Monster Analysis: Symphior the Withered Planetar & Ankhegs

Thanks to @ForgingMeanings for this art piece!

  • First Appearance: 98 The Mines of The Many
  • Armor Class 25
  • Speed 40, 120 ft (flying)
  • Legendary Actions
  • Advantage on saves against magic
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 200, 282
  • 374 taken, 48 HDYWTDT by Vex’ahlia

Despite being a planetar, Symphior shares very little in common with its textbook counterpart. Planetars are a kind of angel, along with devas and solars. Planetars serve a deity, as Herethis’ planetar once did. This planetar, created by the chat during Matt’s fireside Q&A, was put in place as a seed to grow and eventually emerge to protect the land. However, its development was cut short by the land becoming corrupted, stilting and deforming its growth. It was forced to emerge early by The Myriad’s drilling into the platinum mine, terrorizing all who came near.

Symphior’s Strategy

Lacking the physical strength or weaponry of the fully-developed planetar, Symphior drew on its connection to the land around it for power. Whenever combatants got within striking distance, Symphior used its action and legendary actions to damage them or put distance between them and the planetar. In the two rounds of combat against it, Symphior took a total of 9 actions.

The bulk of Symphior’s attacks relied on shifting the terrain around it. Vox Machina enjoyed the effects of a Cold Snap, freezing the air around it and stunning those that failed a constitution save; Lava Burst, firing a column of continually flowing lava from the ground; Spikes, shooting up pillar-like spikes from the ground; and Sinkhole, causing the earth to swallow, restrain, and blind the victim. Symphior tried to bury the party members twice by having the ground beneath them swallow them up. This had little impact on Keyleth once she was able to turn into an Earth elemental, and Grog’s high constitution also made him a fortunate candidate for getting buried, giving him plenty of time to be rescued before he would have suffocated. Further, Keyleth had previously cast Freedom of Movement on him, preventing him from being restrained in addition to buried.

Planetars are magic casters as well, and even the tiny Symphior had a few spells at its disposal. When the party was split (and buried), it cast or summoned a Wall of Stone to make it more difficult for the party to attack it. On its final retreat, Symphior cast Misty Step, but to very little avail.

Symphior had a last-ditch, Hail Mary attack of a blast of radiant energy drawn from inside itself. The attack would have vaporized most creatures, and managed to drain the party’s health. Well, everyone except Grog: he started the battle with 256 HP thanks to Heroes’ Feast and Keyleth’s Inspiring Leader feat, and ended with 120 HP. After the attack, Symphior was literally falling apart, allowing Vex to make quick work of it.

Thanks to @NLN4v for this art piece!

Vox Machina’s Strategy: #CritThatBaby

Those who dealt damage against Symphior spent the battle largely focused on their individual attacks, rather than working in concert with each other. Vax used his paladin abilities to further increase his already impressive sneak attack damage. Pike pulled down an intensely damaging 5th level Guiding Bolt after her Beacon of Hope was wrecked by Symphior’s Lava Burst. Keyleth cast Blight and Conjure Elemental (Air), the latter of which dealt 58 damage (#CritThatBaby). Keyleth had no problem escaping burial by using her Wild Shape to turn into an earthgliding Earth Elemental. Grog did what he does best: smash. Vex got the killing blows on Symphior with her exalted Fenthras’ bramble shots. Both Percy and Taryon seemed to have plans in mind, but never got the chance to fully enact them.

Ankhegs

  • First Appearance: 98 The Mines of The Many
  • Armor Class 14 (11 when prone)
  • Speed 30 ft, burrow 10 ft
  • Darkvision 60 ft, Tremorsense 60 ft, 11 Passive
  • Suggested average, max HP: 39, 66

The battle had an unofficial timer in place: the infestation of ankhegs. Ankhegs, relatives of the Sand Khegs of Ank’harel, are large, burrowing creatures that occasionally need fresh meat to sustain themselves. They tunnel through earth listening for nearby prey, which they tear apart with their powerful pincers and dissolve and digest with their projectile acid. Herds of cattle disappear when ankhegs inhabit the fields below, and miners who disturb their tunnels have little warning before the ground explodes.

While the party were able to descend with little issue, their battle with the celestial drew the attention of the skitterers. The dead individual with whom Pike spoke detailed how, though he had escaped Symphior, the ankhegs got him before he could escape with his life. Though they never dealt large amounts of damage at a time, save once, their acid sprays chipped away at VM’s life force enough that Pike, Percy, and Vax were in danger of going unconscious (and Pike and Percy would have, had they not had extra health from Keyleth). They all escaped, and laid down a Wall of Fire, Blade Barrier, and Fireball in their wake for good measure.