Monster of the Week: Screamer

They make themselves now.

Films Synopsis: Adapted from the 1952 story ”Second Variety ” by Phillip K. Dick, Screamers (1995) is a science-fiction horror film set on the distant planet of Sirius 6B in the year 2078. An incredibly rare and heretofore unknown element found there promises to solve the power needs for all of mankind. But, as in any movie there’s a catch – mining the material causes clouds of radioactive dust to escape into the planet’s atmosphere, poisoning the workers extracting the valuable element. When these workers revolt and demand cessation of the operation, the N.E.B, the company/bloc profiting from the extraction declares war.

In the ensuing conflict, the miners who form the Alliance deploy autonomous security devices known as ‘swords’ to the battlefront. The killing machines are quickly nicknamed ‘screamers’ due to the high-pitched shriek the whirling blades make as the units attack. Members of the alliance wear ‘tabs’ that block their heartbeat, which is what the screamers use to locate and assassinate their targets.

With many a twist, some odd and less than plausible logic throughout, Screamers is still a quintessentially ‘90’s sci-fi Hollywood horror flick about corporate greed and rebellion complete with an admirable concept that leaves room for better execution. Still, Screamers delivers on one awesome little gem – the screamers units themselves which were incredibly memorable for me after the first watch. They make terrifying adversaries – and perfect D&D monsters to add to our month of constructs!

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If you see something that looks like it needs improving, re-balancing, editing or formatting, please leave a comment or shoot me an email ! I want these designs to be the best they can be!

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Screamers are lurkers by nature. They patrol a given area by burrowing underground out of sight. Whether they are operating under the commands of a given group or are fully sentient, a screamer seeks to eliminate any living creature that enters its perimeter that isn’t protected by a magical ward. If a screamer is independent, it will usually find an area that is full of metal as well as an abundance of decaying organic matter, both of which it uses to repair or duplicate itself. A screamer attacks intruders indiscriminately, targeting the first creature it detects. If there is a group of creatures, a screamer may choose to follow them instead of outright attacking, waiting until a creature breaks from the group but otherwise, a screamer is immune to even basic tendencies towards self-preservation always choosing instead to eliminate living creatures if it has the chance to.

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Screamer’s are perfectly suited for Eberron (House Cannith) and can easily be added to Ravnica as a design forged in the laboratories of the Izzet League. They can be great and terrifying sentries for both highly defended locations or just as easily bizarre and truly alien guardians for remote and rogue factions.

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Screamers were entirely new creatures created from scratch. They shared the basic stats for a Tiny version of constructs like those found in Mordenkainen’s Tome. The Armor Piercing trait was something to give them a bonus to attack since they are essentially assassin-bots, which borrowed wording from the gladiator’s Brute trait. Pounce was off course pulled from the Monster Manual beast section (take your pick) and the Sense Heartbeat trait imitates the Metal Sense trait Yatsu for I did a while back (which was helped via folks on Reddit).

But what do you think, are the screamers too tiny and high-pitched to offer a real challenge to your table?  Or will their screams mingle with those of these constructs in their death throes? Download my rendition of a screamer in pdf format for your campaign and deafen your party with the shrill whine of defeat.

And, if you want to get this and all the creatures to date in a single, indexed PDF as well as a handy-dandy Fantasy Ground version of these creatures, consider heading over to my Patreon and becoming a Patron!

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