Animate Dead needs a lot of improvement, the improvements to combat systems are one side of the equation, such as allowing us to tell our stupid magical animates how to attack to be more effective, or how to spell us up. I classify these as command improvements, and I’m not addressing them today.
Instead I’m going to talk about other improvements that thusfar alchemy has tried to address and failed.
I speak on this as someone who can already do most of what I ask be made available. Making these changes will make my soulstone wand far less valuable. I care not. They need to be done.
1. Animate Healing
Animate Dead is already the most component intensive spell in the game, dwarfing even spells that permanently enhancive items. And far be it a one time use spell, animate dead with it’s duration is an almost per hunt spell. A heavy player would want to cast it multiple times a day. The component load is overbearing.
To add insult to injury, if your animate is wounded, like a horse it must be put down. You also must be very careful in killing the creature, for if it has severed limbs, it’ll make a poor animate. This means a mana intensive killing process, which is a further drain on usefulness.
To add torture to injury, alchemy was supposed to address this, and we’re presented with a ridiculously difficult to make potion requiring 4 deathstones, a somewhat rare teras only drop, and a screaming elf child. This alchemy solution is an abject failure and has inspired a few sorcerers to quit. It is wrong with a capital W for a healing potion to cost more than it would cost just to kill it and get a new one.
To fix this. Have the initial cast of 730 heal wounds based on the value of the gem used. Let it be in direct relation to duration. IF you use a cheaper gem you might heal all the wounds but your duration will stink. If you carefully kill the critter you’ll get a longer duration out of it. I am not seeking to nerf the duration of the spell, god no, it needs to be increased or a method devised to refresh it. The baseline duration for an average wounded animate should be the same before and after this change. Extremely wounded animates would result in a lower duration (more gem mojo used for healing) less wounded animates would result in a longer duration (less/no gem mojo needed for healing).
Secondly, let a second cast of the spell on a creature already animated while holding a gem heal it again in proportion to the gem value, a cheap gem for minor wounds, a nice gem for major wounds. Plus of course 30 mana. If you want you could also have this manuever add to duration like the above, and if you did so you’d have a lot of happy sorcerers. Thus, it is slightly cheaper (no crystals) to heal an animate as it is to make one.
2. Animate Duration
This needs to be redone. Either do as above and let a gem cast both heal and extend the duration, OR allow a second treatment with crystals, AND a gem cast, extend the duration. Because of the myriad limitations placed on AD many hunting areas do not have suitable animates. So a sorcerer wanting to use this spell has to hunt twice, once to get the animate they can use, then another time to do their actual hunting. Not being able to refresh the animate places an undue burden on these sorcerers in regards to mana and hunting time. This method would make a refresh cost as much as an initial cast, minus the time/mana cost to find and kill the animate originally. I find this fair.
3. Alchemy Potions
So, we want to make that alchemy healing potion useless, should we do away with them? No, lets change them.
I propose the lesser potion add 4 BCS levels to your animate. This makes it unique and useful, and not altogether too powerful (we’re talking 12 AS bonus, less than just casting strength on the beast). I think it’d make the cost more realistic in turning it into a special occassion potion rather than a every time potion. You use it only when you really need it, like a ruby amulet. Assuming there is a greater potion I propose letting it add 8 BCS levels to your animate (you could also do 5/10), not to be stacked with the lesser.