Monster Analysis: Raishan, The Diseased Deceiver

Thanks to @pettyartist for the art!

  • First Appearance: 39 Omens
  • Encounter Appearance: 80 Raishan
  • Armor Class 22 (suggested 21)
  • Speed 80 ft flying (160 ft flying, hasted)
  • Blindsight 60 ft, darkvision 120 ft, passive 27
  • Immune to Poison
  • Three Legendary Resistances
  • Four Legendary Actions per round
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 385, 594
  • 389 damage taken before fleeing
  • 233 damage taken before Contingency, 48 blow by Grog

“You’ve got a few surprises, I see. But you’re not the only ones.” 

Raishan

In Episode 79, Raishan was very strategic in what abilities she used, how she positioned herself, and where she focused her attention. As we stated in our Thordak analysis, Raishan stayed far from Thordak, ensuring that only her “pawns” would take the heat. When it came time for her to make her move, she was still relatively fresh in the fight when the tables inevitably turned. A quick retreat and a few strategic buffs and debuffs set up the fight in her favor before it truly began.

From the start of Episode 80, Raishan upped her offensive game. In the final seven rounds that represented the episode, Raishan cast:

  • (0:17:23) Greater Invisibility (4th)
  • (0:25:38) 2 Legendary Actions: Dispel Magic (Vex’ahlia) (3rd)
  • (0:35:35) 2 Legendary Actions: Dispel Magic (Vax’ildan) (3rd)
  • (0:40:24) Dispel Magic (Percy) (3rd)
  • (0:49:50) 2 Legendary Actions: Dispel Magic (Grog) (3rd)
  • (0:52:52) Counterspell (3rd)
  • (0:59:43) Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting (8th)
  • (1:36:43) 2 Legendary Actions: Cast Prismatic Spray (7th)
  • (1:43:34) Contingency (Haste) Previously cast
  • (1:44:29) 2 Legendary Actions: Dispel Magic (Scanlan) (3rd)
  • (2:12:56) 2 Legendary Actions: Cone of Cold (5th)
  • (2:19:12) 2 Legendary Actions: Melf’s Acid Arrow (2nd)
  • (2:37:25) Cone of Cold (5th)
  • (Not mentioned) Legendary Action: Wall of Force (5th)
  • (3:03:07) Teleport (7th)

In terms of actions per round, Raishan very nearly maximized her use of legendary actions, using 20 out of 24 possible legendary actions. Even the turns where she didn’t use all of them were strategically chosen. In Round 10 (2), the rest of the party rushed into the lair and Raishan still maintained her Greater Invisibility and tactical view over the battlefield without revealing her location. In Round 11 (3), Vax’ildan engaged her. Rather than attempt spells in melee range, she spent her less costly Tail Attacks to swat at the only individual capable of getting in her face up to that point. Rather than use all four actions against Vax via tail attacks, she saved her last two actions for another spell, though they went unused.

In contradiction to maximizing her own opportunities, she was very clever to minimize what the party could do to her. When they weren’t unconscious or fighting the lingering effects of the Cinder King’s inner lair, the party spent a significant portion of the later rounds administering potions, casting healing spells, or bringing fallen members back from death. Part of this was necessary as mobility limited their options already, but a team that is focused on defense is not a team that can readily switch to offense.

The Contingency spell in particular speaks to the level of preparation Raishan had ready. Once it triggered, her strategy turned from “invaders must die” to plans of escape. Only after she had been hasted did she begin using her legendary resistances to reduce unavoidable spell damage. She also focused on keeping the party incapacitated so she could grab the remaining eggs and retreat to Thordak’s waiting corpse. Her last act was to wall off her enemies just long enough for her to make her escape.

Thordak vs. Raishan

Thordak took over 1400 points of damage, had six allies assist in the encounter, and had an enhanced hit point pool thanks to the Soul Anchor. Raishan presumably reached her halfway point by 233 points of damage (when her Contingency spell went off), had no allies, and had significantly less HP due to her Soul Curse. So, why was the Diseased Deceiver that much more formidable than the Cinder King?

One of the key differences between Thordak and Raishan was that the Cinder King, quite simply, was not as elusive. 76 attacks were made against Thordak in the span of 5 rounds, 50 of which dealt damage (65.79%). Meanwhile, only 37 attacks were taken against Raishan in the span of 9 rounds, and only 22 of those dealt any damage (59.46%). While Thordak did well enough keeping out of range of the melee fighters, Raishan optimized her strategy to the point that she limited the number of actions even her ranged and arcane opponents could take against her.

Thordak’s Lair

Thanks to Brian Foster and Talks Machina for providing this image!

The lairs and surrounding areas of the other fallen dragons ceased activity almost immediately with the deaths of their residents. Due to Thordak’s massive size, corrupting influence, and elemental transition, the change in Emon’s landscape ran much deeper. Lava, tremors, and toxic gas bubbled to the surface, while far underground, the volcano raged on even stronger without need for a source.

It’s difficult to say which was more problematic: the poison gas (used twice here) or the magma bubbles (used three times). Had Scanlan been able to fight against the poison cloud in round 13, he may have been able to counter Raishan’s Cone of Cold that knocked out Vax, Scanlan, and Pike, and gave Vex her second failed death save of three. By the same token, the magma was also responsible for one of Scanlan’s three failed death saves. By the end of the encounter, half the party had less than 10% of their total health. Even with Raishan gone, two splashes of magma could have made just escaping very, very difficult.

That’s not including the terrain, which Raishan used to her complete advantage. From hiding in the smoky tunnels to forcing the party to play hopscotch over lava pools to ultimately sealing off the exit, Raishan stayed relatively comfortably out of reach taking shots from a distance while letting Thordak’s legacy clean up the rest.

Vox Machina

Vox Machina’s best round came in the twelfth (4th). This round brought Devo'ssa and a grand total of 180 damage to Raishan, and was the last round everyone ended conscious before they started falling like flies. Unfortunately, this was also the same round Percy took damage from Animus backfiring, Vax lost both his consciousness and his wings, and Raishan gained her pre-cast Haste. This was as good as it got.

Scanlan’s clutch counterspell against Raishan’s Prismatic Spray can be partially credited for the lack of TPK. Although he was stunned by the poison gas in the following round and unable to counter her next mass KO spell, this delay bought enough time for Devo’ssa to appear as a legitimate threat for the party to ultimately reorganize, as well as forced Raishan to rely on a weaker spell.

Gilmore and Devo’ssa played pivotal roles in this battle. Gilmore’s dispel prevented Raishan from removing every Heroes’ Feast without fear, forcing her to enter the fray sooner rather than later. While the brass dragon only got off a single fire breath, a wing attack, and a single clean hit, their presence alone intimidated Raishan into retreating to her original task instead of finishing business with Vox Machina.

By the end of the battle, the primary focus shifted from damage to survival. Kima found herself once again relegated to healer, bringing Gilmore back to consciousness. Pike released a single Sacred Flame before spending the rest of the battle healing and reviving. Scanlan and Keyleth’s Healing Words got serious use this battle, and even Vax used a third of his allotted Lay on Hands to bring his sister back to consciousness after she had already died.

Speaking of which, we can’t end this without talking about death. Vex and Scanlan both failed all three of their throws due to the same three separate factors: environmental hazard, Raishan’s malevolent determination, and bad luck. Thanks to Pike’s last remaining 4th level spell slots, a pair of successful mid-battle checks, and luck of the dice, both Vex and Scanlan returned to the living before Raishan could fully leave the battlefield. Matt informed us that the system is being tested to raise the stakes on future rituals, but for now, Vox Machina lives to fight another day. (Or, at least survive what’s left of the battle of Emon…)