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.

Continue reading “Monsters of the Multiverse: Celestials, Fey, Elementals, Constructs, Oozes and Beasts”

Radiant Idol Tactics

The radiant idol is another Eberron entity that didn’t survive the transition to Eberron: Rising From the Last War intact. Originally, every radiant idol was a being with its own unique domain, sort of like the cleric domains in fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons, and powers that related directly to that domain. In this most recent sourcebook, radiant idols are simply fallen celestials, with no particular bailiwick and the same powers across the board. Craving adoration, they amass cults of devotees, but the relationship sends both worshipers and worshipees into spirals of psychological disintegration.

Radiant idols’ ability scores are uniformly high, in a gently sloping contour that you don’t see too often. Five of those scores form a straight, from Intelligence 17 to Charisma 21; their highest ability score, Strength, takes a hop up to 23. This deviation—which really isn’t much of one—gives them a slight bias toward melee engagement. But with ability scores like these, radiant idols can fight pretty much any way they like. Unlike most creatures, which have one favored combat role and stick to it, radiant idols are distinguished by their flexibility.

One way this flexibility manifests is an extreme unwillingness to get into any fight they can’t win, and another is a pronounced preference for talking first. Whenever they can, radiant idols try to get their way without fighting. With that extraordinary Charisma and proficiency in Persuasion, Deception and Insight, along with an immunity to being charmed and an Aura of False Divinity that can passively charm others, radiant idols can dominate social interaction encounters in a way they can only wish they could in combat. And if logos, ethos and pathos don’t do the trick, they can always try dominate person or mass suggestion, depending on whether they’re trying to sway one or many. Continue reading “Radiant Idol Tactics”

Kirin Tactics

The kirin (inexplicably hyphenated “ki-rin” in Dungeons and Dragons products going all the way back to the original D&D book Eldritch Wizardry, which preceded even Advanced Dungeons and Dragons—kirin, unhyphenated, is a Japanization of the Chinese 麒麟 qílín) is a mythical creature whose appearance portends the births and deaths of great rulers and sages. A deerlike beast with scaly skin, grand antlers and dragonish facial features, the kirin is often characterized in Western writing as the “Japanese unicorn” or “Chinese unicorn” because of its virtuousness and standoffishness and because it’s sometimes depicted as having a single horn rather than a pair of antlers. The link is reinforced in fifth-edition D&D, as both unicorns and kirin are categorized as celestials.

Kirin are reclusive, and being lawful good, they prefer to avoid violent encounters. Combat with a kirin is going to take place in only two instances: Either a player character has attacked the kirin, or the kirin is fending off an intrusion by an intrinsically evil creature, such as a fiend or undead.

A kirin’s extraordinary Strength is nearly matched by its Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, making it one of the few creatures that’s equally well-suited to melee combat and spellcasting. With proficiency in Perception, it’s hard to catch by surprise, and with proficiency in Insight, it knows which of its opponents are genuinely hostile and which are simply misguided. Continue reading “Kirin Tactics”

Couatl Tactics

The couatl is rarely encountered in Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, partly because of its distinctly Mesoamerican flavor (most campaign settings remain hardily quasi-European) and partly because of its lawful good alignment (good monsters make bad enemies), but the winged, feathered serpent has been part of the game since the first Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual. In fifth edition, it’s categorized as a celestial.

Couatls have exceptional ability scores across the board, but their Dexterity and Wisdom are especially extraordinary. Their mental ability scores are higher on average than their physical ability scores, suggesting a preference for spellcasting over messy tooth-and-claw conflict (though their spell repertoire turns out not to support this preference especially well). Their 30-foot slithering speed is put to shame by their 90-foot flying speed; this, plus an awesome natural armor class of 19 and an immunity to physical damage from nonmagical weapons, implies that if they do engage in physical combat, they’ll most often hover in the air, dive-bomb their targets, then fly back out of reach without concern for opportunity attacks. Continue reading “Couatl Tactics”

Unicorn Tactics

“Are there unicorns in these woods? I want to see a unicorn!” Venture into any idyllic forested setting, and you’re sure to hear this request from one of your players.

Unicorns are elusive beasts—actually, not beasts, according to fifth-edition Dungeons and Dragons’ classification system, but celestials. They’re gentle, exuding a spirit of tranquility that extends to the other creatures that dwell in their vicinities, but also alert defenders of their domains. A unicorn may choose to reveal itself to a good-hearted creature, but any character who takes ill advantage of a unicorn’s good nature will be made to regret it.

I’m actually surprised and impressed by how formidable 5E unicorns are. I’d intended to draw on the suggestion I made in my earlier article on vampire tactics, about taking familiar monsters and giving them unexpected powers, and write a comical post about how unicorns could summon hordes of angry woodland creatures, disappear by running behind a tree and reappear behind another one, fire trebuchets, and rear up on their hind legs and deliver stunning roundhouse kicks like Chuck Norris. The incredible thing is, I don’t need to! Unicorns are pretty tough already. Continue reading “Unicorn Tactics”