If a zombie or skeleton that you have animated with Animate Dead is reduced to 0 hit points, can you reanimate it using Animate dead?

The spell description only says:

Choose a pile of bones or a corpse of a Medium or Small humanoid within range.

Well presumably when a skeleton reduces to 0 hit points it becomes a pile of bones. Even if the bones are damaged, the spell does not require 'unbroken bones'.

As a dungeon master I might require using the Mending cantrip to restore broken bones to some degree, however I can't find any specific ruling.

I'm looking for a rules focused answer rather than a fluffy home rule answer :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure this is a duplicate, but my search-fu is failing me at the moment \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Feb 25 '20 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ I could only find a similar question for 3.5e \$\endgroup\$ Feb 25 '20 at 14:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I've closed this, though they could arguably be different questions I believe "things previously animated by the spell" are a direct subset of "slain undead" especially given that animate dead clearly makes its target no longer a humanoid but now a full-fledged undead \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Feb 25 '20 at 15:43

Unfortunately, no by RAW.

As you've quoted, the spell requires (my emphasis):

a pile of bones or a corpse of a Medium or Small humanoid within range.

Once a dead humanoid is turned into a skeleton or zombie, they are no longer humanoids, but undead. Their form may be that of a humanoid, but their creature type is not. When creature types are mentioned, such as in this spell, that is the requirement.

A pile of bones that was previously an undead is now a corpse of an undead zombie or skeleton - not a corpse of an dead humanoid.

As they no longer have the humanoid type, they are no longer valid targets for animate dead.

Without a mechanic that all undead creatures who were once humanoid revert to being a humanoid at death, their creature type remains from what they were when they died: undead.

Is pile of bones separate from corpse of medium or small humanoid?

It could be interpreted as a [pile of bones] is completely separate from [a corpse of a small or medium humanoid], but that seems kinda strange.

It means you could take the corpse of a large humanoid, remove the flesh, and now all of a sudden it's a legit target? That doesn't seem like the intent and the reading that the bones or corpse must be of a medium or small humanoid makes more sense.

GM's choice

As always, a GM can allow the reanimation of the bones or corpse of an undead. I don't think it'd be massively imbalanced, and would help those who use those types of spells to re-use their undead army.

This is also supported by the published guidance in the Sage Advice Compendium that states:

[NEW] Can I cast animate dead on the humanoid-shaped corpse of an undead creature such as a zombie or a ghast? When animate dead targets a corpse, the body must have belonged to a creature of the humanoid creature type. If the spell targets a pile of bones, there is no creature type restriction; the bones become a skeleton.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rubiksmoose
    Feb 25 '20 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GuillaumeF. Added the Sage Advice guidance to the answer, thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 23 at 15:09

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