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When I use Animate Dead from the corpse of fallen NPCs (and maybe PC), how to decide the stat block?

Do they use the original stat block? Should they have penalty (because they start rotting)? Do they keep their mental ability scores? Do they keep their features?

the DM has the creature's game statistics

is this referring to the monster Skeleton and Zombie, or to "DM decide the stats"?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh ok. I think I see what you're trying to ask. I think this question would be better asked (possibly as a new question all together) as something along the lines of "how can I modify an NPC's stats as if they were brought back as a zombie" or something like that if that's what your trying to ask. This question is very confusingly worded at the moment and it's hard to tell whether you're actually asking if Animate Dead is referring to the monsters in the MM or if the DM decides the stats, or how to make an NPC/PC more zombie-like. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Apr 10 '18 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please do note though that we don't handle open-ended questions looking for general advice or ideas very well so the question would have to be well defined and well scoped. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Apr 10 '18 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! I'm not sure about the wording, but as this already been answered (rightfully so) with the spell description, I'll post a new question. \$\endgroup\$ – Vylix Apr 10 '18 at 11:42
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This is answered in the spell's description:

The target becomes a skeleton if you chose bones or a zombie if you chose a corpse (the DM has the creature's game statistics).

Referring to the skeleton and zombie stat block in the Monster Manual.

If the DM was meant to choose the statistics it would specifically say so, such as with the Awaken spell:

Your DM chooses statistics appropriate for the awakened plant, such as the statistics for the awakened shrub or the awakened tree.

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Who the corpse was does not matter. Animate dead states:

The target becomes a skeleton if you chose bones or a zombie if you chose a corpse (PHB 212)

These are not creature types, they refer to specific creatures with stat blocks included in the MM. Equipment might modify that, but the base creature is the same.

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Animate Dead specifically states that

The target becomes a skeleton if you chose bones or a zombie if you choose a corpse (the DM has the creature's statistics).

Emphasis mine

In the Monster Manual you can find stat blocks for "Skeleton" on page 272 and "Zombie" on page 316

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