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Your birthday’s coming up and you have no friends. Do you:
A. Invite a bunch of random strangers to your party.
B. You never wanted a party anyway and get drunk alone.
C. Literally make friends. That is to say, reanimate the dead.
Let me know in the comments below! 😀 As always, keep scrolling for the one-shot adventure written for this Necromancer’s Underground Cavern Lair free TTRPG battlemap! ⬇
While buying goods at a market in a rural town, a local pastor will stop by your shoulder and ask if you might be an adventurer. If you say you are, he’ll ask you for a private word about some troubles their town has been having. If you humor him, he’ll take you aside discreetly for a stroll through some quieter, overgrown lanes between cottages. He’ll explain in a soft voice that a shadowy figure has been spotted in the graveyard at night, but no-one knows who it is. However, they’ve been seen digging up graves.
The pastor says this has disturbed those who have lost their loved ones’ remains, so he would like to know if you might be willing to follow this person back from the graveyard one night and figure out where they’re going. He explains that he has some ample donations which should pay for the job.
Should you agree, he’ll nod somberly and walk you to the village’s small graveyard, which has had a number of the graves disturbed. He says that the figure shows up every night, but usually around 2 or 3 AM. If you make sure you know where they’re taking the bodies before you deal with them–so the pastor might recover the remains–he and the townsfolk would be incredibly thankful.
If you go to the graveyard around that time, you will indeed find a robed figure digging up a body from one of the graves. Once they’ve broken the bones out of a casket, the figure will shove them into a bag and begin carrying them away with an odd, excited gait.
They’ll slink from the outskirts of the village, and into the surrounding rolling hills. Eventually, the figure will disappear down a steep, dry gully and down some stairs which lead even deeper, into some kind of underground cave system.
Should you attack the robed figure once they’re in the cave, you’ll find that they’re not a person at all–but rather, a reanimated skeleton with glowing green eyes! It will defend itself, and if you destroy it the bones will fall apart with a loud rattle. If you continue deeper into the cave system, you’ll come across more skeletons with the same eyes, but with pointed black cones tied to their heads.
When these other skeletons see you, they will become aggressive and attack. Further in are instruments playing themselves in merry tunes, as well as an altar with a skeleton waiting to be animated on it.
When you reach it, you’ll find an old man in a dark robe with another little cone on his head, working on reanimating the body with some magical artifacts. His sleeves are rolled up and he is humming merrily to himself, alongside the tune of the instruments.
When he sees you, however, the man will start with a yell, before asking accusingly who you are and what you’re doing here. Then he’ll look at you closer, observing the bone dust, and say “Oh no, you didn’t destroy my friends did you?! What the hell is wrong with you, they took me days to make!” If you point out that the skeletons attacked you, he’ll throw down his artifacts loudly and yell that of course they attacked you, you were trespassing–what did you expect would happen!
If you point out he shouldn’t be stealing bodies from the cemetery, he’ll scoff that they would have walked themselves back after he was done with them, if it wasn’t for you! Now he won’t be able to tell any of the bones apart, let alone return them all! And besides, everyone knows souls go to the heavens or hells–it’s not like they’re USING the bodies, the old man will huff.
Should you ask what on earth he’s doing here, the old man will open his arms wide and yell at you that this is his holiday home, and it’s his birthday! He was going to throw a party, and he doesn’t have any friends, so he has to MAKE them. He does this every year. But no, you had to come along and ruin it. Now the only way to make this right is for you to go back to the cemetery and bring him the bodies he needs. He’s even prepared the feast hall with illusions of food, and games, the old man will finish with a huff; crossing his arms.
If your players go back to the village to dig up more graves, the wizard will be thankful and even, shyly, invite them to attend his birthday party. There they might learn he is actually a very illustrious and achieved researcher at the land’s most prominent University of Magic, and specializes in destroying undead–incase a lych king should ever rise again. He does, however, appear to have VERY bad people skills which might be why he has no friends.
If the party goes well, he might thank you sincerely for becoming his friends, and give you his card should you wish to socialize again in future.
Should your players get caught digging up the graves by the pastor, the man will be horrified. If they explain what’s happening and that they’ll bring the bodies back afterwards, plus the others, he’ll be utterly perplexed and stammer in confusion. If the pastor protests, he won’t have an argument against the fact that the souls aren’t using the bodies anymore and might just watch in helpless bewilderment as your players saunter off with the bodies.
If the party replaces ALL the bodies that the wizard and the players took afterwards, the pastor will still pay them the agreed upon sum–but he will still be confused and not entirely sure what happened, or why. He will feel slightly violated and request that the party and the wizard don’t come back to the town. The wizard, of course, will not respect the wishes of some small-town pastor and his illogical presumptions.
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LUKE: The founder of Seafoot Games, Luke's been making maps and RPG games since he was a child, and spent over a decade creating his own game systems from scratch to play with his brothers. That was before he discovered other TTRPGs existed. Now, he paints the realistic grimdark fantasy battlemaps we're known for, helps write adventures as needed, and spends his free time printing and painting 3D minis, as well as working on his forever in-development TTRPG system.
BEB: Luke's wife, Beb's been writing, painting, and graphically designing things her whole life. She published her first book when she was 20, alongside a handful of sci-fi short stories, and was responsible for writing almost all of our adventures until mid 2022 when Steve joined the team. Now she mostly creates the outlines for the adventurer's guides with Luke, graphically designs documents, handles the bookkeeping (or as she likes to call it, bureaucrat wrangling), and manages the website—but she is slowly delegating these responsibilities, so she can focus on raising her and Luke's beautiful son.