Ghoul paralysis sucks. Don't use it. Remember, the first precept is to give players interesting choices. Paralysis fails this simple test.
I've been trying to find a good replacement for ghoul paralysis, all built around the idea of giving a player a more interesting choice. My first attempt was Agony, but people didn't like it much.
Each turn a player can choose to writhe in agony, or act normally.
If they choose to writhe in agony, they take no damage, and take no actions.
If they choose to act normally, they take 1d6 non-lethal damage. This damage is reduced by 1 point for every round that has passed, so Agony would only deal 1d6-2 (min 0) damage on the third round.
|from the 3rd Edition Monster Manual|
Each turn, a horrified character can choose to accept the horror, or to deny the horror.
If they deny the horror, they lose their turn, and the horror die decreases 1 size. They spend their time mumbling "no no no" and trembling.
If they accept the horror, they take 1d6 non-lethal damage. If they take 6+ non-lethal damage from this, they gain 1 Trauma.
So, a character who spends 1 round denying the horror and then accepts the horror on the next round would only take 1d4 damage. 1d6 becomes 1d4 becomes 1d2 becomes 0. Big things can use a larger horror die, of course, but the default is a d6.
A character who is terrified gets -4 to their Defense and their Save. This penalty ends once they are safe from whatever terrified them. If their HP drops below 0 while they are terrified, they gain 1 Trauma.
In combat, this usually means running out of the room and hyperventilating briefly in the hallway.
A player can also choose to risk staying in combat. After all, they might be terrified of the corpse shark, but still manage to destroy it with their next attack. And of course, the best path to safety might be a interesting question in itself.
The lungs of all living creatures within 50' are filled with water. They will need to make Con checks after 3 rounds (18 seconds of high-exertion combat) in order to stay conscious. If you can breathe water, feel free to ignore this effect.
This introduces a new defeat condition into combat. Players can choose for themselves how long they want to risk staying in combat.
To utilize the mechanic to the fullest, the arena cannot be something that can be exited at a moments notice. Give them a grapple-happy enemy, or require a Movement check to exit the room.
Can only be seen by characters who are blind, or who possess at least 1 Madness.
All non-magical damage is reduced to 1, unless dealt by a character who is at death's door (0 HP). Can only be permanently killed by a character at death's door.
Half of all the damage that they deal is cursed damage, and does not heal normally. You can remove the curse by visiting a church, or by appeasing the mummy.
Appeasing the mummy involves sacrificing one of the mummy's enemies at the local altar and begging for forgiveness. The enemy can be a tomb robber, a particular ethnicity, or the mummy across the hallway. (And if you are going to put mummies in your dungeon, they need at least this level of context. Mummies have history.)
Undead combo packs. Must be created from a specific relationship.
So, in my last post, I talked about how undead are created by inviting demons into a corpse. Those are lesser undead.
Greater undead are created by imprisoning people inside their corpses, and dominating their ego through trauma.
Made from killing a woman's children, rending them into tallow before her eyes, and using them to make a candle. 1d6+1 wicks emerge from her neck and shoulders, one for each bound soul.
Lvl 3 Claw 1d6+ignite
As bright as a torch BUT creates darkness around itself for 20'. The only thing its light illuminates is itself.) Usually travels with 1d6 skeletal children (HD 1) who are hidden inside her enveloping darkness.
The Lover and The Beloved
Made by removing all of the teeth from a pair of lovers, and forcing them to swallow the other's teeth. Only then are they killed, both pierced by the same black iron spear. The necromancer must then keep their hearts on their belt.
HD 3 Claws 1d12
Any damage that the Beloved would take is instead redirected to the Lover.
If the Beloved is ever separated from the Lover, it rots into heavy dust.
HD 3 HP 50 Caress 1d6 cold
Damage that is redirected to the Lover appears as grievous wounds.
If the Lover is ever separated from the Beloved, it flies into a rage, gains a bite attack that does 1d20 damage, and drops to 1 HP.