Monsters Just Aint scarey


Homebrew and House Rules


One thing i have noticed is that Once your the right Level to fight something... its not scary... or a challenge. This is Something i don't like. People should be afraid even if adventuring. I'm Thinking about wring my own Mini Bestiary. Changing some Classic monsters to be more like the Lore they originally came from. Would love some Opinions on the Examples Below:

Zombie:
Zombies are supposed to be Slow, Hungry, and Rip !@#$ up.

Take a Zombie as is, But put in the Following Changes. When a Zombie his Zero Hit points, it falls the the ground Stunned (Misses its next turn). That's your chance to kill it (see below). The Next Round it loses its staggered, Gets the "Grab" Special Quality, And it gains a Bite attack appropriate for its size. If they hit someone with Both Claw attacks, they Get a Free Auto Hit Bite for Double Damage.

Killing a Zombie: Any Piercing Attack that crits and does at least 5 points of damage is assumed to go in to its head, instantly killing it. A 1-handed Slashing Crit that does at least 8 points or ANY 2 handed Slashing Crit assumes you cut off its head. Instantly Killing it.

Ghouls & Ghasts:
Raise the DC on there Paralyze, but make them Feral. They are not gonna paralyze one person and move on. They will Paralyze the First and try to Drag him/her away to feed on. A Ghast on the other hand is more intelligent and Gains the Command Ghoul Ability and can send them out as a team (Up the ghast CR)

Those are 2 of the idea's off my head. Opinions please?


Heh.

I'm planning to pull something like that first one some time when my players are fighting Zombies/Skeletons. Just once they get low on HP, they flop over.

If they go to investigate, the Undead hops back up and takes a free swipe.

If they try to leave it makes a Stealth check to remain undetected as it gets back up.

Really though, overhauls of the monster's abilities aren't necessary to make monsters scarier, you just have to run them smarter.

If you run them like really dumb cannon fodder humans then they're not going to be scary. Also, mixing types is a good way to make something vurry scurry.

I know I'd be spooked by a Plague JuJu Zombie or a Burning Bleeding Skeletal Champion.


The upgrade on the Ghast makes them REALLY dangerous.


Players don't get frightened when they feel they have all the information and are in complete control of their world. Some ways to make them afraid are:

-Making players make Perception checks for no reason (telling them they all notice nothing regardless of their result)
-Isolating one player from the rest via a locked chamber and making him struggle alone against a threat while his allies frantically try to open the way (could be a monster or a hazard, like the room emptying of air).
-Give them a reason to think about something they normally take for granted (food suddenly spoils, weapons are stuck in their sheaths)


Your experiences do not match up with mine!

I have horrified players with challenges suitable for their level more than once. Antlions are terrible, terrible things, just to pick an example off the top of my head. As are all other monsters that can pass through walls and floors.


Fighting something with a CR equal to your level is not supposed to be that scary. Its something you should be able to do fairly easily, multiple times per day. Thats the entire point of the CR system.

The scary stuff is supposed to be the encounters above your level.


You are in a fantasy world Zombies can be made out of most things.

Zombie Dragons, Zombie Giants, etc.

Also simply throwing a Horde of Zombies can be frightening for a Group of Higher level players.

Take my Fast Zombie Horde with its Skeleton Backup units. 2 units of Melee Skulls and 1 unit of Archer Skulls. All equipped with slightly Magical Gear. Yeah they only were hitting on a 18+ against most of the party BUT when you have 20 attacks coming in that is highly possible to happen.

Fast Plague Zombies lead by a Graveknight/Lich Evil Cleric. Devastating. Especially if the Cleric has a Desecrate/Unhallow effect up.

Use the low CR critters like toned down Tucker's Kobolds. Everyone will fear them.


If you want to make zombies as scary as they would be in real life, make them contagious. :D


Plague Zombie template=Cliche Zombie Apocalypse Movies.

With a Few Gas Burst and Fast Zombie templates added onto a few of the Plague Zombies you are good to go.

Silver Crusade

Honestly, I don't know what you're talking about. I fought a couple of rust monsters a few weeks ago and wanted to cry I was so scared.


The second change to the ghouls seems more like a tactics flavor than mechanical change. And I tend to play my ghouls like that, which makes them hella scary. I use ghouls a lot and I don't think you need to up the DC, believe me. The best way to make monsters harder is to read their flavor and apply tactics based on that, or expand that.

Using ghouls as the example, I had a temple of ghouls where the players started on the top and worked their way down. At the top of the temple was a trap door that would have the victims fall through the first four floors of the temple into an 'open grave' where a couple rounds later, ghouls would jump the trapped players, paralyze them, and then try to bury them alive. This caused some great tension and provided an amazing challenge to the party, especially when all but one contracted ghoul fever and one of them got down to about 2 CON.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Had a DM with Zombies that were tatooed with different spells. 1 was basically a suicide bomber running at us and letting off a fireball, a couple became super strong from bulls strength- there's options in the system but I like where your heads at.


Sound like your making a new template to me. I general I love template just to keep my player one thier toe.

I feel where you wanting to go with but it make them way to week
Killing a Zombie: Any Piercing Attack that crits and does at least 5 points of damage is assumed to go in to its head, instantly killing it. A 1-handed Slashing Crit that does at least 8 points or ANY 2 handed Slashing Crit assumes you cut off its head. Instantly Killing it.

I mean any med size with a long bow would kill one 50% of the time if they hit.

Sczarni

You should have a look at Classic Horrors Revisited, they have cool variations on the 'Walking Dead'.

I've just ordered this and Undead Revisited to make the Carrion Crown campaign I want to run a bit more interesting for some of my players who have been 'round the block a bit, so to speak.


@Tom_S_820: Where are you getting the Killing a Zombie info?

IIRC: Zombies get DR against Piercing. Slashing is their Weakness.

You can increase their Power by switching what the Template is added to.

You don't just use the basic Stat Blocks from the Bestiary unless you are in a hurry.

Sczarni

Big Lemon wrote:

Players don't get frightened when they feel they have all the information and are in complete control of their world. Some ways to make them afraid are:

-Making players make Perception checks for no reason (telling them they all notice nothing regardless of their result)
-Isolating one player from the rest via a locked chamber and making him struggle alone against a threat while his allies frantically try to open the way (could be a monster or a hazard, like the room emptying of air).
-Give them a reason to think about something they normally take for granted (food suddenly spoils, weapons are stuck in their sheaths)

I approve of this wholeheartedly. Nothing scares a player like an enemy who doesn't seem to "play by the rules". Here's some more ideas:

-Express the monster's AC, CMD, and/or saves in terms of dice. Instead of an AC of 18, it has an AC of, say, 15+1d4. Re-roll the d4 every time someone attacks it. The player's won't know what you're rolling for, and they'll get nervous. They'll get even more nervous when they realize they can't pin down the monster's AC because a 17 just hit when it missed that turn.

-Have the monster's place in turn order advance by one each round. That way if it's five players to one BBEG, the PCs actually only get four turns for every one of his. If the players argue, just tell them "he has an ability that makes it his turn now".

-Give an enemy Combat Reflexes, but have it occasionally choose not to take AoO's. Watch as your players struggle to determine how many AoO's this thing actually gets each round, and why on Golarion isn't it taking them if it still had some left.

-Give an enemy Fleet a few times. Have it move its full speed and then take a standard action. Enjoy the shock and horror on your players' faces. For best results, the standard action should imply that this thing isn't a Monk or Barbarian. (This won't work if someone in the party actually takes Fleet, but that almost never happens)


A good DM can put the fear in players with good description. Creating new monsters helps too.


Don't Ghouls get feats? So can't you up the DC on the Ghouls save with Ability Focus?


Pretty much nothing's scary in D&D by the nature of the game, unless you're playing in such a way that you're unlikely to have much of a story.

Thing is, fear stems from the possibility of consequences. What happens if the party loses against the monsters? TPK. End of game. The end. Narrative brick wall. Sure, there are some things that can be done with it with work, but ultimately, it's a given that the players are going to win every single fight because the GM doesn't want the alternative.

A game where players are legitimately afraid in every fight is one where the characters have a significant chance of dying (or equivalent) in every fight, regardless of whether it's a dramatically appropriate time for them to die, and will completely disrupt any attempts at story or character development in short order.

It's why D&D is bad at horror. There are kludges you can use to diminish this, but it's a fundamental system flaw.


Sanity, Haunts, & Such are normally going to work better for the horror side.

That said add Sanity & Haunts into a Game where the Players start at level 1, Control Multiple Characters, and are free Roaming a Mansion running from say a CR20-CR25 Murderer. Where each day they survive they Level Up. But they must struggle to be safe from their Opponent.

Might Make for an excellent Marathon Campaign or Side Campaign.

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