Monster Analysis: Umbrasyl, The Hope Devourer (Part 1)

Art by Andrew Ian Shaw

  • First Appearance: 39 Omens
  • Encounter Appearance: 54 In the Belly of the Beast
  • Armor Class 22
  • Speed 40 ft, 80 ft Fly, 40 ft Swim
  • Blindsight 60 ft, darkvision 120 ft, Passive 26
  • Immune to acid damage
  • Legendary Actions
  • Legendary Resistances (2/3 used)
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 367, 567
  • Our Estimated total HP: 1156 (actual 825)
  • 691 damage taken before end of episode

The long-awaited Umbrasyl stats and write-up! Part one, of course. Part two hasn’t aired yet. (Update: Now Part two has!)

What We Know about Umbrasyl

Even though his HP was (predictably) increased, the rest of his abilities seem fairly on par. All demonstrated attacks came at the expected damage. Even the breath weapon, which rolled at 82 and 81 acid damage per attack, was well in range of the standard 15d8 acid damage. The difficulty classes of the wing attack (DC 23 Dex) and the breath weapon (DC 22 Dex) also met textbook standards for an ancient black dragon.

We saw that 23 hit Umbrasyl. Unfortunately, we did not see any attacks at 22, the AC of a textbook ancient black dragon. We suspect that since Raishan’s hide was tougher than that of an ancient green’s, The Hope Devourer’s AC is also probably increased by one. We won’t know for sure until an attack lands, though!

What Went Right

We got this, guys!

The first round was where most of the good decisions happened. Vex focused all of her attention straight away, dealing 108 in the first round. Percy’s Hex ensured that Umbrasyl stayed tied down for a full round, making the dragon have to wait to take to the air and to use its breath weapon. The herd also served their purpose quite well in the first round, allowing most everyone to get a few good licks in. Even when Umbrasyl succeeded on his disadvantaged save, Scanlan’s Cutting Words gave Grog room to avoid a tail attack. Grog’s Reckless Attacks also went to great use in this encounter.

Umbrasyl blew two of his three Legendary Resistances. Even if he somehow gains a short rest in the time it takes for the party to catch back up to him (which we find highly unlikely), those will not reset until the next day.

What Went Wrong

…Or maybe not.

The battle started to turn once Umbrasyl broke from the trap and chains. At the beginning of the battle, the teams consisted of Umbrasyl (1) vs. Vox Machina (7), Fassbender (1), Noja (1), and the herd, including Zanror and Worra (26): 1 vs 35. By the time Umbrasyl fled at the end of the fourth round, the herd’s numbers had been reduced to five. With Worra, Noja, and Fassbender effectively out of the battle, the numbers for the second half of the battle decrease to 1 vs. 11.

It has yet to be decided if having two small party members trapped inside the dragon is in fact a bad thing. We wouldn’t consider it a good thing, honestly, but any little bit of damage from the inside helps. Fassbender also was little use this battle, as he spent one of Vax’s actions to unsuccessfully cast Slow, and has yet to recharge his slow ability (though Umbrasyl is already out of range- 120 feet- for it).

The party member who has the most to be concerned about is Grog, who has lost his acid resistance and is dangling in the air as the only visible target. Even Vex’s broom, which has a Dash speed of 100 ft, can’t compare to Umbrasyl’s Dash of 160 ft. Include the additional 15 ft. it gains for using a wing attack as a legendary action, and Umbrasyl can travel 175 ft. per round. How the other half of the party is going to catch up in time to join the battle with the other three is a mystery that only time will tell.

What We Expect at Gatshadow

Art by Feylen

At the end of Episode 54, Umbrasyl took off near the end of the fourth round. Assuming initiative order holds steady, Pike, Vax, and Scanlan will get the next turns to finish the round, respectively.

The since-abandoned Vox Machina wiki, originally maintained by Matthew Mercer himself, says this about Gatshadow:

The ominous mountain that lords over Westruun and the southern base of the Cliffkeep Mountains, Gatshadow's peak is nearly always obscured by storm clouds or mist. The actual stone that comprises the monstrous landmass is of a darker, more dense stone that is considered to be the finest for crafting on this side of the world (hence why many craftsmen and smiths make the dangerous journey there to harvest the rock... and not all return.

Several critters have questioned whether or not Umbrasyl could have set up his lair in Gatshadow in the time since the Conclave announced his presence, as black dragons tend to lair in swamps rather than mountains. However, we consider the perpetually-obscured peak of the mountain as a potential clue that Umbrasyl may have set up shop there long before.

With that in mind, should the battle continue in Umbrasyl’s lair, that will add a number of wrinkles to the battle. The first will be traversing the dangerous journey to the lair itself, which will magically take twice as long to traverse as a regional effect, and will be guarded with traps as is the way of paranoid dragons. The second will be lair actions, an extra ability that Umbrasyl will be able to evoke near the beginning of each round that will greatly increase the difficulty of the battle.

The third wrinkle (which is entirely speculation on Lauren’s and Andrew’s parts) is the potential communication he will make with the rest of the Conclave. Brimscythe had a series of gems that granted him contact with the rest of the dragons, and there is reason to believe that Umbrasyl will have the same system in place in his residence. While it is unlikely that the Conclave would arrive in time to provide support, paranoia and defenses will likely be increased, and any hints of resistance will be immediately crushed. Westruun may also not be as safe to return to as Vox Machina might have hoped.

But, hey, we can speculate, or we can just wait and see what happens. #IsItTwoThursdaysFromNowYet