Continuing a series of posts I did in May, I take a more in depth look at each monster entry in the 4th Edition Monster Manual 2!
Kenku – The Kenku are a great additional humanoid for the early heroic tier, with the obvious uniqueness that they are bird-men to set them apart from all the rest. Their most interesting aspects are an emphasis on stealth and deception with the Mimicry ability that lets them immitate sounds and voices, plus Flock Effect which grants a kenku +3 to hit with combat advantage and when aiding another instead of the normal +2. The varieties presented in the book are each very interesting, with focuses on fighting as a group and avian themed spells (including one that lets the Kenku Wing Mage fly for the rest of the encounter).
Krenshar – A very odd monster, the Krenshar is a catlike creature that can peel back the skin on its face to scare its enemies. The normal Krenshar is an interesting level 4 controller with a roar that dazes and weakens enemies or a unnerving skull attack that gives heroes a -2 penalty to attack rolls. It also has a fearsome visage aura that gives those within it a -2 penalty to saving throws against fear effects which can make for some really intense status effect driven battles.
Lizardfolk – The new additions to the lizardfolk monster entry are all of the Poisonscale variety. Like the kenku the new lizardfolk are a great addition to the lower heroic tier, with a lot of good encounter combinations possible amongst them. The Poisonscale Magus can do lots of poison damage and ongoing poison damage, but perhaps most deadly is the poison barrage area attack that makes targets vulnerable 5 to poison. The Poisonscale Slitherer is not pictured but I imagine them more like snakes than humanoids, they use javelins and have stability that makes them impossible to knock prone or be forced to move.
The Poisonscale Savage is particularly vicious with an aura of poison that gives enemies a -2 to saving throws versus ongoing poison damage, in addition to two attacks that can cause ongoing poison damage on its own. The Poisonscale Collector and Poisonscale Myrmidon round out their brethren with the Poison Strike ability that gives them a +2 bonus to damage rolls against enemies suffering from ongoing poison damage!
Lycanthrope - Here we have three new varieties of Lycanthrope, the first is the level 6 brute Wereboar who can infect PCs with Moontusk Fever and has one hell of a maul attack. The Weretiger on the other hand is a quicker and more subtle foe as an level 11 elite skirmisher, with a choice between two high crit katar attacks a round or a pounce attack that does lots of damage, pushes you one square, and knocks you prone. Weretigers also have a slashing recoil that means if you miss them with an attack they get to immediately strike back and shift two squares away. The last new addition might be the coolest, the Werewolf Lord is an level 13 elite bruter (leader) that has a Blood Moon aura which gives it and its allies a bonus to hit and a huge bonus to damage against bloodied targets. Like the Weretiger, the Werewolf Lord can also make two attacks in a round but with a falchion instead, he also gets the vicious Speed of the Wolf ability which lets him shift 6 squares and make a bite attack in wolf form and a Savage Howl that heals its allies and allows them each to make a free bite attack! Each of them is vulnerable to silver, of course, so you should have no problems taking care of them….right?
Mammoth – This normal animal entry almost seems out of place in the book, but the single creature presented is actually very cool – the Nyfellar Mammoth. This level 17 brute, whom I shall call “Stampy”, naturally has a standard mammoth gore and stamp attacks but can also use a slew of interesting abilities that will tear your party to pieces. Blizzard Trample, which recharges when the mammoth becomes bloodied OR when it takes cold damage, lets it shift 8 squares through enemy spaces and make one stamp attack against each enemy it walks over! Tusk Toss is definitely one of the most interesting abilities that I’ve seen so far, it’s a reach 2 attack that does 1d10+5 damage but also launches the target up to 30 feet (yes 4E actually uses feet first sometimes) into the air until they land 5 squares away and take falling damage. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this elemental beasty is a mount and when mounted it can use blizzard trample OR tusk toss while charging.
Marut – Here we see three curious new additions to this immortal monster entry, the Marut Castigator (level 21 skirmisher), the Marut Prosecutor (level 21 controller-leader), and the Marut Executioner (level 22 brute). The Castigator wields a double sword and can teleport using Thunderbolt Strike to surprise PCs with double sword attacks. The Prosecutor is one of the few monsters in the MM2 that attempts to take the ‘non-combat’ monster approach, using its Dictum power to immobilize foes and (I kid you not) a power called Biting Testimony that does psychic damage along with giving a -2 penalty to attack rolls, skill checks, and ability checks. Lastly the Executioner is like the Castigator except uses he uses a double axe, has a power that if it drops a PC to zero hitpoints the marut gains an action point, and an Executioner’s Call that pulls all creatures in a close blast 5 adjacent to him.
Myconid – Finally our fungal friends make an appearnace, unfortunately the Myconid only get three entries in this book and all of them are in the low heroic tier. The Myconid Rotpriest is a fey plant creature with regeneration that does not function if it takes radiant damage (I thought plants liked the light?) and has a power called Decomposing Spray. Each of the Myconids has the Roots of the Colony ability that lets them split damage they take half and half with a myconid ally within 5 squares. While the Myconid Soveriegn can boss other plants around, the Myconid Guard can use Pacification Spores to deal poison damage and prevent enemies from taking standard actions for one turn.
Neogi – The first sentence of this monster entry should pretty well sum things up, “Neogi see the world in terms of ownership.” What we have here is the Neogi Slaver (level 10 controller-leader) who has a bite attack that does on going poison damage and on a failed save slows the target. He also uses a Charm Bolt that gives a penalty to attacks and on a failed save makes the slaver invisible to the target, and a close blast 3 power called Psychis Shackle that dazes targets for one round…is anyone else really not looking forward to fighting these guys yet? Oh and the power Thrall Goad that lets all allies within 6 squares make a saving throw with a +5 bonus. The Neogi Spawn Swarm is a swarm that mostly just bites and screams…and the Neogi Great Old Master is just gruesome. For starters it has a Thrall Field aura 1 that gives enemies a -4 penalty to saving throws (now think back to the slaver and all the saves he was making you fail), next up is the Enslaving Bolt power which slows, then on a failed save a penalty to attack rolls, on a second failed save you are dominated, and finally on a third failed save if you are bloodied then you are dominated by the Neogi until you take an extended rest (not that you get to choose when).
Nothic – These creepy one-eyed abberant baddies are not to be messed with casually, and will definitely make great additions to the backrow of any paragon level encounter. The Nothic Cackler (level 15 artillery) can use its ranged Mind Rot power to deal psychic damage and slide a target 6 squares followed by the target making a melee basic attack against a target of the Nothic’s choice. It can do that power at-will. It’s other at-will ranged attack is Rotting Gaze which can target up to three creatures, does necrotic damage, and inflicts a -2 penalty to all defenses (save ends). It’s Maddening Cackle is a close burst 3 that does psychic damage and pushes targets 2 squares and then another 2 squares at the start of the target’s next turn.
The Nothic Mindblight (level 19 controller) has an aura that lets it slide creatures that start their turns within it, and it has an Eye of Insanity attack that dominates foes. Perhaps more dangerous is its Mesmerizing Visage ranged power that gives targets a -1 penalty to saving throws, and if failed then grants a -3 penalty to saving throws! The last variety is the delightful sounding Nothic Eye of Vecna (level 22 lurker-leader), whose aura lets undead make free attacks if they start their turns within it and it can make a mobile melee attack which immobilizes targets and gives them a -2 penalty to saving throws. Its main eye attack is Eye Rot which only makes one attack roll versus all enemies in a close burt 10 and on a hit it becomes invisible to them (save ends), which works great in combination with its Invisible Advantage that causes an ally to attack targets that it hits who can’t see it. As you can probably tell, all three of these Nothics are sure to drive PCs insane in record time.
Oni – The first Monster Manual provided us with two interesting types of japanese-ghosts, now we have three more to add to the group all of which can change their appearance in dasterly ways. The Oni Devourer is a medium-sized level 7 soldier that claws and devours (which gives a -5 penalty to saving throws) in addition to its Hypnotic Glare that pulls and dazes targets. The Oni Overlord (level 12 elite brute-leader) is a large oni that has an aura that boosts its allies damage but also hurts them if they miss with all of their attacks. It wields a greatclub and can make enemies vulnerable to poison and necrotic damage, but it also boosts allies with the Violent Reward immediate reaction at-will which gives an ally 5 temporary hit points whenever they damage an enemy. The last new monster in this entry is the Onie Thunderer (level 22 skirmisher) that wields a spiked chain to grab and pull foes towards it, then it uses Thunderclap Portal to attack everything in close burst 2 and teleport 8 squares away. As if its not bad enough that one of its move forms is teleport 8, it also teleports 3 squares as a reaction to being hit by attacks.
Ooze – While WotC was smart enough to put the gelatinous cube in the first MM, there were still several classic entries in the Ooze category that were missing. While Abolethic Skum wasn’t necessarily one of those, it is pretty damn cool having a level 18 minion brute ooze to throw at a group of PCs, these bad boys have a small aura that makes opponents vulnerable to psychic damage. Black Pudding is the star of the show this time though, a level 8 elite brute that can engulf opponents with a close blast 3 power and splits off Black Pudding Spawn (level 8 minion brute) whenever it is hit by a weapon attack. The Gray Ooze (level 2 skirmisher) is a devious threat for low level adventurers with a stench aura that gives a penalty to attack rolls and the Bone Melt basica attack which gives a target a cumulative -2 penalty to Fortitude for each time it hits with an attack. The last new ooze presented here is the Green Slime (level 4 lurker) which uses its main attack to engulf a foe and split any future damage between itself and the target it has engulfed while it slowly dissolves them.
Phoelarch – The two types of monster presented here are actually described as stages in the same creature’s life cycle, a Phoelarch is a half-natural and half-elemental being that begin as humanoids with fire rippling over their skin and when they are slain a fiery bird called a Phoera emerges from the corpse to seek revenge. A Phoerlarch Mage (level 12 artillery) has a damaging fire aura and when it dies it creates a zone of fire damage for the rest of the encounter that then summons a Phoera. The Phoelarch Warrior (level 12 skirmisher) has the same abilities but with a focus on melee instead of ranged attacks, and the Phoera (level 12 skirmisher) that they both summon is an elemental flying bird that can do flyby attacks and cause a lot of ongoing fire damage. When a Phoera is reduced to zero hit points it explodes in a death burst for a lot of fire damage and also creates a zone of damaging fire for the rest of the encounter.
Remorhaz – This monster would definitely place high in a competition of monsters whose names are insanely fun to say with funny accents. Remorhaaaaaaaz! This level 21 elite brute elemental insect-like beasty loves to live in arctic climates so much that it has a Blistering Heat aura that deals fire damage to nearby foes. It really likes to grab you with its main bite attack, followed promptly (and as a minor action I might add) by the inevitable Swallow which causes the lovely restrained condition and ongoing 10 damage plus ongoing 10 fire damage just for funsies! Thankfully if a swallowed creature deals a certain amount of damage to the beast it will regurgitate them into an adjacent square. If its not busy eating you, it also has a trample attack that lets it move 6 squares and knock everyone it touches prone and several abilities that deal fire damage to creatures who are next to it or damaging it in melee. Hooray!
Retriever – I don’t know what the Retriever did to lose its demon status, but I think it’s doing just fine as an elemental animate level 27 soldier. As its name suggests, this creature excels in taking things as it can grab a target and move with them without ever making a strength attack. It also follows the standard formula that eye rays make everything cooler, as it gets to use all four of its eye rays each against a different target on its first turn and then one random eye ray recharges each subsequent turn. These consist of an Acid, Cold, Fire, and Thunder Ray each doing pretty much exactly what you’d expect them to do. On top of the retrieving and the eye rays, it can also Self-Repair and use its Unerring Accuracy to sense the general location of the specific type of target it was tasked with sniffing out, and then teleport to within 10 squares of that target. Yes, it even says, “the target need not be on the same plane as the retriever when it uses this power“.
Rust Monster – Quite possibly the most debated monster when it comes to 4th Edition, you’ll find no shortage of hatred for this iteration. The Rust Monster comes to 4E as a level 6 skirmisher with a bite attack that instills the ‘rusting’ property on heavy armor which causes the item to take a cumulative -1 penalty to AC up to a maximum of -5. This is the same as its Rusting Defense ability that targets an attackers weapon and causes the same property but with a penalty to damage rolls instead. It can then use its Dissolve Metal ability to target any rusting item and completely destroy that item. One of the big changes is that the Residuum of these items can be recovered from the monster’s body and is worth the full market value of the item rather than a percentage. A new iteration of the monster is the Young Rust Monster Swarm (level 9 solder) which can rust a PCs armor and weapons but cannot dissolve them so they are more of a hindrance unless they are combined with other rust monsters.
The last new addition to this entry is the level 11 skirmisher Dweomer Eater, who functions exactly like the regular Rust Monster but specifically targets armor and weapons with magic enhancement bonuses and causes them to decay (and then eats them). If you find yourself playing 4th Edition but longing for the days of the “more risky” Rust Monster than it’s an easy change for a DM to say that residuum can’t be recovered, or even to double the penalties it instills on items and let it eat multiple items per encounter. That is, of course, assuming as a PC you like losing items and as a DM you like having a monster that your players plan on never even going near.
Shadar-kai – To compliment the four varieties of Shadar-kai from the first MM, we have four new kinds with a special new ability. Each of these Shadar-kai have attacks that cause a target to be subject to a status called shrouded in gloom (always on a save ends basis). Shrouded in Gloom causes a creature to take a -2 penalty on attack rolls and gain only half the benefit of healing effects. The Shadar-Kai Blacksoul (level 14 controller) has a deadly ranged base attack power that shrouds enemies in gloom in addition to a ranged area power that does the same, but they can also Corrupt Soul a target effected by the gloom to dominate them. The Shadar-Kai Dawnkiller (level 14 lurker) has melee attacks that cause the gloom and can also blind targets, which stacks with the Shadows of the Raven Queen ability which grants 2d6 extra necrotic damage against targets that can’t see the Dawnkiller.
The aptly named Shadar-Kai Gloom Lord (level 14 artillery) has the same ranged attacks as the Blacksoul, but instead of dominating the Gloom Lord has the Shadowcage power which targets a creature that is shrouded in gloom, deals necrotic damage, restrains the target, and they cannot see targets more than two squares away from them. The last new entry is the Shadar-Kai Painbearer (level 15 skirmisher-leader), which is effectively a beefed up version of the original MM chainfighter. The Painbearer can Shadow Dance to shift 7 squares and attack three targets with a shadow chain, with the second and third attacks dealing extra damage if the one before them hits in addition to blinding targets that are already shrouded in gloom.
Shark – Similar to the mammoth this entry stands out for being a normal animal entry, but the level 10 brute Fleshtearer Shark is no ordinary monster. This aquatic terror is a perfect fit for the book featuring Demogorgon on the cover, with a damaging bite attack but the more fearsome power is Lockjaw Charge. This attack lets the shark charge, make a basic attack, and grab the target (when the grab ends the target takes 5 ongoing damage too). Once a creature is grabbed by the shark it uses Shredding Teeth which requires no attack roll and does 3d8+7 damage. Thankfully it could be effected by a Feeding Frenzy which happens if it starts a turn within 5 squares of a bloodied creature then it drops a creature it has grabbed and makes an attack against an adjacent creature. It also gets a natural Waterborne advantage of +2 damage against any creature in the water that does not have a swim speed.
Skeleton – The last monster entry for this in depth analysis, the two new additions to the very popular Skeleton listing. The first is the Bonecrusher Skeleton (level 7 soldeir) which is a large minotaur undead monster that swings a greatclub and can use Crushing Blow to knock enemies prone, but its most dangerous ability is its Threatening Reach. The next entry is rather curious, the level 3 skirmisher Skeletal Steed, can make mobile melee attacks and allow a rider to make attacks instead of its attack during the move. It also has a Death Shriek that gives a penalty to attack rolls. I assume this will become the favored mount for any low level bad guys that DMs choose to put a party up against, it should be a good filler until the villain can reach Nightmare mount status.