Bloodfray Giant: Big Fun

Bloodfray Giant
Bloodfray Giant, Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica p. 200

The Bloodfray Giant (well, two to be exact) made it’s first appearance in the Dungeonsport Coliseum yesterday. In just one match, this big nasty from the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica (GGR), earned it’s way on to the hotlist. These monsters hit hard, but they also have a few features that make them very interesting in combat.

Fortunately, when I rolled these guys for the encounter, the Fortress Arena had already been selected by audience vote. This was great, because it allowed the players to find places to hide from the giants. Normally, though, this would result in me having to bust down walls to get to them while they chipped away at my monsters’ health. That’s fun, but it can get tedious.

Fortunately, these giants have a 20 foot reach on their chain attack, allowing them to effectively attack against creatures in spaces too close for them to enter. This attack also restrains the target. Initially, I bemoaned the lack of the Siege Monster ability, as it greatly slowed the pace with which I could get to my victims. In the end, I came to the conclusion that it was better, as it forced me to punch holes in the walls that I could attack through.

In the end, the contestants were victorious, but they took a beating. They had to make use of their resource and the environment wisely to have a chance at survival.

Bloodfray Giant Lore

The lore on the Bloodfray Giant seems fairly thin. They are aligned with Rakdos. They likes spikes on their suspenders. Sometimes they’re used as structural elements. Not a lot of flavor there, but if you can’t do something with that look, you’re not trying.

Like most of the creatures aligned with Rakdos, they just ooze with danger and villainy. Imagine an encounter where the PCs are trapped in the tumbledown ruins of an old castle. Maybe they’re trying to find a way out past the giant, or some long-forgotten relic. Either way, as they move from room to room, the Bloodfray Giant stalks them. It exploits sections of collapsed wall to attack, or slowly makes holes for itself. When it attacks, the victim is restrained. Their allies must struggle to keep them from being dragged from the relative safety of the castle by the giant.

Wanna know what other monsters are on my Hotlist? Or, maybe instead of the deadliest monsters that provide interesting challenges outside of combat? Check out my Blocklist.

Mind Flayers, Mind Flayers, Mind Flayers

Elder Brain
Illithid Elder Brain,
VGM P. 173

I started this series with Red Abishai to showcase on a lesser-known monster. This time, I’m going with an old favorite. Easily one of the most feared and hated monsters among the people I’ve played with, Mind Flayers (also known as Iliithids) are almost synonymous with D&D.

Why is that? Well, the Mind Blast is where it starts. This cone-shaped blast of psionic energy stuns creatures who fail their intelligence saves, and deals a whopping dose of psychic damage on top of that. Once grappled with by their tentacles, the player remains stunned, and at the mercy of the Mind Flayer’s insatiable hunger for brains. Here is where the players fear of the Mind Flayer meets it’s grisly conclusion. They are one of the few monsters in the game that can instantly kill a character. They do this by chewing through the victims skull and consuming the contents.

Volo’s Guide to Monsters significantly expands on the lore of the Illithid in 5e. Most interestingly, detailing their reproductive lifecycle. It also provide a stat block for an Elder Brain. Why not build yourself a nice little community of Illithid to scoop your players brains out?

Illithid in the Coliseum

Mind Flayers are especially deadly in arena combat, at least in my experience, because players tend to lean away from intelligence based classes in the arena. I highly recommend using their reasonable talent at stealth into play. Get them hidden, and then have them used a held action to mind blast PCs when they step into line of sight. Instant brain buffet!

Mind Flayers Mystique Without the Body Count

So, let’s say you want some Mind Flayers in your campaign without the attendant body count. How do you incorporate them in the story? They key lies with what I think should be true about every PC in D&D (outside of the Dungeonsports Coliseum, that is). They are someone special in the world. Major events of the world revolve around them.

Illithid are very intelligent creatures. Much like the players, they seek to shape and control the world around them. As such, they should recognize the PCs for what they are: A valuable resource to help them achieve their aims, not just a hot meal on two legs. Illithids will be interested in capturing a party and making use of them.

So, put some Mind Flayers in that campaign of yours. Melt some PC brains with a mind blast. Let them feel the clammy grasp of the tentacles and the teeth grinding into their cranium. Perhaps more important than that, let them see what compromises their heroes are willing to make to fulfill the demands of a cruel and inhuman taskmaster.