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D&D 5E Why is animate dead considered inherently evil?

I'm having a troublesome time understanding why the animate dead spell is considered evil. When I read the manual it states that the spall imbues the targeted corpse with a foul mimicry of life, implying that the soul is not a sentient being who is trapped in a decaying corpse. Rather, the spell does exactly what its title suggests, it only animates the corps. Now of course one could use the spell to create zombies that would hunt and kill humans, but by that same coin, they could create a labor force that needs no form of sustenance (other than for the spell to be recast of course). There have also been those who have said "the spell is associated with the negative realm which is evil", however when you ask someone why the negative realm is bad that will say "because it is used for necromancy", I'm sure you can see the fallacy in this argument.

However, I must take into account that I have only looked into the DnD magic system since yesterday so there are likely large gaps in my knowledge. PS(Apon further reflection I've decided that the animate dead spell doesn't fall into the school of necromancy, as life is not truly given to the corps, instead I believe this would most likely fall into the school of transmutation.) PPS(I apologize for my sloppy writing, I've decided I'm feeling too lazy to correct it.)
 

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tomBitonti

Adventurer
And it's not given that your fireball don't set a city in fire and kill thousands of people. 🤷


Just accept that it is an absurd standard from harm causing perspective. A lot of things have small chance of being dangerous if you're careless, and they still are not considered evil. This is solely based on thematic 'undead are icky' and not on some logical risk analysis.
So … a modern view of a sane person requires that they have a degree of empathy. People are communal creatures. To have a being within the community that does not have empathy is a danger to the community, and is at least discouraged, if not entirely disallowed.

When perceiving a body, one should have a sense that there was once a living person there, with a life and joys and sorrows and expectations. One should have a feeling for the person who was once there.

Diminishing that feeling by treating a body as just some dead meat, with residual utility as a animated puppet, is to diminish one’s empathy. A self harm. Or, at best, a demonstration of already being without empathy.

As above, the community will remove such an individual from itself.

TomB
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Yes, but that's a societal view. In a fantasy game, there could be very different views on what is taboo. A society could, for example, have a culture where the living are willing to serve on in the next life, and it is seen as a great honor.

...except in D&D, because no matter what society says, Animate Dead = bad, so deemed by the cosmic forces of Good and Evil, that don't really care about an individual's perception of morality.
 



Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Right. So you destroy the undead before that if you don't need it anymore and don't want to renew the spell.
That's assuming a) someone is there to destroy it and b) that the players/PCs don't completely forget about it. With our crew, b) would be inevitable at some point - it's truly amazing what they'll forget given half a chance.

Once in an older game of mine a party got into a big argument about what to do with a Hobgoblin who had surrendered. Most of the party wanted to kill it but one stood firm on taking it in as a captive instead. Eventually the captive-taker convinced the rest to tie it up and not kill it; but once it was tied up everyone completely forgot about it. They never questioned it, never fed or watered it, and when they wandered off next morning after sacking out for the night they just left it quietly lying there.....

They remembered it a couple of days (!) later when they needed some information and went back, by which point it had long since been found and freed by its buddies.
 


James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
It's just the way the game is; everyone is going to run and play it differently. But it's hard to have a discussion about game elements when everyone is talking about their preferences past each other. We have to admit that this is the way the game is written, whether we like it or not.

Assuming we can even agree on that much, lol.

And from there we can jump on our soapboxes and say "well, if this were MY game, I would...X", and from there, a whole new debate spawns. : )
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
That's assuming a) someone is there to destroy it and b) that the players/PCs don't completely forget about it. With our crew, b) would be inevitable at some point - it's truly amazing what they'll forget given half a chance.

Once in an older game of mine a party got into a big argument about what to do with a Hobgoblin who had surrendered. Most of the party wanted to kill it but one stood firm on taking it in as a captive instead. Eventually the captive-taker convinced the rest to tie it up and not kill it; but once it was tied up everyone completely forgot about it. They never questioned it, never fed or watered it, and when they wandered off next morning after sacking out for the night they just left it quietly lying there.....

They remembered it a couple of days (!) later when they needed some information and went back, by which point it had long since been found and freed by its buddies.
Yeah. It's pretty inevitable that something will happen and the undead will eventually break free.
 


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