log in or register to remove this ad

 

5E 5e Rakshasa weak?

Staffan

Adventurer
Since half of Vox Machina fought a rakshasa last episode, I took a closer look at the monster... and found it pretty underwhelming.

I mean, it's sneaky as heck, and pretty tough with its immunity to non-magical weapons as well as any spell of 6th level or lower. But it has a pretty glaring vulnerability (piercing damage dealt by a good creature), so-so hit points (110 - on par with the challenge 5 otyugh), and very little offense. Charm person is mostly useless once combat has started, and suggestion is nice but limited and requires concentration. Pretty much the only real offensive move they have is dominate person, and that's a 1/day ability that gives a save to prevent it, and then allows multiple saves to break it. This creature is supposed to be challenge 13. That's on par with a nalfeshnee, or with an adult white dragon.

Back in the day, they had more open-ended spell-casting ability - In 3.5, they cast spells as a 7th level sorcerer which could include some pretty strong offensive spells, as well as the potential for +8 AC. In 5e, they are more limited with their Innate Spellcasting, although it does contain some spells beyond the capabilities they would have had in 3.5e. 1e/2e had something similiar, but with them just having a few spells of up to 3rd level.

Sure, the rakshasa is a great mastermind monster, using its charm, detect thoughts, and disguise self to infiltrate places and take more subtle control of things and people. But challenge rating is supposed to be more about how good they are in a fight - the difficulty posed by the rakshasa's minions are accounted for in the minions themselves.

I'm probably missing something here, but the way I see it rakshasa ought to be more of a challenge 6-7 monster. I'd be way more afraid of a mind flayer than a rakshasa.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

wedgeski

First Post
It did seem to go down pretty easily, even with a Shield Guardian. In the end the fight was more about not letting it get away.
 


Lets take a look at the stats. The challenge 13 guidelines are:

Prof bonus: +5 ( with a claw attack based on STR this looks right on the money)

AC: 18 ( the rakshasa is weaker here than suggested with an AC of 16)

Hit Points: 251-265 ( At 110 hp the rakshasa is an extreme lightweight for this CR)

Attack Bonus: +8 ( The claw attacks are +7, so just slightly weaker than par)

Damage/Avg: 81-86 ( At an average of only 18 damage/round the rakshasa is an utter joke)

Save DC: 18 ( the save DC for its spells is right on target)


Things to consider: The immunity to non-magical weapons AND spells under 7th level is HUGE if one remembers that magical items are optional in this game. Think about it. Even a heavy caster party won't have THAT much 7th level magic to throw around. The rakshasa under those circumstances would be terrifying.

Remember that every hit also inflicts a curse, which needs to be removed BEFORE a rest is taken. Also remember that plane shift can be used offensively to effectively send one poor sucker elsewhere, to place that is more than likely unpleasant.

If magic items are in play,and especially if magic weapons are common enough that the entire party has one or more each, then this monster is much , much weaker. A lot of monsters & situations in 5E appear to be pushover easy, but think about them in a game without ANY options turned on. No feats, MC options, or magic items to help. Default no option 5E is more challenging than a game with all the options. Add in experienced and mechanically savvy players on top of those options and you will find that there is much adjustment needed on the DM side of the screen to maintain the challenge.
 

Hit points and damage tends to be on the low end across the Monster Manual. But, it was written two months prior to the DMG so that's to be expected.
 

the rakshasa just needs a few levels of wizard or sorcerer. Otherwise it is fine... especially if you don't treat their vulnerability as common knowledge...
 

MonsterEnvy

Adventurer
I gave the Rakshasa some of the Abilities it had in the Playtest to buff it's magic a bit. (Same with Pit Fiend giving it a few things that vanished from it's playtest version)
 

Dausuul

Legend
Even at high levels, a party without magic weapons struggles against a rakshasa (believe me, I know). With magic weapons, yeah, it probably goes down pretty easy.

Still, that curse is nasty--no save and two chances per round to apply it. I think the rakshasa's CR needs to be considered in the context of an adventuring day rather than a single encounter. It lets some minions engage the PCs, darts in and tags half the party with the curse, then casts invisibility and bugs out. Then it continues to harass the party one encounter after another with illusions, dominate person, and so on and on. With the curse in place, the party's staying power is seriously diminished if they don't have remove curse available.

I'm still not convinced it lives up to its CR, but it does have some vicious tricks up its sleeve.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Even at high levels, a party without magic weapons struggles against a rakshasa (believe me, I know). With magic weapons, yeah, it probably goes down pretty easy.

Still, that curse is nasty--no save and two chances per round to apply it. I think the rakshasa's CR needs to be considered in the context of an adventuring day rather than a single encounter. It lets some minions engage the PCs, darts in and tags half the party with the curse, then casts invisibility and bugs out. Then it continues to harass the party one encounter after another with illusions, dominate person, and so on and on. With the curse in place, the party's staying power is seriously diminished if they don't have remove curse available.

I'm still not convinced it lives up to its CR, but it does have some vicious tricks up its sleeve.

And therein lies the whole difficulty with trying to establish one particular 'Challenge Rating' number for a monster, and why I think (and I suspect the folks at WotC believe) that they really should only be used as guidelines at best and to really want/hope individual DMs look at their own game, their own playstyle, their own group and take upon themselves the actual job of figuring out the kind of challenge they want to present.

Take on a rakshasa with all the acoutrement that Darsuul talks about and yeah, it's probably toast. Take on a rakshasa after the entire party has had a long rest and yeah, it's probably toast. Take on a rakshasa as a solo creature with no other minions in the room and yeah, it's probably toast. But then once you start introducing all those bits and bobs that allow a rakshasa to play to its strengths (in party terms, a rogue assassin type) rather than having to be a 'tank and spank' creature... the challenge of facing off against the creature is much more difficult and begins to justify its CR rating.

I don't know how many of us oftentimes consider the role (Gah! The dreaded 'R' word! I must be flayed alive for daring to use it! LOL) of a monster and whether we are using them as foes in the manner that they should be used to create encounters. If used in the manner for which it is best suited (like as Dausuul says, darting in and out invisibly, tagging PCs with curses, letting their minion harass the party physically encounter after encounter), the creature can be deadly. Put it in a relatively empty room for a tank and spank after having allowed the party to rest and get back much of its resources and strength (like what happened in the last Critical Role episode)... then absolutely, it seems like a pushover.

Matt Mercer is a very 'party-friendly' DM and does not go out of his way to try and kill off his players or take them out of the game. (Anyone who watched the CritRole episode against the beholder probably noticed he wasn't telekinetically throwing the PCs that were on the roof entirely off the building to the outside such that they'd not only take massive damage when they landed, they also would have needed like 4-5 rounds to run back into the battle.) So we can't necessarily take what happens in that show as gospel on how powerful or not a particular monster in the MM might truly be.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I watched that episode of Critical Role. The actual fight was easy once they found him. Rakshasa's were never known for brutish fighting power. They couldn't stand up to a party once cornered. They were deceptive creatures that usually controlled other creatures. Defeating the Rakshasa cost Vox Machina a serious magic item: their flying carpet. Mercer found other ways to make the fight costly. That's how he seems to work as a DM. I believe Mercer gave the Rakshasa a lot more magical ability as well.

I thought the fight versus the Rakshasa was appropriate for a CR 13 creature fighting a group of level 11 characters.
 

Since half of Vox Machina fought a rakshasa last episode, I took a closer look at the monster... and found it pretty underwhelming.

I mean, it's sneaky as heck, and pretty tough with its immunity to non-magical weapons as well as any spell of 6th level or lower. But it has a pretty glaring vulnerability (piercing damage dealt by a good creature), so-so hit points (110 - on par with the challenge 5 otyugh), and very little offense. Charm person is mostly useless once combat has started, and suggestion is nice but limited and requires concentration. Pretty much the only real offensive move they have is dominate person, and that's a 1/day ability that gives a save to prevent it, and then allows multiple saves to break it. This creature is supposed to be challenge 13. That's on par with a nalfeshnee, or with an adult white dragon.

Back in the day, they had more open-ended spell-casting ability - In 3.5, they cast spells as a 7th level sorcerer which could include some pretty strong offensive spells, as well as the potential for +8 AC. In 5e, they are more limited with their Innate Spellcasting, although it does contain some spells beyond the capabilities they would have had in 3.5e. 1e/2e had something similiar, but with them just having a few spells of up to 3rd level.

Sure, the rakshasa is a great mastermind monster, using its charm, detect thoughts, and disguise self to infiltrate places and take more subtle control of things and people. But challenge rating is supposed to be more about how good they are in a fight - the difficulty posed by the rakshasa's minions are accounted for in the minions themselves.

I'm probably missing something here, but the way I see it rakshasa ought to be more of a challenge 6-7 monster. I'd be way more afraid of a mind flayer than a rakshasa.

I think anecdotal evidence is generally overrated on D&D forums, but here's an anecdote anyway:

I've used a Rakshasa twice so far in 5E. The first time it was while the party was split, and the lone Barbarian (11th level?) wound up fighting the king's advisor without knowing that he was a Rakshasa. Dominate Person was good enough to get the barbarian to Reckless Attack himself (with GWM) almost to the point of death, with a lucky save snapping the barbarian out of just before he would have crit himself to death. (I know this because I had actually rolled both attacks simultaneously, and the second one was a crit.) My backup plan was to either Plane Shift the barbarian to the plane of elemental water (likely drowning him), or to hit him with my poisoned claws ("I" the Rakshasa had used Suggestion to delay him long enough to poison "my" claws with venom from a jar in "my" desk). The barbarian ran away successfully and initiative rolls + circumstances prevented me from pursuing him to finish him off (could have used Fly to pursue but that would have blown my cover, since my cover identity was not known to be a sorcerer of any kind). In those circumstances, the limited tactical depth the Rakshasa has was not a liability: having two or three ways to finish off an enemy is plenty.

The Rakshasa spent the next several days ruining the barbarian's reputation with illusions. Thok was seen consorting with enemy dragons (thanks to Major Illusion) and eating peoples' hearts right out of their chests (thanks to Disguise Self). Rakshasa like to eat people anyway, and getting to blame it on someone you're annoyed with just makes it all the sweeter. Also, he'd scratched Thok with his claws, so Thok spent the next several play sessions screaming in his fitful sleep while other PCs worked to reverse the curse. (No high-level clerics in the party at the time.)

Eventually the party faced the same Rakshasa again--they attempted to ambush him while he was meeting with mind flayers. The Rakshasa played a relatively small part in the combat (illithid Mind Blast combined with Intellect Devourers was the superstar combo) but he was still alive, and unconscious due to drow sleep venom, when the combat was over. No one who was still conscious had any magic weapons, so the PCs drowned him in the nearby river to kill him.

My takeaway from the experience was that Rakshasa is okay-ish in combat, but much better between combats. At-will Detect Thoughts and Disguise Self is good, and Major Image has lots of potential. But in terms of combat power, yeah, it has pretty good defense and not nearly the same level of offense as e.g. a CR 13 beholder. It has decent-ish mobility due to Fly, but that takes concentration so it's not really useful during combat. Overall I'm inclined to agree with your assessment that a mind flayer is more scary than a MM Rakshasa in combat. Adding wizard or fighter levels to the Rakshasa would make it much more scary, if you wanted a Rakshasa that was scary in face-to-face combat. I was pretty okay with it being weak-ish though since I was using it for espionage.
 

Still, that curse is nasty--no save and two chances per round to apply it.

The curse is nasty only until you realize it can be broken with Remove Curse, and get someone to cast it. My players never realized that--they dispelled the curse via Greater Restoration (cast by Couatl in exchange for a favor), which is much more expensive, but even so I don't think it would have been scary if I'd continued to throw Rakshasas at them. Once you've solved it once, you're not worried about repeats.
 

Eric V

Hero
If magic items are in play,and especially if magic weapons are common enough that the entire party has one or more each, then this monster is much , much weaker. A lot of monsters & situations in 5E appear to be pushover easy, but think about them in a game without ANY options turned on. No feats, MC options, or magic items to help. Default no option 5E is more challenging than a game with all the options. Add in experienced and mechanically savvy players on top of those options and you will find that there is much adjustment needed on the DM side of the screen to maintain the challenge.

What you say here is very true. Having noted that, there's optional, and then there's optional, you know? Magical items in this edition may not be necessary and therefore there may not be as many campaigns with them, but...I'm pretty sure they are still present in 50%+ of most games.* So, it'd be helpful if maybe there were 2 CR values included.

*Remember when it was only blessed crossbow bolts? If that were the case, it'd be a CR 13 easily, yes?
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
What you say here is very true. Having noted that, there's optional, and then there's optional, you know? Magical items in this edition may not be necessary and therefore there may not be as many campaigns with them, but...I'm pretty sure they are still present in 50%+ of most games.* So, it'd be helpful if maybe there were 2 CR values included.

*Remember when it was only blessed crossbow bolts? If that were the case, it'd be a CR 13 easily, yes?

Might be higher than CR13 if only blessed crossbow bolts, nearly unkillable. Only a paladin could do the job with radiant smiting. Cantrips don't work against it. If weapons don't work, you're screwed.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
I watched that episode of Critical Role. The actual fight was easy once they found him. Rakshasa's were never known for brutish fighting power. They couldn't stand up to a party once cornered. They were deceptive creatures that usually controlled other creatures. Defeating the Rakshasa cost Vox Machina a serious magic item: their flying carpet. Mercer found other ways to make the fight costly. That's how he seems to work as a DM. I believe Mercer gave the Rakshasa a lot more magical ability as well.

I thought the fight versus the Rakshasa was appropriate for a CR 13 creature fighting a group of level 11 characters.
But the minions and the rest of the dungeon are all their own challenges. That's like saying that the non-combatant King should be a CR 10 creature because he's surrounded by veteran bodyguards and can command armies - no, the veterans and armies already have their own challenge rating.
 

jgsugden

Legend
There are a few creatures I do not use as monsters in the game - I use them as unique foes. You'll never encounter "a" Rakshasa in my worlds - you'll encounter "The" Rakshasa. Why? Because they're better off having unique powerful abilities that make them iconic rather than having them powered down so that they can be used in a typical encounter. The concept deserves that level of special treatment.

If you read a monster and it seems to not meet your expectations, ask yourself if the underwhelming design is something that is better remedied by not using the monster as is, but instead replacing it with something more special that serves the concept better.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
But the minions and the rest of the dungeon are all their own challenges. That's like saying that the non-combatant King should be a CR 10 creature because he's surrounded by veteran bodyguards and can command armies - no, the veterans and armies already have their own challenge rating.

For xp purposes that is true. For actual challenge it would be nice to have an adjusted figure. If a major part of the CR is immunity to certain weapons, then it might be a much weaker challenge you can easily bypass that defense.
 

Dausuul

Legend
The curse is nasty only until you realize it can be broken with Remove Curse, and get someone to cast it. My players never realized that--they dispelled the curse via Greater Restoration (cast by Couatl in exchange for a favor), which is much more expensive, but even so I don't think it would have been scary if I'd continued to throw Rakshasas at them. Once you've solved it once, you're not worried about repeats.
Sure, but during the adventure when you first run into it, you don't necessarily have that knowledge. Being deprived of the ability to rest is scary.

It's a highly situational monster, I think. If you have magic weapons and ready access to remove curse (and you successfully figure out that remove curse is what's needed), the rakshasa is a paper tiger (heh). If you have one but not the other, it's potentially a serious threat. If you have neither, you're in a bad, bad way.
 

Rhenny

Adventurer
Rakshasa's are really good for intrigue, political and mystery type adventures since they hide their true form so well and are great impersonators. Using plane shift, they can almost always escape so they also become great recurring foes.

I ran my players through a modified version of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle and the rakshasa villian really gave the party fits.

The party made it to 7th level and had not been able to kill the rakshasa yet. (We only played 3/4 of the adventure since we wanted to begin a new campaign with newer material).
 
Last edited:

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top