For context our party used a bean from a bag of magic beans that created a Mummy Lord (ML) and its lair, we are all at level 5 and a Mummy Lord in it's lair has a challenge rating of 16.

There is no chance for us to take the ML out by any normal means but the idea I have for achieving a victory revolves around the title.

So I am curious as to whether a familiar summoned by my character (a wizard) would be attacked by the undead within the lair or the ML itself if it enters the lair (assuming my character himself is at the furthest possible distance he can be from the lair).

Each undead creature in the lair can pinpoint the location of each living creature within 120 feet of it until initiative count 20 on the next round.

Given that the above lair ability seems to be combat related as it only lasts one turn, I have the impression that I could avoid a combat encounter with the ML by using my familiar as a spider and the casting glyph of warding (GOW) through the familiar to setup a trap for the ML (Spells with a range of touch can be cast through a familiar as though you were casting them).

So my plan that I have been thinking of was to use the GOW through my familiar but infuse it with the fireball spell. After doing some calculations based on the ML stats and such I came up with a minimum of 80 damage from 10 GOW infused with the fireball spell.

Each creature in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on that point must make a Dexterity saving throw. A target takes 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The fire spreads around corners.

The 80 damage comes as a result of assuming that the ML succeeds on every saving throw (it has a resistance to magic so has advantage on all saving throws so this is not unlikely) and so takes half damage from each fireball infused GOW (although ML has weakness to fire so the damage normalizes) and I roll a 1 on the d6 for every roll therefore meaning 80 damage is the lowest damage I could possibly do.

Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 97 (13d8 + 39)

The average hp for ML is 97 so the success chance for this plan is pretty high if it all works properly? (And potentially there could be undead coming to attack the party while the Glyphs are being set up, creating some battle encounters rather than having a skip in time of like 3 days after starting the preparations.)

So this entire plan relies on what the conditions for a ML "activating" are and whether or not it would react to the familiar entering the lair. If it would say only come out of its sarcophagus once we opened it then that would make this plan far more viable theoretically.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Spiders have the "Spider Climb" ability; could it not just run along the ceiling? Also, the Spider's stats say it has +4 to sneak; could it not sneak on the ceiling all the way to the goal (possibly rolled with advantage since it's on the ceiling, but that's the DM's decision)? \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Jan 19, 2018 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I absolutely love your idea here. Were I your DM, I'd let you try this, but there's still going to be a chance that a moving spider gets noticed. Great problem solving approach. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2018 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ What are you putting these glyphs on? Most attempts to use glyphs of warding offensively are flawed. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jan 19, 2018 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS You're idea of it being a stealth check ties into what Erik also commented I would assume. And yes I would have thought that climbing on the ceiling was the correct way to go (it would also mean that technically it is out of range of most attacks also?), but then that might mean some extra processes to place the glyph's down in a manner in which they can be activated unless I were to use my familiar to cause the activation perhaps? \$\endgroup\$
    – Varis
    Jan 19, 2018 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I would say in keeping with the idea that it is a spider it would most likely be on the ceiling or perhaps walls of the room \$\endgroup\$
    – Varis
    Jan 19, 2018 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


So this entire plan relies on what the conditions for a ML "activating" are and whether or not it would react to the familiar entering the lair.

According to the Monster Manual:

As a mummy endures in undeath, it animates in response to conditions specified by the ritual.

So that means it's up to the DM so set the conditions that cause Mummies to animate. Note that the description of the Mummy Lord itself doesn´t mention anything at all about them sleeping, and seems to suggest that Lords are actually always up and about, which means that the one inside your pyramid is already awake.

Since they have average Intelligence, spellcasting abilities (including Divination), memories of their former lives and decent Perception, if your DM rules that the Mummy Lord isn't asleep, or that the act of opening the pyramid itself activates them, the Mummy Lord is very likely to figure out what is going on.

(And I'm pretty sure "My tomb is opened" is the default activation trigger for Mummies. So tread carefully.)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget Undead are immune to Sleep. While in RAW this is specifically the magical effect, I have always presumed this means undead don't sleep. I'm sure one of the reasons Vampires get so angry is the long hours of tedium while confined in their coffins. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bob Tway
    Jan 19, 2018 at 13:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ In reponse to @Erik So by what you've said would this mean that the ML ins't inside their sarcophagus? And if so would this mean that rather that it relied on a perception check to see the familiar as the lair ability is (as far as I can tell) based on being in combat and only lasting for one turn? \$\endgroup\$
    – Varis
    Jan 19, 2018 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Whether or not the lord is in their sarcophagus is ultimately up to the DM, but from the text it doesn't seem like they normally sleep in those; they use them to store treasure. From the magic item, I guess it initially starts out in the sarcophagus, but it doesn't say that it's inert or anything; it might just come out shortly after the magic is complete (or as soon as the pyramid is breached). But that's up to your DM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Jan 19, 2018 at 16:10

Another potential glitch in this plan is that, while the Glyph of Warding is a touch spell you can cast through your familiar, the fireball is not. You'd have to check with your DM to see if you can store non-touch spells in the glyph with this method.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The standard glyph of warding is an explosive runes doing 5d8 acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage on a failed saving throw (your choice when you create the glyph), or half as much damage on a successful one so the question may need to refigure the number of glyphs nedded ... \$\endgroup\$ Jan 19, 2018 at 19:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast If the fireball spell couldn't be stored through this method then 16 of the regular glyphs would be needed to meet the same minimum damage as the 10 fireball infused glyphs. Also considering that the average for 5d8 is 22-23 while the average for 8d6 is around 27-29, then in that case this plan would still be fairly viable wouldn't it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Varis
    Jan 20, 2018 at 3:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Varis I think so, pending the detection or non detection of the spider ... \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20, 2018 at 14:47

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