When a bard takes their own life or is killed in a particularly cruel manner, their soul can become trapped within their instrument and form a sorrow strummer. These possessed instruments litter the floors of haunted forests, abandoned amphitheaters, and slummy city alleyways all across the realm, filling them with sorrowful tunes that inspire countless ghost stories. For this reason, those who come upon the remains of a dead bard should always think twice before claiming their instrument as their own for they may invoke the wrath of the unfulfilled musician’s soul trapped within.
Medium undead, chaotic evil
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 45 (6d8 + 18)
Speed 0 ft., fly 50 ft. (hover)
STR 3 (-4) DEX 12 (+1) CON 10 (+0)
INT 10 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 16 (+4)
Damage Resistances necrotic; bludgeoning, piercing, slashing from nonmagical attacks
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, paralyzed, poisoned, prone, unconscious
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages The languages it knew in life
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Spellcasting. The sorrow strummer is a 4th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). It has the following bard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): minor illusion, true strike, vicious mockery
1st Level (4 slots): bane, charm person, dissonant whispers, tasha’s hideous laughter, thunderwave
2nd Level (3 slots): hold person, shatter
Sorrowful Strumming. Any creature that starts its turn within 30 feet of the sorrow strummer that can hear it must succeed on a DC 14 Charisma saving throw or suffer one level of exhaustion. On a successful saving throw, the creature is immune to the sorrow strummer’s Sorrowful Strumming for 24 hours.
Instrument Bash. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) bludgeoning damage plus 4 (1d8) necrotic damage.
Necrotic Melody. The sorrow strummer plays a melody of ghostly chords filled with life-draining energy. All creatures within 60 feet of the sorrow strummer that can hear it must make a DC 14 Charisma saving throw, taking 9 (3d6) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful save.
The sorrow strummer can take 1 monster action, choosing from the options below. The chosen monster action can only be used at the end of another creature’s turn. The sorrow strummer regains all spent monster actions at the start of its turn.
Cantrip. The sorrow strummer casts one of its prepared cantrips.
Bash. The sorrow strummer makes an instrument bash attack.
*Taken from Matt Colville's "Action Oriented Monsters" video on YouTube, Monster Actions are an optional rule that allows you to make a single monster more challenging to a party of adventures who otherwise would beat the living sh*t out the monster in a 5v1 or even 4v1 battle due to 5e's action economy.
Hope you all enjoy using this new monster in your own games! I first used it in my game as the party was making their way through the Forest of Unsung Dreams which is a huanted forest where failed or disgraced bards go to live in exile or take their own lives. The characters found a discarded lyre beside a slow-moving creek and had to face the sorrow strummer that came pouring out of the instrument's sound hole as they picked it up.
Let me know how you end up using this monster in the comments below!