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Cleric Bob has hit on an idea to try and compel an orc that attacked him (and is now deceased) to speak the truth so he can find out where their stronghold is.

Cleric Freds plan is to cast Zone Of Truth that has an Area of effect and states:

Creatures within the emanation area (or those who enter it) can't speak any deliberate and intentional lies.

Then use Speak With Dead (Target one dead creature) to get a dead orc to talk; is this plan as cunning as a fox that is professor of cunning at Hogwarts university, or is it doomed, flawed and wrong?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Who's this Fred guy? What the heck happened to Cleric Bob? \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Veeder Oct 9 '15 at 2:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Rework error; I was going to correct it, but now it's more amusing to leave it in ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Oct 9 '15 at 7:57
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Side-stepping the issue of whether or not zone of truth can affect the dead entirely...

Corpses under the effect of speak with dead cannot tell a deliberate or intentional lie to begin with – in fact, they have no intent. That still doesn’t make them reliable sources of information.

The corpses just babble mostly-incoherently:

Answers are brief, cryptic, or repetitive, especially if the creature would have opposed you in life.

As the second clause indicates, the corpses of foes may have been more difficult, but even those that would have wanted to help you in life are incapable of doing so clearly. There is no thought going on; the corpse is basically just replaying some memories from life in response to questioning, and that’s all it can do.

So whatever comes out of the corpse’s mouth is inherently unreliable. It may be misleading or even inaccurate, if it’s even intelligible, even if the deceased would actively want to help you. This is not a deliberate lie, just a failing of the state that the corpse finds itself in.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting perspective that is supported by the description. It's a bit thin, or rather the source is, but it follows. \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Oct 8 '15 at 21:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ This seems to contradict the fact that the corpse can try to bluff you. "If successful, the corpse can refuse to answer your questions or attempt to deceive you, using Bluff." If all it does is replay memories, why does it have the ability to refuse or deceive if it succeeds a will save? \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 9 '15 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Theik Hmm, I’d missed that, but then I’d say that that line contradicts what the rest of the description has to say about the state of the corpse and its abilities. I would interpret that merely as saying that, mechanically, Bluff vs. Sense Motive is how you determine whether inaccurate information is so. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 9 '15 at 15:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the corpse has some semblance of intelligence as it can interact with you based on perceptions granted from its memories through a bluff check, but I do agree with some parts of your assumptions, specifically parts not dealing with thought of the targeted dead creature. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Oct 9 '15 at 17:41
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No, as there is no creature

Speak With Dead does not turn a corpse into a creature that answers your questions. The spell says "You grant the semblance of life to a corpse, allowing it to answer questions", but never does it stop being a corpse, it's just a slightly talkative corpse.

Corpses are not creatures, they're objects, as mentioned in the spell Gentle Repose.

As such, the corpse is not affected by Zone of Truth in any way or form.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yet speak with dead that it targets “One dead creature.” Neither Pathfinder nor 3.5 was ever consistent about how corpses are treated. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 8 '15 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it mostly lists the target like that because "one object" would imply you could talk to dead furniture. I think the most telling part here would be "if the dead creature's alignment was different from yours". The fact that it no longer has an alignment (was, not is) seems to indicate it is not a creature, as all creatures, even mindless ones like oozes, have an alignment. But I agree that both games are terribly inconsistent in how they treat dead stuff. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 8 '15 at 18:43
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Zone of truth would not affect the corpse, no. Speak with dead does not create a creature from the corpse. It does allow the corpse to speak what it knew in life. Additionally, Speak with dead spell text says

Answers are brief, cryptic, or repetitive, especially if the creature would have opposed you in life.

If the dead creature's alignment was different from yours, the corpse gets a Will save to resist the spell as if it were alive. If successful, the corpse can refuse to answer your questions or attempt to deceive you, using Bluff. The soul can only speak about what it knew in life.

So the orc corpse might not lie but it probably won't give a straight answer, either. Unless it saves, then it can absolutely lie -- but then Cleric Bob gets a Sense Motive check to tell if the corpse is lying.

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No, probably not.

Given that the deceased gets a will-save to attempt to resist the initial attempt of Speak with Dead, I would think it would be conceivable to assume that the target is able to be subjected to a second will save. The plan may be flawed, however, as the target doesn't have to talk to you if it doesn't want to (they can respond by saying, "I refuse to answer that question.").

However, if you define a spirit being communicated with as Undead, then they are immune to mind-affecting spells, and are thus unable to be affected. Paizo.com defines Undead as being "once-living creatures animated by spiritual or supernatural forces." I think a hard-line rule is going to be difficult to find considering that Speak With Dead doesn't specifically apply the Undead template to the target. The jump we are making to consider the target undead is operating under RAI (Rules as Intended), not RAW (Rules as Written).

Overall, I would say that it doesn't work considering a spirit of a deceased creature is probably considered undead, and therefore immune to mind-affecting spells.

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Yes, absolutely

I'll try to tackle the contrary arguments one at a time.

A Corpse is a Creature

This seems pretty clear to me. Speak with Dead wouldn't work on it otherwise, since it very clearly targets One Dead Creature. No creature, no speaking. This is backed up by Raise Dead, and thus all the resurrection spells as well. I don't know where people got the notion that a corpse is not a creature.

It Has Intent

I'd originally intended this to say, "there is a lack of evidence that a corpse has no intent." The fact that answers must be "brief, cryptic, or repetitive," does not indicate that there is no will behind the answers. I would argue it only indicates that the one answering is unable to form or hold onto the complex thoughts required to string comprehensive sentences together. It only has a cheap semblance of life, after all.

If successful, the corpse can refuse to answer your questions or attempt to deceive you, using Bluff.

This, though, indicates will. The contrary interpretation ("[this means] that, mechanically, Bluff vs. Sense Motive is how you determine whether inaccurate information is so.") makes no sense. According to the spell, the corpse (sorry, dead creature) can, if successful, willfully remain silent or give false information in an attempt to mislead you.

Further, without intent, how could there be a distinction between dead enemy creatures and dead friendly creatures?

This Still Might Not Help Fred/Bob

A corpse, under the effects of Speak with Dead and Zone of Truth, cannot deceive you. There's no reason why it cannot refuse to answer, however; this is where Fred/Bob could get frustrated, because if the corpse refuses to answer I can't imagine there are a lot of options for him to convince it otherwise.

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Negative.

Undead are immune to spells that have the Mind-Affecting descriptor, Speak with dead will compel them to tell the truth and answer your questions if they fail the will save for Speak with dead, but they can attempt to bluff if they pass the save to tell you lies or give you incorrect information.

Speak with dead is a Necromancy spell that temporarily animates a corpse to answer a number of questions dependent on your caster level before it vanishes. The important thing is that Whether the target is a dead creature, an object, or an undead, none of these three things is vulnerable to the spell zone of truth as none of them have any Will saves. Dead creatures are dead and thus have no will, animated objects operate on the whim of their controller, and undead operate on the whim of their creator.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Speak With Dead does not create an undead, this answer is factually wrong. In fact, you can't even use Speak With Dead on corpses of things that became undead. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 8 '15 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Speak with Dead spell is a Necromancy spell, and the first line of the spell states "You grant the semblance of life to a corpse". How is this not Undead? \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Oct 8 '15 at 13:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Essentially whats being done is a corpse is being animated to answer questions. That corpse is an undead for all intents and purposes. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Oct 8 '15 at 13:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Creating, even controlling, undead in Pathfinder (and 3.5, for that matter) is always the domain of evil, with an appropriate [Evil] tag to prevent good aligned clerics from using it. Speak With Dead is more akin to Animate Object. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Oct 8 '15 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ After reading KRyan's answer, I think this is wrong, but, to be fair, it's how I've DMd it. Guess it just seemed natural to play the target as an entity, rather than a collection of garbled memories. \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Oct 8 '15 at 22:00

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