Raising the cost of components for creating undead

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Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Gwain » Sat Jun 03, 2017 6:44 pm

I'd like to see the cost of creating more powerful undead be reflected in components. If a zombie minion maintains resistances and attacks that that the base monster race had in life then the component cost should be on par with the cost of other expensive components or the components should be consumed completely after one or two castings of the spell. This should curtail abuse or over abundance of multiple powered minions in combat situations.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Vaemar » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:10 pm

Yay, let's make young drow wizards' life even harder!

I think that components for raising undead cost already quite a bit and do no last that long, therefore I think the proposal is bad. I also don't see all this potential for abuse and don't see fear of abuse bringing anything good to the game.

It would be nicer, however, having summoning options that could be an alternative to raising undead and that would not make clerics and wizards who do not use undead disadvantaged in comparison to those who do.

I much prefer the approach to buff or provide alternatives than nerfing. So, in short, thumbs down for me.

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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Gwain » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:52 pm

Vaemar wrote:Yay, let's make young drow wizards' life even harder
That's the spirit! :D

But seriously, I'd be for making drow an exception to the rule or even giving them undead minion creation alternatives or the means to produce them alternatively via different means.

I'd go one further and suggest having a cap on undead minions with racial resistances capable of leaving environments they were native to in life or having the code limit or halve these abilities in pop siuations only.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Vaemar » Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:22 pm

I recall seeing wizards cursing for not being able to animate some corpses that were not really that strong, so it is fairly safe to assume that a limit to the strength of the zombies was intended and that it is at least partly implemented.

As for prices and numbers, I just checked and the core component for the spell costs around 7 platinums at the best merchant, with other merchants going higher even up to 15. The first one lasted about three raisings and then made poof, while with higher spell proficiency it lasted a bit longer, but really not that much. So raising zombies is already quite expensive for the little necromancer.

For sure a differential price or availability of components would be reasonable. After all while in, say, Menzo or Skullport, raising undead is something absolutely normal and that causes at worst somebody to crinkle their nose, the same cannot be said for Waterdeep or Silverymoon. Therefore it would be understandable that such components would be cheaper in, say, Skullport or Menzo than in most surfacer cities. However I am also skeptical whether this would really limit excessive or improper use of undead.

On a related note I think that the properties of zombies should really be looked into. I noticed the other day that a human zombie was lacking darkvision (and thus was useless), and the srd is very clear about all zombies getting darkvision and losing *most* of their special qualities, and this includes resistances of course.

I also recall that I had problems hurting a zombie with my first character who used an axe, so even their basic damage reduction could have some issues, since it should be simply 5/slashing.

Source: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/zombie.htm

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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Areia » Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:33 am

There are certain races that, raised with the animate dead spell in even small-ish numbers, do, I would argue, absolutely border on abuse. When your undead minions can literally do two or three times the amount of damage you can and take even more, there's a problem. It's animate dead, they're not supposed to be superminions.

As for the cost. When I see a brand new necromancer able to animate uncounted zombies from Waterdeep to Cormyr over and over again, over several days, that makes me think it is indeed far too easy to get the components. I can't even say drow have it hard, because they can purchase the components right from a shop down the road and don't need to go through any of the hoops a surfacer needs to. But I know little about drow and so can't really be one to comment.

Regardless, on the surface at the very least, the components should be made quite a lot more expensive or.. something. Other components have been going up in price lately due to abuse. I don't see doing the same for animate dead's components being any worse. I love this idea.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Talos » Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:13 pm

The illithids seem like potential abuse, what other races are potentially abused? Raising the levels of these mobiles (making them too powerful to raise) to better match the threat posed by such races seems the easiest solution.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Gwain » Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:46 pm

As far as I can tell it would be any race with similar resistances at the same level of the ilithids in question, but I would endeavour to say that the reason they are signalled out would be the location they are in versus similar monsters in other places.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Areia » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:37 am

The kir-lanen is another race I've seen put to questionable use with the spell. But ya, like Gwain said, most of the sorts of races that have very high resistances or unique damage capability etc. should maybe be considered.

Off the top of my head (I don't know whether any of these can presently be animated or not): rakshasa, any demon/devil/similar creature for that matter (some do leave corpses), aboleth, weremcreatures...

It's sort of hard to say without testing, but the sorts of races that have abilities like these are the ones that are most abusable I think.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Simossus » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:47 am

Gwain wrote:I'd like to see the cost of creating more powerful undead be reflected in components. If a zombie minion maintains resistances and attacks that that the base monster race had in life then the component cost should be on par with the cost of other expensive components or the components should be consumed completely after one or two castings of the spell. This should curtail abuse or over abundance of multiple powered minions in combat situations.
I agree. Gem in question goes for ~11pp around the FK world. Probably get 5 uses out of one gem - hard to tell with the poof cycles. SRD averages the gem at 50 gold pieces or 10 plat.

SRD: 1 gem worth 25gp/HD of the target. Possible 4HD per caster level. 3rd level cleric prayer and 4th level wizard spell, but FK has it coded in as a level 3 wizard spell. nbd. Can cast 3rd level spells in FK at level 11 in which you have a possible 12HD to distribute.

So let us take a look at this: 5 plat per HD. Flat investment. 1 HD of a zombie is 1/4 CR. 1/4 CR consists of creatures like dogs, goblins, tiny vipers, dire rats.. You get the idea - and funnily enough, this competes with FK's mount/pet system and its pricing. A human zombie is rated as 2 HD and 1/2 CR. Boom. Ten platinum. But you can get a second one. For 20 plat you get two NPCs with 2 claw attacks rated at 1d4+1. Discussion on health is a bit redundant because everything is 2.5x the average, in my opinion. Unless we're talking about repairing an undead creature, that is, because most, if not all, pets, minions and mounts have the ability to regain health over ticks/time while resting. That option is forfeited when you create an undead. You have to actively devote resources into the undead's 'well being' - ie cause minor/light/moderate/critical if you have that option. Otherwise, you're SOL.

But why even mess with those munchkins? We have 12HD to play with. One 12HD zombie target gives off a 4 CR. We've got an owlbear, ladies and gentlemen. One undead owlbear that has now cost us 60 platinum. Or how about an undead minotaur/polar bear/wyrmling dragon? 60 plat.

So, go ahead and try it. 'That corpse contains too much latent power for you to handle!'. Well, bummer. FK's skill level system must tie into it somehow. So now we have to grind it out over time to be able to utilize what could have been your utility-heavy spell. Or not, because the cost has risen.

Max HD creatures - 20 - figure out to be a challenge rating of 6. Lamias, xill, ettins and the young blue dragon are all in this range.

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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Simossus » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:58 am

Areia wrote:The kir-lanen is another race I've seen put to questionable use with the spell. But ya, like Gwain said, most of the sorts of races that have very high resistances or unique damage capability etc. should maybe be considered.

Off the top of my head (I don't know whether any of these can presently be animated or not): rakshasa, any demon/devil/similar creature for that matter (some do leave corpses), aboleth, weremcreatures...

It's sort of hard to say without testing, but the sorts of races that have abilities like these are the ones that are most abusable I think.
As per the help file on 'animate dead':
Note: Elementals and other such Outsiders should not be animated using
animate dead. As well, Golems should not be animated either, since they have
no soul, and are not capable of being animated. Undead creatures should not
be reanimated.


Any player animating your first set of examples should be reprimanded and informed. Repeat offenders punished more severely. Why do you list aboleths and werecreatures?

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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Gwain » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:05 am

Definitely worth it to remove ilithid then and let those raising undead for group pk and solo levelling (or similar abused mobiles etc.) have to come up with new strategies based on SRD info in my opinion over raising costs of the component. At least for the time being, if the problem persists, then we could always either punish the parties responsible for abuse or raise the cost then.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Simossus » Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:22 am

Gwain wrote:Definitely worth it to remove ilithid then and let those raising undead for group pk and solo levelling (or similar abused mobiles etc.) have to come up with new strategies based on SRD info in my opinion over raising costs of the component. At least for the time being, if the problem persists, then we could always either punish the parties responsible for abuse or raise the cost then.
And I disagree. To the point where your mother may become involved.

Take any creature and animate the corpse. It will be the damn same thing with 5/bludgeoning/slashing reduction.

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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Kinal » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:12 pm

I wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about before responding, so I did my research. What I can't seem to understand is why illithids, or anything similar would need to be removed. Are they powerful animates? Sure. Think about the power level of some of the spells in FK. Think of what some people are capable of, and have access to. Animate Dead is a great way to level the playing field. It's an amazing utility spell that provides increased codewise power, as well as in character flavor. The abilities that illithids have to have multiple attacks, and natural resistances to magic don't make them overpowered - it just makes them illithids. I cannot wrap my head around calling this abuse (even then, the attacks, while multiple are only 1d4-1).

As for raising component costs - sure. Per the spell's description in v3.5 Player's Handbooks:

"Material Component:
You must place a black onyx gem worth at least 25 gp per Hit Die of the undead into the mouth or eye socket of each corpse you intend to animate. The magic of the spell turns these gems into worthless, burned-out shells."

Raising the cost of Black Onyx Gems, and making them good for less uses seems fine. If there was a way that casting the spell on higher HD corpses would take more uses of the gems, that would be fine too. I would hate to see raising Black Onyx Gems to an unsustainable cost - as this would be an affront to those of us that use the spell.

While I may be biased, and I don't mean for this post to step on anyone's toes, but it seems like this wasn't an issue until someone didn't like how powerful it was. It should be noted that there are many people in this game that possess powerful items, spells, stat increases, feats, etc., for a wide variety of reasons. People have different things. Let evils have theirs. They do miss out on a lot.

Want to play around with animate dead? Make a evil, we would love to have you. Until then, my vote is not to change the hardwired code of Animate Dead, and we will continue to be hated, removed from cities, unable to trade efficiently, unable to attend certain events, and participate in less RP in general - such is the trade off of alignments.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Areia » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:02 pm

Simossus wrote: Why do you list aboleths and werecreatures?
Aboleths for their damage (I think it's on par with the illithids), and werecreatures for their rather large DR. Mind, those specific mobs might well not be an issue in practice! I just meant that things like those, things that put out tons of damage or that can take tons of damage, like the illithids, are worth looking into. :)

As far as whether certain races should be exempt from use with this spell at all, I'd add these two points. First, even SRD defines any undead created with animate dead as losing all their special qualities, setting their BAB to 1/2 their HD, lowering (in most cases) their saving throws, and, in the zombie's case, severely limiting their ability to take action each round; I don't believe this is what occurs in FK presently, although I might be mistaken. The undead illithids, kir-lanen, and the like just seem far too powerful for that to be the case. Second, even if FK does handle the spell as SRD defines it, FK has, far as I know, always maintained a strong preference for low-powered minions to avoid solo ubertwinking and to encourage grouping and roleplay with others, with one of the few notable exceptions being paladin mounts which are obtained, if at all, through hundreds if not thousands of quality RP hours on the paladin's part. The way certain races seem to function with this spell appears to go against that tradition, as I've seen in multiple cases.

As a final note for now, I just noticed that SRD requires that the target of animate dead have a skeletal system. I don't have my books with me at the moment... but do illithids even have skeletons? I guess they must have something like that. Always pictured them as fairly squishy jelly things, though. Hm. Anyway, don't mind me.

P.S. Kinal, you finished up writing before I did, so I'd add a brief response to your post specifically if I may. :)
Kinal wrote: While I may be biased, and I don't mean for this post to step on anyone's toes, but it seems like this wasn't an issue until someone didn't like how powerful it was.
I've actually thought this has been an issue ever since a certain necromancer found out what happens when you animate kir-lanen, probably well over a year before now. I just have learned that suggesting changes rarely meets any success (for good reason) and so never bothered. But in my case, it is a sincere concern for abuse (see above). There have been those who use this spell to excellent RP effect without bordering on abuse and powerbuilding, and I wish I could give them their due praises here, but I'd rather not hurt someone's PC by mistake :). So it's not that I, or I think Gwain, wants to see fewer evil necromancers fighting to terrorize and what have you. It's just that some races really are far beyond what most any minion could hope to be.

Even other similar spells--monster summon, for instance--are very limited compared to animate dead, by allowing only one summoned monster at a time and giving an almost certain chance that you'll be attacked by the monster. So from purely a PvE and PvP standpoint, I think animate dead needs... something to balance it.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Kinal » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:16 pm

Areia wrote: I've actually thought this has been an issue ever since a certain necromancer found out what happens when you animate kir-lanen, probably well over a year before now.
*googles what Kir-Lanen is* haha.

I'm all for the balancing of unbalanced spells/skills/abilities. I mean, looking at the past, think of where Blade Barrier was. Where Waves of Exhaustion, Disintegrate, Phantasmal Killer, and Darkbolt were. Those are only to name a few.

I'm still just struggling to find an IC, or OOC reason why illithids are considered to be "unbalanced". Illithids are intrinsically very powerful when alive, it stands to reason that they would possess at least some of the same qualities after death, if animated. The traits that they possess do not seem overpowered, and Animate Dead is limited by the HD cap of animates you can have.

From an RP standpoint, the word "powerbuilding" could be used to some amount of accuracy, but I also struggle to find an IC or OOC reason as to why this is unbalanced. Statistically, if you look at the "who" list, especially recently, you're going to find a dwindling - and already minimal amount of evil PCs. This has led to PVP situations where there is 1 evil PC vs. 5-10 good aligned PCs. From a flavor standpoint, it stands to reason that a high level necromancer, or high level character with access to animate dead, would not only have access to this spell - but exploit it to it's highest degree. Not to be abusive, but rather to ensure survival and victory - a key tenant for the majority of evil PCs. When I try to imagine RP scenarios in the theater of the mind, I could totally see a group of goodies hunting down an evil necromancer - only to be met with a horde of undead. What else would he/she be doing with his time, other than using his/her magical giftedness to ensure defenses, in lack of PC allies, be in place?

As for the animating of a construct, thats just lack of knowledge, and needs to have some form of conversation surrounding it - and potentially reprimands for more experienced players.

However, illithids are sentient, non-undead, non-outsiders, whose body chemistry would allow for magical resistance, and multiple attacks, pre and posthumously.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Vaemar » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:46 pm

Kinal wrote:I cannot wrap my head around calling this abuse.
In fact there is a certain tendency here on the forums to call abuse things that are not abuse at all, in other words things that work as intended. Barring animating those creatures explicitly forbidden in the helpfile animating corpses is using the spell as it is intended, not an abuse.

Sure, it may be overpowered or unbalanced with some races, I don't doubt that, but there is a very important difference between an abuse and an unbalanced mechanic. An abuse is a real exploit and an infranction that deserves to be punished, and hence the exploiter is liable for it, while an unbalanced mechanic is a faulty design, and hence the game is liable for it.

I have the impression that the word "abuse" is thrown out far too often around here to justify otherwise debatable or in general faulty arguments. But this does not really do much to help such arguments, in fact it actually discredits them, since, as just said, abuse and unbalance are two different things, and throwing out the A-word without restraint denounces only a lack of more valid arguments.
Areia wrote:even SRD defines any undead created with animate dead as losing all their special qualities,
The srd states that they lose *most* special qualities, not *all*. That means they may keep *some* qualities, but it is unclear with what criteria they are kept or lost.

Or better, the phrasing allows to balance zombie properties at one's leisure. What can we ask more?
Last edited by Vaemar on Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Gwain » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:57 pm

Talos wrote:The illithids seem like potential abuse, what other races are potentially abused? Raising the levels of these mobiles (making them too powerful to raise) to better match the threat posed by such races seems the easiest solution.
This would probably work best or simply raising the component cost and adding the component to the alchemy board for future production.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Dranso » Wed Jun 21, 2017 6:45 pm

Critical failures could be added instead of taking away certain races from the animate dead list. For instance, if you try and animate a corpse of any power you have the chance to fail out right, be successful, or be successful and have that creature turn on you and attack.

I'm not sure abuse is the correct word to be using in situations involving the animation of powerful creatures. The type of creatures you animate should be strategy. I believe abuse might happen when characters animate an extreme amount of undead in low level areas just for the practice, or for farming as stated in the help file. Raising the cost or rarity of components and adding a failure could help curtail this. Getting the word out about this type of abuse and making well known why and how it is abuse is another way as well.

Edit:
Having characters complete a quest in order to train animate dead would be a good way to inform players about abuse.

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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Talos » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:01 pm

There is a good argument against it not being abuse, but perhaps imbalanced. I'd be more interested in hearing more arguments for why it is imbalanced.
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Re: Raising the cost of components for creating undead

Post by Simossus » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:42 am

Dranso wrote:Critical failures could be added instead of taking away certain races from the animate dead list. For instance, if you try and animate a corpse of any power you have the chance to fail out right, be successful, or be successful and have that creature turn on you and attack.
An interesting take on the spell itself. I especially like the idea in which there is a chance to fail outright. Perhaps this would allow all of the appropriate NPC racefiles be subject to 'animate dead' as opposed to the current system where there is, presumably, an HD ceiling in the code that does not allow for the animated of higher HD creatures. The higher HD creatures would have an appropriately calculated difficulty class - something in the 1-5% or DC 40 region?

The only issue I take is that of the probability that the creature could turn on you. Unless you are in an area or situation where a more powerful creature or PC could take control of the animated corpse, I would argue that there is to be no doubt the animated corpse that you've targeted is under your complete control. You're drawing energy, not quite directly, but that's for a different thread, and filling the corpse's very soul with energy in which you can control - negative energy.
Dranso wrote:I'm not sure abuse is the correct word to be using in situations involving the animation of powerful creatures. The type of creatures you animate should be strategy. I believe abuse might happen when characters animate an extreme amount of undead in low level areas just for the practice, or for farming as stated in the help file. Raising the cost or rarity of components and adding a failure could help curtail this. Getting the word out about this type of abuse and making well known why and how it is abuse is another way as well.

Edit:
Having characters complete a quest in order to train animate dead would be a good way to inform players about abuse.
In full agreement. I've only heard of complaints from my time here on FK in which both ends of the alignment spectrum would seek out a young, usually neutral or evil wizard/cleric for raising a large number of animates and then dismissing them within the questing/grinding area. That, to me, is abuse of the spell. Not utilizing one of the highest utility spells in the FK world - within the posted guidelines.
Talos wrote:There is a good argument against it not being abuse, but perhaps imbalanced. I'd be more interested in hearing more arguments for why it is imbalanced.
In the case of the Illithids, they are a low health, low strength and low AC minion with 4 tentacle attacks that do 1d4 + x damage. SRD has them at 8 STR and neither version of undead increase its STR modifier. That's 1d4+0 with a -1 hit bonus. Like most monsters, they have multiple attacks to balance their low chance of hit and damage. To further balance these creatures, they also possess the extraordinary ability of spell resistance. This makes it irksome, and perhaps even tiresome for casters, but any one melee oriented character can defeat a small cabal of 3 or 4 with ease and relatively little loss of health.

I'm more than willing to OOCly supply different forms of animates to those persons interested in testing it out.

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