Monster Analysis: Obann, The Laughing Hand, and Shadowhounds

After several episodes of travel and dungeon delving, the Mighty Nein reach their goal: the deepest room of the temple and a confrontation with the potential source of the abyssal anchors, Yasha's lost history... and another forgotten relic of the Calamity.

“Welcome to the heart of the King’s Cage.”

Obann, Demonic Cambion

  • First Appearance: 2-46 A Storm of Memories (in Yasha’s dream)

  • Encounter Appearance: 2-69 The King’s Cage

  • Armor Class 21 (suggested 19)

  • Speed 30 ft, 60 ft flying

  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 14

  • Resistant to cold, fire, lightning, and nonmagical weapon damage

  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 82, 121

  • 213 damage taken, 12 HDYWTDT by Fjord (210 HP total)

“Well done. Well done, indeed. I am impressed by your tenacity and capabilities. It is with great wisdom that I fled when we first met.”

Cambions are fiends with human and succubus/incubus parents. Like succubi/incubi, they can be either demonic or devilish, depending on their plane of origin. Unlike those of devilish origin who climb the ranks of the Nine Hell’s structure, demonic cambions gain their power through both the strength they can demonstrate and the roving humanoids and fiends they can command. Though Obann was never specifically confirmed as a cambion, his personality, goals, abilities, and what we know of his history all seem to fit the bill, albeit with a demonstration of much more strength than those we’ve seen in the series’ past. (The last time we saw cambions were in Campaign 1, the most notable being a rakish fiend named Ipkesh who made a deal with Percy.)

Obann used the party’s tenacity to his advantage, watching them invisibly from the shadows as they cleared the path for him to the King’s Cage. Even when they first met back in Rosohna, he always kept the upper hand of what knowledge was on the table. However, in spite of having a great deal of respect for the Mighty Nein’s abilities, his plan to stay clear and let the Laughing Hand clear them still fell to the party’s tricks. Even wielding his abyssal longsword, Obann was better suited to the role of a commander and manipulator than a front line fighter.

Cambions also carry, with their intense charisma, the ability to charm one humanoid for a 24 hour period. However, given Obann’s already demonstrated enhanced power and the amount of time he had to know and corrupt Yasha before we were even introduced to her, it’s unclear the full extent that Obann affected Yasha’s mind. Based on Matt’s testimony on Talks Machina, even if Yasha had saved against his influence, the flood of memories alone would have been enough for her to leave the party to come to terms with her past.

The Laughing Hand

  • First Appearance: 2-69 The King’s Cage

  • Armor Class 17

  • Speed 30 ft

  • 120 damage taken

“...[Torog’s] undying chosen, who, like his master, could not really be slain.”

Based on a nightmare Matt once had, the Laughing Hand served the Crawling King, one of the Betrayer Gods, back around the time of the Calamity. Sealed away by the celestials, it persisted on this plane post-Calamity and oversaw the temple to Torog in his absence. Other than the brief history Obann provided, we don’t know much about the origins of the Laughing Hand. Did it start its life as a creature? Was it brought over from another plane? Was it created by Torog? If so, how?

In any case, the Laughing Hand was a heavy hitter, dealing an average of 18.2 damage per strike with either its double-sided blade arm or a slam from its fist. That’s enough to nearly take out Caleb in one round of attacks. The Hand also grew new laughing mouths wherever its flesh was opened by a slashing weapon. As if these weren’t horrifying enough by themselves, the fright induced by them reduces the speed of failing victims to zero, making them easy prey for the Laughing Hand. The force of its personality also provided it a strong defense; Matt mentioned it had a +8 bonus to charisma saves when Jester attempted to hit it with Banishment.

Shadowhounds

  • First Appearance: 2-69 The King’s Cage

  • Armor Class 21

  • Speed 30 ft, can climb difficult surfaces without needing to make an ability check

    • Hound 1: 60 damage taken, 41 killing blow by Fjord

    • Hound 2: 55 damage taken, 14 killing blow by Fjord

    • Hound 3: 41 damage taken, 12 killing blow by Fjord

The shadowhounds summoned by the Laughing Hand were a nuisance to the party as they tried to focus on Obann and the Laughing Hand. Caleb used up his glove of blasting rays to try to pick them off, and the party had to rethink some of their moves to avoid incurring an attack of opportunity from a nearby hound. Fjord ended up taking out all three, two of them thanks to their proximity to his 5th level Thunder Step, and one when he had nowhere else to go when he was frightened by the Laughing Hand.

Yasha

The greatest blow to the party came with Yasha’s betrayal. Although the party possibly could have trapped or even defeated the Laughing Hand, with Yasha’s mind changing states, even simple escape became a dangerous affair.

Jester’s Mirror Image was possibly the most important spell cast of the entire encounter. Her three duplicates absorbed hits from the Laughing Hand, a shadowhound, and Yasha. The hits from the Hand and Yasha would have really hurt Jester. But perhaps more importantly, the attack from Yasha was a Sentinel strike, and would have reduced Jester’s speed to zero as she tried to escape the room. Had the strike landed on Jester and not the duplicate, she would have become a prime target for their attacks.

Instead, however, they focused on Fjord, who was frightened and grappled by the Laughing Hand. Fjord’s Relentless Endurance kept him barely alive after Yasha’s critical hit against him. The Nein focused their efforts towards getting Fjord out of the room and themselves out of the temple entirely. Beau’s heroic rescue absolutely saved Fjord’s life. She managed to get him out of the Laughing Hand’s grasp, a move powered by force of will as much as strength. Then, she became the target for Yasha and the Hand’s combined five strikes, absorbing damage from the three that hit her. Thanks to her speed (and despite the added difficulty from Caleb’s well-intentioned Enlarge spell), she got Fjord to safety just in time for Caduceus to heal him before the party fled.