https://cursedcdn.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/pages/Home/Hero/spookymonsters.jpg?mtime=20201019132454&focal=none

5 Spooky Monsters from the Monster Manual to use in your Halloween D&D Adventure!

Putting together a Halloween or horror themed adventure, whether it is a one-shot or leads into a longer campaign, isn’t too difficult to accomplish. In fact, you don’t need multiple sourcebooks to make it happen because there’s plenty of genre-appropriate adversaries in the D&D Monster Manual. Let’s take a look at a handful of established creepy-crawlies that you can use as a primary villain in your adventure, as well as some commonly used tropes and adventure hooks for each one! We’ll stick to the more obvious choices in this article, but if you’re looking for something a little weirder, we’ve got you covered! Be sure to check out this article’s counterparts:

5 Weird Villains for your Halloween D&D Adventure!

A Look at Dungeons & Dragons’ Criminally Underused Demon Lords

Ghosts

GHOSTS

Monster Manual
Page 147
Challenge Rating: 4
Spooky Rating: OoooOOOoooOOO
Ghosts on D&D Beyond

We don’t have to go over what ghosts are, right? They are the souls of dead people that are trapped on the material plane, cursed to haunt something. Yep. Ghosts. It’s pretty cut and dry, and, truth be told, it is an on-the-nose choice for a Halloween adventure, but a good haunting can make for some tense fantasy storytelling, especially in those moments of slow build-up where your players don’t yet know what kind of adversary they are facing.

WHY USE A GHOST

Ghosts can haunt specific places, so you could go for the classic haunted house scenario, but more interestingly, they can also haunt an object or creature. In the particular parlance of D&D, creature means anything that moves — including your players. You could have a ghost that is haunting a sword that one of your players carries, for instance, or have it haunting the player themselves.

There’s a particularly devious attack that ghosts can do called Horrifying Visage. This attack forces a Wisdom saving throw, and if the player fails by 5 or more, they roll a D4. The result of this D4 multiplied by 10 is how many years are subtracted from the character’s life. This means that every saving throw can potentially shave up to 40 years off of the total lifespan of a character. While this might not mean a whole lot to long-lived races, it can be devastating to humans. The effect can be reversed by a greater restoration spell, but only within 24 hours of being afflicted — after that, the oldness is permanent.

Ghost 1172280 1280x0

GHOSTLY HOOKS

Unfinished Business — Recommended Level: Low — An ambitious lord closes off a wing of his castle after reports of servants being terrified and going mad while caring for it. He puts a call out for help, hiring your players to investigate the wing and cleanse the place of any potential evil. Your players encounter a stubborn ghost. Despite defeating it multiple times, it comes back every night. They have to piece together the history of the ghost and why it is there, then sort out its unfinished business in order to get rid of it. Perhaps the lord is the real villain, having killed the previous lord of the castle, causing the haunting.

You’re Fired — Recommended Level: Low — a village has a rash of mysterious fires that happen almost every night. Your players need to figure out why and discover a ghost is causing them, knocking over candles or something. The players learned that this is the ghost of some bad person who died in a fire. The only way to defeat the ghost and stop them from reappearing the next night is to recreate the original fire that killed it — same place, same circumstances.

A Haunted Thing — Recommended Level: Low — an item that a member of your group picked up previously turns out to be haunted. The players have to figure out why weird stuff is happening, deduce that it is a ghost, and then figure out that an item in their possession is haunted. Once they’ve got it all figured out, they need to get rid of the ghost, probably by destroying the item in a particular way or settling unfinished business. This particular option is steeped in mystery.

Lycanthropes

LYCANTHROPES

Monster Manual
Pages 207–211
Challenge Rating: Ranges from 2 (Wererats) to 5 (Werebears)
Hairball Rating: 100%
Werewolf on D&D Beyond

Werestuff can be a fun addition to your game, particularly because of the inherent danger of your players becoming infected by the lycanthropic disease at any point during the adventure. The Monster Manual lists Werebears, Wereboars, Wererats, and Werewolves as the official species combinations for lycanthropes. However, it should be noted that sometimes it’s fun to go a bit off the rails. If you’ve ever thought about experimenting with building weird creatures, like some high-fantasy Dr. Moreau, the wonderful world of laceration-transmitted curses of lunar animal hybridization may be just what you were looking for. Werebugbear, anyone?

WHY USE A LYCANTHROPE?

Lycanthropes make for an excellent enemy, particularly in situations where your group is trying to solve a series of murders. It’s an interesting choice in that it can literally be anyone — any NPC that the players encounter could potentially be a suspect. Your players will have to sleuth out the right answer and make judgment calls to find the culprit, which could lead to some tense and terrifying situations.

Lycanthropy is technically a curse that can be passed on to someone else through a wound. Whether it is a full-on bite or a tiny scratch, that pesky werecurse can seep its way into a character’s bloodstream upon contact. You can also have natural-born lycanthropes, if one or both of their parents are also lycanthropes. The curse of changing-into-other-stuff-when-the-moon-is-full can be broken with a Remove Curse spell if the target was infected by another lycanthrope. Natural born werefolk are not as lucky, though — they need to find and make a wish in order to break their curse.

Werewolf2 1

WEREHOOKS

Werewolf fiction has a long list of established tropes that are easily adapted to a roleplaying game. When in doubt, just think back to any number of werewolf stories that you may have seen or read and make that same story work inside your adventure! There’s a wealth of storytelling that is eager to be adapted to the world of swords and sorcery.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothes— Recommended Level: Low — A remote logging village has a rash of animal killings and hires some adventurers to help. Upon investigating, the players realize they are up against a werebeast of some kind. The perpetrator is an otherwise unaware villager who treats the team with kindness and helpfulness. They are unaware of their change and have no memory of it when they change back. The players must choose between killing the villager or curing them of their affliction.

Wolf Among Us — Recommended Level: Low — Medium — Your players encounter a werewolf, and one (or more) of them unknowingly contract lycanthropy. One night, they change, and lead the other players on a wild and thrilling chase in order to cure the infection and bring them back to the light. Make sure you discuss the potential of this adventure with the particular player who is infected beforehand, so they can play their part!

Ripped— Recommended Level: Low — Medium — In a larger city, your players stumble into an investigation of a series of grisly murders. During the course of the investigation, they encounter an intriguing and fancy high-class fellow. This official is the lead investigator in the murders, and your players soon realize that he is a lycanthrope. He claims to have it under control, and is seeking justice for the real murderer, but is he really? Could he be the murderer?

Oni

ONI

Monster Manual
Page 239
Challenge Rating: 7
Creepiness Rating: A VERY LARGE NUMBER
Oni on D&D Beyond

Hey! Did you know that there is a giant shapeshifting ogre-like monstrosity with jet black teeth and nails that stalks though the night eating human babies? No, not Trump. We’re talking about an Oni, which is definitely one of the most terrifying creatures in the Monster Manual. I’ve read an awful lot of this book, and I don’t think there are any other entries that specifically point out how delicious the creature in question thinks human babies are. Like all of the best terrifying child-murderers, this entry comes complete with its own disturbing nursery rhyme:

“Lock the door, blow out the light;
The hungry Oni haunts the night.
Hide and tremble, little one;
The Oni wants to have some fun.
Hear it scratching on the door;
See its shadow cross the floor.
The sun won’t rise for quite a while;
Till then beware the Oni’s smile.”

WHY USE AN ONI?

Everything about an Oni is bad news. They can polymorph at will, shrinking from their normal giant size to a humanoid form. They will spend the daylight hours like this, socializing with townsfolk and being friendly, all while secretly scoping out their next meal, looking for easy targets, and listening intently for the cry of soft baby-flesh. Under the cover of night, they shift back into Oni form and seek out their prey, stalking through the night to satiate their endless hunger.

As a DM, the possibilities are endless while trying to track down an Oni. It could literally be anyone, and the more NPCs the characters interact with, the larger the suspect pool grows. Your players would have to develop some pretty keen interpersonal skills to pick one of these bad boys out of a crowd.

Once your party tracks down an Oni, they will then find themselves with the gargantuan task of actually catching and subduing it. This is not easily accomplished, as the Oni has a bevy of skills at its disposal. It can cast Invisibility and Darkness, both as innate magical abilities, and once per day it can cast Charm Person, Gaseous Form, Sleep, and Cone of Cold. It heals 10hp every turn as long as it has 1hp to spare. On top of all of that, it can use Change Shape as an action, without any limitations.

A7dd30e984101ec5c44cefa2f096d9d3

ONI HOOKS

Oh Baby— Recommended Level: Low — Medium — If you want to go the super creepy and probably-too-depressing route, make it so that babies are disappearing in a city at an alarming rate, and there is a substantial reward to find them. Someone was arrested for kidnapping babies, but upon questioning them, they describe having witnessed an Oni. Your players investigate and set a trap, using a gnome character, either a player or NPC if a player is not available, to set a trap for the Oni.

Nightmare — Recommended Level: Low — Medium — A creepy dude has been stalking schoolchildren, causing the townsfolk to rally and confront him in a mob, cornering him, and lighting him on fire. They thought they had killed him, but those same townspeople are now being stalked by a strange and nightmarish entity. This particular Oni doesn’t shape-change, preferring to show its true nature before slaughtering its prey.

Do the Creep— Recommended Level: Low — Medium — Your players stay overnight at an inn after spending a day in a town. Throughout the day, they may have noticed a creepoid following one of your party members around. This guy is an Oni, and he has chosen one of your party members as an intended meal. This is more of a straightforward fight with an Oni, as it directly confronts the party that evening — but if they were being vigilant and perceptive, they just might be prepared.

Mummy banner

MUMMIES

Monster Manual
Pages 227–229
Challenge Rating: 2 (Mummy) and 15 (Mummy Lord)
Biggest Fear: Loneliness
Mummies on D&D Beyond

Mummy Lords on D&D Beyond

Mummification was a fairly common practice in the early dynasties across Faerun. Mummies were swaddled in cloth imbued with necromantic magic and given a specific instruction by their creator to carry out in their undeath. Most of those misers only gave a crap about their material possessions, so the charge of most mummies was to protect tombs and treasures for eternity. Mummies were usually enemies of whoever created them, forced into a punishment of eternal servitude. Their singular purpose in undeath is to punish anything that violates their edict.

WHY USE MUMMIES?

Even the most basic of mummies can rot a person from the inside out using a special attack called Rotting Fist. This attack forces a Constitution saving throw, and if the target fails… well, their guts start to literally crumble into dust. This disease slowly spreads through their body, with the character losing HP as it happens at a rate of 10hp every 24 hours. If that counter hits zero, the character crumbles into dust.

A mummy is usually bound to protect the treasures or secrets that are buried in a long-forgotten tomb of an ancient civilization. Placing a few of them as the primary adversary in a regular ol’ dungeon delve would quite fitting, but there is some other fun you can have with them, too. A mummy that is tasked with guarding a treasure might go on the offensive until that treasure is returned to them, giving you an opportunity to encourage some problem-solving from your players. If a mummy can’t fulfill the primary objective of their edict, they might go on a crazed and bloodthirsty rampage, searching far and wide for any respite from their drive.

MUMMY LORDS

For a more experienced group, Mummy Lords are quite a bit tougher and will be significantly harder to tackle. These guys were the upper echelon of priesthood and power in empires that crumbled to the ground thousands of years ago. They are bound by much stronger magic than regular, run-of-the-mill mummies, and usually retain their knowledge, memories, and personalities from their previous life. A Mummy Lord is biding his time, usually in his vast underground lair, waiting for the return of some long-dead god or otherworldly entity. An encounter with a Mummy Lord can be just a tough as some dragons or other epic beasts — they can take legendary actions like stunning everyone near him for a turn or stemming the effectiveness of healing within a certain radius, on top of a massive assortment of cantrips, spells, and other devastating abilities.

When a Mummy Lord was created, they had all of their internal organs scooped out and stored in jars, most likely somewhere sacred within their lair. The only way to truly kill a Mummy Lord is to find these jars, locate the heart of the Mummy Lord, and squish it — otherwise they will just keep on coming back. Unless the heart is destroyed, the Mummy Lord will reanimate within 24 hours.

Mummy2

MUMMY HOOKS

Are You My Mummy? — Recommended Level: Low — Medium — An archaeological expedition discovered an ancient tomb in a remote area. They took artifacts from the tomb, incurring the wrath of a group of mummies. They just keep coming, night after night, unless the artifacts are returned. The players have to figure this out, as well as convincing the archeologists to give up the goods.

Mums the Word— Recommended Level: Medium — High — A Mummy Lord has gained a significant amount of power and commands an undead army. They have risen from their underground tomb to conquer the lands, decimating villages, and working their way towards a larger city. The team is hired to infiltrate the army, locate the Mummy Lord, and defeat him. He keeps his heart in a magic lockbox that is unlocked with a specific word — can the players find it and destroy it without getting overrun?

The Tomb— Recommended Level: Low — Medium — The players find a tomb and decide to explore it. They invoke the wrath of a particularly nasty mummy, one that pursues they through the dark corridors relentlessly in a pulse-pounding tight-quarters adventure.

Vampire banner

VAMPIRES

Monster Manual
Pages 295–297
Challenge Rating: 5 (Vampire Spawn) and 13 (Vampire)
Number of Pointy Teeth: 2 (per vampire)
Vampires on D&D Beyond

Vampire Spawn on D&D Beyond

Vampires are more or less synonymous with Halloween, so why not choose them as your go-to supernatural ringer? Granted, D&D did a pretty thorough job of covering vampires in the Curse of Strahd, but if you haven’t played that campaign or just need more bloodsuckers in your life, breathe some life into a world of undead!

WHY CHOOSE VAMPIRES?

Vampires in Dungeons & Dragons pretty much stick to the script for regular vampire fiction, so if you know how they operate everywhere else, it is pretty much the same here. Undead, pointy teeth, insatiable thirst for blood, no reflection, hates sunlight — all big fat check marks. What the wonderful world of roleplaying gives us, though, is a whole page of delicious stats and skills that paint a clear picture of just how deadly a vampire can be.

First off, they don’t just create other vampires — they create vampire spawn, completely under the control of the vampire. These will likely make up some of the filler for your adventure. Vampire spawn are much easier to dispatch than their master, but can still pose quite a threat, particularly in groups. Secondly, Vampires have a list of skills and abilities that is, quite frankly, terrifying. Your group definitely needs to be prepared for an encounter with one of these bad boys. Aside from being able to change a saving throw failure to a success three times a day, or being able to summon 3d6 worth of rats, bats, or wolves, a Vampire has a nasty bite — one that could leave you as a vampire spawn if you aren’t careful. Oh, and it should be noted that slaying the master makes all of the remaining spawn into full-fledged Vampires.

Oh, and they have lair effects, too, and you’ve usually got to fight them on their own turf. Maybe you shouldn’t expect your players to win, but instead send them to their death. That might work better.

Vampire2

VAMPIRE TEETH …ER, HOOKS

Count Bilbo— Recommended Level: Medium — High — The heroes explore a castle, only to find that it is the home of a Halfling vampire lord. The Halfling is pretty cute, but also suffering from a massive inferiority complex. The players are treated cordially at first, but (maybe) realize that they are fed specific foods and drinks to flavor their blood. Can they escape before they become victim to the tiniest menace?

The Beast Within— Recommended Level: High — What do you get when a Vampire is inflicted by a lycanthropic curse? Well, there technically aren’t any rules in the Monster Manual that cover this, but there also isn’t any particular rule that says this can’t happen. If you think your party can handle it, this scenario involves a Vampire lord that was involved in a war with a large and vicious pack of werewolves. The Vampire was victorious, but at a price — he was inflicted with lycanthropy, causing him to slowly lose his sanity, becoming more feral. Villages are getting attacked, and the villagers are coming back as undead vampire wolves, terrorizing the region. Your party is called in to help — fight off the hordes of undead and slay the beast at any cost.

Don’t Play with your Food— Recommended Level: Low — High — Your party wakes up in a dungeon, unaware of how they got there. They hear a voice broadcast in their minds, telling them to find their way out, if they can. The dungeon they are trapped in has a series of rooms filled with devious traps, all designed to inflict massive amounts of pain (and bleeding). The sadistic Vampire that oversees this dungeon gets his kicks by inflicting as much suffering as possible on his victims. If they manage to find their way out, the only path leads right to his lair, where he (usually) easily picks off his weakened prey. Your players need to figure out how to survive, get past or slay the Vampire, and find their freedom.

Bonus - The Runners Up!

While we're not going to cover them in-depth, there are plenty of other options in the Monster Manual that you should check out if you're planning a Halloween adventure!

Lich
- Monster Manual, pages 202-203
Lich on D&D Beyond

Medusa - Monster Manual, page 214
Medusa on D&D Beyond

Scarecrow - Monster Manual, page 268
Scarecrow on D&D Beyond

Skeletons
- Monster Manual, page 272-273
Skeletons on D&D Beyond


Specter
- Monster Manual, page 279
Specters on D&D Beyond

Wraith - Monster Manual, page 302
Wraiths on D&D Beyond

CONCLUSION

Halloween is a great time for Dungeons & Dragons (or other tabletop roleplaying games). You’re sure to find a quick and easy Spooktober adventure using any one of these dark, dangerous, and devious foes. Be sure to check out the rest of our series of Halloween D&D articles for more ideas, advice, and insight:

5 Weird Villains for your Halloween D&D Adventure!

A Look at Dungeons & Dragons’ Criminally Underused Demon Lords