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Let's assume that going to the local humanoid settlement and magically blasting to death a townie isn't an option. Likewise, any cunning plan to lure—magically or otherwise—a humanoid from that settlement to you won't work either. The spell or combination of spells must bring forth a humanoid corpse that lasts for at least 7 days, 10 preferred.

Scenario: Deadly Dancers on the Ethereal Plane

To make another deadly dancer (Tome of Magic 80-1) a deadly dancer needs a humanoid corpse.

They break off a pointy bit in a corpse to make a new dancer!What? Your DM doesn't use terrifying awesome monsters?

In my campaign a troupe of deadly dancers resides on the Ethereal Plane near a fortress filled with humanoids. The deadly dancers were ambushing patrols in hopes of snatching humanoid corpses so that the troupe can make more of its kind. This was dangerous: patrol leaders are hardened war veterans, and the troupe's losses barely equaled the recovered humanoid corpses. A red ethergaunt—that can cast spells like a 9th-level wizard—discovered this troupe of deadly dancers, learned their dance-based language (I'm so not kidding—take that, Drow Sign Language!), and earned the troupe's allegiance by using the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell lesser planar binding [conj] (PH 261-2) to call low-level fire gnomes (Planar Handbook 125-6). Rather than cutting deals with the fire dudes, the red ethergaunt has the deadly dancers murder the extraplanar fire dudes, and the dancers employ the corpses to increase the troupe's number.

Question

While the ethergaunt's process works, the optimizer in me sees this process as clumsy and thinks that a red ethergaunt with its Intelligence score of 23 (and the folks on RPG SE) can do better. With access only to…

  • 5th-level and lower wizard spells (so, for example, humanoid corpses can't be created from statues via the 6th-level Sor/Wiz spell stone to flesh [trans] (PH 232)) and
  • no more than 4 different spells per level yet only 2 different 5th-level spells and
  • basic magic items suitable for a scout (e.g. everlasting rations (Magic Item Compendium 160) (350 gp; 1 lb.), a healing belt (MIC 110) (750 gp; 1 lb.))

…are there other, more efficient ways to generate humanoid corpses to facilitate deadly dancer reproduction that don't involve interacting with a settlement?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Aww, your actual scenario is really specific (and interesting!) Based on the question title, I was looking forward to answering "Most of them, if you aim right..." \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Jun 19 '17 at 17:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your question really about spells or is it actually about plans? \$\endgroup\$ – godskook Jun 19 '17 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @godskook The ethergaunt's plan is to increase his status among his kind by using an army of deadly dancers to conquer the settlement—and turn the settlement's humanoid corpses into more deadly dancers. (Unknown to the ethergaunt, the settlement even has a portal to back to the Material Plane so it's (ahem) prime real estate. ) However,—and correct me if I'm wrong—step 1 is more bodies, so that's where I'm starting. The question isn't, like, a stealth attempt to generate ideas or anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 19 '17 at 17:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @godskook Ethergaunts "particularly hate clerics, viewing divine spellcasters as a threat to [their] atheist philosophy" (FF 66), and "the deadly dancer culture has no clerics" (TM 81). Not even kidding. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 19 '17 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @godskook If there's an answer in there that can work around the limitations described in the question and that fits with both creatures' lore, make it happen, man. I mean, I'd anticipated the red ethergaunt selfishly working alone for personal glory and the inaccuracy of plane shift is a cause for concern, but I'm not adverse to an out-of-the-box, frame-challenging alternative to lesser planar bound fire gnomes. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 19 '17 at 18:54
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Hire Adventurers

This could be the cheapest way. Adventurers are willing to take all the risks for little pay and provide extremely high yields. You can meet adventurers anywhere: at a campsite, at an inn, out in the forest, on the ethereal plane, etc... And they will usually not challenge.

Send the adventurers against a local group of humanoid they dislike (for whatever reason): azers, goblins, kobolds, orcs, etc. The advantage of this is that you create a protagonist as the PCs are lower levels, and an antagonist for higher levels. You need to find a good cover story

Spells: Alter Self (2)/ Disguise Self(1) and undetectable alignment(2) ethereal jaunt as 5th level. Or you can make a deal with an ethereal filcher or something like that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Lol. I like the adventure hook... The BBEG being your employer isn't TOO out of the box, but the actual reveal would be jaw dropping... \$\endgroup\$ – Isaac Kotlicky Jun 19 '17 at 23:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ But the ethergaunt already has mercs for hire-- the dancers. Not sure how this adds anything beyond 'attack the settlement anyways'. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Jun 20 '17 at 5:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer pretty much nailed it. However, I didn't downvote this as I had not considered the ethergaunt employing a rival band of adventurers. (They'd have to be some pretty vile folk, though!) It's possible the ethergaunt could even (virtually) pay such mercs in spellcasting services since it can't in hard cash in it's current situation. Perhaps the promise of their own deadly dancer slaves would be sufficient? Or maybe the answer could recommend some spells that could be cast on the mercs' behalf…? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 20 '17 at 13:24
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Robe of Bones

The robe of bones takes two days, 1200 gp, and 96 XP to craft, but requires only the Animate Dead spell, which is 4th level. It produces 8 humanoid corpses (in the form of undead goblins and humans), of which 4 are skeletons and thus maybe don't count as blood sources and 4 are zombies and thus probably count as blood sources. It's possible that, being created purely from magic, these corpses (once produced) count only as the corpses of destroyed undead creatures and not the corpses of humanoids, which is also a snag. Assumming that at least the 4 zombie corpses work, though, this is as fast as casting lesser planar binding and has the benefit of being [evil] instead of [fire]. If all the non-wolf corpses work, it's actually faster than casting lesser planar binding, but does consume material resources.

In summary, it's expensive, produces corpses of dubious quality, and not terribly much faster than just casting the binding spell, but it does work in addition to the binding spell and thus might be of use.

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