Howdy everybody! My college semester has started up again, but don't worry, not even god can stop me from making weird monsters. This one and probably the next several aren't part of any particular series, but rest assured I still have plenty of ideas. I will tease that I'm working on a few supplementals for the Thirteen Tales of Terror, as a thank-you for how much you guys liked them. I hope you enjoy! As always, you are free to use/tweak my monsters however you want, my only rule is that you have to let me know how it goes.
Thanks to TigerT20 and CountBongo for feedback
There is magic saturating the world. The power of nature can be felt when one sits down on a summer day, when one walks through a sunlit forest with moss underfoot, when one listens to the thrumming songs of birds and insects. Despite its might, this magic is usually subtle. Only the mightiest druids can call forth the full wrath of nature, and such figures are few and far between. However, the magic is still everywhere, waiting to be called on. Even in the most remote, mundane villages where an arcane scholar has never set foot, the magics of the land and sea are still strong as ever. So they tend to leak through, wherever people gather to call them forth. Through rituals, chants and totems a sufficiently large group of even the utmost novices can still call forth power. There are many examples of such powers, but today we will focus on one. The power found far out in the dry fields of summer, standing motionless on the hilltop beneath the sun. The power called into a vessel by members of a small farming hamlet to rid them of outsiders looking too deeply into goings-on. The burning sparks of suspicion catch on the dry stalks, and a Wicker Man roars to life.
Usually built to resemble a huge humanoid figure, the body of the Wicker Man is a towering pagan totem woven from dried reeds and tall grasses held upright by a wooden frame. While the limbs and featureless head may be stuffed with straw to add bulk and kindling, the chest is usually left hollow so that victims of the cult may be locked in as a sacrifice before the whole thing is set ablaze. And blaze it does, roasting the hapless souls trapped inside its belly as it unleashes pyrrhic fury unto the world, turning itself to ash in its fervour. Normally a Wicker Man moves slowly and subtly, stiffly moving in a way that could almost be mistaken for it inanimately swaying in the wind. However, once it is touched by flame there is no mistaking the magical forces moving its limbs. Arms outstretched to smash and burn, stiff legs breaking into a run as the flames overtake them, and the crackling roar of fire mixing with the screams of those trapped within. Before it is naught but soot and smoke, the Wicker Man will ceaselessly destroy enemies of its cult, smashing them, grabbing them, entrapping them and most of all… Burning them.
How and When to use it
The Wicker Man is a monster with an abrupt spike in the danger it poses. When it’s first called to life by the chantings of the local cult, its slow creaking movement will certainly be imposing for lower-level players, but it still won’t be a massive danger. The only unnatural thing about it is that it’s moving, which plays well into the rural low-magic occult feel. The encounter will go pretty slowly as the haunted haystack lumbers in pursuit of the players, at least up until the point where it manages to grab one. It’s more than likely that a low-level party will have a melee character or two, so with that combined with the longer attack range of the Wicker Man itself, someone should get within grabbin’ distance before the encounter drags on. And as soon as someone’s been shoved into the monster’s chest-cage, then things heat up. Literally.
From the moment the Wicker Man uses Immolation (or is otherwise ignited) the encounter is now on a ticking timer. The Wicker Man will start taking some decent damage on the regular, but the potential damage it can deal will skyrocket, turning it into a glass cannon encounter. However, don’t be delicate. Throw caution to the wind and go on a rampage! Fire isn’t known for self-preservation, after all. The Wicker Man will go from much slower than the party to a good bit faster, and its attacks will have the added hurt of the fire damage. And of course, while party members trapped inside the burning effigy won’t be directly attacked by its burning bundles, they will have to deal with the gradually ramping-up fire damage as it roasts them alive. They can focus on either trying to escape their prison, or instead toughing out the flames to deal more damage from inside, or maybe even finding a way to extinguish it. Regardless, everything should definitely become more intense and frantic. The real trick is forcing the party to still strategize in the face of this mayhem. Should they risk getting closer to it to free their comrades? Are the cultists still bothering them along with the Wicker Man itself? Is there a river or something nearby, or alternatively a whole forest that could accidentally be set alight? This panic state is exciting, but you have to make sure it doesn’t last for too long. Thankfully, the Wicker Man has got you covered. With the combined damage of the party and its own flames, it shouldn’t last long enough for its boosted damage to become unfair. Still, use your judgement as the fight goes on and adjust things accordingly.
In conclusion, the Wicker Man is a great boss for a low-level cult sweep, with a built-in intensity button that you can hit whenever you feel like. And, of course, a mean grapple.
Huge Construct, Lawful Evil CR: 4
AC: 12 (Natural Armor) 96/96 HP Prof. Bonus: +2
Speed: 20 ft
Languages: Understands Ignan and Druidic but cannot speak
STR: 14(+2) DEX: 11(0) CON: 15(+2) INT: 7(-2) WIS: 7(-2) CHA: 10(0)
Skills: Intimidation +2
Senses: Blindsight 50 ft, Perception 11
Damage Resistances: Piercing, Bludgeoning
Damage Immunities: Poison, Psychic
Condition Immunities: Charmed, Exhaustion, Frightened, Paralyzed, Poisoned, Unconscious
Damage Vulnerabilities: Fire
Pyre: Whenever the Wicker Man takes fire damage, it is set on fire. While the Wicker Man is on fire, its Slam attack deals an extra 1D4 fire damage and its movement speed is increased to 40 ft. It also takes 2D8+1 fire damage at the start of its turn while on fire, counting the effects of Vulnerability.
Targets restrained by the Wicker Man while it is ignited take 1D6+3 fire damage at the start of each of their turns. At the start of each of the Wicker Man’s turns while it is ignited, this damage increases by 1D6. (First round 1D6+3, second round 2D6+3, third round 3D6+3, etc)
Multiattack: The Wicker Man makes two Slam attacks, or one Slam and its Immolation.
Slam: Melee weapon attack, +4 to hit, reach 10 ft, single target. 2D6+2 bludgeoning damage. On hit, the target must pass a DC 13 STR save or become Restrained(escape DC 14). The target may use an action to repeat the save on their turn.
If the Wicker Man has a target Restrained, that target becomes contained within its chest and has half cover. The Wicker Man can have one Large creature, two Medium creatures or four Small or smaller creatures contained within it.
Immolation: (1/Day) The Wicker Man sets itself on fire. All enemy creatures that can see it must pass a WIS save with a DC equal to 12+the number of creatures contained inside of it. On a failure, targets become Frightened of it for 1 minute. They may repeat the save at the end of each of their turns. Upon passing the save on their turn, a target becomes immune to this effect for 24 hours.
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