Quori Tactics

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Though significantly more powerful than the inspired they possess, the quori have a major shortcoming: They aren’t—can’t be—physically present. Chapter 4 of Eberron: Rising From the Last War (“The Dreaming Dark”) is explicit about this: “The quori can’t manifest physically in Eberron.” But chapter 6, where the stat blocks are found, confuses the issue: “Because it is difficult for anything to physically travel to or from Dal Quor,” it says, “quori in Eberron are typically encountered while possessing a host body”—implying that there are other ways in which quori might be encountered in Eberron. Also, all three quori stat blocks include the Possession action, which targets a humanoid “that the quori can see within 5 feet of it”—and none of them contains any trait stating that the quori are incorporeal or ethereal.

I asked Keith Baker, creator of the Eberron setting and co–lead designer of Eberron, for clarification, and his answer was unequivocal: He never intended that quori should be present on the material plane at all. The only way you’d ever encounter one directly, in such a way as to put yourself “within 5 feet” of one, is in a dream—or if you managed somehow to transport yourself bodily to Dal Quor, the plane of dreams, such as by casting plane shift or gate.

Moreover, they’re supposed to be invited in; only the inspired are supposed to be susceptible to involuntary possession. As far as Baker is concerned, quori should be able to take the Possession action only when the target is either willing (most often, in a dream) or in the presence of the quori itself (not in a dream), and if the target is willing, it should happen automatically, without a saving throw. I’m going to proceed from this premise as I examine the quori stat blocks.

The least powerful of the quori (which is sort of like saying “the smallest of the giants”) is the tsucora quori, a Machiavellian fearmonger with scorpion-like pincers and tail stinger. This foe is unambiguously a brute, with very high Strength and exceptional Constitution, although its mental abilities, especially its Charisma, are high as well. This ability powers its psionic ability to cast charm person at will and fear once per day, but these powers are primarily for noncombat use. When push comes to shove, the tsucora throws down with its pincers, claws and stinger.

Pincer grapples on a hit, but it doesn’t restrain, as grappling riders often do. Stinger has a chance of inflicting the frightened condition, but that doesn’t confer advantage on attacks; it merely makes it harder for the target to fight back. Therefore, the order in which the tsucora uses the attacks in its Multiattack doesn’t matter.

Lacking proficiency in any social skill, the tsucora has to rely on the unfair edge conferred by charm person to wheedle its way into a dreamer’s consciousness—and with a save DC of 14, it’s only going to target those of middling will. Once it’s in, it waits to deploy fear until its host is in the presence of something that the tsucora wants them to be afraid of, in service of the quori’s machinations. Although the spell as written says it “project[s] a phantasmal image of a creature’s worst fears,” I think it’s in keeping with the spirit and lore of the quori, as well as the flavor text that accompanies the stat block, for this spell to work slightly differently: to cause the tsucora’s host to be frightened of whatever it’s looking at. Alternatively, the host might be looking at something they’re not normally afraid of but be caused to see it as something they are afraid of, and to react accordingly. If you want to hew closer to the rules as written, however, you’re constrained by the fact that fear has a cone-shaped area of effect and that it forces creatures who fail their saves to drop what they’re holding and run. Arguably, since the AoE emanates from the spell’s point of origin, which is the tsucora itself, it’s not even practicable except in the presence of the tsucora—that is, either in a dream or in Dal Quor.

The hashalaq quori, in contrast to the tsucora, prefers to keep its distance. Its Dexterity is greater than its Constitution, but none of its physical abilities are on the level of its mental abilities, particularly its exceptional Intelligence and Charisma. Its primary mode of attack is Mind Thrust, which has a range of 60 feet and deals damage even on a failed saving throw; its Multiattack allows it two uses of this action per turn. It doesn’t have much recourse if it’s mobbed, but it can at least use its Empathic Feedback reaction once between turns to retaliate against an attacker other than its primary target. Against melee combatants trying to sack it, it can switch to Idyllic Touch, but this is a temporary measure at best, allowing the hashalaq to retreat with a reduced chance of being struck by an opportunity attack; on their own turn, the proned opponent will simply get up.

Like the tsucora, however, the hashalaq is primarily interested not in fighting but in working its will through a willing host, and it’s this purpose to which it applies its psionic powers. Its spell save DC is better than the tsucora’s: It has a two-thirds chance of prevailing against a target with a Wisdom modifier of +1 or less, and if it can slip a charm person past their defenses, that combined with its proficiency in Persuasion (+8!) makes it hard to say no to.

Charm person and disguise self both last one hour without concentration, as does dream. This last spell allows the hashalaq to go recruiting: As long as a target creature is “known to” it (whether firsthand or by hearsay is up to Dungeon Master interpretation), it can summon that target into its presence with dream, using disguise self to approximate the appearance of someone the target will listen to and charm person to get on their good side from the get-go. (I say “approximate,” because disguise self, as written, can’t make the caster appear to possess a different body type, and the hashalaq’s body type comprises “hundreds of translucent tendrils.” Thus, rather than a picture-perfect simulacrum of Eddie the Innkeeper, the best it can do is a sort of low-res rendering of Eddie with fuzzy edges.)

With all these spells up and running, the hashalaq can then choose among the concentration-required detect thoughts, suggestion and dominate person as appropriate. Detect thoughts is a straightforward opening play, informing the remainder of the interaction; suggestion can be combined with a strong Persuasion check to make all sorts of actions “sound reasonable,” even if, in a soberer moment, they might not. Dominate person is the brute-force approach, used only by an obstinate or desperate hashalaq when it can’t gain its target’s willing compliance. Most quori would probably consider resorting to dominate person uncouth and uncalled-for, beyond the bounds of decency. They can do it, but in their view, not everything that can be done should be done.

The kalaraq quori are at the top of the pecking order. Though tough enough for a skirmish, they too would rather stay at a distance of 30 to 60 feet from their foes. They possess extraordinary Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma alongside exceptional Constitution, and they can fly. There’s not much reason for them to descend within melee reach, unless it’s to take an already seriously weakened opponent out of play with Soul Binding.

Like the hashalaq, the kalaraq can summon a candidate vessel to its side by casting dream. Unlike the hashalaq, the kalaraq’s other psionic powers all require concentration, so there’s no using more than one of them at a time; also, it doesn’t have charm person to juice its Persuasion skill with. But that Persuasion modifier is already a whopping +13 (as is the kalaraq’s Deception modifier, should it choose to go that route instead), and it has an alternative: Rather than apply advantage to its own check in the contest, it can give its opponent disadvantage on its check to think for itself by using eyebite to sicken them. Clairvoyance is chiefly for scouting out prospective vessels. The only advantage of arcane eye, which functions only on the kalaraq’s own plane of existence, over clairvoyance is the fact that it takes only an action to cast; if foes of the kalaraq invade Dal Quor, arcane eye gives it a chance of getting to observe them in action before they close in. Aside from that application, it’s pretty pointless.

When talk fails and fists prevail, the kalaraq immediately drops a Swarm of Eyes on all of its opponents except the one it wishes to possess, assuming that this is geometrically possible (if it’s not, the kalaraq uses its movement to try to lead its foes around until it is). Otherwise, it uses Multiattack to fire Arcane Blasts at choice targets. It’s indifferent to mundane weapons and spellcasters who deal cold, necrotic, poison or psychic damage, to which it’s resistant; magic weapons and spell attacks that deal other types of damage attract its attention. That’s spell attacks specifically: The kalaraq has Magic Resistance, so it’s not as concerned about spells that call for saving throws. When a foe is severely wounded, the kalaraq descends upon it and makes two Soul Binding attacks instead, hoping to reduce it to 0 hp and thereby trap it in one of its myriad eyes.

All quori have sufficient Intelligence and Wisdom to develop plans of attack, assess and target enemies’ weaknesses, accurately judge whether its opponents outmatch it or vice versa, and refrain from starting fights they aren’t likely to win. Beyond these competencies, hashalaqs need only observe their opponents in action for a moment to pick up their tells, and kalaraqs can “read” their foes on sight.

If a dreamer fights back against a quori that’s trespassing on their dream, the quori writes them off once it’s taken moderate damage (equal to 30 percent of its maximum hit points—in other words, when a tsucora is reduced to 47 hp or fewer, a halashaq is reduced to 69 hp or fewer, or a kalaraq is reduced to 112 hp or fewer). Less damage than that, quori think is cute; more than that isn’t cute anymore. The dreamer obviously isn’t going to submit to possession, so they’re no longer worth the quori’s time.

Things are different, though, if a quori’s enemies have invaded Dal Quor and are confronting it there. Dal Quor is their turf; why should they flee? The damage threshold is the same—quori aren’t belligerent fools that fight for the sake of fighting—but rather than flee, they call for backup. A tsucora can get another tsucora to help it, maybe two, depending on where the fight is occurring. A hashalaq can call a few tsucoras to its side; let’s say 1d4. A kalaraq can summon help from several hashalaqs (1d4 again seems appropriate) and a handful of tsucoras besides (say, 1d6, or maybe 1d4 + 2). I’m not talking about summoning in the way that certain fiends can summon other fiends, but rather simply yelling for help and seeing who comes. It doesn’t cost an action, and it’s not an ability with a limited number of uses per day; it’s also totally situational, and if there’s no help around to be called, then no help arrives. Plan it out beforehand using encounter building math.

Next: Zakya rakshasas.

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5 responses to “Quori Tactics”

  1. Brian Avatar
    Brian

    So happy you are back with these. I just ran a Quori dream encounter for a low level party. Through the use of honeyed words the Tsucora convinced the leader of a small village to let it “drive” for a bit and of course it didn’t relinquish control once getting in. Eventually led to an encounter with it in a dream. Just want to say how great Keith Baker was with answering questions about his intent with Quori on his blog it really helped me out and anybody looking for more info about them and their thought processes I would recommend checking it out.

    Notably if you encounter a Quori in a dream they are in the unique situation that you can kill it but the Quori can’t kill the dreamer so as you pointed out they wouldn’t hesitate to GTFO if things get dicey. Thanks again plan on revisiting them again when the players get to high levels and I can use the higher CR ones and these tactics are always great to keep in mind.

  2. Idanbhk Avatar
    Idanbhk

    Great article, and nice to see you’re back!

    A Hashalaq would probably also use Dominate in combat; its mind thrusts are hardly enough to make it a CR 9 threat.

    Also, it has expertise in arcana, history and insight, and only regular proficiency in persuasion. That would imply these three skills are somehow important to its role; perhaps these quori might attempt a diplomatic approach to avoid a fight, offering knowledge as a sage in exchange for services if their charms fail them?

    A Kalaraq would probably use confusion in combat when foes are no longer blinded by the swarm of eyes, unless it has a decent chance to drop an opponent to 0 hp with attacks on the current round.

  3. Tim Fangrad Avatar
    Tim Fangrad

    He also has over a years worth of catching up to do

  4. shikomekidomi Avatar
    shikomekidomi

    Now, normally using Disguise self to appear as a mass of tendrils shaped like someone’s friend in order to gain their trust would be a plan prone to failure, which is why I hadn’t originally considered it, but I can easily see someone dismissing the fact Eddie is now tentacles as just dream weirdness.

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