Posted by : David Guyll July 12, 2016

Near the end of the Hall of Harsh Reflections, there's a dungeon that has shriekers in one of the rooms.

Shriekers, in case you somehow didn't know, are one of many silly D&D monsters. Some are amalgamations of two or more different animals, while others look like a myriad of objects such as swords, gold pieces, or even pillows.

Shriekers buck both of these trends in that they're basically fungal alarm systems. If you get too close they, well, "shriek", which can then attract other actually dangerous monsters to try and beat you up.

I've already modified the adventure content considerably thus far (along with other creatures, like kobolds and medusas gorgons): the big bad is an exceptionally skilled transmuter instead of a mind flayer, I stuck with more doppelgangers instead of suddenly switching to drow, and the dungeon has plenty of weird features (fleshy walls, metallic heart pump, etc).

So, I figured I might as well change the shriekers.

Instead of being naturally occurring screaming fungus alarms, they're a composition of humanoid faces and fungus made by the big-bad. Each shrieker looks similar enough to a mushroom, but the cap is covered in milky, crusted eyes, and when they see light a bunch of mouths along the stalk begin screaming or moaning in pain, maybe even begging for help.

This would ideally attract people who think someone is in trouble, only to come across an eye- and mouth-covered mushroom. If they're not the adventurous type, they'd ideally be scared off. Of course, even if they for whatever reason stick around, the noise can still warn/attract other creatures (which might get the drop on them while they're freaked the fuck out), so it's still a win-win for the monsters.

An alternative I also cooked up, for those that want to go the "naturally occurring" route, is to give shriekers an actual attack. In this case, when it sees light it starts screaming or begging for help, and when the characters get close it shoots toxic spores at them. The spores deal some damage, and can also put you to sleep, giving them time to infest and kill you.

If you die from shrieker spores, it grows throughout and across your body, and kind of takes over your corpse. This gives it the ability to speak, so when other creatures approach, it screams or moans or begs for help using your voice, possibly attracting more creatures and allowing it to repeat the process. Just imagine hearing people begging for help, and when you round the corner come across a mount of fungus-caked corpses.

This could also be where myconids (or something like myconids) come from: after a while of infesting the corpse, the fungus just kind of takes over and can start walking about. Maybe something like Last of Us clickers, just not completely crazy.

Anywho, here's the statblock for the base shrieker (bigger shriekers would be higher level):

Shrieker
Level 1 Medium Plant

Ability Scores 
STR -5 DEX +0 WIS +1
CON +1 INT -5 CHA -5

Skills 
Perception +3

Defense
Initiative +0
Speed 0 feet
Special A melee attack made against a shrieker always hits (this way, unlike 3D D&D, you can't attack the stationary fungus and somehow miss)
Immune Shriekers are immune to anything that affects the mind or relies on vision
Fort 11 Ref 10 Will 11
Wounds 4 Vitality 3 Total 7

Offense
Spore Cloud 30 foot cloud around the shrieker; +1 versus Fort; 1d6+1 poison damage (ignores armor), half on a miss. On an 15+, the target also falls asleep.

Treasure
2d4 x 10 sp of shrieker spores (good for making powder/poisons that could put others to sleep)

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