For an upcoming Pathfinder game, I needed a special kind of undead. Something not unlike a Lich, but without all the special doodads that go along with that. I also didn’t want the creature to be a spellcaster. What I did want was something like an intelligent Zombie without too many of the drawbacks of decomposition. The following homebrew spell and template are what worked for me.
Spell: Create Corpse Servant
School Necromancy[evil]; Level Sor/Wiz 7, Cleric 6
Casting Time 1 minute
Components V, S, M (Onyx gems worth 10,000gp)
Target Dead creature touched
Duration See text
Saving Throw none, see text; Spell Resistance yes (harmless)
This spell creates an undead with the Corpse Servant template (detailed below.) The body which is used can not have been dead for longer than 1 day per caster level. In addition, the subject’s soul must be offered something which will cause them to willingly return from death. Common reasons are revenge, or to save a loved one. Most often, a Speak With Dead spell is required to reach this agreement. If the subject’s soul is not willing to return, the spell does not work; therefore, a subject that agrees to return receives no saving throw.
Coming back from the dead is an ordeal. Coming halfway back from the dead is less so. However, the subject of the spell gains one permanent negative level when it gains the Corpse Servant template in this manner, just as if it had been hit by an energy-draining creature. If this negative level would reduce the creature’s level to 0, the Corpse Servant cannot be created.
Upon completion of the spell, the Corpse Servant is created and is immediately with full hit points, vigor, and health. If the creature had any prepared spells, these spells are not lost by gaining the Corpse Servant template in this manner.
Constructs, elementals, outsiders, an creatures with an Intelligence score lower than 3 cannot be used to create Corpse Servants.
Template: Corpse Servant
Corpse Servant is an acquired template which can be added to any creature (referred to hereafter as the base creature) who has died, and willingly entered into a Corpse Servant Contract via the “Create Corpse Servant” spell. A Corpse Servant retains all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Alignment: Cannot be good.
Type: The creature’s type changes to undead. Do not recalculate BAB, saves, or skill ranks. (See page 309 of the Pathfinder Bestiary for more information on the Undead type.)
Senses: A Corpse Servant gains darkvision 60ft
Hit Dice: Change all of the creature’s racial Hit Dice to D8s. All Hit Dice derived from class levels remain unchanged. As undead, Corpse Servants use their Charisma modifiers to determine bonus hit points (Instead of Constitution).
Service and Agreement: Corpse Servants agree to obey their creators, in exchange for some boon agreed upon before the Corpse Servant is created. This boon can be anything which the base creature desires. However, a creature which has passed on will have little care for material goods. Some possible boons include:
-Revenge against the one who caused the base creature’s death, or the death of a loved one.
-Protection for a loved one about to face imminent danger.
-The opportunity to complete a personally important quest.
-An escape from an unpleasant afterlife, such as the Abyss, or the Nine Hells.
-In the case of devoted followers, simply the opportunity to continue serving the caster.
In exchange, a Corpse Servant must follow any orders given by the caster who brought them back from beyond the grave. Any attempt to disobey these orders requires an opposed Charisma check between the caster and the Corpse Servant. The corpse servant suffers a -10 penalty on this check. If the check succeeds, the Corpse Servant takes damage equal to the Caster’s Charisma check result, but may act freely for 24 hours. After that time, another opposed Charisma check is automatically initiated, regardless of distance between the two characters. If the Corpse Servant succeeds, he again takes damage and gains 24 hours of freedom. If he fails, he travels to the Caster’s location, even if he does not know where that is.
If the Caster ever attempts to order the Corpse Servant to take action or inaction which appears (to the Corpse Servant) to prevent the fulfillment of the caster’s side of the agreement, the Corpse Servant may make an opposed check to disobey the Caster at a +4 bonus rather than a penalty. The Corpse Servant still takes damage in this case.
If for any reason the Corpse Servant’s boon becomes impossible to deliver upon (such as the loved one who was to be protected dying) the bond between the Caster and the Corpse Servant is severed. The Corpse Servant may, at this point, choose between returning to death, or continuing to exist as a masterless Corpse Servant.