Tag: CR 9

  • Dragon Tactics, Part 6: Lunar and Solar Dragons

    If you’ve played around extensively with dragons, not a lot in the lunar dragon or solar dragon stat blocks will come as a surprise. At every life stage, they share the archetypal Strength-and-Constitution-heavy brute ability contour of most chromatic and metallic dragons, along with breath weapons and proficiency in the ambush skills (Perception and Stealth). Young, adult and ancient lunar dragons possess the classic Claw/Claw/Bite Multiattack, while solar dragons, which lack claws, attack in the same manner but with Bite and Tail; adult and ancient lunar and solar dragons have Legendary Resistance, and ancient lunar dragons have opportunistic Tail attacks along with Wing Attacks for when more opponents than they’d prefer are engaging them in melee and they want to bug out.

    So let’s focus on what makes them different. Lunar dragons, which typically dwell in burrows on (wait for it) barren moons, aren’t all that different from white dragons; power-wise, they’re on par or very slightly weaker. They lack blindsight, but their darkvision has much greater range: 120 feet for wyrmlings, 240 feet after they hit puberty. This fact suggests that they dig big: When they burrow into a moon, they carve out not only tunnel networks (although those would be great for trespassers to get lost in) but also an enormous central cavern with plenty of room to maneuver in and no illumination whatsoever. Their Cold Breath deals less damage than a white dragon’s, but it also immobilizes targets that fail their saving throws. Those targets aren’t restrained or paralyzed, so freezing them doesn’t grant the dragon advantage on its follow-up attack rolls, but it does prevent them from pursuing (if they’re trying to engage in melee with the dragon) or from escaping (if they’re trying to avoid engagement).

  • Spelljammer Githyanki Tactics

    As popular as githyanki seem to be, the fact that they’re native to the Astral Plane has always demanded some contortions when introducing them as adversaries on the Prime Material. Send your player characters into spaaaaace, however, and that’s no longer an issue. Wildspace, where the astral and the material overlap, is the perfect place for githyanki pirates to go hunting for fish out of water. If the PCs venture all the way out into the Astral Sea, they’re on githyanki turf.

    Based on their name, I’d hope that githyanki buccaneers would have some sort of ability that would make them uniquely good pirates. I don’t see that this is the case, though; they have the same challenge rating as githyanki warriors, and aside from having a ranged attack, they’re ultimately not all that different.

    Githyanki buccaneers’ ability scores are slightly better than githyanki warriors’, a fact that’s offset by their slightly lower Armor Class (they wear AC 16 breastplates instead of AC 17 half plate). A higher Constitution, which matches their Dexterity, gives them the option of staying engaged in melee rather than moving fast, hitting hard and getting out. But they don’t have to engage in melee at all, since they have Telekinetic Bolt, i.e., mind lasers.

  • Jiangshi Tactics

    The jiangshi (pronounced chyahng-shr, with both syllables in level high tone) is a reanimated corpse from Chinese folklore, nicknamed the “hopping vampire” because of how it struggles to move within the limits of rigor mortis (translated literally, the name means “stiff corpse”). This limitation is reflected in its 20-foot movement speed, which is a key consideration in the jiangshi’s tactics: It’s not going to chase anyone down, and without proficiency in Stealth or Perception, it’s not an ambush attacker, either. The jiangshi has to seek out victims who are sleeping or otherwise immobile—or get next to them without their realizing what it is.

    With their exceptional Strength and Constitution (and miserable Dexterity), jiangshi are brute melee fighters, so they’re inclined toward melee combat to begin with, but their speed turns this preference into a necessity. The sine qua non of their combat tactics is their Multiattack, which comprises three Slam attacks and one use of Consume Energy. Consume Energy is their compulsion, the means by which they suck the life force out of living creatures. To get the most out of it, a jiangshi has to kill its victim with the necrotic damage it deals with this action. Therefore, the attacks it makes immediately beforehand have to bring their victim to the point of death.

  • Monsters of the Multiverse: Fiends, Part 3

    Aside from devils and demons (and their lawful and chaotic fiend-kin), there remain four neutral evil fiends that receive significant updates in Monsters of the Multiverse: three types of yugoloths (hydroloths, yagnoloths and oinoloths) and barghests.


  • Monsters of the Multiverse: Aberrations

    Time to look at the aberrations that receive significant updates in Monsters of the Multiverse. Most of these are spellcasters; the exception is the star spawn mangler. These changes aren’t tactically earthshaking, but they do require certain things to be prioritized differently.

    First, the neogi master. It gains a new attack action, Tentacle of Hadar, a hybrid of arms of Hadar and eldritch blast with a range greater than the former and less than the latter. Its Multiattack is modified to allow it to attack twice with this action as an alternative to Claw/Bite. As for its Spellcasting ability, it loses access to arms of Hadar, counterspell, fear, invisibility, unseen servant, eldritch blast and vicious mockery. It can cast its remaining leveled spells once per day and its remaining cantrips at will. Finally, Enslave, formerly an action, is now a bonus action.

    Because Multiverse monsters no longer have pact magic, the neogi master can cast hold person at only one target at a time, whereas before, it could target three. This loss hurts, because the neogi master can no longer paralyze both the target it wishes to enslave and the tough front-liners who come to its defense—and the concentration requirement means it’s still constrained from casting hunger of Hadar at the same time. A neogi master now needs a posse of regular neogi to lock these characters down, whereas before, it could have worked alone.

    On the other hand, thanks to the Multiattack upgrade, a neogi master no longer has to get within melee reach to attack. The one-two Tentacle punch makes the neogi master a more effective skirmisher than it was before, able to switch back and forth flexibly between short and long range. Also, the loss of other combat actions narrows the focus on what was probably meant to be central to the neogi master’s tactics all along: hunger of Hadar, a damage-dealing sphere of magical darkness into which the neogi master can see, thanks to Devil’s Sight (which it always had, although it wasn’t called out explicitly as a trait), and therefore use Enslave. In fact, since Enslave is now a bonus action, it can even combine the two on the same turn. The caveat is that, while hunger has a 150-foot range, the range of Enslave is only 30 feet, so the neogi master can’t execute this combination from farther away.


Support the Author

Spy & Owl Bookshop | Tertulia | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo | Kobo | Google Play | Apple Books | Libro.fm | Audible

Praise for The Monsters Know What They’re Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters

“I’ve always said, the Dungeon Master is the whole world except for his players, and as a result, I spend countless hours prepping for my home group. What Keith gets is that the monsters are the DM’s characters, and his work has been super helpful in adding logic, flavor, and fun in my quest to slaughter my players’ characters and laugh out the window as they cry in their cars afterward.” —Joe Manganiello

“The best movie villains are the ones you fall in love with. Keith’s book grounds villains in specificity, motivation, and tactics—so much so that players will love to hate ’em. This book will enrich your game immeasurably!” —Matthew Lillard

“This book almost instantly made me a better Dungeon Master. If you’re running games, it is a must-have enhancement. I gave copies to the two others in our group who share in the Dungeon Mastering, and both of them came back the next time grinning rather slyly. Keith is a diabolical genius, and I say that with the utmost respect!” —R.A. Salvatore

Find my short works on the Dungeon Masters’ Guild, or just toss a coin to your witcher:


Link to RSS feed


aberrations beasts celestials constructs CR 1 CR 1/2 CR 1/4 CR 1/8 CR 2 CR 3 CR 4 CR 5 CR 6 CR 7 CR 8 CR 9 CR 10 CR 11 CR 12 CR 13 CR 14 CR 15 CR 16 CR 17 CR 18 CR 19 CR 20 CR 21 CR 22 CR 23 dragons drow elementals fey fiends giants humanoids meta monstrosities multiverse NPCs plants shapechangers undead yugoloths