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D&D 5E Level 1 Animate Dead

Stormonu

Legend
I like the reskinning of existing spells to help a budding necromancer. Undead Servant, Skeletal Hand, Find Familiar with more necro-friendly options would be cool. I like a crawling claw, undead animal, or a floating skull.
I am not sure a necromancer would have a full-bodied fighting minion at first level. 5th level is the multi attack level so I guess waiting until you get animate dead is in line with the rest of the rules.
Below 5th level, a summoned undead would probably be balanced if it takes an action to direct its attacks. At the same time, a skeleton or zombie is a little less than a unseen servant + spiritual weapon, with the latter a 2nd level spell coming into play at 3rd level. Also, the ranger and druid subclasses are getting their first animal companions around 3rd. I think a good compromise for a 1st level spell might be something that stays around for a minute, but takes an action to control. As a 2nd level spell, moving the control to a bonus action should be feasible.
 

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Iry

Hero
Would it though? If you had it say, doing 1d4 or 1d6 damage (no bonus), with like +2 to hit (proficiency and nothing else), AC10 or 12, and like 8 HP or something I suspect your average DPR over say, even 3-4 encounters in a day would be a lot lower than a Fighter with a Longsword and +3 STR or something. Let alone someone more optimized for DPR, like a Fighter with Archery style or Duelist style or Two-Weapon Fighting. In fact TWF would leave you in the dust, mechanically. Especially as most days your skele-friend would get total'd by one attack early in the day and that's a 1st-level spell-slot gone.
There's even precedent. Homunculus is 1d4+PB at 30' on a bonus action for a 2nd level Artificer.
That's obviously a half-caster with a notable GP component, of course.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Would it though? If you had it say, doing 1d4 or 1d6 damage (no bonus), with like +2 to hit (proficiency and nothing else), AC10 or 12, and like 8 HP or something I suspect your average DPR over say, even 3-4 encounters in a day would be a lot lower than a Fighter with a Longsword and +3 STR or something. Let alone someone more optimized for DPR, like a Fighter with Archery style or Duelist style or Two-Weapon Fighting. In fact TWF would leave you in the dust, mechanically. Especially as most days your skele-friend would get total'd by one attack early in the day and that's a 1st-level spell-slot gone.
Would it though? If you had it say, doing 1d4 or 1d6 damage (no bonus), with like +2 to hit (proficiency and nothing else), AC10 or 12, and like 8 HP or something I suspect your average DPR over say, even 3-4 encounters in a day would be a lot lower than a Fighter with a Longsword and +3 STR or something. Let alone someone more optimized for DPR, like a Fighter with Archery style or Duelist style or Two-Weapon Fighting. In fact TWF would leave you in the dust, mechanically. Especially as most days your skele-friend would get total'd by one attack early in the day and that's a 1st-level spell-slot gone.
Skeletons have a statblock. +4 attack with d6+2 damage.
 

Skeletons have a statblock. +4 attack with d6+2 damage.
Sure, but why would you use that? Doesn't make sense. It's not a rule of the universe. Just look at all the modern summoning spells, none of which summon actual specific MM creatures, but rather statblocks you fluff as appropriate.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Sure, but why would you use that? Doesn't make sense. It's not a rule of the universe. Just look at all the modern summoning spells, none of which summon actual specific MM creatures, but rather statblocks you fluff as appropriate.
Because that’s what animate dead does
 

J-H

Adventurer
I really liked this Necromancer re-do from the DM's Guild. It's not mine, but I did pay the author for it.

It includes a 1st level Undead Servitude spell that creates an undead familiar. The familiar consumes a spell slot while animated, with the spell slot letting you scale up to higher level creatures. At 1st level you're looking at an undead Commoner... but it's still an undead at 1st level.

With 3rd level spells your familiar can be a CR 1/4 base creature like a giant wolf spider or troglodyte, 6th level spells get you an undead ogre, and if you give up your 9th level slot you've got a pet undead young dragon.
Your one undead minion acts on its own initiative and turn in combat... but there's only one, and it's never more powerful than the party fighter.

It's my official "This is a Necromancer" in my games now, replacing the PHB version.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Here's my take:

Conjure Roaming Dead
LevelSchoolCasting TimeRange
Components
V, S, M (a candle made from the fat of an hanged man)
Duration
Concentration, up to 1 minute
2ndNecromancy1 action60 feet
A medium undead creature appears in an unoccupied space of your choice within range and lasts for the duration. The creature can be a mass of grinning skulls or a shambling zombie warrior, or anything else of you choice. Any creature that ends its turn within 5 feet of the creature must make a Constitution saving throw. The creature takes 2d8 necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
As a bonus action, you can order the creature to move up to 30 feet. If you ram the roaming dead into a creature, that creature must make the saving throw against the conjured undead's damage, and the dead stops moving this turn.
When you order the creature to move, you can direct it over barriers up to 5 feet tall and jump it across pits up to 10 feet wide.

At Higher Levels.
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the creature deals 1d6 extra damage for each slot level above 2nd.
 


Xeviat

Hero
Supporter
I really liked this Necromancer re-do from the DM's Guild. It's not mine, but I did pay the author for it.

It includes a 1st level Undead Servitude spell that creates an undead familiar. The familiar consumes a spell slot while animated, with the spell slot letting you scale up to higher level creatures. At 1st level you're looking at an undead Commoner... but it's still an undead at 1st level.

With 3rd level spells your familiar can be a CR 1/4 base creature like a giant wolf spider or troglodyte, 6th level spells get you an undead ogre, and if you give up your 9th level slot you've got a pet undead young dragon.
Your one undead minion acts on its own initiative and turn in combat... but there's only one, and it's never more powerful than the party fighter.

It's my official "This is a Necromancer" in my games now, replacing the PHB version.
I'll have to check this out!
 

I would propose just having Necromancers learn normal Animate Dead when they pick the subclass at level 2 (rather than uselessly at level 6 after they already chose it as a level 5 spell because their whole character was built around learning the spell and waiting was just too much) and giving them one special slot to cast it at 3rd level once a day. This lets them maintain 1 skeleton or zombie before level 5, letting them feel all necromancery but not really having much impact on game balance. It also makes it less frustrating to be a necromancer in tier 2 if they effectively can do their necromancer thing and still preserve another level 3 slot for other wizard priorities.
 

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