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The concept of scary animated scarecrows is a classic, so I’m sure they popped up in earlier editions. This is their 4e debut.

The Lore

Scarecrows in the middle world are straw mannequins placed on fields to keep birds away. Scarecrows in the Feywild are terrifying constructs built to keep people away, and to tear them to pieces if they get too close. Both look the same, so never forget which plane you’re in.

The first animated scarecrows were created by a hag with straw stolen from a farmer at the stroke of midnight, clothes from a freshly slain corpse, and thread made from the hair of a nightmare. The idea spread quickly, and now lots of different people use them. I imagine the recipes used by less evil creators are not as macabre, though the construction of a scarecrow still involves a lot of work.

Scarecrows are a bit less sturdy than golems, but they’re much smarter. They can understand more complex instructions and have a link to their master that allows for long-distance, two-way communication. When a scarecrow spots an intruder, it transmits what it sees to its master. They’re alarm and surveillance systems in addition to being guardians.

If the master dies, any surviving scarecrows will keep following their last orders. This means you could find an ancient ruin guarded by masterless scarecrows in the Feywild.

The Numbers

Scarecrows are Medium Fey Animates (Constructs). They’re immune to disease, poison and sleep, though non-minion variants are also vulnerable 10 to fire. They have low-light vision and a speed of 6.

Scarecrow Shambler

A proper scarecrow takes months of careful work, with each stitch and each bit of straw placed precisely in the configuration that will allow it to hold the most magic reinforcement and power. A skilled enough ritual caster, however, can cut a bunch of corners and and produce a small army of these crude models.

Shamblers are not much tougher than a mundane scarecrow, as their magic barely holds them together. They are still strong enough to kill someone with their bare hands, and are filled with toxic mold that spreads through the air when they are destroyed.

These creatures are Level 10 Minion Brutes. Their basic attack is claw that does physical damage with no special riders. When destroyed, they disintegrate in a puff of moldy straw, creating a zone in a Close Burst 1 that lasts until the end of the encounter. The zone is a poison cloud: it’s lightly obscured and deals 10 poison damage to anyone who starts their turn inside.

Clearly, shamblers are meant to die en masse and blanket the battlefield in a giant poison cloud. An ignorant wizard might inadvertently help them along by popping an entire group with an area attack. I guess they still act as cameras for their master too.

Scarecrow Guardian

The “baseline” model discussed in the lore section, painstakingly crafted to act as a guardian. They’re Level 13 Soldiers with 107 HP.

Guardians fight with their Claws, which damage and mark on a hit. They also have a couple of gaze attacks: Luring Gaze (at-will) is a ranged attack that deals psychic damage and pulls the target 5 squares; and Horrid Gaze (minor action, encounter) is a Close Blast 3 that deals no damage and immobilizes for a turn. These are tailored to allow the monster to prevent intruders from escaping.

They’re also deceptively hard to kill - the Malleable Straw interrupt kicks in when they’re damaged, and causes them to take half damage from the attack. Since it’s an interrupt, it only works once per round, but still makes them more durable than their HP would indicate.

Scarecrow Haunter

Haunters are created by adding an extra ingredient to the original scarecrow recipe: the heart of someone who was killed by another scarecrow. It gets sewn into the construct’s body, from which it irradiates the fear its former owner felt before dying. The haunter twists this raw emotion into frightening illusions when hunting down intruders.

Haunters are Level 13 Lurkers with 99 HP. They fight with Claws and have several interesting special attacks. The first one we must mention is the Lurking Horror passive trait. It makes it so all of their attacks deal 5 extra damage and have their forced movement increased by 2 squares.

As lurkers, haunters can begin harrassing the party from a distance, while safely hidden. Haunting Echoes an area burst 2 within 10 attack that targets the Will of all enemies inside. A hit slides the target 2 squares and forces them to make a basic attack against a creature of the haunter’s choice as they try to fight the imaginary ghosts conjured within their minds. With Lurking Horror, this slide could be as large as 4 squares.

Once spotted, they can use Terrifying Gaze (recharge 5+) as a minor action to keep the PCs at bay. This is a Close Blast 3 that targets Will, deals light psychic damage, and pushes 2 squares.

Their “hiding” ability is Fluttering Straw, which allows them to seemingly burst into a cloud of rotten straw and rags while teleporting 6 squares and becoming invisible and insubstantial for a turn. They’ll use it to avoid being surrounded and to resume their stealthy “grenading” with Haunting Echoes.

Final Impressions

Quite interesting! Animated scarecrows are always good for a bit of scary fun, and these don’t disappoint. I like the contrast with golems: the creation of a D&D golem is described like a highly technical process that involves trapping elemental spirits. The creation of a scarecrow is the telling of a scary fairy tale, relying on the inherent narrative power of its ingredients.

Unless you choose to make less evil scarecrow recipes a thing in your setting, they’re probably the domain of hags, lamias and other paragon-tier evil fey. A particularly ancient hag is going to have a small army of Guardians and Haunters protecting her territory, and the realization that each of these represents at least one of her previous victims will add to the horror of the situation.

If you want your Heroic-tier players to meet scarecrows without having to trek to the Feywild, I would suggest statting the Shambler as a Level 3 Regular, and knocking the other two down to level 6 or so.