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If I were to raise an undead zombie but I wanted a skeleton instead could I burn or peel off the flesh of the zombie in order to obtain a skeleton? If I did that would the zombie's stats change to a skeleton's or remain a zombie's?

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    \$\begingroup\$ can I ask the obvious question: since Animate Undead can create either zombies or skeletons, why not just butcher the corpses first then animate the resulting skeletons? Or are you hoping to get at something that looks like a skeleton but has zombie stats? Or are you just in a glut of zombies and would like to convert some? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 18 '16 at 22:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/93646/… - My favorite question on here, and it's relevant! \$\endgroup\$ – Ethan The Brave Mar 23 '17 at 12:38
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Yes, but you'll have to kill it and strip the flesh off first. Not necessarily in that order. Peeling the flesh off of a zombie would cause it to fall apart and die.

Animate Dead (PHB p.212) describes that you need to cast the spell on "a pile of bones or a corpse of a Medium or Small creature". If you pick the former you'll get a skeleton. Zombies have bones, but given how the rules phrase it you'll need to have a pile of bones to make a skeleton rather than pulling them out of a creature. So to turn a zombie into a skeleton you'll need to kill it, strip its flesh off, pile the bones, then cast Animate Dead on it. Voila, you now have a skeleton instead of a zombie!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does a zombie really need bones to be "alive"? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov May 19 '16 at 2:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov As I understand this answer, it is just that any process involving separating zombie from bones would necessarily result in lethal damage. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 19 '16 at 2:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Yes, that's what I meant. Also, I know that in at least one earlier edition (3.5) there is a monster that is specifically the animated flesh that stays behind when animating a skeleton. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs May 20 '16 at 12:42

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