Monster Analysis: Siff Duthar

Thanks to @AnArtistComplex for this art piece!

  • Encounter Appearance: 2-16 A Favor in Kind
  • Armor Class ≤ 14
  • Darkvision 60 ft
  • Speed 30 ft (flying)
  • Resistant to fire, cold, nonmagical physical weapon damage (and others)
  • Immune to poison damage and poisoned (and others)
  • 86 damage taken, 7 HDYWTDT by Mollymauk

As we discussed last week, Siff Duthar was a mage during the Age of Arcanum, a paranoid necromancer who destroyed his own work to avoid it falling into the hands of the Betrayer Gods (specifically, the Crawling King). While his life may have come to an end (despite his research intended to unnaturally extend it), his soul stuck around to guard the laboratory. As the Mighty Nein read through his journal that survived, undiscovered for centuries, Siff's spirit appeared to engage. His secrets were now theirs. As his ghostly form floated menacingly closer, the party quickly weighed their desperate options: talk it out, flee, or fight?

A Secret for Trade

Considering the party had already weathered three combat encounters that day and had the resources and HP to prove it, negotiation was quickly chosen as the primary tactic. Considering his opening line, “My secrets are yours,” the Mighty Nein opted to continue along that line of thought, offering secrets of their own to keep the conversation civil. With Siff's spirit curiously awaiting their opening gambit, Jester shared the first secret that crossed her mind: Nicodranas pastries have cinnamon.

Though we can’t imagine why, Siff wasn’t satisfied with Jester’s offering, and forcefully offered secrets of his own: secrets of ancient war, overwhelming power, and mind-altering violence. While Jester and Yasha were able to shrug off his first blast of Whispers of Madness (DC 13 or 14), Beau’s mind was overwhelmed with the visions, taking a swing at Yasha (but missed). Yasha’s final attempts at negotiation for a secret revealed that Siff regarded this as “a piece.” Dissatisfied with what he had to offer, Yasha initiated combat.

Thanks to @spacecaptainz for this art piece!

Siff’s Howling Babble (recharge on 5 or 6 on D6) flooded the chambe and all minds within 30 feet of him with whispers that overpowered any other thought. All who failed the wisdom save (DC 13 or 14) were stunned; this shut down half the party in the first and third rounds. His Whispers of Madness placed a confusion effect on Yasha and Beau, forcing them to attack each other. He also shared his insanity by physical contact via his Maddening Touch, which dealt psychic damage to Yasha.

Note: Several viewers recognized Siff’s abilities were remarkably similar to the allip, an incorporeal undead creature from the 3e Monster Manual. It should also be noted that Mordenkainan’s Tome of Foes, which releases May 18, 2018 and is already in Matt’s possession, adapts many creatures from earlier editions for use in 5e. Check it out for Siff’s complete and exact stats, as well as many other exciting creatures!

Will-They-Wisp, Won’t-They-Wisp

Adding to the panic were four will-o’-wisps coming out of their cages (and doing just fine). Fjord, Molly, and Nott found themselves at the brunt of their rage, which was fortunate, with Jester (the healer) and Yasha (the tank) already running low on HP. The party focused most of their initial attention on dissipating the will-o’-wisps by destroying their urns. Though visible, the cages that protected them made this task more difficult than killing the upper chamber’s wisps. Jester cast Turn Undead for the first time, successfully forcing two of the wisps to flee who failed the required wisdom saving throw. While this potentially could have prevented several attacks on the party, Nott immediately killed both affected wisps by destroying their urns before they could act again anyway.

This was the first time someone went unconscious in the vicinity of a will-o’-wisp. Thankfully, Molly used a healing potion to get Jester up before the remaining wisp could get its next turn. Had Jester been unconscious by that point, the wisp could have easily used its 50 feet flying speed to get to her and use its Consume Life ability. Jester would have needed to make a DC 10 saving throw or die.

The Urn of the Hider, The Chill of the Plight

Despite destroying the ethereal representation of the necromancer, Molly’s HDYWTDT on Siff didn’t take him out of the fight for long. Like the will-o’-wisps, Siff’s spirit was tied to his ashes, contained within a ceremonial urn. His astral form was temporarily dismissed when he was brought to zero hit points, revealing the urn’s location when he reappeared. After he blasted the party with another barrage of babble, his retreat into the ceiling gave the party ample opportunity to peel back the bookcase and remove bricks from the wall unmolested. Molly’s reach required two strikes on Siff’s decorated urn, scattering the ashes and finally removing his maddened spirit’s last tie to this world. His words, however, remain, currently in the possession of one Gentleman...