Eidolon Tactics

Eidolons are intriguing creatures, because despite being undead, they’re not necessarily evil—they may even be good. Spirits honored by the gods for their zealous devotion, eidolons spend their afterlives guarding those gods’ sacred places and protecting them from defilers. Their compulsion—which every undead creature must have—is to protect. Not necessarily a bad thing!

Even more intriguing is that eidolons can hop into inanimate objects and animate them for the purpose of carrying out their eternal mission. Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes offers, as an example, a stat block for an animated statue.

But first, let’s look at what an eidolon can do on its own. The flavor text says, “An eidolon has few methods for protecting itself beyond its ability to awaken its sacred vessels.” How true is this?

It’s true that a “loose” eidolon’s physical ability scores are all poor. Its mental abilities, however, are robust, with an extraordinary Wisdom score leading the pack. But by reverse-engineering the eidolon, we can determine that it has a +4 proficiency modifier, which in turn tells is that its Divine Dread ability is driven by its Charisma, not its Wisdom; otherwise, the save DC would be 16 rather than 15. So there’s a little dissonance there.

Mainly, the eidolon’s Wisdom serves as a defense against any attempt to manipulate it through magic. It has proficiency in Wisdom saving throws and can’t be charmed, exhausted, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, knocked prone or restrained. (That leaves blinded, incapacitated and stunned as three conditions it is vulnerable to. Also deafened, but that’s not nearly as much of an inconvenience as being blinded.) It also has advantage on saving throws against being turned.

As for physical damage, it’s resistant to acid, fire, lightning and thunder, along with physical damage from nonmagical attacks, and it’s entirely immune to cold, necrotic and poison damage. That leaves force and radiant. Yay, sacred flame and magic missile! You are valuable!

So the eidolon is pretty good at not getting hurt; what it’s not good at is hurting anything back. Aside from animating a statue or other vessel, its only offensive ability is the Divine Dread action, which can impose the frightened condition and carries the common rider that frightened targets must hasten away. Not only is the save DC not all that difficult to hit—someone in the party is bound to make that save—the effect is temporary, lasting only one minute, and either success on the saving throw or expiration of the effect confers immunity to it. In the grand scheme of things, the only thing this feature does is buy the eidolon time to board its vessel.

While animating a sacred statue, the eidolon becomes a brute, with extraordinary Strength and Constitution (though its Dex is still pitiful). It retains all its damage resistances and immunities and most of its condition immunities, but it can be grappled, restrained or knocked prone in its statue form.

As a brute, the statue has a choice between a slam/slam Multiattack and throwing a rock (or any other handy, heavy object, I’d say) from a distance. The Multiattack is the clear favorite, doing an average of 86 points of damage (!!) on two hits vs. 37 points of damage from a thrown object, although the latter offers an excellent chance of breaking a caster’s concentration on a crucial spell. I don’t see the eidolon using its Rock attack for any other purpose, and an animated sacred statue has no other feature to make its tactics any more sophisticated than, “Rrrrahhhh, bash bash bash.”

Because of its compulsion, the eidolon won’t flee or retreat as long as whatever place or thing it’s protecting is threatened, no matter how much damage it or its physical vessel sustains. Note that the eidolon has one reservoir of hit points, and the sacred statue has a separate reservoir of hit points. When its sacred statue is destroyed, an eidolon no longer has a vessel to inhabit and is forced out, but it still has however many hit points it had before it animated the statue.

At that point, although there’s very little its opponents can do to it, there’s virtually nothing it can do to its opponents—especially if they’re no longer affected by its Divine Dread. All it can do is linger, impotently shouting at trespassers in whatever language(s) it knew in life, which has to be the saddest combat encounter dénouement of any officially published monster.

Next: maurezhi.

7 thoughts on “Eidolon Tactics

  1. You note that after the Eidolon vessel is destroyed, it cannot do anything anymore. However I would like to note that the text states that there can be multiple vessels around*, and it doesn’t say they have to be obvious statues. If a DM wanted to ramp up the difficulty a bit, he could have multiple statues, perhaps two to make this into two back to back encounters, or perhaps a dozen so as to force them to either kill the eidolon while it travels between them, or somehow destroy the statues before they are inhabited.

    On the other hand, perhaps this eidolon doesn’t have particularly strong tools around, and it only has a set of animated armour and an animated rug (both from MM) to use against a low level party…

    *Taken from wordings like ‘to awaken its sacred
    vessels’ and ‘one of several statues’

    1. Well, first of all, that would ramp up the difficulty a lot—it would be like having another whole CR 12 enemy in the encounter. Second, the PCs might still destroy all the vessels, leaving the eidolon in the same situation as before. There are only three ways this encounter can end: The PCs get killed, the PCs leave voluntarily, or the PCs defeat all the eidolon’s vessels and cheerfully desecrate the grounds it’s sworn to protect while it watches in impotent rage-sadness.

        1. Ran the maths, and as far as I can tell, 1 statue gives a mathematical cr of 11, while 2 statues gives a mathematical cr of 13. This is ignoring resistances and immunities, as by level 12 the party should have ways around those, such as magical weapons. As the eidolon can’t do much of anything without the statues, running an eidolon with two statues may not be that ridiculous.

          Essentially, it comes down to party make-up. If they are mostly casters, they cold be in a lot of trouble with even 1 statue. With a few melee characters and varied spells, 2 statues is a bit more powerful, but still manageable.

  2. Sorry for the late-ish comment, but this has given me a awesome Idea for an encounter:

    Long ago, their was an ancient king revered by his subjects. As his death loomed closer, the king order the crafting of terracotta soldiers to protect him in the afterlife. Once this was done, his faithful bodyguard willingly sacrificed himself, his spirit bonded to the clay.

    The ancient tomb has three separate chambers for these terracotta warriors, and each chamber holds ten~ warriors. The Eidolon can possess each of these statues, which have one tenth of the HP of the base statue but are otherwise the same. Outside the chambers, Terracotta warriors are placed in traditional guard positions at doorways. When the party is outside the chambers, the Eidolon will search for them in spirit form, then possess the nearest warrior. He will fight until that warrior is destroyed. Inside the chambers, he will flit from warrior to warrior, leaving the statue once it uses its multi attack and animating a different one.

    (As a side note, I a extra feature might be home-brewed: If the Terracotta statue takes more then 15 fire damage in a turn, it’s AC is increased by 1. If it’s AC is increased by more than five by this feature, all extra AC is removed, and it gains vulnerability to Bludgeoning damage)

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