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I have a friend planning to play a necromancer in an upcoming campaign, and he wanted to focus on non-humanoids (specifically, just animals) for his "army". However, upon looking at the spell list, it turns out the only spell that can create an undead minion with any type is finger of death, which is a late-game spell.

Would there be some kind of balance issue if I allowed him to use the lower-level spells to make undead animals instead?

The stat tinkering would only involve changing things like ability scores by a few points, no serious alterations to abilities.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just by the by, finger of death specifically states that it can only create zombies from humanoids. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 3 '16 at 2:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman really? I could have sworn it was anything it killed \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Apr 3 '16 at 2:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ "A humanoid killed by this spell rises at the start of your next turn as a zombie [...]" \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 3 '16 at 2:51
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Providing small or medium beasts produced skeletons/zombies with the same statistics then there is not a mechanical effect.

However, dead beasts would be easier to procure within a civilised society than dead humanoids without bringing down the wrath of law enforcement. People are likely to be more tolerant when meeting the zombie of grandma's dog than grandma herself. Therefore it is likely that an animal necromancer will have access to more corpses than a humanoid necromancer and therefore be more powerful.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That seems like a weak reason to not allow undead animals. I wonder what wizards made that decision for. Not complaining about the answer by the way, just curious about wotcs decision \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Apr 3 '16 at 2:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nemenia: Because going to the farm and buying livestock to create an undead army is a rather underwhelming path to necromantic greatness. It's the stuff of parody games. \$\endgroup\$ – pokep Apr 3 '16 at 5:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Nemenia Dale's answer (specifically the second paragraph) IS the reason why WotC made that decision. Necromancy is supposed to be worked at. Granted; you could also walk in to a cemetery and use the multiple piles of humanoid bones to create your army RAW , but the DM would have to throw a cemetery at you, and we'd never do that. A heavily guarded and trapped crypt perhaps... \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Apr 3 '16 at 14:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @pokep I picture a zombie chimpanzee or tiger ripping sometimes face off and eating it to be pretty serious. If you create undead cows though.. They're bound to not be that useful. There's some decision making behind that \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Apr 3 '16 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Nemenia I had my players encounter an undead horse as a sort of miniboss, once. When they decapitated it and it kept attacking they started to panic, so I can vouch for undead herbivores being useful against player characters, at least. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 5 '16 at 1:31

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