Derived undead

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Version 0.23: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

Derived undead refers to any undead monsters that are derived from a base monster. Instead of having set properties, their stats are modified from those of the creature they were in life. There are four kinds of derived undead: zombies, skeletons, simulacra, and spectral things.

While abominations are created from the corpses of dead monsters, their stats are not related to those of the original monsters used in their construction (although they are related to the total HD of corpses used to assemble them).

Common Properties

All derived undead have the same number of HD as their base form, though many of their other stats are different. For example, all derived undead other than spectral things have 2 less speed than their living form, to a minimum of 3. Notably, this means that normal-speed monsters will have undead forms that are slower than the average player. Additionally, all derived undead are reduced to near-mindless automatons; this mostly has the effect of reducing their ability to gang up on their opponents and avoid hazards like traps or dangerous clouds.

Derived undead lose all special attack properties other than constriction and trample and have their attack damage slightly decreased. Each attack's damage is reduced by 20% up to a maximum reduction of 4 per attack. Thus, an undead quicksilver dragon, whose base form's attacks deal 25 and 20 damage, will have a 21 damage attack and a 16 damage attack.

All derived undead also lose all of their original resistances and vulnerabilities in favor of the standard undead resistances and vulnerabilities: immunity to poison, rot, negative energy, drowning, and torment, and vulnerability to holy effects. They also gain cold resistance to differing degrees (see below), and their magic resistance is calculated using only their hit dice. Monsters that had particularly strong magic resistance like death yaks are considerably easier to enchant after reanimation.

A few other properties will also be retained by undead monsters, if their base form had it:

  • The ability to fly, even for skeletons of winged monsters and other things which arguably shouldn't be able to fly.
  • The monster's natural habitat. Kraken zombies are still confined to deep water, but sea snake zombies will not suddenly forget how to swim.

All other properties, including any spells or innate abilities, are lost. Derived undead creatures cannot use stairs, and player-created undead will fall apart after a time.


Zombie human.png The most basic form of derived undead, zombies are almost invariably sturdier than their base monster, but are also slower and clumsier.

  • HP: HDd5 + 6*HD
  • AC: Original - 2
  • EV: Original - 5
  • Speed: Original - 2 (at least 3)
  • Cold resistance: rC++
  • Attack flavour: Plain

Zombies and skeletons cannot normally use items, but they will continue to use any equipment the original monster was wearing, provided such items have not been picked up before the zombie/skeleton is raised. Don't worry about losing out on items -- your undead minions will eventually decay, allowing you to reclaim any interesting weapons or armour.


Skeleton medium humanoid.png Skeletons are similar to zombies, but have worse HP, AC, and EV. The benefit to creating skeletons is that you can eat the flesh of the original monster. Note that some monsters can be made into zombies, but not skeletons (most notably insects, but other examples exist). The reverse is true for a very few enemies (mostly the ghoul-type enemies); these can be raised as skeletons, but never zombies.

  • HP: HDd4 + 5*HD
  • AC: Original - 6
  • EV: Original - 7
  • Speed: Original - 2 (at least 3)
  • Cold resistance: rC++
  • Attack flavour: Plain


Simulacrum small humanoid.png Simulacra are the most fragile derived undead, but those with high HD or multiple attacks (or both) can deal massive cold damage with their attacks.

  • HP: HDd4 + 1*HD
  • AC: Original - 2
  • EV: Original - 5
  • Speed: Original - 2 (at least 3)
  • Cold resistance: rC+++
  • Attack flavour: Cold (does an extra HD to 3*HD - 1 cold damage per attack)
  • Special: Leaves behind a freezing cloud when destroyed

Spectral things

Spectral small humanoid.png Spectral things are the only derived undead to retain their original speed. They have less HP than skeletons and zombies, but make up for this with slightly increased AC and several useful intrinsics.

  • HP: HDd4 + 4*HD
  • AC: Original + 2
  • EV: Original - 5
  • Speed: Original
  • Cold resistance: rC+
  • Attack flavour: Up to two attacks will be given the draining flavour. The rest will be plain.
  • Special: Can fly, regenerate normally, and see invisible, and are completely immune to magical effects.

Spectral things created by the spell Death Channel will eventually fade. Yredelemnul's Enslave Soul invocation, however, will create a special spectral thing for you: this permanent ally will have the same spells and intelligence as the original monster, but you can only have one such enslaved soul at a time.


  • Prior to version 0.19, most derived undead would take damage from their maximum HP, making it more difficult to determine how injured they were.
  • Prior to version 0.17, player-generated zombies and skeletons were permanent, allowing necromancers to leave shambling hordes on previous floors.
  • Prior to version 0.16, derived undead would only use the base monster's genus to identify themselves -- thus, both an orc knight and an orc wizard would make "orc zombies", though both would have different stats.
  • In earlier versions, spectral things were more intelligent than other derived undead and could use stairs.