Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 10 ft
Components: V, S, M
This spell creates an undead servant. Choose a pile of bones or a corpse of a Medium or Small humanoid within range. Your spell imbues the target with a foul mimicry of life, raising it as an undead creature. The target becomes a skeleton if you chose bones or a zombie if you chose a corpse (the DM has the creature's game statistics).
On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature you made with this spell if the creature is within 60 feet of you (if you control multiple creatures, you can command any or all of them at the same time, issuing the same command to each one). You decide what action the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor. If you issue no commands, the creature only defends itself against hostile creatures. Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete.
The creature is under your control for 24 hours, after which it stops obeying any command you've given it. To maintain control of the creature for another 24 hours, you must cast this spell on the creature again before the current 24-hour period ends. This use of the spell reasserts your control over up to four creatures you have animated with this spell, rather than animating a new one.
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you animate or reassert control over 2 additional undead creatures for each slot level above 3rd. Each of the creatures must come from a different corpse or pile of bones.
a drop of blood, a piece of flesh, and a pinch of bone dust
Verbal Component (Alternative):
Flesh, Blood and bone here lies. Magic infuse, undead now arise. Classes:
Cleric, Wizard, RogueTags:
CreationSource: Player's Handbook [5th Edition] (page 212)
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Below are commonly asked questions about this spell. Some of the information is pulled official D&D sources (such as books and the twitter feeds of D&D officials), but other information is derived from forums and online discussions. As always, it is up to the DM to decide how they wish to spell questions. If you have a FAQ about this spell that you feel other DM's may wish to know, please send us the message!
Can I cast animate dead on the humanoid-shaped corpse of an undead creature (i.e. zombie, ghast)?
No. As stated in the Sage Advice Compendium
Can I cast animate dead on the humanoid-shaped corpse of an undead creature such as a zombie or a ghast? No. Animate dead targets only the corpses of creatures that have the humanoid creature type.
Can you cast Animate Dead on a giant or fey?
The spell specifically states
...a corpse of a Medium or Small humanoid...
Giants and Fey are not classified as "humanoids". Therefore, Animate Dead will not work on either of those creature types.
Example: Eladrin are officially classified as "Fey (elf)". Elf is a tag, not a creature type. As described in the introduction section of the Monster Manual:
The parenthetical tags provide additional categorization for certain creatures. The tags have no rules of their own, but something in the game, such as a magic item, might refer to them.
In game terms, Eladrin are elves that have not yet lost their fey nature. Humanoid elves are elves that have. Therefore Eladrin are Fey, and not humanoids and would not be affected by Animate Dead. Of course, it is always up for the DM to make the final decision if they disagree with any rules.
How long does it take to cast Animate Dead?
Animate Dead takes 1 minute to cast
. It is often mistaken for an action. Therefore, in combat, it would take 10 turns to cast the spell.
Other Planes and Effects
Below is information about this spell as it relates to other planes and area of effects (i.e. underwater). Some of the information is pulled official D&D sources (such as books and the twitter feeds of D&D officials), but other information is derived from forums and online discussions. As always, it is up to the DM to decide how they wish to handle spell effects.
Underwater - Verbal Component
Official rules have been verified by Jeremy Crawford - "No rule prohibits verbal components from working underwater. Keep in mind that if you're talking, you're not holding your breath." Hence, while submerged underwater and holding its breath, a creature can cast a spell that requires a verbal component. After casting the spell, if the creature can't breathe underwater, it immediately runs out of breath. The creature can survive for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round).