I am going to be a necromancer and not feeling like having to pay for my undead. The following are methods I know about.

  • Blood money spell - banned in current game
  • Cauldron of the dead magic item - its 30k (1200 HD of undead) and heavy, plus could be easily stolen or destroyed, also cant make until later in career
  • Mythic animate dead spell - requires mythic power but more important, have to gain the mythic spell
  • Archmage - Component Freedom (3rd tier)- only works for arcane animate dead
  • Hierophant - Symbol of the Holy (1st tier) - only works for divine animate dead
  • False Focus feat - only works for arcane animate dead

So of the six ways I know of, the preferred is banned in my game, one costs more than I would save, three are specific for arcane/divine (I'm a cleric/wizard so less attractive), and the last one requires a fair amount of investment.

Are there better/cheaper ways to cast animate dead than these? As I am both cleric/wizard, the best method would work for both classes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras If possible yes, good point that I wasnt as clear as I should have been \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Aug 5 '19 at 20:34

Obtain Animate Dead as a spell-like ability

As you probably know, spell-like abilities have no material cost:

Usually, a spell-like ability works just like the spell of that name. A spell-like ability has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus.

As such, if you gain Animate Dead as SLA, you don't have to worry about the material cost of the spell. Considering the spell is fairly mid-level (5th or 7th), you probably won't see this until at least 9th level.

An example of that would be to become an Evangelist of Orcus, or Exalted of Urgathoa, both can be obtained at 12th level taking Deific/Demonic Obedience feats, or at 9th as an Evangelist or Exalted. There are other deities that will grant it as the second boon, making it available at later levels as well.

Using souls

Book of the Damned introduced a way to use trapped souls as material components. Each soul has a base price, which can be used as a substitute for material components if you take the Soul-Powered Magic feat (caster 5th and evil-alignment as requisites).

You should be able to easily collect souls using the Create Soul Gem spell, and a single soul should be worth at least 500 gp for this purpose (see page 191 of the Book of the Damned).

Small discounts

There are ways to obtain small discounts too, such as the Eye for Ingredients feat (10%), or Celebrity Discount (Vigilante Social Talent).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I had forgotten to include SLA's in my answer but that was because the only way I knew was the mythic legendary item ability, which would have been useless because it doesnt connect to either casting class \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Aug 5 '19 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, the using souls part is awesome and totally fits the character \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Aug 17 '19 at 0:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Instead of create soul gem spell, I think Summon Cacodaemon is better, no expensive focus is required \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Aug 17 '19 at 1:15

In addition to ShadowKras excellent answer I have found a few other ways to help discount the cost.

There is the Robe of Components which provides 50 gp worth of spell components or focuses per day. You could use one or more robes, and on days where your not necro'ing well, nondetection can be useful.

Adding to the list of ways to obtain spell-like abilities would be using a cursed Circlet of Spell-Eating (scroll down a little with link) which was brought to my attention in another question. To avoid the random aspect of the spell, simply only prepare animate dead the first time you would lose that first spell and choice made.


Run an Onyx mine

Onyx is valued at 25gp for a chunk large enough to raise a 1HD undead, likely due to its value in this regard. If you can locate and mine a vein of Onyx ore, you can use this to raise undead without directly incurring costs.

Unfortunately, D&D and pathfinder do not encourage this sort of lateral thinking, so whether this works will be up to your DM.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell animate dead calls out 25+ gp per level of undead raised, so while your 50 does work, your over spending. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jun 9 '20 at 17:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whoops. My memory must have failed me. \$\endgroup\$ – Sanford Bassett Jun 9 '20 at 17:16

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