Making monsters scary isn’t really about what they can do. Sure, an extra 20 Strength or some powerful abilities might leave your players with a healthy respect for what a monster can do, but if you really want to scare them, you need to get descriptive. In that vein, today’s article is a collection of horrible, horrific wounds that you might find on a zombie or similar undead: though they don’t make the monster any stronger or weaker, they make it a lot more memorable.
Warning: if you’re bothered by graphic descriptions of blood and gore, you may want to skip this article.
1. Lower jaw torn off. The undead creature’s lower jaw was horribly ripped off, and the ripped and tattered flesh still hangs from its face like an ancient and battered banner of flesh. Its tongue lolls mindlessly, visibly writhing like a worm, with nothing to obscure it. A terrible gurgling sound constantly issues forth from its partially-exposed throat.
2. Horribly broken arm. The creature’s arm suffered a horrible injury, and is visibly and gruesomely broken, with the bone of its elbow jutting out, leaving its forearm dangling at a twisted and unnatural angle, visibly swaying with each movement the creature makes, in a way that would obviously be cripplingly agonizing if the creature were still alive.
3. Stuck with multiple swords. The creature has been impaled upon not one, not two, not even three, but four swords stuck into its chest, the blades emerging out the other side, making the creature’s chest resemble a rotted pincushion. The wounds are hideously gangrenous, and the creature’s continued movement has caused them to slowly open up, making the weapons slightly loose in their undead sheath.
4. Disemboweled. The creature has had its belly sliced open, whether cleanly, with a blade, or more savagely, with claws or teeth, leaving a jagged rend in the flesh. Its intestines and other innards have spilled out, or were perhaps ripped away, leaving it with a gaping, bloody cavity in the middle of its abdomen.
5. Chewed shoulder. A large chunk of flesh is missing from the creature’s shoulder, and it is terrifyingly obvious to tell that the flesh was bitten off, as the wound is undeniably formed in the jagged shape of the teeth that tore away the missing flesh. Whether the bite occurred before or after the creature’s death is difficult to determine, but it’s clear that whatever monstrous creature took a piece of it, its teeth reached the bone.
6. Melted skin. Something, most likely acid of some sort, has terribly disfigured the skin of this creature’s body. It is wrinkled and warped, as though it no longer fits on the body it is stretched over, and its coloration is splotchy, lighter in some places and darker in others. In some places, the skin seems to have completely melted at one point and then cooled, like candle wax, into a new shape as it dribbled down the body.
7. Near-decapitation. The creature has been nearly decapitated, with a grievous wound from an axe or other chopping weapon severing about three quarters of the way through its neck. A large chunk of flesh is missing from one side of the throat, wedge-shaped, as though it had been hacked away. The creature’s head flops about uselessly as it walks, unable to stay upright, its spine severed completely, its tongue and lips working wordlessly, eyes rolling and unfocused, though its body seems uninhibited by the lack of mental direction.
8. Total body burns. The creature’s entire body is covered in horrific burns. Its flesh is scorched and charred, its skin blackened and twisted, like the terrain of a blasted and blighted wasteland, or as though the creature had been molded from charcoal. The creature stinks with an overpowering odor of burnt hair and flesh, a nauseating scent that catches in the throat.
9. One leg severed at knee. One of the creature’s legs has been severed at the knee. It hops awkwardly along, somehow managing to maintain its balance and move just as quickly as if it were on two legs, its other leg waving uselessly in the air as though it were still able to reach the ground, bare yellowed bone exposed from the stump of the wound, jutting out several inches from the decayed flesh.
10. Cracked skull. This creature’s head has been busted open, with jagged skull fragments embedded in its brain, which visibly pulses and throbs, exposed through the wound to the open air. It looks like there may be some teeth marks or perhaps a bit of matter missing from within the creature’s head.