October is finally here which means it’s officially spooky season. What better way to celebrate Halloween than by adding some extra scares to your D&D game?!

Today we’ve got a round-up of 10 monsters that are PERFECT for your Halloween D&D session!

As an extra treat for each entry, I’ve included a possible plot hook for how you might incorporate the monster in your game.

With that said, let’s get right into it!

Zombies

We have to kick off this list with the classic horde of undead!

A zombie by itself may not be much of a challenge for your party, but when is the last time you saw just one zombie?!

It’s not a Halloween monster round-up without the undead!

Adventurers can hack, slash, and blast their way through hordes of zombies only to find that they just keep shambling closer and closer.

Is this a full-on zombie apocalypse with no known explanation or is there a diabolical necromancer behind the chaos? The choice is yours!

In the same category of zombies, feel free to also include other undead mainstays like skeletons and ghouls!

The party might find themselves recovering from a night of celebrating their latest loot haul at the local tavern only to find that, at some point, while they were sleeping, the horde arrived.

Can they defeat the zombies while saving any survivors they can while they try to put an end to whatever is behind this?

Oni

Pulling from Japanese mythology, we have the Oni!

These ogre mages are the original Boogeyman. They infiltrate villages and use their shapeshifting ability to blend in with the inhabitants.

At night, however, the Oni haunts the dreams of those around it. One by one, members of the village disappear as the Oni devours them.

The Oni is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

If you’re looking for a game with “Whodunit” mystery elements, the Oni can easily create the perfect creepy tension at your table!

As the party works to solve the disappearances in the village, they might need to put together clues and look for signs of the Oni.

Meanwhile, the ferocious creature hides in plain sight and might even provide false information or red herrings to throw the party off of its trail.

Can the party put an end to the Oni’s murderous appetite before there are no more villagers left to save and they find themselves next on the menu?

Related: Learn more with my full Oni article!

Werewolves

The curse of the werewolf has a long and rich history in the horror genre. So of course werewolves had to make this list!

One bite from a werewolf is all it takes to pass the curse of lycanthropy to a victim. From then, how long does a person have before they find themselves overwhelmed by the beast within themselves?

Be careful! It only takes one bite to spread the werewolf’s curse!

Perhaps a nobleman’s family can no longer hide that he is the one behind the gruesome “animal attacks” that have been plaguing the town. They are growing desperate to find a cure for their dear family member and have hired the party to help them find a cure before it’s too late.

The problem? This sees the party adventuring into the werewolves’ lair deep within the forest.

Will they be able to return with the blood of the werewolves’ leader to fashion a cure before the nobleman’s next rampage?

Perhaps even more terrifying: will the party find themselves afflicted with the werewolf’s curse before it’s all over?

If you really want to mix it up, you can include other lycanthropes like wererats, wereboars, and more!

Mind Flayers

Illithids (more commonly known as Mind Flayers) are some of the most terrifying monsters in D&D’s long history.

Deep underground a colony of Mind Flayers bide their time and grow their numbers.

These octopus-faced beings use their psionic abilities to control the minds of those above their dark domain. Weaving schemes to lure humanoids closer, Mind Flayers devour the brains of their victims.

Zombies aren’t the only monster on this list that want your brains!

All of the Mind Flayers in the colony are connected as a hive mind through an Elder Brain. If the party is discovered by one of these brainsuckers, every Illithid in the colony will be on high alert!

Perhaps a beloved NPC has been kidnapped and the adventurers must rescue them before they have their brain extracted. It’s a dangerous mission and will require shadow-like stealth and a strong stomach!

If you’re looking for some horror of the brain-eating, pure-cosmic-evil variety, these creatures are sure to make your players’ skin crawl!

(Bonus points if you mimic the famous Silence of the Lambs “fava beans and a nice chianti” bit!)

The Headless Horseman

As far as horror legends go, I’ve always had a special love for the Headless Horseman.

You can find this legendary terrifying being (among many other frights!) in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft under its name from Irish folklore: the Dullahan.

This is probably the toughest of all of the monsters on this list. If the party doesn’t want to lose their heads (literally!), they’ll need to bring their A-game!

When you hear hooves, it’s already too late…

I homebrewed an encounter with the Headless Horseman last year to fit it into my group’s Curse of Strahd campaign around Halloween. The party ultimately triumphed, but they were terrified the entire time.

The party needed to find a smith and met a friendly NPC. However, he wasn’t able to help them out with their problem as he had bigger fish to fry that night.

Many years ago, the Headless Horseman had ridden into their village. The smith’s wife, confident in her skills as a warrior, sought to defeat the Dullahan and protect the villagers who were hiding quietly in their homes.

Unfortunately, she failed.

Now, as the Blood Moon rises and the Horseman rides once again, the smith plans to get his revenge or die trying. If the party are willing to stand with him, he’ll help them out for free…

…if they can survive the night…

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Running Horror Games in D&D 5e

Mummies

Legends hint at untold riches buried in a tomb beneath the desert sands. A mighty pharaoh lies buried there surrounded by treasures that most could never even dream of.

Don’t think this will be a cakewalk though!

Not only is the tomb riddled with dangerous and diabolical traps, but there are ancient guardians to be wary of as well.

Watch out! Mummy Rot will reduce you to dust from the inside out!

Even in death, the preserved and cursed remains of the tomb’s guardians protect against intruders. Those who encounter a mummy must be careful lest they be afflicted with the slow and painful death of the mummy’s curse.

Even if they manage to destroy the mummy that afflicted them with this Mummy Rot, it might be too late. Bit by bit, the character rots from the inside out until they are nothing more than dust on the tomb’s floor.

For a high-level party that wants a challenge, don’t be afraid to include a real Big Bad in the tomb: a Mummy Lord.

Hags

It’s not a Halloween 5e Monster round-up without mentioning Hags!

You’ll be hard-pressed to name a type of monster more associated with Halloween than Hags or, as they’re often known, Wicked Witches.

What makes Hags interesting for this list is that they can be worked into your Halloween D&D game without being the Big Bad, if you prefer. At their core, these beings are schemers who twist and turn others with foul bargains to spread as much misery as possible.

Hags love nothing more than spreading misery for misery’s sake.

Your game could quickly see the party needing some assistance from the Hag on the very far outskirts of town.

One way or another, an agreement is reached. The Hag provides the party with the thing they need to move the story along. She might request their assistance with some seemingly simple task or just give them what they need “out of the kindness of her heart.”

But there are far more tricks than treats when you’re dealing with Hags…

The interaction with this Hag sets off a chain reaction of misery with the party right in the middle of it all. Maybe the candy she had the party distribute throughout the town is turning all of the trick or treaters into newts or something similarly out of a dark fairy tale.

If you want the Hag as your Big Bad for this game, the party might have to try to clean up the mess of the bad deal and destroy the Hag before it’s too late.

Otherwise, you can include a Hag as a fake “shortcut” to defeating the actual Big Bad. She offers assistance but ultimately ends up complicating matters and creating an even bigger challenge for the players!

Hags are so fun to use! You’ll definitely want to check out my guide to Hags first though!

Ghosts

It’s just not Halloween without a good ghost story!

Fortunately, you’ve got plenty to choose from! Ghosts, specters, wraiths, and banshees are all ready to give your players a fright. While they’re slightly different, I’d still include Shadows in this category as well.

These are classic enemies that can be worked into just about any adventure from forgotten crypts to the castle of a Dark Lord. But what’s more iconic for ghosts than a visit to a haunted house?

Nothing beats a good, old-school haunting!

One of the good things about a ghost story is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

These are stories that are always exciting and fun. Running a haunted house adventure lets you use a time-tested plot for your adventure so that you can focus more on the little details to really make it come to life in your players’ minds!

You could borrow the plot of a classic movie like The House on Haunted Hill.

The party is contacted by an incredibly rich and eccentric noble. The noble offers 10,000 gold to each member of the party who can stay one full night in the estate.

As the night progresses, the party finds themselves facing the spectral terrors inside the manor. To make matters worse, they also have to worry about devious traps and the constant feeling that there might be more to this arrangement than meets the eye…

Flesh Golems

There is a line between what CAN be done and what SHOULD be done. Unfortunately, it can be hard to know where that line is until it’s been crossed…

But somewhere in the process of stitching assorted body parts together for reanimation, you’d think that line might have been a little more visible, eh?

Enter the mad scientist who cares more about pushing the envelope of what’s possible than any complaints about ethics, decency, or safety.

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” – Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Flesh Golems play directly to the iconic story of Frankenstein.

As the works of the mad scientist continue to grow more and more dangerous, the party is sent to put a stop to the horrors coming from the accursed castle laboratory.

The mad scientist is ready to welcome the pesky adventurers. Not only is it the perfect opportunity to test the Flesh Golem in combat, but there are many other grotesque horrors that the party must overcome if they want to stop the mad doctor!

Vampires

You didn’t think Vampires wouldn’t make the list, did you?

There’s no shortage of inspiration for how to tell a good vampire story. Whether you’re going for Dracula vibes a la Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee or something more like Interview with a Vampire or The Lost Boys, you’ve got plenty to draw from!

Vampires have a long history within D&D as well. After all, the vampire Strahd Von Zarovich has a long history as one of the most famous D&D villains for decades now!

Who doesn’t love a vampire hunt?

Of course, Curse of Strahd is an amazing vampire adventure that is widely considered among the best modules for 5e to date. However, that’s a full adventure and you might just be looking for a Halloween one-shot.

Mike from SlyFlourish has an excellent guide covering how to run Castle Ravenloft from Curse of Strahd in a single session. I would greatly recommend checking that out if you’re looking to face down Strahd as a Halloween one-shot!

Conclusion – 10 Monsters For Your Halloween 5e Game

There’s no shortage of terrifying monsters in D&D 5e for your next Halloween game. I hope these 10 monsters and possible story hooks have helped inspire you to frighten your players at your next game!

For D&D 5e’s full horror sourcebook, I recommend checking out my review of Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.

Keeping this list down to just 10 was quite the challenge! Before I knew it, I had to cut several to keep it from being too massive!

Honorable mentions go to other terrors like Liches/Demiliches, any of the many demons and devils, gibbering mouthers, and the Yuan-Ti.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite Halloween monster for D&D 5e is!

Really want to scare your players? Check out the legend of the BagMan (who also very nearly made this list!)

But first, be sure to sign up for my newsletter below so that you can stay up to date with all of the latest 5e tips, news, features, and more!

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12/01/2021 12:04 am GMT