The Fear (BBS)
A member of an elite, though defunct, covert mercenary unit, this deadly opponent now seeks an honorable death through battle. His brothers & sisters in arms have scattered since the end of a forgotten war, and now the Fear stalks the wandering forests of the Tselinoyarsk mountains, subsisting on the flora and fauna and waiting for worthy opponents to cross his path.
The forests around Tselinoyarsk were once the hiding place for magical and technological research during wartime as well as sites of countless bloody battles, but since war's end nature has reclaimed the area, burying the bones of fallen soldiers beneath its roots. But now set adrift in its own pocket dimension, this jaunting forest carries the Fear to locations across the plane, perhaps to aid in his search for a worthy end. The cause of the forest's magical roaming is unknown, though those who investigate deeply enough may discover records of an explosion that destroyed a magic research facility located deep within the forest.
The Fear carries his namesake onto the battlefield. He has through magical and surgical means permanently altered his appearance, giving him gold reptilian eyes, a long forked tongue, and double-jointed limbs, in order to more powerfully instill fear into his prey. He wields a terrifying agility that allows him to effortlessly leap from tree to tree and run atop water, as well as a pair of crossbows loaded with poison-tipped bolts. Lastly, he wears an experimental magical suit that allows him to become invisible at-will.
The Fear is an honorable combatant; he will warn worthy foes of the poisonous nature of his bolts, so that they might take effective countermeasures and last longer in combat. He prefers to fight in heavily forested areas with tall trees, where he can maneuver freely within the forest canopy. In combat, he immediately activates his Experimental Stealth Camouflage, climbs a tree, then leaps from branch to branch until he has cover against the party. Armed with the heavy crossbow William Tell and the hand crossbow Little Joe, he fires poison-tipped bolts at his opponents.
The Fear prioritizes putting cover between himself and the party over dealing damage. Though invisible, he does not take the Hide action while in combat, as hiding would be dishonorable to him. Instead, he relies on invisibility and the cover of the trees to serve as his primary defenses, utilizing his tremendous speed to leap into the open, fire his bolts, and then retreat to more advantageous cover.
He wields two crossbows, the heavy crossbow William Tell and the hand crossbow Little Joe. The former grants him range while the latter allows him to make 3 attacks instead of 2 per round, assuming he hasn't already used his Bonus Action that turn. His bolts are dipped in poison.
The Fear has the Paragon Fortitude and Paragon Exhaustion features. This means he has two hit point pools and two turns each round of combat, and when the first hit point pool is reduced to 0, the Fear loses its second turn in
combat. When that occurs, the Fear begins to apply a Special Coating to his crossbow attacks, as noted in the statblock.
If the Fear is killed, then he explodes in a shower of deadly bolts. However, if he instead knocked out, his unconscious body can be looted for his Experimental Stealth Camouflage.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The Fear's greatest strength is his mobility, allowing him to move into range of the party to fire his crossbow and then move out of range behind the cover of trees. Consequently, he is reliant on his immediate environment to protect him. His at-will invisibility ability is also incredibly powerful, though he will not use it to its most effective extent (i.e. with the Hide Action) due to his personal sense of honor. Instead, it is a kind of shield similar to that of the cover of trees and is relatively easily circumvented due to requiring concentration and through spells such as see invisibility.
His preternatural mobility is to compensate for his egregiously low hit points. The Fear is also vulnerable to effects that destroy his cover and to abilities that restrict his movement and target his Strength or Constitution saving throws.
The Fear (BBS)
Medium humanoid, Lawful Evil
- Armor Class 16 (Leather Armor)
- Hit Points 60/60 (12d8)
- Speed 50 feet, Climb 40
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA 13(+1) 20(+5) 10(+0) 12(+1) 15(+2) 20(+5)
- Saving Throws Dexterity +9, Wisdom +6, Charisma +9
- Skills Acrobatics +13, Athletics +5, Insight +6, Intimidation +13, Medicine +6, Nature +5, Perception +6, Stealth +13, Survival +6
- Damage Resistances Poison
- Condition Immunities Frightened
- Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
- Languages Common, Undercommon
- Challenge 9ish
Paragon Fortitude. The creature has multiple pools of hit points, each of which is tracked separately. All damage and healing must be completely applied to only one pool. When a pool is reduced to zero, all ongoing conditions and effects affecting the creature end. Once a pool is reduced to zero, that pool cannot receive any healing until after a long rest. If all hit of the point pools are reduced to zero, the creature is killed.
Paragon Exhaustion. The creature may take one complete turn in each round of combat for each hit point pool it has above zero and receives one reaction between each of its turns. When a pool of hit points has been reduced to zero, the creature loses one turn each round thereafter. The creature determines initiative normally for its first turn, though it gains advantage on the roll. Each subsequent turn is inserted immediately after any one PC’s turn in the initiative order.
Double-Jointed Limbs. The Fear has advantage on all Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks and can move normally while prone.
Evasion. When the Fear is subjected to an effect that allows him to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, he instead takes no damage if he succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if he fails.
Leaper. The Fear can make running jumps while standing, and his maximum jump distance is doubled (~26 ft).
Water Strider. The Fear can move across liquids on its turn without falling during the move.
Explosive Finish. When the Fear is killed, he explodes in a shower of crossbow bolts. Creatures within a 60 ft. radius of the Fear must make a DC13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 21 (6d6) piercing damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. If they are within 5 ft. of an obstacle that could grant them any kind of cover, they can as a reaction duck behind it before rolling their saving throw. This destroys all of the Fear's equipment and belongings.
Bite the Bullet. The Fear takes 10 damage and ends any one condition or effect afflicting it. This damage cannot be reduced in any way. If it is unable to take an action on its turn, it can instead use this ability at the end of its turn, no action required.
Experimental Stealth Camouflage. The Fear becomes invisible as if he had cast the greater invisibility spell on himself. He must maintain concentration or else the invisibility ends. This can be dispelled.
Multiattack. The Fear makes two William Tell or Little Joe attacks.
William Tell. RWA: +9 to hit, range 100/400, one target. Hit: 11 (1d10+5) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC15 Constitution saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) poison damage on a failure, or half on a success.
Little Joe. RWA: +9 to hit, range 30/120, one target. Hit: 9 (1d6+5) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC15 Constitution saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) poison damage on a failure, or half on a success. Dagger. MWA: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d4+5) piercing damage.
Invisible Flying Leap. Once per short rest, when the Fear takes damage, he can as a reaction use his experimental stealth camouflage and then fly up to his speed in a straight line without triggering opportunity attacks. It must end this movement on a surface or begin to fall.
Recharge Fortitude: When one Hit Point pool is reduced to 0, greater leap recharges and can be used immediately as a reaction.
Side Step. When an attack misses against the Fear, he moves up to half his speed without triggering opportunity attacks.
Counterattack. When a melee attack within 5 feet of the Fear hits him, he makes a dagger attack against the attacking creature. On a hit, the attacking creature must succeed on a DC17 Dexterity save or fall prone.
Nimble Action. The Fear takes the Dash or Disengage action.
Crossbow Expert. If the Fear uses the Attack Action to make a ranged weapon attack with his hand crossbow, he can make a ranged weapon attack with his hand crossbow.
Master at Arms. The Fear stows one weapon and draws another.
Stage 2 (2nd Hit Point Pool)
Special Coating. The Fear coats the remainder of his ammunition with a particularly debilitating poison. When hit by this ammunition, a creature that fails its Constitution saving throw against the poison damage also suffers the poisoned condition. A creature can repeat its saving throw at the end of each of its turns.
Additional Optional Ability
Because I ran out of room on the statblock, here is 1 additional ability you can grant the fear. Adding this ability should at most raise the CR by 1.
Inspire Fear. The Fear contorts his body and slithers dreadful phrases to inspire fear. Creatures that can see the Fear must succeed on a DC17 Wisdom saving throw or else become Frightened until the start of the Fear's next turn. Creatures who succeed on their saving throw are immune to this ability for the next 24 hours.
The Fear's Equipment
1 Heavy Crossbow, 1 Hand Crossbow, 1 dagger, 1 Experimental Stealth Camouflage, 1 bolt case containing 1d6+1 poison-tipped bolts (DC15 CON saving throw, 2d6 poison damage on failure, half on success), 1 military fatigues, 3 gemstones (100 gp value each), zipline + 100 ft. of rope, chemically disfigured dog-tags
Experimental Stealth Camouflage
(very rare, requires Attunement)
An experimental magical suit rumored to have been crafted by drow in their war against the dwarves in the mountains of Tselinoyarsk, it grants an nigh unparalleled bonus to stealth at the cost of a significant amount of stamina.
This full-body button-up jumpsuit can be worn beneath any type of armor. Once attuned, as an action the wearer can become invisible as if they had cast the greater invisibility spell on themselves. At the start of each of their turns while invisible, they must roll their smallest hit die available without adding their Constitution modifier. On a result of 4 or lower, they expend that hit die without gaining any hit points. If at the start of their turn they have no hit dice remaining, they must succeed on a DC10 Constitution saving throw or else gain a level of Exhaustion. Each subsequent time they roll this saving throw before the end of their next long rest, the DC increases by 5. The wearer can end the invisibility as an action, and must maintain concentration or else the invisibility ends.
This is an ongoing magical effect, so it can be dispelled and affected by things like anti-magic fields.
Optional Cinematic Crunch
If you want to execute The Fear encounter a little more close to the original, consider adding the these additional mechanics. This version may be ideal for parties with 3 or fewer members.
First, change Experimental Stealth Camouflage from an Action to a Bonus Action. Then add the following text to its statblock.
The Fear gains 3 points of "Stamina". At the start of each of his turns, while the Fear is invisible, his stamina is reduced by 1. If the Fear starts his turn with 0 stamina, the invisibility ends, and he must as an action eat something. Doing so restores 3 points of stamina. He cannot have more than 3 points of stamina at any time.
The Fear does not carry food, so he must scavenge for it on the forest floor. The Fear does not need to make any check to acquire food in this way. Rations, living or dead tiny beasts, and natural fungi are appropriate food. He will prioritize the most accessible food, even if they were provided by other creatures, acting with little regard for his safety.
If the Fear takes poison damage, he loses 1 point of stamina. If he takes poison damage or eats tainted food while at 0 stamina, he becomes stunned until the start of his next turn.
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