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

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.

Phoenix (MToF)​


Phoenixes are big birds made out of fire, or more accurately fire elementals that are in the shape of a bird. Which in itself would be remarkable. But their most famous trait is their ability to be reborn after they die, locking them into a perpetual cycle of life.

In this edition, Phoenixes are as smart as beasts, and are simply seeking to burn everything they come across, at least until they are returned home to the Elemental Plane of Fire. While that lore is functional, it hardly lives up to the iconography of the famous bird. Instead consider what possible magical components and ingredients the players could harvest from such a creature, giving them a reason to go confront such a creature, or even better, a reason to bring one to the Material Plane despite the danger. Do you need some way to bring back the dead, or burn something down? The Phoenix can provide for ways to do both.

In combat however, the Phoenix is quite the epic tale. Possessing mobility that surpasses even the Leviathan, they can dart around the battlefield, burning everyone and everything that they touch. In fact, the Phoenix should always be moving. They possess an ability to squeeze through 1 inch cracks despite their gargantuan size, they have 120’ of flight speed and can use a legendary action to move. And to kick it all up a notch, whenever they enter the space of a creature, they deal automatic fire damage, and can ignite any object they touch for No Action. They can actually just plop down a 120’ long, 50’ wide strip of burning as they move. Granted, there are no hard rules for how much damage an inferno of this caliber deals, but there are Guidelines for it in chapter 8 of the DMG. The table recommends 4d10 for minor damage at levels 11-16ish (the Phoenix is CR 16, so we will run with that), ramping up to 10d10 for dangerous damage, and 18d10 for Deadly damage. With three damage ranges we can select the threat level we want, and even alter the damage during the combat. With the first few rounds dealing minor damage, and then the next few dealing dangerous representing the spreading fire, and finally the raging inferno engulfs even more of the area it becomes deadly damage. It’s a nice and thematic way of putting a time limit on an encounter.

But, naturally, that isn’t all. The Phoenix is a great drag and drop monster. They are gargantuan creatures with a decent STR and a huge movement speed after all. The elemental immunities and advanced movement options also lend themselves to this fighting style, because it is extremely hard to pin down this bird. To make matters worse, any creature touching the Phoenix or hitting it with a melee attack takes automatic fire damage, meaning that just attempting to escape the grapple is going to be painful to boot.

Finally the Phoenix has some miscellaneous tricks it can pull. For starters, it can attack, move, or move and attack for its legendary actions. Giving the bird quite a bit of tactical options when it comes to using both or either. And as the grand finale, whenever the Phoenix dies, it explodes. Burning everything around it. Normally, this would be an iffy tactic, but the Phoenix is also reformed as an invincible egg in this explosion, and this egg will hatch in 1d6 days. If the Phoenix can’t do the job the first time around, it can keep coming back as many times as the PCs will let it until they chuck the bird back into the fires from which it came. Exactly how much of their memories they retain is up to the DM of course, but do whatever makes the best story.

In the changeover, the Phoenix sheds their natural light an additional 30’. Unfortunately, they lost the ongoing fire damage from their Beak attack. Honestly, I would put that back on because having to spend an action to put yourself out, or spend an action to escape a grapple would make them basically perfect drag and drop monsters.
 

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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.

Quickling (VGtM)​


Quicklings are speed. Cursed to burn their candle at both ends, they have a biology that makes them move four times faster than a human, and die about five times faster too. The slow mortal life is painfully boring to them, and a bored fey is nothing if not dangerous to any mortal that happens to be moving slow in their fast lane.

In fact, there is a perfect example of how to characterize them as a quote from Marvel Comics’ Quicksliver, in X-FACTOR #87 (1993).

quicksliver.jpg

So yeah, that’s what your players are dealing with, amped up to Fey proportions of emotion and pettiness, of course. The book is quick to point out that Quicklings don’t generally commit murder, but will often ruin lives in other prankish ways. Stealing items, sabotaging gear, planting contraband, locking people outside of an outhouse in the middle of the night. There are all kinds of ways to harm without causing a single HP of damage.

That said, Quicklings are quite capable of murdering. As a CR 1 creature with three attacks, 120’ of movement speed, and a massive +23 in DEX that allows for a huge stealth score and an unparalleled initiative bonus. They are almost always going to get the drop on your PCs, rush in, and shank someone good. In fact, Daggers are ranged attacks, meaning they can perpetually dance outside of melee range. Getting just close enough to pepper with thrown attacks, then back away (preferably behind cover) to avoid reprisal. Should the Party manage to catch up with them somehow, they will find that the Quickling has surprisingly robust defenses despite their small HP pool. All attacks against them automatically suffer from disadvantage, and they even have evasion to cover saving throws. Meaning a Party is better off trying to use control spells than damage on them.

Quicklings were not significantly changed for this reprinting.
 


Sulicius

Explorer

Quickling (VGtM)​

-snip-

Quicklings were not significantly changed for this reprinting.
This is the most bonkers decision, more than changes to spellcasting to me. These should be around CR3, but for some reason they kept them like this. They didn’t even lower the amount of attacks they could do, the easiest change.

Why even pretend to care about monsters being a fair challenge for their CR?
 

This is the most bonkers decision, more than changes to spellcasting to me. These should be around CR3, but for some reason they kept them like this. They didn’t even lower the amount of attacks they could do, the easiest change.

Why even pretend to care about monsters being a fair challenge for their CR?
By the DMG, quickling has a defensive CR of 1/4, and an offensive CR of 3. Which makes CR 1 correct. Glass cannons.

Reducing the number of attacks completely undermines the theme. Clue is in the name. But, as already pointed out, CR is for chumps, ignore it when designing encounters.
 
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Sulicius

Explorer
By the DMG, quickling has a defensive CR of 1/4, and an offensive CR of 3. Which makes CR 1 correct. Glass cannons.

Reducing the number of attacks completely undermines the theme. Clue is in the name. But, as already pointed out, CR is for chumps, ignore it when designing encounters.
How do you calculate it? I come to offensive CR 5 and defensive CR 1/2, not counting the disadvantage on attacking them.
 




Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.

Redcap (VGtM)​


If Quicklings weren’t murderous enough for you, Redcaps have your number. Born out of the spilled blood of a murder, they need to kill someone every 3 days in order to soak their signature Red Cap in the victim's blood, or else they will vanish. Because Fey creatures have a twisted sort of humor, Redcaps can be instinctively drawn to the person who spilled the blood which gave them life. What this means is up to you. Perhaps they want to kill the murderer because it’s ironic. Or perhaps they want to join up with a known successful killer to cover up their shortcomings and ensure their longevity. You could even use these creatures to hunt down the PCs if they end up being murderhoboes (You should still talk to them of course, but hey, it's a free plot hook for an IC reason to redeem themselves).

About that twisted sort of humor that fey have? That extends into combat with the Redcap. They are short, but strong. They wield a huge weapon, but have a limited 25’ of movement speed making it hard to use. They can charged into combat and kick someone instead (giving them an effective 50' of movement), but the very Iron boots that enable such a tactic also prevent them from using stealth. All in all, for a murderous creature, it’s kind of hard for them to actually murder anyone by themselves. As a bruiser backup for other creatures though, they are quite on point. Their kick can knock someone prone, for a spot of control that most meatshields lack for some reason. They are also extremely good at grappling for a small sized creature, but lack any specific attacks that capitalize on the fact.

The Wicked Scythe is yet another custom monster weapon. One day, someone is going to have to catalog all the unique weapons that monsters get to use. But not me, at least not for the next few months, I still have to finish up this project. And then maybe get in touch with D&D Beyond, to tell them about the typos I keep finding in these later monster entries. The Redcap still has the Volo’s lore format somehow.

In the changeover, the Redcap was given +1 AC.
 

How do you calculate it? I come to offensive CR 5 and defensive CR 1/2, not counting the disadvantage on attacking them.
The "Blurred Movement" ability is the thing that matters. But RAW says it has no effect on defensive CR, and who are we to argue with rules?

Base defensive CR is 1/8, which is increased by one pip for having more than 2 AC over the line (note that it's one for every two AC, round down, I suspect this is why you are getting 1/2 rather than 1/4). Common sense says Blurred Movement is worth at least +1 pip, and therefore final CR is at least 2, but rules say no.

But this creature is a good example of why CR can never work. If you have the right abilities, e.g. Toll the Dead, Reckless Attack, spells that don't target DEX, then their low hp makes them pushovers. They are even vulnerable to Sleep! But if all you have are whiffy melee attacks these things will punch well above their weight.
 

Sulicius

Explorer
The "Blurred Movement" ability is the thing that matters. But RAW says it has no effect on defensive CR, and who are we to argue with rules?

Base defensive CR is 1/8, which is increased by one pip for having more than 2 AC over the line (note that it's one for every two AC, round down, I suspect this is why you are getting 1/2 rather than 1/4). Common sense says Blurred Movement is worth at least +1 pip, and therefore final CR is at least 2, but rules say no.

But this creature is a good example of why CR can never work. If you have the right abilities, e.g. Toll the Dead, Reckless Attack, spells that don't target DEX, then their low hp makes them pushovers. They are even vulnerable to Sleep! But if all you have are whiffy melee attacks these things will punch well above their weight.
That there are solutions to fighting them isn’t factoring into how a DM can just pop them in and out of full cover a huge distance away to toss daggers, and easily take down any enemy.

Blurred movement’s effect is somewhere between Stench and Superior Invisibility in its effect, so +1 AC is the least we should count it as.

You’re right, calculating CR is a meaningless endeavor. WotC has intentionally made dragons punch above their CR, as if they are the monster equivalent of the fireball spell. And then we get to the higher levels, where either we are all playing D&D wrong or they don’t pose a real threat to high level characters.

I wanna see a tier 4 quickling :)
 

DM can just pop them in and out of full cover a huge distance away to toss daggers, and easily take down any enemy
This one depends on terrain. Again, something that simply can't be factored into CR*. But in that situation, I would ready a spell for when they popped out of cover. Thrown daggers have shorter range than most spells. Or use Sleep - don't need to be able to see the target for that, and it automatically takes out 1+1 per two levels upcast with no save. As fey, you might expect them to be immune. But they aint.

Of course, the really sadistic way to deal with quicklings is Spike Growth. :devilish:

But there is no reason why you can't change the CR yourself, just like every other monster stat.


*Also see: gelatinous cube, which should be CR 0 any time the party can stand off and shoot it full of arrows.
 

dave2008

Legend
The "Blurred Movement" ability is the thing that matters. But RAW says it has no effect on defensive CR, and who are we to argue with rules?
Actually that is not true. There is no guide for "Blurred Movement" with respect to CR because it came out after the DMG. The can't anticipate every new feature in the DMG monster making guidelines. However, that doesn't mean it has no effect on CR. I would imagine WotC factored it in and we can look to see if there are similar features in the DMG that we can use to figure our a good adjustment.
Base defensive CR is 1/8, which is increased by one pip for having more than 2 AC over the line (note that it's one for every two AC, round down, I suspect this is why you are getting 1/2 rather than 1/4). Common sense says Blurred Movement is worth at least +1 pip, and therefore final CR is at least 2, but rules say no.
Now, with that in mind I get
Defensive CR: 2 (1/8 from HP & AC 21 = 16 + 1 (evasion/avoidance) + 4 (blurred movement / nimble escape)
Offensive CR 5: (DPR 24 = 3 & +2 from +8 attach bonus)
Total CR: 3

So it seems a bit off to me!

EDIT: even without blurred movement the defensive CR would be 1/2 which would make the total CR 2.
 

Actually that is not true. There is no guide for "Blurred Movement" with respect to CR because it came out after the DMG. The can't anticipate every new feature in the DMG monster making guidelines. However, that doesn't mean it has no effect on CR. I would imagine WotC factored it in and we can look to see if there are similar features in the DMG that we can use to figure our a good adjustment.

Now, with that in mind I get
Defensive CR: 2 (1/8 from HP & AC 21 = 16 + 1 (evasion/avoidance) + 4 (blurred movement / nimble escape)
Offensive CR 5: (DPR 24 = 3 & +2 from +8 attach bonus)
Total CR: 3

So it seems a bit off to me!

EDIT: even without blurred movement the defensive CR would be 1/2 which would make the total CR 2.
That rather overestimates the benefit of blurred movement. It's pretty easy to counter with spells or anything that gives advantage on attacks. They don't have spell resistance or any status immunities, and they can't fly.

Defensive CR is definitely 1/4. Base 1/8, +1 from AC. They would need to be AC 17 for +2 from AC.

As for throwing daggers, how many can they carry? But kit them out with bows, put them outside, and they are basically invulnerable, at the same CR.
 

That there are solutions to fighting them isn’t factoring into how a DM can just pop them in and out of full cover a huge distance away to toss daggers, and easily take down any enemy.

Blurred movement’s effect is somewhere between Stench and Superior Invisibility in its effect, so +1 AC is the least we should count it as.

You’re right, calculating CR is a meaningless endeavor. WotC has intentionally made dragons punch above their CR, as if they are the monster equivalent of the fireball spell. And then we get to the higher levels, where either we are all playing D&D wrong or they don’t pose a real threat to high level characters.

I wanna see a tier 4 quickling :)
Have you seen later seasons of the Flash?
 

Sulicius

Explorer
That rather overestimates the benefit of blurred movement. It's pretty easy to counter with spells or anything that gives advantage on attacks. They don't have spell resistance or any status immunities, and they can't fly.

Defensive CR is definitely 1/4. Base 1/8, +1 from AC. They would need to be AC 17 for +2 from AC.

As for throwing daggers, how many can they carry? But kit them out with bows, put them outside, and they are basically invulnerable, at the same CR.
At the appropriate level, you don't need many of those daggers to take down a PC ;).
But for real, a normal lvl 2 party would not have sufficient spells to cast before they are taken down. I am guessing.
 

At the appropriate level
But what do you mean by "appropriate level"? A single quickling is appropriate level for a 1st level party, 28 quicklings are an appropriate level for a level 20 party.

In either case, I don't see the party breaking a sweat. A single quickling is stopped by a 1st level wizard with a sleep spell, 28 quicklings are cone of colded (suck on those con saves you speedy wobbos).
 
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Sulicius

Explorer
But what do you mean by "appropriate level"? A single quickling is appropriate level for a 1st level party, 28 quicklings are an appropriate level for a level 20 party.

In either case, I don't see the party breaking a sweat. A single quickling is stopped by a 1st level wizard with a sleep spell, 28 quicklings are cone of colded (suck on those con saves you speedy wobbos).
A first level wizard is dead before they can cast it on average and only defeats a quickling if they have sleep prepared and if they know that is probably the weakness of the Quickling. So yeah, against an optimized metagamer, they are easy pickings if they win initiative.
I am not an optimizer, so I don't do the math, but one quickling should be able to take out a wizard in a single turn with +8 to hit and dealing 8 damage per attack. Let's optimize and metagame with a quickling:
  1. They get the drop on the wizard because of their incredible stealth, surprising the wizard and killing them in one turn, or two turns, as they win initiative and take one turn after another.
  2. They don't get the drop, but still win the initiative, probably killing the wizard in 1 turn.
  3. They don't get the drop, but still win initiative, not killing the wizard in 1 turn (the wizard has mage armor and casts shield or something), and the quickling runs 60 ft back behind some cover after attacking, guaranteeing that the wizard has no vision of him. They are tiny fey, they can probably get full cover from a four-leaf clover. The wizard has no spell slots, and they die the next turn.
  4. They don't get the drop, and fail initiative, meaning the wizard somehow snook up on this creature, and the wizard makes the quickling sleep, after which they attack the quickling to kill it. If they don't kill it, see 3.
Please consider the amount of people who are not on this forum, who don't prepare sleep and who just want to cast burning hands and ice knife, who will just be obliterated. White room optimizations never help with determining CR. If the players are supposed to be tactical masterminds, why wouldn't the quicklings be similar?
 

A first level wizard is dead before they can cast it on average and only defeats a quickling if they have sleep prepared and if they know that is probably the weakness of the Quickling.
Even if the quickling wins initiative (not unlikely), if the wizard has mage armor and shield the quickling will have to burn all it's attacks to take her out, then the cleric hits the quickling with toll the dead whilst reviving the wizard with a healing word. The quickling can only take one more hit. It still loses.
Please consider the amount of people who are not on this forum, who don't prepare sleep and who just want to cast burning hands and ice knife, who will just be obliterated.
If players are less skilled it's the DM's job to adjust the difficulty of encounters accordingly. No CR system can do it for them.
 

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