Monster Analysis: Dwarven Mummy King and Nothic

Neither of these really count as combat encounters due to… rather swift circumstances. However, even without any real challenge and with the briefest of appearances, both creatures added to the trials and lore of the dungeon.

Thomara Dwarven King (and Traps)

  • Armor Class between 20-32 (suggested 17)
  • Speed 20 ft
  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 14
  • Immune to necrotic, poison, and nonmagical physical weapon damage
  • Immune to charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, and poisoned
  • VULNERABLE to fire damage
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 97, 143
  • 109 damage taken, one-shotted by Vax’ildan

A mummy lord is a powerful undead entity, surrounded by their horde of treasures and lesser undead at their command. Not content to have their ritually prepared dead stay dead (and who would, really?), necromancers create undead mummies for a variety of reasons, most commonly as punishment for the deceased, who have no choice in the matter. The mummy’s curse of being undead can be broken, though how that occurs varies. Mummy lords can’t be permanently destroyed until their heart, locked away in its canopic jar, is burned to ashes.

Mummy lords are more often higher-ranking individuals, hungry for power even in undeath. They retain their personalities and memories, and maintain their abilities from when they were alive. With masterful control over any magic that takes place in their lair (even, to a small extent, that cast by their enemies) and a horrendous series of curses that enhance its own abilities it had in life while disabling their foes, a mummy lord is a truly fearsome opponent.

At least, it would be, assuming it gets an opportunity to do anything.

From the little we got to see of him, the Thomaran King seemed to have been a stalwart fighter in life, still bearing his powerful (cursed) adamantine hammer in undeath. As fast as he attempted to rise, he was just as fast laid back to rest by Vax’s single-most damaging attack on Critical Role (assassin rogue paladins against surprised undead, folks). Though the trapped stone boxes around the room were empty due to prior looting, it’s possible that they were canopic jars that previously contained the mummy’s organs.

Speaking of traps, while the mummy lord proved to be no challenge, Vox Machina’s overwhelming desire to see what treasure laid within the tomb proved to be the bigger difficulty. In a race to reach Vecna before Vecna reaches Vasselheim, Vox Machina spent longer than a short rest to read the glyphs around the tomb entrance, break in, examine the boxes, and pick the lock to the tomb, only to still be hit with petrification gas. This required Scanlan, Pike, and Keyleth to use three 5th-level spell slots on Greater Restoration at a time when everyone was trying to conserve upper-level spell slots.

In addition to burned spells, the only damage the mummy was able to burn outside of traps was the damage Grog did to himself with the cursed hammer. However, unlike the Hammer of Stop Hitting Yourself, the cincture retrieved from the king’s waist will likely prove invaluable should Vecna attempt to cast Mass Hold Person or Monster again, preventing Percy from needing a Freedom of Movement or Greater Restoration (assuming that it does not carry a curse of its own).

Nothic

  • Armor Class ≤ 29 (suggested 15)
  • Speed 30 ft
  • Truesight 120 ft, Passive 12
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 45, 66
  • 54 damage taken, one-shotted by Vax’ildan

Nothics are about as close as the Monster Manual gets to a cross between one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater and Gollum. In earlier editions, a nothic is driven entirely by its desire to inflict pain, happily causing suffering to its prey with its giant eye before devouring it in favor of its usual diet of carrion. Since 5e, this predilection for sadism hasn’t gone away, but their goals have become slightly more complex. Nothics are what happens when a wizard tries to dig up secrets that Vecna hoards for themselves: they become cursed aberrations (not undead), doomed to forever seek out hidden arcane knowledge with the ever-present faint glimmer of (false) hope for a cure for their condition.

Thanks to Vax (again), we didn’t get to see its abilities. These would have included a Rotting Gaze with its one eye (which does pretty much exactly what it sounds like), and a Weird Insight, in which the nothic gleans a fact or secret about its target should the target fail a Deception Check. Had Vox Machina encountered the nothic before the mummy, they would have found that it possessed the key to the mummy’s tomb, forgoing the need for Vax to conquer the bronze door with his exceptional lockpicking skills.

Final Thoughts

We’re particularly interested in how closely Matt has followed the textbook statistics for the monsters of this dungeon (both here and with the previously-discussed earth elementals), as opposed to his usual strategy of increasing health to match Vox Machina’s usual damage output. Although challenge rating means very little, a mummy lord would typically serve as an end boss instead of a minor inconvenience.

From a DM’s perspective, this choice could stem from multiple sources. It’s possible that the dungeon was populated so that even the most dangerous entities were merely dangerous to those not blessed by the gods. It could also be that rather than throw challenging encounter after challenging encounter at the party, each enemy serves as just one more small cut in the attritious march toward Exandria’s great final battle.

Whatever the reason, these remnants from the Age of Arcanum showcase not only Vox Machina’s final hurrah, but provide a small peek into Exandria’s rich history, as well as the world that Vecna saw as he began his ascent (or descent, depending on who you ask) from mortal to deity.