8
\$\begingroup\$

The trivial answer, of course, would be "Wish", but perhaps there is something more specific that I overlooked.

I'm asking for a plot-device in my homebrew campaign. The idea is that the big baddy (a necromancer) brought a legendary character from history back to life to do his bidding. All the necromancy spells I found either require the target to be willing and retain no control over the target (Resurrection/True resurrection), or turns it into a skeleton or zombie (Animate Dead) or ghoul (Create Undead).

So, what I'm looking for is something like a mixture between True Resurrection (bring back a dead person without transforming it) and Create Undead (retain control over the resurrected).

The revived person would be an NPC with a complete character sheet, not just a monster statblock. It should retain all those stats, like when a player character is revived with True Resurrection. Only difference: it doesn't have free will. It has to obey its master. I dont even care if it has the "undead" type. If anybody has seen Naruto Shippuden, that show contains the type of Resurrection I mean to include in my story.

If there isn't, that's ok. I'll just make up some plot-device spell. If there were a RAW way, though, that would be preferred, since I like telling my players "everything the bad guys do, you could do to".

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • \$\begingroup\$ is this a being the PCs have already witnessed the killing of, or is this being's death only widely believed/presumed? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 14 at 1:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Only widely believed/presumed \$\endgroup\$
    – RHS
    Apr 14 at 9:42
16
\$\begingroup\$

No

To put it simply, there are no individual spells (short of Wish) that can do what you want. Either you resurrect someone with free will, or you change their stat block.

Alternatives...

You are the DM, and you have a great deal of latitude here. As you said, you could just make up some plot device magic spell...but there are some closer-to-RAW solutions here.

Dominate Person

A magic item that imposes Dominate Person on its wearer would functionally achieve your goal: resurrected person under the control of the villain. Take the dead body, put the 'Dominate Person Collar' on them, and cast True Resurrection.

There's a much lower-level precedent for this in 3.5E Eberron called the 'Collar of the Wild Bond' which provides an automatic, permanent Dominate Animal with no save...as long as you can get the collar on the animal in the first place.

Risk: If your players get their hands on this, they will find uses for a permanent Dominate Person. If you have a Rogue, expect them to start trying to Sleight of Hand this thing onto people's necks.

Advanced Flesh Golem

There are no spells that create golems, but they can obviously be created. The Manual of Golems provides a way to create a basic model of golem--but nothing says your necromancer has to stick with the 'basic model.' After all...somebody makes Shield Guardians, Helmed Horrors, and other sorts of Construct that there isn't a magical manual to instruct you in.

The prime benefit here...is that this isn't a spell. This isn't something your wizard can spend a few hours studying and then learn to cast--so you don't have to worry about your players swiping it and using it. It's true that this is something they could do....if they spent the many maniacal years of obsessive research, horrifying experiments, bargains with dark powers, and crimes against nature required to develop the skill and knowledge to pull it off

Non-spell Magical Process

There exist spells that can bind a soul (like Magic Jar), but there are non-spell processes that do it better, such as the ritual process to become a Lich. So, in the same vein, this necromancer could have developed a non-spell magical technique (again, horrifying years of research and experimentation) that allows them to intercept a soul being called back by a Resurrection spell. This sounds the closest to the 'Naruto' effect you're going for--where the actual person has come back, but their soul has been subverted.

\$\endgroup\$
4
\$\begingroup\$

You can probably come close

This does depend heavily on your setting, specifically the details of "what exactly happens to your soul when it dies?" I don't know the answer to that question for any official setting, but if you're the DM then you get to choose for your setting. As long as the answer is something like "Your soul travels to a specific plane, and becomes a Celestial, Elemental, Fiend, or Fey, but retains all other statistics" then this method shouldn't require any fudging of the actual rules, and should work for the players just as well if they choose. I will note that it doesn't actually involve any necromancy spells though.

Step 1: Getting the creature

The 9th level Conjuration spell Gate has this option:

When you cast this spell, you can speak the name of a specific creature (a pseudonym, title, or nickname doesn't work). If that creature is on a plane other than the one you are on, the portal opens in the named creature's immediate vicinity and draws the creature through it to the nearest unoccupied space on your side of the portal. You gain no special power over the creature, and it is free to act as the GM deems appropriate. It might leave, attack you, or help you.

This is where "Other planes as afterlife" is important; if souls go somewhere other than a plane then this doesn't work in the official rules. That said, as long as the creature is on another plane this spell doesn't seem to even allow a saving throw. A way to make this somewhat limited for players but not out of reach is that the true name of ancient heroes may be difficult to find, and the Bad Guy only managed after years of "off-screen" research.

Step 2: Containing the creature

So your Legendary Hero is now in front of the Big Bad Necromancer Guy. Generally speaking such a situation is actually not beneficial to the Bad Guy's plans, so it's important to contain the Hero until Step 3 is done. The ideal spell for this purpose is the 3rd level Abjuration spell Magic Circle, with its inverted mode:

When you cast this spell, you can elect to cause its magic to operate in the reverse direction, preventing a creature of the specified type from leaving the cylinder and protecting targets outside it.

It also needs to be cast at 4th level or higher to actually work for step 3, and it's better to cast it at as high a level as you can. This is the first place where the soul having the type Celestial, Elemental, Fiend, or Fey comes in, though Undead would work here if you choose an alternative option for step 3. There may be other methods of protecting the Bad Guy, but this one is approximately tailor-made for the purpose especially if the Hero doesn't have teleportation or interplanar travel in their stat block.

Step 3: Binding the creature

The best spell for this purpose is Planar Binding, a 5th level Abjuration spell. The casting time is 1 hour, which is why Magic Circle needs to be cast at 4th level; it must be cast before the Gate, but Planar Binding must start casting after the Gate so there would be at least 1 round when the Hero is not contained by the Magic Circle or affected by Planar Binding. Higher levels of Magic Circle allow the Bad Guy to make cast Planar Binding multiple times if the Hero succeeds on the saving throw.

Planar Binding should also be cast at as high a level as possible; a 9th level Planar Binding lasts for a year and a day, giving plenty of time for the Bad Guy to wreak havoc and then order their unwilling servant to return so the Binding can be renewed for the following year. As long as the initial saving throw fails the Hero must follow the Bad Guy's orders for the duration though it technically has some free will as long as it doesn't contradict the Bad Guy's orders.

This is where the main creature type restriction comes in: only Celestials, Elementals, Fey, and Fiends can be affected by Planar Binding. If you want the souls of the dead to be Undead creatures then Magic Circle will still work but you'll need to deal with one of the Step 3 Alternatives. If you want some other creature type then you need to find your own Step 2 alternative as well (there are a lot of options for "keep someone imprisoned" so I'm not going to try to list them all).

Step 3 alternatives:

If you don't want dead souls to have one of the four listed creature types for Planar Binding, some of these alternatives might work well enough for your purposes:

  • Mass Suggestion doesn't give such fine control, but phrasing something reasonable like "My secret ritual is necessary to save the world, so you should protect me from anyone who tries to stop it" might be close enough. At 9th level this lasts for a year and a day just like 9th level Planar Binding. Note that regular Suggestion does not get an extended duration from upcasting, so Mass Suggestion must be used even if you only target one creature.
  • Modify Memory could work if you cast it enough. At 9th level it can modify any portion of a creature's memory as needed, replacing real memories with false ones that would make following the Bad Guy seem reasonable. However, each casting only modifies 10 minutes at a time; the Bad Guy will need a LOT of 9th level spell slots to rewrite the Hero's full history. Some more nuanced applications could cut that down by a lot, but that's more of a DM-fiat situation.
  • Magic Jar isn't quite there but could be close enough for your purposes and is notable as the only option that involves any Necromancy. It requires that the Hero be Humanoid rather than any of the previously discussed creature types. It doesn't fully retain the Hero's statistics though, instead the result has some statistics from the caster and some from the target, but still a "real character sheet" rather than just a generic stat block. This version also grants the most complete control, completely supplanting the Hero's will, and also has "until dispelled" duration rather than needing periodic refreshes. On the other hand, the caster's body is left catatonic, so it's not much of a "servant" as it is a disguise.
  • As-written Geas probably isn't good enough, but it is the type of spell used for this purpose. With a Geas you issue instructions for the duration, which can be indefinite at 9th level. The problem with Geas is that it doesn't actually force the target to follow those instructions, it just punishes them for not doing so. I personally find it unlikely that a Legendary Hero would do the bidding of a Bad Guy just to avoid some damage.
\$\endgroup\$
3
  • \$\begingroup\$ Geas strikes me as the most appropriate, given what the OP's trying to replicate. The "resurrection" he's referring to from Naruto still permits the subjects a measure of free will, as they can subvert things to provide various forms of assistance to the opposing side and can even take full control and gain total free will if they know the resurrection "spell" themselves. Amping up Geas (which is already super weak; literally anything with more than 50 HP can just soak the damage since it's once daily and then get healed) to a stronger version would seem a potentially reasonable idea. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13 at 9:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @zibadawatimmy: The other problem with Geas is that, if it does manage to kill the Hero, then it undoes all of that hard work the Bad Guy put into bringing them back. The Hero might decide that this is a good thing, and deliberately allow Geas to kill them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin
    Apr 13 at 23:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The legendary character that is being resurrected is not a hero. They are not a baddy, but they are somewhat self-serving. So, Geas might work if I amp up the damage, and the resurrected charater decides that following the baddies orders beats being dead (or taking lots of damage). \$\endgroup\$
    – RHS
    Apr 14 at 9:53
4
\$\begingroup\$

There are no available options to do this

Which is frustrating for you regarding your preference to keep your monster/NPC making follow PC rules. (Un)fortunately, as DM, you are free to make your NPCs however you like. Yes, it means they can do things that players can't, but the RAW Monsters have abilities that players don't get, either.

It's okay to dip into your creativity and create something that has a great role in the story you're playing together. It's less important that mechanics support everything and more important that the table has fun together.

Unless you want to give your players access to this ability, it's really better to just hand-wave the mechanical creation process and turn it into a story - maybe one that gives a hook to draw the players in. I've found it's best to bring the players more into who the NPCs are if you want them to interact and be more than just signposts.

\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

Yes, with some help

You need two spellcasters, 7th level Warlock or Wizard with Metamagic Adept feat (Extended Spell) and a 9+ level Bard, Cleric, Druid or Wizard. If you want a foolproof plan, one of spellcasters must be a Divination wizard who rolled a Portent die sufficiently low (10 or less will do).

Pick the following spells: Magic Circle and Summon Greater Demon for 7th level spellcaster and Planar Binding for 9+ level spellcaster. You will also need materials costing 1100 gp.

Warlock/Wizard casts Extended Magic Circle (2 hours), then Extended Summon Greater Demon choosing Dybbuk as a demon type to appear inside that circle. In the meantime, the second spellcaster proceeds with Planar Binding with the highest spell slot they have to bind the demon.

Dybbuk can enter the victim's body and reanimate it as undead which will be under spellcaster's control until planar binding wears off (if your big bad can cast 9th level spells, dybbuk will serve them for a year!)

tl;dr two spellcasters under level 10 will do the thing

\$\endgroup\$
4
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you've already got a necromancer baddie, his diviner buddy/henchman may do the circle/demon summoning and he himself will do the binding. This way, he will be in control personally \$\endgroup\$
    – golmgolm
    Apr 13 at 12:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Neat idea, but not sure if this is actually hitting the goal as the undead doesn't have the class features of the target: "While possessing the corpse, the dybbuk retains its hit points, alignment, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, telepathy, and immunity to poison damage, exhaustion, and being charmed and frightened. It otherwise uses the possessed target’s game statistics, gaining access to its knowledge and proficiencies but not its class features, if any." \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 13 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ А wizard who is skilled enough can TruePolymorph their simulacrum into an intellect devourer, use Wish to resurrect the said hero and make a friendly intellect devourer jump into hero's head. The catch is, of course, that Protection from Evil and Good, mere 1st level spell, will drive a devourer out. \$\endgroup\$
    – golmgolm
    Apr 15 at 9:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is a very different answer to the question. If you agree that your initial method doesn't work, I"d recommend deleting this and putting up that answer. However, in that case the recently resurrected hero would likely fight back against the intellect devourer - and most likely win even with a -4. And, as youv'e said, if this technique is known, then that 1st level spell ends it (but this could also be a sneaky achilles heal for the players to discover if you're willing for the hero to 'die' that easily. \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 15 at 11:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.