Monster Analysis: Ghosts, Round 2

  • Encounter Appearance: 33 Reunions
  • Armor Class 11
  • Immune to nonmagical physical damage (custom), cold, necrotic, and poison damage
  • Resistant to non-radiant magical damage
  • Ghost 1: 62 damage taken, 13 killing blow by Vex’s blazing arrow
  • Ghost 2: 38 damage taken, 21 killing blow by Scanlan’s Spirit Guardian 
  • Ghost 3: 20 damage taken, 6 HDYWTDT Vicious Mockery by Scanlan
  • First ghost analysis can be found here.

I hate ghosts. Hate ‘em. Hate hate hate. Loathe.

This encounter left many a critter on edge (along with a few elevated heart rates). Crafted with Ashley in mind, Pike’s absence turned the encounter (as designed) from extremely difficult to nigh unbeatable. However, this is where we get to see a master DM at work, looking for loopholes in his own game plan to make the whole ordeal bearable. Without changing anything from the last encounter with ethereal spirits, Matt improvised the effects of two very needed tools: Vax’s symbol of Sarenrae and Scanlan’s Scroll of Spirit Guardian.

Vax’s holy symbol, which has served as little more than a reminder of Pike until now, was just what the team needed to remind them of their missing cleric and expel the spirit from the heavy-damage-dealing rogue. Mechanically speaking, such an item would have little use in the hands of anyone who does not identify as a cleric of paladin of Sarenrae. However, Vax’s somewhat superstitious faith, ongoing demonstration of belief in the deity’s power, and Pike’s less-than-physical presence all allowed the story to deliver a believable source of radiant saving energy.

Likewise, the Spirit Guardian’s radiant attacks, while damaging to ghosts, should have still only dealt damage to the possessed, leaving the ghosts just as safe in their protective shell as any other attack. However, textbook be damned when the story was just as believable when radiant energy attacks ALL, including those attempting to hide from divine light. Ghost 1 took the majority of its damage from within Keyleth, while the total 38 radiant damage dealt to Ghost 2 killed it without it needing to leave Grog.

Even with these modifications, the fight still resulted in both Keyleth and Percy falling unconscious, with Percy failing two death saving throws by autocrit (implemented after Taliesin confirmed that Percy had already rolled a single saved roll). Considering that this is the second fight in this episode where Vox Machina fought each other and severely depleted their HP in the process, Scanlan had the right idea: “We should never fight ourselves.”

Special thanks to @thesingingbadger for logging episode 33 stats; makes it much easier to write these up!