D&D 5E Can I use animate dead to reanimate a zombie that has been killed?


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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
The argument that you can’t Resurrection on a corpse because it was once an undead and now the corpses ‘type’ changed from humanoid to ‘undead’ boggles the mind.

If you told me the corpse had been fouled by necromantic energies and can no longer be resurrected, it’s much easier for me to accept.
Presumably the change in Type is a mechanical representation of the latter, or of the body being too damaged now (being hacked to pieces to put it down, and/or the brain being destroyed, if we're talking Romero-inspired zombies), for the body to be animated a second time.

I could see it reasonably ruled either way, although I lean toward thinking there must be some limit, short of complete cremation or disintegration.
 
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State of Undeath is where the GM intepretation kicks in for me, the once humanoid corpse changes its State to ‘Undeath’ and is thus reanimated as Undead - it is no longer humanoid and destroying it doesnt revert its State of Undeath to something else

Yes it does. It restores its status to 'dead' (what it was before it became undead). It is - quite literally - no longer undead. It is - quite literally now - dead.

That's the only interpretation that doesn't result in an absurdity of a 'dead undead'
 

Yes it does. It restores its status to 'dead' (what it was before it became undead). It is - quite literally - no longer undead. It is - quite literally now - dead.

That's the only interpretation that doesn't result in an absurdity of a 'dead undead'
AFAIK 'humanoid corpse' is not a thing that the rules recognise either. Technically only creatures can be humanoids, but corpses are objects. Thus for the spell to ever do anything at all, we must assume that 'humanoid corpse' is a colloquial reference corpse that used to be a humanoid, and thus by the same logic 'undead corpse' is a corpse that used to be an undead. There is nothing in the rules that would indicate that the creature type would change upon death, thus a slain zombie is 'undead corpse' just as a slain goblin is a 'humanoid corpse'.
 
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Yes it does. It restores its status to 'dead' (what it was before it became undead). It is - quite literally - no longer undead. It is - quite literally now - dead.

That's the only interpretation that doesn't result in an absurdity of a 'dead undead'
I've always used the term Destroy. You can't kill an undead because it's not alive. You can only kill something that is alive. You can destroy it, though. And, to me, Once it's destroyed, it's simply a corpse again.

Which, for the purpose of the OP makes me think, if the corpse is sufficiently destroyed, it'd be difficult to make another zombie, but you could still make a skeleton out of the pile of bones.
 

AFAIK 'humanoid corpse' is not a thing that the rules recognise either. Technically only creatures can be humanoids, but corpses are objects. Thus for the spell to ever do anything at all, we must assume that 'humanoid corpse' is a colloquial reference corpse that used to be a humanoid, and thus by the same logic 'undead corpse' is a corpse that used to be an undead. There is nothing in the rules that would indicate that the creature type would change upon death, thus a slain zombie is 'undead corpse' just as a slain goblin is a 'humanoid corpse'.
Is there no difference between a slain undead Ogre or a slain undead Dragon? They are no longer a former dragon or Ogre? They are just undead?

The interesting thing about this ruling is turning someone into an undead, 100% proofs them from being resurrected since that spell doesn't work on undead.

"You touch a dead creature that has been dead for no more than a century, that didn’t die of old age, and that isn’t Undead"

So, even if you destroy whatever animated the corpse, they can never come back. It's a good way to keep powerful enemies down.
 


Is there no difference between a slain undead Ogre or a slain undead Dragon? They are no longer a former dragon or Ogre? They are just undead?
Rules purposes I'd say that is indeed the case, yes. One can of course rule differently, but in pure game logic terms we have creature statblocks that have a listed creature type, and there is no indication that that creature type would change once they have been slain, except in a sense that objects shouldn't really have any creature types. But as creature types of corpses are referred to in the rules text, the most logical assumption is that it refers to the creature type the statblock of the creature had before becoming a corpse.

The interesting thing about this ruling is turning someone into an undead, 100% proofs them from being resurrected since that spell doesn't work on undead.

"You touch a dead creature that has been dead for no more than a century, that didn’t die of old age, and that isn’t Undead"

So, even if you destroy whatever animated the corpse, they can never come back. It's a good way to keep powerful enemies down.
Indeed. Making someone undead would prevent resurrection. And this was one of the things that was brought up against necromancy in the morality of necromancy thread a while back.
 




niklinna

Legend
Animate dead requires a corpse of a medium or small humanoid or a pile of bones. So if I use animate dead on say a dead human to make a zombie and that zombie is subsequently killed, can I raise the same corpse again.

I can see this going either way - The corpse was at one point humanoid, but now is it an "undead corpse" instead of a "humanoid corpse"
Well, to actually address the question instead of lobbing side jokes....

As several have said, ultimately the decision is your DM's. (Based on your other recent posts I strongly suspect you are not the DM.)

From the "does it make sense?" angle: It's magic in a fantasy world. You (or rather, your DM) can construct a number of different but more or less consistent arguments that fit in the gaps left by the actual spell description and other rules text about undead. If that matters to you/your DM.

From the "is it cool?" angle: Obviously! Keep raising that same zombie over and over until it's too bashed or hacked up for more! The point at which that happens, and why, are, once again, up to your DM. Maybe the zombie's max hit points drop a bit each time your animate it, maybe it's a matter of the narrative presented in combat (bludgeoned to paste, slashed to bits, pierced to...?). And then you can roleplay how reused zombies are great for stews because they're super-tenderized. (What? You're already a necromancer, cannibalism's not a stretch*).

From the "is it fair?" angle: Eh, you're burning a spell slot, and the cast time is a minute, so you won't be keeping the thing going indefinitely in a fight. Necromancers have it hard enough in D&D.

I hope these comments help you frame your question to your DM in such a way that they give you the answer you want!

True story: I once played a character who got possessed by the spirit of a necromancer's apprentice, who had transgressed somehow and his master slowly whittled away bits of him and made him eat them.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Well, to actually address the question instead of lobbing side jokes..... And then you can roleplay how reused zombies are great for stews because they're super-tenderized. (What? You're already a necromancer, cannibalism's not a stretch*).

From the "is it fair?" angle: Eh, you're burning a spell slot, and the cast time is a minute,

True story: I once played a character who got possessed by the spirit of a necromancer's apprentice, who had transgressed somehow and his master slowly whittled away bits of him and made him eat them.
I remember reading a novel in which a necromancer living in the mountains would kill people, animate their corpses and direct the zombies to bury themselves in the snow - the bodies would thus be frozen and be available as his winter meat supply
 


I've always used the term Destroy. You can't kill an undead because it's not alive. You can only kill something that is alive. You can destroy it, though. And, to me, Once it's destroyed, it's simply a corpse again.

Which, for the purpose of the OP makes me think, if the corpse is sufficiently destroyed, it'd be difficult to make another zombie, but you could still make a skeleton out of the pile of bones.

I can get behind the idea that the corpse is sufficiently messed up to no longer be a valid target for animate dead.

I cant get behind am interpretation that leads to 'dead undead'. That simply does not compute, and if your interpretation leads to an absurd result, the error is most likely with your interpretation.
 

That's utterly irrelevant. Plain english trumps that rubbish.

A dead creature, is no longer undead. It literally, by any definition, cant be.
And that's a very good reason to rule in certain way. But I was trying to outline what the rules actually say. And rules do not use these terms in plain English sense. Plain English meaning and D&D rules definition of 'humanoid' don't align either.

Also, if you think that a slain zombie becomes 'a humanoid corpse' what happens if one casts revivify or raise dead on it?

I can get behind the idea that the corpse is sufficiently messed up to no longer be a valid target for animate dead.
That's the actual reason I'd rule it can't be done. Plus wanting the necromancers to have a need for new corpses.
 




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