Monster Analysis: Forgotten Empyrean

Thanks to @BlackSalander for this art piece!

  • Encounter Appearance: The Search for Grog

  • Armor Class: 23

  • Speed 50 ft, fly 50 ft, swim 50 ft

  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 313, 418

  • 726 damage taken, 86 HDYWTDT by Grog

Empyreans are huge humanoid celestials, direct descendants of the gods. When they are in their right mind, they usually consider themselves undefeatable, and cannot ever imagine themselves dying as they proudly fight on in combat. As a result, they will fight fearlessly to the death, refusing to believe the end is coming even when it is upon them. Once they are killed, they are often resurrected by one of their parents unless they have a good reason not to. That good reason could be that the empyrean was corrupted upon venturing to the Lower Planes and turned to evil; evil empyreans are rare, but they occasionally rule as tyrants on the Lower Planes. They also tend to have direct impacts on their environment: when an empyrean is unhappy, clouds rain down salt water, flowers wilt, and fish wash ashore. In contrast, when they are happy, everything goes full Disney: sunlight follows them, small animals frolic around them, and birds sing.

The Forgotten Empyrean bound to Grog's soul was formerly the son of the god of death... the very same god that the Matron of Ravens usurped when she ascended. Dispatched to the Outer Plane of Pandemonium by his father as punishment for his hubris, the empyrean’s exile was meant to last only a short while. The millennia of enduring the madness of his environment combined with no further word from his unknowingly defeated father resulted in one of the most powerful entities of the planes lashing out in abandonment and anguish, and nothing else restraining his raw power. Add the evil corruption that befell it and the binding of his location to the top of a tower with a little red gem that wouldn't let him leave under any circumstance other than death, and the confusion only compounds its rage. How convenient that a group of individuals showed up to allow him to vent.

Although the empyrean demonstrated no resistances, his offensive abilities, legendary actions, and increased health more than made up for any lack in defensive capabilities. His hammer strike attacked all individuals in a 15 foot cone (differing from the Monster Manual empyrean’s maul) and dealt an average of 34.25 damage per person. He could make two attacks per turn, plus an attack of opportunity, AND burn one of his three legendary actions per round to take an attack.

Scanlan’s Irresistible Dance ensured that the entity could not use its movement to do anything other than dance. The empyrean was locked at the top of the tower anyway, but the Dance forced the empyrean to stay on the ground and allowed Percy and Vex to get to their firing positions without worrying about the empyrean stomping over to ruin their shots. Most importantly, though, Vox Machina and friends got advantage on their attacks against him until it faded. It didn’t last more than a round, but it was enough time for Pike to Guiding Bolt him right up the butt, and Percy to deal an astonishing 197 damage in one round, including a critical hit with Cabal’s Ruin lightning for 104 damage, plus an additional 52 damage later from the hemorrhaging critical for a total of 156 damage in a single shot. (Editor’s note: Until now, Vox Machina’s most damaging single creature attack was Vax’s attack against the mummy inside the primordial titan, dealing 109 damage in episode 110.)

Vox Machina’s allies did their part to aid Vasselheim’s heroes. Before she went unconscious, Lieve’tel activated her Rod of Alertness and called upon a giant raven ally to aid Vox Machina. Bertrand, the seasoned fighter, went out swinging with his Gambler’s Rapier for 127 damage.

Keyleth brought out one of her most terrifying Shapechanges, the goristro. This allowed her to confidently get in the empyrean’s face to give it another target to hit, taking the heat off of Lieve’tel, Bertrand, and Scanlan, which kept Scanlan alive. Vex’ahlia put her +16 attack bonus to use, landing all four of her attacks with Fenthras without the aid of advantage. She also managed to avoid the empyrean’s fury by staying far out of range of its maul. The real hero of the day, naturally, was Trinket (#NoBearLeftBehind). Trinket stalked through the plane of Pandemonium with Grog on his back, and risked his life to get Grog’s body close enough to his trapped soul to activate the connection to bring Grog back. Once he was back, Grog channeled his fury at his unwilling captor and landed two back-to-back critical hits to bring down the empyrean.

Before the party left, Allura told them that at the top of the tower, any message you shout to anyone could be delivered across the planes. Given the uncertain fate of the creature's father, it's somewhat cruel of fate to trap him atop a place where his cries were guaranteed to reach the target… with no hope of response.