Korred Tactics

I’ve gotta be honest: I picked korreds to examine in this post essentially at random. I didn’t have anything else on my to-do list, and I flipped through Volo’s Guide to Monsters until I saw one that looked interesting. Turns out, korreds are cool. And hilarious.

They have a feature called Command Hair.

What would really be awesome would be if they could command other creatures’ hair, or just hair clippings swept up from the floor of the barbershop, but alas, they can command only their own hair. That alone is brilliant, though.

Oh, also, they’re Small creatures, but they’re ridiculously strong. Tough, too, with a sizable reservoir of hit points and 7 points of natural armor. They’re practically made to be underestimated.

Their extraordinary Strength and Constitution identify them as brute fighters, although they can do significantly more damage by hurling rocks. They can burrow as quickly as they can run. They have proficiency in Athletics, Perception and Stealth, and the Stone Camouflage feature gives them advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in rocky terrain. They’re resistant to physical damage from nonmagical weapons. They have long-range darkvision and tremorsense. Like little Antaeuses, they do extra damage when standing on the ground (as opposed to levitating or hanging from trees, I guess).

They have Innate Spellcasting and can cast conjure elemental and Otto’s irresistible dance once per day each. I’m not sure Otto’s is a spell they’ll make much use of, though, since the DC to resist it is only 13. Not many mid-level adventurers, and hardly any high-level adventurers, will have any difficulty beating that.

Because of its low spell save DC, the timing is finicky: any attack against the involuntarily frolicking target will have to take place between a korred’s casting of the spell and that target’s own turn to receive advantage. It does have the advantage of forcing the target to waste his or her action on the saving throw to regain self-control, but really, this is just trading one of the korred’s actions for one of the target’s. It’s only worth the cost if a group of korreds outnumber their opponents.

Also, both conjure elemental and Otto’s require concentration, and the former is far more useful. When you’re planning a korred encounter, make sure you include the CRs of any elemental allies you plan to have them summon. Also note that an elemental may go rogue if the concentration of the korred who summoned it is broken—unlikely, given their +5 on Constitution saving throws, but possible. None of the spells that a korred can cast at will—commune with nature, meld into stone or stone shape—requires concentration, so any of these can be cast while a summoned elemental is on the field, although commune with nature is a ritual and not useful in combat anyway, and stone shape is more a favor they might do if they’re friendly. Meld into stone, however, is a handy escape hatch (see below).

Finally, there’s Command Hair. Specifically, a korred can command a rope woven from its own hair to grapple and restrain an enemy. Again, the DC is a lowish 13, but the korred commands its rope as a bonus action, so it doesn’t have to consume its action as it would to cast Otto’s irresistible dance. A korred can Multiattack as its action and Command Hair as a bonus action. And it should Command Hair first, because if it succeeds in restraining its target (which it has a slightly less than 50/50 chance of doing), it will have advantage on its own Multiattack. Command Hair also doesn’t grant additional Strength saving throws or Athletics or Acrobatics checks to break free—if a target fails the Dex save to avoid being entangled, that target can break free only by destroying he rope. And the rope regenerates, albeit slowly.

“In the depths of the Material Plane, korreds typically flee from other creatures but become aggressive when they feel insulted or are annoyed by the sounds of mining,” the flavor text in Volo’s states. Korreds are chaotic neutral, suggesting that while their default attitude is indifference rather than hostility, they greatly prefer to be left alone. Korreds who attack a party of player characters are likely to be reacting to one (or both) of two things: the PCs’ own transgressions against them, or the transgressions of other humanoids they’ve encountered recently.

Korreds that are anticipating a combat encounter will lie in wait, concealed among rocks by their Stone Camouflage feature and Stealth skill, and try to attack with surprise. They begin with Command Hair, which technically isn’t an attack, so it doesn’t give away their hidden positions. Whether or not the targets are restrained, they follow up with a Multiattack action, hurling rocks if any are available (as they will be in any mountainous setting and some subterranean settings), charging and attacking with greatclubs otherwise. If any conjured elementals will be fighting alongside them, they will have summoned these creatures already, before the start of the battle, and will no longer have the conjure elemental spell available to cast.

On the other hand, if an encounter between PCs and korreds happens by chance and turns hostile, casting conjure elemental is the first thing the korreds will do, followed by Command Hair as a bonus action. On subsequent rounds, they’ll Command Hair if they still can and still need to, they’ll merely follow their usual formula of Command Hair as a bonus action, followed by a Multiattack action.

Note, incidentally, that korreds aren’t limited to a single restraining rope of hair: “The korred has at least one 50-foot-long rope woven out of its hair” (emphasis mine). A single korred may carry several—as many as you, the dungeon master, believe are needed—and may have several targets restrained at once, each by a separate rope. It can command only one rope at a time, though.

Also note that while korreds’ tactics aren’t super-sophisticated (Command Hair, Multiattack, repeat), they choose their battles and their targets shrewdly. Korreds will seek first to restrain, then attack, those targets who can do the most damage to them—especially opponents carrying magic weapons, opponents with Extra Attack and spellcasters. And they won’t pick any fight in which they’re clearly overmatched—or rather, they’ll attack only in numbers great enough for them to win.

Although Command Hair seems like a valuable feature for taking captives, korreds have no use for prisoners. While they’re not malevolent by nature, if they’ve decided to fight you at all, they’re probably going to try to kill you. They know a lot of languages, though, if you want to try to talk them out of it.

When a korred is seriously wounded (reduced to 40 hp or fewer), it retreats, but how it retreats depends on the terrain. If there’s any solid rock close at hand, the korred uses meld into stone to escape into the rock itself, leaving no way for a pursuer to follow. If not, it burrows through the earth at 60 feet per round using the Dash action.

Next: darklings, quicklings and redcaps.

11 thoughts on “Korred Tactics

  1. “On the other hand, if an encounter between PCs and korreds happens by chance and turns hostile, casting conjure elemental is the first thing the korreds will do”
    — “Conjure elemental” has a casting time of 1 minute; the Korreds would definitely not have time to do so after battle has begun.

  2. Maybe I’m seeing synergy where there isn’t, but Command Hair forcing a Dex save vs being restrained on a bonus action seems like it was designed with Irresistible Dance imposing disadvantage on Dex saves with a 1 action casting time in mind.

    1. I guess there’s some potential for synergy there, if you see the korred’s primary goal as restraining its target, but I see restraining the target as more of a means toward the primary goal of whomping the target with a club.

      1. If both succeed, however, there are subsequently two separate effects each imposing debilitating conditions, effectively preventing the opponent from “trading actions,” as you put it. Without the aid of an ally to destroy the rope, or a damaging or escape bonus action, it’s guaranteed to still be either grappled and restrained or doing the shuffle.
        Also, sidenote, while already pointed out that commune with nature has no combat relevance, it can’t be cast while conjure elementals is up since the very act of casting it also requires concentration.

  3. Meld into Stone seems like a good escape hatch on the surface, but the spell description specifically says you can’t move except to come out the same place you went in.

    So this “escape plan” relies on the enemy giving up and leaving before the korred can properly be on its way. What if the enemy doesn’t leave? Korreds live in tribes, per VGM, so they may have other responsibilities that will go undone if they’re stuck in a wall waiting for a group of PCs to finish their long rest.

    What if the enemy recognizes the spell as it’s cast and knows the korred is stuck in place inside this stone wall? (Not sure what 5e has to say about the ability to recognize spells being cast by others.)

    I’m curious if this consideration is something a korred would worry about when planning its escape. Maybe it would prefer to break off and run away, out of sight at least, before “vanishing” into a suitable stone surface?

    1. Xanathar’s Guide to Everything suggests allowing an Arcana check as a reaction when another creature casts a spell in order to identify it, with a DC of 15 + the spell’s level. Alternatively, a creature can use their action to make the same Arcana check. A creature must have either seen the casting, the spell’s effect, or both to make this check.
      It also suggests giving advantage on the check if it was cast as a class spell and the creature making the check is a member of that class. For example, if an archmage casts Mind Blank, the party wizard has advantage on the DC 23 Arcana check to identify it and warn the party bard not to try using Dissonant Whispers.
      So, to identify the spell would take a DC 18 Arcana check as a reaction as the korred casts it, or as an action after the fact. But as you noted, all the korred needs to do to avoid this is just vanish around a bend in the tunnel to cast without being seen. Then it will simply appear to vanish.

      1. That’s interesting—I overlooked that section of Xanathar’s. In the past, I’ve used a house rule that sets lower DCs but imposes disadvantage if your class can’t cast the spell. Now I’m quite curious to see how the probabilities differ. DC 16 to ID a 1st-level spell feels high to me.

        1. OK, looking at non-wizards first, because Arcana is an Int-based skill: Fred the Fighter and Briona the Bard are playing “guess the spell.” They both have Int 10 and no proficiency in Arcana. Waldemar the Wizard begins casting the 1st-level spell disguise self (DC 10 under my house rule, DC 16 under Xanathar’s). Under my house rule, Fred has disadvantage, because he can’t cast spells; his chance of guessing correctly is 30 percent. But bards can cast disguise self, so Briona has a 55 percent chance of guessing right. Under the Xanathar’s rule, both of them would have only a 25 percent chance. These probabilities would be 20/45/20 at 2nd level, 12/35/15 at 3rd level, 6/25/10 at 4th level, 2/15/5 at 5th level and 0/5/0 at 6th level. None of them has any chance of identifying a spell of 7th level or higher.

          Wenzel the Wizard, however, has Int 16 and proficiency in Arcana, which at his level gives him +5. Under my house rule, he has an 80 percent chance of guessing what spell Waldemar’s casting before he finishes; under the Xanathar’s rule, he has a 75 percent chance. For higher-level spells, these probabilities are 70/70 (2nd), 60/64 (3rd), 50/58 (4th), 40/51 (5th), 30/44 (6th), 20/36 (7th), 10/28 (8th) and 0/19 (9th). (Gotta be honest: I favor the notion that even a fairly astute and well-read level 1 wizard might have no idea what a 9th-level spell does before seeing the result.) Meanwhile, the grand master of the local wizards’ college, Wenqian, has Int 20 and a +6 proficiency modifier, for a total Arcana mod of +11. Under my house rule, she recognizes 1st- and 2nd-level spells automatically, without even having to roll. Under the Xanathar’s rule, she has a 96 percent and 94 percent chance, respectively. For higher-level spells, the probabilities are 90/91 (3rd), 80/88 (4th), 70/84 (5th), 60/80 (6th), 50/75 (7th), 40/70 (8th) and 30/64 (9th).

          Tough call, but I think I like my house rule’s numbers better.

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