Monster Analysis: Remnant Excavators and Wraiths

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Progressing further still through the innards of the primordial titan past Thomara, Vox Machina ran into their first encounter with Vecna’s empowered minions. Why they were exploring so far from Thar Amphala or why they were excavating just outside the ancient dwarven city still remains a mystery, but even under the protection of the Band of Shrouds, Vecna’s piercing gaze extends.

The Remnant Faithful (Excavators)

  • Encounter Appearance: 111 Shadows of Thomara
  • Armor Class <20 (TCG suggested 16)
  • Speed 30 ft
  • Remnant Cultist
    • Passive 9
    • Resistant to psychic and necrotic damage
    • Suggested Average, Max HP: 60, 99
  • Remnant Chosen
    • Truesight 60 ft, Passive 13
    • Resistant to necrotic damage
    • Suggested Average, Max HP: 117, 180
  • Remnant 1 (unnamed): 131 damage taken, 21 killing blow by Vex’ahlia
  • Remnant 2 (Odell): 107 damage taken, 27 killing blow by Vex’ahlia
  • Remnant 3 (Viskorad): 117 damage taken, 26 killing blow by Percy

The Tal’Dorei Campaign Guide presents two types of Remnant enemies: Cultists and Chosen. Despite being the lower level of the two spellcasters, Cultists have still gained dangerous knowledge from their deity. This includes a fairly nasty spell list and an even nastier passive ability called Unknowable Secrets, which we saw Pike trigger when she attempted to cast Speak with Dead on Odell’s corpse and instead received a load of psychic damage for her trouble.

Chosen Remnants, as we suspect Viskorad to be with his shrunken, skeletal hand, are more dangerous as Vecna’s favored servants. This demonstration of enhanced arcane knowledge came in the form of Power Word Stun, an 8th level spell we’ve seen Vax fall victim to in the ziggurat battle against Delilah and Sylas. Beyond this single casting, however, we didn’t get to see Viskorad’s equally nasty spells or abilities thanks to the wall coming down. Not demonstrated were the potential for Finger of Death, Power Word Kill, or the built-in touch-only variant of Disintegrate by means of his Withered Hand.

Wraiths

  • First Appearance: 111 Shadows of Thomara
  • Armor Class 13
  • Speed 60 ft, Incorporeal Movement
  • Darkvision 60 ft, passive 12
  • Resistant to acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder, and non-silvered, non-magical physical weapon damage
  • Immune to necrotic and poison damage
  • Immune to charmed, exhaustion, grappled, paralyed, petrified, poisoned, prone, and restrained
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 67, 99
    • Wraith 1: ~51 damage taken, 22 killing blow by Pike
    • Wraith 2: ~88 damage taken, 39 killing blow by Vax

Wraiths are essentially fully-malevolent ghosts, so much so that they can summon lesser wraiths (specters) from the corpses of the fallen. They drain the life force from the living that they are able to make contact with, permanently lowering victims’ life forces by the amount of damage dealt until the victim can take a long rest. For a much lower level party, wraiths are incredibly dangerous on their own.

For Vox Machina, on the other hand, the wraiths merely gave the party something to do while everyone attempted to solve the force field puzzle. The undead entities dealt only one successful attack while hiding in the pillars between turns, taking a little bit of damage while hiding (though not as much as they would have in the open). Vax and Pike held their actions to smite the undead forces with little trouble while the rest of the party waited to smite the followers of Vecna.

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The Encounter

This encounter is a great example of how terrain, enemy ingenuity, and the right terrifying items can turn a relatively simplistic encounter into one with stakes. In a level playing field, two wizards would have been able to cast maybe two spells each (if they were lucky) before falling to the strength of Vox Machina. With the much cleverer use of a defensive spell like Wall of Force to prevent any further casualties, the Remnants bought time to settle on a strategy before unleashing the (admittedly slow-moving) Sphere of Annihilation on the otherwise trapped party.

This put Vox Machina into a predicament. Half the party wasted turns readying their actions for the Wall of Force to come down, and lashing out at the lowly wraiths that added insult to injury in between. Had the party retreated from the approaching orb, they risked the Remnants calling in more reinforcements, or at least warning Vecna of their presence below the city. This left the success of the battle entirely in Scanlan's hands, as he was obligated to not only Dimension Door past the barrier, but also force the original caster to drop the spell.

With an unusually high casting of Bigby's Hand, Scanlan dealt a sizable amount of damage and was fortunate that the wizard lost concentration on the first punch. (He was also fortunate that the caster attempted to cast Power Word Stun (an 8th level spell) on him, which had no effect by a mere 17 hit points.) Scanlan's quick bit of thinking to toss a dagger through where the barrier had been gave the go ahead to the rest of the party to unleash hell.

On top of dodging oblivion, fighting off incorporeal undead, and dealing with a magical force field, the party had to be ever mindful that they were within 60 feet of Vex. Scanlan pushed the boundary the farthest with 55 ft, nearly causing Vecna's sight to pinpoint the party's location. That said, if the Whispered One has been keeping an eye on his own worshipping excavators and hasn't seen Vox Machina for a while, he might already have some idea who is at fault...

Furthermore, the party had to burn some major resources to accomplish this moving puzzle, making a long rest look mighty appealing before entering the horrors of Thar Amphala, to say nothing of their final target.