Marut Tactics

Maruts are interplanar marshals that monitor and enforce compliance with mystically signed contracts. And by “enforce compliance,” I mean, of course, delivering beatdowns to whoever breaches them. Unlike most constructs, maruts are highly intelligent and able to exercise considerable individual discretion in carrying out their tasks; the tasks themselves, however, are rigidly determined. Maruts don’t care whether you’ve honored or violated the spirit of a contract, only the letter of it.

As lawful neutral creatures, maruts are indifferent toward other beings by default. If you’re helping them in their duties, they’ll be friendly, in a robotic sort of way. If you’re hindering them, they’ll clear the blockage. Once you no longer pose any hindrance, however, they’ll be on their way. If you’re not the party they’re out to punish, they’ll only attack to subdue.

Maruts are spectacularly tough, with more than 400 hp, an armor class of 22, and extraordinary Strength and Constitution. Their Intelligence and Charisma are also exceptional, and their Wisdom is high; they have expertise in Insight, Intimidation and Perception. They’re brutes, but they’re brilliant brutes: they can see through most lies and know other creatures’ abilities and weaknesses as if reading them off their character sheets or stat blocks. Unfortunately for them, while they’re capable of great tactical flexibility, they don’t really have the features they need to make full use of it.

Maruts are immune to poison; they’re resistant to thunder damage and to physical damage from nonmagical weapons; and they can’t be charmed, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned or knocked unconscious. Reading between the lines, they can be knocked prone, blinded, restrained or stunned, and they’ll use their Legendary Resistance if necessary to avoid these conditions.

The marut’s basic melee attack is Unerring Slam, which has—this is the first second time I’ve ever seen this—no chance of failure. Where you’d expect to see a to-hit modifier, its stat block says, “automatic hit.”

Unerring Slam does an automatic, unvarying 60 points of force damage and also pushes a Huge or smaller target one square or hex away from itself. It gets two of these in its Multiattack action. When using Unerring Slam against an interloper, it first positions itself to the side, so that it pushes the interloper out of its own path. Against the target it’s been sent to punish, it doesn’t care, and it may not even bother to push the target at all (it doesn’t have to).

Blazing Edict is one of the rare instances in which a creature might want to use an area-effect ability even when there are fewer targets in the area of effect than it could be reasonably expected to affect. What do I mean by this? The area of effect of Blazing Edict is a 60-foot cube. Referring to “Targets in Area of Effect” on page 249 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, one might reasonably expect this to affect 12 creatures—and by my usual criterion for deciding when to use area-effect attacks, this would mean that the marut wouldn’t want to use Blazing Edict unless it could catch at least 12 of its opponents (or all of them, whichever is fewer) in the cube.

But the marut is only interested in whether its designated target(s) are in that area of effect. It’s not evil: it’s not looking to harm anyone else. But it’s also not good: it’s not going out of its away to avoid harming anyone else. It does, however, have that double proficiency in Intimidation. So it’s going to begin combat not with a combat action but with a social action, using Intimidation to warn its quarry to halt—and everyone else to get behind it.

It won’t issue this warning twice. On its next turn, it positions itself where its designated target(s) are in front of it and as many innocent bystanders as possible are behind it, then uses Blazing Edict. If any bystander was foolish enough not to get out of the way, too bad.

A failed saving throw against Blazing Edict results in a target’s being stunned. The stunned condition includes incapacitation, which is important, because incapacitation results in an automatic failure on saving throws vs. Justify.

Justify is tricky: It allows the marut to teleport up to two other creatures, plus itself, directly to the interplanar courthouse. It doesn’t have the option of staying behind. If either target fails its saving throw, the marut goes with it.

Thus, you have to know in advance whether the contract the marut is enforcing calls for the target to be hauled back in front of the mechanical magistrate or simply beaten down. If the beatdown is called for (e.g., when a party has flagrantly violated the contract), it proceeds from here to a straightforward melee rumble, with the marut Multiattacking its stunned targets with advantage and using Blazing Edict again as available when the marut’s targets shake off its effects. But if there’s some question about whether the contract was violated or not, or if the terms of the contract call for further judgment in the case of a particular violation, the marut proceeds from Blazing Edict directly to Justify, hauling the miscreant(s) back to the Hall of Concordance while they’re still stunned. That being said, if the parties to the contract who are being called back to face a hearing number more than two, the court has to send multiple maruts—one for every two summonees, plus one more for any odd remainder. (Maruts are careful not to position themselves where their Blazing Edicts will affect other maruts.)

In such a case, if a marut’s target preemptively surrenders—and the marut doesn’t have to bring in anyone else who is resisting—it skips Blazing Edict and goes straight to Justify. Cooperation is rewarded. Resistance is punished.

Many player characters with good Wisdom scores and/or proficiency in that saving throw—that is, with a saving throw modifier of +5 or better—will have a reasonable chance of resisting being stunned by Blazing Edict. Not many PCs will also have a reasonable chance of resisting Justify as well. Even a PC with a +5 Wisdom save mod and a +5 Charisma save mod will still have only a 1 in 9 chance of making both saves. And flunking the first save means automatic failure on the second.

Even so, maruts take special care with clerics, paladins and warlocks, who have proficiency in both of these saves and are most likely to have such high modifiers in them. They use Blazing Edict against such targets as many times as is necessary for them to fail their saves, and they don’t use Justify on those targets unless and until they fail their saves against Blazing Edict. In fact, remember how I said at least one marut would come to haul back every two targets? Just to be safe, let’s say that a cleric, paladin or warlock gets his or her own personal marut, if this is what they’ve been sent to do. The same goes for any target with +5 on one of these saves and more than +5 on the other.

Maruts are creatures of duty; they never flee. Either they leave with their targets when they use Justify, or they cast plane shift and depart when they’ve beaten their target(s) into unconsciousness. If a marut fails in its duty, the Hall of Concordance sends two more.

Next: nightwalkers.

15 thoughts on “Marut Tactics

  1. Don’t forget that the the whole “never misses” part negates a ton of player abilities. Oh really? Your paladin uses their defense fighting style to protect you? Screw you, disadvantage is meaningless to a Marut. Evasive footwork? Your AC is just as useless. On the other hand, there’s no reason for a Barbarian to not use their reckless attack every turn. Do Maruts even roll when they attack?

    1. If your PCs don’t have a bunch of reaction abilities that can raise their AC or lower an attack roll, and you know their character sheets pretty well, you could toy with them by pretending to roll and always saying that it rolls 1 higher than they can defend against to see if they catch on.

      Otherwise I don’t think there’s a need to roll – even if it got a critical hit there’s no dice of damage to double.

      Depending on the edict they are trying to enforce and how elusive the prey is, I might expect the Marut not to use Justify on two targets unless both were stunned – too risky to go to trial where one Defendant could evade justice by claiming the other party was at fault.

  2. The Marut seems designed to simply not roll dice. It doesn’t make attack rolls, and its’ abilities all do set amounts of damage.

      1. The Avatar of Death, which can appear if you draw from the Deck of Many Things, also automatically hits with its scythe, although it’s technically not an attack.

  3. Just as a fun flavor, I imagine when they aren’t talking they make the sounds of Regirock from the old pokemon lucario movie.

    If this is the direction they want to take the inevitables in 5e, I wonder what the others would be like stats wise?

  4. This would be a great way to punisher warlock for violating their contract. I could totally see an arched devil filing for a subpoena to get these guys to catch warlock.

  5. Speaking of Warlock…

    A Pact of the Hexblade warlock could use their Armor of Hexes feature to avoid getting hit. It doesn’t rely on buffing AC or bestowing disadvantage… it just gives you a straight 1/3 chance to get missed.

    VERY powerful against a single target, like a Marut, especially when nothing else will stop it.

    1. Depending on how strict the DM is feeling that day, even that may not work. Armor of Hexes applies “if the target cursed by your Hexblade’s Curse hits you with an attack ROLL.” (emphasis added) The Marut’s attack simply says “automatic hit,” so you could argue there’s no attack roll to trigger Armor of Hexes.

  6. I’m late to this, but would Justify need a save for a willing target? I can imagine a defendant would be required

    1. I could be wrong, but I believe that it is possible to deliberately fail a saving throw, which you could argue is being done in this particular case

      1. Saving throws, by definition, are forced upon creatures, and reflect the mental and physical reflexes of the creatures making the saves. The exceptions, where creatures can choose to fail, are always spelled out. Mechanically similar are effects which delineate between willing and unwilling targets, with unwilling targets making saves to resist. There’s no such wording here, so the save cannot be failed intentionally.

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