I’ve been a fan of Slender Man since the Something Awful days. So it was neat to get this Stat Anything challenge from Instagram follower @guyinthefire. And also a bit of a challenge, because really… who the hell is Slender Man? And how does one stat a legend?
In this article I’m going to:
- Take a look at the history and lore of Slender Man.
- Apply stats to him based on the stories (and film).
- Deliver the finished result of Slender Man.
Who is Slender Man?
Where to begin! Originally, Slender Man started as a Photoshop Phriday contest on the Something Awful forums in which users were tasked with creating paranormal images. One of the users, Victor Surge, created two images of children with a tall, slender figure haunting the background. Here they are:
Along with each of the images came a creepy caption.
We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time…
— 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead
And the second:
One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.
— 1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986
Now, that’s some spooky shit.
Inspiration for Slender Man.
Victor Surge explains that his inspirations for Slender Man came from Stephen King’s The Mist, reports of shadow people, Mothman, and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon. All that with a bit of HP Lovecraft, Silent Hill, and William S Burroughs tossed in.
He wanted to create “something whose motivations can barely be comprehened, and [which caused] unease and terror in a general population.”
Slender Man’s connection to folklore.
In her book Slenderman: The Development of an Internet Mythology, author Shira Chess connected Slender Man to ancient folklore like fairies. She explains, “Like fairies, Slender Man is otherworldly, with motives that are often difficult to grasp; like fairies, his appearance is vague and often shifts to reflect what the viewer wants or fears to see, and, like fairies, the Slender Man calls the woods and wild places his home and kidnaps children.”
How can we create Slender Man for 5e D&D?
While his description varies from storyteller to storyteller, here are some of the more popular tropes:
- He is most commonly described as tall and thin with unnaturally long, tentacle like arms (or just tentacles). These he can extend to intimidate and capture his prey.
- Often, Slender Man’s face is white and featureless. But according to some, he can change the appearance of his face depending on who sees it.
- Slender Man often wears a dark suit and tie.
- Abandoned buildings and forests seem to be Slender Man’s favorite hunting grounds.
- He can teleport.
- Proximity to Slender Man causes Slender Sickness, an onset of paranoia, nightmares, and delusions accompanied by nosebleeds.
- Young adults are used as “proxies” for the Slender Man, driven to wreak havoc on his behalf.
The lore of the Slender Man is almost always kept vague. Therefore, it’s hard to nail down exactly what he is and what his intentions truly are.
Breaking each element down.
On the one hand, we’ve got lots of cool background details for Slender Man. Yet, on the other, we still know very little about him. Therefore I’m tasked with creating something that makes sense with this mysterious figure all the while trying not to shit on the mythos by giving him hardline stats. #dmproblems
But here we go anyways!
Slender Man. That was easy!
Standing at least 10-12 feet, Slender Man usually towers over others in the images of him. And he has incredibly long limbs, too. Therefore, I think it’s safe to call him Large.
Here’s where things get tricky. Slender Man could easily fall into multiple monster types. He’s eerie and somewhat ethereal, so undead would make sense. But he haunts forests and abandoned places, so dubbing him unseelie fey isn’t too terribly out-of-line either. Because he enjoys roping others into causing chaos, Slender Man could easily be a fiend, too. And Slender Man operates with an alien mind, therefore he could be classified an aberration.
But the monster I see Slender Man as being closest to in all of the 5e monster books are the Sorrowsworn. Sorrowsworn are creatures from the Shadowfell built from aspects of despair and distress. They come in such flavors as The Angry, The Hungry, The Lonely, The Lost, and The Wretched. Drawing sustenance from emotions similar to their monikers, the Sorrowsworn prowl the dark places of the world desperate to free themselves of their own dark feelings.
While Slender Man doesn’t 100% conform to these models, it’s the closest we’ve got. And I rather enjoy the idea of Slender Man being more of a force of nature than a devil or aberration masking darker schemes.
The Slender Man causes chaos, therefore chaotic makes sense. But is it chaos simply for the sake of chaos or is it chaos for darker reasons? Does The Slender Man actually lack morality in the face of life and death, or are the deaths and madness associated with his presence merely a horrible side effect?
Part of me says he should be chaotic neutral. But since very little good every comes out of interactions with the Slender Man and alignment in D&D is 100% subjective to those who describe themselves as “moral and just”, I’m also leaning towards chaotic evil.
Finally, if Slender Man is beyond Intelligence, and merely an aberrant monstrosity that feeds on negative energy, perhaps it is merely unaligned? Just another beast or monstrosity that hides in the dark.
The Sorrowsworn are neutral evil. That means they live simply to cause evil no matter what means. He swings between the lawful side (by getting others to do his bidding) and the chaotic side (by relishing in the chaos he creates).
Therefore, I’m going to go with neutral evil. But really any interpretation you want works.
Has anyone ever even tried attacking Slender Man? It’s hard to award something an Armor Class if there’s no evidence of it ever being attacked.
Again, I have to turn to the monster books to see what seems similar to Slender Man and how his stats can relate. The Sorrowsworn tend to have higher Armor Class values. No doubt they are infused with so much emotion it’s hard to penetrate them. And seeing as how Slender Man is somewhat legendary, giving him a low Armor Class doesn’t really gel with the myth.
I also have to consider his overall Challenge Rating. In the back of my head, I see the Slender Man having a CR in the mid-teens. Probably a 13 or 14. His overall damage output won’t be high (this is going to be someone with incredible Charisma powers), therefore a higher AC will help balance out the offensive side’s shortcomings.
I’m going to give him an 18, placing him firmly in the 13+ CR category.
I know Slender Man’s going to have resistances similar to those of the Sorrowsworn. Therefore, we’re going to need to add in a resistance modifier to his hit points. I’m also thinking magic resistance might be appropriate, too. Magic resistance increases a monster’s effective AC by 2.
If his Challenge Rating is going to shake out to 13, we start with around 265 hp. Then, we drop it down one level to 236-250 to account for magic resistance. Finally, we divide out the resistances modifier of 1.25 to come up with a nice round 200.
It’s pretty rare that you ever see Slender Man actually move. Mostly he just stands there looking creepy AF. There is a sense of movement in the first photo of him as he walks behind the children; that’s normal walking speed. Without a better reason to give him anything higher (he’ll have teleport, though), I think just a plain old 30 ft. should do it.
Again, here’s an area where we pretty much have carte blanche. The only spot I can see him getting all the goods is in Charisma, since a lot of his powers will operate from there. He’s also tall and lanky with spindly tentacle like arms, so reasonable Strength and Dexterity isn’t too out of line.
I see Slender Man having Strength on the lower end of the Large creature Strength score spectrum. At Strength 16, the otyugh is a tentacled up monster. I think that’s a good number for our spook, too.
Is Slender Man quick? Again, it’s hard to tell. He teleports around and he seems perceptive, but that’s all Wisdom based stuff. However, he is pretty great at hiding and blending into his surroundings. A 12 should do it.
At 200 hp, there’s a lot of hit points to make up for. If we divide the average for Large creatures (5.5 per hit die) into 200, that’s 36 hit dice which is a little high. I’d be happier with a number of hit dice closer to 23-25. A +3 bonus in Constitution feels reasonable, but on the higher end at 17.
I’ve made our Slender Man a monstrosity. And it’s pretty rare that monstrosities are intelligent. The Sorrowsworn all land t less than 10, with The Angry’s 8 being the highest. And that’s where I’m going to plug in Slender Man; he gets an 8.
Slender Man is incredibly perceptive. He notices you long before you notice him. Not only will he get expertise in Perception, but he’ll get a little bonus, too, with Wisdom. A 13 feels right.
Finally, comes Slender Man’s best stat: Charisma. A master of manipulation and madness, the Slender Man is a being of pure presence. Because Charisma-based attacks will be his only method of attack, he’ll need a high save DC. At Challenge Rating 13+, he gets a +5 proficiency bonus. In order to land a DC 18 Charisma save on his attacks, we’ll have to bridge the gap with a +5 Charisma modifier. Voila: Slender Man gets a big ol’ 20 Charisma, right up there with dragons and high-level devils.
Again, these are a shot in the dark. Staying conservative, I’ll go with no save proficiencies. His magic resistance is probably enough to protect him.
Perception makes total sense for Slender Man. He gets double proficiency plus his Wisdom bonus there. And he’s pretty excellent and blending into his surroundings no matter what it is; thus, Stealth is a good idea, too.
Vulnerabilities, Resistances, and Immunities
The normal bucket of resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing against nonmagical attacks makes sense and puts SM in the same category as the Sorrowsworn. I can’t imagine that Slender Man can be blinded, charmed, deafened, or frightened. In addition, I think he lacks a normal biology, so I want to give him defenses against poison, too.
Slender Man seemingly has no eyes or ears that we can see. But we can guess he does have some method of perceiving the world around him. Having a lot of the same motifs as demons, truesight feels like a better fit than blindsight for the Slender Man, out to 120 ft. This means he can see through normal and magical darkness, detect illusions and succeed on saves against them, see shapeshifter’s true forms and see into the Ethereal Plane. All that works.
Slender Man doesn’t speak. But he can obviously communicate. Telepathy it is!
I’ve already touched on this, but I think it’s time I lay it flat out and give him a 13 challenge rating. That makes him a great second tier challenge. I’ve already set him up on the defensive side, now I just have to give him abilities that match on the offensive side.
There’s two major special traits explained in the fluff.
First, Slender Man has some sort of aura of sickness that causes those around him to become paranoid and delusional. It’s called Slender Sickness. This will work similar to other funky auras monsters have. People get nosebleeds from Slender Sickness; sounds like psychic damage to me!
Second, Slender Man can teleport and change his appearance depending on who’s looking at him. Also, others are easily charmed by him. These are totally innate spellcasting abilities. And since Charisma is his power stat, that’s where I’ll pull the DCs from.
He’s got tentacles. So that’s a gimme on the attack front. But they won’t operate like octopus tentacles, and instead cause psychic damage upon contact.
Frightful Presence is a good idea, too, since he uses those same tentacles for intimidation. And again, fear is a byproduct of a killer Charisma score. So let’s milk that for all it’s worth.
Putting it all together.
Despite having limited information on Slender Man, I think this all came together pretty nicely. There’s something truly eerie about a monstrosity that feeds on the chaos it causes. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use Slender Man to great effect in your own 5e Dungeons & Dragons campaigns.
This monster is available for use with your 5e Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Just not commercially. And the art isn’t mine… borrowed!
Large monstrosity, neutral evil
Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
Hit Points 204 (24d10 + 72)
Speed 30 ft.
Abilities Str 16 (+3), Dex 12 (+1), Con 17 (+3), Int 8 (-1), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 20 (+5)
Skills Perception +11, Stealth +11
Damage Immunities poison
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, poisoned
Senses truesight 120 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 21
Languages understands Common but can’t speak, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)
Innate Spellcasting. Slender Man’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 18, +10 to hit with spell attacks). Slender Man can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will: detect thoughts, minor illusion
3/day each: charm person, invisibility, major image, misty step, suggestion
1/day each: dominate person, plane shift, teleport
Magic Resistance. Slender Man has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Slender Sickness. Each creature that starts its turn within 60 feet of Slender Man must succeed on a DC 18 Charisma saving throw. On a failure, the target takes 9 (2d8) psychic damage and the target’s Wisdom score is reduced by 1d4. The target goes insane if this reduces its Wisdom to 2. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until a greater restoration or similar spell is cast on the target, or the Slender Man is destroyed. If a target dies from this attack or goes insane, it becomes a thrall of the Slender Man.
Multiattack. Slender Man makes two tentacle attacks.
Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 27 (6d8) psychic damage and the target is grappled (escape DC 13). While grappled, targets have disadvantage on Charisma saving throws. The Slender Man can only grapple two targets at a time.
Frightful Presence. Each creature of the Slender Man’s choice that is within 60 feet of the Slender Man and aware of him must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the Slender Man’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours.
Thanks for reading!
Again, a huge thanks to Instagram follower @guyinthefire for this awesome recommendation. It wasn’t easy statting up Slender Man, and like many of the stories that surround this mythical baddie, it’s ultimately left up to the interpretation of the storyteller.
If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me by opting in to the box on the sidebar or below. I’m always cooking up new monsters for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition.
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See you next time!