Occult adventures are a standard in the tabletop RPG sphere, however, this frequency of use can make the recently risen feel rather mundane. As the GM, you may have a diabolical necromancer responsible for these events, but that’s a fight for a higher level. In the meantime, you want to surprise your players all while capturing that sense of dread. One way to add both hibbies and jibbies to your game is by surprising the players with a sudden attack of swarming severed hands!

Picture this. The party is investigating a damp/dark building, which was the scene of a murder. They hear something. It sounds like scampering? Possibly rats? Even with the parties light source, shadows shift around the room. Suddenly, one of the party members is grabbed from behind!  Attempting to scream, the party looks over to see a bloody hand covering their friends mouth and the terror in their eyes… but nothing behind them. Lowering from the rafters, the party is attacked by severed hands and crawling claws!

The result of a dark ritual, these severed hands are bound to the caster that created them. Though not very intelligent, these abominations can follow simple instructions. Swarming a location and attacking anyone who enters for example. Using crawling claws gives you a slight twist on what players may be expecting in an occult adventure.  This also allows the GM to create a sense of tension before the hands spring forth to attack. When using these severed limbs, describe the scurrying noises that the party might hear before the encounter. Once the combat begins, play into the gore aspect. Describe the greenish-rot and discolored flesh as a result of decay. Mechanically, these tiny undead are weak, but can make fun encounters for low level characters. To increase their effectiveness, have these creepy crawlies attack in numbers. Depending on the system you are playing, you can have a few claws try to grapple the party as the others tear at their flesh. I would also suggest having these murderous meat hooks attack in waves. As the party dispatches a few, more limbs drop from the ceiling or spring from a nearby crevice. Using simple attacks are fine, but don’t be afraid to get creative as well. Think about what a swarm of hands can do together.  How would a group of severed hands attempt to accomplish their goal?  Below are a few fun ideas for you to try:

  • Hand Launcher: Hand 1 grabs the bone of hand 2. Hand 2 then flings Hand 1 at the players. You can treat this as a flying charge attack to the face!
  • Double Fist Punch: Right out of Star Trek! Two hands interlock their fingers, and go for one big punch. Grant the claws a bonus to hit/damage or advantage on the roll.
  • Silence Hand: Have one hand cover the mouth of a character. This can act as a silence effect as they are unable to cast verbal spells.
  • Looting Hand: It can be funny to have one hand take something from a player and run off with it. Perhaps the hand takes a dagger from the rogues belt and attempts to use it on them!

As we can see the Crawling Claw can be a fun thematic twist on classic occult games. Adding a sense of unease and surprise to your game. They also provide GMs the opportunity to think outside the box and get creative with their attacks.  It’s always fun to add personality to the creatures that inhabit your world.  So, embrace the blood and gore with these tiny horror!

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