U is for Undead animals

Undead animals - more than flesh and bones


Most of the time, undead are humanoids or mighty monsters. There are only few animals presented as undead or as only the skeleton of their former self. Let’s have a look why necromancers must invest more time on animals and why players should be worried to find an animated dog skeleton, a ghoulish cat or zombified goose.

Necromancers focus more on the animals rather than humanoids. Because that is what a truly evil and smart one would do, at the beginning.

  • Common animals are, well, common to find. Losing one is not an issue as they are so easy to replace.
  • Few people will look for missing duck. Unless they are low level, so worse case that a proper source of still required humanoid victims.
  • Animal have natural instinct that are easier to control and trigger. Their mind is less likely to resist and kickbacks are less damaging. 
  • When increasing in power, the tasks to unload on apprentices to keep them from plotting too much against self. 
Then the next question is what kind of undead to use for a given task.

  • Skeletons are great as workbeast as they can carry more weight is they have less flesh. Using them as cavalry is a typical specialization. Moreover smaller framed animals like rats, bats, cats make very good scrying units.
  • Ghouls are great when speed and ferocity are required. For instance, for guarding a lair or used for weakening enemies. They are good containment units to use while briefing more powerful or intelligent one to do the job. In that context using a base animal with a natural facility in these area is an advantage. A bear protecting a cavern, eagle or vulture protecting the outside of a tower, wild boar patrolling the fields around that same tower, rabbits patrolling pipes and vents of the tower. Lynx or wolf using hit and run tactics. Options are endless so bring a lot of variation.
  • Zombies are resistant but slow. Using a fast animal as base material can surprise your enemies. Zombified cats or dog are nice to have. Same regarding the ducks and goose you can find almost everywhere. Zombies are also good for novice and apprentice or anytime the animal is too strong or powerful. In that situation have a direct control and slow reaction is the best way not to be destroyed.
  • Ethereal are best used with animals used to move in three dimensions, like birds, fishes. A ethereal trout or nightingale is scary and nasty when properly used. Think about all the possibilities with eels or crows! 
So undead animal can be efficiently and creatively used. They offer real challenge and diversity. Check all previous entries for base animal to use.

-JMT

Comments

dot hearn said…
Great post. It was instructive and well-written. I enjoyed reading it. I liked the statement about needing to be more wary of animated animal skeletons.

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