Friday Night D&D – Things that Go Bump
I think that this idea can be used as a campaign or as a one shot, depending on what you want to do with it. When using iconic monsters like werewolves, vampires, and other classic monsters, you can always turn it into a one off where you face off against a single monster.
For a campaign though, I think that you have to find some lower level monster that seems classic campy horror that starts out harrowing the town that the 0 level or maybe level 1 characters are based out of.
Just as an aside, you might be wondering what a 0 level character is. That is basically that you’re just playing a villager, someone who wants to become a wizard might have a cantrip or two, but no first level spells. The characters probably don’t have anything more than a rusty short sword and a little bit of leather armor at best. Basically, you are really leaning into them launching into being heroes.
Anyways, back to what I’m going for. In the world you’re building these monsters should be normal. The players should know that the scary castle a long way up in the mountains that seems to be always casting a shadow over this town as a monster in it. They should know that the woods has werewolves in it. The creature from the Black Lagoon should be a few towns over, and this is a world that has campy and classic monsters around.
Now, something like this could just be the monster of a week, and while that is going to be good for a little while, eventually I think you should start dropping hints of something or someone bigger controlling everything. You don’t need to use Strahd’s stat block for your vampire lord, it can be lesser than that. I think that it would make sense for a Mummy Lord (or maybe a Lich) to be running this group. They are experimenting with other ways to extend life or something like that, or maybe the bodies are going missing and the Mummy Lord is using the monsters to kill off to create an army of the shambling dead.
I’d play around with whomever your BBEG is, give them some sort of curse. And make that a way either for the players to eventually win by solving the riddles and taking care of the mummy’s curse, or the riddles/curse could just reveal a weakness that the players will be able to exploit. The BBEG should also be very into monologues and having that evil genius mindset, though that might make more sense for an evil wizard in a tower or a lich as compared to a mummy lord, so there are different ways that you can lean into campiness and movie monsters.
What would probably take the most time would be finding those classic monsters you want to use. Some of them don’t fully exist in D&D. However, there are going to be things close, and just reskin them so that they look like what you need at the challenge level you need. And if you wanted to you could also pull in horror movie villains like Freddy Krueger or Jason Vorhees for your game to flesh out the cast of characters. Or you could also steal monsters from things like The Dresden Files and Supernatural to get an idea of how to be a bit campy, but also to use a wide variety of monsters instead of just limiting yourself to the classic movie monsters.
I think that something like this could be interesting for a game personally. It would allow you to pull in the players real knowledge of these things while they have to deal with them in the game. And it wouldn’t have to be a super high level campaign at the end, but you’d get a nice building feeling, especially starting at level 0 and going up.
What do you think? Would you want to play in this game? Have you used classic movie and movie monsters in your games?
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