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5E What would be in the SPOOKIEST 5e adventure?

BookTenTiger

Adventurer
Help me build the SPOOKIEST adventure!

We all know that D&D characters are basically fearless (unless they fail a Wisdom Saving Throw). So instead, let's target the players.

What would scare a player so bad they'd burst their dicebags?

I think we have to start with some Rust Monster Swarms...
 

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I've found the best thing that scares players is the fear of the unknown. When facing a creature they recognize, they default to certain assumptions, even if they don't know the monster's specific abilities. Pulling creatures from 3PP is a great way to throw them off their game. Roll in secret so that the party never figure out their AC and save modifiers. Don't tell them the duration of effects. Use invisible/hidden enemies that strike from the shadows, then return to them as the party tries to react.

If you just want some monster combinations: a beholder focusing its eye on the party from behind a horde of rust monsters and cockatrice. Dropping any unique creature (demon lords, devil princes, Tiamat, the Terrasque, etc.) will generally make the players drop a load, but this probably ends in a TPK...
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I find that locking my player in a room, handcuffed to the wall with a hacksaw and a timer ... oh wait. Right. On advice of my lawyer I'm not supposed to talk about that. If I had a lawyer for the totally unfounded accusations. :rolleyes:
 

I don't know about players, but when I've been DMing and have included mind flayers and intellect devourers, I've been terrified for them that they are pretty much two bad rolls away from death.

Other than that, I'd say ghosts. Because the possibility of gaining 10-40 years, outside of the longer-lived races, can mess with your character concept. Your young naïve fighter suddenly can find themselves an old man if they're not lucky. A change to alignment likewise. But including that sort of stuff can also really damage a player's enjoyment of the game. So perhaps the threat is more useful. Like a cursed artifact that will corrupt those that come into contact with it for longer than seven days.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
This would terrify me...

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
As others have stated, the fear of the unknown and player's own imagination is the most effective tool. The whisper in the dark, the sound of footsteps that could just be an echo behind you and so on.

For monsters even just re-skinning existing monsters into unknown thing can be pretty terrifying. Attacks from the darkness, or the tentacle that reaches out of the fog can be fun.

Ghosts that can possess a person is good, especially if no one knows who is possessed when. Basically not knowing who you can trust or if things are safe.

Ultimately thought you have to know your players. Some people are easy to scare with simple atmosphere and description, for others a terror of tarrasques won't shake them because they don't expect a TPK and wouldn't care if one happened.
 

aco175

Legend
An old DM had a collapsed mine tunnel with a sigh saying not to excavate this mine- DANGER. Of course, we started digging it out with side talk about what treasure we would find and how old miners his treasure with a danger note to keep others out. After 20ft we came to another sign saying that we warn you to keep out- DANGER. Of course we kept going and talked about the even greater treasure that is hid. After the 3rd and 4th sign we started to think about the effort of burying the tunnel and placing the signs. The 5th sign said last chance. We managed to spook ourselves enough that we did not open it.
 

Eltab

Hero
Originally a Lawrence of Arabia story:
The PCs have just done something illegal or that will become notorious once word gets out. When they get back to town, the normally- -corrupt and -inefficient City Guard is closely inspecting everyone and everything that passes through the gate.
No the Guards do not know what the PCs did. They are just taking the chance to shake down travellers (to give themselves some 'bonus pay').

The PCs however are likely to conclude "they are on to us! (And how did they find out what we did?)"
 

BookTenTiger

Adventurer
An old DM had a collapsed mine tunnel with a sigh saying not to excavate this mine- DANGER. Of course, we started digging it out with side talk about what treasure we would find and how old miners his treasure with a danger note to keep others out. After 20ft we came to another sign saying that we warn you to keep out- DANGER. Of course we kept going and talked about the even greater treasure that is hid. After the 3rd and 4th sign we started to think about the effort of burying the tunnel and placing the signs. The 5th sign said last chance. We managed to spook ourselves enough that we did not open it.
I love this.
 

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