tl;dr Because of slower recovery mechanics, my Wizard cannot raise or sustain as many undead as a RAW 5E Wizard. What would be a fair alteration to the spell to bring it back inline with the intended effectiveness.
Background: I’m a player in a custom DarkSun campaign converted to 5E where we have a bit more focus on some of the grittier mechanics and realism (resource mgmt and player vs. environment). One of the changes is that the recovery mechanics were changed to 24 hours for a short rest and 1 week for a long rest. We’re not doing back-to-back dungeons so it fits our play-style fine.
My character is a Lvl 5 Wizard, wannabe necromancer. It’s become apparent that RAW, my character may not be able to fully leverage the Animate Dead spell. At lvl 5 the character has two lvl 3 spell slots but can only recover one lvl 3 spell per day/short rest (gets weird since Arcane Recovery is once per day/once per short rest but they’re the same now.. anyhow).
The Problem: My contention is that a normal 5E Wizard could potentially summon and maintain up to 4 undead. It’d take a few short/long rests to get to the max but once there it’d be easy to sustain and even make the occasional replacement. However, with our modified rest mechanics, it’s not possible for me to get above 2, and even then that assumes the DM is generous on the timing (casting time is 10 min each plus 10 for the recast, but do I need precisely 24 hour or is 23.5hr good enough?). I’m not concerned about splitting hairs on that last point, but it helps illustrate the squishy situation.
My DM tends to agree that it seems like my character is slightly powered down by this mechanic but he’s unclear on what kind of modification would be appropriate. Do you have any suggestions?
- Animate Duration – Since our long rest is 21 times longer than RAW and a RAW animated dead would last 3x the length of a long rest, why not let my animations last longer? Downside is that keeping a zombie around for a month isn’t useful in a darksun campaign, or any campaign where you spend healthy amounts of time in civilization (not that DarkSun is all that civilized but pet undead still aren’t welcome)
- Casting time – The 1 minute casting time makes it impractical to use the spell reactively. However, we also don’t tend to have back to back fights in a dungeon crawl either. Perhaps leave everything else the same but allow the spell to be used as an instant cast.
- Ritual – Because of the slower recovery mechanics, I love my rituals. What if this spell was reframed as a ritual cast?
Last thought, in my head I’ve been trying to balance the impact/power of this spell compared to others that impacted less by our rest mechanics. For instance, for the price of two lvl 3 slots I could instead have 16d6 worth of fireball damage across multiple enemies (if it was 3 each that, that’d be 48d6!). But in our last fight my zombie got focused pretty hard (saving us from a healthy chunk of damage) but only successfully delivered three or four blows (so ~4d6 of single target damage). Given the obvious crowd control benefit, a couple zombies/skeletons obviously shouldn’t match the damage potential of a fireball but surely they deserve to do more than this?