Wednesday 16 November 2022

Reasonable Cruelty

For this challenge I'm going to revisit a selection of monster abilities that often scare GMs away, and can feel like unfair relics from the era of killer GMs.

These include:
  • Equipment Destruction
  • Maiming limbs
  • Finishing-off downed PCs
  • Instant Death
  • Level-drain (with a twist where ITO/Bastionland has no levels)
  • Petrification
  • Mind Control
And the final twist, none of the above effects will grant a Save to avoid them. There might be another way, but not from rolling well. 

The only way this will work is ultra-clear information for the players. They need to know that the scorpion's sting is instantly fatal FOR REAL THIS IS NOT FLUFF. If that touches you, you die. 

We can only give them information, let's see what they do with it!

Reasonably Cruel Monsters


STR 6, DEX 9, CHA 3, 1hp
Muck Gun (d6, leaves splat of muck as well as damage)
  • Hides under its tortoise-like shell as an instant reaction if anybody gets close, or if threatened from afar. The shell is utterly unbreakable by anything short of a bomb, and forms a tight seal to the ground.
  • Surrenders pitifully if they are unable to retract into their shell. They weep and cry but will turn hostile at the first opportunity.
  • Live only to serve the Green Beast, and would happily die for him. 
Notes: These things are annoying, but not much trouble on their own. They exist to accompany the more interesting monsters and make them even more annoying. 


STR 9, DEX 6, CHA 3, 2hp
Claws (d6)
  • Resembles a Gun-Runt, but has a mass of tangled fur and tendrils in place of its shell.
  • Anything touching its shell is grabbed by a waxy adhesive, only released by a Runt's saliva.
  • Their saliva also melts through any material, which they gleefully use to destroy captured items. 
Note: Equipment destruction

Collector Beetle

STR 10, DEX 10, CHA 3, 5hp
Jaws (d8) Shell (Armour 2)
  • On an attack roll of 7+ the Beetle tears a limb from the target. It favours arms, especially those carrying impressive weapons. 
  • Torn limbs are attached to the Beetle's hide, animating to grant an extra attack as appropriate.
  • If the Beetle is killed then limbs can be reattached, but require a skilled surgeon. 
Note: Maiming limbs

White Vulture

STR 12, DEX 15, CHA 3, 3hp
Rend (d8)
  • Has no appetite for combat, but watches on and swoops down onto any helpless victims.
  • Before feasting the Vulture spends a whole turn displaying, turning blood red and ruffling its feathers.
  • On the next turn the feast is gruesome and quick. The Vulture is back in the air before the last drops hit the ground. 
Note: Downed opponents

Crushing Spirit

STR 10, DEX 15, CHA 13, 6hp
Crush (d10), part-bone part-shadow (ignore normal attacks, takes d4 to d12 damage from light depending on intensity)
  • Its touch is unavoidable, freezing the victim in the place. On their next turn the spirit crushes the victim to dust, extracting their soul.
  • Even lamplight repels the spirit.
  • It's always plotting a way to plunge a victim into darkness. They don't much care who the specific victim is, but they must feed. 
Note: Instant death

Bloody Tearer
STR 7, DEX 6, CHA 5, 10hp
Black Gauntlet (d8, melee or ranged), Bloody Armour (Armour 2)
  • Bears trophies from infinite wars on impossible worlds, now a reluctant killer for hire.
  • They warn that each death now carries a greater cost.
  • If the Tearer causes or takes Melee Critical Damage, a red orb emerges and drains the life from any combatants. They all reroll their Ability Scores on 3d6, keeping any that are lower than their current score. 
Note: "Level drain"

Cloud Rider

STR 15, DEX 18, CHA 10, 11hp
Wind Blast (d6 Blast)
  • Extremely fast, lives to spread terror. 
  • Their body is fleshy, but always masked by cloud.
  • Instead of moving, the Rider can fill a room-sized area with glowing petrification gas. There's enough time to flee the area, but anybody that stays and breathes even a little of the gas becomes permanently petrified.
Note: Petrification
The Green Beast

STR 16, DEX 7, CHA 18, 10hp
Smash (d10 or d6 Blast), Stony Body (Armour 2)
  • Wants to amass more servants and punish those who rejected him.
  • Uses material bribes before resorting to his mind control. 
  • Anybody killed by the Beast, or one of his sworn servants, finds themselves on the threshold of death, faced by his true form, soft and verdant. The Beast offers life in return for an hour of service. If they agree, the victim returns to life but is under the Beast's control for the next hour.
Notes: Mind control

Art by Midjourney


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  1. Oh these are glorious. I'm a fan of the "bonus effect on 7+" rather than it coming from critical damage in that it keeps the grimness forward in that you aren't necessarily even knocked out

    1. Yeah that definitely works too. I'm messing with giving extra effects when you roll the highest number on the die, though you get that weird side effect where smaller weapons trigger it more often.

    2. Some other possibilities would be having the bonus effect when passing a save for critical damage (damned either way), or when hit points are reduced below a certain threshold by the attack.