Is it possible for a typical fighter, for example,(or any other non magically inclined individual) to control a zombie or skeleton he found and train it to do what he wants, like with positive and negative reinforcement as with a dog or any other mundane way? and could that fighter (or any other non magically inclined individual) train a smarter undead creature like a ghoul this way?

  • \$\begingroup\$ "magic user" is a broad term. If the fighter has a supernatural ability, he is using magic. You mean mundane (non-magical) ways, or without using spells? Also, why it must be without the use of magic items? \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Mar 22 '19 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras (You might already know this; if so, I'm addressing those reading this who don't.) The term magic-user is the AD&D and earlier era's term for wizard; I suspect the asker simply misused that older term. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 22 '19 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that, with the Magical Tactics Toolbox, no class in the game is 100% mundane, as the fighter gained the option to learn a supernatural ability. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Mar 22 '19 at 18:03

First, no matter a creature's type, if it has an Intelligence score of 3 or higher it can typically speak a language (usually Common) and be reasoned with to the limits of its Intelligence score. For example, the typical ghoul has an Intelligence score of 13, smarter than most not-undead humans! A fighter that wants a ghoul to do as she commands without using magic asks the ghoul to do it, and the ghoul will or won't depending on the terms the fighter offers.

Second, no matter a creature's type, if it has an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 the creature can be trained using the skill Handle Animal. If the creature isn't an animal, doing so is a bit more difficult yet far from impossible ("You can use [Handle Animal] on a creature with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 that is not an animal, but the DC of any such check increases by 5"—that, by the way, includes PCs affected by the spell feeblemind, amusingly enough).

The typical fighter, while not usually known for her Charisma, still possesses as a class skill the skill Handle Animal. This means that, for example, a fighter could try to teach tricks to a crawling hand that she encounters during her adventures, although I suspect this will be difficult as its attitude toward the fighter will likely be less than agreeable.

Finally, no matter a creature's type, there's not much that can be done with wholly unintelligent creatures (i.e. those that have Intelligence scores of —). Such creatures are typically completely instinct-driven like many oozes, some plants, and almost all vermin and just follow their "programming" that probably drives them only to mostly consume and reproduce.

However, other nonintelligent creatures like skeletons and zombies are command-driven, obeying their creator's or controller's will, often even after that creator or controller dies when they usually follow the last command their creator or controller issued. So a nonintelligent undead creature can see a new controller come along and seize control magically from the old controller—even if that old controller's dead—, but there's typically no way for the average fighter to seize control nonmagically of such nonintelligent undead. Meaningful communication with them is impossible, and they can't be trained. Such creatures exist to obey.

In the end, it sounds like to realize your vision your fighter should ramp up his Handle Animal skill and make it clear to the GM that you're interested in finding and befriending undead creatures that possess Intelligence scores of 1 or 2. Good luck!

  • \$\begingroup\$ for being brainless alot of undead creatures are really smart :/ \$\endgroup\$ – zipzopzobbitybop Mar 22 '19 at 16:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @zipzopzobbitybop Yep, and it gets worse. In a magic heavy world, anatomy just doesn't equate to smarts. Magic items, for instance, can be intelligent and so can creatures that exist solely intangibly. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 22 '19 at 16:25

Using the Leadership feat

The Leadership feat allows any character to obtain a cohort, which is an NPC that has some respect for your character and will usually follow them around, doing their biding with their best interest in mind (but are not being mind controlled).

The Monster Cohorts rules from the Bestiary will expand on that feat and allow your character to recruit monsters, and ghouls are an early entry on the table:

\begin{array} {|r|r|} \hline Level &Monster \\ \hline 5 &Ghoul \\ \hline \end{array}

So, a ghoul would be a cohort of (equivalent) level 5, needing a total Leadership Score of 7 (as noted in the Leadership feat) to recruit one.

\begin{array} {|r|r|} \hline Leadership Score &Cohort Level \\ \hline 7 &5th \\ \hline \end{array}

Leadership Score: Your base Leadership score equals your level plus your Charisma modifier.


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