Monsters of the Multiverse: Demon Lords

Time to wrap up my survey of Monsters of the Multiverse with the final category: demon lords. My look at archdevils went so quickly, I was tempted to go ahead and lump both groups of archfiends into one post, but demon lords turned out to be more complicated. As with the archdevils, I’ve placed these notes behind spoiler tags.

One note that applies across the board is that references to insanity have been eliminated, so that any regional effect of a lair characterized as “Madness of X” is now called “Beguiling Realm” or “Corrupted Nature” and given the simple effect of imposing advantage or disadvantage on certain skill checks, or it’s simply deleted. Regional effects usually kick in before combat begins, so these changes mostly apply to situations occurring before or after a battle, but they can also alter the outcome of a mid-combat parley or keep an unconscious and dying character from being stabilized.

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Monsters of the Multiverse: Archdevils

It’s been my longtime policy not to post analyses of the stat blocks of unique villains on this blog, because I’d be a fool to think players don’t read it, too—in fact, I’ve encouraged them to—and going through every part of a BBEG’s kit is about as spoilery as it gets. Which is why the tactics of archdevils and demon lords are content exclusive to MOAR! Monsters Know What They’re Doing.

But there’s a problem, isn’t there? The content of MOAR! Monsters, at this point, is locked in, and it refers to the archfiends and their stat blocks as they’re described in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. The only place you’ll find updates reflecting the changes in Monsters of the Multiverse is right here. However, all the archfiends are changed in some way or another, and I can’t ignore them.

To resolve this conflict, I’m taking two measures:

  1. I’ve placed every section of this post and the next referring to a particular archfiend behind a spoiler box, which you have to open to read. There won’t be any accidental spoilers.
  2. As much as possible—and with more assiduity than I’ve bothered showing in my prior Monsters of the Multiverse updates—I’m going to confine my comments to precisely how these tactics differ from those in MOAR! Monsters.

With that out of the way, let’s start with the archdevils.

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Monsters of the Multiverse: Celestials, Fey, Elementals, Constructs, Oozes and Beasts

Lots of monster types in this batch, but not that many monsters. The overwhelming majority of the mechanical changes in Monsters of the Multiverse went into humanoids and fiends; whether because they were designed and balanced better to begin with or because they just aren’t encountered as often, other monster types got away pretty clean.

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Monsters of the Multiverse: Fiends, Part 2

On to ƬЄƛM ƇӇƛƠƧ!

The maw demon, a wind-it-up-and-let-it-go battlefield hazard of the Abyss sometimes found in the company of gnolls, loses the Rampage trait (and, thus, much of its connection to gnollkind) and gains Disgorge, a projectile vomit attack. Charming. This action recharges only on a roll of 6, meaning the maw demon will most likely get to use it only once per combat encounter. Since it’s stupid and erratic, the maw demon won’t wait for a better opportunity to use it than the first one it gets, so its nature impels it to move straight toward any group of three or more foes clustered together in a 15-foot cubical area and vomit as soon as it arrives. If it gets a chance to do it again, it will, but that’s not probable.

The babau’s Multiattack is dialed back: formerly comprising Weakening Gaze and two melee attacks (either Claw or Spear), it now comprises only two Claw attacks, one of which it can replace with Weakening Gaze or a Spell. The Spear attack is gone, which is fine; the babau didn’t need it. Its spell list is left intact.

The flaw inherent in Weakening Gaze remains: It’s primarily useful against enemies who are likely to have the Constitution to resist it. And the tactical conclusion remains: Use it against paladins and fighting clerics, because at least they don’t have proficiency in Constitution saving throws. Fear is still likely to fail, but the fact that it costs only one Claw attack, rather than an entire action, makes it a somewhat less pointless gamble against three or more targets within its area of effect. For the same reason, darkness is a better deal than it was before, particularly against a party that contains neither a paladin nor a battle cleric. And heat metal is dramatically better, since it can now be combined with a Claw attack for up to three dice of damage plus the babau’s Strength bonus. If none of these options makes sense, default back to two Claw attacks.

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