Sunday, March 18, 2012

Trumpeter of Doom

A while back over at Swords & Dorkery cool dude Mike Monaco posted this great pic from the Lost Minis Wiki.  Officially, that's meant to depict a lich blowing a horn, but I thought it would be cool to make it into a new undead type.


No. Enc: 1 
Move: 90'(30')
AC: 5
HD: 4
Attacks: 1 chilling touch
Dmg:d6 plus save or slowed 2d6 rounds 
Save as: MU4 
Morale: 12 
Treasure:uhhh, B? let's say B.

In combat the first action of this undead jerk is to give a blast from it's bronzed rams-horn trumpet.  The sound carries up to d6 miles outdoors and d6x100' underground.  All living creatures who hear it will feel the skin crawl and their hair stand up on end.  Those within 60' must save versus petrification/paralyzation/WILL/whatever or flee at maximum speed for 2d6 rounds, dropping whatever they have in hand and selecting their route randomly.

Like most undead this creepy mofo is immune to mind-affecting spells.  Normal weapons do not harm it unless constructed of silver or blessed.  Dude is also immune to cold and magic missiles, because I said so.  Turns as a wight.

Once you kill this guy a wizard and a cleric can turn the trumpet into a lesser horn of blasting by one of them casting dispel magic and the other remove curse.  These spells must be cast at the same time.  A lesser horn of blasting works just like the regular kind, but only has 2d4 charges. After the charges are exhausted it can still sound a note audible at the same distances listed above.

Anytime a necromantically-minded spellcaster goes into a properly concentrated graveyard and attempts to animate an army of zombies or skeletons there's a flat 1 in 20 chance one of these rotters pops up too.  It rather than the necromancer will command the animated horde.  The Trumpeter's first order of business will be the murder of the necromancer, after which it will lead its undead charges on a general purpose rampage.  Trumpeters of Doom encountered in dungeons may be created by other means.


  1. That is pretty awesome. I really like the added threat to necromancers; some creep raising an undead army that he isn't powerful enough to keep control over is an instant adventure seed.

    And I love the bit with the mage and the cleric having to simultaneously cast to make the horn useable.

    It might be the fact that I've been watching the later seasons of "Supernatural" on Netflix, but the whole thing really works for me.

  2. Can it be defeated "battle of the bands" style with a shameflute?

  3. Cool. Another possibility would be like a guardian or something, and instead of spooking enemies (or in addition to spooking enemies) it calls reinforcements to it (perhaps in the form of raised dead, summoned apparitions, or just living or nonliving monsters in the vicinity). Doing it that way, I may even make the horn inaudible to non-chaotics. Also evil would be having both types in the same dungeon. (Maybe a clue: Wax shield's blue's blast; red's the soundless call.)

    (Dungeon of the necromantic composer? Suddenly, my mind spins into a dungeon/dungeon region populated by variously [musically] instrumented undead, perpetuating a cursed undead "conductor's" insane idea of the ultimate orchestra...oh dear....)

  4. Thanks for the mention and the cool monster. I have several lich minis and have been meaning to use them as something less than a lich but more than a skellie.

    My OP was bemoaning that someone had stolen my lich w/ horn 30 years ago. Last month super-awesome dude Spooktaler (blog = Belched from the depths) read my sob story and sent me an extra one he happened to have!

    Anyway someone needs to account for what looks like to me like either a severed nose, or perhaps an 'evergreen airfreshener' that he's wearing as a necklace.


  5. I had that mini back in the day. Don't know what happened to it.

    I like blinkdawg's suggestion that the horn could summon undead, sort of like a Horn of Valhalla.

  6. I remember that figure well; I had it too, but it was lost with the rest during a period of moving. Alas!

  7. I saw "trumpeter of doom" and couldn't help but be reminded of some of the 4e playerbase reactions to the leaked 5e alpha rules. Maybe you could give him 4e stats: Cha vs. Fortitude, 2d6+Cha mod damage, slide target 5 squares towards Renton.

  8. I'd make the trumpet silent too - "audible" synaesthetically as a feeling of terror and deep wrong and a pressure-shimmer in the air as it passes by. Folks in perilous situations (climbers, people on ledges etc) have to save or be drawn into the abyss, playing off the idea of vertigo as fear of falling/urge to fall, and the horn as a call to the grave.

    I also love the necromancer part - that could be how these guys reproduce: the necromantic ritual for mass summoning requires a horn made from Moon Copper. If the necromancer fails to control his summonings and they kill him then he becomes one of these guys.

  9. Once you kill this guy a wizard and a cleric can turn the trumpet into a lesser horn of blasting by one of them casting dispel magic and the other remove curse. These spells must be cast at the same time.

    I love this sort of thing, but one thing I've always struggled with... How do the players get this information? If you just tell them, it seems kind of cheesy, but if you have to put clues and such in the game, they may never find them (which I guess is okay) and it's another thing I have to keep track of and remember to put a book or something in a dungeon room somewhere.

    Any pro tips for handling this in a general sense?

    1. Rumors and then sages?

    2. Perhaps he has the information on a scroll in his robes, ciphered in such a mind boggingly hard runic script that only wizards that cast Read Magic can understand it.

    3. I tend to roll a d20 behind the screen, shooting for level plus Int mod or less, for each spellcaster. A success indicates I give them a clue. Also, I don't really give a crap if my players read the monster entries in the rulebook or my blog.

    4. I lose sleep about this question myself. I don't use "notice" or "idea" rolls in my AD&D so I think for me there has to be some kind of sense of inquiry/agency/purpose coming from the players. They'll at least have to get the ball rolling by saying, "I want to do something with this horn." From there the research/inquiry can be a back-and-forth kind of twenty questions. Ideally I reward inquisitiveness and intelligence and really any evidence of agency. I would rather players not have access to the rules beyond the PHB, but realize that's not entirely practical in this day and age.

  10. Hm... I think this is definitely something that would convert to Old School Hack well. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Late chiming in here but wanted to say thanks for the great monster and in a funny coincidence I also made some new rules for this figure after I painted him up as my party was (and still is) level one and a lich just wouldn't have been fun to play against them at that point. The monster I came up with is not unlike what several suggested above, a summoner of other undead. In my typical style I got around to posting my pics of my fig and rules today, several weeks late to the party. Anyway, I'll be using both creatures in my encounter tables so to be able to use the figure more and keep the players guessing.

    My painted fig and rules ideas at:

    1. Hi, my spell just worked last yesterday! I'm totally amazed by how fast it went since you have cast your spell. I should have contacted you before... I am sure you will be blessed to help people like you do. I will always remember your help and kindness. I know it may sound a bit too much, but you saved my life! Thank you so much.