Monster Analysis: Kern the Hammer, Round 1

Sketch by andrewkellerdraws

  • First appearance: 17 Hubris
  • Armor Class 18
  • Barbarian Class and Half-Orc Racial Abilities
  • Returns to 1 hp when reduced to 0 or fewer (once)
  • 102 total HP + 1 bonus, 107 damage received

In anticipation for Round 2 of Phillip the Terrible vs. Kern the Hammer, we’re skipping ahead in our usual monsters to analyze the first round. While there will be some criticism on some choices on the part of Phillip, we want to make clear that we still applaud Travis for fully getting into the moment of the fight. Hind sight is 20/20, and even if he didn’t play to the full of Grog’s ability, damn if it wasn’t entertaining. (As Taliesin points out, “There’s not enough popcorn in the world for this.”) Even though he didn’t mean to lose, this fight ranks up there with Grog’s “haggling” in episode 22. Kudos on a stellar performance, Mr. Willingham. Story is more important that rules!

With that disclaimer out of the way, there were a lot of little things that could have turned the tide of the fight. The Intimidating Presence was a nice artistic touch, but even with a good roll, it would have been ineffective vs. another raging barbarian. That first turn would have been better spent dealing damage, thus buying Grog that last turn he needed. During the third round, he also used a full action to grapple Kern instead of hit him, again costing him two potential additional hits.

Travis pointed out after the show two Barbarian bonuses Grog forgot to apply: Stone’s Endurance and Resistance due to Rage. Stone’s Endurance would have kept Grog alive long enough to get that last hit. Counting his rage resistance would have made the battle a cake-walk.

With that said, we wonder if Matt was actually halving Kern’s damage. If he was, Kern only had 51 HP in the fight, which would not have been nearly as close. We get the impression that the fight was Grog’s 116 vs. Kern’s 119, and no damage was halved. If Grog does remember halve his damage in Round 2, expect a much easier fight.

Update: @majorroe and turtleperch confirmed that Matt did indeed ignore damage resistance so the fight wouldn’t drag on for too long. Therefore, it was a 116 vs. 119. Expect it to be higher for round 2, since Grog has leveled since then to 134. Kern probably has gotten stronger, as well! (Thanks, turtleperch, for the link to the tweet!)

This, of course, assumes that there will be a second round between these two. The DM works in mysterious ways, so there’s no guarantee that we’ll see another fight. Something more important could call the group’s attention, someone dethroned Kern giving Grog a new champion to worry about, etc. We’ll just have to see! (I’m making popcorn anyway.)