Monster Analysis: Vecna, Death Knight, and Delilah Briarwood

Thanks to @iorverth for this art piece!

Vecna

  • Armor Class Unknown
  • 54 damage taken
  • Cast Power Word Kill, Finger of Death, Disintegrate (twice), Counterspell (twice), Fireball (at 7th), Hold Monster (at 8th), Fire Bolt
  • Legendary Actions: 2 to cast leveled spells, 1 to cast cantrip
  • Spell Save DC 24
  • Spell Casting Ability Modifier: +10

Death Knight

  • Armor Class 18-21 (Suggested 20)
  • 221 damage taken
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 180, 247
  • MM standard +6 Dex Save, +5 Con
  • Spell Save ≥ 21 (Suggested 18)

Delilah Briarwood

  • Armor Class 18
  • 241 damage taken, 24 HDYWTDT by Percy
  • Immune to Necrotic Damage
  • Possesses the Eye of Vecna

Lair Actions:

  • Summon Undead (undead get attacks)
  • Ghostly Claws
  • Dark energy suffuses the landscape (unused)

Vecna, Death Knight, and Delilah’s Strategy

All of the enemies’ attacks were designed to achieve their task without a lot of fuss: kill everyone.

  • Power Word Kill: No save. <100 HP is instant death.
  • Finger of Death: 7d8 + 30 Necrotic Damage, instant death if brought to 0 HP, killed target rises as undead under control of the caster on the caster’s next turn
    • RAW, Raise Dead and Resurrection cannot be used on undead creatures to return them to life
  • Disintegrate: 10d6 + 40 Force Damage, turned to dust if brought to 0 HP
  • Hellfire Orb: 10d6 Fire + 10d6 Necrotic Damage
  • Fireball (7th Level): 12d6 Fire Damage
  • Fire Bolt: 4d10 Fire Damage
  • Banishment: Put the person in a plane of gloom stalkers and undead
  • Hold Monster: Auto-fail all dexterity and strength saves, all attacks against are at advantage, all melee attacks are auto-crits

Vecna

Let’s be upfront: what Vecna showed Vox Machina of his abilities is likely the tip of the iceberg. A standard lich is at least as powerful as what he demonstrated, let alone an archlich, let alone Vecna. He may not be a god (yet), but a creature doesn’t have a spell save DC of 24 or a spellcasting ability mod of +10 if they’re not obscenely powerful. Of his potential resistances, we saw his complete immunity to non-magical physical damage and resistance to lightning damage steal the metaphorical thunder from Percy’s Cabal’s Ruin-laced Bad News critical hit. Matt talked on Talks Machina about Vecna’s prior knowledge of Vox Machina, and how Vecna knows everything already. He is the smartest creature they’ve ever faced, and has knowledge of older versions of spells and spells that he has created and/or modified to his own purposes. We also know from Matt that he has a larger pool of spells to draw from than a standard 20th level wizard. Vecna wasn’t about to be re-raised from the dead only to be killed within the first hour of un-undeath. Besides, like Matt said, even if VM did manage to kill him, they would have to then find his phylactery and destroy it before he reformed.

Death Knight

The Death Knight is, in some ways, like a much more dangerous blackguard. Whereas the blackguard was a living, necromancy-warped knight, the Death Knight is an undead paladin that turned away from their path and died without remorse. Of its abilities, it used its Hellfire Orb, longsword, and cast Banishment and Staggering Smite. VM managed to deal 221 damage to it, though it hardly seemed phazed. Though the Orb was a once-a-day ability, the Death Knight had plenty of spellcasting left by the time VM fled the scene.

Delilah Briarwood

We’ve written, at length, about Delilah’s abilities before, which you can read here, here, here, and here. The only new accouterment she brought to this battlefield was the Eye of Vecna. As we said in our summary about Vecna, we’re not willing to speculate on what the Eye can or can’t do yet because it could have similarities and differences from any version of it described in other lore. What we do know is that, though its wearer is dead (at least this incarnation of her is dead), it is still alive. Delilah’s body and the Eye of Vecna are now with Vox Machina in the Feywild.

Vox Machina’s Strategy

Vox Machina was fighting at a massive disadvantage from the first moment of the fight, thanks to Vecna’s eighth level Hold Monster spell. Smartly, Percy figured out early on that trying to whittle down Vecna’s hit points was a losing prospect, so he and Grog focused their attacks on the comparatively much weaker Delilah. You know a battle is rough when Delilah Briarwood is the easiest combatant to take out. From there, the remaining members of Vox Machina focused on the Death Knight in a desperate attempt to get it to lose concentration on its Banishment spell that locked Grog in the Shadowfell. It took the revived Vex dealing 56 damage in one strike to finally get it to lose concentration… though not by much. By then, Vox Machina realized that they, as Taliesin quoted, “needed a bigger boat.”

VM’s spellcasting saved them from having any more casualties than they did. Even before the battle, Pike and Keyleth’s combined Earthquakes laid ruin to a number of the Cult of Vecna, and allowed them to avoid a number of pitfalls within Entropis. We can’t know if that had any impact on the battle itself, but taking out evil cultists is never a bad thing. Pike’s Lesser Restoration ensured that Grog was no longer paralyzed, which allowed him to deal a staggering 142 damage to Delilah (over half of her hit points) in his next round before being banished. Banishment is awful, but would have been worse is if he had been banished while also being paralyzed. Pike also gave Percy an armor class bonus, revived Vex, and healed all of VM that was alive in the third round. Love your clerics, folks. Without Keyleth, Vox Machina would have been stuck with no exit from a battle that seemed like a race to a TPK. Scanlan’s Dimension Door put Pike within Revivify range of Vex, and his final, purposefully saved seventh level Counterspell ensured that their Plane Shift out still succeeded. If it had failed, we would likely have been witnesses to the end of Vox Machina, as Vecna and the Death Knight seemed disinclined to allow them to flee on foot.