Though normally mindless, skeletons and zombies animated through spells such as animate dead or the reanimation sphere magic can be used as the new bodies for dead creatures thanks to the summon spirit power, allowing for a strait-forward route for characters to become undead (whether desired or not). Characters lose a number of class levels equal to the CR of the undead they are being placed into (so a 3rd level character gaining a CR 1 body loses 1 character level). If the character's new CR exceeds their level even after removing all of their class levels, the character gains the nonheroic condition until their character level equals or exceeds their body's CR. Because most common skeletons and zombies are less than CR 1 these bodies rarely result in level loss for the character unless the skeleton or zombie is unusually strong.


Placing an existing soul into an undead body is a very strange process compared to simply applying a template (as with things like vampires) or creating a new creature (as in the case of ghouls or mummies). Often the body they are entering has little to nothing to do with their original body and may not have even been the same sort of creature (such as a halfling soul being placed in a hydra zombie), but the soul retains non-physical attributes of their original selves, which can be tricky to understand.

Hit Dice: When a soul is placed into the reanimated body, they assume the hit dice of the body, plus the hit dice gained by any retained class levels (if any). This may result in a character having more hit dice than their character level might normally allow. For example, common humanoid skeletons have 1 hit die, and common humanoid zombies have 2 hit dice. If a 4th level Barbarian's soul was placed in a 2HD zombie, the resulting character would have 4d12 hit dice from their barbarian levels

Effects of Sentience: Non-mindless undead (such as those now possessing an implanted soul) regain their ability to naturally heal and lose the mindless subtype (allowing them to once again be affected by mind-influencing effects).

Physical Attributes: All Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Natural Armor, Natural Attacks, Speeds (land, burrow, fly, swim), Energy Resistance, Energy Immunity, resistances to Diseases, Poisons, Bleeding, Senses (low-light vision, darkvision, blindsight, blindsense, see in darkness, tremorsense, scent, etc), and Damage Reduction are replaced by the new body's statistics or simply lost if the new body does not have them.

Any of these things gained or improved through class levels (such as a sorcerer's bloodline claws), feats (such as fleet), spheres (such as the duelist's sphere's bleed resistance), or magical abilities (including supernatural or spell-like abilities) continue to function as normal.

Mental Attributes: All Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, Skill Ranks, Feats, Class Features, Magical abilities (such as spell-like or supernatural) are retained when gaining the new undead body. This includes racial modifiers to skills keyed off of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma (not counting any abilities or traits that allow you to use a different ability modifier).

Miscellaneous: Feats or abilities that require or modify something lost when gaining the new undead body can be retrained and simply become inactive until they have been retrained. And example of this might be the Hover feat which requires the owner be able to fly, after their soul was placed inside a body with no means of flight (though if they gained a new means of flight, such as with a fly spell, the feat would become active again as long as they had it).

Inherent modifiers (including those to physical ability scores) gained in the campaign for advancing in class level are also retained. However the inherent modifiers are based on your class level, so if you lose too many class levels from being placed into a particularly powerful undead body they may be lost as a result (in this campaign, a 6th level character has a +2 inherent modifier to all ability scores, but if their new undead body was CR 1, they would drop to only a +1 inherent modifier, and if the body was CR 5 or more they would lose their inherent modifiers completely).

Flesh Crafting

One of the stranger aspects of necromancy that its practitioners find attractive is the ability to manipulate bodies in preparation for reanimation in ways to suit their needs and desires. Spells like sculpt corpse, the death sphere's corpse manipulation talent, or the Twisted Reanimation feat can allow a wide variety of changes to a corpse or resulting ndead, including some control over the corpse's appearance, size, apparent type, or even their abilities. This is a particularly popular practice among necromancers who meticulously sculpt and experiment with different bodies. Some have even been known to offer these services to those desperate enough to seek their aid to alter their own bodies at the cost of their mortality.

Flesh crafting is usually used to restore bodies for reanimation, removing any obvious wounds or decay, so that the newly reanimated minion is more aesthetically pleasing and in possession of all their pieces (a zombie missing its head or limbs is not a very useful zombie). However, such practices are often used to create serviceable bodies out of common creatures. A resourceful necromancer can collect the bones of a common farm animal such as a small goat (such as one that has been butchered) and use methods like sculpt corpse or corpse manipulation to make the body whole again, or change it into a medium-sized humanoid corpse ready to be animated to sweep the necromancer's chimney. Using magic such as corpse forge a skilled necromancer can create incredible horrors or bodies of beauty from seemingly any scraps on hand.

Overview of Corpse Manipulation
When using abilities like sculpt corpse or corpse manipulation, it is possible to alter the size and apparent type of the corpse in question. This begs the question as to what sort of an effect this has on the resulting animated undead. Use the following rules to determine what the new body's statistics would be when animating it.

Size Adjustment: When increasing the corpse's size, you may increases its Strength by +2 but reduces its Dexterity by -2. When reducing its size, you may increase its Dexterity by +2 but reduces its Strength by -2. An ability score that would be reduced to 0 or less instead becomes 1. Alternatively you may leave the creature's base ability scores alone.

Shape Adjustment: Changing the corpse's shape is handled similar to a polymorph effect, except the altered shape has no effect on the creature's ability scores and grants no special abilities that the corpse didn't already have. It can otherwise add or remove movement forms and natural attacks appropriate to the corpse's size as described in the spells alter self and beast shape spells (for example, a horse corpse could be manipulated to have wings like a pegasus gaining a movement movement speed as per a beast shape II spell).

Appearance: Corpses can be manipulated to appear different or even look more alive. As per the corpse manipulation ability, a corpse made to look like a specific creature or person, though people examining the corpse are entitled to a will save to detect the ruse. However, when reanimated and used for a body, the new creature gains a +10 circumstance bonus on Disguise checks to appear as a normal (or specific) individual of the corpse's new type as appropriate. This circumstance bonus does not stack with the bonus to Disguise checks granted by polymorph effects, disguise self, or similar effects.

Adjusting the body's size, gender, or apparent type eliminates the associated penalties to Disguise checks, though you still suffer the -2 penalty for disguising yourself as a different race if trying to pass for a living member of your new apparent race. For example, if a necromancer used corpse manipulation to createa medium sized male human corpse out of a small sized female halfling's corpse, the resulting creature would not suffer penalties for size, gender, or race when passing as a medium sized male undead human. They still suffer a -2 penalty for passing as a living human however.

Twisted Reanimation: Using the Twisted Reanimation feat, some corpse crafters create truly exotic and wondrous undead creations as part of their experiments. Their creations are often as incredible as they are macabre.

Starting as an Undead Character

The standard skeleton and zombie templates can be used to create undead suitable for use as bodies for souls, as well as their variants such as bloody skeletons and fast zombies. It is possible to create an undead character as early as during character creation through spellcasting services and providing a suitable body, though it is an expensive process that is beyond the means of most characters (at minimum it requires 500 gp, though usually more). However, a character who selects the Extra Traits feat to gain character traits (and subsequently selects the Rich Parents trait) could potentially begin the game with a reanimated body, then retraining the feat at a later date.

Costs of Reanimation
The cost to have a suitable body prepared, reanimated, and your soul placed inside varies slightly depending on the body in question. More powerful bodies require more investment, and due to the cost involved most first level characters will be unable to afford particularly advanced bodies, but at the cost of most of their starting wealth have access to a number of powerful forms. Unless noted otherwise, the hit dice of the reanimated undead are retained when the soul enters the undead body.

Basic Costs
Summon spirit magic costs 250 gp for the spellcasting services. The cost for reanimation varies but requires at least 360 gp to create a permanent undead body. This sets the minimum cost to be reanimated to 610 gp. Corpse manipulation is an additional 40 gp, and is a popular process to undergo before reanimation, and is often mandatory to produce a usable body if the spirit's original body was lost or destroyed (typically using the corpse of an animal to provide the raw materials for the new body).

Standard Bodies: For the typical cost of permanent reanimation, you can have a typical skeleton or zombie created with up to 12 HD. However, the challenge rating of the produced undead is applied as a level penalty to the character being raised in this fashion (so a 6th level bard being reanimated as a CR 3 skeleton would return as a CR 3 skeleton with 3 levels of bard). Because most characters would prefer having their character levels remain intact, most prefer to have an undead body with a CR of less than 1 (which rounds down to 0), such as a 1 HD skeleton or a 2 HD zombie.

However, some may decide that it is in fact the might of a powerful undead body that they desire. In this case the level adjustment may even remove all of their class levels and may place them at a higher challenge rating than their character level. If this happens, the character suffers a -2 penalty to attacks, saving throws, skill checks, and saving throw DCs for all their abilities for every CR they are above their character level (for example, a 1st level character reanimated into a CR 3 undead body would incur a -4 penalty, reducing it to a -2 penalty at 2nd level, a -0 penalty at 3rd level, and could take their 1st level in a character class at 4th level).

Advanced Bodies: Variant undead such as bloody skeletons, burning skeletons, fast zombies, or plague zombies can be created for use as bodies. These increase the cost of the reanimation by +130 gp, and you can only animate undead up to 6 HD instead of 12. However, some consider the special powers that these variants have to be well worth the cost. These variant undead are always considered +1 CR above their regular versions and as such always result in the loss of at least 1 class level).

Empowerment: When reanimating the body, a +4 or +6 enhancement bonus can be added to the body for an additional fee. For standard bodies, this costs an additional 130 gp (+4) or 280 gp (+6). For advanced bodies, this cost is increased to 150 gp (+4) or 320 gp (+6). Enhancement bonuses do not stack with those gained from magic items or spells such as bull's strength.

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