Summon Diablo 3’s Necromancer Into Your Next Dungeons & Dragons Campaign

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This week on Game Engine, Erika Ishii and Trisha Hershberger will be talking with one of the community managers from Blizzard about the return of the Necromancer to Diablo 3. Make sure that you check out the Game Engine on Tuesday at 4PM on G&S Live. You don’t want to miss a single pixel of the new set, new faces, and some of the great games you want to get your hands on.

The Necromancer, general of the undead and master of curses and battlefield control, has been resurrected with more powers, more exciting minions, and even more gothiness! The popular character was recently added to Diablo 3 in an expansion pack called Rise of the Necromancer and many players are enjoying the facelift the class has received.

The Necromancer is a bit morose, even going as far as to refuse the dance emote, spouting retorts like “The Priests of Rathma do not caper.” or “What will the skeletons think?”, but you might find their story intriguing enough to want to delve deeper; perhaps even include one in your next Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition campaign. If you are itching to flesh out the infamous necromancer with some roleplaying, here are a few suggestions on character tweaks that can help you roll up a custom Necromancer class!


In Diablo lore, the Necromancer is an acolyte of Priests of Rathma, a group who is focused on maintaining the balance of life and death. This might seem to indicate that you would consider cleric as a base class, but wizard focused in the necromancy school gets you some features which fit the class nicely.

Diablo’s Necromancer focuses on a few key skills: summoning monsters, battlefield control, and cursing their enemies. In 5E, necromancer wizards get Grim Harvest, which allows you to “reap life energy from creatures you kill with your spells”. This gives you a similar effect as Diablo’s Necromancer’s ability Siphon Blood which deals enemies damage while refilling your essence and or life points.

At 6th level, you get Undead Thralls, which lets you raise 1 additional zombie or skeleton when using the animate dead spell and gives those undead extra hit points and raises their damage output as a bonus. This ties in nicely with the Necromancer’s iconic ability to raise hordes of undead to fight for them. When you hit 14th level, your mastery over the living impaired becomes even greater as you gain Command Undead. This ability lets you control already existing undead, taking advantage of whatever undead monstrosities your Game Master may be unwise enough to pit you against! Hah! Take that, foolish mortal!


Now that we’ve got a class, let’s take a quick look at some magic. You’ll have to borrow from some other classes, but if your GM is cool with it, these spells can give your Necromancer some of their signature moves. (It will probably be easier to get them to agree if you resist calling them foolish until after they approve your class.)

Bone Spikes creates a radius where bones will erupt out of the ground skewering your enemies – Spike Growth may be a druid spell but with a bit of creative description (thorns to bones or grasping skeletal hands), you have a comparable spell.

Bone Spear launches a horrifying lance of bone out of the Necromancer, dealing damage to anything in a line – change Lightning Bolt’s energy type to necrotic (and its description to something gothic and nightmarish) and you have an almost perfect match.

Death Nova radiates a wave of damage in a circle around the Necromancer. – Circle of Death is a great equivalent. When cast, a sphere of necrotic energy forms dealing damage to anything unlucky enough to get caught in it.

Curses – These are a little harder to imitate, as most wizard spells like Bestow Curse are targeted at individuals instead of area’s of effect. Still, the 5E spells tend to be very powerful, so that makes up for it.

Corpse Explosion is a signature Necromancer move. Any creature the Necromancer kills can be converted into a bomb – This one’s my favorite, though it will take some creative wrangling to turn it into a viable 5E spell (be sure to work with that foolish Game Master you were sweet talking earlier). I suggest taking the idea of the Fireball spell, changing its energy type to necrotic, and making its material component fresh corpses. To compensate for the relative rarity of those, and if your GM is a good sport, make it a cantrip that can only target corpses you’ve helped make.


In Diablo, the Necromancer can wield a variety of weapons, but their iconic weapon of choice is the scythe. You can probably get away with equipping a sickle, but if you really want that intimidating look of the grim reapers favored weapon, bump up the damage on a quarterstaff, give it slashing damage, and call it a day. Honestly, with all those undead minions, you should be able to keep your hands relatively clean.

With all that covered, all you need now is a dark sense of humor, an unwillingness to boogie, and party members who don’t mind sharing a campsite with the decaying bodies of your undead pets. This is by no means the be-all end-all of class crafting for Necromancer, but a simple guide to get you started.

What video game characters do you want to see converted for your 5th Edition campaigns? How do you incorporate custom builds in your games? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to know more about the Diablo 3 Necromancer? Check out this week’s Game Engine Tuesday at 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Pacific Standard Time.

Featured Image: John Mueller

Image Credits: Diablo 3, Blizzard, Youtube, 

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