February 10, 2017

Necromancy Spells

Spells
Notes from the Nails: those of you who follow me on GitP have probably seen some of these before. The rest of you are in for a treat! Here is a selection of low-level necromancy spells to get your shambling horde of unspeakable horrors off the ground, right from level 1!

Animate Body Part
1st-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S, M (a drop of blood, a piece of flesh, and a pinch of bone dust)
Duration: Instantaneous

This spell creates an undead servant. Choose a severed body part from a Medium or Small creature within range. Your spell imbues the target with a foul mimicry of life, raising it as an undead creature. The target becomes a zombified body part (the DM has the creature’s game statistics).
     On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature you made with this spell if the creature is within 60 feet of you (if you control multiple creatures, you can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one). You decide what action the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor. If you issue no commands, the creature only defends itself against hostile creatures. Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
     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.
     At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you animate or reassert control over two additional undead body parts for each slot level above 1st. Each of the creatures must come from a different part of a corpse - for example, you cannot cut one long tentacle down to make multiple smaller tentacles.



Creeping Foot
Tiny undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 11
Hit Points 2 (1d4)
Speed 20 ft.
STR 14 (+2) DEX 13 (+1) CON 11 (+0) INT 5 (-3) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 4 (-3)
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned
Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 10
Languages understands Common but can't speak
Challenge 0 (10 XP)
Turn Immunity. The foot is immune to effects that turn undead.
ACTIONS
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) bludgeoning damage.

Flapping Wing
Tiny undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 2 (1d4)
Speed 10 ft., fly 30 ft
STR 13 (+1) DEX 15 (+2) CON 11 (+0) INT 5 (-3) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 4 (-3)
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned
Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 10
Languages understands Common but can't speak
Challenge 0 (10 XP)
Turn Immunity. The wing is immune to effects that turn undead.
ACTIONS
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage.

Rolling Head
Tiny undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 9
Hit Points 3 (1d4+1)
Speed 20 ft.
STR 14 (+2) DEX 9 (-1) CON 12 (+1) INT 7 (-2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned, prone
Senses blindsight 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common
Challenge 0 (10 XP)
Turn Immunity. The head is immune to effects that turn undead.
ACTIONS
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) piercing damage.

Slithering Tentacle
Tiny undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 2 (1d4)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.
STR 13 (+1) DEX 14 (+2) CON 11 (+0) INT 5 (-3) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 4 (-3)
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, poisoned, prone
Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 10
Languages understands Common but can't speak
Challenge 0 (10 XP)
Turn Immunity. The tentacle is immune to effects that turn undead.
ACTIONS
Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 11). Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained, and the tail/tentacle can't constrict another target.

Devastate Undead
4th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (one black onyx stone worth at least 50 gp)
Duration: Instantaneous

Target an undead creature that you control (such as by the create undead or dominate monster spells) and that you can see within range. That creature is instantly destroyed, leaving no remains, while you regain hit points equal to that creature's remaining hit points at the time of its destruction.


Exhume
1st-level necromancy (ritual)

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a drop of blood)
Duration: Instantaneous

Choose an unoccupied 20-foot square within range - note that the area must have solid earth beneath it; this spell fails if cast on the upper floor of a building. This spell then causes one pile of humanoid bones to rise out of the ground within that square. If you cast this spell within a burial place such as a graveyard, mausoleum or barrow, 1d4 piles of bones are exhumed instead of 1. The ground itself is not changed or disturbed by this spell; the bones simply appear out of the ground.


Larloch's Minor Drain
Necromancy cantrip

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: S
Duration: Instantaneous

You drain life energy from a creature you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 necrotic damage. You then gain temporary hit points equal to half the amount of damage dealt. This spell has no effect on undead or constructs.
     This spell’s damage increases by 1d4 when you reach 5th level (2d4), 11th level (3d4), and 17th level (4d4).


Lesser Animate Dead
2nd-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S, M (a drop of blood, a piece of flesh, and a pinch of bone dust)
Duration: Instantaneous

This spell creates an undead servant. Choose a pile of bones or a corpse of a Small or Tiny beast, monstrosity, or plant within range. Your spell imbues the target with a foul mimicry of life, raising it as an undead creature. The target becomes a skeleton if you chose bones or a zombie if you chose a corpse or a plant (the DM has the creature’s game statistics, which should represent an undead form of whatever creature was targeted).
     On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature you made with this spell if the creature is within 60 feet of you (if you control multiple creatures, you can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one). You decide what action the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor. If you issue no commands, the creature only defends itself against hostile creatures. Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
     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.
     At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you animate or reassert control over two additional undead creatures for each slot level above 2nd. Each of the creatures must come from a different corpse or pile of bones.


Undead Lieutenant
3rd-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a symbol of authority such as a badge, scepter, or flag)
Duration: 1 hour

You imbue one undead creature that you control with an enhanced sentience and, if required, the ability to speak one language of your choice, such that you can delegate some degree of command to it. When you cast this spell, you may explain an objective or set of objectives for the lieutenant to achieve. These may be as abstract and complex as you wish, and the spell's power compels the target to understand your orders. You also designate up to 4 other undead creatures that you control. Those creatures then remain under the command of the lieutenant for the duration of the spell (even if your own control over them would expire within that time).
     On each of its turns thereafter, the lieutenant can use a bonus action to mentally command any of its subordinates, as long as they are within 60 feet of it - it will use this ability whenever it can in pursuance of the objective(s) you set. It can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one. If it issues no commands (such as if it is incapacitated or out of range), the subordinates only defend themselves against hostile creatures. Once given an order, a creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
     At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the duration becomes 8 hours and when you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the duration becomes 24 hours.

26 comments:

  1. I am having trouble seeing how lesser animate dead is any different from the animate dead spell which is one level higher.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The difference is that it's limited to "Small or Tiny beasts, monstrosities, or plants." Undead versions of such creatures are less powerful than undead humanoids: they're smaller, weaker, can't wield weapons or open doors.

      I toyed with calling it 'animate lesser dead', which would be a more accurate description, but decided that it sounded stupid.

      Delete
    2. I'm using this spell in an upcoming game, so I need to know: in what manner is Lesser Animate Dead not as strong as Animate Dead? I can't find any stats for a Small Skeleton, and the spell itself says that it summons regular Skeletons, which is clearly not what you intended. What are the numbers that make these minions balanced?

      Delete
    3. I believe the intent is that you're supposed to modify the skeleton stats to reflect the smaller creature. A Small creature should have -2 HP, a Tiny creature should have -4 HP, and I'd bring their attack damage by 1 (1d4 damage dice.)

      We should probably get a skeleton template out to make this easier for people.

      Delete
  2. My main issue with this is that Wizards get Spell Mastery. If I choose Animate Body Part and Lesser Animate Dead as my spells, I can have an infinite army.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that issue has been brought up before. My position on it is that your 'infinite army' isn't a very good one (from a practical perspective, it will mostly be made of domestic cats and dogs), and if you want to spend your 18th level class feature on it, that's fine by me.

      Of course, I'd also expect a responsible DM to take steps to limit the bookkeeping if a player tried this, but that's a potential issue for any minionmancy build, homebrew or no.

      Delete
    2. Fair enough. You also have to reassert control, so there's that limitation. On a side note, my Witch/Pale Master necromancer is now even better. Skeletal Cohort, Crawling Claw familiar, and now an army of undead.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, I did some maths on the 're-assert control' thing: assuming you control 4 per spell, each spell takes 1 minute to cast and you can cast for 8 hours/day, you can sustain an army of... 1,920 zombie dogs. Hardly infinite, and that doesn't leave you any time to actually *do* anything with the army. Plus it takes days to replace losses (say you lose 240 in a battle, you still need 7 hours to re-assert control over the survivors, so on the first day after the battle, you can only animate 60).

      2,000 zombie dogs is a significant force that can have some impact on the plot of an adventure, but it's not going to change the world. Seems appropriate for level 18 PCs.

      Delete
  3. The Undead Lieutenant could be 'until dispelled' at 8th level.

    These spells are a great idea, 5e really did miss good necromancer options. What classes are they available for, by the way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As with all my spells, I leave it to the individual DM to determine which classes they think should have which spells. In my games it's:

      Animate Body Part: sorcerer/wizard
      Devastate Undead: warlock/wizard
      Exhume: cleric/druid/wizard
      Larloch's Minor Drain: warlock/wizard
      Lesser Animate Dead: cleric/wizard
      Undead Lieutenant: cleric/warlock/wizard

      I'm not in favour of extending Undead Lieutenant beyond 24 hours, because none of the 'animate/create' spells last longer than that.

      Delete
    2. Fair enough. I suppose these rules are relevant mostly to PCs anyway- the rules for PC necromancers never really gave the ways to becoming a powerful villain or to create an army.

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. See Crawling Claw in the Monster Manual

      Delete
    2. Yuuuup. Also, tails use the same stats as tentacles. In case you were wondering.

      If you or your players manage to find other appendages to sever, you'll have to come up with your own stats for them. :P

      Delete
    3. Ah! I forgot about that lol. Thanks! I want a fledgling necromancer who makes 5 friends a dead humanoid!

      Delete
  5. Lesser Animate Dead makes Necromancers great again.

    The Cantrip feels right for Necros.

    UL is strange to me, but it could be neat.

    Overall, love it. Thank you. My favorite addition MFOV has produced in a very long time

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh and currently Animate Body Part is marked as a Level 2 in the PDF. Not sure if intended as 1 or 2. I imagine 1

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh and its a transmutation. Huh.

      Delete
    2. I blame the Finger! All of these are obviously supposed to be necromancy, and yes, Animate Body Part should be level 1.

      Delete
  7. A section of spells sounds nice, and would be much appreciated

    ReplyDelete
  8. These are some awesome spells and seem fairly balanced! Good job! Now here's my question/request, can you continue this list or make another one focusing on debuff spells? For example, Muscle detereation, where over the duration of the spell the target loses 5 feet of speed every round, regaining it when the Spell ends. Stuff like that and/or the Hex Spell. Maybe a damaging spell or two like Corpse Explosion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can certainly add something like that to the todo list.

      Delete
    2. We could do a package of curses pretty easily. I've already got a few, so we'd only need to write a few more to make it worth a pdf.

      Delete
  9. So now I need a version of Finger of Death that makes creatures killed by it have their heads, wings, tails, tentacles, hands, and/or feet pop off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not even so much for actually having those as minions, but more for the raw intimidation factor of being able to do that.

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete