Halloween season is now in full gear. The costume shops are open, the bags of candy line the store shelves, and the RPG blog community is exploding with great posts about Halloween creepy crawlies and other nasty DM delights. This month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme is “What Walks Into Town?” from Scot Newbury over at Of Dice and Dragons. Great theme! He hosted the blog last October and inspired me to create a whole month of blog posts’ worth of monsters. Scot does Halloween right.
I’ve been playing fifth edition with my group for a little over a year now and they’re now within the upper level echelons of the game. I find myself flipping through the Monster Manual in search of worthy high level challenges and I often come up short. Yes I could throw 50 orcs simultaneously at my players thanks to bounded accuracy, but that’s fun for my group exactly one time per campaign. After that single time it becomes a tedious, time-sucking grind. I’ve decided this theme will be a good excuse for me to create some higher level horrors to keep my PCs on their toes.
Now what should I create? What higher level monsters do I need? What fits this theme and this holiday? What terrifies me beyond recognition? Giant arachnids.
Yes I’m an arachnophobe. I don’t mind tiny spiders and scorpions so much, but when they get bigger than my ham fists, that’s when I bust out in the cold sweat of terror (and yes I’m aware that the small ones can be more deadly). I have trouble looking at my large spider miniatures without shuddering. That’s why I love to use them in my game. Like a twisted DM version of Batman I paraphrase, it’s time my players shared my fear.
I remember the third edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual had a spider and scorpion for every available creature size. I think fifth edition D&D needs their arachnids to grow beyond size Large and into Huge and, yes, Gargantuan beasts. So what’s walking into town? A big ass spider.
Most seasoned adventurers know there are spiders and scorpions as large as horses, but many would be horrified to learn some grow as large as houses or even as large as the tarrasque itself.
In the underdark, dense forests, and vast deserts of the world, certain breeds of arachnid have be able to grow to enormous proportions. These nocturnal terrors must survive many years in harsh environments to grow so large and those years provide experience and cunning which only make the beasts more dangerous. Their enormity means they pursue much larger prey than normal-sized vermin. Most humanoids are the perfect-sized meal for these creatures. When they are desperate for food, monstrous spiders and scorpions have been known to wander the outskirts of settlements at night to drag off a meal.
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