18 July 2020

Necromancers Tower - Free D&D 5e Adventure

Three weeks! I'm actually so happy that I've gotten around to my third adventure so soon. This week is a higher level adventure than my last two (aimed at players levelled 8-10), and the first to contain Lair Actions. After this, I'll be taking a break from combat themed adventures for a week or two, and put my focus to creating some mystery adventures, for players of any level to take part in, and hopefully guaranteed to bring an interesting element to your game table.

Without any further ado, here we go again!

Necromancers Tower

In this adventure, you will take your players on a dangerous journey, into the lair of a powerful necromancer, where they will face against elemental beings, undead, and even the mad wizard himself, in a desperate bid to stop him from raising a dragon from the dead into his service. This adventure is designed for a higher level party, for players levelled 8-10, and should drain them of both their strength, and a good amount of their health, in the lead up to the final confrontation. The main thing to try and do, is to keep the pressure up. Make sure the party know that, should they take a rest, they might be too late to stop whatever the necromancer has planned.

Build Up

To lead up to this adventure, begin spreading rumours in the town/city the party is currently in, about the wizard who has recently moved into the old tower on the outskirts of the city. Have a few different NPC’s talk about him, some saying that he seemed polite and well read, others that he gave off a weird aura/gave them weird ‘vibes’. 

The session before introducing the quest itself, have the rumours turn darker, and let the players know that a lot of plant and animal life surrounding the tower has begun to die. Plants are withering for a mile around, birds won’t fly above it anymore, and a lot of small rodents have been found dead.

Depending on what type of campaign you are running, and whether or not the party is known to the local authority (Duke, King, Mayor, etc.), will decide how they are approached about the job. If the party is known by them, have them brought in for a private audience with the local ruler themself. If they are new to the area/on the run, they can find the job posting in either a local guild hall, be contacted by a high ranking member of an organisation they are involved with, or find the poster on a local jobs board.

The “Quest”

Whoever it is that the party is reporting to (from henceforth to be referred to as “The Quest Giver”), will inform them that new information has come up regarding the “New Occupant” of the old tower. He is a necromancer, who was thrown out of whatever mages guild you operate in your world, for unethical practices, and for disturbing avenues of research. The New information also states that the Necromancer in the tower is wanted for murder, and unethical use of dead bodies.

The bounty on his head is currently 1,000 gold, brought in dead or alive, and they have received word that he is working on a ritual of unknown effect, that they need to put a stop to. It is estimated that the ritual should take until sunset, and that the players will need to hurry (make sure they get there with just over an hour to spare).

If the players ask, they will learn that he is known to have a number of undead in his service, including a particularly nasty Beholder Zombie he keeps as a servant/guard dog. 

The Tower

The tower itself stands dark against the dead landscape. It rises nearly 70 feet above the ground, and has few windows. The area for a mile around it has become dry, and dead, with little to no plant life growing in the area, and no animals living nearby. 

A1 - Outside the Tower

As the party approaches the tower, the first thing they will notice are the two large gargoyles (basic rules - p129), one either side of the entrance. As soon as the party gets within 25 feet of the tower, 2d3+2 Earth Motes (see statblock below) will spring out of the earth in front of them to attack. As soon as the Earth Motes appear, the Gargoyles will stretch their wings and begin to attack as well.

The Earth Motes will attack by burrowing underneath the party, bursting out to attack, and then burrowing back underneath the ground. The only chance players will get to hit them will likely be when they are above the ground, about to re-burrow, as an attack of opportunity. The gargoyles will keep them busy from above (if you want to give your party a really tough encounter, give the gargoyles the Flyby trait, allowing them to fly out of reach without invoking opportunity attacks).

Both the Gargoyles and the Earth Motes will do everything in their power to stop the party from entering the tower, and will guard the entrance with their lives. If a creature attempts to enter the door, that creature will become the main target for attacks from all enemies.

After the party defeats all enemies, they can enter safely, finding their way into A2.

A2 - Ground Floor

As the players enter the room, describe the layout. To the east side of the tower, there is a wooden hatch, leading to a stairway into A5. To the north, they can see a large wooden staircase, leading to A3. To the west, is a large fireplace, with the ash of a long dead fire in the base, there is no residual heat inside.

In the very centre of the room, there is a Glyph of Warding. This can be detected through either a Detect Magic spell, or with a DC 16 intelligence (investigation) check. If triggered by a living creature (other than the Necromancer) moving within 10 ft. of it, this Glyph will explode, dealing 5d8 Thunder damage in a 20 ft. radius (the whole room), with a DC 16 dexterity save to take half. This trap can be bypassed by either moving around the edge of the room, keeping against the wall, or by casting a spell such as Dispel Magic on it.

There are three exits to this room, the hatch to A5, the door to A1 and the stairs to A3. The hatch, if opened, reveals a ladder down into a dimly lit cellar (a perception check of DC 15 or higher will reveal a small amount of rubble visible on the floor). The party will not be able to get down here, as the entire entrance is blocked by an invisible Wall of Force (as described on the spell, this cannot be dispelled, and it cannot be broken or destroyed) casting Detect Magic on it will, however, reveal that it is there, as well as the fact that it is linked to a source upstairs. 

A3 - First Floor

From first glances, this room only has one exit, the stairway down to A2. The room itself is relatively tidy, with a table to the eastern edge containing bottles of unknown chemicals, and alchemy supplies, a table to the north west containing a book, quill and a stack of scrolls (none of them spells, all containing diagrams of human/humanoid anatomy), and a number of bookshelves filled with books on ancient animals (Dragons, etc.), necromancy and rituals.

In the centre of the room, on the floor, there is a magic circle drawn in blood. An intelligence (arcana) check (DC 15) will reveal to the players that it is a required component in raising certain types of undead, and binding them to certain tasks. In this room, the party can find a single rare magical item (minor or major tier), that may be of use to one or more of them.

In the south of this room, there is a glass orb. The glass is completely clear, but filled with a red, swirling liquid, that seems to move about inside without any external stimulus. This is actually the only entrance/exit to A4. The players can use this orb to teleport themselves into the upstairs room, but to do so requires a blood sacrifice. A creature must place an open wound (usually by cutting their palm with a knife) against the orb, and they will be automatically teleported to its counterpart in the upstairs room. Doing so drains the creature’s energy/health by 7 (2d4 + 2), and reducing their constitution score by a total of 1. They cannot regain this health through healing, until they complete a short or long rest, whilst their constitution score will not be restored until they complete a long rest.. On the same podium as the Orb, the party will also find an ornamental dagger (worth 50 gp), which an investigation check (DC 16) will reveal traces of dried blood on.

After a creature has used one of these orbs to teleport, they cannot use either one for 2d2+2 minutes.

A4 - Second Floor

As soon as the party arrives in this room, the first thing they will notice is the darkness. There are no windows in this room, and no natural source of light, except for the orb they used to get in, and a faint glow from a crystal to the north of the room. The entire room is considered to be in dim light. There are 2d2+4 Shadows (basic rules - p344) hiding in the shade in this room, which a perception check of DC 21 will reveal (“You see some of the shadows moving”). As well as these, there are also 2 Ghosts (basic rules - p129) flying about, around the edges of the room, near the ceiling. None of these will attack unless a creature touches the crystal on the podium to the north side of the room.

If detect magic is cast (or is still active) the crystal to the north will give off an aura of evocation magic, and the caster will be able to tell that it is causing the Wall of Force that is blocking entry to the basement. The only way to stop this is to either cast Dispel Magic on the crystal, or to destroy it entirely (which will be revealed to the players with a DC 14 intelligence (arcana) check, or if they spend 2 minutes looking at the bookshelves in this room, finding a book describing the process). To destroy the crystal, a player can either throw it against a solid surface, or crush it in their hand (with a strength check, DC 15).

As soon as a player lays hands on the crystal (or casts any spell on it) all of the undead creatures in the room will become hostile, and attack anything living in their range. The players may try to escape the room, but unless 2d2+2 minutes (as described above in the A3 - First Floor section) have passed, they will be unable to teleport using the orb.

After the time has passed, the party can make their way back down the tower, sacrificing another 7 (2d4+2) health, and another point of constitution.

A5 - The Cellar

After the party has disabled the Wall of Force they will be able to enter the cellar. Once the party heads down, they will find themselves in another circular room, with no visible exits, other than the ladder back up to A2. A quick check (no roll needed) will reveal a lot of rubble around the bookshelf to the north of the room, as well as the faint sound of chanting coming from behind it. 

There are a few ways to get past this bookshelf. The first is to destroy it with sheer force. It has an AC of 12, 8 hit points, is vulnerable to bludgeoning and fire damage, and immune to poison and psychic damage. If the players look at the books on the shelf, they will find a number of different titles; “the secret passage”, “Hidden Doors”, “How to hide a lair”, and “The Switch”. None of these are actually a secret lever or anything, but should give your players a laugh to try them. If a player asks to read “Hidden Doors”, they will discover that the recommended method is to actually conceal the handle on either the top or bottom of the secret panel (the players will find a secret button on the top with an intelligence (investigation) check, DC 15 (at advantage if they have read the book)). The final option is to force the door open, requiring a strength check (DC 15) to pull it open. If the player wants to try pushing, let them, it’ll be funny when they realise it’s a pull.

There are a number of barrels and crates in this room, that the players may also choose to investigate. If they choose to, please refer to the Crate Loot table below.

The passageway behind the bookshelf leads the party to C1 where the pathway forks.

C1 - Cave Fork

When the players enter the cave behind the cellar, they will find themselves almost immediately at a fork in the path. To the eastern path, they will be able to clearly see the necromancer, along with his Beholder Zombie (monster manual - p316) servant. Whilst to the west, they players can make out a faint blue glow, illuminating some stone caskets.

The route to the east is initially blocked off by another wall of force, being powered by another crystal in room C2. If the players look down this corridor however, they will see that the necromancer is leaning over a large pit dug into the cave floor, chanting and channelling his magic into something at the base of it. An intelligence (arcana) check, DC 12, will reveal that he has nearly completed his ritual, and that he will only need about 5-10 minutes to finish. Behind him, keeping watch, is a Beholder Zombie, staring into the passage in which the players are standing.

To the west, the cave branches out into a large room, in which the party will be able to see a number of stone caskets lined up against the walls, illuminated by a faint blue glow (that is very similar to the glow given off by the crystal from upstairs). This is room C2.

C2 - Ghoul Den

When the players first enter this room, the first thing they will notice is the stench of death and decay emanating from the caskets. These caskets will remain still and closed, until a living creature gets within 10 ft. of the crystal in the east of this room, at which point the Ghasts (basic rules - p311) and Ghouls (basic rules - p130) will emerge.

In the caskets, there are a total of 2 Ghasts and 2d2+1 Ghouls, which will be hostile to anything living within their range, except for the necromancer.

The crystal in this room is the source of the Wall of Force blocking entrance to C3, and destroying it as discussed above will end the spell as before. If any Ghouls or Ghasts are still mobile when the players leave, they will follow them out, and join in the fight in C3.

C3 - Dig Site (Necromancer's Lair)

When the party finally makes it into C3, the Necromancer will be very nearly complete with his ritual to revive the dragon skeleton. They will, inevitably, interrupt the process, causing him to curse them for ruining hours of concentration. As soon as his focus is lost on the dragon skeleton, the energy from his ritual will seep into the atmosphere of the room, which the party will feel as a sudden drop in temperature, and a chill down their spines.

He will order his Beholder Zombie (monster manual - p316) to attack the party, whilst he keeps his distance, fighting with spells. Every turn, on initiative count 20, the Necromancer will shape the wild necromantic energy in the room to create a Lair Action (as detailed below).

Lair Actions

On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the Necromancer takes a lair action, shaping the wild necromantic energy in the room to cause one of the following effects; the Necromancer can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:

  • Necromantic energy in the room nullifies a certain amount of healing until next turn, taking away 2d6 from every healing spell cast until initiative 20 next round.

  • Wild necromantic energy revives two CR ½ (or lower)* undead, which appear in a space chosen by the DM - they are under the control of the Necromancer.

  • Remnants of necromantic energy in the room bolster all undead in the area, each undead gains 2d6 temporary hit points.

*CR ½ or lower undead include: Zombie (basic rules - p161), Skeleton (basic rules - p152), Shadow (basic rules - p344), Warhorse Skeleton (basic rules - p346). This is just a simplified list, please use your imagination when picking what undead to summon.

If you are feeling generous, maybe give the Necromancer a pouch of gold or gems, or possibly a cool magic item, as an extra reward for the players.


The party, finally finished with the Necromancer and his minions, will be free to head back to the quest giver, and claim their reward. When the players tell (if the players tell) them about the dragon skeleton, the quest giver will seem very interested, and call an aide over for a private chat. If the players want to listen in, a wisdom (perception) check of DC 14 or higher will let them hear them requesting the bones be brought in for study. Will they attempt to bring the creature back? Do they want to protect the world from anyone else attempting to raise it? Is dragonbone a required ingredient in some awful ritual they want to undertake? I’ll leave it to you, and let you use it in whatever way you want to in the future of your campaign.

Crate Loot Table (Hey. I didn't say it was good loot)

Earth Mote - Statblock

Necromancer - Statblock

Map - With Grid
Map - No Grid


  1. Is there a scale to go with the map with the grid?

    1. As with most of my maps, 1 Square = 5ft. This map was designed to limit the abilities and movement of higher level parties, as I find it forces them to think more creatively about their actions.