Mythological Figures: Baba Yaga (5E)

The Witch of Wilds, grandmother of Satan, gourmand of children, and crone of crones is today’s star on Mythological Figures: Baba Yaga!



Baba Yaga is a capricious figure of Slavic folklore and the witch of witches—when you think of a witch, you’re probably thinking of her whether or not you know it. She eats children and others who become lost in the forest, but is often sought out for her great knowledge and wisdom. The crone is wont to offer aid however as she ages one year for each question she answers, and though she can make a blue rose potion to reverse her aging she’s got better things to do. She’s likely best known for her chicken-legged hut and if you ever come across the walking building, remember: turn your back to the forest, your front to me.

There’s a great video from The Grimm Archives on YouTube with more information about Baba Yaga—give it a watch.

Design Notes: I’m not sure a proper RAW build exists for Baba Yaga—she does a lot of very weird things—so in a change of pace she’s getting monster treatment. Fortunately a very excellent RPG company (Paizo!) already put her together (in Pathfinder #72: The Witch Queen's Revenge of the Reign of Winter adventure path which also includes Rasputin Must Die!) and I’m going to convert their statistics for her over to 5th Edition. Her Pathfinder Roleplaying Game statblock is very big (absolute maximum official challenge rating boss monster) but I’m watering it down as far as it seems proper and tweaking things to be a little more accessible. It’d be heresy to not include her infamous hut but nobody requested that so I suggest this Reddit thread (which has two versions at CR 7 and 17) that will do in a pinch if statistics for her weird sidekick prove necessary. In closing I'll add that if you have not played a Baba Yaga homage character, I had a great time doing so in a Shadow of the Demon Lord game (see Fringe) and highly recommend it (provided the group you’re in can handle someone of that ilk).

Baba Yaga
Medium humanoid, lawful evil

Armor Class
20 (Intelligence)
Hit Points 262 (25d8+150)
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft. (in mortar and pestle)

STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
16 (+3)​
17 (+3)​
22 (+6)​
24 (+7)​
19 (+4)​
21 (+5)​

Skills Arcana +14, Deception +12, Insight +11, Intimidation +12, Perception +11, Persuasion +12, Stealth +10, Survival +11
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, slashing
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, disease, frightened, madness, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect magic and see invisibility, passive Perception 21
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Giant, Infernal, Primordial, Sylvan
Challenge 24 (62,000 XP)

Agonizing Cackle. Baba Yaga can use a bonus action to cackle wildly, focusing her ire on a creature able to hear her that she can see within 60 feet. The target makes a DC 22 Constitution saving throw or is racked with intense pain and stunned. At the end of each of its turns, the target makes a new saving throw to resist the effect. On a success, the condition ends. A creature targeted by Baba Yaga’s agonizing cackle becomes immune to it for 24 hours after resisting its effects.

Dancing Hut. Baba Yaga lives and travels in a chicken-legged hut.

Child Scent. Baba Yaga has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell, but only with respect to humanoid children and immature animals.

Contingency (1/Day). When Baba Yaga is attacked, she is affected by mislead.

Elongating Limbs. Baba Yaga has a natural reach of 15 feet.

Fell Magician. While she is conscious, Baba Yaga's AC equals 10 + her Dexterity modifier + her Intelligence modifier.

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If Baba Yaga fails a saving throw, she can choose to succeed instead.

Lifegiver (1/Day). Baba Yaga can use an action to touch a dead creature and bring it back to life.

Long-Lived. Baba Yaga has greatly expanded her lifespan with complex arcane rituals. She adds +3 to any ability check she makes that doesn’t already include her proficiency bonus.

Magic Items. Baba Yaga has a magic broom (see below), a portable hole disguised as a wicker basket, a gem of seeing, a hat of disguise, a ring of free action, a gigantic mortar and pestle (which functions as a carpet of flying), and any other magic item the GM deems fit.

Magic Resistance. Baba Yaga has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Regeneration. Baba Yaga regains 15 hit points at the start of her turn. She dies only if she starts her turn with 0 hit points.

Scar. Baba Yaga can use a bonus action to touch a creature and horribly scar it. The creature makes a DC 22 Charisma saving throw. On a failure it is permanently scarred. These scars are visible through disguises, when the creature shapechanges, and even when the creature is brought back to life. Baba Yaga knows the scarred creature’s location and can target it with her spells as long as it is within range, regardless of whether or not she can see it. Baba Yaga may have up to 7 creatures scarred at a time and can use a bonus action to remove permanent scars from a creature.

Spellcasting. Baba Yaga is a 20th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as her spellcasting ability (spell save DC 22; +14 to hit with spell attacks). Baba Yaga has the following spells prepared and access to all class spell lists:
Cantrips: eldritch blast, mending, minor illusion, prestidigitation, thaumaturgy, vicious mockery
1st-level (4 slots): charm person, cure wounds, faerie fire, feather fall, hideous laughter, hunter’s mark, magic missile
2nd-level (4 slots): blindness/deafness, mirror image, suggestion, web
3rd-level (3 slots): bestow curse, dispel magic, fireball, haste, lightning bolt, protection from energy
4th-level (3 slots): confusion, dominate beast, greater invisibility, polymorph
5th-level (3 slots): dominate person, geas, legend lore, scrying
6th-level (2 slots): chain lightning, disintegrate, eyebite, heal
7th-level (2 slots): finger of death, symbol, teleport
8th-level (1 slots): clone, control weather, feeblemind
9th-level (1 slots): foresight, time stop, weird, wish

Sorcery Points (17/Day).
Baba Yaga can use sorcery points to gain additional spell slots, or sacrifice spell slots to gain additional sorcery points.

  • Creating Spell Slots & Sorcery Points. As a bonus action on her turn, Baba Yaga can expend one spell slot and either gain a number of sorcerer points equal to the slot’s level or create a spell slot by expending sorcery points (1st-level—2 points, 2nd-level—3 points, 3rd-level—5 points, 4th-level—6 points, 5th-level—7 points).
  • Metamagic: Distant Spell. When Baba Yaga casts a that has a range of 5 feet or greater, she can spend 1 sorcery point to double the range of the spell. When Baba Yaga casts a spell that has a range of touch, she can spend 1 sorcery point to make the range of the spell 30 feet.
  • Metamagic: Quickened Spell. When Baba Yaga casts a spell that has a casting time of 1 action, she can spend 2 sorcery points to change the casting time to 1 bonus action for this casting.
  • Metamagic: Subtle Spell. When Baba Yaga casts a spell, she can spend 1 sorcery point to cast it without any somatic or verbal components.
  • Metamatic: Twinned Spell. When Baba Yaga casts a spell that targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self, she can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the spell’s level to target a second creature in range with the same spell (1 sorcery point if the spell is a cantrip). To be eligible for Twinned Spell, a spell must be incapable of targeting more than one creature at the spell’s current level.

ACTIONS

Broom. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+6) magical bludgeoning damage.

Death Curse. Baba Yaga uses an action to point at a living creature she can see within 30 feet. The target makes a DC 22 Wisdom saving throw at the start of each of its turns. On a failure it gains one level of exhaustion. The creature continues making saving throws until it has 2 successes or dies. A creature targeted by Baba Yaga’s Death Curse becomes immune to it for 24 hours after resisting its effects.

Baba Yaga’s Broom
Weapon (club), artifact (requires attunement)
This artifact has the statistics of a +3 weapon and dancing sword (on a critical hit the target is blinded for 1 round), and while attuned to it you can innately cast pass without trace and nondetection at will. In addition, you can use a bonus action to knock the broom against a lock, door, lid, shackles, chains, or the like to open them. Once you have used this feature 3 times, you require a long rest before you can do so again.


 
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Mike Myler

Comments

Caliburn101

Explorer
Some of your stat blocks for legendary persona have been a little off in my opinion.

But this one really is spot on. My wife is Russian, and loves mythology and I have spoken to her many times on the really Russian Baba Yaga, and this captures it well.

One thing though - I would say she is Lawful Evil, as whilst she is capricious in the original tales in terms of who she helps (being respectful to her really helps here...) once she decides to help she doesn't break her word, even when it's to her disadvantage.

Sure she's tricky, but in the kind of way a Devil would be in D&D...
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
This character from popular folklore is a classic who shouldn't be forgotten. Not all fairy tales are only Disney princesses.

There are a lot of potential inspiration from the popular classic tales from European, not only Russian, English, Irish or German folklore but also from France, Spain, Italy or the rest of Eastern Europe. And they are "public domain/open licence"! Don't worry about copyright matters.

Sometimes I miss a pathfinder witch archetype or D&D warlock with pact magic, whose vestiges would be "demigods" or legendary characters.
 

Radaceus

Visitor
Things that need more explanation...

'Armor Class 20 (Intelligence)'
-this must be because of Draconic Bloodline (Draconic Resilience~AC= 13+Dex mod) but instead using Intel (13+7), this must be Bloodline Arcane from Pathfinder?
'20th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence'
-this is a sorceror build, why is it using intelligence (in 5E build)
-also a 20th level Sorc should have 20 sorcery points
NOTE: spell slots
-has one extra 6th, 7th and 8th level spell slot, why? maybe the broom is also a broom of absolute power?

Needs a flavor strip explaining the Bloodline Arcane, and some artifact granting the extra spell slots ( or remove the spell slots...we dont want to open up that precedent for future high level builds ;) ).
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
Don't forget Curse of Strahd, which has Baba Lysaga, or as my players quickly called her... Baba Lasagna!
I think my party in Ravenloft encountered her as well. If we thought of that nickname we'd have had an easier time remembering her proper monicker. :p

Wont. I don't think that word means what you think it means.
Oof! Typo fixed.

Some of your stat blocks for legendary persona have been a little off in my opinion.

But this one really is spot on. My wife is Russian, and loves mythology and I have spoken to her many times on the really Russian Baba Yaga, and this captures it well.

One thing though - I would say she is Lawful Evil, as whilst she is capricious in the original tales in terms of who she helps (being respectful to her really helps here...) once she decides to help she doesn't break her word, even when it's to her disadvantage.

Sure she's tricky, but in the kind of way a Devil would be in D&D...
Awesome!! :D

This character from popular folklore is a classic who shouldn't be forgotten. Not all fairy tales are only Disney princesses.

There are a lot of potential inspiration from the popular classic tales from European, not only Russian, English, Irish or German folklore but also from France, Spain, Italy or the rest of Eastern Europe. And they are "public domain/open licence"! Don't worry about copyright matters.

Sometimes I miss a pathfinder witch archetype or D&D warlock with pact magic, whose vestiges would be "demigods" or legendary characters.
I was feeling the lack of witch too. Decided to just kinda marry the wizard and sorcerer together since she's a top end monster anyway, but had this been somebody less mythical (the evil witch from Sleeping Beauty for example) a new archetype would be involved I think. Likely for sorcerers, but since I was working from Paizo's statblock she's a smarty-pants.

Things that need more explanation...

'Armor Class 20 (Intelligence)'
-this must be because of Draconic Bloodline (Draconic Resilience~AC= 13+Dex mod) but instead using Intel (13+7), this must be Bloodline Arcane from Pathfinder?
'20th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence'
-this is a sorceror build, why is it using intelligence (in 5E build)
-also a 20th level Sorc should have 20 sorcery points
NOTE: spell slots
-has one extra 6th, 7th and 8th level spell slot, why? maybe the broom is also a broom of absolute power?

Needs a flavor strip explaining the Bloodline Arcane, and some artifact granting the extra spell slots ( or remove the spell slots...we dont want to open up that precedent for future high level builds ;) ).
I mention it in the opening paragraph but unlike usual for this series, Baba Yaga is not an NPC built using classes, she's an NPC built like a monster. That said I tagged in an ability explaining her AC and reduced her spell slots down to the maximum for a 20th level wizard.

Regeneration usually has some restriction.E.g. not after Radiant damage.
Usually it has two. This has just the one.

I don't recall the stats, but I do remember that the "Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga" adventure from Dragon magazine many eons ago was pretty good.
Rarrrgh I can't find the proper name for it now, but while researching Baba Yaga I hit on the whole reason for the chicken legged hut. Nomads used little copses of trees like that to build elevated shrines/storage keepaways high enough off the ground that animals couldn't reach them--and the tree trunks look like chicken legs.
If that isn't adventuring material GOLD I need to retire. ;)
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
Nice work once again. My only comment at the moment is: shouldn't she be proficient in some saving throws?
The lowest she's sporting is a +3 and if it's magical she has advantage (basically a +5 or +6 bonus depending on who you ask) and I figured that covered the gamut pretty well.
 

dave2008

Legend
The lowest she's sporting is a +3 and if it's magical she has advantage (basically a +5 or +6 bonus depending on who you ask) and I figured that covered the gamut pretty well.
If your talking about Long-Lived that trait specifically says ability check. A saving throw is not a check. So this trait would not apply to saving throws. Regardless, if it applied to saving throws as well, I still think she should be proficient in some. It just makes sense for someone of her stature, IMO.
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
If your talking about Long-Lived that trait specifically says ability check. A saving throw is not a check. So this trait would not apply to saving throws. Regardless, if it applied to saving throws as well, I still think she should be proficient in some. It just makes sense for someone of her stature, IMO.
I was referring to her attributes (the lowest of which is +3--nothing under that) and Magic Resistance. That said if you want to give her some saving throw proficiencies at the table, please do!
 

Radaceus

Visitor
Radaceus said:
Things that need more explanation...

'Armor Class 20 (Intelligence)'-this must be because of Draconic Bloodline (Draconic Resilience~AC= 13+Dex mod) but instead using Intel (13+7), this must be Bloodline Arcane from Pathfinder?
'20th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence'
-this is a sorceror build, why is it using intelligence (in 5E build)
-also a 20th level Sorc should have 20 sorcery points
NOTE: spell slots
-has one extra 6th, 7th and 8th level spell slot, why? maybe the broom is also a broom of absolute power?

Needs a flavor strip explaining the Bloodline Arcane, and some artifact granting the extra spell slots ( or remove the spell slots...we dont want to open up that precedent for future high level builds ).
I mention it in the opening paragraph but unlike usual for this series, Baba Yaga is not an NPC built using classes, she's an NPC built like a monster. That said I tagged in an ability explaining her AC and reduced her spell slots down to the maximum for a 20th level wizard.
I get that she is not a standard NPC, just trying to make sense of how she got to where she is, we know she is ancient and is of demi-god stature with regards to any appearance she has ever made. She would harken back to the Crones, or the Norns of Mythology. An oracle on par with Sybils who went rogue/evil in search for immortality.

I see that Bloodline Arcana (Sage Sorceror of PF) does not affect AC (that being a trait of the Draconic Bloodline) but does switch up INT in lieu of CHA.

You say 20th level wizard, but she is using Sorcery points? Wizard obviously due to using INT instead of CHA for spellcasting, just trying to make sense of that.

Reiterating- she should have 20 sorcery points for being 20th level 'Sorceror'

--------------------------

All in All, I really like how you spun her, I've run Baba Yaga as per book in 1E, 2E, and borrowed the Dungeon Mag write up to tweak for an adventure I wrote for 5E. Looking forward to using this iteration when I get the chance, thanks for the post!
 

Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
The lowest she's sporting is a +3 and if it's magical she has advantage (basically a +5 or +6 bonus depending on who you ask) and I figured that covered the gamut pretty well.
It's really only a +5(ish) when the DC is fairly low. Against very high DCs, advantage isn't all that. IMO this is a design flaw in 5E. One way to rectify it is to have more attacks require multiple saves against different types at lower DC.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Grand Master of Artificial Flowers
Little-known fact: Baba Yaga has a string of ex-husbands, most recently the half-orc Bubba. He's currently living in a broken down wagon on the outskirts of Waterdeep. :p
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
Hmmm... I have a feeling that Baba Yaga has been statted in a previous edition of D&D. Can't remember where though.

And here's her theme by Mussorgsky (orch. Ravel): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO5p-gNyVlo
Behold the power of the ENWorld forums! DIVINATION MAGICS I SAY!

Her 1e stats are given in Dragon #83. Loosely translating, she's a half-fiend Wizard 5 / Archivist 5 / Mystic Theurge 15 / Eldritch Knight 5 with DR 0 or 1. Adjust figures upwards as desired.
The 2E adventure module, The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga, has her as a Wizard 25/Priest 12/Rogue 10 with near god-like powers.
 

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