Monster Analysis: Dr. Anna Ripley and Company (Part 1)

Thanks to @iorverth for the art!

Due to the sheer magnitude of information that can be ascertained from this encounter, this analysis will be broken up into two parts. Part 1 will be more numbers-oriented as we breakdown Team Ripley and what each member brought to the fight. So, without further ado, let’s start with what we know about the leader of the group!

Dr. Anna Ripley (15 Gunslinger, 5 Wizard)

  • First Appearance: 33 Reunions
  • Encounter Appearance: 68 Cloak and Dagger
  • Armor Class 20
  • STR +2, WIS +4
  • Estimated 200 HP
    • 214 total damage taken
    • Unknown healed by Second Wind and Orthax
    • ~20 HP remaining when encapsulated (source)
    • HDYWTDT by Vox Machina (damage not calculated)

Percy described Dr. Anna Ripley as, of all the terrible people he’s met, the one person that he has caused him fear. Even though he only knew her for a week, he knew that she was evil, that she was clever, and that she was not to be underestimated. Unfortunately, he was not aware of the magnitude to which all of these were true.

Ripley had two devastating attacks this battle: one from a mechanical standpoint at the beginning, and one from a story standpoint at the end. Given that her much weaker party had a mere few hours to plan a trap, a trap dealing 65 damage to five of seven party members was a significant bonus to her side.

As a gunslinger with Orthax’s blessing, she also proved just as deadly as Percy. Even without considering the four grit points at her disposal, her Pepperbox dealt additional psychic damage with a +14 to hit. This became even more dangerous when coupled with Violent Shots, Trick Shots, and additional necrotic damage from Hex.

For someone who has stated that she “[has] no interest in paltry magics. I’m more… one who embraces the sciences as a mean of understanding mystery,” she has done more than dabble. Her “tricks” include Major Image (3rd) and Alarm (1st) before the battle, and Blink (3rd), Shield (1st), Misty Step (2nd), Fireball (3rd), and Hex (1st).

There has been some speculation on what the “magic-devouring cloak” contributed to her repertoire. While we won’t know what Cabal’s Ruin does until the party can take a look at it, we are aware that it halved the damage of magical effects against her (in the case of Scanlan’s fireball), and likely was responsible for Keyleth’s final scry attempt failing. Whether it allowed her to recast the Fireball she took is still up to speculation, but considering that the cloak seemed charged by the attack, we strongly suspect this to be the case. (This also begs the question if Keyleth’s absorbed Scry was turned against her…)

Given that she had Hex, we think she may have also taken the Magic Initiate: Warlock feat. Her other ASIs are likely increases to her stats, especially Dex. 

Update: Reddit has determined from Matt that Ripley was able to reload as a bonus action, something only a 15th level gunslinger would have been able to do. Although we didn’t see any of the other abilities implemented during battle (Indomitable, for instance), this one ability does explain why her proficiency bonus would be so high.

Kynan (9 Rogue)

  • First Appearance: 23 THE REMATCH
  • Armor Class 22 or lower
  • Speed 30 ft
  • Sneak attack 5d6
  • Unknown total HP, 44 damage taken

Kynan Leore first appeared as a 2nd level rogue outside of Greyskull Keep after their return from Vasselheim. He reappeared as a 9th level rogue and one of Ripley’s allies, though he seemed to be uneasy with the situation from the initial ambush setup through the moment in which he turned against her. The abilities he displayed during the fight don’t actually tell us much about his chosen archetype. However, we do know he should have the level 5 and 7 abilities Uncanny Dodge and Evasion, which would have helped him reduce any damage he took, on top of 5 Sneak Attack dice (d6’s) and excellent stealth capabilities.

Much more interesting is the dagger he was wielding. Multiple times during the fight, Kynan threw the blade, disappeared, then reappeared next to the enemy he attacked. There was also almost certainly a significant damage boost from the blade. It has not been confirmed that this blade was Whisper, but given the apparent power of the weapon, it seems likely.

Orthax (Vengeful Shadow Demon)

  • First Encounter: 35 Denouement
  • Armor Class 16 (20 out of sunlight)
  • Speed 30 ft, can Teleport via Shadow
  • Resistant to acid, fire, necrotic, thunder, and nonmagical physical weapons
  • Immune to lightning, cold, and poison damage
  • Light sensitivity: Disadvantage on attacks in direct sunlight
  • Mark of Vengeance: advantage against and +2d6 psychic damage on marked target
  • Episode 35: 353 taken, 44 finishing blow by Grog and Trinket
  • Episode 68: 213 taken, 21 finishing blow by Keyleth

Orthax made his reappearance to Percy 56 in-game days later. Although he was significantly weakened by the sunlight in this battle, he still came across much more physically threatening. Part of this was due to the lack of radiant damage available to the party. He also actually put his Mark of Vengeance to use this battle, allowing us to see the full extent of the ability.

The Rampage Pulse also made a reappearance, causing psychic damage to those who failed their saving throw and forcing them to take an additional attack against their own party members.

Worst of all, Orthax didn’t enter the fray until most of the combatants were down. With Percy in dire straights, Orthax’s need for vengeance appeared to further enhance Ripley. His teleportation allowed him to cross the chasm without taking the time or damage the rest of the party would have spent, putting him directly in place to deal a number of very critical blows to Vox Machina’s gunslinger.

Mage (Estimated 13/14 Wizard)

  • Armor Class 17 or greater
  • Speed 30 ft
  • Up to 7th level spells
  • 109 taken, 30 final damage by falling (credit to an unconscious Scanlan)

Outside of Ripley and Orthax, the mage proved to be one of the most worrisome threats on the battlefield, felling multiple party members at once. We know he cast the following spells (ordered chronologically), in addition to any other spells he may have cast during the hunt for Whisper or during their campfire on the island shore:

  • Alarm (1st)
  • Major Image (3rd)
  • Fireball (3rd)
  • Misty Step (2nd)
  • Prismatic Spray (7th)
  • Shield (1st)
  • Chain Lightning (6th)

Gunners (Estimated 11 Gunslingers)

  • Speed 30 ft
  • +3 WIS, 3 Grit Points
  • +10 to hit, 3 attacks per turn
  • Male: 201 taken, 30 killing blow from falling
  • Female: 116 taken, unknown killing blow from Scanlan

Initially armed with rifles (2d10 with reload 1), misfires demonstrated that they also carried pistols (1d10 with reload 4). Their lower levels and their focus on Grog as the closest threat made them less formidable allies than merely present support, though the female gunner’s attack at Ripley’s order was responsible for breaking Pike’s Death Ward amulet.

Luska, Goliath Fighter

  • 178 taken, 23 killing blow by Grog

There’s not much to say about the goliath other than she served as a great punching bag and means to spend Grog’s turns.

Strategy analysis coming tomorrow!