The Laughing Death CR 8
CE haunt (50-ft. radius)
Caster Level 8th
Notice Perception DC 20 (to hear the manic, stuttering laughter of the deranged)
Hp 16; Trigger touch (physical interaction with a skull baring golden fangs); Reset 1 day
Effect: When this haunt is triggered, several things happen; first the environs are transformed into a hellscape filled with infernal growths, cackling spirits and the shrieks of the damned. All creatures within the area must make a DC 14 Will save or become shaken and take a -2 penalty on saves versus fear effects. Both of these effects persist while within the affected area (treated as though a vision of hell had been cast).
Next, the skull pulses with a wave of energy that has a visible, strange glowing effect when it passes across the heads of any allies within the radius of the hellish illusions; afterward, creatures within the radius of the effect are left with the impression that somehow, this unholy apparition is being caused by their companions – the only way to end it (indeed, it could spread across the entire realm!) is to bash in their skulls. Any creature that fails a DC 14 Will save (with a -2 penalty) is compelled to do so, as if a suggestion were cast upon them.
Finally, the madness of the situation hits home; any creature that fails a DC 14 Will save becomes enraged, gaining a +2 morale bonus to Strength and Constitution, a +1 morale bonus on Will saves, and a -2 penalty to AC until the haunt ends or the lives of their allies have been extinguished.
Characters that fail even a single one of these saves cackle with insane glee until the haunt ends or they’ve left its radius of effect. Any character that fails the second Will save and either the first or last Will save suffers an additional effect – should they fell any creature while this haunt persists, they immediately bash open the corpse’s skull with whatever they have at hand. They then voraciously consume the brains within until all of the gray and white matter is gone, at which point they may make an extra DC 14 Will save to break any enduring enchantments (should they fail this save, they return to attacking anyone nearby and the behavior repeats).
Destruction: Permanently destroying an occasion of The Laughing Death is no simple task – each fang of the haunted skull must be sundered by a weapon made from cold iron, then scalded by the (molten) gold of the jaw’s fangs.
Adventure Hook: A local member of the nobility has been kidnapped by gnolls under the direction of an exiled counselor that has been tracked to an abandoned keep in the mountains. Several adventuring parties have attempted to rescue the royalty, but none have succeeded. The only survivors are stark raving mad, their fingernails nearly bitten down to the bone and their eyes wide with the berth of a distant, detached and unhinged mind. Any reactions from these individuals are short, violent and to the point – when pressed for details about what happened to their companions, they scream in utter terror and flee for the wilds, never to return.
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