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My character is a cleric necromancer looking for utility-type undead. I'd like to find a low-HD undead critter to Command who would be able to act as an Unseen servant (pick up small objects, trigger traps, etc). Ideally it wouldn't be much bigger than 1-2HD including any turn resistance.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In your title you ask for Poltergeists; is being incorporeal a requirement? It doesn't mention such a thing in your description. (And whether or not incorporeal creatures can "pick up small objects" or "trigger traps" also remains to be seen) \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jun 11 '15 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a somewhat high chance that a monster actually called poltergiest exists in D&D and that its abilities are very different from those you want. For example, was it modeled over Castlevania poultergeists or over Pilgrim Jaeger ones, it'd be too powerful for a low level clercic to command. You'd better ask us for some requirements without a name or clearly stating what's your references (e.g. "In classical undead tales, P. are weak invisible and mischievous undead - on that line, I'm looking for..."). Also remember that invisible is not the same as incorporeal in D&D 3.5e \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Jun 11 '15 at 19:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik "Works like an unseen servant" and "poltergeist" describes fairly exactly what they're looking for, I believe: undead, invisible, incorporeal, and able to interact with small objects. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 11 '15 at 21:57
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Pathfinder to the rescue!

In Pathfinder you can find the 3.5e-compatible CR2 Poltergeist. It's an incorporeal invisible skeletal ghost with telekinesis and scare powers. It comes originally from Tome of Horrors for 3.5 so if you want a "pure" 3.5e version it's to be found there.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ after looking up ToH, i'll have to check with my DM if he'll let me use non-WotC material (it's Sword and Sorcery). still, this is the closest thing i've found so far! thank you \$\endgroup\$ – vos Jun 12 '15 at 13:04
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Good news, by RAW you have a couple of options.

First option: A wand which casts the spell Unseen Servant (Wiz 1). Crafting a wand that does this with 5 charges/day = 1,800 GP. That's relatively cheap for 5 casts that recharge daily.

Second Option: Get a wand or some scrolls that allow you to cast Invisibility on a target. Then use Animate Dead, and make the creature invisible.

Animate Dead, PHB pg. 198 (text only)

This spell turns the bones or bodies of dead creatures into undead skeletons or zombies that follow your spoken commands.

The undead can follow you, or they can remain in an area and attack any creature (or just a specific kind of creature) entering the place. They remain animated until they are destroyed. (A destroyed skeleton or zombie can't be animated again.)

Regardless of the type of undead you create with this spell, you can’t create more HD of undead than twice your caster level with a single casting of animate dead. (The desecrate spell doubles this limit)

The undead you create remain under your control indefinitely. No matter how many times you use this spell, however, you can control only 4 HD worth of undead creatures per caster level. If you exceed this number, all the newly created creatures fall under your control, and any excess undead from previous castings become uncontrolled. (You choose which creatures are released.) If you are a cleric, any undead you might command by virtue of your power to command or rebuke undead do not count toward the limit.

Skeletons: A skeleton can be created only from a mostly intact corpse or skeleton. The corpse must have bones. If a skeleton is made from a corpse, the flesh falls off the bones.

Zombies: A zombie can be created only from a mostly intact corpse. The corpse must be that of a creature with a true anatomy.

Third option: Take one level in Wizard, then you can just have Unseen Servant as a spell without any headaches with trying to adjust it to fit.

Non-RAW option: Discuss with your DM the requirements for penning an actual spell which performs the Unseen Servant spell from the Wizard spell list as a Cleric spell. Your DM may allow this if it's in keeping with your character. I would recommend coming up with a convincing spell that's in keeping with both Animate Dead and Unseen Servant.

Example:

Animate Dead: Requires 25GP in black onyx gem per hit die of the undead inserted into the eye or mouth of the creature, and is a combat creature.

Unseen Servant: Requires a bit of string and some wood, but isn't a combat creature.

Combining these into one spell, I would rule the following:

Animate Poltergeist: Requires 25GP in small gems inserted into the creatures eye or mouth, and is an invisible, non-combat creature that follows you as long as you like / until it's destroyed / dismissed.

This way, your spell meets the requirements of Animate Dead for cost, while incorporating the requirement of a corpse to initiate, as well as the utility you are looking for in Unseen Servant. As a bonus, making it a spell means you can only use it so many times per day which would prevent you having a permanently free trap trigger.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Any feedback on why this was downvoted? It directly addresses the question in multiple avenues to allow him to do exactly what he wants. I'm curious as to why that's not helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Jun 11 '15 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a guess on why: whis is trying to solve the problem behind the question (and I applaud you, because this looks like a new player with not much understanding of the system's possibilities and confines), but it doesn't answer the question itself: "Is there a low HP, invisible undead he can command?" \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Jun 11 '15 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, yes. Through any of the 4 methods I listed above, you can have a low HP, invisible undead that he can command. Unseen Servant alone (Wiz 1) covers that. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Jun 11 '15 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LinoFrankCiaralli I didn't downvote you but the guy states he's a cleric so suggesting a wiz wand doesn't seem to help to me nor casting wizard spells (or is redundant to your taking wizard levels answer). He also specifically mentions Unseen Servant so he also would seem to be aware of that spell/option and I'd guess thus discarded. Again didn't downvote, just trying to clue you into why maybe and thus maybe help improve your answer. Peace. \$\endgroup\$ – joedragons Jun 11 '15 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I gathered that too, but when considering that I also considered he would have looked at the Cleric spells and seen that it wasn't an option. Maybe I read too much into the question, but it just looked like he was interested in devising a way to have a permanent servant, which isn't something Unseen Servant does. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Jun 11 '15 at 20:52

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