeletons, zombies and many "mount-suitable undead" are always evil aligned - so your mount will always register as evil if anybody uses detect evil or something similar on it (and with a moderate aura if it has more than 2HD)...

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Actually, it'll ding on detect evil with any amount of HD. The entry for "Aligned Undead" is 2 HD or lower = Faint Aura. – Cthos Jun 30 '14 at 14:34
@Cthos - you are absolutely right, I missed the "or lower" bit - Thanks for pointing that out, I'll edit that into the answer. – G0BLiN Jun 30 '14 at 15:40
Note that if creating undead is invariably evil, most would argue that using an undead horse you found as prey is evil too. Some would argue otherwise. Anyway, riding on a zombie horse implies that you wouldn't object against against creating one (even if it is not true), and thus marking you as "evil" in most civilized societies. – Pavel Jul 1 '14 at 12:02

It Depends on the Campaign

The situation you describe is entirely campaign-specific. If the city guard knows you're riding an undead mount...

  • in Xoyog, City of Necromancers, nobody would care.
  • in Shinyhappy, City of Paladins, everyone might care.
  • in Justius, City of Neutrality, some might care and others might not.

I suggest first using the skill Knowledge (local) to determine local laws, then using the skill Bluff when there's a conflict with those laws ("The guy who sold it to me didn't say it was an undead pony!").

Also ask the DM if there are negative consequences to an undead mount. Actually creating skeleton or zombie horses mandates using the animate dead spell, which has the evil descriptor, but what that means and if merely using animated undead creatures--instead of making them yourself--is an evil act is up to the DM.

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