Monster Analysis: Gnolls (Abandoned Mine)

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Gnoll Pack Lord

  • First Appearance: 2-05 The Open Road
  • Encounter Appearance: 2-07 Hush
  • Armor Class 16
  • Speed 30 ft
  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 10
  • Suggested average, max HP: 49, 89
  • 59 damage taken, 19 HDYWTDT by Nott and Jester

Despite already engaging in multiple combat encounters, and Beau getting kicked down a pit, this encounter against the Pack Lord was significantly less dire and terrifying than the encounter the party entered relatively fresh. Why?

The psychological game played a much bigger role in Alfield, for starters. Even if the party did not engage an entire army of gnolls, the still overwhelming number of gnolls present in Alfield quashed any potential heroic decisions. The party also had much more time to plan their attacks against the admittedly fewer gnolls in the mine, as well as spread out the encounters rather than taking on the full strength of the gnolls all at one time. The option to take a short rest to recharge spells and hit points in between only made the effort that much less risky.

In Alfield, the party contended with 11 hostiles total within 30 seconds. This penultimate encounter leading to the final chamber in the mine took place in fewer rounds than the Alfield encounter and only involved six enemies. Even with Beau getting knocked off the previously-unseen ledge, the party was well-equipped to handle the gnolls’ attacks, especially with the addition of Shakäste as both support and an additional source of damage.

It can also be noted that the total damage the party dealt to the pack lord this time was less than that dealt in Alfield. From a narrative standpoint, this can be explained by the lack of time for a full rest in order to complete the ritual for the gnoll’s monstrous patron. From a metagame perspective, take note, DMs: it’s okay to readjust your boss baddies when you know that your party is going to face something more difficult immediately after!