What's a Good end boss for a horror campaign that isn't lovecraftian?


Advice


I'm gonna be running a horror campaign for some friends of mine, I've got six players total and I'm gonna start them off at level 3 but I was hoping for this campaign to last till at least level 8 or so. Problem is I'm not really sure what's a good scary end boss for everything, I know that whatever it is it's going to be far deep down in the last chamber of the dungeon I've been working on and is currently being worshipped or maybe in charge of a "Monster Cult" basically crazy folk that are turning themselves into monsters or just mutilating themselves until horribly deformed, Ideally this monster would be intelligent to some degree but other than that I'm drawing a blank, In all honesty, I'm not even fully sure what the best CR would be for six level 8's. If anyone has any good suggestions for what kind of monsters I should be looking into that would be a major help.

So basically whats a good boss monster for a horror campaign that isn't lovecraftian?

Any suggestions would be great if you could give me some, Thanks!

Grand Lodge

For a cult of self-mutilation, you want Kytons.


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The classics! Vampire, (Advanced) Flesh Golem (With creator), Mummy and Werewolf.


Something that both subverts and highlights the theme carried through the campaign.

If this is a body horror campaign, you want something that is both physically attractive as well as repulsive. Templates are also good to mix concepts and generate disgust.

For example, a Shining Child, a Baku Dreamweaver with the Worm-that-Walks template, a Rabisu with the Fungal Zombie template...

As for CR, depends on amount of encounters you will add before.


Another one I think would be neat is a Furcifer - its illusions causing all cultists to think that the mutilations were harmless and welcome.

You could make it a beautiful specimen too, with gorgeous flowers.

Make it harmless and approachable when first encountered.

However, the head cultist, who is actually not under its illusion and doing terrible things out of evilness, has convinced the Furcifer into believing they are its child.

When the head cultist is killed, flies into a frenzy and attempts to kill the party.


I keep this idea at the back of my mind where the BBEG turns out to be an elderly, extremely polite, very popular in his small community, wizard.

He is most helpful to the players for the entirety of the campaign, not a single thing he does is suspicious, everybody loves him. He is the literal Gandalf in the Shire.

It is all a very careful facade for... that's entirely up to you.

My original plan was that deep in his wizard tower, he has a dungeon where all his experiments are being performed. Occasional person from the village and surrounding one may go missing but nothing out of the ordinary that can't be attributed to an animal attack or such, and the wizard is always above reproach (can't be a diviner or his cover would be blown when he refuses to scry for missing people obviously)

What happens in his tower though is the stuff of horrors, and it sometimes escapes. He has hired the adventurers to remove his latest mishap, though obviously he won't admit it's his. From there you have a free reign of how horrific you want to make it.

Sovereign Court

Aboleth - esp. because all the players are going to ASSUME that it is "lovecraftian" until suddenly it isn't. All the small clues will lead them to believe that the "cult" is a "horror from between the stars" group, when in fact the Skum encountered are ... PFS specific, and not Deep Ones.


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This might be a little much for a bunch of 8th level players, but that's up to you. This guy is a beast, and the more people that put him to use, the better. I really like how well the template works with the base creature.

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.


NihilsticBanana wrote:

I'm gonna be running a horror campaign for some friends of mine, I've got six players total and I'm gonna start them off at level 3 but I was hoping for this campaign to last till at least level 8 or so. Problem is I'm not really sure what's a good scary end boss for everything, I know that whatever it is it's going to be far deep down in the last chamber of the dungeon I've been working on and is currently being worshipped or maybe in charge of a "Monster Cult" basically crazy folk that are turning themselves into monsters or just mutilating themselves until horribly deformed, Ideally this monster would be intelligent to some degree but other than that I'm drawing a blank, In all honesty, I'm not even fully sure what the best CR would be for six level 8's. If anyone has any good suggestions for what kind of monsters I should be looking into that would be a major help.

So basically whats a good boss monster for a horror campaign that isn't lovecraftian?

Any suggestions would be great if you could give me some, Thanks!

Hmmm....

How about a broken soul angel or other celestial of some sort? Its faith could be perverted into the surety that humanity's (humanoidity's?) only purpose is to cause itself pain. Thus, it helps people achieve their ideal form by mutilating themselves, then sends them out to spread the word, so to speak.


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Ghost. Its a BBEG the party cant just kersmite to death, they have to figure out how to resolve whats keeping it around, on top of which the original person could potentially not even be a bad person, they maybe just died in an ugly way. ghosts can possess, so they can end up being problematic at all levels by simply possessing people to f#*% with the party. It digs into needing investigation chops as you have to figure out how to put the lost soul to rest.

Ghosts>most everything else for BBEG in horror games


As above, the theme is truly important in horror. It also helps if there's a sense of betrayal and despair. For intrigue, a villain might not be entirely wrong.

Perhaps when they find the villain it's revealed that all their adventures were planned to keep them busy. Now, at the final conflict, they learn that the plan to (achieve X) was completed half an hour ago and is irreversible.

3.5 had this ghost story... the ghost was trying to kill a pregnant woman and attacking any who stood against him. The whole town huddled in the church for protection. The ghost was the women's dead husband, trying to kill the devil possessing his unborn child before it grew to full power and slaughtered / dominated everyone.

There's no perfect ending in a story like that. That's horror.


Personally I like the idea of utilizing Hollow Ones. Perhaps the 'crazy folk' are the 5% of unstable versions, or the B.B.E.G. was one that took Class Levels to emulate its creator, taking over their twisted legacy by making more Hollow Ones. You can sprinkle clues during confusing incidents in the campaign that increasingly indicate various horrors but no concrete evidence. In fact, this gives you an "out" if there is a T.P.K. before the "big reveal", whereby the Party instead later awaken naked, divested of equipment and strangely sore. Only at the end do they realize why they were spared - the B.B.E.G. used them as "materials" for new Hollow Ones, then discarded the assumed to be dying Party, (it turns out P.C.s can benefit from plot armour too!). The horror comes in the Party learning what happened to them, having to kill subservient, distorted versions of themselves/each other, then spending the rest of their lives (if they survive the final Encounter) wondering who in their lives is "real" and who is "Hollow" ...


To add on @Entymal.

I think a masterpiece in horror is Bloodborne.

Bloodborne has a very strong theme: reproduction. From that stem a lot of subthemes – blood, longing, loneliness, sterility, flesh, corruption, decay, the moon, cycles, etc.

Each great foe represents an aspect of this theme, and the final bosses have a strong connection with it.


@voodistmonk

I totally used that Nightmare Lord two sessions ago. He is a beast. He got one kill on the group in the first round with Quickened Phantasmal Killer, and then had the group shaking in their boots for the rest of the encounter. Luckily they resisted the other two Quickened PK's, but the fear of death was present ;)


Ryze Kuja wrote:

@voodistmonk

I totally used that Nightmare Lord two sessions ago. He is a beast. He got one kill on the group in the first round with Quickened Phantasmal Killer, and then had the group shaking in their boots for the rest of the encounter. Luckily they resisted the other two Quickened PK's, but the fear of death was present ;)

That's awesome. What level was the party?

I'm probably going to reintroduce him to the party after Thanksgiving.

I would almost feel bad unleashing 3 quickened DC28 Phantasmal Killers. Almost.

The party still thinks that I cheap-shotted them when a Forest Giant used Baleful Polymorph to turn one of them into a mindless raven.


It's a party of 6 level 13 gestalts. I didn't feel bad at all :) I did have to beef up his stats to a CR15 to make him a viable challenge to the group, but I kept the saves for the spells/abilities the same. I totally forgot to use Dream Slave on the guy who died though... don't worry, he's coming back for a rematch in 1d4+1 days :D


Mid-Campaign reveal.

The little old lady who has been helpgin them, selling them potions, and in general acting as both patron and aid, turns out to be the main enemy, using the PCs to thin her Lts out, cull the weak from the chafe, and she then offers to recruit them to her cause but they must join her in her attack on the otherwise innocent townsfolk for something their ancestors did to her in the long past. (Think lil ol Granny in the forest shack, Good Witch vibes)

Joining her is a quick path to power, but your tied to this woman who's really a demon/witch, fighting her means fighting her minions etc. This lets the party bust the trope and join her if they please, or know the enemy they are going to have to fight in the end, as they have met her.

End of Campaign if they choose the good path is fighting her in her full Hag form, upgraded to match the CR. If you want to add unusual tropes look up Baba Yaga's house from the Reign of Winter expansion and let that be part of the fight.


Could go with a 'traditional' Pathfinder villain set up. A cult of Lamashtu worshipers. Have the final reveal lead to a Gnoll Lair where the top levels are filled with human cultists and gnoll warriors, with a few Fleshwarped abominations. Then throw in a Lamia leading a group of 'elite' gnoll warriors with fleshcrafts attached to them.

As the party gets deeper into the caves, have waves of weak monsters assault them. Lamashtu's will has been done and the Gnolls and cultists have been very fruitful.

In a large chamber deep within the earth is our BBG. A Lamaia Matriarch attended by a lesser Lamaia assistant (with alchemist levels), and a pair of human assistants. One of the assistants is a Druid that controls vermin used in the experiments. On the first round several swarms of burrowing beetles emerge from the walls and ceiling (the swarms fly). The chamber itself has several natural pools that have been converted into alchemical vats for fleshwarping experiments. The room should have a large amount of throbbing puddy-encased experiments that act like obstacles and cover. If an experiment is subjected to a substantial attack have a half-hp fleshwarped creature emerge and join the fight.

At the back end of the cave should be some humongous cocoons that promise fleshwarped creatures of mind boggling size if they ever emerge. I'd intend those more as a plot point with no intention to use said creatures. But you do what you want with the idea.


It doesn't have complicated, if sheer numbers will do the trick. (Bonus points if the GM actually has a thousand minis of the same creature.)


An Ogre Magi that shape changes down to an elderly man the party may or may not know, the final fight is the big reveal, except once defeated, the ogre magi's head cracks open to reveal an Intellect Devourer! And now the final fight begins!


What style of horror is it? If it's gothic,a vampire or ghost is perfect, if cliched. Something like a devourer is a bit more unusual, though I'd beef it up a bit for that many players.

Demons are a classic, and give you an excuse for some horrific ritual.

A lot of what makes for a good suggestion really depends on what sort of horror you're looking for.


EldonGuyre wrote:

What style of horror is it? If it's gothic,a vampire or ghost is perfect, if cliched. Something like a devourer is a bit more unusual, though I'd beef it up a bit for that many players.

Demons are a classic, and give you an excuse for some horrific ritual.

A lot of what makes for a good suggestion really depends on what sort of horror you're looking for.

Good point, so far I've gotten some ideas that I really like, But I guess the overall tone of my campaign is a dark fantasy with moments of extreme body horror, I'd only call a few key locations "Gothic" just due to there maybe being a castle on a lonely little island, Though I'd rather lean closer to the cult stuff with the final dungeon so that would be closer to body horror end boss or scary monster end boss or a mix of both.


Kytons are pretty much the ultimate for body horror...a devourer could be used well...of course cults compliment demons and kytons exceptionally.


How about some big, hulking brute. Like an impossibly rotund, ogre-like thing with a distended maw that alternates between attempts to swallow characters whole and vomiting up swarms of wriggling maggots?

Or maybe a shriveled old witch of some sort, with some sort of flesh warping ability to corrode the party's sense of self and to make their minions even more gruesome and deadly?


As the party knocks down the deranged wizard behind all the trouble, they find out what's behind him... a Contract Devil!

The really ugly thing about him is that he refuses to fight the PCs (projected image or some such). He just wants to talk and maybe offer a bargain or two... He will certainly offer to swap the wizard's soul for that of the Paladin. :p


Quixote wrote:

How about some big, hulking brute. Like an impossibly rotund, ogre-like thing with a distended maw that alternates between attempts to swallow characters whole and vomiting up swarms of wriggling maggots?

Or maybe a shriveled old witch of some sort, with some sort of flesh warping ability to corrode the party's sense of self and to make their minions even more gruesome and deadly?

How about the huge, 9-headed Jotund Troll (CR15) with its Fast Swallow/Swallow Whole ability? Just scooping people up and eating them in the most grotesquely satisfying manner possible...


VoodistMonk wrote:
How about the huge, 9-headed Jotund Troll?

That sounds awesome. Some kind of ritual that awakens the beast?


Well, one of my favorite monsters from the old D20 Modern system was the 'Star Doppleganger', which was pretty much John Carpenter's version of "The Thing (from another world)" ^_^
http://www.d20resources.com/menaces.d20/menaces/star.doppleganger.php

It has a Lovecraftian feel, without truly being a Mythos entity (frankly, one of the things I didn't like about the 'Strange Aeons' adventure path was its very close association with the Cthulhu Mythos).

Of course it will take some work to convert it to Pathfinder stats, but not too much.

The hard part will be how to emulate it taking someone else's place, without the other player's knowing (easy to do for NPCs).

There was a Ravenloft adventure about Dopplegangers ("Hour of the Knife") dealt with PCs being replaced harshly: If a PC was ever in a situation where they were alone with a Doppleganger, they were automatically assumed to be killed and replaced (but this was originally a tournament adventure, so nobody was losing long standing characters themselves).


elvnsword wrote:

Mid-Campaign reveal.

The little old lady who has been helpgin them, selling them potions, and in general acting as both patron and aid, turns out to be the main enemy, using the PCs to thin her Lts out, cull the weak from the chafe, and she then offers to recruit them to her cause but they must join her in her attack on the otherwise innocent townsfolk for something their ancestors did to her in the long past. (Think lil ol Granny in the forest shack, Good Witch vibes)

Coming in a bit late, but this character here would be pretty much a perfect fit. She's sweet, kindly, and would totally help a group whose interests aligned with hers! And she makes all sorts of potions!

Of course, she's actually a Souldrinker and a neutral evil serial killer. But she's /nice/.

Doug M.


For horror and for turning yourself into a monster? Without lovecraft

Kytons and Zon Kuthon are surely the only answer?


Hey, don't forget demon grafts and various Corruptions.

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
elvnsword wrote:

Mid-Campaign reveal.

The little old lady who has been helpgin them, selling them potions, and in general acting as both patron and aid, turns out to be the main enemy, using the PCs to thin her Lts out, cull the weak from the chafe, and she then offers to recruit them to her cause but they must join her in her attack on the otherwise innocent townsfolk for something their ancestors did to her in the long past. (Think lil ol Granny in the forest shack, Good Witch vibes)

Coming in a bit late, but this character here would be pretty much a perfect fit. She's sweet, kindly, and would totally help a group whose interests aligned with hers! And she makes all sorts of potions!

Of course, she's actually a Souldrinker and a neutral evil serial killer. But she's /nice/.

Doug M.

Curse you Doug!

*shakes fist*

Now I have to use her... any ideas on how to turn this into a one-shot?


Hm. I imagined her as an ongoing character, with the villain reveal coming gradually. -- Also, I have about half of a campaign written with her as a major character -- one of six evil witches or hags who are the secret masters of a city. If that sounds interesting, you can find a sketch of it over here.

Doug M.


The God Machine Chronicles. It's set in a modern-day world, but definitely worth looking at.
Essentially, you just take all the common elements of Lovecraft--alien, unknowable, that sense of scope and size and complexity, madness, secret cults--but you replace all of the deep-sea motifs with technological ones. Swap the tentacles for gears, basically.

It's wonderfully written, with plots and concepts that are legitimately dizzying in their intricacy.

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