Monsters of the Multiverse: Archdevils

It’s been my longtime policy not to post analyses of the stat blocks of unique villains on this blog, because I’d be a fool to think players don’t read it, too—in fact, I’ve encouraged them to—and going through every part of a BBEG’s kit is about as spoilery as it gets. Which is why the tactics of archdevils and demon lords are content exclusive to MOAR! Monsters Know What They’re Doing.

But there’s a problem, isn’t there? The content of MOAR! Monsters, at this point, is locked in, and it refers to the archfiends and their stat blocks as they’re described in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. The only place you’ll find updates reflecting the changes in Monsters of the Multiverse is right here. However, all the archfiends are changed in some way or another, and I can’t ignore them.

To resolve this conflict, I’m taking two measures:

  1. I’ve placed every section of this post and the next referring to a particular archfiend behind a spoiler box, which you have to open to read. There won’t be any accidental spoilers.
  2. As much as possible—and with more assiduity than I’ve bothered showing in my prior Monsters of the Multiverse updates—I’m going to confine my comments to precisely how these tactics differ from those in MOAR! Monsters.

With that out of the way, let’s start with the archdevils.

Continue reading “Monsters of the Multiverse: Archdevils”

Monsters of the Multiverse: Fiends, Part 2

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.

Continue reading “Monsters of the Multiverse: Fiends, Part 2”

Dragon Tactics, Part 3: Gem Dragons

There are a lot of cool things in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. I don’t count gem dragons among them.

Gem dragons aren’t anything new. They were first mentioned in a 1980 issue of Dragon magazine, and they appeared in the pages of the second edition Monstrous Manual and the third edition Monster Manual II. Be that as it may, I can’t get over the hokeyness of the concept. I just can’t.

I mean, it’s already silly and simplistic to have five matte-colored evil dragons pairing off against five metallic-colored good dragons, each one with a monochromatic personality, but at least there’s a symmetry to that silly simplicity. Gem dragons are like, “What if neutral dragons and also there are five of them too and they look like something else valuable?” Oh, and they’re all psionic!

It’s running the conceit into the ground. It’s too much marzipan. What comes next? Air, earth, fire, water and void dragons? Hemp, linen, cotton, wool and silk? Bitter, sour, sweet, salty and umami?

Frankly, rather than incorporate gem dragons into a campaign of my own, I’d just as soon ditch the colors, metals and sparkly rocks altogether and make every dragon unique, so that you don’t know anything about a dragon just by looking at it. We’re supposed to be moving away from bioessentialism anyway, right? Aren’t lots of players condemning alignment as outdated? All right, then, let’s put our treasure hoards where our mouths are. No colors, metals, gems or anything else. Just dragons. Pick the personalities you want them to have, give them powers to match, and make them whos, not whats.

That’s not what you came here for, though. So here we go: gem dragons. Five kinds. Well, actually, sort of, six. But moonstone dragons don’t follow the same rules, so I’ll discuss the others first, then come back to them. Continue reading “Dragon Tactics, Part 3: Gem Dragons”

Astral Dreadnought Tactics

Now that the holiday madness is over, it’s time to get back down to business, and the business of the day is the astral dreadnought, whose name tells you most of what you need to know: This fearless titan drifts through the astral plane, obliterating everyone and everything it comes across.

While its Strength and Constitution are epic, its Dexterity is dismal—a gargantuan beast like this doesn’t turn on a dime. Nor does it possess Intelligence beyond animal level. Its Wisdom is high, however, and its Charisma is exceptional—perhaps reflective of its ability to command awe. Despite its extremes, this is a straightforward brute ability contour, indicating a creature whose approach is to close in and maul.

Its resistances and immunities aren’t all that relevant, because (contra the flavor text in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes) its Intelligence is so low, it’s not going to bother to distinguish between one target and another. However, its relatively high Wisdom indicates a prudent, instinctual self-preservation impulse. The astral dreadnought is a creature so unaccustomed to resistance that any prey that can inflict a moderate wound against it (reduce it to 207 hp or fewer—yeah, that number’s not a typo) will give it pause. Continue reading “Astral Dreadnought Tactics”

Molydeus Tactics

The molydeus is a demon of extraordinary power, on par with several named demon princes. The flavor text refers to various demon lords as “masters” of molydei, but there aren’t too many entities to which that word could apply, given that demons are chaotic evil and therefore not likely to take orders from anything less powerful than themselves. The Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes flavor text notwithstanding, unless and until new demon lords are crowned and their stat blocks published, there are only two that could indisputably command the obedience of a molydeus: Demogorgon and Orcus. (Graz’zt and Yeenoghu are only one challenge rating higher than the molydeus; I’m not sure that’s enough of a difference. Baphomet and Fraz-Urb’luu have the same CR as a molydeus, so even if one of them created a molydeus, I think it would tell them to buzz off, if not turn on them immediately.) For some unfathomable reason, I looked at that “CR 21” I don’t know how many times, and my brain processed it as “CR 23.” Yes, any demon lord is powerful enough to command a molydeus. SMH.

For a huge creature, the molydeus is speedy, with a movement speed of 40 feet. Its ability scores are all extraordinary, with Strength first and Constitution second—a brute. While it has Innate Spellcasting, it’s secondary to melee fighting. It has proficiency in four out of six saving throws, but one of the big three—Dexterity—is missing from the list, so in relative terms, this could stretchily be noted as a weakness. But it also has Magic Resistance and three uses of Legendary Resistance per day, so whenever it fails a Dex save . . . it doesn’t fail.

Typically for a demon, the molydeus is resistant to physical damage from nonmagical weapons, cold, fire and lightning and immune to poison; it can’t be blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, poisoned or stunned. (It can, however, be paralyzed, knocked prone or restrained.) It has a truly bonkers +21 Perception modifier and passive Wisdom (Perception) 31. Player characters trying to sneak up on one, at a minimum, will need pass without trace. Continue reading “Molydeus Tactics”