Monster Analysis: Zombie Horde (The Discard Pits)

  • First Appearance: 1-10 K’varn Revealed

  • Encounter Appearance: 2-67 Beyond the Eyes of Angels

  • Armor Class 8

  • Speed 20 ft

  • Immune to poison, poisoned

  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 22, 33

The final encounter of the day proved to be a dangerous, undead puzzle. The Crawling King, Torog, is the patron god for jailers and torturers, and The Mighty Nein’s descent into the Discard Pits showed just how fervently his followers worshipped him through their work.

This room of low-level, clumped together undead is a cleric’s dream because they can put their Channel Divinity: Destroy Undead to use with reckless abandon. The Mighty Nein’s two clerics alone released nearly 50 souls from their undead entrapment to finally move onto their afterlife. A room like this gives spellcasters the ability to maximize the damage their area of effect spells can do, like Caleb’s Fireball.

A horde of zombies is terrifying for single-target damage dealers, but in particular for a monk. Monks get to make more attacks per round than most other classes, but their damage can be slightly lower for each of those hits. Zombies may be fairly low on health, but their Undead Fortitude gives them the ability to roll a constitution save after a potentially fatal hit to see if they can remain at one hit point. The DC for that check is 5+ the amount of damage taken, so Beau, dealing 1d8 or 1d6 with her weapons, would have a generally more difficult time perma-killing a zombie than someone like Yasha, who hits with 2d6 with her greatsword, or Fjord with 1d10 for Eldritch Blast.

It took the Nein a little bit, but they figured out that some of the zombies’ hearts glowed, while others did not. We’re not sure if they glowed before they died or just after, and we don’t know if there was a reason certain did or did. We also don’t know if there was anything the Nein could have done to make one of the hearts glow or not. What mattered was that they got three of those hearts onto the altar before they could stop glowing, seemingly deactivating the zombies and opening the door to the bridge over the whispering chasm beyond.

The obelisk inscription at the start of this temple read:

Build every bridge,
Become every nightmare,
Feast on every heart.

They’ve seen the zombies and their hearts. They’ve reached the bridge. It remains to be seen what nightmares lie beyond it.