Monster Analysis: Warden of the False Serpent (Hydra)

The sacrifice feeds the fountain.
The fountain feeds the garden.
The garden feeds warden.
The warden guards the false serpent.

Yuan-ti Abomination

Thanks to @BlackSalander for this art piece!

  • First Appearance: 2-38 Welcome to the Jungle

  • Encounter Appearance: 2-39 The Temple of the False Serpent

  • Armor Class 15

  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 15

  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 127, 195

  • 124 damage taken, 10 killing blow by Nott

Abominations, the most devout of the followers of Zehir, are ranked the highest in yuan-ti society and are blessed with a near complete transformation into snake-like forms. This particular abomination had been sealed beneath the temple, lost deep in worship and meditation while awaiting the moment the warden would need to be summoned to protect the path to Uk’otoa, the sealed “False Serpent.” Due to his monstrous appearance, the abomination’s initial presence served as a red herring to the Nein, leading them to believe that he was “the warden” of which the clues they had retrieved before spoke.

The abomination wielded two weapons, a longbow and a scimitar. Though he missed on his slowed attack with his scimitar, he managed to land several solid strikes with the longbow, knocking Jester down to less than half health with one arrow and Yasha with two. During his first round, the abomination dragged his scimitar over the edge of the pool, summoning the true warden. Shortly thereafter, Fjord cast Hunger of Hadar, obscuring the abomination. Hidden under the cover of darkness, and with the Nein distracted by the hydra, the abomination found himself free from harassment for the majority of the rest of the encounter as he was able to support the hydra, though the damage he could deal soon paled in comparison.

Hydra, The True Warden

Thanks to @KGBooker for this art piece!

  • First Appearance: 1-17 Hubris

  • Encounter Appearance: 2-39 The Temple of the False Serpent

  • Armor Class 15

  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 16

  • Speed 30 ft, Swim 30 ft

  • Advantage on saves vs. blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, or being knocked unconscious

  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 172, 255

    • 428 damage taken, 10 HDYWTDT by Yasha

    • 40 healed from regeneration (8 heads regrown for 5 HP each)

Hydra are huge creatures that can move as easily on land as they can through the water. Traditionally fierce, they hunt with no concern for maintaing a consistent food supply in their environment, and will usually move on when their hunting grounds have been cleaned out. Campaign 1 viewers will remember back to episode 17 where Vox Machina battled a hydra in the forests outside Vasselheim, albeit at much higher levels and with the full element of surprise on their size.

The yuan-ti have a definite aesthetic: snakes, snakes, and more snakes. Naturally, their most important guardian, the Warden of the False Serpent, would fit that theme in the form of a five-headed hydra. For this hydra to have stayed in one general place for this long, the yuan-ti must have cared for it, providing it with a consistent supply of fruit from the underground orchard.

They also kept it hungry for intruders. With five heads ready to feed and more ready to feed with each of those dispatched, the Warden was truly a dangerous guardian of the people of a Betrayer God.

The Encounter

The Mighty Nein, realizing quickly that getting in melee range would draw the ire of the hydra, primarily stayed out of range of its heads for the battle. Only Beau, Yasha, and Avantika dared to stay within melee range, with Beau and Avantika taking the brunt of the hydra’s attacks.

Several steps The Mighty Nein took really shaped the battle in their favor:

  • Fjord casting Hunger of Hadar

    • This slowed the hydra down, while also dealing damage to it and the abomination

  • Caleb casting Scorching Ray

    • This ensured that The Nein’s work in the second round removing two heads wasn’t undone

  • Caduceus casting Bane

    • This caused the hydra to fail its save on...

  • Caleb casting Slow

    • When you have a creature that can attack as many times as it has heads and get as many reactions as it has heads, Slow is the best spell to have (short of outright killing it). That limited the hydra to one attack and no reactions for a round, keeping Beau, Yasha, and Avantika much safer

  • Caduceus strategically using Path to the Grave before Yasha’s turns

    • Yasha ended up dealing 114 damage to the hydra. 34 points of that was thanks to Caduceus rendering the hydra vulnerable to all damage she dealt on two strikes.

  • Beau staying in melee range of the hydra

    • By staying in range with Patient Defense up, Beau kept the hydra’s attention for rounds 3-5 and off of her squishier friends.

  • Nott killing the Abomination.

    • Because Beau took one for the team and tanked against the hydra, she ended up going unconscious. Nott, who had stayed hidden throughout the battle, was able to get sneak attack against the abomination and kill it just before it would have potentially put its scimitar into Beau’s unconscious body.

With all visible threats within the temple neutralized, the false serpent has no warden. As The Mighty Nein lick their wounds, all that remains is to discover the exact nature of the “blasphemy” the yuan-ti sought to keep imprisoned...