In a quiet town with a single church, where the young stay till they get wanderlust, and return when their adventuring hearts are quieted, lives an aged old woman of soft voice and quiet demeanor.
Name: Lilly, often called with the surname "grandmother, baba, and granny"
Age: Between the ages of 50 and 80.
Race: Human, Female.
Class/Job: An apothecary, herbalist, mortician, and necromancer in secret.
When Lilly was small she lived with her parents in a secluded home in a forest, half a day's walk from the nearest town. She spent her early child hood playing with her dog, Charlie, and being home schooled by her mother.
Her parents were necromancers in secret. Their art was passed down their family for generations. In ancient times, their family raised undead armies to fight for kings. As necromancy fell further out of favor, they became embalmers for the dead and gave families the chance to say their final good byes.
Today, Granny Lilly lives in a small home a stone's throw away from the the church. When she is not grinding herbs or tending to her garden, Lilly will look towards the church and fondly sigh at the aged but charming retired cleric that dwells there. Were it not for her history of necromancy, she would have liked to court the wise and handsome man of god.
Optional tragic addition:
This is an optional addition to Granny Lilly's backstory, should you want to enhance the stigma of necromancy. One day, late at night, Little Lilly and her parents were awoken by the smell of smoke. A patron bitterly resentful of the last message given to him by his mother (i.e. "there is no stashed gold") disclosed the family as evil necromancers and turned the whole town upon them. They sneaked upon the humble house in the middle of the night, barred the doors, and set the house aflame.
As the house is about to collapse, Lilly's parents...
•Pushed Lilly thought the open window with their family tome and told her to run deep into the forest to hide. Upon returning the next morning, she found the house and everything in it turned to ashes. Lilly, in her sorrow, tried her best to resurrect her family but only managed to resurrect her friend Charlie.
•Were able to break a small hole in the door, allowing Lilly and her dog to pass through. When her mother tried to pass through the hole the house collapsed and Lilly was pulled away from the burning wreckage by Charlie. They escaped into the woods soon after with the family tome.
Granny Lilly is rarely seen without her constant companion, an old medium-sized German Sheppard dog named Charlie. His shabby graying fur has a pungent sweet sickly smell of turpentine and lavender. When sleeping, Charlie can easily be mistaken for dead. It is a surprise to everyone in the village at how long this dog has been in her care. When asked about how he has lived so long, Granny Lilly will answer, "A little bit of care, and lots of love".
Charlie is not the most active of dogs. In his old age, he has given up chasing squirrels and playing fetch in exchange for lazy naps in the sun and assisting Granny Lilly in getting across town. Occasionally, he will act as a support aid for his master, retrieve objects for her, and keep the kids away from the embalming room. He will wag his tail in appreciation for being pet, but is just as likely to snap at anyone that dares to threaten Granny Lilly.
In reality, Charlie is an undead hound. Not quite a zombie or a ghoul, Charlie acts more like a familiar for Granny Lilly in helping her get around and acting as her best friend. Whether this is something Granny Lilly subconsciously instilled onto the corpse of her childhood friend is up to you to decide. Charlie is not strong enough to fend off an all out attack and will occasionally need to be repaired by Granny Lilly.
Granny Lilly will repair Charlie as needed, whether stitching up rips in his flesh, strengthening runes in his bones, or exchanging his embalming fluid. She takes great time and care into keeping Charlie in presentable shape.
The Family Tome:
Kept in a secret compartment, hidden deep beneath the crematorium outside of the embalming room, Granny Lilly's Family tome sits untouched by the ages. Protected by runes, it is protected from most if not all forms of damage. The tome is written in a non-common language (Undercommon, Deep speech, Druidic, or some other language at the DM's discretion). Even when translated, it is written in archaic format and vocabulary that would take some time for a learned wizard of practitioner to comprehend. This is meant to both keep the nature of the book as an heirloom of the family as well as to keep power spells out of the hands of the foolish and the greedy.
What this NPC can offer the party:
Granny Lilly may be a necromancer but she does not have any ill intentions. She is quite content to stay in her quiet town and act as both a provider of medicine and mortician. She does not actively practice her necromancy beyond tending to her dog or comforting the dead. That being said, she could be tempted to give the players services beyond medical needs should they prove to be trustworthy. With her ability to speak to the dead, she could reveal secrets to the party that only they would know. Additionally, if absolutely necessary, she will defend her town from invading forces, in secret if able. Granny Lilly will then leave post-haste, in fear of the town and the town cleric turning on her.