I'm not sure about all of you out there, but it's the small things that creep me out the most. Zombies have become a 'how many cool ways can we kill them' past time. Skeletons were never very scary to begin with. Vampires get more moody as the years go by and are more annoying than frightening. Dragons are now a staple at arts & crafts shows. Not so scary. And all those goblinoids that make up the majority of the enemies in a fantasy campaign are trees waiting to be chopped down. But what about the small enemies? Enemies small enough that a sword or mace is useless. These are the enemies that crawl inside of you. Become a part of you. They cause the most horrible and agonizing deaths.
I'm talking about the Ear Seekers, small insects that
search for a warm place to lay their eggs. Ears are their favorite
place, but an open wound will do nicely also. While you sleep they lay
9-16 eggs and in less than a day the eggs hatch and start feast on the
flesh around them.
And I'm talking about Rot Grubs. These
little beauties burrow into your skin and tunnel through your body until
they reach your heart. It takes1-3 turns for these grubs to finish the
job giants could not do.
Here is the problem I have. In both
cases the MM says both can be rid of by a Cure Disease, but neither is a
disease. The PHB describes disease as a parasitic, bacterial or viral
nature. Even though both would qualify as parasitic in nature I don't
see as they qualify as a disease. The remedy is already give in the MM
that rot grubs need to be burned off and some sort of similar thing I
believe would need to be done for the ear seekers. A steady handed
player with a red hot needle plunging into the infected player's ear.
creatures are more difficult to deal with because of the harm that
comes with defending oneself from them. The difficult part as a GM is
using these creatures and having the possibility of having one of the
players die because insect eggs in their ear. Depending on the realism
you promote in your campaign this might not be an option. Heroic
campaigns don't want their heroes dying from disease or infestations,
but leading a battle against insurmountable odds. Not dying in their
bedroll the night before the battle.
It's good to change up the
expectations of the players. Any group can prepare to go against a
stronghold of ogres, but have them go against the creepy crawlers and
you'll see those same big badass heroes screaming like little girls
running for the door.