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

Al2O3

Explorer
I would go with the suggestions of ships or teleport, basically the same as any other army led by a powerful Spellcaster.

One more thematic way would be to walk through the shadowfell, but that might have other risks to the army.

For the sake of story I would instead consider moving only a small force, such as cultists and elite/more powerful/hard-to-create undead by magic. Land in an important outpost and take out before they sound the alarm. The defenders get raised as the zombies, skeletons and similar and are on the march by the time someone figures out that the post has gone silent. Attacks on undefended towns and villages, and cultists infiltrating cities to open gates, spread diseases and create a force on the inside would also make sense.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Seems to me like a lot of options would be tough for your typical zombie/skeleton. I can't imagine that it would be easy to keep track of them all along the ocean floor (plus sharks, canyons, etc.), and crewing a ship seems pretty complicated.

What isn't complicated, though, is rowing. If I were in charge of moving such an army. I would just make some large rowboats. Tell the undead to row and all your cultists have to do is navigate/steer.
 

Al2O3

Explorer
Seems to me like a lot of options would be tough for your typical zombie/skeleton. I can't imagine that it would be easy to keep track of them all along the ocean floor (plus sharks, canyons, etc.), and crewing a ship seems pretty complicated.

What isn't complicated, though, is rowing. If I were in charge of moving such an army. I would just make some large rowboats. Tell the undead to row and all your cultists have to do is navigate/steer.
"Large rowboat" as in "galley"? It needs to be really large in order to be ocean going, but that just means more stores and possibly cultists can be brought along. Building the ships specifically for a one-way trip to invade seems wastefully expensive in terms of time and resources, but could result in a navy that can travel even against the wind and carry a large amount of troops for boarding actions and the like.

Longboats would be ocean going enough and include a simple-to-operate sail, plenty of oars and be useful when turning rowers into soldiers for an amphibious assault.

Depending on the setting it might also be reasonable to hire a large amount of merchant vessels. Basically, the amount of easily available vessels and what it tells about the world and the timescale of planning the invasion would be my major considerations if ships are used.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
"Large rowboat" as in "galley"? It needs to be really large in order to be ocean going, but that just means more stores and possibly cultists can be brought along. Building the ships specifically for a one-way trip to invade seems wastefully expensive in terms of time and resources, but could result in a navy that can travel even against the wind and carry a large amount of troops for boarding actions and the like.
Who needs wind when you have a zombie "motor"? :cool:

As far as wastefully expensive...its not like you need to feed most of the army. Also, most of your army doesn't need barracks or quarters. You can literally stack them like cordwood. So you can get away with a lot fewer actual vessels than a living army of the same size.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Use repeated castings of wall of stone to build a bridge across the sea.

Supposing you want the six-inch-thick version, and half-length because the span is greater than 20 feet, and the lich is willing to burn 5 spell slots per day on this, you'd get 250 feet of bridge per day. Suppose they made the bridge at a narrow point that was only 250 miles across, you'd need 5,280 days of casting -- a little under 14 1/2 years! That's, like, no time at all for a lich.
 

Al2O3

Explorer
Who needs wind when you have a zombie "motor"? :cool:

As far as wastefully expensive...its not like you need to feed most of the army. Also, most of your army doesn't need barracks or quarters. You can literally stack them like cordwood. So you can get away with a lot fewer actual vessels than a living army of the same size.
The "wastefully expensive" part was just about the wood and other material needed for building the ships and assuming they are only for that one invasion. If the army is going back home afterwards or the ships are used before for various tasks the waste becomes less.
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
math is fun

Well, the obvious answer and potentially the one that's most interesting is: boats. Could give the PCs ship to ship combat in what's otherwise not a pirate game. Give them a nice change of pace.

If you're looking for the most efficient way: teleportation circle. For the latter the Lich would need to send an agent to see the teleportation circle, so he could use his scrying on it, become familiar with it. (Since you're the DM you get to decide where the permanent circle on the other end is and pick an interesting/dramatically appropriate location.) Each casting of teleportation circle will, conservatively, 40 undead soldiers. A Sor14 with the spell can cast the spell four times (twice with spell slots, twice with Sorcery Points), moving a total of 160 undead soldiers per Sor14 per day. Ah, dungeons & logistics

Assuming your lich and his top cultists lieutenants are, let's say, Sorcerer 14?

If you're just looking for something fantastical, undead whales hollowed out on top to serve as boats? Really evil gnomish submarines? Zeppelins?
 
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Kurotowa

Explorer
Walking the army across the ocean floor is easy, but a little risky for that large a distance. D&D oceans are full of monsters that are either fiercely territorial or wouldn't turn their nose up at zombie flesh. Attrition will be noticeable.

I'd say their best bet is to build themselves a Naglfar. Construct a great galleon of bone and nail and sinew, animate it as a specialized undead, pack the army into the hold like cordwood, and set sail. It's both efficient and has a lot of style points.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
pack them onto ships super-tight; they don't need food, air, water, etc. And then add a scene from Dracula... have the ships steer themselves across the ocean and dock themselves silently at the unsuspecting port town...
 

Lidgar

Explorer
They cross in a Necroberg powered by zombie seals. This only works if you're not in the tropics; there they cross in a Big Gulp Necroslushie.
 
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rgoodbb

Explorer
Gliding-ships pulled by enlarged Crawling Claws along the ocean bed.

Also, depends on whether Zombies/Skeletons float or sink...
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Use repeated castings of wall of stone to build a bridge across the sea.

Supposing you want the six-inch-thick version, and half-length because the span is greater than 20 feet, and the lich is willing to burn 5 spell slots per day on this, you'd get 250 feet of bridge per day. Suppose they made the bridge at a narrow point that was only 250 miles across, you'd need 5,280 days of casting -- a little under 14 1/2 years! That's, like, no time at all for a lich.
No one will see that coming!
 

Satyrn

Villager
Use repeated castings of wall of stone to build a bridge across the sea.

Supposing you want the six-inch-thick version, and half-length because the span is greater than 20 feet, and the lich is willing to burn 5 spell slots per day on this, you'd get 250 feet of bridge per day. Suppose they made the bridge at a narrow point that was only 250 miles across, you'd need 5,280 days of casting -- a little under 14 1/2 years! That's, like, no time at all for a lich.
Even better, build this stone bridge underwater, where the continental shelf drops off into the abyss.

And maybe some other lich altrady did this some time ago in the past, and this lich is just exploiting its existence.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Since they don't need to breathe, you could stuff them all into portable holes. Or craft a really big one (portable cavern?).
 

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