Q: Awakening the Slumbering Corpse

This spell will reanimate a corpse. But what about a skeleton?
I interpret the spell description as only working on corpses, which have flesh, tendons and skin holding it together. Would a spell affecting skeletons be a variant 1 magnitude higher? I think you'd need more powerful magic to keep the bones coherent.

Anyone else done this? Or thought about it?

All same same.

Don't interpret the spell, interpret the guidelines: Base 10, animate a corpse. Since there is no distinction in the guidelines between "a corpse" and "a skeleton", and as a corpse rots the distinction becomes less and less clear, it can safely be assumed that they're identical in Magnitude.

Now, for a heap of unattached bones? Maybe something more, yes, easily. Not sure when a "skeleton" becomes "a pile of bones" - that's up to a SG. But the animation of a "skeleton" is a classic effect, and not one that should be too much more difficult than a similar zombie-type effect.

I agree with Cuchulain (btw, in a next adventure, the PC magi will work for the celtic goddess of war and will have to kill faerie Cuchulain for her :smiley:) (it's for that reason i now understand your name... before i thought it was "Cuchain" ^^).

My IRL necromancer has this spell with moon and group duration (so not ritual), and the same with +2 complexity magnitudes for better grogs ^^... but the SG stated that these have no intelligence so... it's less interesting than what i wanted, but still ^^

So instead of making the distinction between a corpse with flesh and all and a bare skeleton, you distinguish with between an assembled and a disassembled skeleton. But how is the skeleton assembled? Once all the soft bits decay, nothing holds the bones together. But bones aligned in the right order would still be easier to have a spell aminate to a working, walking thing. And a box full of assorted bones, which may or may not be several complete skeletons in a do-it-yourself kit, would be beyond the scope of the spell.
What if the creative magus sorts the bones, and alignes enough correctly do make a complete skeleton? And does it matter whether the bones all come from the same corpse originally, or can it be made from mixed spare parts?

Sure, 'corpse' is a fairly general term, and might as well cover any dead humanoid body. And perhaps it is too much detail to try and distinguish. Would zombies (with flesh) and skeletons (without) have the same game stats? I can't remember if any differences are listed in the Beastiary, or if I mix up my memory with previous editions (or even other game systems).

Zombies and skeletons have no stats... their stats depends either on the caster or are bad.

  • base 10 => bad. The caster gives order they follow but without intelligence (or a -5 intelligence if you prefer).
  • base 10 +2 complexity Mentem requisite => their stats [= abilities] are those of the caster, but they haven't yet intelligence.

For myself, I'd use the same guideline but require two spells - to me, the spell which animates a mostly intact corpse is not the same as one which holds in position and animates the disparate bones. That said, the skeleton is a single thing (albeit with many bits) and used to be a thing which moved of its own accord so I wouldn't require any additional magnitudes for the holding-it-together-effect - it's a Rego spell, after all.

So the assembling and animation of the skeleton could be viewed as a ReCo spells T:Group since you'd need to affect a lot of things, and constantly hold them coherent. But the corpse is a single thing and thus only T:Individual. So by this reasoning, the skeleton thing is 2 magnitudes higher than the fleshy corpse thing.

This might be a bit offtopic, but one thing which might have sparked this discussion is a lack
of suitable corpses.

What do you think of just creating a corpse (CrCo) and then animating it. No problem, right?

And regarding the question about animating skeletons - just look at the description for
"The Walking Corpse" on p.135 and you have your answer.

IDHMBWM now, but I'll look at that page when I get home.

Creating a skeleton is fine. Using a ritual makes it permanent and non-magical. Creating using D:Sun or Moon will mean it is magical and resisted by anyone with MR or Parma. We talked about this last session in our Constantinople saga, where it didn't matter whether the thing was magical.

Give the skellie a normal sword and he is no longer resisted by Parma anyway :wink:


Sure, let him use weapons rather than shove people around. Also more efficient with a sword.

Well, not from my perspective. A pile of bones from many corpses would require a higher level spell, but a skeleton is a single thing in many parts, just as an unmortared wall is a single thing in many parts. If you want a dragon's head and lion's claws on your otherwise human corpse, you'll need a higher level spell, but for a single human corpse, that seems unnecessary phaff. The two spells I spoke of are "animate fleshycorpse" and "animate skeleton" - they're not the same effect, but they are the same guideline.

Hell, I'd go so far as to allow that an effectively permanent or long duration spell would keep a corpse-rotted-to-skeleton animate, simply because one is a subset of the other and magical contamination should do that sort of thing.

Actually, I'd argue yes. The sword is not magical, so that's not resisted. The movement of the sword is magical, so the sword will bounce harmlessly off Parma. Perhaps some minor cuts, as if the sword were gently put on a body.

It's the same argument as wielding the mundane rock with ReTe magic to hit a magus. The rock is mundane, but the movement (that does the damage) is magical, thus resisted.

Or am I totally off track?

No, but hitting the degrees of seperation problem. How many steps must be involved before the motion is mundane? A magus throws a rock at you? A magus throws a rock which knocks another rock into you? A magus throws a rock which knocks a sword off a shelf and it falls onto you? For myself, I tend to require two (Magic causes A. A causes B. B ignores parma) but there's wiggle room. A magical flame lighting already existing clothing, for instance, is itself resisted but the subsequent burning clothing is not.

Ah, but then the "skeleton with sword" example has not wiggle room... magic causes the sword to move, so it's resisted.

Not really. Magic causes the skellie to move, not the sword.


Yep, I'd agree with that. There are two important things to remember though - firstly, undead are a great way to terrify the mundanes, as well as slaughter them at a distance. Secondly, it's easy to get a high penetration with the spell since it's nice and low in level.

That said, two-degrees-of-seperation is my own houserule and as Xavi has said, others do it differently. The rules themselves are ... open to interpretation.

Well, I find the image of a magus laughing evilly with arms crossed while standing in front of 30 skeletons trying to hit him with their rusty swords to detract A LOT from the atmosphere. Obviously this mage would be playing Shield Mage for his grogs, since they can die facing the skellies, while he can simply brush them aside without any dangwer to himself.


Natural weapons of magical creatures are not resisted, at least in my saga. Don't know if that's an implicit house rule. Also, magi under influence of a longevity in my saga can still punch other magi, even though their body magically improved.

I like the "two degrees of separation" rule, I think I've been doing something like this subconciously for the last years :slight_smile:

Indeed. The problem with a spell animated skeleton is that, well, it's a spell. On the other hand, if you can convince a spirit to inhabit the bones then it's a very different story. Most ReCo spells do not produce undead; they merely use convient puppets which are already predisposed to movement like humans.