Stats for magical minions

I've been having thoughts related to covenant defence and vast armies of magical minions.

Raising skeletons is the best method i have so far, but i can't find any stats for skeletons. Does anyone know where the 5th ed rules for risen dead are? I have the 4th ed rules (in the main book) for zombies and skeletons, but would like an update.

Next i was thinking of stone statues. Have lots of them posted around the covenant and then use a ReTe spell to animate them for sun duration. Voila, big tough and presumably strong minions to aid in defence.

Again though, what kind of statistics would animated statues have (assuming human size). I'd guess better than human strength and vastly better soak (made of stone after all).

Also if you wanted to have stronger/faster/deadlier skeletons/statues, could you add magnitudes to the spell to get a better "animation"?

I'm going to tag a question on to gribble's. Any suggestions for the combat stats of a tree ala Free the Standing Giant?

First of all: why skeletons? Zombies have far more advantages and should be harder to destroy than animated bones. :wink:
But in our saga we have a necromancer as well and yes: there are no rules in any of the 5th edition books for skeletons or zombies animated with hermetic magic.
For the combat relevant statstics I would say there is no rule like "undead should be strong but lame": the spell is only another rego spell so you should vary the amount of Dex, Quik, Per and Str (but no Int, Com, Pre and Sta) to make fast but weak or strong but lame or "normal" skeletons! Perhaps a base undead should have an amount of points to buy characteristics (like on character creation and for every additional magnitude he gets additional points. The statistics for Soak, Size and Stamina should be the same as for the original human body plus a bonus for his undead state to Soak (like +5 for skeletons and +10 for zombies).
Their combat ability should be the same as the necromancers Finesse ability (plus Int) and his Finesse ability (plus Com) is also used for the "intelligence" of an animated corpse.
Dont forget, that these undeads have no might and their attacks are restisted by magical resistance!

Or a hidden ring around the covennat that animates them all the time. :wink:

The material should count: from +10 for a wooden statue to +40 for a steel one, that should be nearly invincible to everything besides dragon breath and siege weapons. The Str (and other statstics) I would design from the base material plus boni from additional magnitude. A steel giant should be stronger than a wood statue but if there are many additional magnitudes he might be as fast as a simple wooden fighter. And the combat abilitys should be the casters Finesse plus Int too.

I think it should differ if you only animate the tree like an undead or a statue, or if you awaken his Mentem and give him arms and legs.
The first one should be designed by the same rules as an statue, the second one is a choose of philosophy. If yo decide te awakened Mentem of such a tree is stupid and lame te same rules might count as for a statue, but we ruled that such a tree is a kind of nature spirit that can finaly maniplulate the real world so it have human intelligence and own abilitys. So you should give him abilitys and statstic proper to the tree that was awakened (for mythical tree statstics see GotF :slight_smile:).

There is a lot of discussion of the dead and ghosts, but I don't recall other risen dead. Serf's parma. (You'd probably want to read over the discussion of "who's dead" in Ancient Magic, though.)

I suppose the question is - what do we want the spells to accomplish? I think creating skeletons or zombies is rather expensive (requiring raw vis), and that it's appropriate for them to be frightening in their tanacity and effectiveness. But I wouldn't want them to be undefeatable, merely dangerously capable for common soldiers.

With this in mind, I suggest the following ideas for your consideration or rejection, as the case may be...

Magic Might: 0
Cun: -3; Per -3
Com -3; Pre +1
Str +1; Sta +5
Qui -3/0; Dex +0/-3 (Zombie/Skeleton)
Abilities: as in life; commoners are probably Brawl 1 and 0 in all weapon skills. Professional warriors would probably have Brawl 3 and some weapon skill at 5.
Soak: 5 + Armor
Body Levels: As in life, but may be "wounded" if skeleton-structure was compromised. For those killed in battle, probably one Medium Wound is in order.
Fatigue Levels: None. Cannot expend fatigue, but does not suffer from it either.
Personality Traits: Chaotic Carnal Mind +3, Loyal +6
Confidence: None.

This will result in undead being generally more expensive (requiring raw vis rather than gold), but fairly effective (strong, with very high stamina, although a bit slow or clumsy). They make poor servants in other regards, though (with poor cunning, perception, and communication).

I see the animation as granting volition to the Corpus-spirit imanent in the dead body. This is like an InIg spell can speak with a fire's spirit - there was a discussion of this in the Berk-list recently. Thus, this is a ReCo effect, similar to Whispers Through the Black Gate. A spell that binds the spirit to the body will result in a more mentally capable and stable undead, perhaps retaining the previous mental Characteristics, but with a Me requisite.

This undead's mind isn't Mentem. I think it's best to treat it as Corpus - it has a Corpus mind, as it is a Corpus spirit; use the Animal guidelines for affecting it, but using the Art of Corpus. [Alternatively, allow the body to maintain only the "animal spirit", affected by Animal.] Although the person's spirit (Mentem-ghost) retains all his memories, I think it's appropriate for the body to do so as well - if a mountain can remember that a person say next to it, the body should remember things too (and whispers through the black gate seems to concur); it's possible, however, that the body lacks any Abilities and knowledge, all being present in the spirit.

Under this interpretation, then, the undead's mind is a confused mess of memories and skills, passions and apetites. It lacks the overriding Reason and unity it once had, the Divine spark that once guided it. Magic serves only as a poor substitute. Accordingly, I see it as a chaotic see of memories, desires, and passions, borne out of the flesh and past lives (a burning desire to feed, interrupted suddenly by a longing for his family, continuing into blind rage as memories of his son's defiance surface.... a stream of malign consciousness). Of course, the magic will generally bind the Corpus-spirit to obey the caster's will.

Last, I'd consider the raising of the dead a sin of hubris and defiance of God, likely to draw Infernal attention. I might even go so far as to have the site of resurrection develop a small Infernal aura, and have the undead infernally tainted.

True, but they smell worse. This is to go into my magus' tower remember (the other magi and covenant folk have asked him to not have animated corpses running around their home).

My thoughts exactly. I like the idea of creating different types of undead with spells of various power levels. For instance, the standard raise undead spells could create your generic zombie/skeleton hero fodder. But slap a few magnitudes on it and get yourself some hardened, capable undead warriors. Throwing in a mentem req here to grant them their previous lifes fighting skills could be good.

Thats an idea. Not sure about just three random points, i can see that getting broken quickly. But certainly something like that.

A spell to animate a dead body to act as a servant or combatant for a period of time.

Not so sure about this. I like the idea of large numbers of udnead and as soon as you require vis to do it, that idea becomes unfeasible. I can certainly see a place for more powerful undead created using rituals. But for just normal skeletons and zombies, i think non-ritual magic should do it (unless you want it to last a year of of course).

I like your stat block, i'd perhaps give the zombie an extra point of strength over the skeleton and a bit more soak, but give him the -3, -3 for dex and quickness. Magic resistance of course would resist their attacks, so i'll have to arm them.

Not sure an animated corpse should have personality traits unless you've bound either its memories or spirit back in the body, and that could certainly have some handy uses.

I really don't like the idea of raising the undead as being an infernal act. I personally think that the capacity to be an evil scumbag should be independant of the infernal. Certainly i can see them trying to cash in on it, but to have the undead infernally tainted is going a bit far. YMMV of course. My campaign already has more than enough infernal attention :slight_smile:

Awakening the Slumbering Corpse does not require vis, but is only Conc duration. The Walking Corpse is a ritual with a mentem requisite, and gives you a faithful, unimaginitive servant for a year.

No stats in sight, that's true. +0 in everything and no abilities? Undead aren't exactly skilled labor :wink:

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Yeah, on second thought there is no need for this to be a Ritual unless it's going to be one anyway (high-level, high-duration...). I think that's the best approach.

I don't like that just adding magnitudes makes the undead more powerful. I'd prefer powerful undaed to have unique elements. Here is an example (rather dark) spell from one of my old characters:

Forging of the Hauweta
Rego Mentem (Corpus, Ignem), Ritual
R: Voice, D: Permanent (non-Hermetic), T: Special
This spell is cast on two persons that are burned together on the stake as part of the casting. The two must be connected mystically in some way - Dracul, the inventor of this spell, used it on mothers pregnant by the other's seed, casting this spell as a punishment for infidelity.
The spell binds the spirits as they leave the body, forcing them to remain in the burning bodies and obey the caster's commands. It also binds the bodies together, creating an ever-burning mesh of bodies and souls.
The resulting undead, called Hauweta, always refers to himself as "we", and speaks earily in two voices. It is in eternal agony, forever burning in unnatural fires, but is forced to obey the caster's commands even through its suffering. Hauweta are immensly strong, but fragile (Dracul wraps them in metal armor). In addition to their martial capability, magic resistance, and utter loyalty, a Hauweta can make others share its endless pain (R: Eye, D: Diameter, T: Individual; Me; cause immense, debilitating pain).

This is a matter of Magic Theroy :slight_smile:
As I see it, Hermetic magic cannot directly command an object to have volition. A ReCo spell controllong the body could move it around, but only under the caster's direct control. To have an undead that is able to follow commands, you need to control a thing's mind rather than its body.

The thing is, as I see it, material objects have "inanimate spirits" you can affect magically. It's possible to stir the slumbering tree, to talk with a fire or stone, and so on. There is a distinction between affecting the mind and the body, however, just like a Rego Animal spell can cause the animal to move by affecting its body or by affecting its mind (with the same Art, Animal). So to have real undead, rather than animated puppets, you need to affect the body's inanimate spirit with a Rego Corpus spell, and grant it power to move the body (yet another Rego Corpus effect; compare with Free the Standing Giant and similar spells). If a stone or fire has personality traits and memories, I don't see why the body's inanimate spirit won't. So I assigned it some.

Unlike stones or fires, when a person dies his spirit becomes a Mentem entitry (of any Realm, but most often the Magic Realm), apparently. So it's certainly possible that a person's "inanimate spirit" doesn't exist (having been transformed into a Mentem spirit), or is unrelated to the person's past life (perhaps knowing only of it's death and what happened since).

So this opens up several kinds of undead:

  • Direct control of the body through Rego Corpus. This is more like a puppet than an undead.
  • Control and empowerment of the inanimate spirit of the body through Rego Corpus. The inanimate spirit might have the person's memories and senses, or it might not.
  • Binding the person's Mentem spirit into the body and granting it the ability to move the body, a Rego Corpus spell with a Mentem requisite (using the body as an arcane connection to the spirit).
  • Posessing the body by another spirit, by the appropriate spells. An example might be a Rego Vim spell to bind a demon to the human body, with perhaps a Corpus requisite to grant it power over the body. Another option is summoning (or creating?) a creature that can possess others, e.g summoning a demon and ordering it to possess the body.
  • Making the body into a magical item, either allowing direct control via a Rego Corpus invested effect or binding a spirit into it via the Spirit Binding virtue (TMRE).

Note that Whispers Through the Black Gate allows you to speak with the body and spirit, an Intellego Corpus effect but with a Mentem requisite. (I'd actually peg it as a Rego Corpus/Mentem effect, as others can hear the spirit too.) So it doesn't help in resolving how much the body's inanimate spirit remembers and knows.

Well, as I see it, being an evil scumbag is partaking in the Infernal, the Infernal is evil and evil is Infernal. Otherwise, it kinda loses its point - you can have a person commiting all kinds of obscence vile things, selling souls to the devil, and so on - but no, that's got nothing to do with the Infernal Realm, he might very well be Divine... NOT. If anyone can do the evil stuff, then the Infernal suddenly isn't that evil, by comparison. It's just another form of magic. I much rather see it as the dark temptation, the taint of corruption. Anyone, of any Realm, may fall to evil - even god's greatest angel. And when you do, and to the extent you do, you become Infernal.

I agree creating undead shouldn't be evil per se. It's good to keep the options open for players. I do think, however, that creating them in a particularly god-defying manner (e.g. casting a spell over a Church's cemetary, or attempting to create the semblance of real life rather than undead servants) would be a sin of hubris. I'd make a check to see if it gives rise to an Infernal aura, and if it does I'll have the created undead subtly tainted by evil. Likewise for particularly vile acts, or repeated minor sins in the same locale (e.g., a magus pirate's ship might acquire an Infernal aura, with all his larceny...).

In Broken Convent of Celebais (spelling correct? serf's parma!)
There are official rules on dead bodies. Well, these have been swimming around in water for quite some time, so they are kind of soft. However, one can easily change the statistics to a dried up body by increasing the soak and maybe reducing Dex and Quik.
I find it especially nice that undead of Broken Convent of Celebais do not suffer from wound penalties. Thus you can ony "kill" (?) them by inflicting an incapacitating wound. All the other wound just stack, and stack, and stack.... without hindering the undead.

Surely the ones still swimming around in the water would have the increased "soak". :wink: (sorry couldn't resist that one!)


This is outrageously evil, eek! Methinks anyone able to bring themselves to casting such a spell already has a spot reserved for them in the 9th circle of the inferno! (anachronist's parma :wink: ).

I would ask what you mean exactly by "..used it on mother's pregnant the the other's seed... You mean two mother's burned together at the stake or two pairs of husband's-wive's? Surely two mother's have no seed with which to have impregnated the other, lol.

As for your theory on inanimate souls, it seems to me that this is not so much a matter of magic theory but of one's understanding of philosophiae.

The concept is completely in line with Aristotle's discourses on the distinctions between the "nutritive" (or "perceptive") soul possessed by all living things in common and the "rational" soul possessed by man above all creatures (taken in the ARS milieu, one would have to include all intelligent but mortal beings of the magical/fairy realms).

So perhaps necromancers should have a pretty good score in philosophiae as well to give additional justification to all attempts to augment the remaining perceptive souls of the animated corpse and/or to restore the rational soul (spirit if you will).

Just my two mythic pound's worth.

It's poorly phrased, but you can think of the spell as a punishment for adultery. It is cast on the adulterous wife and her lover. I reasoned that their baby (or even the man's semen, for a short while) serves as a sort of arcane connection between them. You can consider it a trial by ordeal, really - if the couple is innocent, no such bond will exist between them and the spell will fail. Of course, they'll both die in agony, but hey, you can't please everybody :smiling_imp:

Well, yes, but the point was on how this affects magic. It affects what one can do with what sorts of magic (e.g. my list above).

side track ahead...

Focus on the bold section above...
Following this logic house verditius, who's magi gain a hubris score, must be the most infernal in the order and Verdi probally has a high infernal aura rather than magical.

Well, they ARE always crafting all sorts of "infernal" contraptions :wink:

(sorry on a bad pun roll today) lol.


Ah that makes more sense, but still a totally evil spell and certainly grounds to be marched if the order discovered such practices.

I understood and appreciate what you meant. I think you'll find my point is equally valid in a magical context since philosophiae also has magical applications (re: adding to Verditius casting and enchanting totals for instance). Seems to philosophiae could similarly impact a necromancer's metaphysical understanding of the nature of spirits/souls and their relation to the physical form (thus perhaps adding to his/her casting total when making his/her host of local mall rats).

I don't really remember the hubris rules for Verditius, except that I didn't like them as they so dominated the characters as to make all Verditius alike. If the little I remember is correct, Verditius "hubris" is about being the most powerful and impressive Verditius, about pride and honor. That isn't sinful in itself, or at most is a venial sin. By hubris I meant a far more acute pride, knowingly attempting to usurp and outdo god. From the Catholic Encyclopeida on pride:

(the Catholic Encyclopdia is, I find, an immensly valuable resource for Ars Magica)

Building up the best magical item - mere ambition. Worshiping pagan gods - anything from ignorant confusion to heresy, but not pride. Attempting to replicate or mimic the divine creation of man, however - now that's pride on the scale I was referring to.

Marched? Why? What part of the Oath has he violated? Of course, this is subject to interpretation, but as the spell is intended for use on his own covenfolk, and doesn't involve any dealings with demons or so on, I don't see any legal problem. Of course, he may very well have spiritual problems, and some nosy Quaesitor might snoof around for Infernal pacts and magic, and he may very well be the subject of Wizard Wars or be convicted unjustly or on an unrelated crime due to his unpopularity; but by itself, I don't think the spell violates the Code.

Maybe not but it certainly struck me as particularly diabolic by its very nature. It is, however, a matter for subjective interpretation as you say.

On the other hand, with such practices being his hallmark, it wouldnt surprise me if all the remaining (living) coven folk (those with an ounce of common sense anyways) fled as far they could from such a maniac lol.

Well, he certainly took Machiavelli's dictum, "it is better to be feared than loved", to whole new levels. :smiley:

As you point out, pride is a deadly sin... And high hubris character probably suffers from considerable pride, and many of them would seek to outdo the Lord himself with their creations... But then again, how many other magi would not do the same? As my magus Draco would say: "He just has a head start - I'll catch up sooner or later; I am better than him after all!".

The necromancer in our group avoids the problem of desecrating once-living corpses by creating Moon-duration corpses with a Creo Corpus spell, animating them with (I think) a Rego Corpus spell, then giving them combat skills equal to his own with a Creo Mentem spell.

Since he's not desecrating graves, he's not at risk of sin. However, one Infernal risk that remains is the fact that these created, animated, combat-capable corpses are susceptible to being possessed by even fairly wimpy demons. Thus it's usually a bad idea to create them without first warding the area against demons.

The really odd thing is that although he's a necromancer -- who are stereotypically pretty creepy -- he's a cheerful life-of-the-party guy. He's the group's main social magus, when it's not possible to deal with mundanes through companions or grogs. He later acquired Gentle Gift; I forget whether that was through a beneficial warping experience or something a powerful magical being did for him in exchange for a notable favor.

"Marched? Why? What part of the Oath has he violated?"
The oath hasn't been violated, but House Tremere may show up at your covenant asking why you have a non-hermetic spell requiring human sacrifice...

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