Is Corpse Flower the only non-undead that can make an undead creature (excluding spells)?

Is the Corpse Flower the only creature that isn’t the undead-type to be able to make any sort of undead creature?

I mean by means other than the ability to cast spells and one of those spells might be a spell like Animate Dead.

I’m looking for other creature’s abilities, lair actions or diseases or magic items that aren’t simply vectors for spells like a Spell Scroll of Animate Dead.

When creating undead, what abilities are retained?

When an undead is created through the animate dead spell and you apply either a zombie or skeleton template, what exactly is retained?

Both of these templates specify that

Special Attacks: A zombie retains none of the base creature’s special attacks.

Special Qualities: A zombie loses most special qualities of the base creature. It retains any extraordinary special qualities that improve its melee or ranged attacks.

I cant seem to find clear distinctions of what is a special quality. However special attacks seem clear enough. Any ability that provides an alternate to the full attack or standard attack seems to fit this.

Special qualities retained is less clear. Abilities like pounce, grab, and rake seem like they should stick around, however the Skeletal Megaraptor also seems to retain racial skill bonuses, as well as scent. A skeletal owlbear however, does not.

What about poisons? Poisons seem like special qualities that improve a melee or ranged attack. However it doesnt make as much sense for a skeleton to have poison. Zombie maybe. However they are magic, so anything could go.

So is there any clear definition as to what stays after the creature has been undead-ified? I can see arguments for various features, and some examples of certain things like racial skill bonuses. However it still seems uncertain to me and many forums and things I have read seem mixed on what stays and doesnt.

Giving NPC Priests Turn Undead

Last night the party was adventuring in Curse of Strahd.
In the previous session they had acquired the module-specific magic item

and given it to an NPC accompanying them,

In last night’s session the NPC was able to attune to the item, unlocking among its other powers the ability

Bane of the Undead. You can use the icon as a holy symbol while using the Turn Undead or Turn the Unholy feature. If you do so, increase the save DC by 2.

As I understand it, this power can be used only by those who already can Turn Undead. And this particular NPC does not have the Turn the Undead feature. At first I thought this was because he appeared to be a named NPC Acolyte, a 1st level Spellcaster, while PC Clerics don’t get Channel Divinity (Turn the Undead) until second level. So I checked the Priest Stat Block, since another important NPC

uses the Priest Stat Block. I was surprised to find that, as written, the standard Priest NPC does not have the Turn the Undead feature either. Nor does the War Priest NPC in VGtM.

I am, in general, wary of giving NPCs PC abilities, as the game should be focused on the PCs as exceptional individuals. And I don’t think that every NPC Priest needs this ability. However, these particular priests follow the Morninglord (Lathander), a deity who is opposed to undead. And given the setting (Barovia), protecting their congregations from undead is a central part of their ministry. Thus I think it is reasonable to give this particular NPC Priest the ability, as usable by PC Clerics (one use per long or short rest). For the NPC Acolyte, I am considering granting him the ability to Turn Undead by expending a spell slot, as a sort of reverse case of the "Harness Divine Power" found in TCoE.

So, what am I missing? Is granting the ability to NPC Priests and Acolytes to Turn Undead in setting-specific instances unbalanced? Normally unbalanced would mean the new power would justify an increase in their CR but as these are not PC-antagonists here it might mean that the ability will somehow detract from the experience of the players or reduce the challenge to them significantly. Are there any complications I should be aware of? For example something specific to this module that would make this a bad idea. A good answer will provide official examples of other NPCs or monsters who do have this ability, either in standard Stat Blocks or module-specific adjusted ones, if there are any.

Undead Anatomy 4 question

I was working on something with the Undead Anatomy spell and the 4th version has me a little confused. It lists some ability score changes listed as size for tiny and large undead, but those sizes are already covered under UA2. I believe these modifiers are only supposed to be for incorporeal forms, but does not specifically say so. But then why isnt there new ones for small and medium?

So if you used UA4 to change into a corporeal tiny/large undead, would you use the modifiers listed under UA2 or UA4?

Are there any undead that look like the living

Okay rules

  • No disguise skill
  • Shapeshifters are allowed as long as they fit the rest of the requirements.
  • Stuff they get from classes or other external sources doesn’t count it has to be an ability that every monster of that type has.
  • it’s okay if the appearance is only skin deep
  • anything that you can find on the srd, archives of nethys, or similar sites is okay including 3pp.
  • templates are cool too

So the question is are there any undead that appear to be alive even if it’s only visually.

How can I have low-level 5e necromancer NPCs controlling many, many undead in this converted adventure?

I require as close to a RAW answer as possible for ~Level 5 Wizard(s) to control ~100 skeletons and zombies.

Context: I’m adapting a few classics for older editions to D&D 5e, and running into issues for which I need RAW solutions. I could just hand wave it away but my own DM does that sort of thing and I am very much a proponent of what I call the Goose and Gander argument for players and NPCs: essentially, (with a few exceptions) if the bad guy can do it then so can the players, given enough time and resources. So handwaving the NPCs’ abilities doesn’t work for my campaign.

The AD&D 2e adventure Return to the Keep on the Borderlands has a Necromancer and several large groups of skeletons and zombies, but there is no possible way that the denizens of the temple could maintain control of so many for what they are utilized.

All told there seems to be ~100 skeletons and zombies that are described as being controlled, i.e. they have tasks they are performing when encountered. The module only describes a single caster that would be capable of casting Animate Dead and it is a 5th Level Wizard (Necromancer) there are a handful of lvl 3 Clerics in there as well. This technically would not have worked even in 2nd edition RAW since Animate Dead was 5th level for Wizards. I would however like to have at least a modicum of a better explanation than “Well, that’s what was written in the module.”

Therefore, is there something out of all the books that I am missing that could justify a small, essentially low level temple having so many controlled undead?

Immediate thoughts would be replacing some of them with constructs. Given the nature of the temple Scarecrows are the obvious choice and would be controlled indefinitely. I did see some ideas about converting the Bone Golem from previous editions — the problem with that is it changes the focus from Necromancy to Conjuration (as Scarecrows are bound spirits), which is not really desirable nor as interesting a threat to the good NPC side.

I also thought of scrolls but they are limited and would need to be replenished somehow from a higher level wizard that can make them. This option would require many scrolls, possibly dozens, per day if the existing casters capable of scribing them were to be the ones creating them.

I don’t see a way of doing this without a custom magic item, something akin to the 3.0 whistle from Sunless Citadel.

If undead exist, why do cemeteries exist & cremation not a standard?

I have less fingers than the nr of cemeteries I cleared in campaigns of various scenarios and game mechanics. I find time and time again cemeteries crawling with undead. Either graves or crypts.

I understand the exotic/horror nature of a cemetery but if it happens once, twice, a million times, surely some peasants can get the hint and burn their dead?

A friend said that improper burial through fire angers the god who wants xyz ritual, that some undead are ghosts & other incorporeal undead BECAUSE they can’t find their body so they throw a major ragequit.

Surely there must be a better reason.

What happens to a corporeal undead creature when it is destroyed?

An undead creature is:

Not at risk of death from massive damage, but when reduced to 0 hit points or less, it is immediately destroyed.

What does "destroyed" mean exactly here? Do they just become an inanimate corpse? Do they turn to dust?

My players will soon encounter a curst, a type of undead that, after reaching 0hp, instead of being destroyed it becomes paralyzed until it regenerates later. Since my players could fail the Knowledge (religion) check to identify the creature, I’m wondering if they could realize something is amiss when the curst drops paralyzed (because he isn’t being "destroyed" like normal undead).

I’m specifically looking for something official, not advice on how to house-rule it.

What are all the spells that target undead? Or in a case does anyone know a site that can filter that

I’ve looked at the new gothic lineages and I wanted to personally look at the pros and cons of being dual as a Humanoid and an Undead/Construct or etc… and wanted to weigh out if it was worth the being an undead and being unaffected by poison and such, but vulnerable to turn undead and other targeting spells that focus on undead.