D&D 5E Epic Monsters: Māui

It’s about time Epic Monsters had some fun in the surf and sun. Who better to make that happen than the island fishing, fire stealing, sun slowing Māui!

Maui DnD 5e BANNER.jpg

In a way Māui is the St. George of the Pacific Ocean—this guy is everywhere. The Māori in what’s today called New Zealand have legends about him, there are Māui stories out in the Hawaiian Islands, and more still across the whole of Polynesia (including Mangareva, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga). This tattooed fellow isn’t a dragonslayer though, instead playing the role of a clever trickster wherever he appears.

Māui has a ton of exploits and there’s a fair bit of variation between them, so in lieu of the usual paragraph(s) I’ve collected and summarized each here.
  • Young man, wise man, begat by the gods, born from his mother’s navel as the 8th son—the origins of Māui run the gamut.
  • Using a fishhook crafted from his grandmother’s jawbone (or the constellations, depending on locale) he catches a colossal fish that becomes an island (the North Island of New Zealand, or the Tongan Islands, or the ocean floor instead of a fish to produce the Haiwaiian Islands). There are other island creation myths involving Māui’s boat and brothers, too.
  • Māui steals fire! Either by angering and tricking Mahuika (the goddess of fire) then escaping by changing into a hawk, or by angering and then defeating Mafui‘e (the earthquake god). Alternatively, Māui’s son Māui-Kisikisi acquires the gift of fire and shares it with everyone else. Notably in either case the passing on of this knowledge, that the gods hid fire in the trees, is very practical (rubbing dry sticks together).
  • When his brother-in-law Irawaru pisses him off during a fishing trip, Māui stretches Iwaru out and makes the first dog. In an unhappy ending to that, his sister Hina throws herself into the ocean out of grief when she finds out what happened to her husband.
  • Using that trusty magic fishhook Māui finds the lair of the god of the sun (Tama-nui-te-rā), throws a noose around him, and beats him until he agrees to make his daily trips across the sky longer. Alternatively, Māui just grabs the sun’s rays (with his hands or a rope made from his sister’s hair) and holds it until it slows down.
  • Māui was apparently bad at catching fish the regular way (refusing to use his magic fishhook for the task).
  • By enlisting the help of his father Ru, Māui lifts up the sky and saves all mankind (I think the implication here being that the day becomes longer).
  • Māui was also a selfish jerk who wanted to switch faces with his beautiful wife Rohe—so he casts a spell on her as she sleeps, then when she finds out about it she travels to the underworld and becomes the Goddess of Death.
  • After the great long eel Tuna strikes and slimes Māui’s wife Hina, he traps it and clubs it to death with a stone axe. The spot where he buries the body creates a palm tree and the first coconuts!
  • Māui was purportedly responsible for earthquakes either because he’s holding up the world and nods off from time to time, or because he let Mafui’e the earthquake god keep its left arm (so it can keep on pounding away to make Samoa flat).
  • In the stories of Mangareva his grandfather raises Māui and gives him two items: the hatchet Iraiapatapata and the magic staff Atua-tane (“God-Tane”).
  • Like any good trickster god Māui makes the play for immortality but falls short, transforming into a worm to climb into the birth canal of the Goddess of Night (Hine-nui-te-pō) with a plan to emerge out of her mouth. He never makes it—the obsidian teeth in her vagina cut Māui in half. Yes, you read it right, and yes this appears in more than one place. It’s likely that these are actually crags in a bay somewhere, but there it is.

Design Notes: Boy howdy we’re in for a ride with this guy. Māui is a shapeshifting trickster god and that’s easy enough to do, but the rest of his myth—the immense strength to affect the sun, dragging islands up out of the bed of the ocean—mean he’s got to be incredibly strong as well, both in his ability score and traits. To represent his role with fire Māui’s staff Atua-tane is getting treated as a staff of fire, but it’s important to point out that’s because details on exactly what that and Iraiapatapata are capable of weren’t forthcoming in the research. Finally there’s the magical fishhook which is cautiously being called Manaiakalani (because there isn’t 100% confidence that’s correct, although the internet sure seems to think so) and treated as a very directional, focused wish spell. I’m tempted to toss in some Legendary Actions to maybe summon giant waves or throw opponents around, but Māui’s exploits don’t really trend that way so to compensate a little bit for the action economy at high level play he’s getting Divine Action. Let’s do the numbers! The DMG puts Māui at 25.16 and the Blog of Holding flat on 24 even, but with the power locked away in that semi-wish trait and an extra (almost full) turn every couple rounds, it’s an easy argument to round him up to Challenge Rating 25.

Medium humanoid (human), chaotic neutral
Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
Hit Points 345 (30d8+210)
Speed 60 ft., climb 45 ft., swim 50 ft.
33 (+11)​
21 (+5)​
24 (+7)​
19 (+4)​
18 (+4)​
24 (+7)​
Saving Throws Dex +13, Int +12, Wis +12
Skills Animal Handling +12, Athletics +27, Deception +23, Insight +12, Nature +12, Perception +12, Persuasion +15, Sleight of Hand +13, Stealth +13, Survival +12; navigator's tools +12, vehicle (water) +13
Damage Resistance fire
Condition Immunities exhaustion, frightened
Senses passive Perception 22
Languages Hawaiian, Mangareva, Māori, Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan
Challenge 25 (75,000 XP)

Change Shape. Māui magically polymorphs into a beast that has a challenge rating equal to or less than his own, or back into his true form. Māui reverts to his true form if he dies. Any equipment he is wearing or carrying is absorbed or borne by the new form (Māui’s choice).
In a new form, Māui retains his alignment, hit points, Hit Dice, ability to speak, proficiencies, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores, as well as this action. His statistics and capabilities are otherwise replaced by those of the new form, except any legendary actions of that form.

Divine Action (Recharge 5–6). At the end of the round, Māui can move his Speed and take an additional action.

Divine Might. Māui has advantage on Strength saving throws and ability checks. In addition, Māui counts as Gargantuan size when calculating his carrying capacity (3,960 pounds), and he can use his action and bonus action to drag, lift, or pull far any weight (up to a total at the GM’s discretion).

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

Manaiakalani (1/Day). Māui carries a magic fishhook able to catch anything, even objects that can alter the very foundations of reality. He can use an action to cast Manaiakalani into the seawater and state the name of any creature or object that he cannot see within the range of his sight. At the start of the next round, the stated creature or object appears grappled on the end of Māui’s fishhook. A creature attempting to escape from Manaiakalani must succeed on an opposed Strength (Athletics) check against Māui.

Multiattack. Māui attacks five times when he takes the Attack action.

Atua-tane (Staff of Healing; 10 charges). Melee Weapon Attack: +19 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (1d8+11) magical bludgeoning damage.
While holding it, Māui can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast one of the following spells from it (spell save DC 23): cure wounds (1 charge per spell level, up to 4th), lesser restoration (2 charges), or mass cure wounds (5 charges). The staff regains 1d6+4 expended charges daily at dawn. If Māui expends the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the staff vanishes in a flash of light, lost forever.

Iraiapatapata. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +19 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 40/120 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (2d6+11) magical bludgeoning damage, and the target makes a DC 27 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone. Immediately after hitting or missing the target after it is thrown, Iraiapatapata reappears in Māui’s hand. In addition, while wielding this Māui can use a bonus action to cast gust of wind (save DC 23).
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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

Paragon Lost

Terminally Lost
DnD's very much a secondary if not tertiary sort of interest game mechanics wise. (I'm more of a GURPS/Runequest skill based mechanics sort)That said, you all really do some awesome work with the 5e stuff that I read here. Anyhow, well done on Maui, he looked to be rather difficult to nail down. Trickster deity for sure.

Rafael Martin

Yes great job, but I wish you would focus more on Old West characters. In fact, you should do a writeup for a western gunman and gambler who really did exist. His name is Doc Holliday, and he was played to perfection by Val Kilmer in Tombstone.


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