Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Castlevania Monster: Grim Reaper

There's only a couple more days before Halloween, and with my light blogging of late, I'd hoped to get a few more Castlevania baddies converted to D&D, but this might be the last one.

So I figured I'd better make it the one monster that's been in EVERY CV game (at least that I've played, not having played any of the Game Boy releases and a few others here and there). Heck, not even Dracula makes an appearance in every game, but the good old Grim Reaper does (again, at least as far as every one of the games I've played).

So here's a shot at converting Death to a bad guy for D&D. Back when I was working on a version of a CV campaign for 3E, I did write up the Grim Reaper. He was pretty badass, too. But I never got to use him. I'll throw in those stats for comparison below. I spent quite a bit of time working it up to capture the feel of Death as he appears in most CV games within the d20 rules framework, and I think I got it. Just wish I had a chance to break him out before I'd quit running games under those rules.

Anyway, here's the Grim Reaper for Classic D&D (likely will work for AD&D as well with some minor tweaks):

Grim Reaper*
Armor Class: 0 (20)
Hit Dice: 12***
Move: 120 (40)
Fly 150 (50)
Attacks: 1 weapon or spell
Damage: 1d8 + special
No. Appearing: 1 (1) Unique
Save As: Fighter 12
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: H
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 3500
The Grim Reaper appears as a floating skeleton wearing voluminous black robes and holding a scythe. It is believed that it is the angel of death itself. The Grim Reaper is cunning, but is an implacable foe if it has decided it is time for its opponent(s) to die.
The Grim Reaper has the following special abilities: invisibility at will (as the spell), finger of death once per day (as the spell), and sickle swarm once every 3 rounds. Sickle swarm creates three whirling sickles that move and attack on their own. The sickles attack as 4HD monsters, do 1d6 damage each, and may be destroyed by weapon attacks (AC 7/13, HP 1). The Grim Reaper carries his famous scythe, The Reaper, detailed below.

The Reaper (Scythe +1, Slicing)
This long scythe (a two-handed weapon, dealing 1d8 damage) has a handle of blackened wood said to be taken from the heart of the World Tree itself. The blade is of white steel.
Slicing: The Reaper has a chance to kill opponents instantly. If a natural 19 or 20 is rolled on the attack roll, the opponent must Save vs. Death Ray or die. Even if the opponent makes the save, The Reaper deals triple normal damage. This ability does not affect Constructs or Undead. [from my Unique Magic Weapons document]

OK, that can be pretty scary for a party of typical Classic D&D characters. Here's the way I wrote him up for d20 (yes, very long stat block to follow):

The Grim Reaper (Death)
Level 15 Cleric Half-Fiend/Lich (Undead Outsider) Lawful Evil CR 19
S 18 (+4) D 18 (+4) C – I 17 (+3) W 23 (+6) Ch 14 (+2)
AC 24 HP 89 BAB +11/+6/+1 Saves F +9 R +9 W +15 Init +4 Speed 30’

Skills: Bluff +11, Concentration +18, Hide +12, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (arcana) +18, Knowledge (religion) +18, Listen +14, Move Silently +12, Scry +9, Search +11, Sense Motive +14, Spellcraft +21, Spot +14

Feats: Combat Reflexes, Improved Critical: Scythe, Martial Weapon Proficiency: Scythe, Quicken Spell, Silent Spell, Spell Penetration, Weapon Focus: Scythe

Resistances/Immunities: DR 15/+1, Turn Resistance +4, Acid and Fire Resistance 20, Immune to Cold, Electricity, Polymorph, Poison, Sleep, Paralysis, Stunning, Disease, Death effects, Necromantic effects, Mind-Influencing effects, Critical Hits, death from massive damage, and Subdual damage.

Attacks: Choose 1 or mix and match during a full attack action
Keen Dancing Scythe +5, hit +21/+16/+11 dmg 2d4+9, Crit 18-20/x4
Claw, hit +15/+10/+5 dmg 1d4+4 and paralysis (Fort. DC 19)
Bite, hit +15/+10/+5 dmg 1d6+4 and paralysis (Fort. DC 19)
Touch, hit +15/+10/+5 dmg 1d8+5 (Will DC 19 for ½ dmg) and paralysis (Fort. DC 19)

Special Abilities:
Rebuke Undead 5/day, Spontaneously cast Inflict spells
Death Domain: Death Touch 1/day (melee touch attack, roll 15d6, equal to or greater than target’s HP results in death)
Destruction Domain: Smite 1/day (melee attack, +4 to hit, +15 damage)
Darkvision 60’, Fear Aura (60’ radius, up to 5 HD must make a Will save DC 19 or suffer the effects of a fear spell), Paralyzing Touch (Fort. DC 19, permanent until dispelled)
Spell Like Abilities: (all cast at 15th level)
3/day: Darkness, Poison, Unholy Aura
1/day: Desecrate, Unholy Blight, Contagion, Blasphemy, Unhallow, Horrid Wilting, Summon Monster IX (fiends only), Destruction
Spells: 6/7+1/7+1/6+1/5+1/5+1/4+1/2+1/1+1 (typical prepared spells below)
Level 0: Detect Magic x3, Guidance, Inflict Minor Wounds, Read Magic
Level 1: Bane, Cause Fear (d), Command, Deathwatch, Divine Favor (+5), Doom, Protection from Good, Sanctuary
Level 2: Bull’s Strength, Darkness, Death Knell x2 (d), Silence, Spiritual Weapon x3 (Scythe)
Level 3: Animate Dead (d), Bestow Curse, Deeper Darkness, Dispel Magic, Helping Hand, Invisibility Purge, Spiritual Weapon (s)
Level 4: Air Walk, Discern Lies, Dispel Magic (s), Inflict Critical Wounds (d), Sending, Spell Immunity
Level 5: Break Enchantment, Circle of Doom (d), Flame Strike, Sanctuary (q), Slay Living, Spell Resistance (SR 27)
Level 6: Antilife Shell, Blade Barrier, Harm (d), Spiritual Weapon (q), Word of Recall
Level 7: Blasphemy, Destruction x2 (d)
Level 8: Create Greater Undead (d), Unholy Aura
(d) Domain Spell, (s) Silent Spell, (q) Quicken Spell

Magic Items: Keen Dancing Scythe +5, Ring of Blinking, Ring of Protection +5


  1. I think he has been in every game... and he is often a harder boss to defeat than Dracula.

  2. Always hated dealing with the reaper in the first Castlevania. He shut me down more times than any of the bosses. When I could make it past him, I usually had a good shot at beating the game.

  3. I think of two things when I read the words "Grim Reaper." First, I think of the character of "Death" from Pratchett's Discworld books. I also thinking of Python's "It's a Mr. Death and he's come about the reaping..." bit from the "Meaning of Life."

    "I just had the salad..."