5E How to get an undead army across an ocean?

Say you're a DM, and say that as a DM you control a lich who also has a bunch of cultists, and both the lich and the cultists all control multiple undead, so that together they have an undead army. And say that they'd like to attack a location a few hunderd miles across an ocean. How would you get this undead army across that ocean? You can assume that the lich has a proper lair.

I'm looking for a bit of a brainstorm. There are no wrong answers (except when you tell me it can't be done). Answers using only the books (RAW) are fine, but a little creativity is also ok. I'm not shy of a little homebrewing if I have to.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Teleportation circles/portals. Cultists open the portals in the location of the attack and undead stream through. If the people want to stop the undead army attacks they need to get the party into the undead encampment to disrupt and close the circles/portals.
 

Bitbrain

Adventurer
Say you're a DM, and say that as a DM you control a lich who also has a bunch of cultists, and both the lich and the cultists all control multiple undead, so that together they have an undead army. And say that they'd like to attack a location a few hunderd miles across an ocean. How would you get this undead army across that ocean? You can assume that the lich has a proper lair.

I'm looking for a bit of a brainstorm.
Okay, how about the lich and cultists direct the undead to link together and form a fleet of ships literally made out of the undead horde itself?

There was a monster in Pathfinder called a Bone Ship that was based on this idea.
 
What level? There was a conversation on this forum about transporting an army using demiplane

Open several Demiplanes and fill them with undead, equipment and weapons. Go to your chosen location and open your demiplanes and let them out. Have an extra demiplane that acts as your magical workshop so that the lich has all his trinkets when he arrives.

With prep and money, teleportation circles are better and much lower level. Given a year to prepare, you could have a permanent door.
 
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Aebir-Toril

Is lukewarm on the Forgotten Realms
Ride across on undead dragon turtles.

Sail across on literally any kind of ghost/skeleton/rotting ship.

Transfigure the army into a bank of necrotic mist that rolls across the sea, bringing the army to the shores in a tide of foul fog.
 

Larnievc

Explorer
Dirigibles. Then you can have a scene where undead fall from the sky and simply get up and shamble towards wherever they are going.

Better yet, drop directly into the city you need to be attacked. The Lich can have his generals pavilion hundreds of feet above the battle.

Even better yet, have the dirigibles made out of hollowed out dead dire beast corked up and filled with decomposition gases that can be deflated on arrival and reanimated for battle.

Or don’t deflate them fully and have flint napping devices attached to detonate the explosive decomposition ages in the middle of battle.

Even more or than that, have them exhale the noxious gases and spread all sorts of nasty diseases among their intended targets
 
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akr71

Adventurer
Another vote for just walking across. They don't need to breathe, but it may take a while.

Why does it need to be a ghost/rotting ship? Can't they invade a perfectly functional one and take it? Kill the crew, raise them and now your undead army has undead sailors.
 

TheSword

Explorer
Control Water spells that create a corridor like Moses parting the Red Sea. Maybe have it caused by an artifact like a staff or orb that the party have to destroy.
 
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If you want something creepy, have all the undead packed in boxes on the ship. The crew is wondering why their food is spoiling and why their clean water is randomly getting contaminated or turning to blood.
 

Dausuul

Legend
They ride in the belly of an undead leviathan.

They work together to cast a ritual that creates a massive ice storm. They walk across in the middle of this ice storm, and the cold freezes the water in front of them as they walk.

The lich creates a huge phylactery for the entire army. It destroys them, then takes the phylactery and teleports to the destination, and they reform there after 1d10 days. (This has some plot consequences in that the army is now invincible until the phylactery is destroyed.)
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
They just walk along the bottom?
I had this happen my last campaign. There is an island in the Midland Sea that has hordes of undead on it. So ate one point when the boat was anchored out at sea due to rough weather the deck crew was jumped by skeletons climbing up the anchor chain. the crew called it a "Zombie Tide" and seemed familiar with the uncommon issue - they said that occasionally bunches of under get washed out to sea and then ships and coastal settlements need to be beware.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
I mean, do you want the undead horde to invade in a "cool" way, or in an efficient way?

If we're going to invent something, just slightly modify Gate to be able to open the other end on the same plane. You could literally open the Gate (or multiples) in the middle of the city.
 

aco175

Adventurer
Two possibilities I see. You can stack them on ships like cord-wood since they do not need any space. The other idea is to just raise a new army after you cross the ocean. You can take just one ship to help sneak across bringing just your generals. You can set some cool scene where local graveyards are being raided for bodies.
 

Eltab

Adventurer
A dozen galleys led by the generals and officers, crewed by the cultists and with undead rowers. To everybody's surprise, the rowers also leave the ships. As the army reorganizes itself, the ex-rowers are given typical undead weapons. For impressiveness, have the cultists burn their now-abandoned ships in full view of the public - especially if the ships were stolen in the first place - before the army leaves the beaches.
 

S'mon

Legend
IMC the Lich used regular ships to transport the contents of The Licheway.

They only needed a skeleton crew.
 

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