Is it possible to cause an undead to just become dead without destroying or killing it? The magic that creates an undead are instantaneous (except for special case skeletal crew and possibly others, but focus is on create undead and animate dead) so dispel magic and antimagic field have no effect.

Say someone on the side of good wanted to free the body of someone that was turned into undead, say a loved one, member of their faith, .... Is there anyway for them to do so?

  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras They dont have to start living again, but returned to death in a ...peaceful? manner. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Mar 22 at 2:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think @ShadowKras meant that the sentence seems wrong. "To become just dead" is maybe what you meant? Normal regular, old plain dead? Cause your sentence ask how to go from undead to undead. \$\endgroup\$ – Nyakouai Mar 22 at 12:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess when I was typing out the question I made a mistake when I meant to put down un-dead. But the fix is sufficient to clear it up \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Mar 22 at 12:44

I found a single spell which affects zombies, which at the end turns them back into un-animated corpses.

So well its not everything that I was hoping for, it does mean that zombies can be reused if I make some.

The spell is flesh wall, and is cleric/wizard 6, so I wont be doing it soon.

You can use zombies already under your control as the material components for a flesh wall. However, they and any other corpses in the wall revert back to inanimate corpses when the spell ends.

  • \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, you are the one who created the undead, and it's a temporary effect. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Aug 15 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Animated Fog hazard (see Curse Terrain) from Horror Adventures does exactly this as well. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Aug 15 at 11:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Its similar but doesnt de-animate zombies that were already made, so its a temporary animation effect \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Aug 15 at 22:33

It is not possible

I searched through many spells, magic items and monster special abilities, yet, the only way to make a soul depart from the body also mentions the words killing, slaying, or destroying. The only thing that you could remotely do is to transfer souls into the undead's body, suicide, and come back to your body. Their soul is lost having no body to return to, but the creature still got slain.

If the host body is slain, you return to the magic jar, if within range, and the life force of the host departs (it is dead). If the host body is slain beyond the range of the spell, both you and the host die. Any life force with nowhere to go is treated as slain.

So, if your purpose is simply to not let them feel any pain or violence, this is the most humane way to get them to rest.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What if you kill the necromancer? I know most of them go feral as soon as they're not controlled, but is there no undead that just cease their "undead-ness" if you kill the spell caster? Can't check right now, just wanted to ask if you looked into that as well \$\endgroup\$ – Nyakouai Mar 22 at 12:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very few methods of creating undead have any side-effects caused by destroying the creator. All cases I can remember of, either they are also destroyed, or the master's control is broken. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Mar 22 at 12:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras I found one spell but only works on zombies, check my answer \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Aug 14 at 22:02

This can be done if the source of undeath counts as a curse

If the thing that caused the undead to arise in the first place counts as a curse, which includes but is not limited to any spell with the [curse] descriptor, and the source is not a spell of higher than 5th level, the spell Break Enchantment can undo it, being able to undo even instantaneous effects provided they are enchantments, transmutations, or curses. Enchantments and transmutations are defined things in the rules, but curses aren't.

You can also do this if the specific kind of undeath involved involves paralysis-- via Primal Scream and scrolls and Command Undead or diplomacy skill checks-- but that is both more complicated and less useful, generally speaking.

This can also be done lots of complicated ways

Beyond that, there's time travel via the Scepter of Ages, perhaps acquired via Black Market Connections. There's also Polymorph any Object which would allow you to turn a e.g. a zombie into a corpse permanently. There's also stealing the soul out of an undead target, via Trap the Soul or any more specialized lower level method. One may also be able to use Freedom or Freedom of Movement to render a soul free to return for the purposes of Clone et al. Resurrection and True Resurrection also work when cast on an undead creature: while the spells themselves say nothing beyond being able to raise undead creatures that have been destroyed, the description of the Undead type specifies that 'Resurrection and true resurrection can affect undead creatures. These spells turn undead creatures back into the living creatures they were before becoming undead.' Undead creatures that are turned back into living creatures won't be dead, though, so they'll still need to be corpsified via some other method to achieve de-animation. The Promethean corruption also incrementally transmits a creature's soul to the afterlife, eventually resulting in a mindless destructive automaton or free-willed evil construct, but one that doesn't have the original creature's soul. Killing this new creature is sufficient to deanimate the corpse, but the original creature will be basically impossible to raise from the dead at that point due to the other effects of the affliction.

There are probably other ways. What you are asking for are weird edge cases where something ceases to be alive (or unalive) without technically dying or being destroyed, and there's lots of unrelated weird edge cases in Pathfinder.


Control Undead option

Control Undead says that you can control undead for a short period of time. No where is it written that you cannot order the undead to kill itself and by extension you could even interpret this to command the undead to relinquish control of its host body. At a level 7 necromancy spell, I don't think that's asking too much, that seems a reasonable price to me.

As a house rule you could limit this to unintelligent undead only or perhaps intelligent undead would require an additional Will save failure to execute.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Undead can't simply will themselves out of their bodies. Aside from all the emo vampires I've met who claim that their existence is a curse, but continue to avoid sunlight, there's tons of ghosts out there that are bound in their state. I assume my skeletons and zombies are similarly miserable, but thankfully, they can't talk. \$\endgroup\$ – Glen Pierce Aug 15 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Undead can't simply will themselves out of their bodies" -- Page reference to this? Or are you just down voting my answer off of personal preference? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Mundane Aug 16 at 17:25

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