Tag: CR 6

  • Dragon Follower and Dragonborn Champion Tactics

    Tyranny of Dragons (Hoard of the Dragon Queen plus The Rise of Tiamat) was the first full-length campaign I ran for my fifth-edition Dungeons & Dragons group, after putting them through The Lost Mine of Phandelver. It was the right campaign for the moment, and its linear nature and geographic jumping around made it easy to insert character-specific side quests, which I appreciated. It also had many flaws, though, and a big one is that the dragon cultists just weren’t that interesting or memorable as opponents. (There’s also all of “Mission to Thay,” chapter 8 of Rise of Tiamat, which … whoo, boy, don’t get me started on that.)

    Might the insertion of some dragon followers or dragonborn champions from Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons have livened up Tyranny? Maybe, but not without some fiddling.

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  • Monsters of the Multiverse: NPCs

    Continuing my examination of the stat block updates in Monsters of the Multiverse, today I look at nonplayer characters. Since the majority of NPCs in Volo’s Guide to Monsters (they all come from Volo’s—there are no NPC stat blocks in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes) are spellcasters, and since spellcasting is the most frequently changed mechanic in Multiverse, all but a few of these NPCs have received some substantive change, and the ones that haven’t are all non-spellcasters.

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  • Monsters of the Multiverse Humanoids, Part 1

    I’m going to look at the significant changes to monsters in Monsters of the Multiverse in the order they appear in MOAR! Monsters Know What They’re Doing (which, for the record, is not random, OK?—they’re in order of challenge rating, from low to high) and grouped by creature type, starting with the humanoids. Which means the first ones I’m going to look at are the sorry, sad-sack xvarts.

    The basic xvart loses the Overbearing Pack feature; the shoving effect is moved into the Shortsword attack, which includes pushing the target 5 feet but not knocking it prone. This change means that the strategy of knocking down targets to attack them with advantage is history.

    Since they still have Raxivort’s Tongue, I do think the idea that they’d team up with giant rats and giant bats remains sound. Because of how the shoving rider works, they do still have an incentive to double-team their opponents, but simply pushing the target 5 feet doesn’t offer much benefit. It can’t be used to trigger opportunity attacks: you don’t get an OA when a creature is pushed out of your reach against their will.

    The only peak in their ability contour is in Dexterity, so xvarts are either shock attackers or snipers. But both of these combat roles require a way to maximize damage. How can xvarts do that?

    1. Like before, xvarts send their beast buddies into combat first. Then, while the xvarts’ foes are fending them off, they pop up and attack from 30 feet away with their slings. When charged, they use Low Cunning to slip away.
    2. Xvarts hide near a pit full of giant rats, then use the shoving rider to push their foes into the pit. This plan is made feasible by the fact that the shove is automatic on a Shortsword hit: the target doesn’t get to make a Strength check to resist it. Xvarts need that edge, because they haven’t got much else.

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  • Dusk Hag Tactics

    The dusk hag needs a warning label. There’s some interesting stuff going on in this stat block, but there are also some hidden dangers.

    Here’s the crux: Dusk hags are all about exploiting the unconscious condition, but they gain the most benefit when their targets aren’t unconscious as a result of having been reduced to 0 hp. That’s what makes this stat block interesting.

    Its mental abilities very good to exceptional, with Charisma on top; its physical abilities are middling, other than a high Dexterity. Dusk hags are distance casters, allergic to melee. However, despite this contour, their attack actions are all melee-based. To resolve this contradiction, I posit that a dusk hag only attacks targets who can’t fight back. That, combined with the bias toward unconscious targets, is what makes it dangerous.

    Based on their Intelligence and Wisdom, dusk hags are skillful planners, wise to their targets’ weaknesses and averse to fights they’re not likely to win. This combination makes them nasty opponents, because it means a dusk hag won’t pick a fight against a party of player characters unless the encounter would be a Deadly one. What does that mean in level terms? Against a party of four, a CR 6 dusk hag should pick on level 4 PCs but not level 5; against a party of five, level 3 but not level 4; against a party of six, level 2 but not level 3. As we’ll see, though, this calculation has certain … repercussions. (more…)

  • Duergar Tactics: Mordenkainen’s Duergar, Part 2

    Moar duergar! The duergar mind master is the last of the CR 2 duergar, the one with the ability contour of a spellcaster but no actual spells. What it does have is Mind Mastery, a feature with a 60-foot range which requires an Intelligence saving throw to resist. More to the point, it targets one creature within 60 feet and requires a DC 12 Intelligence save to resist.

    This feature, frankly, is terrible. Even a level 1 PC who’s dumped Intelligence still has a 40 percent chance of succeeding on this saving throw. It’s a straight-up waste of an action in any circumstance save one: as part of an ambush. In this instance, a hidden mind master can use Mind Mastery against a target without giving away its position or even its presence if it fails, since Mind Mastery is technically neither an attack nor a spell. If it succeeds, it gets to force an opponent to sucker-punch one of their own allies—or, depending on the local terrain, walk directly into a chasm or a river of lava or something. With Intelligence 15, a mind master is smart enough to know not to bother using this feature in open combat.

    So forget treating it as a spellcaster; we’ll pretend that its Intelligence is nothing special after all and it’s just another shock trooper, using Dexterity for offense as well as defense. (more…)

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