October is my favorite time of year for gaming. I love seeing ghoulish pumpkin faces illuminated on porches in the neighborhood. The tradition of the Jack-o-lantern finds its origins in Ireland with the legend of Stingy Jack. People would carve scary faces on potatoes or turnips and display them outside their windows or doors to ward away wandering evil spirits and fey.
This sounds like a tradition that commoners would adhere to in just about any fantasy realm. In a game such as Dungeons & Dragons malicious fey and horrific undead are not an imagined problem. What if pumpkin patches were growing on top of some ancient grave site? Or maybe deep in the rich soil were the corpses of murder victims long forgotten.
The pumpkin harvest is well underway and night has fallen with a full moon. A group of dark fey happens upon the scene and senses the tormented spirits under the pumpkin patch. They excitedly hop from foot to foot and perform an evil ritual calling forth the tormented dead souls. Slowly the pumpkin matter is corrupted and calcified to form a likeness of rotted corpses. Then the unspeakable happens, as they animate and shamble forth toward the cottages of the nearby village.
Below I have outlined a fun alternate version of a zombie for DM’s to toss at their players this October. The pictures I used in this post are the incredible work of Ray Villafane. Please check out his website for further inspiration as you carve up your own pumpkins this Halloween!
Medium undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 8
Hit Points 31 (4d8 + 9)
Speed 20 ft.
STR 14 (+2)
DEX 6 (−2)
CON 16 (+3)
INT 3 (−4)
WIS 6 (−2)
CHA 5 (−3)
Saving Throws see below
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 8
Languages understands the languages it knew in life but can’t speak
Challenge 2 (200 XP)
Rejuvenation. If the pumpkin zombie is destroyed anywhere near soil, it regains all its hit points in 1 hour unless holy water is sprinkled on its remains or a dispel magic or remove curse spell is cast on them.
Detect Life. The Pumpkin zombie can magically sense the presence of living creatures up to 5 miles away. They know the general direction but not their exact locations.
Magic Resistance. The pumpkin zombie is created with fey magic and has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Decaying claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 2) necrotic damage.
Pumpkin zombies move with a jerky, uneven gait. They appear to be a yellow-orange shambling likeness of a corpse. The smell of a ripe pumpkin field permeates any area they enter.