The School of Necromancy wizard has the Command Undead feature (PHB, p. 119):

Starting at 14th level, you can use magic to bring undead under your control, even those created by other wizards. As an action, you can choose one undead that you can see within 60 feet of you. That creature must make a Charisma saving throw against your wizard spell save DC. If it succeeds, you can't use this feature on it again. If it fails, it becomes friendly to you and obeys your commands until you use this feature again.

Intelligent undead are harder to control in this way. If the target has an Intelligence of 8 or higher, it has advantage on the saving throw. If it fails the saving throw and has an Intelligence of 12 or higher, it can repeat the saving throw at the end of every hour until it succeeds and breaks free.

The Nightwalker from Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (p. 216) has 8 charisma, 6 intelligence and a CR of 20.

Isn't it a bit crazy? Outside of simply not putting this thing in the game if you have a necromancy wizard in it, what else can happen (or can the DM do) that is gonna prevent the game from breaking?

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik See this FAQ for why your comment was removed. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 9 '19 at 22:42

Sure, it can.

It is a bit crazy! But everything wizards do at that level is a bit crazy.

A 14th-level necromancer is, like, Sauron-tier. The point of being someone like that is precisely to call up terrible minions from the grave and terrorize the land with them. The Nightwalker is a great fit for the role of "big dumb undead minion" rather than being a boss in its own right.

What most DMs do to prevent the game from breaking is to simply not play at 14th level.

If one of your PCs is a necromancer, and you throw a Nightwalker at them, then the player wrangling the monster and yelling "Yee-haw!" from its back while they stomp around is probably the exact outcome you expect.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Riding around on the back of a Nightwalker is going to be a pretty bad idea, given its Aura. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Feb 9 '19 at 22:39
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik Hilarity ensues. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Feb 9 '19 at 22:41

It depends on the DM but the book implies that unless you yourself are undead this won't work on the Nightwalker. This is because on page 216 of Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes it states under the "Beings of Anti-life" aspect of the Nightwalker they will never serve living things:

Generally, a nightwalker on the Material Plane is attracted to elements of the world associated with the creature responsible for its creation. Such interest doesn’t indicate a willingness to engage with the world; nightwalkers exist to make life extinct and never to serve living things.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you reconcile that the Necromancer's Command Undead doesn't distinguish between what the Nightwalker wants and is effectively forced subservience? \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Jan 12 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think what Mordenkainen is saying is that Nightwalkers will never serve living things willfully as a matter of principle, not that they cannot be coerced to do so through magic. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jan 12 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ive also included a link and a more complete quote of the material you reference. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jan 12 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ The command undead on page 119 of the phb says that the creature becomes friendly. While yes it does say that it obeys your commands it seems to go against the nature of the Nightwalker to become friendly. As the summoner itself is not normally considered friendly unless they are undead so it feels wrong on principal that some level 14 Wizard can just come along and turn a CR20 against itself, and it's summoner. But I guess rules as written say yes, but as implied I'd still say no as a DM. \$\endgroup\$ – Karasu Jan 14 at 0:39

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