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

Once more Epic Monsters is headed for the end times—not of the column, thank heavens, just the world. Without further ado let’s get into it with the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Strife!

4 Horsemen STRIFE dnd5e banner.jpg

Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, "Come." I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
—Revelation 6:1–2

Hold on a tick,” you say from beyond the digital sea, “I thought the first horseman was the Antichrist/Christ/Conquest/Pestilence?” All of you are correct! Throughout the ages interpretations of these figures from the Christian apocalypse have been twisted all which ways around and the thing that made the most sense for the first in this column is Strife—a harbinger not of conflict itself but rather an agent that lays out the groundwork for the mayhem and slaughter to follow. You don’t kill off a quarter of the world without setting the mood! When the Last Judgment comes this is the first herald, sewing conflict across the globe before the others arrive.

Design Notes: This sneaky bastard is a diplomancer of a high order and when combat breaks out is capable of fraying any assault, forcing allies to turn against one another via Stoke Rage and Violent Command while meting out plenty of punishment besides (with more betrayals thanks to Provoking Arrows). It doesn’t get creepy until we do the numbers because in a rare coincidence—or perhaps a sign of fate—the DMG and Blog of Holding both landed smack dab on 23.33. It must be kismet! Unless I’m wrong. Either way I encourage everyone to fight me about it. ;)


Strife
Medium monstrosity, neutral evil
Armor Class 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 285 (30d8+150)
Speed 45 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
26 (+8)​
20 (+5)​
20 (+5)​
19 (+4)​
17 (+3)​
26 (+8)​
Skills Athletics +15, Deception +22, History +18, Insight +17, Intimidation +22, Perception +17, Persuasion +22
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, slashing
Damage Immunities poison, psychic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, disease, exhaustion, frightened, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 27
Languages all
Challenge 23 (50,000 XP)

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

Innate Spellcasting. Strife's innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 23). Strife can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will: charm person, fly, phantom steed, suggestion
3/day each: detect thoughts, dominate person, plane shift, mass suggestion

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

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

Magic Weapons. Strife’s weapon attacks are magical.

Regeneration. Strife regains 40 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point.

Shapechanger. Strife can use a bonus action to polymorph into a Small, Medium, or Large 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.

Stoke Rage. Strife can use a bonus action to enrage a creature within 120 feet. The creature makes a DC 23 Charisma saving throw, rolling with disadvantage if it has half its hit points or less. On a failure, a creature goes berserk. On each of its turns, a berserk creature attacks the nearest creature it can see. If no creature is near enough to move to and attack, the berserk creature takes the Dash and moves in the most direct route towards a creature it can attack. At the start of each of its turns, a berserk creature can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a successful save. A creature that successfully resists Stoke Rage becomes immune to its effects for 1 round.


ACTIONS
Multiattack. Strife uses its Frightful Presence and attacks four times.

Sword. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (2d8+8) slashing damage plus 9 (2d8) psychic damage.

Provoking Arrows. Ranged Weapon Attack: +12 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8+5) piercing damage plus 9 (2d8) psychic damage. If the target is a creature, it makes a DC 23 Charisma saving throw or uses its reaction to make a single weapon attack against a creature or object Strife chooses within the creature’s reach or within range of the creature’s weapon.

Frightful Presence. Each creature of Strife’s choice that is within 120 feet of it and aware of it must succeed on a DC 23 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 Strife’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours.


LEGENDARY ACTIONS
Strife 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. Strife regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Attack. Strife makes a weapon attack.

Violent Command. Strife chooses one creature within 60 feet. If the creature has its reaction, it makes a DC 23 Charisma saving throw or uses its reaction to make a single weapon attack against a creature or object Strife chooses within the creature’s reach or within range of the creature’s weapon.

Enrage (Costs 1 to 3 Actions). Strife uses Stoke Rage on one or more creatures within range. Every creature targeted costs 1 legendary action.
 

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Mike Myler

Mike Myler



Quartz

Adventurer
How about adding Eyebite - panic only? A panicked leader could result in a rout or a panicked negotiator could ruin a treaty.

I think Stoke Rage should be restricted to characters in combat, and once a target has made its saving throw be immune for far longer than one round. And even then a berserker should preferentially attack her enemies. Perhaps in a diplomatic setting it might impose Disadvantage on certain checks?

And are Stoke Rage and Provoking Arrows resisted by Mind Blank or similar?
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
How about adding Eyebite - panic only? A panicked leader could result in a rout or a panicked negotiator could ruin a treaty.

I think Stoke Rage should be restricted to characters in combat, and once a target has made its saving throw be immune for far longer than one round. And even then a berserker should preferentially attack her enemies. Perhaps in a diplomatic setting it might impose Disadvantage on certain checks?

And are Stoke Rage and Provoking Arrows resisted by Mind Blank or similar?
Panicked sounds better than what it really does (which is a bit redundant with Frightful Presence around).

Strife is a harbinger of the end times! If it makes it into a diplomatic meeting and starts really throwing down with its traits and features (instead of just suggestions), that meeting should go something like this.

Stoke Rage and Provoking Arrows do not inflict the charmed condition so they can still target things under the effects of mind blank (and constructs, and undead, etc.)
 


dave2008

Legend
In general I like it and thank you for sharing. However, per usual, I have a few suggestions:
  1. Why no saving throws? I would at least give it 2 as that doesn't affect the CR.
  2. I would suggest replacing Frightening Presence with another strife based effect either replacing Stoke Rage or complementing it.
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
In general I like it and thank you for sharing. However, per usual, I have a few suggestions:
  1. Why no saving throws? I would at least give it 2 as that doesn't affect the CR.
  2. I would suggest replacing Frightening Presence with another strife based effect either replacing Stoke Rage or complementing it.
Woot! ♥
1) Its lowest bonus is +3, it's immune to the conditions imposed by that lowest save, and it has advantage on them all (spell-wise anyway, so effectively a +5 bonus) as well as Legendary Resistance. Hand out some proficiencies in saving throws if you like but I felt here it'd be overkill.
2) Aye I was waffling on FP but they all get it—at the end of the day they are, after everything else in their stats, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Probably should be inspiring fear in people (or at least capable of doing so).
 

Rafael Martin

Explorer
I love this Strife! Yes! Thank you! I just have one question: will you be providing stats for the horse he is riding? I can assume they are riding Nightmares, or another demonic horse, but it would help if you could clear that up. Thank you!😃
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
I love this Strife! Yes! Thank you! I just have one question: will you be providing stats for the horse he is riding? I can assume they are riding Nightmares, or another demonic horse, but it would help if you could clear that up. Thank you!😃
That'd be phantom steed although I thiiiink |checks| yes one of the Four Horsemen does indeed get a nightmare mount.
 



MacD

Just a tourist passing your way...
Hi there,
those three riders read really great; Strife is my favourite so far, I love to play enemies that focus on manipulation and combat manipulation instead of brute force encounters;
stoke rage / legendary enrage could be used to get the players / npc group fighting each other without Strife joining the fight which could be a very funny thing to introduce him :devilish:

Are there any plans to do the four riders' stats for WOIN? Would be a great addition :)
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
Hi there,
those three riders read really great; Strife is my favourite so far, I love to play enemies that focus on manipulation and combat manipulation instead of brute force encounters;
stoke rage / legendary enrage could be used to get the players / npc group fighting each other without Strife joining the fight which could be a very funny thing to introduce him :devilish:

Are there any plans to do the four riders' stats for WOIN? Would be a great addition :)
I think I'm with you on Strife as the favorite. Don't know if they'll appear for WOIN but I also agree that it'd be a great idea!
 

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