This week’s Monday night game included a Fey Bodak Skulk, which has the following power:
Death Gaze (standard, encounter) – Gaze, Necrotic
Ranged 10; targets a living creature; +19 vs Fortitude; if the target is weakened, it drops to 0 hit points; otherwise, the target takes 1d6 + 6 necrotic damage and loses a healing surge.
Because Bodaks can shapeshift to appear as a humanoid, I had this one pretend to be a human on the run from a cyclops hunting party. The PCs obligingly shepherded it to the rear of the party, where it proceeded to gank the sorcerer. When she shifted away to return fire, I plugged her with Death Gaze. I’m fairly proud of my players, because the only thing they asked was “is that an encounter power?” and when I reassured them it was, they went right back to what they were doing.
I think as GMs we sometimes forget that it’s okay for monsters to have “dailies” too and that these powers can be every bit as game-changing as those available to the PCs, especially when we’re not running that many encounters before an extended rest (a conversation for another day). It its own way, Death Gaze provides us with an upper bound to how nasty we can go. Putting someone on the floor with a single action is pretty powerful. (It’s also fairly elegant because it’s nothing more than a hyper-accelerated version of what normally happens during a fight. The PCs already have all the tools they need to deal with it.)
Some quick guidelines:
- Try to avoid gotchas that come out of nowhere.
- Try to avoid including monsters that trigger the gotcha unless it’s intended to be a very hard fight.
- Good gotchas make characters scramble to recover; bad gotchas prevent people from playing.
- It’s not a gotcha if every monster in the fight can do it.