How would you design an encounter with this guy...


Advice


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Nightmare Lord Bogeyman (CR11)
NE Medium Fey
Init:+12
Senses: Low-Light Vision, Darkvision 120’, Perception +23
Aura: Deepest Fear Su. (30’, DC28), Fear Aura Su. (60’, DC28), Frightful Presence Su. (30’, DC28, 5D6/rnds)

Defense:
AC 26, Touch 26, Flat-Footed 17 (+7 Deflection, +8 DEX, +1 Dodge) (+2AC vs. Good not included)
HP: 136 (17D6+34), Terrible Rejuvenation Su. 5, Regeneration Ex. 5 (good/silver negates), Feign Death Ex. (DC28), Illusion resistance Ex.
Saves (+2 vs. Good not included):
Fort +9, Reflex +18, Will +13
DR: 15/cold iron SR: 21

Offense:
Speed 30’, Fly 10’ (perfect)
Melee: 2 claws +16 (1D8+8/19-20)
Special Attacks: Sneak Attack +6D6, Striking Fear Su. (DC 28), Night Terrors Su. (DC28)/Dream Slave Su.
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10, concentration +20):
Saving Throw DC Modifiers (included): Nightmare Magic Su. +4 phantasm school, +4 shadow school
*Constant: detect thoughts, tongues, protection from good
*At Will: darkness, gaseous form, ghost sound (DC20), invisibility, suggestion (DC23)
*4/day: nightmare (DC29), shadow walk
*3/day: crushing despair (DC24), hold person (DC23), quickened phantasmal killer (DC28), deep slumber (DC23), plane shift (dimension of dreams)
*1/day: feeblemind (DC25), modify memory (DC24), shadow conjuration (DC28), shadow evocation (DC29)

Stats:
STR 12, DEX 27, CON 14, INT 19, WIS 16, CHA 31
BAB +8, CMB +9, CMD 35
Feats: Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (claws), Improved Initiative, Mobility, Quicken Spell-Like Ability, Skill Focus (stealth), Spring Attack, Weapon Finesse
Skills: Bluff +30, Diplomacy +23, Disable Device +18, Escape Artist +21, Intimidate +31, Know (local) +18, Perception +23, Sense motive +23, Spellcraft +14, Stealth +38
Racial Modifiers (included): +4 Intimidate, +4 Stealth
Languages: Aklo, Common, tongues

Deepest Fear (Su)
A bogeyman is cloaked in a 30-foot aura of fear. This aura manifests as a shifting haze of images that reflect the viewer’s deepest fears. The first time it ends its turn within the aura, a creature must make a DC 25 Will save or become shaken for as long as it stays within the aura. If the creature succeeds at the saving throw, it cannot be affected again by the aura for another 24 hours. This is a fear effect. The DC is Charisma-based.

Striking Fear (Su)
If a bogeyman confirms a critical hit or a sneak attack with one of its claws on a target currently suffering a fear effect, that effect automatically becomes one step more severe (shaken creatures become frightened, frightened creatures become panicked, and panicked creatures cower in fear). A DC 25 Will save negates this increase. In addition, a critical hit from the bogeyman’s claw forces any target that has successfully saved against the creature’s fear aura to make another Will save against its effects, even if 24 hours have not yet passed. This is a fear effect. The DC is Charisma-based.

Terrible Rejuvenation (Su)
A bogeyman gains fast healing 5 while any creature within its deepest fear aura is suffering from a fear effect, including any fear effect created by the aura itself.

Feign Death (Ex)
Whenever a nightmare creature is unconscious, it appears dead. A conscious nightmare creature can also make itself appear dead as an immediate action. Any creature that physically interacts with a nightmare creature feigning death must succeed at a Heal check or Will saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 the nightmare creature’s Hit Dice + the nightmare creature’s Intelligence or Charisma modifier, whichever is higher) to recognize it is actually alive.

Illusion Resistance (Ex)
A nightmare creature automatically disbelieves illusions (no saving throw required) and has a +4 bonus on saving throws to resist illusion effects.

Regeneration 5 (Ex)
Good-aligned weapons, silver weapons, and spells with the good descriptor cause a nightmare creature’s regeneration to stop functioning for 1 round.

Speed: Same as the base creature. If the base creature does not have a fly speed, the nightmare creature gains a fly speed of 10 (perfect maneuverability) as a supernatural ability.

Fear Aura (Su)
All creatures within a 60-foot radius that see or hear a nightmare creature must succeed at a Will save or be shaken for as long as they are within the aura. Whether or not the save is successful, that creature cannot be affected again by the same nightmare creature’s fear aura for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting fear affect.

Frightful Presence (Su)
This ability activates when the nightmare creature charges, attacks during a surprise round, or succeeds at a DC 15 Intimidate or Perform check. Its frightful presence has a range of 30 feet.

Night Terrors (Su)
Once a nightmare creature enters a target’s mind with its dream or nightmare spell-like ability, it can attempt to control the target’s dream. If the target fails a Will saving throw, it remains asleep and trapped in the dream world with the nightmare creature. Thereafter, the nightmare creature controls all aspects of the dream. Each hour that passes, the target can attempt another saving throw to try to awaken (it automatically awakens after 8 hours or if the nightmare creature releases it). The target takes 1d4 points of Charisma damage each hour it is trapped in the dream; if it takes any Charisma damage, it is fatigued and unable to regain arcane spells for the next 24 hours. The target dies if this Charisma damage equals or exceeds its actual Charisma score.

Dream Slave (Su)
Instead of killing a target with its night terror ability, a nightmare lord may instead enslave it with a permanent dominate monster effect. The enslaved creature is healed of all Charisma damage taken from night terrors.


You're looking for an encounter, not a series of encounters or an adventure or a chapter in a story, right?

I'd need a little more info. What sort of game would this encounter be included in? Is this guy central to the plot or just one of many various things that go bump in the night?


He isn't the BBEG, just something to give the party a little scare. They have made it to level 12 without too much trouble, I'm hoping to add a challenging encounter to put the fear back in them.

I introduced him a few levels ago, but he hasn't been used since. Plus, only one person in the party actually seen him, as he was invisible and they were the only one with access to see invisibility.

There was rumors of people in the local villages not being able to sleep. And some people are unaccounted for, but no foul play is yet suspected in their disappearances. People come and go all the time.

The party investigated but soon became sidetracked with other obligations. I think it's about time to reacquaint him with the party.

I'm thinking of putting him in a tower on an island. Some frightened hostages kept in strategic places to constantly fuel his fast healing, and also to mitigate the party's ability to use spells with area damage. Probably some Will-O-Wisps as minions because they feed on fear, too.

I might have to wait until they have another level or two, though. Those save or suck DC's are pretty steep. And that's kinda all he has... his two claws just aren't what's scary about him.

Should I have him stalk/harass the party a few times, maybe start haunting the one person that actually seen him? Give them a chance to catch him outside of his lair?

If they go into his dungeon, they are going to have an exceedingly difficult time. Maybe. They constantly surprise me, and that's why I'm asking for help with how to make this guy scary.

How do I use this villain "correctly"?


The next time the adventurers stop in an inn for the night the children of the innkeeper approach them and tell them about the Boogyman who haunts their dreams. The adults immediately dismiss this tale and say the boogyman doesn't exist and its all in their imagination. They apologize to the party for their children's behavior.

Later that night one of the older children hands one of the friendlier adventurers his father's diary. The diary stopped being written in about a month ago. The last few entries speak about nightmares involving the boogyman and how incredibly real they are. There is some speculation that the boogyman might have something to do with old legends of evil fae in the nearby woods.

If the inn owner is asked about the diary the owner confirms it is his, but denies any knowledge of a boogyman. He suggests the party keep the diary, since it might help them find whatever they are looking for. Asked more about this and he just replies "I don't want to talk about it."

Within the woods live some minor fae. Once they are brought to friendly they will be willing to reveal the hiding place of the Boogyman Lord and willing to share a story about him that gives vague information about his abilities. They will also mention that the Boogyman has charmed a few mortals and keeps them as bodyguards in his hideout.

The mortals are a semi-threat. Not really good enough to be an encounter, but more of a moral dilemma. Once the party kills the boogyman the dominated townsfolk immediately surrender.

Once they return to town the adults are grateful to be freed. The boogyman lord had dominated every adult in town and was terrifying the children for his pleasure.


Played to the full potential, this could easily be a TPK. The bogeyman would track the party from a distance and attack whilst the party are sleeping. Cast any spells to neutralise the arcane casters then divine casters. Take out the lookout when necessary. Then proceed to introduce night terrors and make them dream slaves.

If it's done really well the party won't notice beyond being fatigued and unable to gain spells.

Any hint of physical or magical attack would see the bogeyman retreat and come back again later.

When the party is sufficiently weakened one or more of the dream slaves executes the other party members.


@Meirril
Nice. That works pretty well as-is. Thank you.

During the party's rather minor investigation, they did use a couple friendly Fae as a radar of sorts, but they stopped before they had anything concrete to pursue. So that works really well with what has already transpired in the campaign.

@Hugo
I'm trying to avoid the TPK scenario, but still provide a challenge.

I've been avoiding using him to grab party members one by one because nobody wants to play that game.

BUT, I already introduced him. And already gave him the template. So now the party has to deal him. He is there. This is what he is.

I don't want him to be the BBEG, this campaign already has one of those and she doesn't need his help. She sent him to be his own threat, I don't want him as her minion during the final battle. So I need the party to deal with him before they get to her.

I already planned on having him bounce any time combat gets thick... he's not built for that, but can easily survive if he flees with even the smallest amount of health.


If you're looking for him to give a scare and go away. Why don't you do just that. Start him off as suggested and then the BBEG sends him off on another higher priority mission before things go too far. That leaves your options open for later. He will remain a perceived threat and could always be killed off screen if you choose not to reintroduce him.


Hugo Rune wrote:
If you're looking for him to give a scare and go away. Why don't you do just that. Start him off as suggested and then the BBEG sends him off on another higher priority mission before things go too far. That leaves your options open for later. He will remain a perceived threat and could always be killed off screen if you choose not to reintroduce him.

I was thinking about this very same thing...

The BBEG is capable of killing him regardless of any trick he tries, she could even execute him for failing to be a big enough inconvenience to the party...

The cost of failure is absolute.

However, playing him in this pretense would make him go for the sneaky TPK, to ensure that he doesn't disappoint the BBEG.

She has "helped" others, with designed to backfire schemes already, it would be no surprise that he is disposable, as well. But he is smart enough to see he is being played for a suicide mission, and would behave accordingly...


He doesn't have to be killed. The BBEG has reassigned him to some other plot. E.g. rendering a duke/king/other pivotal person in her grand scheme under their control. The party won't know why the assault has stopped and will forever wary of his return.

From your perspective you don't need to flesh out the details, some high level idea would be enough that could be revealed in the aftermath of the BBEGs defeat. Either for a subsequent adventure or a narration of the bogeyman's defeat. One narrative idea though - the Duke had a secret magister/spymaster who the bogeyman was unaware of. This magister recognised the assault on the Duke, trapped and defeated the bogeyman.


I would crank up the heat on this a little bit if you want to give them a real scare. Make this encounter kinda like a Nightmare spell, where the Bogeyman assaults all the players in their dreams with a 30 second window of attack (so that all players can participate in the encounter), so 5 rounds of combat max before the bogeyman fades out of the dream and the players can wake up.

Beef him up to be a CR14 or CR15, and then pull the gloves off and start going for actual kills on the PC's. When they wake up after 30 seconds, anyone still alive wakes with their missing HP, but anyone dead is dead (they're lvl 12, they can resurrect).

He returns every 1d4 days, and the day after any attack, all players are fatigued from the Nightmare.

That's a pretty scary encounter if you ask me ;) Mind if I borrow this actually? :D haha


I'd start the encounter just as one PC is going to sleep. Have them awaken exactly in the same place, seemingly moments after they lay down. As they get up and move about the room however, they notice something is... off.

Just beyond their room are an endless series of steam-filled tunnels. The exposed piping throughout is boiling hot and the floors for some inexplicable reason are rusted metal grates. The only light in the area comes from below and there is a haze of steam everywhere.

Introduce a slow, perpetual song, somewhere beyond the character's ken, sung by a child's voice. The lyrics are a nursery rhyme about the Nightmare Lord, but vague and menacing. Perhaps with some sort of counting mechanic to them.

The first notice of the villain should be as a shadow, followed by the metallic scraping of it's claws against the pipes. You can employ the fey's magic here, from a distance, liberally sprinkling in Phantasmal Killer or the Shadow spells.

When the PC is sufficiently spooked, show them a possible way out and use every trick you know to "encourage" the PC to flee. Make the next setting mundane, perhaps a place they know again. However one of the PC's NPC cohorts or contacts has been captured by Dream Slave and attacks the PC. Said hero has to make the choice of hurting, possibly killing a friend, or being weakened or killed themselves.

Now move on to the final confrontation. The Nightmare Lord reveals itself at this point. It should be suitably terrifying to look at; I'd suggest making it appear to be horribly burned. It is dressed garishly however, perhaps in stripes with a hat on. Its claws should be a major feature.

Have the fey creature, attesting to it's faerie nature, make inane puns and quips to taunt the PC. Said quips may even refer to the PC by name and specifically target their greatest fear. The fey creature should be boastful (since it has Feign Death and figures it won't ever really die), maintaining an aura of both horror and humor simultaneously.

At this point, finish the encounter as a standard combat. The fey creature should attempt to stay at short range whenever possible, to allow it room to use its other SLA's and for its aura to do its job. Go invisible whenever you need to regenerate (provided one of your Fear effects is working on the PC). Liberal use of 5' steps, Invisibility and Sneak Attack is advisable until the PC is "bloodied," which here means that they're down to about half their HP (I stole the term from 4e D&D).

Done properly and keeping the PC isolated should have the effect of the Nightmare Lord taking out that particular character. They are a PC however and I'm guessing won't stay dead long. This first encounter should motivate the other PCs to band together and entire the nightmare realm to finish off the villain. You might suggest that there's some special way to do this - a power they must all discover within themselves that helps them defeat the monster, a fact of the creature's origin that ensures its true death, or perhaps some artifact of the creature that needs to be either burned or buried to guarantee final victory, but I'll leave that up to the scriptwriters... I mean, GM.

Oh yeah, and give the fey a name. Something both terrifying and mundane. Maybe something that starts with an "F."


@Ryze
I was thinking about having him put whoever is standing guard to sleep with deep slumber, and then putting the whole party into a nightmare so everyone can participate.

I like the super quick combat idea. Just reoccurring flashes of terror.

And you're right, they can resurrect. Lol.

@Mark
The steamy warehouse would be pretty scary to people who don't understand the technology. I don't think steam powered machines exist in this timeline yet. The spring is a relatively new invention.

So the Elm street type nightmare would be so alien and terrifying to people in this timeline.


Nightmare has unlimited range. The bogeyman can attack from literally anywhere.

You could start with one nightmare attack per night until the party start taking steps to defend themselves and hunt down the bogeyman. Then one visitation per day staying at medium spell range. Drop a feeblemind and a phantasmal killer and retreat. As the party get closer continue to ramp up the hit and run. Maybe 2-3 rounds of attack using shadow conjuration and/or evocation. Modify a memory that one of the party betrayed another. Add suggestions to not memorise useful spells - eg the cleric chooses not to pick dispel evil.

The players should be terrified of an enemy that can attack them anywhere and that they cannot even engage and get more and more desperate as the attacks ramp up and the cumulative effects take their toll.

Grand Lodge

2 extended magic circle against evil will last 240 min. each. This will be enough to gain a full rest for the party, but they will need to sleep close together.

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