After my recent post about a deity named The Great Pumpkin, regular commenter Jeff H. was inspired to write up a monster entry for the god’s favored servant. He shared it with me, and it felt like a shame to keep it to myself. So presented below is Jeff H.’s Gaping Grin.
When the final body of the last child taking part in the apotheosis of the Great Pumpkin shuddered out her final breath and the evil deity rose from his birthplace to take his place among the divine, there was a lingering aura of palpable evil about the place. The land was blasted of all life save for that favoured by the Great Pumpkin and remains so to this day, an excessively large field of the ripest and most healthy pumpkins ever seen. Unfortunately for all who might desire one of the gourds, the field is teeming with a variety and number of spiders unheard of, to the point where as the night comes on every pumpkin seems to vanish from sight as the deadly arachnids clamber forth in a teeming carpet to shield their charge. No-one has ever managed to retrieve a pumpkin from this patch and survive for more than a week’s time, whether slain by unfortunate circumstance or more chillingly by the bite of a spider never seen before in that land.
From this field the Great Pumpkin gathers the residual fear and regret that he uses to form his most favoured champion, The Gaping Grin. Crafted from the souls harvested during the previous year into an avatar of the Grin in the Dark’s unholy will, The Gaping Grin knows nothing of solidarity or loyalty, only pain, loss and regret. Unreasonable and unreasoning, The Gaping Grin does suffer from flashes of insight from time to time whereupon it may deviate from its masters plans briefly, though in almost all instances of this facet of the legend those who were spared find themselves hunted for the remainder of their days whether they know it or not.
The Gaping Grin appears as a suit of full plate armour of impossibly fine artistry, seeming to have been woven from the vines and leaves of pumpkin plants though upon close inspection it is simply worked steel. Within the armour is a horrible tangle of limbs and mangled organs that have been mashed into place to fill the void within the armour in much the same way as a healthy body might have, though there is no suggestion of eyes, ears, or anything about heads. Rather than a head, The Gaping Grin wears what appears to be a hollowed out pumpkin carved with a wickedly leering face and monstrous grin. Similarly to its master’s, the face upon its head changes whenever nothing is looking at it.
Little more than a tool for the Great Pumpkin’s inscrutable aims The Gaping Grin rides forth from the 402nd layer of the Abyss to places unseen and unknown by many save those who inhabit them. The only thing that is ever recalled with certainty in the myriad of legends surrounding this being is that there is always death in its wake and it always slays at least one person before it is stopped. Legend has it that if the pumpkin that serves as The Gaping Grin’s head is stolen and hidden away beneath the roots of a dryad’s tree, it will not trouble the world for a hundred years.
The Gaping Grin CR 17 XP 102,400
CE Medium undead
Init +2; Senses blindsight 60 ft.; Perception +23
Aura frightful presence (30 ft, DC22), aura of cowardice (10 ft.), aura of despair (10ft.)
AC 29, touch 12, flat-footed 27 (+12 armour, +1 Dex, +5 natural armour, +1 dodge)
hp 190 (10d8+40 plus 10d10+40); fast healing 5
Fort +18, Ref +12, Will +21
Defensive Abilities unholy resilience, channel resistance +4; Immune undead traits; SR 28
Speed 50 ft. (50 ft. in armour)
Melee +4 keen bastard sword +23/+18/+13/+8 (1d10+10/17–20×2 plus 2d8 cold plus disease) or +4 keen bastard sword vital strike +23 (4d10+10/17-20×2 plus 2d8 cold plus disease)
Special Attacks aura of evil, detect good, smite good, touch of corruption, great pumpkin’s blessing, great pumpkin’s will, sin with a grin
3 – Deadly Juggernaut
2 – Bull’s Strength, Desecrate
1 – Bane (Will DC15), Death Knell (Will DC15), Murderous Command (Will DC15)
Str 22, Dex 14, Con —, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 18
Base Atk +17; CMB +23; CMD 35
Feats Mounted Combat, Trick Riding, Vital Strike, Improved Vital Strike, Greater Vital Strike, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Mounted Skirmisher
Skills Handle Animal +14, Intimidate +24, Perception +23, Ride +22 (+17 in armour), Spellcraft +12, Stealth +22 (+17 in armour)
Languages Common, Sylvan, Druidic
Treasure: double (+3 full plate, +4 bastard sword, other treasure)
Appearing in a thick cloud of unnaturally spawning mist on a clear night around harvest time, The Gaping Grin charges forth from the Great Pumpkin’s layer of the Abyss to sow terror and chaos on the Material Plane in the name of its dark master. Sometimes sent to destroy the enemies of this secretive faith, as often The Gaping Grin is sent to cleave the withered stalks from the healthy to keep the faith strong. Occasionally this chaotic being slips its leash and rampages across vast swaths of wilderness, going from settlement to settlement reaping souls and lives for its master whether mortal or otherwise. Even demons and devils take note when the spectral hooves of The Gaping Grin’s charger strike near to their spheres of influence, for it is said that whenever the hoofbeats stop there has been a death, and who so much as hears The Gaping Grin’s voice is fated to die that very night.
The Gaping Grin is first and foremost a skirmisher, preferring to fight on the move rather than settle for any particular spot on the battlefield. Often working alone to demoralize enemies before sweeping through like a killing scythe, it tends to pick a cluster of targets to get the most out of its frightful presence while also singling out potential spellcasters. Anyone wilful enough to resist the palpable fear aura surrounding it registers as the most likely magical threat and thus the primary target. Before combat The Gaping Grin likes to cast Bull’s Strength and Deadly Juggernaut on itself to augment its already prodigious martial prowess, wading into the thick of combat while trusting its armour to deflect mortal blows while it deals with supernatural threats. Formed from the Great Pumpkin’s will, it often
fights to the death as it trusts that when it is next needed it shall be reformed by its terrible master.
Aura of Evil (Ex) The power of The Gaping Grin’s aura of evil (see the detect evil spell) is equal to its antipaladin level+7. A paladin who uses smite evil on The Gaping Grin deals 2 points of damage per paladin level on his first successful attack.
Detect Good (Sp) At will, The Gaping Grin can use detect good, as the spell. The Gaping Grin can, as a move action, concentrate on a single item or individual within 60 feet and determine if it is good, learning the strength of its aura as if having studied it for 3 rounds. While focusing on one individual or object, The Gaping Grin does not detect good in any other object or individual within range.
Smite Good (Su) Three times per day, The Gaping Grin can call out to its master to crush the forces of good. As a swift action, The Gaping Grin chooses one target within sight to smite. If this target is good, The Gaping Grin adds +4 on his attack rolls and +7 on all damage rolls made against the target of his smite. If the target of smite good is an outsider with the good subtype, a good-aligned dragon, or a good creature with levels of cleric or paladin, the bonus to damage on the first successful attack increases to +14. Regardless of the target, smite good attacks automatically bypass any DR the creature might possess.
In addition, while smite good is in effect, The Gaping Grin gains a deflection bonus of +4 to his AC against attacks made by the target of the smite. If The Gaping Grin targets a creature that is not good, the smite is wasted with no effect.
The smite good effect remains until the target of the smite is dead or has somehow evaded The Gaping Grin for an evening.
Unholy Resilience (Su) The Gaping Grin gains a bonus of +4 on all saving throws.
Touch of Corruption (Su) Nine times per day as a standard action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, The Gaping Grin can surround its hand with an unholy flame, causing terrible wounds which deal 5d6 damage to open on those it touches. Alternatively, The Gaping Grin can use this power to heal undead creatures, 5d6 hit points.
Victims of the Touch of Corruption must also make a successful Fortitude save (DC19) or suffer one of the following effects;
Sickened: The target is sickened for 10 rounds.
Staggered: The target is staggered for 5 rounds.
Nauseated: The target is nauseated for 3 rounds.
Aura of Cowardice (Su) The Gaping Grin radiates a palpably daunting aura that causes all enemies within 10 feet to take a –4 penalty on saving throws against fear effects. Creatures that are normally immune to fear lose that immunity while within 10 feet of The Gaping Grin.
Plague Bringer (Ex) The Great Pumpkin has made his champion a beacon of corruption and disease. It does not suffer ill effects from diseases it carries, nor does it spread them to places/people blessed by its dark master. Typically The Gaping Grin arrives tainted with an especially active form of the Bubonic Plague, as follows.
Bubonic Plague – Type disease, injury or inhaled; Save Fortitude DC 17 – Onset Immediate; Frequency 1/day – Effect 1d4 Con damage and 1 Cha damage and target is fatigued; Cure 2 consecutive saves
Infected vermin and parasites spread this disease, also known as Daemon’s Touch or the Black Death, through their bites. Once contracted, the disease spreads quickly, polluting the victim’s body with toxins. As the disease reaches the lymph nodes, the victim suffers extreme inflammation of glands, and his skin might take on a black pallor. Symptoms include fever, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and swelling of the lymph nodes (called buboes) on the neck, underarms, and inner thigh areas, and eventually bleeding beneath the skin. A victim who takes any Constitution damage from the disease must immediately make a successful Fortitude save or become fatigued until all his Constitution damage is healed. Each time a victim takes 2 points of Constitution damage from Black Death, he also takes 1 point of Charisma damage.
Channel Negative Energy (Su) The Gaping Grin can channel negative energy. Using this ability consumes two uses of his touch of corruption ability and either deals 5d6 damage in a 30′ burst to all living things, or heals all undead within 30′ for 5d6. In either case, a DC 19 Will save is required to halve the effect.
Aura of Despair (Su) Enemies within 10 feet of The Gaping Grin take a –2 penalty on all saving throws. This penalty does not stack with the penalty from aura of cowardice.
Great Pumpkin’s Blessing (Su) The Gaping Grin is blessed in service to its master’s will. It is proficient with all simple and martial slashing weapons which when wielded inflict +2d8 cold damage and gains the keen weapon property. Further, any bladed slashing weapon in The Gaping Grin’s possession is treated as if sheathed within a Sheath of Bladestealth, becoming invisible until wielded in battle. This ability replaces the Fiendish Blessing that The Gaping Grin would otherwise have received.
Sin with a Grin (Su) As a standard action The Gaping Grin can summon a spectral heavy warhorse, which remains until it is slain or dismissed. It can only have one such horse in its service at a time. In addition, whether mounted or not, The Gaping Grin moves with soul-chilling rapidity and has a 50 ft. move speed, even when armoured.