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D&D 5E Epic Monsters: Four Horsemen - Famine

With the lands already suffering from Strife and War it was only a matter of time before Epic Monsters made it to the terrible consequences of such violence: Famine!

4 horseman Famine dnd5e banner.jpg

When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come." I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; but do not damage the oil and the wine."
—Revelation 6:5–6

Whenever swords are made from plowshares fields go untilled and starvation inevitably follows—this is where the third herald comes into play. Famine spreads suffering far and wide, depriving the masses of sustenance and forcing deprivation everywhere. Economies collapse as food markets go astray, and further violence erupts when people are driven to take desperate acts in order to survive.

Design Notes: While it’s certainly capable of some trickery and intrigue, with Famine’s build the focus is on decay so all the poison, disease, and most of the necrotic magic has a place in its statistics. With how O5E handles resisting poisons that also makes a lot of sense for theming starvation effects. Good luck to the dwarf-less party that takes this monster on. Even if all the adventurers are stout folk they probably want to have at least a few greater restorations at hand or they’re likely in for a bad time—Famine can survive the hits and put a reckless party’s tank out of commission with exhaustion. Let’s do the numbers! The DMG places Famine at 25.33 and the Blog of Holding at 21.66, averaging out to 23 and a half.


Famine

Medium monstrosity, neutral evil
Armor Class 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 345 (30d8+210)
Speed 30 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
21 (+5)​
18 (+4)​
24 (+7)​
15 (+2)​
24 (+7)​
17 (+3)​
Saving Throws Int +9, Cha +10
Skills Insight +14, Nature +16, Perception +14, Persuasion +17
Damage Resistances cold; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, disease, frightened, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 24
Languages all
Challenge 23 (50,000 XP)

Ageless. Famine cannot suffer from frailty of old age, die from old age, or be aged magically.

Innate Spellcasting. Famine’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 22, +14 to hit with spell attacks). Famine can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will: blight, cloudkill, contagion, control water, detect poison and disease, fly, move earth, phantom steed
3/day each: control weather, detect thoughts, insect plague, mirage arcana, plane shift

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If Famine fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Magic Resistance. Famine has advantage on saving throws made against spells and other magical effects.

Magic Weapons. Famine’s weapon attacks are magical.

Shapechanger. Famine can use a bonus action to polymorph into a Small, Medium, or Large beast or humanoid it has seen, or back into its true form. Its statistics, other than its size and the ability to breathe water, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.


ACTIONS
Multiattack. Famine uses its Frightful Presence and attacks twice.

Withering Touch. Melee Spell Attack: +14 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 51 (8d10+7) necrotic damage. If the target is a creature and takes more than 50 necrotic damage, it makes a DC 22 Constitution saving throw or gains one level of exhaustion.

Sap Vitality. Ranged Spell Attack: +14 to hit, range 50/200 ft., one creature. Hit: The target gains one level of exhaustion. At the end of its next turn, if the target is still alive it can make a DC 22 Constitution saving throw to immediately recover from the last level of exhaustion inflicted by Sap Vitality.

Frightful Presence. Each creature of Famine’s choice that is within 120 feet of it and aware of it must succeed on a DC 22 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to Famine’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours.


LEGENDARY ACTIONS
Famine can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. Famine regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Decrepit Pod. Famine conjures a decrepit pod of plant seeds in its hands and throws them at a square within 30 feet. When it hits the decrepit pod spreads into a 20-foot-radius sphere of pollen that hangs in the air for 1 minute or until a wind of moderate or greater speed (at least 10 miles per hour) disperses it. The sphere spreads around corners and its area is heavily obscured. When a creature other than Famine starts its turn inside of the pollen or first enters into the pollen on a turn, the creature makes a DC 22 Constitution saving throw or has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks for 1 round.
In addition, any food in the area spoils, and any nonmagical plants in the area that aren't creatures wither and die.

Cast Spell (Costs 2 Actions). Famine casts a spell.

Scales of Starvation (Costs 2 Actions). Foul energies roil out of Famine in a 40-foot radius. Each creature in the area must make a DC 22 Constitution saving throw, taking 28 (10d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature that takes 25 or more poison damage repeats the saving throw or gains one level of exhaustion. Any plant creatures take double damage. Nonmagical plants in the area wither and die, and food in the area spoils.
 
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

Davies

Adventurer
Now, me, I'd have been tempted to say that Famine is followed around by two kids named Ignorance and Want, who also do other gigs from time to time ...
 


Al'Kelhar

Adventurer
Looks cool.

Sap Vitality has an attack roll, but the level of exhaustion it imposes (when it hits) can apparently be saved against (with no saving throw type or DC in the text). Possibly a transcription error between that and a previous version of Withering Touch?

Given their similarities, you could consider whether to roll both Withering Touch and Sap Vitality into a single type of attack that can be used both in melee and at range. Or consider making Sap Vitality an ever-present aura, i.e. any creature that enters or starts its turn within a certain radius of Famine needs to make a Con save or gain a level of exhaustion (and possibly not regain hit points until the start of its next turn?). As a ribbon, such aura could also automatically spoil any food in its radius.

I note that Decrepit Pod duplicates the effects of the poisoned condition, but isn't noted as a poison effect. I presume this is deliberate.

Cheers, Al'kelhar
 

Mike Myler

www.epic5e.com/ KS ends April 22nd!
I am wondering if after you write-up the Four Horsemen you will create stats for the Antichrist?
I wasn't planning on it. However did you know the fallen angel is CR 24?

Looks cool.

Sap Vitality has an attack roll, but the level of exhaustion it imposes (when it hits) can apparently be saved against (with no saving throw type or DC in the text). Possibly a transcription error between that and a previous version of Withering Touch?

Given their similarities, you could consider whether to roll both Withering Touch and Sap Vitality into a single type of attack that can be used both in melee and at range. Or consider making Sap Vitality an ever-present aura, i.e. any creature that enters or starts its turn within a certain radius of Famine needs to make a Con save or gain a level of exhaustion (and possibly not regain hit points until the start of its next turn?). As a ribbon, such aura could also automatically spoil any food in its radius.

I note that Decrepit Pod duplicates the effects of the poisoned condition, but isn't noted as a poison effect. I presume this is deliberate.

Cheers, Al'kelhar
Ah! I forgot to fix the wording when I dropped the saving throw off of Sap Vitality (which is intended to be just auto-exhaustion because it deals no damage). Also improved the wording a bit on that one to fix the intent on the saving throw (ie if Famine really wants to, it should be able to spam-exhaust-kill a target it can hit). It's also an incentive to get into melee with Famine because otherwise it's a couple rounds of hits on somebody before they're done for.

As for the aura: all the Four Harbingers here have one aura already and I'm wary of too many. It's already destroying any plant it touches. The food spoiling is definitely something that this statblock needs though so added that in to Famine's legendary actions.

Also yup on poisoned-that-is-not-technically-poisoned. ;)
 

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