D&D 5E For the Convenience of Necromancers

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
To get around this, a simple limit that the spell cannot be successfully cast again while any skeletons from any previous casting remain animated solves the problem. Or, if that's too harsh, a limit that says that your maximum number of skeletons (i.e. the number you'd get if you cast this once using your highest level slot) is the most you can have going at any one time no matter how many times you cast the spell.

I don't mind the ritual idea. If it bugs you, then sure - remove the ritual tag. But still keep the casting time at ten minutes - this isn't something you cast once combat begins, it's something you cast ahead of time. Or, see below regarding digging time.

I still don't think this spell fits with what is a typical ritual spell, nor are there any ritual spells that are limited in their casting. All ritual spells are utility spells that offer no real benefit it combat. Being able to effectively summon 5 minions for free, minions that last until destroyed, means this very much is a combat relevant spell. No spell or class feature in the game allows this kind of resource for free.

Aside from the issue with this being a ritual, the only difference between this and an Animate Dead spell upcast to 5th level is the casting time and the lack of requiring line of sight. Without the ritual tag, I don't think there's not enough in this spell to differentiate it from Animate Dead.

From experience in other editions, let's just say that can open up some cans of worms best left closed.

No disrespect, but saying "Trust me, this is broken" is not really a helpful statement when we are actively trying to dissect a potential new mechanic and it's impact on the game. How can we be sure if the issue is in fact related to the mechanics, and not just the idiosyncrasies related to your table and how you play the game? Especially when the basis of your statement is on your experience with other editions, and not the one we are discussing.

That being said, how would this be a can of worms? There's nothing inherently more powerful about animating a small or large undead, especially if the only change is the size, and maybe increasing the damage die by one step (which is not overpowered for a higher level spell). I'm not saying allow animating zombie beholders or minotaur skeletons, though allowing something like that would differentiate the proposed spell from an upcast Animate Undead and might be a reasonable addition to the spell, though still not as a ritual.
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I still don't think this spell fits with what is a typical ritual spell, nor are there any ritual spells that are limited in their casting. All ritual spells are utility spells that offer no real benefit it combat. Being able to effectively summon 5 minions for free, minions that last until destroyed, means this very much is a combat relevant spell. No spell or class feature in the game allows this kind of resource for free.
Fine, not a ritual. Cool. (IMO rituals are a poor mechanic as written anyway, as they make utility casters too powerful)
No disrespect, but saying "Trust me, this is broken" is not really a helpful statement when we are actively trying to dissect a potential new mechanic and it's impact on the game. How can we be sure if the issue is in fact related to the mechanics, and not just the idiosyncrasies related to your table and how you play the game? Especially when the basis of your statement is on your experience with other editions, and not the one we are discussing.

That being said, how would this be a can of worms? There's nothing inherently more powerful about animating a small or large undead, especially if the only change is the size, and maybe increasing the damage die by one step (which is not overpowered for a higher level spell). I'm not saying allow animating zombie beholders or minotaur skeletons, though allowing something like that would differentiate the proposed spell from an upcast Animate Undead and might be a reasonable addition to the spell, though still not as a ritual.
5e doesn't allow animation of anything more powerful than a zombie, correct? Which makes me wonder, where do ghouls and other minor-but-not-trivial undead come from, if not animate dead (or perhaps this proposed spell)? The major undead usually have self-replication built in as part of what makes them tick, but the in-between ones don't; meaning all corpse-animating spells probably need to be looked at with an eye to "what if" they can be used for ghouls and ghasts and so forth. And having seen this in play (though not in 5e) it's a problem.

With your beholder or minotaur undead-creation idea, you're reviving a 1e spell called Animate Dead Monster which did exactly this; and was rarely if ever cast IME.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
They do, via create undead. It allows for ghouls and, with upcasting, ghasts, wights, and mummies.
So Create Undead and Animate Dead and the proposed spell in this thread are all different?

The main thing that strikes me as cool about the one proposed here is that the corpses dig themselves out of the ground*, meaning you can go fishing with the spell and cast it even if you're not sure there's any corpses beneath your feet: "Hmmm - let's see what's buried under this bit of ground, shall we?"

With Animate Dead you need the corpses right there, kind of like a material component.

FWIW I put an Evil tag on Animate Dead and would on the proposed spell as well, due to the whole corpse-desecration thing.

* - it occurs to me that I'm not sure if the OP put a limit on how deep down a corpse can dig from, and-or any limits on what can stop the corpse from digging its way up to the surface. Can, for example, a corpse in a sealed metal coffin dig its way out? Or can corpses dig their way up through the stone foundation of a house, or castle?
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
The main thing that strikes me as cool about the one proposed here is that the corpses dig themselves out of the ground*, meaning you can go fishing with the spell and cast it even if you're not sure there's any corpses beneath your feet: "Hmmm - let's see what's buried under this bit of ground, shall we?"

So no doubt that is a very cool aspect of the spell. I'm not against the idea of the spell, but I don't know that it is a robust enough concept to merit its own spell. It might make more sense, for example, to adjust Animate Dead so that at higher levels, you don't need line of sight and can use the spell to fish for undead. I think for this spell to have something that sets it apart enough to merit it's existence, including some alternative undead options (but not stepping on what Create Undead can animate), would make it more interesting. Maybe granting animated skeletons or zombies new characteristics like a fly speed, or change their size, or an aura of pain or something.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
So Create Undead and Animate Dead and the proposed spell in this thread are all different?

The main thing that strikes me as cool about the one proposed here is that the corpses dig themselves out of the ground*, meaning you can go fishing with the spell and cast it even if you're not sure there's any corpses beneath your feet: "Hmmm - let's see what's buried under this bit of ground, shall we?"

With Animate Dead you need the corpses right there, kind of like a material component.

FWIW I put an Evil tag on Animate Dead and would on the proposed spell as well, due to the whole corpse-desecration thing.

* - it occurs to me that I'm not sure if the OP put a limit on how deep down a corpse can dig from, and-or any limits on what can stop the corpse from digging its way up to the surface. Can, for example, a corpse in a sealed metal coffin dig its way out? Or can corpses dig their way up through the stone foundation of a house, or castle?
Honestly, the only real difference is that you can pull corpses out of the ground. Although it begs the question as to what happens if there are no corpses there. Does the DM have to decide each time? That's a time-waster--either there are, and the spell works, or there aren't, and a high-level slot is wasted. And if the DM just decides to say that the spell always works and a corpse always pulls itself out of the ground, then... well, it should probably be a conjuration spell and not a necromancy spell.

Having the skeletons pull themselves out of the ground is cool, but honestly, I'd see this as a magic item instead of a spell. Also, there aren't any alignment tags in 5e.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
Honestly, the only real difference is that you can pull corpses out of the ground. Although it begs the question as to what happens if there are no corpses there. Does the DM have to decide each time? That's a time-waster--either there are, and the spell works, or there aren't, and a high-level slot is wasted. And if the DM just decides to say that the spell always works and a corpse always pulls itself out of the ground, then... well, it should probably be a conjuration spell and not a necromancy spell.

Having the skeletons pull themselves out of the ground is cool, but honestly, I'd see this as a magic item instead of a spell. Also, there aren't any alignment tags in 5e.

One spell that I absolutely think would work as a ritual would be a divination spell along the lines of Detect Corpse that could reveal the presence of corpses, and unlike most other divination type spells could see through larger barriers of dirt or stone (though probably still not lead). That would allow the detection of corpses in the ground and even in caskets. It could also work as an in-world aspect that wealthy people use lead-lined coffins to prevent necromancers from sensing their corpses for animating.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
So no doubt that is a very cool aspect of the spell. I'm not against the idea of the spell, but I don't know that it is a robust enough concept to merit its own spell. It might make more sense, for example, to adjust Animate Dead so that at higher levels, you don't need line of sight and can use the spell to fish for undead. I think for this spell to have something that sets it apart enough to merit it's existence, including some alternative undead options (but not stepping on what Create Undead can animate), would make it more interesting. Maybe granting animated skeletons or zombies new characteristics like a fly speed, or change their size, or an aura of pain or something.
I assume they're making this for their own game. If there isn't a balance issue (which seems to be the OP's question) then I don't see that it matters if someone thinks it's not "robust enough" to be its own spell.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
I assume they're making this for their own game. If there isn't a balance issue (which seems to be the OP's question) then I don't see that it matters if someone thinks it's not "robust enough" to be its own spell.
Hey, everyone has there own table and how they play. But I still think it is a fair question to ask "what problem does this new mechanic solve," "what does this new mechanic add to the game that's not already there," and "are there other ways to more efficiently or effectively address the problem or achieve the desired effect." From my perspective, this doesn't need to be its own spell, but could rather be an additional effect added onto Animate Dead when cast at a higher level. That would both solve the problem (being able to target corpses that are not within line of sight) and the desired effect (having animated undead crawl up from the ground).

I'm not the gaming police. But I also believe my critique has merit and is worth consideration. Sure, a person can create a whole new 4th level spell from scratch where they create a frost lance that they can launch up to 200 feet away that then explodes with ice shards in a 30 foot radius. There's no issue there. Or, they can just modify the Fireball spell to deal cold damage.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Honestly, the only real difference is that you can pull corpses out of the ground. Although it begs the question as to what happens if there are no corpses there. Does the DM have to decide each time? That's a time-waster--either there are, and the spell works, or there aren't, and a high-level slot is wasted.
It doesn't take much time for a DM to make one dice roll; and if a caster is "fishing" then one would think that said caster is aware that not every casting is necessarily going to pull something up.
Having the skeletons pull themselves out of the ground is cool, but honestly, I'd see this as a magic item instead of a spell.
I actually have something similar as a possible outcome from a wild magic surge, only in that case the undead come up very annoyed at being disturbed...
Also, there aren't any alignment tags in 5e.
There should be, and would be in any game I run.
 

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