There’s something creepy about large, silent fields of crops, not least of all the silent gaze of the scarecrows.
But it’s not just birds that are shooed away by scarecrows.
With a bit of fiendish magic, these straw sentinels are also perfect for dealing with the prying eyes and sticky fingers of those who wander where they aren’t welcome.
Tread softly, dear adventurer, and listen for any rustling in the field around you. If you let your guard down, you just might find yourself getting turned into mulch for the crops…
Today we’re covering Scarecrows in D&D 5e!
Scarecrows in D&D 5e
Scarecrows are typically encountered in D&D 5e as sentries and are particularly favored by Hags. After all, it takes a certain twisted type of weird magic to create something like this!
Bound to their creator’s will, Scarecrows primarily function as guardians. Even if they don’t immediately move to attack trespassers, they may still be functioning as watchful eyes over them.
Stalking these trespassers through an overgrown field of dead crops, it could very well all be a ploy to herd the trespassers towards the Hag’s hovel. Offering them shelter from whatever is chasing them in the field, the Hag’s trap has been sprung and it’s too late for her victims.
Related: A Guide to Hags in D&D 5e
Of course, the Scarecrows could also be instructed to just deal with trespassers themselves. The same sharp claws that they use for tilling the fields are also effective for dealing with intruders!
Whatever function a Scarecrow serves, you’re sure to find them outstanding in their field.
(Okay, okay, I’ll cut it with the jokes… for now…)
You can find the Scarecrow in the 5e Monster Manual.
Do You Wanna Build a Scarecrow?
As I mentioned, Scarecrows aren’t like other constructs in D&D 5e. The magic that goes into creating one is purely evil and goes beyond the more structured magic that is familiar to Wizards and other spellcasters.
They aren’t just simply magically animated bits of wood, cloth, metal, and straw. Scarecrows are much more than the sum of their parts!
Instead, a Scarecrow is animated by binding the soul of a slain fiend or other evil creature to the straw body. Demons are most commonly used for this, but it is certainly possible for a humanoid that is evil enough to meet the same fate.
Everything about the creature’s previous existence is stripped away, including their memories. While only the slightest bits of personality might still shine through, they are bound in perfect obedience to the will of their creator.
If you are trying to reverse what went into creating the Scarecrow, it will take some incredibly powerful magic. The Wish spell is always good for things like this or, alternatively, it might be possible by striking a bargain with the Hag that created it if you’re truly desperate.
If It Only Had a Brain
Unlike other constructs, there is an added level of sentience to the Scarecrow.
While their goals are still whatever they have been commanded to do, they still have a certain level of intelligence to them. This allows them to make decisions that help them achieve those goals and react accordingly if complications arise.
For example, a Scarecrow’s creator might instruct it to “make sure nobody goes into the old barn.”
The Scarecrow will then do everything possible to follow this command but doesn’t need to be instructed on every step required to do so.
It can silently stalk trespassers and wait until the perfect moment to frighten them with its Terrifying Glare and attack.
Even better, they don’t require things like sleep, food, or air which makes them tireless sentries. Until they move, it’s impossible to tell the difference between them or a regular scarecrow.
Nothing can shake them from their duty!
If their creator dies, Scarecrows will typically do one of three things:
- Continue following the last commands they were given.
- Seek revenge against whoever slayed their creator.
- Destroy themselves.
Talk about commitment, eh?
Scarecrow Traits and Features in D&D 5e
As far as low-CR encounters go, Scarecrows are a personal favorite. They’re deceptively hardy and it only takes one or two to really bring on the paranoia.
The Scarecrow’s stat block is fairly average across the board. However, they do have slightly higher Dexterity (for chasing and ambushing) and Charisma (for scaring).
Still, it’s not bad at all for a construct, especially with a Challenge Rating of 1!
Add in darkvision to a range of 60 feet and the ability to blend in as an ordinary scarecrow with its False Appearance feature and you’ve got a great ambusher!
Resistances, Immunities, and Vulnerabilities
Scarecrows are immune to poison damage, which isn’t much of a surprise for a construct.
Perhaps the most infuriating thing about Scarecrows, though, is that they resist bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks.
In the early levels where you’re most likely to encounter these enemies, it’s unlikely that the party has any magical weapons.
You also won’t have much like with many common conditions that you can attempt to afflict a Scarecrow with. They are immune to being charmed, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned, knocked unconscious, or getting exhausted.
Fortunately, Scarecrows are vulnerable to fire damage.
If you don’t have someone in your party that can deal fire damage, hopefully you can at least grab a torch and chase the Scarecrow off.
For a little while at least…
Terrifying Glare is the Scarecrow’s most important feature. Despite having a low DC, the consequences for failure can be very high!
The fiendish spirit within the Scarecrow attempts to inflict paralyzing fear into the heart of one creature it can see within 30 feet and that can see it. If that creature fails a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw, they are magically frightened and paralyzed.
Keep in mind that the paralyzed condition is vicious. You can’t move or speak and automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
Even worse, attacks against you are made with advantage and any successful hit from a creature within 5 feet of you is automatically considered a critical hit for double damage!
If you’ve got inspiration, this is the time to use it!
The Scarecrow’s claws deal so-so damage (1d4+1), but it’s one of the earliest creatures you’ll encounter that can attack twice.
Additionally, getting hit by the Scarecrow’s claw attack means you must succeed on a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened. While it’s not as bad being paralyzed, it can still derail your entire combat strategy!
Though the worst-case scenario is naturally what the Scarecrow is hoping for.
As you walk idly by them, they’ll move to ambush a member of the party (especially someone who straggles behind!)
Paralyzing them with their Terrifying Glare, they won’t be able to call out for help. By the time the party hears the Scarecrow tearing into its victim, it might very well be too late!
Encountering Scarecrows in D&D 5e
So, let’s look over how Scarecrows work in an encounter from both sides of the Dungeon Master Screen.
First, we’ll cover some tactics and things to keep in mind for Dungeon Masters that are looking to run Scarecrows in their game. This will help breathe some extra life into the encounter!
Next, we’ll look at ideas for things players can do to survive the encounter!
You Might Also Like: Running Horror Games in D&D 5e!
Running Scarecrows for Dungeon Masters
First things first, be very careful if you’re including multiple Scarecrows in an encounter. That Terrifying Glare feature is no joke!
Unlike creatures with similar effects, a character that succeeds on their save against this feature is not immune to it afterward. If the Scarecrow wants to keep trying to scare the daylights out of one character, it can certainly try.
Realistically, it can do this while still pretending to be an inanimate object. This means it can initiate combat on its own terms once its prey is paralyzed and it can swoop in to swiftly attack.
When you add multiple Scarecrows, that’s even more chances to fail against this. If a character fails and gets paralyzed, the resulting Scarecrow dogpile is the stuff of absolute nightmares.
There is an especially deadly compounding effect to the Scarecrow that makes it easy to overshoot when you’re planning an encounter.
Scarecrows can be used thematically as backup to assist a Hag. If the party tries to attack her, she could have several Scarecrows ready to jump in and help her out.
But for a low-level party, you could absolutely take some pages from horror movies like Husk and Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark.
Getting lost or split up in a huge cornfield at night while… something… is hunting you down and party members are disappearing one by one…
Now that’s tension!
Have a clear idea of how you want to use the Scarecrow(s) in your encounter.
For a low-level party, it can make for a tense game of cat and mouse. These are ambush monsters who are incredibly patient and will not back down from their orders.
The party should feel hunted and every rustle of the leaves or crow caw should spark fear. Use the terrain!
For a low-mid level party, use Scarecrows as obstacles to be overcome or minions of a bigger threat.
Perhaps they even work as spies or decoys meant to lure the party into traps laid by that bigger threat by giving wrong directions and getting the group hopelessly lost!
Encountering Scarecrows as a Player
Scarecrows want to hit hard and fast. While they’re tougher than many other enemies at low levels, they also aren’t built for drawn out combats. Their goal is to isolate a target, paralyze them, and rip them to shreds before the rest of the party can fully respond.
Expect a Scarecrow to use the terrain to its advantage. As I mentioned earlier, hiding out in a dense field at night provides ample cover for the Scarecrow to ambush the party.
If you find yourself getting attacked by one or more Scarecrows, it’s a good idea to keep the party together in a tight formation. If one party member gets paralyzed, it’s a safe bet that they’re about to get pounced on.
Characters with high Wisdom scores (especially Clerics and Druids though likely also Monks and Rangers) will have an easier time resisting the Terrifying Glare.
If someone does get paralyzed, the rest of the party needs to stop the Scarecrows from jumping all over them. The paralysis lasts until the end of the Scarecrow’s next turn, so play smart.
Fire magic is going to be your best friend here. Spells like Fire Bolt and Conjure Flame will go very far and make the Scarecrows more hesitant to attack.
If they can get to cover, they might do a tactical retreat and strike again when your back is turned.
Meanwhile, if you’ve got them cornered, prepare for the Scarecrow to go crazy with an all-out assault as it prioritizes trying to drop whoever is dealing the fire damage to it.
As the proverb goes, “even a cornered rat will bite the cat.”
If possible, try to coordinate with the group to focus on one Scarecrow at a time. The trick is to beat them with an overwhelming assault of your own before they can get an opening!
Conclusion – Scarecrows in D&D 5e
Some of the monsters with the greatest amount of potential in all of D&D 5e are actually those with lower challenge ratings. The Scarecrow is absolutely no exception!
An encounter with one can be terrifying. But imagine being stuck in a field with several of them (plus inanimate ones just to trick you!)
Despite only having two paragraphs of lore in the Monster Manual, it makes a huge impact. The only thing more twisted than the magic used to make these constructs is the thought of who had the idea to do it first!
Got any spooky or exciting experiences with Scarecrows in your D&D game? Let’s chat in the comments!
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