I got to play a Balhannoth for the first time last week. Now we’re friends forever. It has everything I’m looking for in a monster. Four tentacles, a mouth, and the ability to turn invisible, teleport or bite at the end of other character’s turns. The tentacle attacks restrain. The teleport can move a grappled enemy against their will. Oh, and they’ve got a climb speed.
Plus they’ve got a face even a parent would have a hard time loving. Having a truly repellent monster with tentacles and a horrifying maw really helps set the tone, especially in a campaign where you can make use of this creature’s abilities to take advantage of the desires of their prey.
The Balhannoth in Combat…
They are very capable in combat. I was able to stand up to a minotaur fighter and a hexblade warlock in close combat for an extended period of time. Not only that, I was able to use the creature’s mobility and invisibility to keep combat from turning into a slugging match.
…And in Campaign.
At CR 11, a balhannoth is on the low end of challenge for creatures that have legendary actions. An encounter with a balhannoth is deadly for a party of four level 7 pcs. I think that the balhannoth lore is just as interesting as their combat ability, and would make them a lot of fun in a campaign. They are able to attract beings by making them believe that the thing they are looking for is in their lair. They can also transform their lair with illusions to make it appear true.
I would love to create an encounter towards the end of a campaign, where, using a balhannoth’s ability to read minds the party was fooled into thinking that the balhannoth’s lair was the site of their epic final battle, only to find that they’d been dragged off course by a monstrosity from the Shadowfell. Maybe the monster uses it’s grappling ability to grab up on of the players and carry them through a portal to the another plane, dragging the party even further away from their final goals as they race to rescue their ally.