Faction Friday: The Necromancer’s Pits

Posted by on April 7, 2017
Magic: The Gathering art by Ryan Alexander Lee

Magic: The Gathering art by Ryan Alexander Lee

The Necromancer can be used either as a friendly faction that sends the PCs out on a mission, or as a foe that the PCs must overcome. Scarloth Vonidar studies necromancy in an old, haunted cave complex. He normally keeps to himself, but now he needs spell components to further his research.

As a friendly faction, Scarloth is a necromancer in name only; he’s a former druid who studies the arts of undeath to better understand the undead’s weaknesses, and maybe even find more powerful defenses against them. He found an out-of-the-way cave deep in the forest, not far from an old battleground that contains a mass grave, where he can raise and experiment on zombies in peace. The caves are further guarded by the ghosts of several dryads whom Scarloth befriended.

Plot hook: Scarloth needs poison sacs from gas spores as components in a spell that might weaken the undead. He’s located a cavern filled with fungi (and, unfortunately, a colony of ettercaps), travels in disguise to a nearby city, and hires the PCs to retrieve the sacs.

As a foe faction, Scarloth is no ordinary necromancer. Instead of just raising zombies to do his will, he seeks to understand the inner workings of undeath. To that end, he’s created a laboratory in a remote cave complex, where he raises and experiments on zombies. To guard the caves, he destroyed several nearby trees, and when dryads came to defend them, he killed them and turned them into ghosts that have no choice but to attack any except Scarloth who enter the caves.


  1. The entrance leads to a natural cave haunted by 3 ghostly dryads. They have the stats of regular dryads, without spells but with the addition of a ghost’s ethereal sight, incorporeal movement, and etherealness abilities, and an AC of 12.
  2. Scarloth uses this chamber as his laboratory; it contains several tables filled with bubbling potions, and a zombie chained in the small holding area to the west. He’s currently enlarging it as he has time, but the new room to the north is unfinished.
  3. Pits in each of these rooms contain noxious liquids, into which Scarloth dips bodies, testing their effects when he raises them as zombies.
  4. Scarloth stores his supplies in the square chamber, and has left the rest of the caves untouched. Most of the supplies are mundane items, like food and tools, but the various magical reagants stored here would be very valuable to a spellcaster. If this adventure isn’t challenging enough for the party, these caves could be home to any number of predators, and could connect to a larger cave system.

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