• Cosmic Horror Tactics


    The cosmic horror is a massive astral grotesquery—even more massive, in fact, than the higher-rated astral dreadnought. The two creatures have a couple of things in common besides their enormous size: They’re both aberrations (negatory: the astral dreadnought is a monstrosity) with astral origins, and they both have Legendary Resistance. However, while astral dreadnoughts are unaligned creatures, indifferent to other beings except when they’re hungry, and possess animal-level intelligence, cosmic horrors are hyperintelligent and malevolent. An astral dreadnought is a danger, but a cosmic horror is a threat.

    With a flying speed of 100 feet, a cosmic horror is faster than most things in Wildspace. It also has a “walking” speed of 50 feet—probably more of a self-dragging speed, like an octopus hauling itself across a beach—but the only instance I can think of in which it might use that speed is pursuit of other creatures through tunnels in a mined-out asteroid. If a cosmic horror is somehow knocked prone while inside the gravity envelope of a spelljamming ship or asteroid, it will simply launch itself airborne again on its turn, and if it’s immobilized, it can’t use any movement speed, flying or walking.

    A cosmic horror has extraordinary Strength, Constitution, Intelligence and Charisma, but of these four, Strength and Constitution are the highest, so it’s a melee-oriented brute—but one with a 30-foot reach, so it doesn’t need to get right in its opponents’ faces. A good place for it is 10 or 15 feet in the air above the opposing side, whence it can reach landbound targets roughly 25 feet in every direction. That’s 25 feet from the outer edge of the cosmic horror’s space, which is at least 20 feet across, since it’s a Gargantuan creature; or you can have it uncoil and stretch out horizontally, so that it occupies a rectangle 20 feet across and 100 feet long and reaches out 25 feet in every direction from that. The only safe place on your ship is belowdecks.

  • Esthetic Tactics (and Reigar Revisited)


    A while back I wrote about the reigar, a confusingly designed creature that doesn’t seem equipped to do a whole lot besides create copies of itself and fling Chromatic Bolts, and reader Another DM pointed out to me that reigar ships are living beings, called esthetics, that have actions of their own. Is the reigar-esthetic combo any greater than the sum of its parts?

    The esthetic has a 60-foot flying speed, 50 percent faster than the median 40-foot flying speed of the spelljamming ships listed in the Astral Adventurer’s Guide, so it should have no trouble overtaking most of them, the zippy damselfly and shrike being the only exceptions. It’s a melee brute with extraordinary Strength and Constitution (and not much else) and blindsight extending 300 feet. It also has tentacles, which can grapple creatures but unfortunately, as written, can’t grapple other ships. It can, however, yank creatures off the decks of other ships.

    Additionally, it has a recharging bonus action, Jammerscream, that can disable another ship for days if the pilot fails a Charisma saving throw; even if the pilot succeeds, the ship is still dead in space for more than enough time to play out a combat encounter. It recharges only on a 6, so the esthetic should count on getting to use it only once per encounter, although a surprise recharge is within the realm of possibility. An esthetic can even nab a damselfly or shrike if it can somehow entice that ship into its 300-foot range by sucker-punching it with Jammerscream. In fact, the flavor text in Boo’s Astral Menagerie explicitly lays this modus operandi out.

  • Eye Monger Tactics


    The eye monger is yet another head-scratcher in what’s turning into a whole series of head-scratchers in Boo’s Astral Menagerie. A large, durable brute with extraordinary Strength and Constitution (and exceptionally poor Dexterity, Intelligence and Charisma), it’s saddled with a plodding flying speed of only 20 feet. How is it supposed to catch targets in order to bite them?

    The intention is clearly to catch them by surprise. Eye mongers have the False Appearance trait—the Monsters of the Multiverse version, which gives them advantage on first-round initiative rolls and can be penetrated in advance by a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check, not the Monster Manual version, which effectively grants an automatic surprise round. Their appearance is that of a 12-foot asteroid. Dear reader, that is what we would normally call a “rock”—or, more charitably, a “boulder”—not an asteroid, whose diameter is typically measured in miles or kilometers. The largest asteroids, and by extension the ones of greatest interest, are several hundred miles or kilometers across. There’s nothing to tempt space travelers to venture near a 12-foot rockball.

    Moreover, it is, in fact, shaped like a ball, which is atypical of most asteroids. It takes a lot of mass for rock to be pulled into a sphere under the force of its own gravity, and only the largest possess that much. So not only is the eye monger not disguised as something that would lure anyone near it, if you take a few seconds to think about it, it’s not even a convincing disguise.

  • Feyr Tactics


    So I read the feyr stat block in Boo’s Astral Menagerie, formed a quick notion of how it ought to be played, then read the flavor text and found it to be largely a summation of what I’d just concluded. Long story short, the feyr isn’t a monster or even a hazard, really. It’s just a jerk move to pull on your players, and one that may not even accomplish that much.

    Feyrs are large, hovering aberrations that don’t require air, suggesting that they’re native to Wildspace, although they might be found anywhere (the flavor text suggests “dark alleys and dungeons”). With very high Strength and Dexterity, proficiency in Perception, and expertise in Stealth, they’re shock attackers that ambush their prey. Their 120 feet of darkvision suits them well to sneaking up on spacefaring ships but also to the Underdark.

    Their offensive actions include Invisibility (just what it says on the box), a Multiattack comprising a Frightful Bite attack and a Tentacle attack, and the once-per-day Nightmare Fuel ability. Examining these attacks more closely:

    • A hit with Frightful Bite imposes the frightened condition on a failed Wisdom saving throw.
    • A hit with Tentacle imposes the grappled condition.
    • A failed Wisdom save against Nightmare Fuel deals a whopping amount of psychic damage and bolsters the feyr with a whole mess of temporary hit points as well. However, its use is limited to unconscious targets.
  • Neh-thalggu Tactics


    There’s a funny disconnect between the description of the neh-thalggu in Boo’s Astral Menagerie (“… [A] bulbous body and six legs resembling those of a crustacean. Four bulging eyes and a tooth-filled maw dominate its hideous visage. Behind and above these features, one or more lumps protrude from its body, each one containing a brain the neh-thalggu has consumed”) and the illustration next to it, which might very well be considered cute. If it weren’t the size of a horse, that is.

    Also called “brain collectors,” neh-thalggu do just what their sobriquet suggests: They go around surgically harvesting other creatures’ brains, which they use as psionic batteries. According to the flavor text, when they amass a dozen brains, they’re fully charged and ready to return to the Far Realm.

    With exceptional Constitution and high Strength representing the defensive and offensive peaks in their ability contour, the neh-thalggu is a dauntless toe-to-toe combatant. It has 120 feet of darkvision, so it will see the adventurers who make the mistake of parking their spelljamming ship on its gloomy little moon before they see it. It also doesn’t require air—although, by omission, it does need food and sleep, so you may not want to leave it someplace totally lifeless for too long.


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