Monsters of the Multiverse: Fiends, Part 2

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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.

A couple of the changes to the dybbuk in Monsters of the Multiverse are simply cosmetic: Violate Corpse has been renamed to Control Corpse, and Tendril has been renamed Tentacle. More significantly, this demon can no longer cast fear, and its Possess Corpse action works differently: When a dybbuk possesses a corpse, it gains 20 temporary hit points, regardless of how many hit points the corpse’s former owner had, and is no longer considered undead. It also retains all its normal stats (except for its size, which may differ depending on what kind of corpse it possesses) rather an adopting some of the corpse’s. This change is a major and welcome simplification, although it’s also a hard nerf if the dybbuk is possessing any creature whose Strength when living was much greater than 6.

However, one important implication of this simplification—I’d go so far as to say its paramount implication—is that the dybbuk, while possessing a corpse, unambiguously keeps its Innate Spellcasting, its Magic Resistance and all its damage resistances. Thus, while it can use Control Corpse to try to scare its attackers off, and while doing so certainly benefits it from an action economy standpoint, it’s not as though the dybbuk has no other choice except to run away. Because it no longer has to abandon its corpse body to cast spells, it can keep lashing out at lightly armored or unarmored opponents with necrotic tendrils, it can fly, and it can even dimension door away without having to exit its corpse—at will! If fighting a dybbuk was a pain in the neck before, it’s even more of one now. And you know what? I’m down for that. A dybbuk is a taunt made (rotting) flesh.

Monsters of the Multiverse adds an alarming new wrinkle to the already fantastically weird and scary alkilith. On top of an additional hit die, the alkilith gains a 40-foot climbing speed, along with Spider Climb. You know what that means? It isn’t limited to doors and windows it can reach from the floor. It can crawl up the wall, encircle the splendid stained-glass rose window of your church (if a two-and-a-half-cubic-foot slime can make itself as narrow as 1 inch wide, it can also make itself up to 360 feet long) and turn it into a demon-belching egress from the Abyss. But why stop there? It can do the same to a skylight. And who’s going to notice the mystery slime around the edge of a skylight, or the nagging buzz emanating from it, until it’s too late—and by “until it’s too late,” I mean “until swarms of chasmes, vrocks and nabassus come hurtling out of it.”

Aside from this magnificent atrocity, the new alkilith stat block codifies how long it takes an abyssal rift to form, renames Foment Madness to Foment Confusion (but doesn’t alter how it works) and incorporates Unusual Nature as a trait. Its tactics, therefore, don’t change—only its aperture selection strategy.

The sibriex’s Warp Creature action, as originally written in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, has some complicated tactical implications, so it’s interesting that this action is almost entirely unchanged in Monsters of the Multiverse. The only thing different is that a fully warped target creature becomes a manes demon rather than an abyssal wretch. In fact, Multiverse does away with abyssal wretches entirely: formerly created by either sibriexes or rutterkins, they’re now created by neither, and their stat block is nowhere to be found. I guess it was decided that they just weren’t that interesting.

Multiverse makes a handful of other significant changes to the sibriex instead: Its Bite attack, marginally less effective than its Chain attack, is gone; its Chain attack now deals force damage rather than piercing, making it as effective against Raging barbarians as Bite was (I never understood why Chain dealt piercing damage anyway). The sibriex also loses charm person, along with two of its three daily opportunities to cast feeblemind. Charm person is no great loss, since it worked at cross purposes with the sibriex’s Contamination aura, but allowing only one casting of feeblemind is a fairly major nerf. Perhaps it’s a necessary nerf, since wizards are going somewhat out of fashion as Charisma casters—especially warlocks—become the new hotness, leaving adventuring parties at risk of all their spellcasters’ being stultified. Now the sibriex has to figure out which single target for feeblemind will result in the greatest disruption to the enemy side. Fortunately, it’s smart enough to know. (The final change to the sibriex is a minor one: Squirt Bile deals one less die of damage.)

The silly, horrifying little vargouille (not a demon per se, but still a fiend on the side of chaos) undergoes only one change in Monsters of the Multiverse: Its Stunning Shriek is now on a 5–6 recharge. This limitation doesn’t change anything with respect to the vargouille’s tactics, however, since Stunning Shriek either works on the first try or doesn’t work at all, and a vargouille is trying to use it against as many creatures as possible from the get-go anyway. All this change means is that a vargouille might have to wait a round or two to shriek at a late arrival.

Finally, I didn’t realize until I began compiling these changes that I inadvertently left the molydeus out of MOAR! Monsters Know What They’re Doing. Fortunately, I do have a post on molydeus tactics on this blog, so if you’re looking for it, you can find it here. Monsters of the Multiverse makes quite a few changes to the molydeus, but they’re mostly straight buffs. It’s now immune to the blinded and deafened conditions, which it wasn’t before, but loses its immunity to exhaustion. The damage of its Demonic Weapon is increased by more than 50 percent and is now force damage rather than slashing, so it no longer creates cognitive dissonance to skin the weapon of a molydeus that serves Yeenoghu as a flail, or the weapon of one that serves Orcus as a morningstar. The bites of its snake and wolf heads also deal 50 percent more damage, and it’s poison and necrotic damage, respectively, rather than piercing.

The one tactically significant change to the molydeus is that casting a spell now costs it two legendary actions rather than one, so it has to think ahead a bit more and save its Attack or Move legendary action until after it’s decided what spell to cast, or for emergencies. However, it still has all the spells it had before, save one: It loses imprisonment. Since that spell takes a full minute to cast, it was never going to cast that one in combat anyway. But it did provide an interesting potential plot hook, and now that hook is no more—unless you want to simply decide that your molydeus can cast imprisonment after all.

Next: yugoloths of the Multiverse.

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One response to “Monsters of the Multiverse: Fiends, Part 2”

  1. Effyis Biblos Avatar
    Effyis Biblos

    I imagine the chain does piercing damage because it’s a spiked chain, wielded similarly to a whip. It’s not totally clear how a chain is used as a weapon, because chains are of course not weapons, they’re basically high-strength metal ropes.

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