Sunday, May 23, 2010

Animate Dead Quandary

Greetings and salutations from the Not-Always-Sunny-But-Still-Sweltering Washington D.C., my nation's capitol and certainly my second favorite city after Seattle. Mmm...second favorite American city, that is (quite a few cities in Europe that beat the pants off it...also Vancouver B.C. is very nice and Mexico has both ancient sites and excellent cuisine side-by-side...a heady combination, that). But I'm a history fan and Washington certainly has a lot of well as several nice monuments dedicated to inspiring individuals.

But enough gushing...sorry, I've been off-line but it's been busy and I've been trying to get used to the East Coast time (we had to get up at 7am yesterday which, since my bio-rhythm never truly adjusts to stupid Daylight Savings Time, feels like 3am...ugh!). Today, I'm feeling fairly fully recuperated, but I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment, as we make ready to move to our next set of accommodations. So I'll get right to the point.

I am NOT finished with my B/X conversion of N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God, and while all my notes are in place and it should NOT take me more than a couple solid hours to complete, I have hit a snag that is actually having some repercussions for my B/X in, I am tempted to re-write a very small (if important) section.

Here's the issue: ANIMATE DEAD. The spell. In AD&D, it is both a clerical and magic-user spell; cleric at level 3, magic-user at or around level 5.

In B/X, it is NOT a clerical spell, though it is a magic-user spell (at level 5). In its current incarnation, my B/X Companion does NOT have animate dead as a clerical spell (for a variety of reasons that I don't have time to blog about right now, but which I'll get to in a follow-up post, okay?). Now I DON'T have all my various books here, so hopefully some of my readers can answer the following questions for me (I'll explain later). Thanks in advance:

1. Is animate dead a clerical spell in the Little Brown Books? In other words, is it limited to magic-users in OD&D as it is in B/X? (I am NOT talking about the supplement books, just the original Men & Magic). I suspect it IS limited to MUs, but I can't confirm that.

1b. If animate dead appears as a clerical spell in a later supplement, which one? When is the first appearance of "undead raising clerics," in other words?

2. Is animate dead a clerical spell in BECMI (Mentzer's re-do of B/X)? And if so, what level spell is it? Again, I believe I already know the answer, but I'm trying to confirm it.

3. The "zombie masters" in the module X1: The Isle of Dread...were they statted out as magic-users of 9+ level? Because this is the only type of character that has the ability to create zombies (and X1 was originally developed for B/X, not BECMI). If not, what was the justification (if any) within the module for the zombies. Were they created by the village matriarchs?

All right...thank you all in advance for any answers you can provide. Gotta' go make my check-out now!
: )


  1. 2. Yes, it is a clerical spell in Mentzer's Expert set - level 4 (page 7).

  2. The Zombie Masters' stats are left up to the GM aside from this advice:

    "The last important village official and advisor is the Zombie Master (or Zombie Mistress). This advisor will be a cleric or magic-user of at least 5th level, who heads the Cult of the Walking Dead in the village." (X1, blue cover, p7)

    The module also tells us that the "Walking Ancestors" are created through rituals at the Cult ceremonies, which may be different than the standard animate dead spell.

  3. Hi JB, I just checked, and it does not appear in the original LBB's, however in the Greyhawk supplement they have a level 6 spell called animate objects, which states they can animate inanimate objects for the purposes of attack/ could he/she animate a corpse as an object?.....other than that I checked the spells in the pre-AD&D supplements and could not find animate dead for clerics....I'd have to check supp. 4 in more detail b/c I think they have certain spells for worshipping specific deties..not sure.

    Anyway good luck I'm looking forward to your companion book.

  4. I often wondered why Animate Dead wasn't the reverse of Raise Dead...

    Doesn't that make a lot of sense? Kinda like a Raise Undead spell!