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Add Necrotic Damage

by Mike on 24 January 2022

A lot of undead monsters in D&D tend to inflict light damage at higher CRs. Much of this has to do with the other abilities they possess such as resistance to non-magical weapons or abilities that life drain but often these extra abilities don't actually make the monster more challenging. What good is resistance to non-magical weapons if all of the characters wield magical ones?

As we saw in Monster Dials, we can tweak the number of monsters in an encounter, the hit points of those monsters, a monster's number of attacks, and the damage of those attacks. Today we'll be looking at that last dial — damage.

It can make sense in the story of our game to add extra necrotic damage to an undead monster's attack. They are, after all, undead. No one bats an eye when a wight inflicts an extra 7 (2d6) necrotic damage on its longsword attack or a vampire inflicts an extra 21 (6d6) necrotic damage on its slam attacks.

We can think of this extra necrotic damage as an undead monster's "nastier special", a concept from the excellent RPG 13th Age.

Which monsters benefit the most from this boost in damage? Below I list a few. Note that this adds considerable challenge to these monsters and should be used with care. Use these boosts when you're confident the characters are up to the challenge.

If you find undead monsters who lack solid ranged attacks, take a tip from the upcoming Monsters of the Multiverse book and add a "grave bolts" ranged attack using the monster's normal attack bonus and number of attacks that and inflict 7 (2d6), 14 (4d6), or 21 (6d6) necrotic damage on a hit. Choose damage to suit the challenge you want to provide.

If you want something more detailed, the following chart helps you add ranged attacks to undead monsters of any CR.

CRAttack Bonus# AttacksDamage Per Attack
1+424 (1d6)
2+427 (2d6)
3+5211 (3d6)
4+5214 (4d6)
5+6218 (4d8)
6+6314 (4d6)
7+7318 (3d6+7)
8+7318 (4d8)
9+8321 (4d6+3)
10+8323 (3d8+9)
11+9325 (3d6+14)
12+9327 (4d8+9)
13+10422 (3d8+9)
14+10424 (3d6+14)
15+11427 (4d8+9)
16+11427 (3d10+11)
17+12429 (3d10+13)
18+12431 (3d8+18)
19+13433 (4d10+11)
20+13435 (4d6+21)
21+14436 (4d8+18)
22+14438 (3d10+22)
23+15440 (4d10+18)
24+15441 (4d8+23)
25+16444 (4d10+22)
26+16445 (4d8+27)
27+17445 (4d8+27)
28+17449 (3d10+33)
29+18451 (4d10+29)
30+18455 (4d10+33)

And here's a secret tip. You can use the table above to add ranged attacks to any monster. Just flavor the attack and choose the appropriate damage type so it make's sense for the monster.

Keep the necrotic damage dial in your pocket means you can turn just about any monster into an unholy terror sure to scare the nine hells out of your players.

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