Tuesday Tweak: The Minds of The Undead

Something that has always bugged me is the enormous power jump most creatures get when they become undead. Sure, some of it makes sense, with new abilities and sinister powers. But what has never made sense is the immunity to all mind-affecting effects.

Tweak: Mindless undead with no Intelligence score are immune to mind-affecting abilities as normal. Intelligent undead lose this immunity.


While it makes sense that you’d be unable to use Charm Monster on a zombie, why is a vampire treated the same way? And before you start thinking “well, undead just aren’t controllable,” don’t forget about clerics and Rebuke. There’s also a spell called “Control Undead,” which is, of course, not mind-affecting.

While this tweak is a very significant power loss for many undead, I don’t believe it is a bad one, because it simply opens up options for the players. Undead still have Will saves. This just allows Enchanters and bards to do their thing in more situations.

Another option would be to do away with the concept of immunity entirely, as a gradient of strengths and weaknesses are always far more interesting for gameplay.

Enjoy slaughtering the already dead!

-Max Porter Zasada


3 responses to “Tuesday Tweak: The Minds of The Undead

  1. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO not a world of warcraft picture!

    Perhaps as another variant, do away with intelligent undead immunity but give them their turn resistance as a bonus against mind affecting spells. Something that technically doesn’t need its brain to function shouldn’t be as easy to control as something that does – but maybe we’re looking to much at real biology in a fantasy game?


    Maybe too much. Your logic is sound, but maybe it’s too game-breaking to let Charm Person work on a zombie. How would that interact with cleric abilities? Or other undead control spells?
    Illusions, though. I’ve never understood why Color Spray won’t work on a zombie.


  3. I should have been more clear. Unintelligent undead are immune to mind affecting abilities. Intelligent undead get their turn resistance as a bonus. So no, charm person still wouldn’t work on a zombie because its 1) not a humanoid, its undead and 2) mindless are immune.

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