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the vivamancer (the undying king)

The vivmancer is a bad guy the PCs have to deal with to find the way into the Undercity as part of “Dawn of the Overmind” adventure.  The vivmancer has kidnapped the local gith’s shaman and is brainwashing him using vivamancy.  The shaman knows how to get to the Undercity – queue the PCs. This battle was pretty fun. Only 4 players turned up for this battle (I usually have six) and the battle is tuned for 6 PCs. Its basically a mind flayer, lich, and mummy lord. I thought mummy lord worked well considering its lair – the ruins of Gwailor – are in a badland/desert area.

During the battle, it banished the hunter (a type of ranger) on the first turn and he never made his save to come back. The room kept filling with wasteling reinforcements so they sealed the room with an earth reshape spell.  The vivamancer had a good chance of TPK here but the cleric just kept rolling 20 on everything – saving throws, spell attacks, melee attacks etc which really turned the tide of battle.  The monk character also used the collossal spade to temporarily neutralise the vivmancer by burying it while they cleared the room of wastelings. It clawed its way out in a sandstorm but was soon dead.

It took the PCs about 3 rounds to realise that the dead mind flayer was actually casting spells using its lie-in-state ability.  It managed to charm two of the PCs before it was forced to animate and get personal.

The hazard worked well too – more an annoyance than a real threat.



  • 1 The Undying King (U)
  • 5 decaying mind flayer mummies (M)
  • 4 Wastelings (W)

When the PCs reach the doorway, read:

This chamber swirls with dark dust that seems to move on an unfelt breeze. Open sarcophagi line the four walls of this hazy chamber, three sarcophagi to a side. A bonfire in the centre of the chamber produces smoke and illuminates the contents of the upright graves: mind flayers frozen in gaunt death wrapped in well-preserved linen like a pharaoh’s mummy! Each figure wears a different headpiece (If asked: a cage, a top hat shaped headpiece, a fez-like headpiece, a pharaohs circlet with a dark sun at its centrepiece, a priestly like headpiece made of platinum with tentacles arching out to create a sunburst and a fine headpiece shaped like a crows beak). Four figures also sit equidistantly around the bonfire, staring blindly into the fire’s heart.

A mosaic covers the west, north, and east walls. It depicts a mind flayer whose head and brain case is way out of proportion to its body and a two-headed tiger walking along a mountain path—of sorts. About half of the “mountains” look more like pyramids than natural formations.

Perception DC 22: You notice the dust just ahead isn’t reflecting light. In fact, it seems to be absorbing it.

Perception DC 35: The mummies don’t seem entirely dead or maybe it’s the unearthly wind in the room blowing the loose strips of linen.

If the PCs see the light-eating dust, a successful Arcana check can warn them what the dust really means. See the hazards statistics. 


The centre sarcophagus on the east wall, marked with an X, actually holds the Picture1.pngVivimancer. The rest of the upright graves hold mummified illithids of lesser power; they keep the Unliving King company in its undeath. Under normal circumstances, the Unliving King does not move either. Instead, he uses his psionics and spells in frozen rigidity. Only when physically threatened or investigating some other disturbance in the hall will the alhoon move from its resting place.

If the PCs were led into the hall by wastelings under false pretences, they will not all suffer immediate attacks. In fact, the Vivimancer attempts to waylay player characters one at a time, by using hold person, rainbow pattern, hypnotic pattern, and similar spells, without stirring an undead limb (the Vivimancer’s long centuries of training allow it to cast spells without any verbal, somatic, or material components).

As long as the player characters go along with the charade, the wastelings that have led the characters to this chamber (or those already sitting around the fire) ask the party members to seat themselves around the fire. The longer the PCs delay in taking aggressive action, the longer the Unliving King has to cast his spells unhindered. Once it has exhausted all its enchantment spells the Undying King will get up and attack (or if it is ever directly targeted by a spell or attack) and use its supra-geniustrait on its first active round.

As soon as the PCs physically or magically attack, all of the wastelings present and the 5 decaying mummies attack with a ferocity beyond that of even the beastmen of the plains. Their sole objective is to keep the adventurers occupied while the Vivimancer continues to cast spells. At the beginning of round 2, a pair of additional wastelings from the three chambers labelled C arrive every round that the Vivimancer remains alive (or until there are no more wastelings waiting in the wings). If the PCs defeat the Unliving King, the wastelings all fall to the ground like puppets when their strings are cut. Without their master, the wastelings are mindless shells.

Features of the Area

Illumination: This room is dark. This room has a connection to the Shadowfell, so light areas are halved within it. (Arcana or Religion DC 28 to sense the connection and to discern the meaning of the light-dimming effect.) The centre of the Shadowfell connection is the view beyond hazard.

Burial Alcoves: Each of these alcoves is wide enough to provide a square of fighting space. Those shown to contain bones are difficult terrain. Alcove walls act as blocking terrain for determining cover. Some burial alcoves multiple mind flayer skeletons, although the eastern one has a mind flayer mummy (not undead).

Crypts: These small buildings are 10 feet high. Each is decorated with carvings, meaningful only if you want them to be. Each has a decaying mummy and the centre one holds the Vivamancer.

Mosaic: This wall decoration is made of colourful stones. It has mythological significance to the ancient mind flayers.

Treasure: If the adventurers search through the containers and make a DC 26 Perception check, they find a few purses that contain a total of 1,750 pp. In addition, a character who makes a DC 31 Perception check while searching the Vivimancer’s sarcophagus finds an appropriate magic item. The varies headpieces are also valuable – The Mensis Cage, a top hat shaped headpiece made fine magically preserved linen (500 gp), The Fez (250 gp), a pharaohs circlet with a dark sun at its centrepiece (2,000 gp), a priestly headpiece made of platinum with tentacles arching out to create a sunburst (5,000 gp) and a fine headpiece shaped like a crows beak (2,500 gp).


The Vivmancer, The Undying King, The Destroyer of Gwailor

Mind Flayer Mummy Lord Illithilich
Medium undead (mythic), lawful evil
Armor Class 18 (natural armor, Mensis cage)
Hit Points 308 (28d8 + 84)
Speed 30 ft.

18 (+4
16 (+3)
17 (+3)
22 (+6)
18 (+4)
16 (+3)

Saving Throws Con +10, Int +12, Wis +9
Skills Arcana+18, History+12, Insight+9, Perception+9
Damage Resistances cold, lightning, necrotic
Damage Immunities poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned
Senses truesight120 ft., passive Perception 19
Languages Deep Speech, Telepathy 120 ft., Undercommon, Deep Speech, Aklo, Draconic, Supernal, Elvish and Gith,
Challenge 22 (41,000 XP)

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the Undying King fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Lie in State. While the Undying King lies unmoving in its crypt it may use its action, bonus action, reaction and move action to cast a spell. It may not use its legendary actions except to cast a spell. Its lair actions are unaffected.

Madman’s Knowledge. The Undying King has looked into the eyes of the Old One Ilsensine and not gone completely insane. It ignores all the component requirements of its spells.

Magic Resistance. The Undying Kinghas advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Rejuvenation. The Undying Kinggains a new body in 24 hours if its heart is intact, regaining all its hit points and becoming active again. The new body appears within 5 feet of the it’s heart (hidden elsewhere on Penumbra).

Second Wind (3/Day). As a bonus action, the Undying King can regain 20 hit points.

Special Equipment – Staff of Ancient Penumbra. The staff provides the Vivamancer with the “magic resistance” trait and the “Second Wind” trait. It also allows the Vivamancer to ignore ¾ cover and see through obscured areas up to 30 feet.

Supra-Genius (1/Encounter).The Undying King is a genius. To reflect this, ask all the PCs to declare their actions for the first round of combat. The Undying King then takes its turn first and the PCs cannot change their declared actions.

Turn Resistance. The Undying Kinghas advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead.

Innate Spellcasting (Arcane).The Undying King an 18th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 20, +12 to hit with spell attacks). The Undying King has the following wizard spells prepared:

Innate Spellcasting (Divine).The Undying Kinglord is a 10th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 17, +9 to hit with spell attacks). The Undying King has the following cleric spells prepared:

Innate Spellcasting (Psionics). The Undying King’s innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 20). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components.


Multiattack.The Undying King can use its Dreadful Glare and makes one attack with its rotting tentacles. It can also cast a spell as a bonus action.

The staff of Ancient Penumbra. Melee Weapon Attack:+13 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit:6 (1d6 + 3) force damage plus 21 (6d6) fire damage.

Rotting Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack:+12 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit: 22 (3d10 + 6) psychic damage plus 21 (6d6) necrotic damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with mummy rot. The cursed target can’t regain hit points, and its hit point maximum decreases by 10 (3d6) for every 24 hours that elapse. If the curse reduces the target’s hit point maximum to 0, the target dies, and its body turns to dust. The curse lasts until removed by the remove cursespell or other magic. In addition, if the target is Large or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 15) and must succeed on a DC 20 Intelligence saving throw or be stunned until this grapple ends.

Brain Sucker. Melee Weapon Attack:+12 to hit, reach 5 ft., one incapacitatedhumanoid grappledby the Undying King.
Hit: 55 (10d10) piercing damage. If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the lich kills the target by extracting and devouring its brain. If this attack doesn’t kill the target it also drains a random spell (if the target has any) and the Undying King can add that spell to its spell list until it casts it.

Mind Blast (Recharge 4–6). The Undying Kingmagically emits psychic energy in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or take 27 (5d8 + 5) psychic damage and be stunnedfor 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Dreadful Glare. The mummy lord targets one creature it can see within 60 feet of it. If the target can see the mummy lord, it must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or become frighteneduntil the end of the mummy’s next turn. If the target fails the saving throw by 5 or more, it is also paralyzedfor the same duration. A target that succeeds on the saving throw is immune to the Dreadful Glare of all mummies and mummy lords for the next 24 hours.

Banishment. When the Undying King takes damage, it may use its reaction to banish the attacker. The Undying King attempts to send triggering creature to another plane of existence. The target must succeed on a DC XX Charisma saving throw or be banished. If the saving throws by 10 or more the target is banished to a random plane of existence. If the saving throw is a 1 the target is permanently banished and must find its own way home.

If the target is native to the plane of existence the Undying King is on, it banishes the target to a harmless demiplane for 1 minute – a void space filled with stars and dying suns. While there, the target is incapacitated. The target remains there until the spell ends, at which point the target reappears in the space it left or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied.

If the target is native to a different plane of existence than the Undying King, the target is banished with a faint popping noise, returning to its home plane. If the spell ends before 1 minute has passed, the target reappears in the space it left or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied. Otherwise, the target doesn’t return. 

The Undying Kingcan take 1 legendary action per PC it is fighting, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The Undying Kingregains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

  • Let’s Get Physical. The Undying Kingmakes one attack with its tentacles or staff of ancient penumbra.
  • Cast a Spell (1-9 Actions). The Undying Kingcasts a spell spending 1 legendary action per spell level used.
  • Blinding Dust. Blinding dust and sand swirls magically around the Undying King. Each creature within 5 feet of it must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the end of the creature’s next turn.
  • Extract Brain (Costs 2 Actions).The Undying King uses Extract Brain.
  • Blasphemous Word (Costs 2 Actions).The Undying King utters a blasphemous word. Each non-undead, non-wasteling creature within 10 feet of the Undying King that can hear the magical utterance must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of the Undying King’s next turn.
  • Channel Negative Energy (Costs 2 Actions). The Undying King magically unleashes negative energy. Creatures within 60 feet of the Undying King, including ones behind barriers and around corners, can’t regain hit points until the end of the Undying King’s next turn.
  • Whirlwind of Sand (Costs 2 Actions). The Undying King magically transforms into a whirlwind of sand, moves up to 60 feet, and reverts to its normal form. While in whirlwind form, the Undying King is immune to all damage, and it can’t be grappled, petrified, knocked prone, restrained, or stunned. Equipment worn or carried by the mummy lord remains in its possession.
  • Mind Blast (Costs 3 Actions). The Undying Kingrecharges its Mind Blast and uses it.


On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the Undying King can take a lair action to cause one of the following magical effects; the lich can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:

  • The Undying King rolls a d8 and regains a spell slot of that level or lower. If it has no spent spell slots of that level or lower, nothing happens.
  • The Undying King targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. A crackling cord of negative energy tethers the lich to the target. Whenever the Undying King takes damage, the target must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the lich takes half the damage (rounded down), and the target takes the remaining damage. This tether lasts until initiative count 20 on the next round or until the lich or the target is no longer in the Undying King’s lair.
  • Until initiative count 20 on the next round, any non-undead creature that tries to cast a spell of 4th level or lower in the Undying King’s lair is wracked with pain. The creature can choose another action, but if it tries to cast the spell, it must make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, it takes 1d6 necrotic damage per level of the spell, and the spell has no effect and is wasted.
  • The Undying King calls forth the spirits of creatures that died in its lair. These apparitions materialize and attack one creature that the lich can see within 60 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 18 Constitution saving throw, taking 52 (15d6) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a success. The apparitions then disappear.

The Undying King’s tomb is warped in any of the following ways by the creature’s dark presence:

  • Food instantly molders and water instantly evaporates when brought into the lair. Other nonmagical drinks are spoiled — wine turning to vinegar, for instance.
  • Divination spells cast within the lair by creatures other than the Undying King have a 25 percent chance to provide misleading results, as determined by the DM. If a divination spell already has a chance to fail or become unreliable when cast multiple times, that chance increases by 25 percent.
  • A creature that takes treasure from the lair is cursed until the treasure is returned. The cursed target has disadvantage on all saving throws. The curse lasts until removed by a remove curse spell or other magic.

Mensis cagewhich grants +1 AC, disadvantage on Sanity and Intelligence saving throws, Advantage on Insight checks and +2 Intelligence.



Medium undead, lawful evil
Armor Class 11 (natural armor)
Hit Points 1; a missed attack never damages a minion.
Speed 20 ft.

16 (+3)
8 (-1)
15 (+2)
6 (-2)
10 (+0)
12 (+1)

Saving Throws Wis +2
Damage Vulnerabilities fire
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities Charmed, Exhaustion, Frightened, Paralyzed, Poisoned
Senses darkvision60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages Aklo
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Decaying Aura. Each enemy that enters or starts its turn within 5 feet of the decaying mummy takes 5 necrotic damage and is weakened(save ends).

Decaying Slam.Melee Weapon Attack:+5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage plus 10 (3d6) necrotic damage.

Posted in 5e, Dawn of the Overmind, Dungeons & Dragons, Thoughts of Darkness

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