Night of the Living Dead

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Night of the Living Dead

This is a relatively short adventure for four level 1 characters, or any party of roughly equivelant strength. This adventure is intended for newer DMs and players or groups who are just starting out. It is a good way to quickly level a party to level 2. For higher level players pile on the undead and/or make them stronger!

Introduction and Hooks

A group of travelers sits together as the only patrons at a rural Inn located between Yatar and Waterdeep. "Ma's Watering Hole" is a waypoint for merchants and travelers and is normally quite crowded in the evenings. This night the adventurers find themselves as the lone group of patrons at the Inn.

The hooks for this adventure involve the adventurers arriving at this Inn to stay the night, the why and how of them arriving is irrelevant, just that they all are together inside.

A Player's Handbook (PHB) and Monster Manual (MM) are required. A Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) is optional but may be helpful.

Important creatures or items will be bolded and any numbered titles refer to a number on their corresponding map below.

Ma's Watering Hole

Ma's Watering Hole is a relatively small Inn made for passing merchants and adventurers on their way to or from Waterdeep. It's run by Ma (NG Commoner with a wisdom of 18), a human woman that looks older than an Elf and acts surlier than a Dwarf. Her son -- who is perhaps adopted, no one really knows -- is an exceeding large Half-Orc named Blarg (NG Berserker, MM P. 344). Blarg is a good natured man who acts as her security, usually by presence alone. He is a simpleton who follows any of Ma's commands and will go berserk if Ma is injured in anyway.

Roleplaying Ma and Blarg

Ma is an 86 year old Human woman who has run this Inn for many years. She has numerous children who have gone far afield or died. The only one who stays with her is Blarg due to his simple nature. She is grumpy but has a good heart, if not slightly tinged with pride for her Inn. Ideal: Enjoying the company of good folk and running the Inn is all I need Bond: Blarg is the boy who didn't leave me and I love him for that. Flaw: My surly demeanor often drives people away, but it's just who I am.

Blarg is a burly half-orc and a simple man who can barely, if ever, speak. He usually just says "Ma" and his own name, "Blarg". He doesn't enjoy violence but plays the Inn's bouncer. If Ma is injured he flies into a rage. Ideal: Blarg? Bond: Blarg. Flaw: Blarg!

The Undead

After the characters make their introductions, and perhaps have some interactions with Ma and/or Blarg, a loud crash and shattering sound will be heard. Blarg will be knocked unconcious for five minutes by something having crashed through the window striking him in the head. Ma will immediately grab a hand crossbow she keeps nearby.

A Crawling Claw (MM P. 44) has attacked him and is currently on the floor nearby. At this point it's clear that there's no reasoning with an undead hand and a fight breaks out with it. After the first turn, no matter whose it is, a Zombie (MM P. 316 or PHB P. 311) will crash through the front door of the Inn and another Zombie will climb in through a different window from the Crawling Claw. The Zombies will target the characters, whichever are closest. Ma will stay as far from everyone as possible and should be made to survive the encounter. They will ignore Blarg entirely.

If players are struggling with the Zombie's "Undead Fortitude", likely due to abnormally good DM rolls, just have the Zombies die and don't worry about that ability. The Zombies contain nothing of value.

After their defeat, Ma will urge the adventurers to find the source of the undead imediately as they cannot be allowed to spread; she will pay them in free lodging for up to a week and two nights of free beer (the beer is incentive enough for most adventurers). Ma will say that she suspects the abandoned Cathedral to the north is the likely source of the undead as she believes she had seen someone living out of it, which is abnormal.

The Inn

Ruins of a Cathedral

1. Main Hall

The characters will make their way to the Cathedral a short distance away and emerge from the woods nearby the ruined front entrance. Any characters who attempt to look for anything out of the ordinary, or ask to look for traps, will be rewarded at this point (regardless of perception rolls) by noting abnormally thick spider webs about ankle height across the main entrance into the cathedral.

Within the Cathedral's main hall resides an Undead Giant Spider (Appendeix A) which is hidden in the blackness above the church pew. If any characters trips on its webs it is alerted to their presence regardless of stealth rolls, Otherwise, With sufficiently high stealth and perception checks (player's perception vs. the spider's stealth roll) the characters may be able to surprise it, but more likely they will be surprised by the hidden spider which will attempt to sneak attack them.

A DC10 Intelligence (Nature) check will allow the characters to discern that this spider is not an ordinary Giant Spider, but an undead one.

There is nothing of particular interest within the main hall as it's mostly ruined and long ago has been ransacked.

There are two rooms in the back of the Cathedral, one is the old priest's lodging, which is a small efficiency, and one is for storage.

2. Storage

The storage room has long ago been looted and all that remains of its past are some rotting barrels. Anyone within the room will notice some recently dried blood on the floor. Directly above it, roughly 20 ft in the air, is a man tied up in spider web. He is moving slightly.

A siccessful DC15 Wisdom (Perception) check will allow a character to see that he is in fact missing a hand. This should be a tip off that it's actually a zombie.

If the characters leave him there, nothing happens. If he is cut down, however that is accomplished, it is apparent that this is a Zombie and it will attack (decide whether this should give it a surprise round or not based on the circumstances at hand). Note that if he fell down then the Zombie will come back to life with 1 HP to account for fall damage.

This zombie has a Silver Ring worth 50 gp and a normal dagger.

3. Priest's Lodging

Within the Priest's Lodging is a bed frame (though no bed), an old worn lamp, and an empty fireplace. On the floor towards the back of the lodging the characters can see a cellar door with a very faint light coming through its edges.

This leads to the Cellar beneath the cathedral and is unlocked. A successful DC10 Wisdom (Perception) check of the room, or a DC10 Intelligence (Investigation) check of the cellar door itself, will note that it is in fact booby trapped in some manner.

If the trap goes unnoticed then any characters opening the door triggers an alarm which rings a bell in the Cellar's Main Room allowing its denizens to prepare for their entrance.

The Cathedral

The Cellar

The main hallway in the cellar has multiple branches, but they have long since collapsed leaving only one path. WIthin the hall are interned bodies along the sides of it. There are numerous skeletons within, but they are not undead nor do they have anything of value.

The tunnel is lit slightly by light coming through the cracks of a large door at the end of it. If the characters have alerted the occupants of the room of their arrival, they will attempt to ambush them at the door.

Otherwise, the characters can approach the door and listen.

Dead End

Within the room the characters can hear two people discussing something at length. A successful DC10 Wisdom (Perception) check will allow a character to ascertain that they are discussing the best way to acquire more experiments for a ring.

Roleplaying The Cultist and Red

These two are in an argument about the best way to procure experiments for the ring, of which Red has learned how to use to resurrect corpses but not yet control. They are uncertain how secluded they need to be, especially after their failure to control the last experiments. If they hear the bell ring they will wait until the characters approach the door and surprise them with an attack otherwise they will be clueless to the approach. They may try to capture characters for further experimentation, or kill them for the same. What they know: Though they are unwilling to divulge how, they have access to necromantic magic items. They received them from a cult leader, named "Two", in the Cult of Orcus which worships The Demon Lord Orcus. The cult does Orcus' and his underlings' bidding in exchange for power.

   The people in the room are a Cultist (MM P. 272 or PHB P. 310) and Red (Appendix A), who is a human woman with flame red hair wearing a bright red cultist's outfit. On Red's hand rests a large black metal ring with an inset purple gem.

Both Red and the Cultist will attack the characters as soon as they are alerted to their arrival or presence. Red will immediatley use her ring to materialize two Skeletons (MM P. 272 or PHB P. 310) to guard her. She will taunt the characters and is overconfident in her ablities and the ring she has. Once defeated, whether killed or subdued/incapacitated (it is good to remind characters they don't have to kill enemies), they may be looted.

The Cultist has a dagger, 40 sp, and a bloodstone (worth 50 gp). Rather than be subdued or captured, he has a poison capsule in one tooth which will kill him. Before dying, he will mutter, "My Lord will return me to unlife".

Red has a Ring of Necromancy (see below) that she can use, to a much greater extent than a character could, for experimentation. She also has a dagger, a potion of healing (heals 2d4+2 HP) and a silver necklace with an inlaid bloodstone (worth 100 gp). Red, if subdued, will yield no information other than she is working for someone who is much more powerful than the characters. No amount of torture or intimidation will result in her divulging her knowledge. She will bide her time and attempt to escape at any opportuen moment. She will be extremely hostile towards the party.

The room itself contains a couple beds, a lot of rubble, some dead people and animals in the corner who are mutilated (likely the result of failed experiments), and a small foot locker. The footlocker contains a Short Sword, 10 gp, and 14 days worth of rations.

Ring of Necromancy

Very Rare (Requires Attunement)

No characters will be able to fully make use of the ring (e.g. create undead). However, once per day a character may, as an action, use the ring to summon a skeletal minion from another plane. It's unclear whose skeleton it is or from what plane it originates.

The skeleton follows all commands of the one who summons it and turns to dust at dawn each day. If it is summoned but given no commands, it will not defend itself and will begin to dance until it dissolves.

The skeleton has -5 on all saving throws and ability checks, 1 HP, 10 AC, a Shortsword with +2 to hit and damage, and a Shortbow with +2 to hit and damage. It also spawns with five arrows. Any items it spawns with dissolve with it.


The immediate threat ended and the origination of the undead located, the characters may return to Ma's Watering Hole if they so choose. The characters should be close to, or at, the XP needed for level 2, so it's advisable to let them gain a level here (assuming four level 1 characters).

Ma will be delighted that they have dealt with the issue and will offer them the agreed upon reward. Blarg, who is now fine, will give each character a hug and be quite thrilled that they are deat with.

Whatever nefarious plans the Cultist's were attempting to enact may still be ongoing, however.

The Cellar

Appendix A: Creatures

Undead Giant Spider

Medium Undead, neutral evil

  • Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 22 (4d8+4)
  • Speed 40ft., Climb 40 ft.

12 (+1) 16 (+3) 13 (+1) 3 (-4) 12 (+1) 4 (-3)

  • Condition Immunities Poisoned
  • Senses passive Perception 13, Blindsight 10ft., Darkvision 120 ft.
  • Languages None
  • Damage Immunities* Poison
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Spider Climb. The spider can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Web Sense. While in contact with a web, the spider knows the exact location of any other creature in contact with the same web.

Web Walker. The spider ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the spider to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5+the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the spider drops to 1 hit point instead.


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage. The target must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw, taking 5 (1d8+1) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.


Medium Human, Neutral Evil

  • Armor Class 13 (leather armor)
  • Hit Points 16 (2d8)
  • Speed 30 ft.

10 (+0) 14 (+2) 10 (+0) 14(+2) 12 (+1) 14 (+2)

  • Senses passive Perception 12
  • Languages Common
  • Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Spellcasting. Red is a 1st-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 12, +4 to hit with spell attacks). Red has following Wizard spells prepared:

• Cantrips (at will): Acid Splash, Chill Touch, Mage Hand • 1st level (3 slots): False Life, Witch Bolt, Ray of Sickness


Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit 4 (1d4 + 2)


Appendix B: Maps

All Maps Can Also Be Found Here




1: The Main Hall is the larger room in the middle.

2: The Storage Room is the small right side room.

3: The Priest's Lodging is the left side room. The Cellar door is the wooden door in the center.





This adventure was written in The Homebrewery. It's a great tool for any DMs wanting to make their homebrew look cool. You can see my public homebrews here.

UPDATE: Homebrewery may be going out of service, if so this will be updated to GM Binder

For balancing purposes I highly recommend Kobold Fight Club, which really helped me get a feel for what players could take.

The maps were made by me in Dungeon Painter Studio

Thanks to Aeron Drake for the help with formatting

Image credits:

Crawling Claw: D&D Beyond Webstie by Wizards of the Coast. Artist Unkown.

Cathedral: Xavier Coelho from polycount

Ring of Necromancy: Black Gold Filled Winged Skull Ring with Purple Cubicic Zirconia on Rebels Market

Red: Jason Manley on

Undead Giant Spider: TyphonArt on DeviantArt


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