Monster Analysis: Ettins (Wuyun Gorge)

Thanks to @p_agurcia for this art piece!

  • First Appearance: 1-022 AraMente to Pyrah
  • Encounter Appearance: 2-032 Beyond the Boundaries
  • Armor Class 12
  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 14
  • Advantage on Perception checks and Wis saves
  • Speed 40 ft.
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 85, 130
    • Ettin 1: 111 damage taken, 9 HDYWTDT by Beau
    • Ettin 2: 104 damage taken, 25 HDYWTDT by Caleb

As we mentioned in our first ettin Monster Analysis, ettins are two-headed giantkin with uniquely named personalities in each head, and a combined intelligence in both on par with Grog Strongjaw. Ettins are fairly argumentative even with themselves; the alliance between two ettins are usually extremely short-lived as any plans quickly devolve into four-headed shouting matches.

The ettins staked in Wuyun Gorge, only a few hours outside the protection of the Crownsguard, had apparently enough of a system to gain half of an eaten goat. It’s unclear how many successful ambushes they had lain in the past, but we’re disinclined to declare the partnership especially effective.

The Encounter

When Vox Machina fled from ettins back near Pyrah, those giantkin were much less prepared to acquire a snack. They also had a considerable distance between themselves and the party that prevented them from attacking with any means besides tossed boulders. While The Mighty Nein were not so fortunate in this respect (even after placing a few rounds of distance between them and the temporarily confused giants), their luck played out in other ways, resulting in much less damage taken than the first campaign's party.

Caduceus' eagle-eyed vision changed what could have been a very difficult complication to the group's travel into an amusing happenstance. By disrupting the initial ambush with his Calm Emotions spell, Caduceus unveiled the position of the second ettin and bought the whole party time to prepare. Caleb's Fear effect on the second ettin not only prevented a boulder from crushing the cart, but also gave the party room to flee by forcing it to run away first.

By the time both ettins recovered their senses, the Nein had plenty of room to deal with the first ettin before the second could even get back in range. Before number two was close enough to be a problem, Beau stunned it and knocked it prone, making it extremely easy to clean up after the party finished the first one.

This was the first time since they leveled that they engaged in combat, and we got to see a few new abilities come into play. Swoleregard (enlarged Beau) demonstrated how dangerous a Cobalt Soul monk can be, especially combined with the Sentinel feat. She was able to use ki to get a second reaction in the second round to make a Sentinel-granted reaction strike, killing the first ettin. Caleb also put his new extra 3rd-level spell slot to send the second etting to his doom in a blaze of, well, Fire(ball).