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.
At first it might look like the Charge trait is gone, but it’s simply been incorporated into the verbiage of Baphomet’s Gore attack. The Reckless trait, however, is gone, relieving him of the burden of counting his enemies’ attacks.
Conveniently, Frightful Presence is now part of Baphomet’s Multiattack, so he doesn’t have to spend his entire action on it. He can issue his battle cry and begin laying into his foes at the same time. Casting hunter’s mark is no longer part of the combo; it’s off his spell list, along with detect magic.
So here’s a funny thing: In the first printing of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, Baphomet’s Charge legendary action was given as costing double, and that’s how I wrote about it in MOAR! Monsters Know What They’re Doing. However, this cost was apparently reduced at some point—it’s absent from my legacy stat block on D&D Beyond, though not listed in Wizards of the Coast’s errata for Mordenkainen’s. Regardless, in Monsters of the Multiverse, the higher cost is restored; as a sweetener, it now also precludes opportunity attacks.
This small change gives him a bit more reason to spend those 2 legendary actions on Charge. Two Heartcleaver attacks deal an average 42 damage. One Gore attack with bonus charging damage deals an average 33 damage and is sure to knock most targets prone as well as push them up to 10 feet. Baphomet’s a colossal brute, but he’s a shrewd one, too, with superb situational awareness. If there’s something meaningful to be gained from moving an opponent 10 feet from where they are—pushing them into an environmental hazard, for instance, or out of an ally’s protective aura—he’ll do it, even if he’s in melee already.
Confusion is off Fraz-Urb’luu’s spell list, along with those with longer casting times. His already savage Multiattack is made even more so by the addition of a new action, Phantasmal Terror, that deals psychic damage and frightens the target if they fail their Wisdom saving throw. Therefore, if he’s going to spend his action on phantasmal force or dispel magic instead, it’s because an enemy or a spell is causing him severe problems. And since the previous, kind of wonky Phantasmal Killer legendary action is replaced by Terror, which gives him an off-turn use of Phantasmal Terror, he now has a handy and unambiguous weapon with which to wreck enemy marksmen and spellslingers.
Juiblex is now immune to acid damage, and the damage caused by Eject Slime is now reparable by using the mending cantrip (LOL), but the only tactically significant change to its stat block is that it can’t cast blight anymore.
Zuggtmoy has received a powerful boost to her action economy: Mind Control Spores and Infestation Spores are now bonus actions. This change means she no longer has to choose between releasing spores and either attacking or casting a spell. She does, however, still need to be positioned properly to make effective use of either of her spore actions or her Multiattack, and she still has a strong incentive to cast entangle and/or plant growth first, in order to prevent her enemies from scattering. However, if her movement allows, she can execute such combinations as move/entangle/MCS, move/plant growth/MCS, etherealness/move/MCS, move/Multiattack/IS, IS/move/Multiattack, and so on. (Note that her Multiattack now comprises three attacks rather than four, probably because of the change in timing on her spores.)
Ensnaring strike and ray of sickness are both off her spell list, which is fine: the former was situational and a bit superfluous, and the latter was of no use at all. Finally, the range of Protective Thrall is increased from 5 feet to 10 feet, expanding her choices somewhat.
First, the bad news: Graz’zt is still as skeezy as ever. All my previous warnings still apply. We have a shared responsibility to treat sensitive topics with sensitivity.
While Graz’zt is still a spellcaster first, his Multiattack has been changed to allow him to replace one of his Wave of Sorrow attacks with Spellcasting. To frame it another way, he now gets a free Wave of Sorrow attack with each spell he casts, and he can use it before or after casting the spell. He can also Change Shape as a bonus action now, although the fact that his oversize greatsword doesn’t change along with him is the same liability it’s always been.
Dissonant whispers and crown of madness are off his spell list. So is sanctuary, but seriously, when was he ever going to cast that? Counterspell remains available in the form of a new reaction, Negate Spell.
The Sow Discord and Teleport legendary actions have been replaced by Abyssal Magic, allowing him either to take the Teleport action or cast any spell he chooses. Previously, the best choices for Sow Discord were dissonant whispers and crown of madness, which are both off his list. But now he has other options: Charm person, which normally isn’t a particularly good spell to cast in combat, becomes a whole different animal when you can spam it at will—and it synergizes with Dance, My Puppet! Dispel magic is spammable as well, handy if Negate Spell is on cooldown or if Graz’zt has used his reaction already. It would also be consistent with Graz’zt’s underhanded character to use his Abyssal Magic legendary action to dominate opponents just before their turns come up in the initiative order—or to Teleport away from a foe just before they can take a swing at him.
Demogorgon’s Multiattack has been changed to allow him to replace one of his Tentacle attacks with a use of Gaze. To frame it another way, he now gets a free Tentacle attack each time he uses Gaze, and the order is up to him. The preference order of his spell and Gaze options remains the same, although Insanity Gaze has been renamed Confusing Gaze (which describes its effects more accurately anyway).
In addition to Gaze and Tail, Demogorgon now has a third legendary action, Cast a Spell, which costs 2 actions. Except for the moment he chooses to cast feeblemind, I honestly can’t think of any time when it’s worth spending both his legendary actions on casting a spell. If he can’t get in position to attack or use Gaze, he probably doesn’t have any target within range of a spell, either.
A lot of Orcus’s stat block is scrambled in Monsters of the Multiverse—the effects of the wand of Orcus are now in four different places—but very little of it has materially changed. For instance, the ability to call up 500 hp of undead allies is now separated out into its own action, called Conjure Undead.
One thing that’s changed big-time, however, is his Multiattack: Formerly comprising two melee attacks with the wand of Orcus, it now comprises three attacks, each of which can be with the wand, his tail or a new ranged spell attack, Necrotic Bolt, that takes the place of chill touch. This change makes it much harder for a seriously injured opponent to get away from him. They don’t just have to get out of the 10-foot reach of his wand and his tail—they have to get out of the 120-foot range of Necrotic Bolt. Orcus gonna commit some murder.
One thing I fail to note in MOAR! Monsters—an oversight on my part—is that create undead takes 1 minute to cast. It therefore isn’t something Orcus can choose to spend his turn action on. (The wand of Orcus allows him to waive the usual 1-minute casting time of animate dead, but it doesn’t do the same for create undead—that’s his own mojo at work.) Instead, if Orcus’s opponents make the mistake of leaving him alone for more than a minute, that’s what he spends his time doing.
And lastly … the changes to Yeenoghu are minor and don’t alter his tactics. I don’t need a spoiler box to tell you that.
Next: a week’s vacation, during which I may or may not be fool enough to attend Gen Con; place your bets. After that, back to Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons.
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