Looking for creative ways to obtain powerful corpses to animate. My lvl5 necromancer can animate 44HD, but has a hard time finding worthy corpses.

So far I found the druid spell Call Animal that can force a Colossal Immense Turtle to come to you. It's the biggest animal I know. We just have to kill it and here's the corpse ! Pretty cool and hard to dispute, but limited to animals, can't even call Vermins or Magical Beasts that way.

There are ways to create corpses like Polymorph Any Object or Stone to Flesh (as the user "fectin" pointed out) but my DM will very likely refuse to animate those. "Sympathy" is awesome! (thanks "Hey I Can Chan" !) But open to interpretation.

Any other creative ways to get powerful corpses or call mighty creatures that we can kill then raise ? Any metamagic or traits that would allow Call Annimal to work on Vermins or such ? Any Druid/Cleric/Obscure class spells that I could pay an NPC to cast for me ?

My DM considers that Called outsiders doesn't leave a corpse behind but are banished for X hundred years. So Planar Ally can't help here.

Edit : After checking with my DM. The only method listed here that he accepted is the "Vermin Heart Feat" that allows Call Annimal to call vermins as well. Doesn't cover all kind of magical beasts, but enough to make very cool zombies ! Another method he hinted would work is the "Dominate" spell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You might be interested in this question despite the limited range of answers its received. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 2 '17 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think creating corpses will work for the DM, let me rephrase my question. \$\endgroup\$ – Taiko Dec 4 '17 at 2:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Taiko do you mind telling us how you got to 40HD of controlled undead limit instead of the standard 20 HD granted by the spell? \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 4 '17 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Taiko you are mistaken on how Undead Master works, it only increases the amount you raise per cast of Animate Dead, just like the spell Desecrate, it has no effect over your control limit. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 5 '17 at 10:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Hmm. Good point. Then my limit would be around 28HD. Still can raise a big bad ass UD ^^ \$\endgroup\$ – Taiko Dec 6 '17 at 1:38

It isn't metamagic, and you'd need access to the Wild Empathy class feature, but if you could get your hands on the Vermin Heart feat it allows you to affect vermin with spells that can normally only affect animals.

  • \$\begingroup\$ After checking with my DM, this is actually the ONLY method he allowed out of all the methods displayed here ! Bounty's yours :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Taiko Dec 12 '17 at 7:40

You probably want to read through K's Necromancy Handbook (that link is not the original, but I'm fairly sure that the original and every first-generation copy were destroyed in various forum purges). You're going to be most interested in the heading "Some Surprisingly Good Undead," because bigger isn't exactly better. Some of the details are slightly off because it was written for 3.5 (so you can skip the entire feat section, for example).

On your specific question, K has this to say:

Creating Corpses

Using the powers of Stone to Flesh and Polymorph any Object you can create bodies, the exact item you need to be able to animate or otherwise create undead. What actually happens at this point is not addressed anywhere. What does it mean that you have the corpse of a creature that was never alive in the first place? Is a statue of a Pit Fiend capable of being made into elaborate undead forms to get its Wish ability “back”? Noone knows. This is a realm of the rules that aren’t addressed anywhere even a little bit. We wish you the best of luck.

Failing that, a conjuring circle for your Planar Binding spells set in the middle of about 12 killer magical traps is generally sufficient to create any kind of corpse you want. Go crazy.

Hey I Can Chan points out that we have a question on stone-to-fleshed statues in 3.5. The answers there are very good and well-reasoned, but ultimately do not have a strong rules basis. And unfortunately, Pathfinder continues 3.5's non-support of rules for necromancy:

Necromancy therefore, is an ability with very little pre-game min/max capability. Whether you are controlling undead or creating them yourself, you are throwing yourself at the DM's mercy. Like how every fighter I've ever seen has eventually taken to using some magic weapon that was found as a trophy, only more so because D&D does not currently support an "available corpses by level" guideline.

  • \$\begingroup\$ (Because you're referencing a 3.5e fan-written handbook, you might also be interested in this question.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 2 '17 at 18:14

The traditional way to find corpses of dangerous monsters is to do some research, go to where the dangerous monsters reportedly are, and kill them yourself. Want hill giant corpses? Find out where the hill giants live, go there, learn from them where they bury their dead, kill them, and make a bunch of hill giant skeletons or zombies or whatever.

The alternative—yet no less traditional—approach is for you to become the adventure hook for the campaign's other adventuring parties: go to a town, spread the word that you'll pay good gp for monster corpses, and wait for the corpses to roll in. While this scheme may run afoul of good-aligned authorities—and, perhaps, some good-aligned adventuring parties that often view necromancers unfavorably—, this has the advantage of otherwise not putting you in danger directly and costing you only time and the corpse bounty. (Or, in the latter case, y'know, not—that is, you needn't pay the adventurers who delivered the corpses—they can likely be turned into corpses, too.)

…But there's also sympathy

Despite its problems, the spell sympathy is designed for this. While an arcane scroll of sympathy costs either 3,900 gp if purchased from a level 16 summoner or 4,500 gp if purchased from a level 15 wizard—which is about 1/3 to 1/2 the gp of a level 5 PC—, consider the scroll an investment: that scroll turns into corpses, XP, and whatever treasure's possessed by the monsters attracted by the spell!1

However, you'll have to check with the DM how the spell sympathy works exactly. The Pathfinder spell sympathy is almost a complete cut-and-paste of the D&D 3.5e's spell sympathy and has the same problems. The spell says

You cause an object or location [you'll probably want the location] to emanate magical vibrations that attract either a specific kind of intelligent creature or creatures of a particular alignment, as defined by you. The particular kind of creature to be affected must be named specifically. A creature subtype is not specific enough. Likewise, the specific alignment must be named.

Creatures of the specified kind or alignment feel elated and pleased to be in the area or desire to touch or possess the object. The compulsion to stay in the area or touch the object is overpowering. If the save is successful, the creature is released from the enchantment, but a subsequent save must be made 1d6 x 10 minutes later. If this save fails, the affected creature attempts to return to the area or object.

While the spell's range—that is, the distance away from the caster the spell's effect can be created—is close, the spell's effect can affect a location to which creatures are supposed be drawn… yet the distance from which those creatures are drawn isn't at all clear. The GM may rule that because the spell's effect affects the location, the folks who are already there now just want to stay there, contradicting the spell's description. Alternatively, the GM may rule the spell is really weak, only drawing creatures from close range to the location, despite that not being how a spell's range works. Or, even more alternatively, the GM may rule that spell's effect draws to that location every appropriate being in existence no matter their distance from the effect—which seems too much even for an 8th-level spell.

This GM humbly recommends the sympathy spell be house ruled so as to have a reasonably radius (maybe 1 mi./level like the spell commune with nature?), but ask your GM how the sympathy spell works before investing in the scroll.

1 While it's a little complicated to activate an scroll of a type of spell that's on your spell list but you can't yet cast, as long as you've the Int 18, it still only takes only making a caster level check (DC 1 + the scroll spell's caster level). Success means that the spell's cast. A natural 1 or a failure means the spell isn't cast—but, so far, the scroll's fine and the spell's still there!—and making a Wisdom ability check (DC 5… yes, just 5). Failure on that Wisdom ability check means a mishap that can erase the spell. You didn't dump Wisdom, did you?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Back in the day, necromancers had to work for their skeletons and dead bodies. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 4 '17 at 18:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent option ! I'll pick my DM's mind on it :-D \$\endgroup\$ – Taiko Dec 5 '17 at 5:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good option. And much cheaper to commission than mine if you don't already know the spell, as even if you go for the cheaper option of paying for a direct casting instead of a scroll, with the same price range as a single Sympathy scroll you could only get down to about four square miles. \$\endgroup\$ – The Froggy Ninja Dec 5 '17 at 23:48

If you know a cleric, I recently did the math for using commune to locate objects or people. Based on the HD you can raise I'm going to assume you're level 20. A single casting of Commune by a level 20 cleric gives you 20 yes or no questions. If you want to search an area roughly the size of America, you can get down to less than a square inch of accuracy with a mere two castings of the spell, depending on how lucky your initial guesses are. Split the area you want into fractal halves named stuff like "Sector 1" and "Sector 12112". Ask if a Great Red Wyrm (29 HD, very awesome) corpse is in Sector 1. If it is ask if it's in Sector 11 and so on. If it's not, go to the subsectors of the sector you didn't guess. After you've used all 40 qeustions, you'll have located it down to ~85 square feet. Then just go and get it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What do you mean by "how many guesses you wasted?" Once you've established that there is a corpse of the desired type in the country/world accessible to you, every question should halve the remaining area. I'm not sure how questions could be wasted. (unless you mean repeatedly being told that there is no corpse of monsters X,Y,Z, etc in the world?) \$\endgroup\$ – frodoskywalker Dec 3 '17 at 20:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Shoot, good point. The version I did the initial math for had more sectors of a given size category before I realized when answering this that halves were more efficient. Thanks for the correction, I'll edit it in. \$\endgroup\$ – The Froggy Ninja Dec 3 '17 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dichotomy search for corpses :-D great idea. Will see if my DM allows that. If only there was a metamagic feat or something that could let Call Animal work on Vermin... Could use it to call Colossal spiders and stuff. I'm actually level 5 but took just the right metamagic feats to be able to raise 40 HD ^^ \$\endgroup\$ – Taiko Dec 4 '17 at 2:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well in that case you're going to need way more funds than you could easily get to fuel those spells and hire a cleric of high enough level to even cast the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – The Froggy Ninja Dec 4 '17 at 16:08

First, your 5th level necromancer shouldn't be able to raise and control a 40HD undead. It seems like you used various obscure feats for that and now the DM is trying to limit you by refusing things like animating meat piles created through Stone to Flesh. Seriously, try to talk with your DM to see if that's an issue.

If not, you can simply search for the corpse of that legendary beast. It could be a full arc of the campaign by itself and will probably be more interesting than finding a particular mob in a book.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras: "you can’t create more HD of undead than twice your caster level with a single casting of animate dead" -> so 10HD per cast, or maybe 14HD if you managed somehow to have +2 to your caster level. I don't see how you get more without going 3rd party. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Dec 4 '17 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct, in my mind this was a 3.5 question. You still have other options. The limit per cast is 2HD per CL, the limit of control is 4HD per CL. At CL5 that means cast 10HD and control 20HD. If they take the Undead Master feat (+4 to CL for the spell), that raises to 18HD cast and still 20HD control. A single dip on Juju Oracle (or it being your actual class) will raise the formula to 6HD per CL and increase this even further (24 cast and 30 control). This before any magic item that raises the control limit, so a 40HD limit is not unheard of. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 4 '17 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ But maybe his problem is that he granted himself +4 CL to create and control, which is not what the feat does. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Dec 4 '17 at 16:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Desecrate doubles what you can create in one go :-D And there's an item that creates a desecrate area : Voidstick. My DM is totally trying to get my HD under check, that's why I have to stay very close to RAW and without interpretations, so it's harder for him to refuse ^^ \$\endgroup\$ – Taiko Dec 5 '17 at 5:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Taiko: that's what I suspected. I honestly don't think it is a sane interaction between DM an player, but if you are all (you, the DM and the other players) having fun arguing about RAW that's fine. From the DM reaction however I get the impression that it is not the case. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Dec 5 '17 at 8:57

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