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D&D 3E
Question on aminating and creating undead 
15th-Dec-2005 10:22 am
I don't have the Eberron source books, and I am playing a Necromancer in a non-Eberron campain who is facinated by animating or creating undead of a neutral, or even good, alignment.

The character's thoughts are that since the soul has already left the corpse, a spellcaster should be able to animate neutral aligned undead (skeletons, zombies). They mindlessly follow the commands of their creator so their alignment should reflect that of their creator. They shouldn't just be NE by default, nor should casting animate undead be an evil spell.

Creating undead or greater undead of neutral or good alignment would be much more difficult. Magical effects exist that change alignments, so it seems to the character that with a great deal of research and effort, he could find a way to twist the weaves such that he can control the alignment of the undead he creates. To take it to the extreme, he is intrigued to see if he can create a good-aligned wraith, for example, that spawns good aligned wraiths...

I'd like to hear how the Eberron setting handles undead. I don't know if the Undead elves are all evil by default, and if not how do the rules work for non-evil undead.

From a gaming standpoint, I'd like to get suggestions on how to reflect these ideas. My DM, Al, is in this community as well. Al, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

For animating undead, I was thinking something along the lines of having to research a new spell that would be about fifth level that alows you to animate undead as the 4th level spell, but they are created with a neutral alignment by default.

Creating undead would be much more difficult. Creating neutral undead would require a metamagic feat, Create Neutral Undead, that would have a high spellcraft and knowledge religion requirement, spell focus Necromancy, and ... You would then be able to create neutral undead but the spell level is now 2? slots higher than that of the original spell.

Creating good undead, that would therefore spawn good undead, would be an epic feat. There would be epic requirements and the spell level would be 4? slots higher than that of the original spell.

Basically, my thinking is that nearly anything should be possible as long as the difficulty of accomplishing it is balanced correctly...
15th-Dec-2005 03:37 pm (UTC)
Eberron's solution to the 'good undead' is to have a new, parallel template to the undead template (Deathless), and apply that to the 'good' undead.

The deathless type is almost identical to the undead type, except they still get harmed by energy drain IIRC (rather than being immune or healed). other Postive Energy and Negative Energy effects are also reveresed wrt undead.
15th-Dec-2005 03:56 pm (UTC)
Yup. Deathless are basically positive energy infused undead instead of negative.

Creating mindless undead doesn't seem like there would be a need for much change. If you still use negative energy, you may have some moral/social implications. Even so, negative energy is not "evil". It is "unlife". Using negative energy for "good" purposes does not seem like a problem in my book. As a DM I would probably still have some groups/people who see it as bad. I also don't see a problem with animating a "shell" (corpse) with positive energy.

Creating intelligent, positive energy undead might be trickier. I could see the research that was mentioned. Maybe a special feat or just some Spellcraft/Knowledge checks.

Creating positive versions of some of the negative creatures may get trickier. A wraith is formed from evil. An allip through insanity and evil. A mohrg is from a serial killer. You could change their alignment through certain means, but they are still essentiall manifestations of evil. Curbing the insatiable hunger of a ghoul sounds like an effort in futility. That doesn't mean there can't be *similar* creatures. I know, I'm thinking too hard about it using "modern" terms. =)

You can also look at the angle of manipulating and dominating the traditional evil undead. Is using evil to fight evil morally ok? Is a ghoul who is under your complete control and does not eat good-aligned creatures acceptable? (Those are rhetorical and subjective.)
15th-Dec-2005 03:58 pm (UTC)
Other things I should have mentioned:

There is a Deathless domain, with relevant spells. (Granted power is to greater rebuke Deathless instead of 1 turning per day.)

Create Deathless is a 6th level domain spell, control Deathless is a 7th level domain, create greater deathless is an 8th level spell.

The spells are on no other spell list.
15th-Dec-2005 04:24 pm (UTC)
I found some things about the undeads interesting too. The one I really enjoyed the concept of was the undead society in the computer game Planescape:Torment. In that The undead didn't seem evil by default and interestingly Skeletons were intelligent, Ghouls had a sort of animal cunning, and zombies were pretty typical zombies; they all lived together in this underground place that was basically run by skeletons with the others doing labour of various types. I'd like to do something like that in a game.

Part of the argument about undead being evil is that to create them you're desecrating corpses, which is at the best not really a "good" act and generally considered evil.

Some undead such as ghosts I think can have an alignment other than evil; if I recally correctly there's a good lich bar owner in Waterdeep(FR city); the elvish guardian spirits around Myth Dranor I think are good too.

The difference generally seems to be the intelligent self powered undead can have alignments other than evil.. so perhaps you could come up with some mechanic for persuading undead to rise rather than forcing them to.
15th-Dec-2005 04:59 pm (UTC)
I'm also reminded of the 2nd Edition Jakandor setting, where one of the major cultures uses undead as slaves. It strikes them as egalitarian. You live, provided for by all your undead slaves, and then you die, the priests reanimate you, nd you serve as a slave for the next generations.

Which the totemic barbarians on the island find unspeakably evil.
16th-Dec-2005 02:41 pm (UTC) - Things to consider
1) You are in a group with a future Radient Servant of Pelor. He exists to smite undead and heal. Undead of any kind are a blight on existance as far as he's concerned.

2) Undead are feuled by negative energy, even if they started neutral, there would be evil "creep" happening and eventually you'd probably have to put the undead down or let them be evil.

3) You are in a prison that was built to contain evil so powerful it could never be completely destroyed. How do you think the jailers will will take to anyone, by their perception, adding to the problem

However, the feat has some merit, you'd be out of luck though because I would probably have it reqire a caster alignment of non-good AND non-evil but maybe just maybe only non-evil
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