D&D 5E Let’s Read Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse.

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
As you all have likely heard by now, there is a new D&D book available as part of the D&D Rules Expansion Gift Set. A set of 3 books intended to be used as supplementary materials to the core trio of 5th edition rulebooks (the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master's Guide, for those people who got to this page via a search engine or other means without context).

Two of the books in the gift set (Xanathar's Guide to Everything and Tasha's Cauldron of Everything) are reprints of the same books with updated errata and rules changes. The third book, Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, despite having a similar name to a previous book (Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes) is not a direct reprint. While there are a multitude of recycled monsters and player races from 5 different books (in fact, nearly everything was originally found in some other book), WotC changed them in many ways. These changes, plus the fact you can’t buy the book outside of the gift set until May, have made it one of the more controversial books in the 5th Edition.

Personally, I bought the Alternate Cover Gift Set, mostly because it happened to be in stock at my FLGS, and I already have a collection of alt-cover books for 5e. The alt-covers for this set and the box they come in are gorgeous, if you are into that kind of thing. Unfortunately, my copy came with a printing error, making the stat block for Moloch hard to read. This may or may not be unique to my copy, as I wasn’t able to find any similar complaints after doing a quick internet search.

The main draw of this book is that it is a “sneak peek” into what to expect from the upcoming Revised Edition (or whatever name will be given to the rules update that is coming 2024ish). The monsters have overhauled stat blocks with different mechanics, and changed lore to better reflect their position in the D&D multiversal setting (as opposed to the worlds from which they originated from). Likewise, the player races have received new mechanics and lore, but I won’t be delving deep into those changes, as there are hundreds of pages worth of discussion covering the races on this forum alone. Instead this thread will be focused on the majority of the book, the monsters.

That out of the way, I will say I am a bit annoyed at a rule known as the “PHB+1” Rule. Popularized in the Adventurers League (The official format for organized D&D play, which you are likely to find a group for if you go to your local game store, given they are operating in these times of course), this rules philosophy stipulates that the mechanics for a character must be contained in no more than two books (with exceptions abound, to aggravate the situation further). This rule annoys me because of the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion. An official D&D PDF and supplement to the adventure Princes of the Apocalypse, that you can get for free, which contains previous iterations of a few of the races in this book, and a slew of spells not found in the PHB to complement them. While the races made it into Monsters of the Multiverse, their spells did not. Instead, those spells made it into the other books in this gift set! So, despite being able to buy the gift set and get the total package of spells + races and/or monsters to use said spells, and despite said spells being available for free in an official PDF for you to download come May for the people who only want to buy Monsters of the Multiverse when it becomes available outside of the gift set: The monsters and races in this book do not use the Elemental Evil Spells, even when they were originally designed to do so.

For the WotC staff that may eventually stumble upon this thread, I am blowing this a bit out of proportion (as demonstrated by the length of the previous paragraph), but seriously though I want to be able to use the Elemental Evil cantrips more often, they are flavorful and fun!

With over 250 monsters inside of the book, I will be talking about the monsters in the alphabetical groupings presented, and posting an index to jump directly to the monsters you want to read about as they get posted. Feel free to chime in between posts with your own musings, interpretations, and encounter ideas.

Book Abbreviations:
DMG: Dungeon Masters Guide
MM: Monster Manual
VGtM: Volo’s Guide to Monsters
MToF: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
PotA: Princes of the Apocalypse
ERftLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War
MOot: Mythic Odysseys of Theros.
BG: DiA: Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus
OotA: Out of the Abyss
 
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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Links to Monsters!


Link to my conclusions.

Other handy links.

For the sake of discussion, and to prevent myself from having to re-link them multiple times over as responses, here is a series of videos where Jeremy Crawford discusses the changes in this book.

Why they changed they lore:

Why they changed the PC races (even though I’m not talking about it here):

Why they changed the spellcasters:

Why they changed the stats, and why CR is a weird mechanic:

@Alby87 posted a link to the Wild Beyond the Witchlight Designers Pack, which goes into more detail on the changes to monster stat blocks.

@Marandahir posted a list of all of the creature type changes in the book.

Matt Chapman wrote an article for Dragon+, which gives an overview of some of the changes.

@Saracenus posted a news article about D&D Beyond discontinuing digital sales of Volo's Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, in favor of supporting Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse.

@jasper posted a link explaining how the Adventurers League will be updating their characters and monsters to the new formats.
 
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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.

Abishai. (Originally from MToF)​


With an appearance that could be described as “Dragonborn with more Dragon”, the Abishai are Tiamat’s personal devil legion. While they maintain loyalty to Tiamat, their nature as devils allows Asmodeus and the Archdevils to employ some factor of control over them, though such control is rarely exercised due to the inherent conflict of interests and inevitable backlash that will be brought about by it. After all, even if devils are backstabbers, they like to keep things orderly.

In typical D&D fashion, these devils are actually the transformed souls of people who earned favor from Tiamat in life. Evil patrons granting their followers transformations into more powerful forms is a recurring theme in D&D, allowing a quick path to power and a tangible reason to be evil in a world where an afterlife demonstratively exists. The fun part of this particular type of transformation (for DM’s of course, not the NPCs or players) is the fact it provides an easy way to recycle villains once they have been disposed of by the players. Even if the players do something particularly paranoid like destroy the body to prevent resurrection spells from working, the soul would still exist. Allowing for a cultist to come back in a bigger, meaner, and more dangerous form.

It is worth noting that the alignment in these statblocks now says “Typically Lawful Evil” instead of just “Lawful Evil”, officially allowing for and endorsing exceptions to their behavior should your story demand it. Redeeming the fallen is a common enough story beat in it’s own right, and it is possible that a soul somehow got misplaced in the Nine Hells, ending up in whatever ceremony was used for the transformation by mistake. The statblocks also remove the Magical Weapon ability, in favor of having their attacks deal different kinds of damage. It saves a bit of room, but it is unfortunate for any non-bear totem barbarians.

Abishai come in 5 different colors, one for each of the main chromatic dragons.

Black Abishai.

The assassins of the Abishai. They come with a special power to cast Darkness on a recharge of 6, and move it around with a bonus action. Bundled up with a bonus action hide, and the iconic Devil’s Sight to allow them to see through magical darkness, I’m sure you can see the obvious way to employ them even if their enemies can’t. One thing that can be possibly overlooked: All devils, including the other Abishai, have Devil’s Sight, allowing them to be team players despite the typical “lone wolf assassin” stereotype. Clocking in at CR 7 with a slew of devilish defenses and an all-but-guaranteed disadvantage on incoming attacks, it can be quite the hassle to take them out before they strike down their target. And even with all that bulk, they might not care about dying! Abishai who aren’t in the Nine Hells when they die simply dissolve and reappear at full strength back in the relative safety of Avernus.

Not too much was changed from their previous incarnation. Their Scimitar attack does force damage now, a byproduct of the Magical Weapons ability being removed.

Blue Abishai.

The wizards of the Abishai. This is our first look at the updated and streamlined spellcaster statblock. First change is the Wizard Tag. Monsters can now have explicit classes for anything that requires a class, such as magic items. Which means if a Blue Abishai isn’t killing you, you might be able to convince them into letting you copy one of their spells, in the classical deal with a devil fashion.

At CR 17, the Blue Abishai is an end-game skirmisher unit in combat, firing three Lighting Strikes per round from up to 120’ away. The Blue can also teleport 30’ with a bonus action at will, in conjunction with their innate 50’ of fly speed, they are incredibly hard to pin down. As if being able to hard-counter nearly every melee PC with just that combo alone wasn’t enough, by virtue of being a wizard, they have access to spells. Most notability Dispel Magic and Wall of Force, which should handily counter most flying PCs that dare to dogfight with them. Greater Invisibility also has a niche due to the fact that True Seeing only has a 120’ range, allowing the Blue to attack from maximum range and then fly back out to an area where it can’t suffer retaliation. Not all wizards are the main antagonist, some are just there for backup in an army, and the Blue Abishai fills the role of a battlemage snugly with just enough tricks and flavor to keep them from feeling too generic.

Outside of combat, their spells can help with subterfuge. Charm Person and Disguise Self could be used to set up some deals or get into spaces where they might not otherwise be welcome.

The changes to this statblock are a minor HP bump and a slew of changes regarding the spells. Their list was cut down to just 7 spells from a list of 24. In return, they received bonus action teleportation (which was a large chunk of their spells) and the ability to shoot lightning strikes at-will (the other large chunk of their list was just damage spells). Lost in the transition were the spells Mirror Image providing a non-insignificant amount of defense, Darkness for that sweet Devil’s Sight synergy, and their backup plan of Cold Damage for when something is resistant to Lightning Damage.

Speaking of their damage, their lightning strikes do 8d8 damage to three targets as an attack roll. This works out to be slightly higher damage spamming Cone of Cold every single turn of combat (according to WotC CR rules, where you calculate an AoE to hit three targets). While that is lower burst damage than using Chain Lightning, it works out to significantly more damage per combat thanks to their teleportation ability no longer being tied to a spell. Ultimately, outside of losing the cold damage coverage, the Blue Abishai should be a much bigger threat in combat with these changes.

Green Abishai.

The Abishai diplomatic core. Designed to be one you have the party talk to due to their spread of social skills. While they do sport a hefty CR 15, the most devastating thing they can do in combat is cast Mass Suggestion to send half your party packing home for 24 hours. Which is a pseudo-TPK situation in it’s own right. If you don’t feel like totally cheesing the fight (or perhaps you tried to do so, but the party made their saves) it’s main combat strategy is to get someone else to fight for them, which can be achieved with their Dominate Person and Confusion spells. That isn’t to say they have no combat ability on their own. When pressed into melee their claw attacks do significant damage and poison the target.

On the non-combat side of things, they do have detect thoughts, which can be a thorn in a PC’s attempts to make a deal with the devil.

The changes to this statblock are a few more hps, the removal of the longsword attack, and bumping up the claw attack.

Red Abishai.

The warlords of the Abishai. In combat, these things have a high CR 19, backed up with some hard hitting attacks. Their main two abilities are the power to make their allies strike with advantage, or inflict fear on their enemies. They also have a gimmick where they can try to mind control a dragon, but the dragon gets a saving throw, so good luck getting that to stick in the first place. Red abishai make for good enough leaders in mixed encounters, where you couldn’t otherwise employ the Devil’s Sight and Darkness gimmick. But you can’t help but feel a tad bit underwhelmed by them.

The Red Abishai doesn’t have much going for it outside of combat. Other than trying to take over the mind of a dragon, and a hefty intimidate score, they don’t actually have anything to back up their claims of being the best leaders out of the Abishai. The Green Abishai have way better leadership skills and powers.

The changes to the stat block include the standard smattering of more hp, and dropping the weapon attack in favor of making the claw attack more beefy.

White Abishai.

The barbarians of the Abishai. At CR 6 you would think them to be the least interesting of the Abishai, but their synergistic abilities of using Recklessness to grant advantage on all attacks they make or take, and a reaction power to move (which includes flying) or attack whenever they get hurt, prove to be quite intimidating when the devil can actually employ it’s resistances and immunities in a low tier game. Given that the White can make upwards of 4 attacks per round with advantage, it’s highly possible that it will land a crit against the players, which is quite a psychological blow, if not a fatal one. But the fun doesn’t stop there, in mid tier games they can be used as backup for the higher CR Abishai, especially the Black kind, where they can use both abuse the Devil’s Sight and Darkness combination.

Out of combat they are just big dumb muscle. You need a rock pushed or a door bashed down, no problem. Talking just isn’t their style, even with telepathy. That’s fine though, unlike the Red Abishai, which are supposed to be great leaders, White Abishai can just be violent brutes in the early game or fodder in the late game. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it

The White Abishai was given an additional attack for it’s Multiattack for it’s change. Allowing it more opportunity to land a crit at least.

Thoughts. Out of all the Abishai, the Red ones are the only ones I find disappointing. Their mechanics do not stack well with other Abishai, they have limited out of combat application despite their lore, and their only interesting gimmick isn’t likely to do anything in actual play.
 
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Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
That out of the way, I will say I am a bit annoyed at a rule known as the “PHB+1” Rule. Popularized in the Adventurers League (The official format for organized D&D play, which you are likely to find a group for if you go to your local game store, given they are operating in these times of course), this rules philosophy stipulates that the mechanics for a character must be contained in no more than two books (with exceptions abound, to aggravate the situation further).
Maybe you missed this: Saying Goodbye to the PH+1 Rule | Wizards of the Coast
 


You would have thought they could have come up with a better way than forcing fans to buy 2 redundant paper books just to get that one book early.
No one is forcing anyone to do anything. It's not like waiting 5 months to buy it is interminable - in fact I thought they might wait even longer. Even more so when 90% of it is re-printed material anyway...
 



No one is forcing anyone to do anything. It's not like waiting 5 months to buy it is interminable - in fact I thought they might wait even longer. Even more so when 90% of it is re-printed material anyway...
I am glad, and a bit surprised it is only 5 months (cause I wouldn't rebuy 2 books) but I also think that it should have only been 1 or 2 months at most.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I did forget about that announcement. But given that it was under a year ago, I don't know if the writing team on this book had the time necessary to fully realize it. More importantly, the Water Genasi in this book still can't cast Shape Water. So my petty rant about how the Elemental Evil spells were excluded from this book (despite the resources for those spells being freely available) will stand :p

Anyway, back to what the people are really here for:

Alhoon. (VgtM)​


The second wizard in this book is also an undead and a mindflayer! As such, it will serve as the prime example of the changes we can expect, because it had access to every kind of casting possible (magical attacks, innate Psionic casting, and casting as if it was a 12th level Wizard) This kind of necromancer started life as one of our favorite brain-eating tadpoles, only to find a book of Arcane lore from some wizard, and have their mind blown looking at the runes. Becoming a sort of a twisted reflection on the traditional cosmic horror trope where a person finds some evidence of eldritch intelligence and goes crazy, this eldritch being finds some evidence of humanoid intelligence and finds themselves on the run from their own kind. Ultimately choosing to become a sort of lich due to the fact that their traditional “afterlife” (fusing with the elder brain) is forever denied to them. This would make them a truly lonely individual, but Alhoon are known to gather in groups in order to share and feed their collective periapt of mind trapping.

At CR 10 you can easily use them as the main antagonist for a heroic game, or they could also be used as an unlikely ally. Alhoon find themselves naturally on the run from their still-living brethren, and could give in-depth information on their former homes if so inclined (or threatened into by someone holding on to their periapt).

In combat, the goal of the Alhoon should be survival and securing a snack, in that order. Unlike a True Lich, Alhoon do not possess the ability to create a new body if theirs is destroyed. Fighting to the destruction would only be used in times where their periapt itself is threatened. Keep in mind, they can cast Plane Shift (self only), and will do so if it looks like they are going to lose the fight. They should also avoid killing off targets when possible, especially older ones, in favor of keeping them knocked out or otherwise incapacitated so that they can sacrifice them later.

You can expect an Alhoon to use it’s hover speed to evade any melee aggressors. Fortunately it’s flight is incredibly slow at a measly 15’, meaning it isn’t going to employ any strafing tactics. Unfortunately, the Alhoon is at it’s deadliest when you are within 60’ of it, being able to employ both it’s disabling Mind Blast and it’s Negate Spell power against anyone within reach. Wall of Force can be used either for the classic “Divide and Conquer,” or as an emergency panic room should the Alhoon find themselves on the back-foot. A particularly nasty DM would note that the Chilling Grasp attack can heal the Alhoon, allowing them to dig into a tasty bag of rats in the same way that a group of PCs can chug healing potions. Globe of Invulnerability is an interesting option. Being locked into one position is rarely a good idea, but most combats are over in 3 to 5 rounds, and the Alhoon can just Plane Shift away if things get too spicy. The real trick is trapping the PCs in the same room as the globe without having to use another concentration spell (which shouldn’t be too hard for a DM to figure out, the name of the game is Dungeons & Dragons after all). Dominate Monster is more of a plot power than combat power. Not only is it harder to get one off in combat unless they are ambushing the party, but by the time the Alhoon exhausts the better options in it’s stat block, the combat should be mostly over anyway.

As for Modify Memory, it’s only use is as a plot power. Basically it’s a way for the Alhoon to trick the local township to keep sending snacks people down into the dungeon.

The changes to the Alhoon are extensive, in addition to what seems to be a common theme of more HP, Chilling Grasp now heals the Alhoon. And once again, the spell streamlining is the main event. The Alhoon no longer has explicit Psionic powers. Instead all of it’s spells are folded into the same spellcasting ability regardless of how they may have acquired them. With this merger all of it’s spells no longer require material components, but even the formerly psionic spells require somatic and verbal components now.

Their damaging spells have been compressed into the Arcane Bolt power, with the loss of utility on Disintegrate as perhaps the biggest nerf to the Alhoon. After all, being able to make a hole anywhere is a heck of a tactical advantage. Furthermore, I feel that as a necromancer and mindflayer, Arcane Bolt isn’t a good fit. Instead they should have a “Necrotic Bolt”, that deals necrotic damage while also applying some status condition. The Alhoon already has access to psychic damage via mind blast, the one-two combination would be very hard to resist and be more flavorful, given that the Alhoon only has Chilling Grasp (which unlike Chill Touch, is a melee attack that deals cold damage) for something resembling a necromancy spell.

The most interesting change is the new Negate Spell power. Negate Spell automatically disrupts the casting of any 3rd level spell or lower. Preventing the spell from being cast that turn, while refunding the slot of said spell (but not the action used to cast). Because it’s a power, it can’t be “Counter-Counterspelled”. But it’s also more limited than Counterspell due to it’s restrictions. I know there is a lot of clamor against Counterspell, but personally I am in favor of the concept because it enables multiple levels of counterplay. At the most basic level, your PCs can pick one spell to potentially negate, which in my experience is dramatic and fun. At the more advanced levels, you have PCs figuring out ways to protect their own spells. Using range, line of sight, subtle spell metamagic, baiting with other spells, leveled spell selections, counter-counterspelling, even playing mind-games with NPCs to force them into using bonus action spells so as to limit their reactions. Negate Spell keeps some of these, and tosses out the rest. Right now, the only reason an Alhoon isn’t using Negate Spell is because they are out of range or can’t see the target, otherwise it’s just always a good idea to deny an enemy caster their action. I can’t imagine Negate Spell to be less annoying for players than Counterspell. Even with the spell slot refund, the primary currency in combat is the action economy, and a lost action is always going to be a big deal because of that. On the other side of the coin, Negate Spell should prove easier for DMs to use, but putting a level limit on this ability causes the threat of the Alhoon to somewhat deflate in higher tiers, which runs counter to the principles of bounded accuracy.



Before I get your hopes up, not all the entries are going to be as wordy as these last two, sometimes there just isn't that much to say about a monster.
 
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Greggy C

Adventurer
I blows my mind, that while my monsters of the multiverse hardback arrived, you can't get the electronic version on dndbeyond, but you can get a pirated version. I just don't comprehend how Wotc lose their IP so quickly, even before its release date...
 



Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.

Alkilith (MtoF)


Alkiliths are demons spawned directly from the body of a Demon Lord, and so dangerous that even cultists try to avoid summoning them. With a lead like that you would be forgiven if you thought they were some kind of super badass demon, but actually they are just a sedentary fungus looking ooze-fiend that can create a portal directly to a random layer of the Abyss by sitting down in one spot for 6d6 days.

Yeah, their modus operandi is find some door or window that is out of the way, stretch out their body to surround it, and then sit around for about a month. Granted, a month is like no time at all for an ageless fiend, but these demons don’t even talk, giving them little in the way of out-of-combat encounter design. Fortunately enough, there are a few hooks for a DM to use this shroomfiend. Firstly, they are a beefy CR 11, which means instead of finding an empty house to make a portal, they can just walk into someone’s home, slaughter everyone living there, then set up a camp. To help with their squatting, the Alkilith can cause any creature within 30’ of it to go mad. A recently de-peopled house that causes anyone visiting it to go crazy would be both a place for the populace at large to avoid and a place for adventurers to explore.

For combat, it largely depends on if the Alkilith is trying to find a place to set up a portal or defending a portal. On defense, the fun-guy wants to go unnoticed for as long as possible. Moving disrupts making their portal. And it is possible for them to defend an area by simply causing the people investigating it to become confused enough to run away or kill each other while hiding in plain sight thanks to their False appearance ability. Also, due to their somewhat limited reach and propensity to stay in one spot, this could be a prime pick for a “Puzzle Monster” in a lower tier game. CR 11 is far too brutal to face head on in t1, but you don’t really have to fight it directly to stop their rift from forming, just convince it to move, somehow.

When acting as a realtor, the oozespawn can use their Amorphous ability and stealth score to ambush people while they are away from the group, like say when they are locked away in the bathroom. Or any other number of horror movie tropes really. Finding a way for the Alkilith to invade the home base of the PCs is always great fun, because they are dumb enough to do such a thing and smart enough to just maybe find exactly the crack that the PCs overlook most of the time! At the very least, it will convince your PCs to clean their rooms once in a while.

Either way your group faces them down, they will be attacking from on high, using their spider climb power and 15’ reach to keep their main body safe from melee reprisal, and also close enough for their Foment Confusion power to mess with everyone's heads. Alternatively, they could use their ability to slip through cracks to totally bypass the front line, and go directly for the squishy casters in the back. Like most fiends, they don't really die if they get killed. But getting out of the Abyss when you aren't in line to be summoned is kind of a pain, so have them try to escape if it's possible.

The changes to the Alkilith are simple, befitting the simple creature that they are in 5e. They gain a smattering of HP and finally have the Spider Climb ability to let them crawl up and around the walls they are supposed to be hanging out on. Finally, their Foment Madness power was renamed into Foment Confusion.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.

Allip (MToF)​


Allips are Spooky Ghosts that were created because of a powerful curse that protects the deepest secrets of the universe, like Demon Lord True Names, or the truths behind the cosmic order (such as some guy named Bob and his friends sit around a table eating chips and rolling dice to determine the fates of everyone. )

The given plot hook for these accursed information brokers is that they are haunting some scholar, and causing said scholar to write down their secret as encoded in several reams worth of documents. This cipher will break the curse for the Allip (allowing them to pass on), but potentially cause problems for the scholar who has their life hijacked in the meantime. Another obvious problem is the dangerous knowledge just sitting in some private library, waiting for any poor soul to find and repeat the tragedy all over again.

As a twist to this story, you could have the Allip know something that the PC’s need, which causes them to hunt down the creature to extract the information from it, preferably without transferring the curse.

When forced into combat, the ghastly gossip will lead the attack by dropping a truth bomb with their Howling Babble power, doing a smattering of AoE damage and fishing for some stuns. In subsequent rounds, it will continue to spill the beans as best it can by using Whispers of Compulsion to spread more damage and potentially trigger some friendly fire on the PCs. Though they have a melee attack, they will likely never use it unless someone is running away from them, instead opting to use Whispers until they can recharge the Babble. The Allip has 40’ of hover speed, and the ability to walk through creatures and objects, meaning it should never be cornered or in an unfavorable position. This isn’t to say that the unlucky loremasters can’t stand up to a beat down, at CR 5 they have resistance or immunity to 10 damage types, with only force, psychic, radiant, or magical weapon damage hurting in full. Likewise they are immune to 9 different conditions, putting quite the cramp on slowing them down without damage. But that does raise an interesting question: What happens when you re-dead the Allip? Do they get to pass on? Are they annihilated from existence? Do they re-apparate sometime later and try it all again? Personally, I am in favor of the curse keeping them locked into existence, if only because the curse is supposed to be extremely powerful.

The Allip had a few changes for the changeover. Firstly, the addition of Unusual Nature allows it to forgo bodily functions like an undead should. Secondly, it’s Whispers of Madness power had it’s damage raised and it’s name changed into Whispers of Compulsion.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.

Amnizu (MtoF)


Amnizu are Devil combat bureaucrats charged with leading the gatekeeping armies that guard the entrances of the Nine Hells. Mostly from Demons, but also from Angels, perhaps an army of mortals, maybe even the Modrons should their March decide to take a turn down here. What they aren’t necessarily sent to guard against, are the PCs. Which gives you sufficient wiggle room when they meet. In addition to all of the standard devil deals that the Amnizu could try to make with the players, they have a collateral duty that they would love to pass off: The press-ganging of fresh Lemures. Lemures are the lowest of devils (if you can even call them that), and constantly spawn in around the River Styx. Amnizu collect these damned souls and use them as fodder in their armies, mostly because they can’t permanently die when killed in the Nine Hells (unlike other devils). Unfortunately (for the devils) a fresh Lemure is basically a mindless lump of flesh and evil, requiring time and effort to mold into something that will be useful in combat, and maybe eventually an imp. Delegating this job to anyone else is desirable for a devil, though an Amnizu passing this job off to another devil could cause them promotion problems. Which is where the PCs come in. Instead of bargaining for their souls directly, the Amnizu could just employ them as Lemure Ranchers. Offering wealth, information, passage, and magical baubles to the PCs. Later when the Amnizu becomes “trusted” they might even negotiate with the PCs, promising them a way to skip being lemures if they sign a contract.

In combat these devilish guardians will fly out of melee range to rain hell from above with their Taskmaster whip, Blinding Rot, and Forgetfulness powers. The Amnizu would be classified as a “controller” type monster, being able to use either their Forgetfulness ability (which stuns), their Blinding Rot (which blinds) or one of their mind-control spells every turn. Despite being a controller, they have almost no AoE options, their best path to victory being shutting down a target, dealing a chunk of damage in the process, and letting their underlings do the chop-shop work of dismantling the target. Minions are a must. If you can play the summoner variant, you should. Not only do they provide additional actions, they allow the Amnizu to employ it’s defensive reaction, Instinctive Charm, more easily. Ideally, they will want to switch the attack onto an enemy, but if no enemy is around, an allied meat-shield is the next best choice. Feeblemind is an obvious anti-caster shut-down, worthy of using as an opening silo. Dominate Monster is more risky, but potentially more deadly, turning the party against each other.

Keep in mind that a Devil can die forever in the Nine Hells, so an Amnizu will do anything should it find itself overpowered on it’s home turf, even making a bargain for no soul cost.

You might notice a trend here, everything seems to be trying to get out of melee range. The reason for that is simple: higher level monsters need to counter flying PCs somehow, otherwise they end up a ground-bound pincushion. By extension, any monster that can fly, should be flying all the time. Even though it risks turning the PCs into said pincushion. PCs are far more likely to find some way to mitigate the powers of flight, thanks to class powers, mounts, magic items, or even just their adventurous shenanigans.

The Amnizu has had the most interesting changes to date. They lost a significant amount of DPR from their Multiattack and the Fireball spell. Their whip damage was nerfed, and their Disruptive Touch power was just deleted. This is kind of going from 113 average to 76 average DPR, ish. In return, they can use Forgetfulness as part of their Mutliattack, upping their control potential.
 


Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.

Annis Hag. (VGtM)


Annis Hags are the brutes of the Hag family, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they are simple. Auntie Annis can go toe-to-toe with your Barbarian, and have a spell duel with your Mage. Or she can crush your mage with a bear hug and use her spells to befuddle the barbarian. Mostly though, they like to torment people, using their Iron Token to corrupt children into doing all kinds of bad deeds. As a fey creature, Hags have a reputation for underhanded dealings that is only surpassed by Devils and Politicians. There is almost no end to the plot hooks for a hag: Rescuing a child from becoming a snack. Raiding their library to find some lost bit of lore. Making a deal with them in order to replace the eyes of one of your blinded party members. You would be harder pressed to find a scenario where a hag couldn't fit in somehow.

The stat block of this hag is deceptively simple at first glance. Either multiattack, or Crushing Hug, both doing the same average damage. The hug also grapples, allowing for a measure of control. Fog Cloud foils ranged attacks and could be used to cover an escape. Disguise Self is useful for social encounters, or it can be used to get a surprise attack off. The hidden complexity comes from being pointed to the Hag Covens sidebar in the MM. Giving them access to spells like Lightning Bolt, Polymorph, and Eyebite. Also giving them access to an entire Coven of hags as backup in a fight. A coven hag has dramatically more options, effectively giving the Annis Hag a “choose your difficulty slider” built in.

The changes in this stat block are as bog-standard as you can get, more HP. The changes (or lack thereof) outside of this stat block are what’s really interesting here. Referring to the MM Hag Coven rules is revealing. Presumably WotC will be changing up the MM Hag stat blocks with the upcoming edition revision, but also there was an entire alternate set of rules in VGtM (the original book for the Annis) that is now totally unreferenced in this entry. VGtM had ideas for Lair Actions, Custom Magic Items, Regional Effects, and even alternate spell lists for Covens to use. The loss of all this material is a massive downgrade to the Annis, even if the actual stat block received only a buff. I would highly recommend anyone seeking to feature hags in their game to use the supplementary material in VGtM if they can.

I would also like to point out: While this stat block is backwards compatible with the current MM, there is no guarantee that the Hag Coven sidebar in the new MM will be the same as it is in the current MM. Given the propensity of WotC to remove damage spells from spell lists, the safe bet is that the Coven Hag will be changed in the future. Something to keep an eye out at least.

Also of interest: there is a line about how a hag could be a “Granny” or “Grampy.” Meaning that Male Hags are now official in D&D.
 
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