Making it fair, unkillable/puzzle monsters

I need some help with this one. I'm running a session this Sunday, where I'll be introducing my take on weeping angels from doctor who. I've got a couple of different ways that I think I would run them and I'm looking for some advice from other dm's.

Immune to all damage/status effect while seen. However they are unable to move in this case.
An attack that physically ages the body instantly, however the mind experiences all of that time while in a harmless demiplane. (This is partially a plot device for the Paladin, he's addicted to a fantasy version of heroin that I created for him.)
A forced blink where all of the creatures attacks happen in a "blink of an eye"
Multiple resolution paths.

Everyone is level 6
Aasimar Glamour bard
Human inquisitive rogue
shadar kai oathbreaker paladin
half elf divination wizard
Dragonborn Grave Cleric

  • Attacking the creatures while explicitly not looking at them. (the entire party would have to be looking another way.)
  • A primordial symbol on their forehead that once translated and spoken aloud freezes that one in place for an hour. Perception check, then intelligence check.
  • Classic doctor style, force them to look at each other freezing them until they are physically blocked from each others site.
  • Entomb them in a crypt in the graveyard.
  • Something the players come up with that seems thematic and interesting.

  • The main questgiver warns them of an unusual guardian. That no one has been able to defeat.
  • Have an adventurer who managed to escape that they can talk to. Super old elf who is only 50.
  • Once they reach the site have a body just Inside the gates with a notebook of "theories" on how to successfully get past the guardians.
  • Have the blink and a statue has disappeared thing happen at a few different points.
  • Have them attack once and then backoff. After this show two of them staring at each other unmoving.
  • Possibly have an adventuring party in the graveyard that looks super old and Haggard, and when they blink or look away there are just a bunch of dessicated corpses.
First. Run them as a fairly standard monster. Initiative and facing rules applied to make it possible to run. Give them 100 hp multiattack, and a recharging "timedrain" type of attack.

Second option. Run them as a unstoppable juggernaut that just continues to haunt and drain the party unless they get smart about it. I wouldn't use initiative for this, more of an ongoing saving throw to avoid blinking.

So I'm essentially looking for input on these things.
  1. Any other resolutions for this kind of monster.
  2. Any other way to run it, I'm absolutely okay with using rules outside the normal 5e system.
  3. Any input on how to quickly ramp up the tension and keep everything nice and suspenseful while this is going on.
  4. How to keep it from getting stale/boring for the players.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I don't know anything about Doctor Who, but it sounds like this is just a monster that has particular rules that, once learned, make them possible or even simple to defeat.

In my view, to make this setup fair the DM must telegraph the strengths and vulnerabilities of the monster in some way prior to the challenge. It doesn't have to be totally explicit - just clues that could help the PCs arrive at the solution to the puzzle, seeded into the adventure in a way that makes sense in context. Erring on the side of "too obvious" is probably a good call since we DMs tend to think things are more obvious than they are when communicated to the players.

Once you've done that, it's up to the players to figure things out when they're facing the monsters. If they put together the clues with the descriptions you're offering during the challenge and figure out an optimal way to defeat them, great! If they don't and find themselves crippled with age or even dead, they should at least be able to look back at the clues they received prior to the encounter and realize they had everything they needed but simply failed to make the connections. That is the bar you have to reach with these clues and descriptions to make it fair.
 

Wiseblood

Adventurer
I ran something for some people new to 5e. They made 3rd level characters and I ran a simple adventure to let them get a feel for the rules. It was about five encounters.
1) easy with a few clues and an obvious arrow leading to
2) investigation a few more clues and a lead
3) role play that revealed the nature of the clues and the main threat a Vampire. Imminent danger and the whereabouts of said baddie.
4) pro active defense scenario thwarting the supernatural agents of the Vampire (draining resources)
5) rest then a race to to the bad guys lair before sundown killing his minions and staking him good. All before he got out of his coffin!

The players understood that if the Vamp was roused they were done for, it was tense. I never statted the Vampire. I didn’t need to. If they ended up in combat with the Vampire they would lose.

They had the advantage of knowing some pop culture vampire lore. So they knew to stake him. So in this case I just had to convey what they faced. They already knew the rules.

You will have to make the rules and the stakes clear (haha). If they aren’t fans of the Doctor or they can’t make the Weeping Angel connection they will probably bungle it.
 
@iserith
That's basically what I'm going for in these monsters yeah.

So for foreshadowing what I'd considered and I'll edit op to add these.

  • The main questgiver warns them of an unusual guardian. That no one has been able to defeat.
  • Have an adventurer who managed to escape that they can talk to. Super old elf who is only 50.
  • Once they reach the site have a body just Inside the gates with a notebook of "theories" on how to successfully get past the guardians.
  • Have the blink and a statue has disappeared thing happen at a few different points.
  • Have them attack once and then backoff. After this show two of them staring at each other unmoving.
  • Possibly have an adventuring party in the graveyard that looks super old and Haggard, and when they blink or look away there are just a bunch of dessicated corpses.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
@iserith
That's basically what I'm going for in these monsters yeah.

So for foreshadowing what I'd considered and I'll edit op to add these.

  • The main questgiver warns them of an unusual guardian. That no one has been able to defeat.
  • Have an adventurer who managed to escape that they can talk to. Super old elf who is only 50.
  • Once they reach the site have a body just Inside the gates with a notebook of "theories" on how to successfully get past the guardians.
  • Have the blink and a statue has disappeared thing happen at a few different points.
  • Have them attack once and then backoff. After this show two of them staring at each other unmoving.
  • Possibly have an adventuring party in the graveyard that looks super old and Haggard, and when they blink or look away there are just a bunch of dessicated corpses.
I think you're on the right track. I'll have to leave it to the Doctor Who fans to say if you're hitting the mark as far as fidelity goes. As long as you're erring on the side of "too obvious" (from the DM's perspective), you'll probably be alright.
 
I'm perfectly okay with it not matching the show, I just felt like this would be a great Halloween adjacent session, and side benefit of helping me practice ramping up the tension.
 

Guang

Explorer
Doctor Who RPG sourcebooks have a lot to say about running the Weeping Angels. I'll put some quotes here in a few hours when I have the chance.
 

Guang

Explorer
"Destroying an Angel
Angels are incredibly difficult to kill. Breaking the stone form of an Angel is not sufficient, although the more damage it receives, the longer it takes to regenerate. Submitting it to an overwhelming amount of energy, such as plunging it into the sun or a time breach, will cause its destruction. As such, the preferred method for dealing with Angels is to
contain them rather than destroy.
Placing two Angels face-to-face is a common method, so long as they are secured and permanent lighting can operate. Placing a mirror in front of an Angel accomplishes the same result, trapping them in their own quantum lock.
A final possibility is to place an Angel into a situation from which it simply cannot escape, such as beyond the event horizon of a black hole.
Cameras
While it is tempting to think cameras could either slow a Weeping Angel down or perhaps observe them outside of a quantum lock, neither is the case. This is
because the image of an Angel is still an Angel. The image is frozen when observed by a living being, but, unobserved, it is free to move about the frame or exit the image entirely.
Prolonged direct eye contact with an Angel can also cause an Angel to imprint upon the soul of a person and transform them into a new Angel."
"Long chase scenes become increasingly less plausible against foes that can move at the speed of thought. Even with a coordinated effort to always have eyes on their surroundings, there is only so long characters can reasonably elude a healthy Angel. Remember, even the Doctor fell victim to them.
The solution is to limit the Angels’ involvement in a plot, even if the plot is primarily about them. The first time we encountered the Weeping Angels, the plot
might have been initiated by the Angels (when the Doctor was sent back in time), and it was the Angels that ultimately needed to be defeated, but much of the story didn’t directly involve them. Instead, it primarily
centred on Sally Sparrow’s investigation into the disappearance of her friend, which crossed paths with the Doctor’s attempt to retrieve the TARDIS. The Weeping Angels were instead an indirect menace, the
threat of them looming over the adventure without necessarily having to appear directly.
So, when constructing a story, consider all of the things that can be happening in relation to the Angels. Consider the setting, NPCs and events that can occupy and interest the players above and beyond the threat of a Weeping Angel. They may only learn of Angel involvement late into the story; while
there is clearly something wrong and a mystery to be solved, the situation is more complicated than people vanishing and then showing up dying of old age.
The Angels’ ability to transport people through time also complicates story writing. They can easily split a party between time periods."
"Angels can also be used to introduce an entirely new plot, transporting the PCs to a specific time and place in the past where the rest of the story occurs. Only after that issue is dealt with do they manage to regain access to the TARDIS to return to their own time."
-from All the Strange, Strange Creatures vol 1, Cubicle 7's Doctor Who Roleplaying Game.

Lots more great stuff in the book. I highly recommend it.
I think Weeping Angela should be run almost Deux ex machina - even if one is pulverized to dust, it's reflection in a nearby puddle or drop of sweat becomes a new Angel. They cannot be defeated by force, they cannot be run from forever, they can only be trapped by the extreme application of PC intelligence. And then, in a year, in a century, in an eon, the trap will slip a notch, and they will be free again, to hunt and feed on lifespans and potential futures.
 
I might do "don't blink" like this: On their turn a character can try not to blink. This counts a concertation, so they cannot concentrate on a spell at the same time. At the end of it's turn it must make a Constitution save, DC 10 +1 for every turn they have been not blinking. If they fail they blink, and any Weeping Angel they where looking at can use it's reaction to move up to 30', or move 15' and attack once.
 

aco175

Adventurer
I liked these in Dr Who, but not for the PCs to overcome, especially if they cannot kill them. The players will be frustrated since they have magic where Dr Who did not, but he had technology. If the players do not know what these are since they did not watch the show, they will keep trying to kill it and waste resources unless you describe how they cannot do anything.
 
I might do "don't blink" like this: On their turn a character can try not to blink. This counts a concertation, so they cannot concentrate on a spell at the same time. At the end of it's turn it must make a Constitution save, DC 10 +1 for every turn they have been not blinking. If they fail they blink, and any Weeping Angel they where looking at can use it's reaction to move up to 30', or move 15' and attack once.
I wrote it like this,
Blink. At the beginning of each of the Angels turns, anyone who is observing them must make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw. On a success they do not blink. If every person who is observing a given angel blinks then the angels entire turn happens while the characters are blinking.

I liked these in Dr Who, but not for the PCs to overcome, especially if they cannot kill them. The players will be frustrated since they have magic where Dr Who did not, but he had technology. If the players do not know what these are since they did not watch the show, they will keep trying to kill it and waste resources unless you describe how they cannot do anything.
I feel like this is the main reason iserith pointed toward foreshadowing them. If I threw these at my players out of nowhere and caused a tpk, I would be pissed at myself. I've got a couple of things that I plan on doing that should help set them on the right path. They will find (No matter which route they take to get into the graveyard) A body with some incomplete notes about the nature of the angels. Another group who are beating the living daylights out of some statues, then everyone blinks and all that's left are desiccated corpses. And whatever else floats to the top of my brain during the session.

I also start each session that's going to have any kind of major change with a conversation where I let the players know that some weird stuff will be happening, and they are very good about knowing when to question something or let me know that they are ooc confused on how to proceed.
 
Attacks that age are the epitome of Not Fun. Don't do it. How is your game going to cope with a bunch of elderly PCs?
In Doctor Who the attacks actually send the victim back in time. I might be inclined to set up an "in the past" adventure for victims to be sent to. Perhaps they could use the old "turned to stone" ploy to return to the present.
 
Attacks that age are the epitome of Not Fun. Don't do it. How is your game going to cope with a bunch of elderly PCs?
The plan is 1d4 years, this will happen a maximum of once per round, per character. It's not meant to be a deadly threat. It's more meant to give the opportunity for character changes.
 

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