The Choice is Made! The Traveler has come!
Continuing with my all-time favorite horror icon’s for the month of Halloween, this week’s monster is Gozer the Destructor from the classic ’80’s supernatural (horror?) comedy Ghostbusters!
From the insane mind of Hollywood legend Dan Aykroyd (Nothing But Trouble), 1984’s Ghostbusters was released to critical, commercial and fan acclaim. Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler are three struggling paranormal scientists from an Ivy League college who decide to launch an investigation and elimination service focusing on occult infestations. Picking up a fourth member to cope with unexpected demand, Winston Zeddemore, the team take on numerous ghostly manifestations throughout New York City until an ancient demigod threatens the entire metropolis. Gifted with equipment they created on their own and the knowledge necessary to confront this ancient being, the Ghostbusters take on the Sumerian demigod Gozer the Destructor. Manifesting on the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper as an eighties female glam-rocker, Gozer ultimately assumes the form of its most well-known embodiment- a gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. In short order, the Ghostbusters defeat Gozer and send the otherworldly entity back to its dimension, freeing the city from a candy-coated doom.
Ghostbusters is a classic film that crosses so many genres including comedy, horror, procedural crime and romance and yet stands in the pantheon of ’80s films that has stood the test of time. At times dark, self-reflective and aspirational, the film delivered well-known iconic monsters like slimer and the librarian ghost and of course the instantly recognizable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – so let’s get converting!.
Conversion. Another fun conversion, Gozer the Destructor has a good deal of in-universe film lore that really helps to flesh it out as a D&D monster.
From a base creature standpoint, of course anytime you have a Gargantuan monster the default feels like it should start with a tarrasque. Although Gozer’s Marshmallow form is definitely gargantuan, the power level of Gozer from the film seems significantly less than the destructive capabilities of that icon D&D creature. Additionally, Gozer’s defenses don’t appear nearly as formidable as the spell refractive shell of the tarrasque and its other traits.
So overall, while Gozer is depicted as being an ancient Sumerian god in the film, the marshmellow form is clearly capable of taking damage somewhat easily, evidenced by the flaming marshmellow bits courtesy the Ghostbuster’s proton-packs. So I brought the avatar down to a CR equivalent to roughly a demigod status, or the fiendish equivalents from Out of the Abyss.
Gozer’s offensive capabilities are fairly limited in the movie. I suppose being Gargantuan was enough for the filmmakers as a means of qualifying one to be capable of destroying the world. Hence I gave the Destroyer’s form the standard-issue slam and stomp attacks. I did however expand the stomp attack to give it more weight, able now to target multiple opponents, unlike say the tarrasque’s or a dragon’s tail attack. In addition, when the Ghostbusters light up Gozer in the film, it seems to ‘breathe’ back the damage, leading to Absorptive Response, a new reaction that beefs up Gozer’s threat level. Being a god (or demigod), Gozer obviously also needed legendary actions which is where I fleshed out its ability to consume worlds with its Puff action, similar to the tarrasque’s swallow action but that like my modified stomp, is expanded to include more targets and give the build a more believable ability to legitimatize how the Destroyer actually ‘destroys’ world.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the lore for Gozer is interesting and I felt the demigod wouldn’t be properly represented without the inclusion of its Temple which figures as the portal for its entrance into the film and any D&D world it will make an appearance in. So giving Gozer’s Destroyer form attack resistance but also tying this trait to its temple felt like a direct call-back to the film. However, unlike the film, where the temple’s destruction is also the way the Ghostbusters defeat Gozer, I scaled back its significance, halving the monsters hit points if the temple is destroyed and thus making it important but not crucial to defeated the threat.
But what do you think, is Gozer the Destructor too sticky a threat for your party or can they handle that much sugary terror? Download my rendition of Ghostbuster’s Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in JPEG 1 JPEG 2 or PDF format for your campaign and lobotomize their hopes of surviving another session!
(Updates made thanks to the REDDIT COMMUNITY – including attack damages and formatting and wording. Big Note, damages have been greatly reduced as I originally calculated DPS without the Legendary actions. )
Despite being a deity, Gozer in the film is fairly straightforward in its means of destruction – stomp, smash, repeat.
Once Gozer enters the material plane and descends on a chosen world, it takes on a gargantuan form and proceeds to demolish everything in its path using a very simple playbook. So even though Gozer is an ancient being, it appears to relish in wanton, thoughtless rampaging.
However, unlike in the film, D&D worlds are filled with their own share of gargantuan creatures, everything from dragons to krakens to the mighty tarrasque. While these creatures are definitely fearsome, Gozer is a deity and a truly chaotic evil one at that. It would therefore be unafraid of such threats that, if they arrayed against it could probably defeat it fairly easily. And while Gozer in its destroyer form may be able to obliterate smaller worlds with less sophisticated civilizations, more advanced planes may be much more capable of repulsing Gozer. Despite this Gozer draws strength from any creatures it manages to consume on its forays into the mortal planes and constantly seeks entry to those worlds with populations high enough to temporarily sate its endless need to consume.
Add GOZER To Your Campaign
Gozer makes for a great D&D threat in the same vein as arch-fiends from the Out of the Abyss campaign. Coming with its own pre-made cult, the Gozerians, it should be relatively easy to re-skin a native cult from your campaign or a published one into the Cult of Gozer, giving players the thrill of trying to stop the Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man from entering their world and destroying everything in sight.
Gozer’s temple, included alongside Gozer’s stats, is the perfect tension builder – as the Cultists search for an exact spot to erect its edifice, PCs must try to destroy it before the demigod’s arrival. Conversely, once Gozer has arrived, you can arrange a thought-provoking decision among your players – should they fight Gozer head on once it has arrived or try to destroy the temple first? This question brings forth the classic ‘split-the-party’ decision and is D&D at its finest.
BONUS: Think Ghostbusters isn’t horror? Think Again!