Monster Analysis: Basilisk

  • Encounter appearance: 48 Into the Frostweald
  • First Appearance: 07 The Throne Room
  • Armor Class 15
  • Speed 20 ft
  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 9
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 52, 80
    • Underdark Basilisk 1: >37, Unstated finishing blow by Kima
    • Underdark Basilisk 2: 50 taken, 11 finishing blow by Vax’ildan
    • Ice-Scaled Basilisk 1: 68 taken, 19 finishing blow by Vax’ildan
    • Ice-Scaled Basilisk 2: 69 taken, 10 finishing blow by Vax’ildan
    • Ice-Scaled Basilisk 3: 78 taken, 18 finishing blow by Vex’ahlia
    • Ice-Scaled Basilisk 4: 79 taken, 22 finishing blow by Percy
    • Ice-Scaled Basilisk 5: 89 taken, 30 finishing blow by Grog

The many legged basilisk can restrain those of low constitution with but a glare, turning them into stone should they fail twice. Those who avert their gaze have temporary safety from this effect, but also suffer the penalty of self-imposed blindness for the round. It is technically possible to hide from their view or attack it outside the 30 ft range of its range, but any who start their turn within 30 feet of the creatures must choose to either shield their eyes until they can get far enough away or risk the gamble.

Common basilisks prefer warm climates and the safety of caves, Underdark included. The variation seen in episode 48 adapted to thrive in cold climates, and had been met by the party before before the stream. Their teeth are strong enough to crush stone, while the oils in their stomach can convert the stone back to nutritious flesh. If they see a reflection of themselves, basilisks can be tricked into turning themselves into stone under the impression that they are facing down a rival. If raised as hatchlings, a basilisk can be trained as a loyal watchdog (as seen in episode 07), petrifying only those who their master deems a threat and leaving welcome guests in peace.

In our research, we found that Pathfinder and D&D have two separate approaches to curing victims of a basilisk’s petrification. While Pathfinder requires a victim to be completely coated (not splashed) with the blood of a freshly-killed basilisk (less than an hour dead), D&D requires a more alchemical approach in which the oils of the creature’s gullet must be distilled into a potion. Exandria appears to require an amalgamation of the two approaches, with the blood of the creature needed to be distilled into a useful essence. Greater Restoration seems to be the most effective choice.

Compared to Vox Machina, basilisks form a relatively weak challenge. Their true annoyance lies in the built-in status effect, which can make combat against more difficult opponents even more frustrating. In the battle in the duergar throne room, both Tiberius and Kima fell victim to the basilisks, even though the creatures themselves were not the initial target of the characters’ attacks. Once the basilisks actually became the intended targets, they fell in relatively short order. In the Frostweald, the relatively low AC of the monstrosities compared to Vox Machina’s high attack bonuses and effective Con saves made the encounter little more than a wrinkle in the group’s investigation.