Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday's Monster Mash: #1 - A Deadly Promise

Monday's Monster Mash is a new weekly series where monsters are selected from the three Monster Manuals and put together as an encounter group. A situation is discussed where these monsters would have been together and how their powers or status effects work together against the players.

The story...

The Meazels, once human, were attacked by a plague and turned to Baalzebul, duke of Maladomini, the seventh hell, to save them. Baalzebul's promise that the plague would not kill the humans stayed true, but had very frightening side effects. Instead of death, the Meazels were turned into flesh-hungry creatures covered in weeping sores. Their endless hunger drove them into the surrounding areas and on into the rest of the world as they tried to nourish their ravening appetites.

Cruril Duskwalker was a powerful Eladrin Wizard who sought after nothing more than ultimate power. He quickly learned how to summon powerful Firelasher elementals to do his bidding and took control of his favorite creature: the Phase Spider. His appetite for power and destruction was never quenched and in death he chose to perform an ancient ritual on himself, turning into a powerful Lich. This ritual got the attention of the archdevil Levistus, trapped in his ice prison in Stygia, the fifth hell, who granted Cruril unspeakable power for a price. Cruril would seek out the ancient city that became ground zero for the spread of the Meazels and turn them against Baalzebul.

Over several years, Cruril used his power to search out the ancient city and was easily welcomed in by the Meazels with promises of lifting their cursed plague and turning them back to humans. Not all Meazels followed him, but those that did were told the only way to be rid of the plague was to destroy Baalzebul himself. Cruril keeps the Meazels in check by allowing them to feed on small villages and plays to their wants by speaking of great magical treasures they must acquire to defeat the archdevil of the seventh hell.

Now, at the head of an army of Meazels, Phase Spiders, and Firelashers, Cruril is making his way across the realms wreaking havoc and growing more powerful by the moment.

The monsters...

Monster Manual
Monster Manual 2
Monster Manual 3
Page 104

Lich (Eladrin Wizard)
Page 176
Phase Spider
Page 190
Page 130

The powers...

First off, let's look at the Meazels. All Meazels have the Wretched Curse of Baalzebul (Aura 1) giving all players starting their turn within the aura a -2 penalty to all defenses and a vulnerable 5 to all damage. But it gets better...any ally starting its turn next to the affected creature also becomes affected by the curse. This is a nasty disease and would easily spread like wildfire, dropping the defenses of the party's tank(s) and melee striker(s). I would stick with the Meazel Bravos (brutes) and fill the encounter with some Meazel minions, who, don't forget, would also have the Wretched Curse of Baalzebul.

Second, we have the Phase Spiders. This spider has 2 attacks that make it a deadly enemy: Ethereal Bite and Ethereal Repulsion. Ethereal Bite allows this beast to teleport up to 10 squares and make its Bite attack, which slows the target (save ends) and has an additional effect of knocking the target unconscious if the first saving throw fails. Ethereal Repulsion is an immediate interrupt triggered by an enemy moving to any adjacent square. The spider actually teleports the enemy 4 squares away.

Third, we have the Firelashers. This elemental has an attack called Wildfire Cyclone (close burst 2) that pushes the target back 1 square and knocks them prone on a hit. A miss still deals half damage. I wouldn't start the encounter off with any Firelashers on the battlefield but actually create a new power for the Lich (Eladrin Wizard) to summon them in pairs within 10 squares as a standard action.

Finally, we have the Lich (Eladrin Wizard). This monster has a ranged attack called Necrotic Orb that stuns its target until the end of the Lich's next turn. Not only that, but as a Lich, this monster is Indestructible. When its hit points are down to zero, the body and all his possessions crumble to dust. He then reappears in 1d10 days next to his phylactery, unless the phylactery is destroyed, making him a great reoccurring villain in any campaign!

The encounter...

So how does this all tie together?

Imagine, a party consisting of a Warlord, Paladin, Ranger, and Sorcerer enter the ruins of an ancient city and are suddenly ambushed by Meazels. As the party gets oriented and begins picking them off, Phase Spiders teleport in and attack. The Ranger spots the Lich atop a nearby broken tower as the Paladin rushes a Phase Spider. The Paladin is teleported back as the Lich summons Firelasher to flank him. The Sorcerer begins launching attacks towards the Lich but the Meazels get in close and curse her. With her defenses down, a Phase Spider teleports in knocking her unconscious. The Warlord gives orders to the Ranger to concentrate fire on the Lich while attempting to give the Sorcerer aid. The Lich launches a Necrotic Orb at the Ranger, stunning him, and the Meazel Bavos wail away through his defenses. The Firelashers, now finished with the Paladin, turn on the Warlord with their Wildfire Cyclone attacks, pushing him back and knocking him prone. The Lich laughs from the looming ruined tower as he watches the party fall. Cruril Duskwalker is back and more powerful than ever.

For discussion...

  • What other monsters do you think could add an interesting flair to this group and how would you work them into the story?

  • What other strategies could this group of monsters use against the party?

  • Do you have any ideas for powers (like the Lich's ability to summon Firelashers) that could be created specifically for this group?

  • What are some possible defensive tactics the party could use against these monsters?

  • How could different party make-ups be better or worse against these monsters?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


  1. Nice write up. The power level for this is beyond what we usually play, but you had good ideas here that can be used in creating my own encounters.

  2. Thanks JesterOC!

    When you say "the power level for this is beyond what we usually play" do you mean the levels of the monsters are too big?

  3. We game at the 2-5 lvl range mostly. For a short time I bumped up the group to 11th level, but while it was fun, the combats just took too long for us at the time.