If they hear you, they hunt you!! This week’s creature is the second in my three-part series on monsters who hunt their victims with sound. Released in 2018, A Quiet Place tells the story of a family living in the apocalyptic aftermath of a deadly invasion of alien beings who descend upon earth and proceed to slaughter any living thing they hear.
Brainchild of actor John Krasinski (The Office), A Quiet Place features terrifying predators from the stars known simply as Death Angels. Designed by artist Luis Carrasco, the death angels are fast, brutal and highly effective at killing. With armor-like exoskeletons and the ability to detect the tiniest of sounds, the angels were memorable and fascinating on-screen antagonists. Their ultimate origins and backstory is largely left unexplored, yet Krasinski described their effects on humanity as similar to “releasing wolves into a day care center“.
Despite being a horror movie about alien monsters, Krasinski wanted the film’s focus to be on the family, chiefly their interpersonal relationships that fragment, strengthen and develop over the course of the story. But being a horror fan, my and hopefully your focus is on these deadly killing machines – so let’s get to it!
Conversion. Death Angels were interesting in that they were the first creatures with no clear template to start from. Yes, the bat senses, namely echolocation and keen hearing are a jumping off point, but otherwise, the creature’s movie description left little obvious translations to any recognizable D&D-specie. The biggest beacon in its design proved to be its armor class. In discussing the monster, Krasinski mentioned the following:
“And the other idea was [the armor is] also the reason why they were able to survive kind of the explosion of their planet and then survive on these meteorites, because they’ve evolved to be bulletproof. Until they open themselves up to be vulnerable, they’re completely invulnerable.”
So, right off the bat we know we’ve got a formidable foe with high AC. Checking our trusty Dungeon Master’s Guide, we see that armor begins to top out around a CR rating of 13 when it hits 18 and maxes out at 19 at CR 17. Plate armor bumps a player’s AC to 18, which I think is a good enough equivalent to the monster’s hide, which is literally described as plate-like. However, taking a look at CR 13 creatures we have the likes of Adult brass dragons, beholders and dire trolls – definitely in a league of their own compared to the death angels. Still, I think the death angels aren’t all that far down the power ladder given that they are nearly invulnerable (bullet-proof), do tremendous damage with their claws (tearing through a metal silo) and can move super fast.
Taking into account tiers of play, the death angel definitely feels like a 5-10 creature with a heavy weight towards the top end of this spectrum, so I decided to go with a base level of 10. This falls in line with a challenge for ‘heroes of the realm’ but by the time a fantasy wizard or fighter gets to level 11, a death angel should hopefully be a much less deadly threat. They also feel much more like a regional threat, again a 5-10 tier as opposed to a continental level threat, even though the creatures in the movie apparently wiped out nearly all life on earth. In a fantasy setting, with magic and gods, its not hard to imagine enough power could be arrayed against them to keep them from overcoming an entire world (hopefully).
From an implementation standpoint, their ability to rend through car doors and metal structures has the feeling of siege damage. And while their hearing has a basis in the ordinary D&D bat, it also has some noticeable differences, namely the range and the fact that the creatures in the movie are depicted as being able to morph their plated skin in such a way as to greatly enhance their vibration detection (an actionable ability like the banshee’s Detect Life).
Additionally, the death angels are depicted as being able to hear not only at great distance but through various structures. Like the purple worm, this means that they would need the capabilities provided by both blindsight and tremorsense. Their movie weakness to sound gives the monster a vulnerability (thunder damage, the 5E D&D equivalent of sonic damage) their electrical disruption, while interesting, feels more like flavor than an actual trait.
But what do you think, is a death angel barely a challenge to a well-seasoned party of 10th-levelers? Or will they fall prey to the speed and claws of a horde of angels sweeping across the realm? Download my rendition of A Quiet Place’s Death Angels in JPEG or PDF format for your campaign and scare your players into finally give you a little peace and quiet at the table!
(9-25: UPDATES made with grateful suggestions by various members on the Reddit DnD community)
Check out the LOOT for this Creature here.
BONUS: Kill Count for A Quiet Place!