Animate Dead says:

The creature is under your control for 24 hours, after which it stops obeying any command you've given it. To maintain control of the creature for another 24 hours, you must cast this spell on the creature again before the current 24-hour period ends. This use of the spell reasserts your control over up to four creatures you have animated with this spell, rather than animating a new one.

Animate Dead does not use concentration. It does not have a "duration," so one can't dispel it. And other than the undead being passive when not issued a command, it appears that even if the caster becomes unconscious, he doesn't lose control over the created skeletons or zombies.

There are effects in the game like the Oathbreaker's Control Undead or a Charm Monster spell, which can presumably wrestle control over a skeleton created with Animate Dead away from the necromancer. But is there any effect in the game (other than the 24 hours running out) that would cause a necromancer to lose his control over all the undead he made and controlled with Animate Dead?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for effects that work on the undead or effects that work on the necromancer or both? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6, 2021 at 7:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am looking for any effects that would result in the necromancer losing control of many or all of the skeletons/zombies. Mainly to prevent him to be too sure of being able to summon and control large hordes of them (over 100 at level 20). \$\endgroup\$
    – Tobold
    Commented May 7, 2021 at 8:25

2 Answers 2


Stock standard turn undead will work if the undead are close enough

Paladins and clerics can use their channel divinity ability to turn undead. A turned undead will spend the next minute running away and not following orders. The trick, of course is dealing with the 30 foot limit.


My reading of Animate Dead's

you can use a Bonus Action to mentally Command any creature you made with this spell

combined with an Antimagic field would mean that the caster cannot - while in the field - control the undead, since the mental commanding is clearly a magical feature granted by the skill. IMHO this would not release them from his control entirely, but would block any new commands issued.

Feeblemind also seems to to the trick. A) the victim cannot cast spells (to which I as a DM would include using currently active spell effects) B) cannot communicate in any intelligible way (aka no commands can be issued), and C) an Int of 1 makes a good case for them not even grasping that they could control these undead (though it would recognize them as allies for now I think). At spell level 8 this is quite extraordinary though.

Wish and Divine Intervention of course both can theoretically do anything, so why not mention them here as well. [Btw. Wish, Feeblemind and divine intervention were inspired by this question ]

This is about the best I could find.

Bonus but kinda dumb: Just knocking them out cold for a day seems to fulfill the question as well. With the small range of 10 feet simply physically keeping them away from their undead is another possibility, but both rely on the 24 hour timer to run out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Notable: communicate in any intelligible way and 1 Int are very difficult states. Neither your A nor your C sound convincing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented May 6, 2021 at 11:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ You last paragraph is at best a proof of concept - sure, if they stayed unconscious for 24 hour it would work, but you don't present any features or effects that can make that happen. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 6, 2021 at 12:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov just whack them over the head again with a readied action for when they regain consciousness? \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Commented May 6, 2021 at 21:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu doesnt matter, B) is still sound \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Commented May 6, 2021 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are just looking to preclude meaningful communication, you could try a symbol of discord. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 4:19

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