Monster Analysis: Earthbreaker Groon, Round 2

Thanks to @ForgingMeanings for this art piece!

  • First appearance: 23 THE REMATCH
  • Previous encounter: 43 Return to Vasselheim
  • Encounter appearance: 85 A Bard’s Lament
  • Level 18 or higher Monk, Way of the Open Hand
  • Armor Class 23 (10 + Dex 7 + Wis 6)
  • Difficulty Class 20 (8 + Prof 6 + Wis 6)
  • Base Speed 60 ft (30 ft + Unarmored Movement 30 ft)
  • 3 Legendary Resistances (unused)
  • Legendary Actions (3 used)
  • 18-20 Ki points, 14 used
  • 412 damage taken, 37 HDYWTDT by Grog
    • 54-60 points healed mid-battle

Grog’s second tussle with the leader of the temple of Kord was no less exciting than the first. Groon didn’t pull any punches, so to speak, against the solo-fighting goliath. In the end, Kord’s strength was with them both.

Tranquility

The first five rounds were rather uneventful; intentionally so, thanks to Groon’s Tranquility. While the spell Sanctuary usually only protects its caster from attacks for the span of 1 minute, a monk who spent the previous long rest in meditation can force the attacker redirect any attacks directed at themselves to another target, or simply lose the attack.

Grog followed Groon’s example of passivity for the first two rounds before attempting to start the fight. To his chagrin, his attempts to overcome Groon’s Ki DC of 20 would have only succeeded with a natural 20, particularly thanks to Grog’s -2 saving throw modifier. Groon did not take an action until round 6, after dispelling his own Tranquility effect once Grog took a moment to touch rather than attack the monk.

Once the lesson in gentleness had been demonstrated, the real fight started.

The Real Fight

At the top of round 6, Groon opened with Flurry of Blows. Grog’s Rage was a huge boon for him, especially against a creature that gets 4 attacks in a round. Groon’s 37 damage to Grog was reduced by Rage to 20, and as we saw later in the battle, every hit point counts. Grog dealt a comparable 36 damage in that round, showcasing how better prepared and suited Grog was for Groon this time around.

In round 7, Groon planted his Quivering Palm technique into Grog, waiting to activate it until the 11th round. Unlike his previous bout with Grog, Vax, and Scanlan, Groon did not hold back, dealing the full 10d10 necrotic damage on the successful Constitution save. He also stunned Grog in both the 10th and 14th rounds

Groon’s Wholeness of Body healed the monk enough to negate two of Grog’s attacks. His Patient Defense forced Grog into going Reckless just so Grog could hit, giving Groon advantage on his attacks in return.

Thanks to @Takayuuki_art for this art piece!

Grog

Grog was saved by two barbarian features: physical damage resistance and Relentless Rage. His Frenzy rage by round 9 granted him 3 successful hits out of 6 extra attempts, keeping him from having to test Relentless Rage’s limitations for more than 18 rounds. Had he remembered to use his reaction to Retaliate or get in an Attack of Opportunity at every opportunity (1 used of 7 opportunities), he may have been able to end the encounter before needing Relentless Rage at all.

Although Grog also did not use his Second Wind ability to regain a few extra hit points, his Stone’s Endurance negated another hit from Groon in the 10th round (while stunned, no less). Had Grog not been raging, he would have taken a total of 429 points of damage instead of the 229 he took instead. (He also would have been to 0 HP after the Quivering Palm, at 238 damage taken instead of 137.)

Grog had to roll against three Constitution Saving DCs in the final round: one to not be stunned, and two just to stay on his feet (both of which were relatively low for his +10 bonus, even with a -2 penalty). Once he survived Groon’s final series of blows, two hits were just enough. Cutting it close, indeed.

Final Thoughts

From a meta-game perspective, this battle was the opportunity for the DM to play with the full arsenal of a high-level Way of the Open Hand monk. From Quivering Palm to multiple stunning strikes to Wholeness of Body, Groon demonstrated almost his entire arsenal. This was in addition to the mid-combat story opportunities, using the forced lulls in combat to test Grog on not just his demonstrated strength, but also the goliath’s understanding of both the lengths and limitations of that strength.