It pours forth from beneath the floorboards, appearing to be a wraith at first, but then gradually shifting, its cloudy form revealing nothing so tangible as an undead creature. In its mist the heroes see glimpses of futures that they hope to avoid, memories best left unremembered, and loved ones taken away from them in the most unbearable of ways.
Now they understand why this castle has been home to so many acts of suicide recently, the Avatar of Fear has been preying on those who live within, and the heroes, in an attempt to remedy this strange rash of deaths has put themselves directly in harm’s way. Now they must face the Avatar in its lair.
Setting the Field: No matter what the battlefield, the Avatar of Fear is well suited. Ringing the arena with dangerous hazards (like pits or fires) will increase the threat of his Terrify ability.
It’s up to you as a DM whether or not you want the Avatar of Fear to have any crowd control immunities. Personally I’d make him immune to stuns and dominates for the usual reasons, but let the players slow, slide, and push him to their hearts content. Immobilize and daze will have little effect on this ranged boss.
Just because this boss is ranged however, doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t move. I’d recommend giving him a speed of 7 and having him chase after whichever player he next plans to target with his Terrify / Clutch of Paranoia attack.
When moving, the Avatar of Fear has +4 to all defenses and gain insubstantial and phasing.
The Avatar of Fear has three attacks, spaced out however you like through the initiative order. When bloodied, he shifts into a second phase.
Attack A – Dream Lanterns
The Avatar of Fear creates a Figment next to each of the heroes. These figments are minions (1 or 2 hit based on the difficulty of the encounter) that make an attack vs reflex against an adjacent hero each turn for light damage, starting on the turn they are created.
Attack B – Midnight Chill
With a flash of darkness, the Avatar makes an attack against each hero’s fortitude, dealing medium damage and slowing all hit.
Attack C – Terrify
Singling out one of the heroes and showing them their darkest fear leaves them unable to do much other than run. The Avatar of Fear attacks the will of one hero, and on a hit deals medium damage, dazes them, and gives them a -5 penalty to attack rolls, a saving throw ends this effect. Before making a saving throw, as a free action, they may choose to move their full speed in a straight line away from the Avatar in order to give themselves a +5 bonus to their saving throw.
Upon becoming bloodied, the Avatar of Fear becomes insubstantial for a full round and enters Phase 2.
Attack A – Nightmare Lanterns
The Avatar detonates all of the Figments on the battlefield, damaging all heroes adjacent to them for medium damage before summoning another Figment next to each hero. This ability is otherwise exactly like Dream Lanterns.
Attack B – Isolating Darkness
In a flash of darkness, horrible claws lash out at the heroes, attacking their will for medium damage. Heroes not adjacent to another hero take double damage from this attack.
Attack C – Clutch of Paranoia
Surrounded by fears and phantasms, heroes have no idea who is friend and who is foe. The Avatar of Fear attacks the will of one hero, and on a hit deals high damage, dazes them, and gives them a -5 penalty to attack rolls, a saving throw ends this effect, but the save is made at a -5 penalty. Before making a saving throw, as a free action, the hero may choose to make an at-will or encounter attack against one or more of their allies. Each ally hit by this attack grants a +5 bonus to the saving throw. This attack deals no damage to the Avatar of Fear.
The great thing about this fight is that it really gives the DM an opportunity to torture their players. Every attack can and should be accompanied by a description of something terrible happening to somebody that the character cares about, or a vision of some horrible torture.
This one is easy to adapt to any scenario. I recently ran it as an evil necromancer in the finale of my High Seas game. As the final boss. It’s a brutal encounter that forces the players to move around while damaging them all at once. It also allows the players to get used to one set of abilities before changing them out for slightly more dangerous variations. Therefore, any enemy that evolves mid-battle would be another good fit.