D&D 5e Graveyard & Cemetery Encounters Tip Sheet
Feel free to use any or all of the information below to flesh out your own graveyard encounters. Click here for a download pdf of the same information. It's formatted to fit on a single double-sided page that you can print out and use during your session.
Random Graveyard Description
The rusty wrought iron gates creak loudly as you open them. A pair of angel statues stand atop the gate pillars, quietly watching over this place of rest. Uneven rows of mismatched, weathered gravestones line the graveyard. In the back of the cemetery, many of the gravestones look ancient and are crumbling and overgrown. Closer to entrance, they seem newer and better cared for, a few even have offerings of food or flowers. In the northeast corner, a stone mausoleum stands, covered in vines and brambles.
Punny Tombstone Names
- Eileen Dover
- Perry Noid
- Nora Gretz
- Anita Moor Tishan
- Lon Gawn
- Ira Gret
- Pastor Prime
- Barry M. Deep
- Ted N. Behreed
- Gladdys Notmie
- Emma Goner
- Barry M. Goode
Rumors about a Graveyard
- Once a year, on the anniversary of a great battle, ghosts from the town cemetery rise up and reenact a final battle. If you can be there that night, and help them defeat the ghosts of their enemy, you will have their gratitude and a blessing that makes you resistant to necromantic damage.
- A rich noble, by the name of Waldemir Argenal was buried with all his riches. He hated his family and didn't want to leave anything to them. Nobody has robbed his grave yet though, because there are rumors that it is cursed.
- A quest item the group needs is buried with the person who owned it last. This would be an interesting encounter for a group with lawful good characters who would be opposed to desecrating a grave.
- Somebody has been digging up graves and remains of recently departed loved ones have gone missing. The local guard captain doesn't have enough man power to watch the cemetery around the clock and is looking for help with this problem.
- A confused young woman approaches the group asking for help. She says she is lost and doesn't know how she got to the graveyard. It's obvious to the group that she's a ghost, but she doesn't seem to realize she's dead. If they escort her home, they'll find her husband having a celebration with his mistress. They can be overheard celebrating his wife's murder.
- A small child suddenly appears behind the group. He's crying and asks for help because there's monsters in his house. He leads them to a mausoleum where he claims to live. The child was buried there many years ago, but some of his other deceased family members have recently become zombies and need to be returned to their rest.
- One of the graves have pretty red flowers growing on it. A nature check reveals they are Blood Daisies, a type of flowers that tend to grow on graves, battle fields or places where a lot of blood has been spilled. They can be made into a potion that grants one resistance against being charmed by vampires (or some other boon).
- You hear scratching and scraping sounds and a muffled voice from a recent grave site. It is not a zombie, but a freshly buried person who was just sick and was accidentally (or on purpose) buried alive.
- The party finds gravestones with their own names on them. There are no dates, but the gravestones seem very ancient.
- A skeleton with only one shoe wanders the cemetery looking for his missing shoe. He attacks any PC with a similar shoe size just so he can get a 2nd shoe (and will stop attacking if they give him a shoe).
- The party comes across a group of grave robbers in the process of digging up a grave. They are working for a nearby necromancer. If the party doesn't stop them now, they will have to deal with the necromancer's undead minions in the near future.
- A large dog sits at one gravesite, mourning for his master. With a high enough animal handling check, he would be happy to follow a new master. The dog is actually a hell hound who will happily kill for his new master, but if the master doesn't ask him or allow him to kill on a regular basis, he will turn against his master.
- One by one, the party members have to make a DC13 charisma saving throw, the 1st to fail is possessed by a ghost whose grave was recently robbed. The ghost wants to possess the character so they can retrieve a golden locket that was stolen from their grave by a local thug. The locket was given to them by their beloved and they cannot rest until it is returned.
- A man in gray robes wearing a religious symbol is performing a ritual over a grave. (It could be a local priest, consecrating the grave, or a cultist trying to deconsecrate the grave for a nefarious reason).
I have a name, but it isn't my name.
My face shows signs of age.
I always mean the same thing, no matter what I say.
I'm born in mourning, and I last 'til the end of days.
Men plant me, but I never grow.
They run from me, but I never move.
They look at me and see their future, rotting in the fields where I bloom.
What am I?
The Answer: a Gravestone
These are based on real epitaphs from the ancient Greek, the Romans and more modern gravestones.
- Rest lightly, earth, on Willie the devout. The dogs will take less time to drag him out.
- Mariner, do not ask whose tomb this may be, but go with good fortune: I wish you a kinder sea.
- Here lies my wife: here let her lie! Now she’s at rest, and so am I.
- Damn, it's dark down here.
- I told you I was sick.
- From the moment we are born, we begin to die
- Death makes all things equal
- Here lies good old Fred, a great big rock fell on his head.
- Here lie two poor lovers, who had the mishap, Tho’ very chaste people, to die of a clap.
- Here lies George Smith – and what’s something rarish, He was born, bred, and hanged, all in the same parish.
Traps & Environmental Hazards
- If a character steps across a grave, they trigger a magical trap and fall through the soil and trade places with an undead (revenant, or zombie, or vampire, depending on the characters' level). The character is now trapped in a coffin, while the undead creature is on the surface ready to fight the rest of the party.
- A number of crawling claws pop out of graves and try to grapple characters that walk past. This would be most effective if the group is already in combat with other undead and trying to move into fighting positions.
- A fog covers part of the graveyard, entering the fog requires a PC to do a wisdom saving throw DC 13 or be frightened of the fog (and thus unable to enter it) for 1 minute. The DM could move the fog around, thus splitting the party between two sides of the graveyard, forcing them to fight some horrors on their own.
- An older part of the graveyard is not well maintained and overgrown with brambles making it difficult terrain to move through, and anyone walking through it takes 1d4 of damage for every 5 feet they travel.
- Antique Funeral Urns. They have cremated ashes inside, but if emptied are worth 25 gold each.
- A small jade statue of a deceased person's preferred deity (found on a grave). Worth 75 gold.
- An ancient +1 sword found on an elite undead. It is a sword of vengeance (Dungeon Master's Guide p. 206)
- A necklace that lets you cast the spell Speak with Dead once per day.
- A very rare vintage bottle of wine has been left for a beloved innkeeper on their grave. It is worth 50 gold.
The following puzzle could be used to open a door in a mausoleum or catacombs. The door has no keyhole and cannot be opened with thieves' tools. On the wall next to the door, there is a small stone shelf with a stone bowl carved onto it. The bowl is empty. Above the bowl is a sign with the following words:
"Black as Pitch, White as SnowThe answer is "ash" and to open the door, the players have to place some ash in the bowl.
born in flame, at first I glow
Without wings, I still fly
until I land and finally die"
Undead Monsters and Where to Find Them
- Demilich CR 18 (Monster Manual p.48)
- Flameskull CR 4 (Monster Manual p. 134)
- Ghast CR 2 (Monster Manual p. 148)
- Ghost CR 4 (Monster Manual p. 147)
- Ghoul CR 1 (Monster Manual p. 148)
- Lich CR 21 (Monster Manual p. 202)
- Mummy CR 3 (Monster Manual p. 228)
- Mummy Lord CR 15 (Monster Manual p. 229)
- Poltergeist CR 2 (Monster Manual p. 279)
- Revenant CR 5 (Monster Manual p. 259)
- Shadow CR 1/2 (Monster Manual p. 269)
- Skeleton CR 1/4 (Monster Manual p. 272)
- Specter CR 1 (Monster Manual p. 279)
- Vampire CR 13 (Monster Manual p. 297)
- Wight CR 3 (Monster Manual p. 300)
- Will-o'-Wisp CR 2 (Monster Manual p. 301)
- Wraith CR 5 (Monster Manual p. 302)
- Zombie CR 1/4 (Monster Manual p. 316)