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The Circle of Spores Druid feature Fungal Infestation states:

If a beast or humanoid that is Small or Medium dies within 10 feet of you, you can use your reaction to animate it, causing it to stand up immediately with 1 hit point. The creature uses the zombie statistics. It remains animate for 1 hour, after which time it collapses and dies.

Circle of Spore druids also gain access to the Gentle Repose spell, which states:

You touch a corpse or other remains. For the duration, the target is protected from decay and can’t become undead. The spell also effectively extends the time limit on raising the target from the dead, since days spent under the influence of this spell don’t count against the time limit of spells such as raise dead.

There seem to be some good arguments that they cannot work together:

  • First, Gentle Repose states the target cannot become undead, which would seem to preclude Gentle Repose working on a fungally infested creature that appears to be in some sense raised from the dead.
  • Second, gentle repose states you touch a corpse or other remains - one could argue that using the zombie statistics, the fungally infested entity is neither a corpse or remains, but an undead zombie.

However, there are also some reasonable arguments that they could work together:

  • First, the Fungal Infestation does not say that the creature is undead or a zombie, but that it uses the statistics of a zombie, which might leave room for a RAW interpretation that the features could work together (for example, it could be considered a fungally infested corpse or fungally raised remains).
  • Second, Gentle Repose says that it extends the time limit of raising the target from the dead and makes reference to spells like Raise Dead, which in flavour are similar to what happens with Fungal Infestation.

RAW can these features work together?

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No, they cannot. Per the Monster Manual p. 6 (and Rubiksmoose's comprehensive Q&A in this question more generally):

A monster's statistics, sometimes referred to as its stat block, provide the essential information that you need to run the monster.

The MM continues to describe what is included in a Monster's stat block, which on p6 includes the Monster's type.

Per the description of a zombie, the fungally infested creature is considered a medium sized undead creature. Gentle Repose only affects corpses or other remains, meaning that a creature affected by Fungal Infestation could not be affected by Gentle Repose.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What would happen here in the unlikely event of a readied Gentle Repose spell cast as a reaction, which takes effect before the Fungal Infestation reaction? Would that mean Fungal Infestation fails? Or that there is a 1-turn window 10 days later in which Fungal Infestation could be applied? \$\endgroup\$ – Speedkat Aug 4 at 20:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ You seem to be under the impression that a corpse cannot be part of an undead creature/ that an undead creature cannot be at least partially composed of corpses. That seems like a really weird interpretation of what a 'corpse' is. That's not to say that fungal infestation interacts in any beneficial way with gentle repose, though, even with a more textually grounded reading of the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 4 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Speedkat I think Fungal Infestation would fail since it turns the corpse into a zombie (ie undead), and Gentle Repose specifically states that the corpse cannot be turned undead. And I think the window after Gentle Repose wears off would be closed, since Fungal Infestation only works once the creature dies within 10 ft of you. Maybe Gentle Repose wearing off could be considered "dying", in which case Fungal Infestation could theoretically work - may be worth asking another question \$\endgroup\$ – B. S. Morganstein Aug 4 at 22:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil I assumed that the descriptions of corpse and undead would have to be mutually exclusive in order to resolve their interaction, but I'm open to other answers if that's a faulty assumption! \$\endgroup\$ – B. S. Morganstein Aug 4 at 22:18
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You can cast Gentle Repose on any corpse

It's fine if that corpse is part of an undead creature, or a macabre decoration, or fresh, or really really old. Gentle Repose requires only 'a corpse or other remains' and places no limits on the state those must be in, beyond those inherent in the words themselves. If you wanted to Gentle Respose a fossil or something, that might be debatable, but since zombies are so iconically defined as walking corpses that shouldn't be a problem here.

You can't fungally infest a reposed corpse

Gentle Repose prevents a corpse from becoming undead. Fungal Infestation, since it gives a creature the statistics of a Zombie and one of those is being undead, makes a corpse undead. So you can't do Gentle Repose first.

You can totally Gentle Repose a fungally infested corpse

The zombie still has a corpse as part of its body, so you can totally cast Gentle Repose on that part of it. That prevents it from becoming an undead creature, which it probably couldn't already on account of already being part of one, but doesn't stop it from continuing to be one currently. It also extends the time you have to cast Raise Dead et al. on the corpse for a while, as per usual, though you will have to wait the 1 hour for the zombie to die first (or kill it yourself, or use really powerful resurrection magics).

There isn't a whole lot of reason to do this, but there isn't anything stopping you from doing it either, at least from a strict and largely favorable RAW interpretation scheme. In less favorable interpretations, Gentle Repose's "protect[ion] from decay" may well bode poorly for your fungus-controlled zombie.

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