When animating zombies they gain bonus HD based on their size, is this bonus HD counted towards the maximum HD of undead one character can control.

For instance, if I'm a level 6 cleric, I can control a total of 24HD of undead. If i were to raise a human zombie it would gain 1 hd from being medium-sized bringing it up to 2HD total. Does that mean i can only control 12 zombies, or does it only count the "racial" HD it had when originally raised?


1 Answer 1


Yes, it does.

Zombies, unlike skeletons, gain additional HD based on their size. But keep in mind that only racial HD are kept, all class-gained HD are lost, as the creature loses all their knowledge of their class abilities, which includes the extra HD.

Hit Dice: Drop HD gained from class levels (minimum of 1) and change racial HD to d8s. Zombies gain a number of additional HD as noted on the following table.

However, it is missing a phrase that is important on the template and is present for skeletons:

Creatures without racial HD are treated as if they have 1 racial HD.

Instead, they went with that "(minimum 1)", which simply leads to confusion, but ultimately has the same effect regardless.

So every human you turn into a zombie, will have 2 HDs, which are now d8s, regardless of their original class and level. Every ogre (4 HD) you turn into a zombie will now have 6 HDs (4+2). Every tiger that you zombify will have 8 HD (6+2), and so on, depending on their creature size.

This can be seen on the original zombie creature sheet (2 HD), and also on the zombified hill giant, which normally has 10 HD (hill giant), but now has 12 HD, exactly the extra +2 according to the table. Ironically, when first published (rise of the runelords anniversary edition), that creature had the wrong stats, which the SRD author corrects:

Incorrect HD, CR, and XP Value: A standard hill giant has 10 HD and is CR 7. The zombie template adds additional HD based on the zombies size and size Large adds +2 HD, meaning the “correct” HD should be 12 not 13. At 12 HD, the CR would actually drop by 1, from 6 to 5, also reducing the creatures XP value from 2,400 to 1,600 and its hp from 71 to 66 (12d8+12 instead of 13d8+13.)

That was also caught on the errata thread about the adventure.


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