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Hey there! Are you looking to play some D&D 5e? We’d love to have you in our games!

Our Dungeonsports Coliseum games are all combat, and our Everdown games are pick up game dungeon crawl.

Want in? You can:

  • Join us on the Twitch stream. Earn enough stream points and you can become a player
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I can’t wait to see you in the Arena, or plumbing the trackless depths of Everdown!

Aeorian Reverser: Turn the Tide of Battle

Aeorian Reverser.  It looks like a big green and purple gorilla with a dog face and no fur.
The Aeorian Reverser, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, p. 284

The Aeorian Reverser made it’s first appearance earlier this season in the Coliseum. As a DM this monster was a blast to run. It has the strength to take a bit of a beating, it can dish out damage in melee combat, and that a Reversal ability? Chef’s kiss!

Reversal. When a creature the reverser can see within 30 feet of it regains hit points, the reverser reduces the number of hit points regained to 0, and the reverser deals 13 (3d8) force damage to the creature.

Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, p. 238

Preventing healing is already nasty business, but turning it into damage, that’s just brutal! It denies the party’s frontline the support they desperately need to protect the group. The damage turns the best efforts of their allies into a new threat. It both frustrates support and turns it into a threat.

What about when a player goes down though? We go from hurting instead of helping to automatically failed death saves. For me, that makes them ideal for the Coliseum, as the players all know a swift death is on the table. I’d be really hesitant to employ these heavily in a less combat-focused game though. Extra failed death saves dramatically reduce the chances of a player recovering. That said, the drama that a character on the edge of death creates in combat is great, if that’s your game’s speed.

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

Setessan Hoplite? More like Jumphard!

Setessan Hoplite (ok, actually Setessan Champion.
Setessan Champion – Magic the Gathering: Theros Beyond Death

I know, I know. I’m not really going to make that title work ever, but I’m sticking with it. I just used a Setessan Hoplite from Mythic Odyssey of Theros for the first time this week and they were a blast in combat. I had the players on their heels for most of the match, dropped a few of them to zero, and was able to make tactical maneuvers around the battlefield.

Mythic Odyssey of Theros is based upon the similarly named expansion to Magic: The Gathering, Theros Beyond Death. There is no card with a matching name in the set, so I pulled an image for one that I thought was probably a close match. Mythic Odyssey of Theros has this to say:

Most Setessan hoplites begin their training as hunters, making them skilled in traversing the woods and adept at both guerrilla tactics and archery. Their strategies often emulate the favored servants of Nylea—especially wild beasts like wolves and lynxes. Typically a few soldiers harry an enemy while the rest capitalize on their foe’s distraction.

MOT, p. 229

The Setessan Hoplite in D&D swings well above it’s weight as a CR 4. I have to wonder if the CR was miscalculated. The stat block lists their average damage as 6 for the scimitar and 7 for the longbow. This seems to ignore the addition 3d6 of poison damage that both attacks do. So, that’s more like 17 and 18 damage respectively. I’m not going to look into it much more closely than that in order to maintain plausible deniability

Setessan Hoplite: Final Thoughts

What I will say is that these NPCs are great team players. They offer great damage both in melee and ranged combat. Their Pack Tactics ability gives them advantage when allies are in close quarters. Additionally, with two attacks and relatively high AC, there’s not a lot of soft spots her. I’m thinking of modeling a higher level named NPC based on their format as well. More to come on that, maybe on the blog.

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

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Demogorgon?

Regarding Demogorgon, in mid-December I boldly tweeted:

True story, though: I was wrong. I still don’t get how to run Demogorgon, the Prince of Demons, the Sibilant Beast, and Master of the Spiraling Depths (MtF, p.144). The crux of my problem is this: nobody wants to look at him, and if they don’t, his most potent weapon is useless. On top of that, the rest of his weapons aren’t all that good either.

According to encounter creation rules, Demogorgon is a beyond deadly encounter for 4 level 20 characters . In my experience, this fiend performs way below expectation, and possibly the least threatening of the Demon Lords. Here’s where the problem lies:

Gaze. Demogorgon turns his magical gaze toward one creature that he can see within 120 feet of him. That target must make a DC 23 Wisdom saving throw. Unless the target is incapacitated, it can avert its eyes to avoid the gaze and to automatically succeed on the save. If the target does so, it can’t see Demogorgon until the start of his next turn. If the target looks at him in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, Page 144

As Willy Wonka would say, “It’s all thereblack and white, clear as crystal!” The PCs can just look away. The fiend gets to use the gaze twice as a legendary action (only twice! on a CR 26 monster! yeesh!). For one glorious combat I misread the rule and though I could ignore the part about looking away, and just confuse and stun players at will. Yeah…but nope.

You might say, “But, Voivode, when they look away they have disadvantage on attacks, and grant advantage when attacked!” I’d agree that’s true, but how many level 20 PCs don’t have some relatively easy way to invoke advantage and making it a wash? Very few. It’s AC is 22, which is pretty good, but still relatively beatable. The +17 attack mod helps too, but combined with a decent-but-not-great 406 HP, it’s all just not enough. By comparison, a tarrasque at CR 25 has more HP, more resistances, a higher AC, and 3 (count ’em 3) legendary action that the PC can’t just choose to ignore.

OG Demogorgon
Demogorgon as depicted in OD&D

Honestly, this naughty boy would go on my Blocklist if he weren’t so much drama. The best I can recommend when you’re building an encounter is to make sure it happens in his lair. He might as well have few extra trick (and they are only tricks) from his lair actions and that way, when he gets his ass kicked, he can sleep it off in his own bed.

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.

Monsters that Swallow: In the Belly of the Beast

Monsters that swallow, the Skyswimmmer
The Skyswimmer, from The Guidmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, one of the two flying creatures that can swallow

I have to say, there are few things that bring me more joy in the coliseum than watching one of my monsters swallow a contestant. Honestly, I’m not sure why. It doesn’t give me that much of an advantage. The contestant is restrained and blind, but they also have full cover from everything outside the monster.

It does create a moment in combat, though. One of our heroes is buried inside the flesh of their foe. Will they hack their way out? Maybe they’ll hit it in the guts so hard that it expels them, or perhaps their friends will have to rush to their rescue and free them from their meaty tomb.

Usually the one to get swallowed is the idiot barbarian who ran way out ahead of their allies. Sadly, this character is uniquely equipped to survive such glaring errors in judgement, and can probably resist the damage and overcome the restraint well enough to deal my beautiful monster a killing blow. I’ll have to visit Vexia in her workshop and see if she can find me something that can sooth the savage heart while it is slowly digested…

Other Monsters that Swallow

Thanks to 5eTools, I can quickly assemble a list of monsters for you to put your contestants in the belly of:

Astral Dreadnought MTF
Banderhobb VGM
Behir MM
Clockwork Behir OoW
Core Spawn Worm EGW
Froghemoth VGM
Frost Worm EGW
Giant Frog MM
Giant Ice Toad TftYP
Giant Subterranean Lizard TftYP
Giant Toad MM
Juvenile Kraken GoS
Kraken MM
Necrotic Centipede BGDIA
Neothelid VGM
Old Croaker EGW
Purple Worm MM
Purple Wormling SKT
Reduced-Threat Remorhaz TftYP
Remorhaz MM
Runed Behir WDMM
Skyswimmer GGR
Slarkrethel SKT
Sperm Whale IDRotF
Tarrasque MM
Tromokratis MOT
Udaak EGW
Wurm GGR
Young Purple Worm PotA

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.