Crypt Lord

The crypt lord prestige class is meant for the GM to use in building challenging NPC villains, not for player characters. An evil player character spellcaster might be allowed to take levels in this class, but should do so only with the GM’s approval since the prestige class can particularly powerful in combination with certain core classes.

Crypt lords have chosen to leave the world of the living behind to focus on the power granted by the netherworld. They are among the most notorious of deathmages, distrusted even by the council of necromancers.

As a crypt lord increases in skill, he develops powers over the undead, and his own body begins to show certain undead traits. Crypt lords come almost exclusively from the ranks of wizards and other arcane spellcasters, necromancers in particular. Some priests venture down this path as well, though, finding themselves addicted to the touch of unlife.

Crypt lords are often found near locations infested by undead, far from civilization. A crypt lord’s ability to pass unmolested among undead allows him to investigate and inhabit ancient ruins and old crypts almost with impunity. However, most humanoid societies find crypt lords to be abhorrent and refuse to traffic with such death-brokers.

Role: With access to a wide variety of spells and class features that create, augment, and heal undead, the crypt lord is at his best when standing among his undead servants as they march forward to do his bidding, while he supports with offensive death magic.

Prerequisite(s): To gain levels as a crypt lord, you must meet the following requirements (in addition to the multiclassing prerequisites for any classes you have):

  • Intelligence 15 or Wisdom 15. Whatever your spellcasting background, you must have a strong aptitude for dark magic.
  • Constitution 13. A crypt lord must be hardy enough to withstand powerful necromantic forces.
  • Proficiency in the Arcana or Religion skill. You must have some understanding of arcane or theological lore to master the secrets of the crypt lords.
  • Spellcaster level 5th. You must already have 5 class levels as a cleric, warlock, or wizard before you can gain crypt lord levels.
  • Animator. You must know the animate dead spell and have cast it at least once to create skeletons or zombies.
  • Join a Necromantic Order. To gain levels as a crypt lord, you must find a mentor or circle of crypt lords willing to teach you their art. Most crypt lords are necromancers, and they are notoriously bloodthirsty and secretive. You will need to undertake some service or series of tasks to prove your worth and trustworthiness to your prospective teacher(s).

Class Features

As a rune caster, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per crypt lord level
Hit Points per Level: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per crypt lord level


The crypt lord prestige class provides you a spellbook at no charge, if you don’t already have one.

Table: The Crypt Lord
Level Features Cantrips Known Spells Known Spell Slots per Spell Level
1st 2nd 3rd
1st Spellcasting, Undead Familiar 1 2 2
2nd Undead Master 1 3 3
3rd Nightmare Horde 2 4 4 2
4th Ghastly Form 2 5 4 3
5th Become Death 3 6 4 3 2


As a student of necromancy, you have a spellbook containing the spells you know.

Cantrips. At 1st level, you know one cantrip of your choice from the cleric, warlock, or wizard spell lists. You learn additional cleric, warlock, or wizard cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Crypt Lord table.

Spellbook. At 1st level, you have a spellbook containing two 1st-level spells of your choice from any spell lists. However, these spells must be from the conjuration, divination, or necromancy schools. Your spellbook is the repository of the spells you know, except your cantrips, which are fixed in your mind.

Spell Slots. The Crypt Lord table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest. For example, if you know the 1st-level spell animate undead minion* and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast animate undead minion using either slot.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher. The Spells Known column of the Crypt Lord table shows when you learn more conjuration, divination, or necromancy spells of your choice. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 3rd level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level. Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the conjuration, divination, or necromancy spells you know and replace it with another spell from the conjuration, divination, or necromancy school, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

Spellcasting Ability. Choose Intelligence or Wisdom. That attribute is always your spellcasting ability for your crypt lord spells. You use that attribute whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. You also use it when setting the saving throw DC for a crypt lord spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your chosen spellcasting ability modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your chosen spellcasting ability modifier

Ritual Casting. You can cast a crypt lord spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell in your spellbook. You don’t need to have the spell prepared.

Multiclassing. You add all your levels in the crypt lord class when determining your total spell slots.

Undead Familiar

At 1st level, you learn the find familiar spell and can cast it as a ritual. The spell doesn’t count against your number of spells known. When you cast the spell, you can choose one of the normal forms for your familiar or one of the following special forms: blood hawk, constrictor snake, giant poisonous snake, skeleton, wolf, or zombie. If your familiar is normally a living creature, its type changes to undead and it gains the resistances, immunities, and vulnerabilities of either a skeleton or a zombie (your choice). Its other statistics and traits remain the same. Additionally, when you take the Attack action, you can forgo one of your own attacks to allow your familiar to make one attack of its own with its reaction.

Undead Master

Starting at 2nd level, you can compel the undead. As an action, choose any number of uncontrolled undead creatures you can see within 30 feet of you. Each target must make a Charisma saving throw (against your spell save DC), and does so with advantage if you or your companions are fighting it. If it fails the saving throw, a target is charmed by you for 24 hours or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it. The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance. When this effect ends, if the undead has an Intelligence score of 8 or higher, it knows it was charmed by you.

Starting at 4th level, even undead normally immune to the charmed condition can be charmed with this ability, although they have advantage on their saving throws against it.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

Nightmare Horde

At 3rd level, your ability to create and control undead minions improves. You can cast animate dead with a casting time of 1 action.

In addition, if you take 1 full minute to cast animate dead, you are always considered to have used a spell slot of one level higher than the one you spent to cast the spell. Further, any undead you create this way gains 2 additional hit points per Hit Dice.

Ghastly Form

At 4th level, your exposure to necromantic magic begins to warp your body, making you appear more like a zombie or ghoul than a living person. You gain resistance to necrotic and poison damage, and you cannot be poisoned. You also gain darkvision out to a range of 60 feet.

In addition, while you are wearing no armor and not wielding a shield, you gain a +1 bonus to your Armor Class.

Become Death

Starting at 5th level, you have achieved the knowledge required to become truly undead. You can choose undertake this transformation at any time using special rituals and materials, but you must spend 1,000 gp and one week to do so. Once you undergo the ritual, you gain the following benefits:

  • Your creature type changes to undead.
  • Your Constitution increases by 2, to a maximum of 22.
  • You gain resistance to cold damage.
  • You are immune to poison damage.
  • You cannot be exhausted.
  • You gain Turn Resistance. You have advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Wise & the Wicked. © 2016 Onyx Path and Nocturnal Media.

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