The final showdown with the Briarwoods. This is also a long one.
Lord Sylas Briarwood: Vampire Warror
- Armor Class: 19
- Challenge Rating: ~15
- Darkvision 120 ft, Passive 17
- Resistant to necrotic and nonmagical physical damage
- Heals 20 HP each round does not take radiant damage (non-applicable this battle!)
- Legendary Actions: Three extra actions per round
- Legendary Resistance: Three automatic saves (vampire’s choice)
- Speed: 30 ft, 20 ft (mist)
- Avg, Max HP of Vampire (MM): 144, 204
- 203 taken, 10 finishing blow by Percy, HDYWTDT Sunbeam by Keyleth
There has been some discussion about Lord Briarwood’s longsword. Rather than speculate on what it is or isn’t, we’ll stick with the numbers for now, and perhaps speculate on it later. Each hit forces the victim to make a Con save (DC 12) or lose a point of their Strength. This stolen stat is then channeled into the blade, increasing the attack and damage of the sword. Whether or not this effect is permanent remains to be seen. (Percy wanted to equip the sword, but since it is not a finesse weapon, it is unlikely to replace his current one.)
Last battle, Sylas’s Legendary Resistances were spent on Lillith’s status effects (wise, considering he’d rather control his own behavior). This time around, Vox Machina focused on damage rather than status effects, forcing him to burn two of them against Keyleth’s Sunbeam. From Sylas’s perspective, it was equally wise to save against his greatest weakness.
Sylas’s Charm has already had a dramatic effect on the story before. Vampires have their own charm effect that lasts 24 hours or until the vampire is destroyed. The victims are still essentially of sound mind, but feel like the vampire and its allies must be protected at all cost, including willingly offering their own necks to be bitten. Saving throws are available to the victim whenever they take damage from the vampire or its allies (Wis save, DC 17). It was fortunate that everyone, including the DM, forgot that a raging barbarian cannot be charmed until the turn had already been used.
As we saw with Count Tyleari, Sylas turned into mist at 0 hp to flee back to his coffin. Theoretically, Keyleth could have dusted him by simply standing next to him (30 ft radius of sunlight), although his meal of “a bag of holy dicks” was a fitting conclusion for the monster. It should be noted that, not only do all charms that he cast within the past 24 hours break with his demise, but all vampires that he spawned are no longer in his service. That would be quite a few masterless, entirely free-willed vampires roaming the streets of Whitestone…
Lady Delilah Briarwood: Necromancer Wizard
- Armor Class 18
- Spell DC 19 (base 8 + prof 5 + Int 6)
- Magical resistance to piercing and magic damage
- Forced disadvantage on all attacks against her until first success per round
- 200 taken* (minus up to 20 from Greater Healing Potion), 22 HDYWTDT by Percy (De-armed and unconscious)
So, first of all, we’d like to establish that trying to nail down what Lady Briarwood is, what items she has, and what she’s capable of has been challenging. We’ve narrowed down a lot, but we eagerly await Matthew Mercer narrowing down the focus a bit more. We know that she is a wizard of the school of necromancy, has two 5th level spell slots, an 8th level spell slot, and at least one 7th level spell slot (potentially augmented by an artifact). With this knowledge, we can surmise that she is a 15th or 16th level Wizard with an Int of 22-23, a Wis of 14-15, and Con of 16-17.
What makes it difficult to figure out what she’s capable of is the collection of magical items she keeps on her person, and Lady Briarwood came equipped to this fight. Between her Cloak of Displacement (forced disadvantage on attacks until first hit to her next turn), the scroll for the ritual, the Fireball she took out of her pocket, and a few other secret items we suspect she has (along with plenty others that we have no clue about), she is indeed a very powerful, studied, and collective master of the arcane. (Just imagine shopping with HER; suddenly Tibsy doesn’t seem so bad.)
*Matt pointed out that piercing attacks (including magical) were being reduced to half. (Update: We now know that her robe gave her this piercing resistance!) We thought perhaps a Contingency spell was triggered by Stoneskin, but we also noticed that this resistance was not stated during Vax’s 10 slashing and 24 poison, Grog’s 19 bludgeoning, or Keyleth’s 12 AoO. However, considering the majority of the attack against her were piercing, this targeted resistance, combined with her natural spell resistance, made her a very difficult target to bring down while her husband was alive, and a dangerous cornered animal at the end of the night.
Of course, we can’t talk about Delilah Briarwood without also talking about the spell that made her a dangerous cornered animal. This attempt of Finger of Death (75) was significantly closer to the max of 86. We highly recommend reading this analysis by Philip Renich on the odds of Vex dying to the spell.
Cassandra de Rolo: Rogue
- Armor Class 18
- Short sword, 1 common healing potion
- 1 Greater Healing potion (used on Delilah)
- Rogue Class Levels
- 51 taken + unknown Vax punch to unconsciousness
We discover in the next episode that Cass’s “charm” was the result of Stockholm Syndrome, years trapped with the ones who killed her family. Most charms available to arcane users are not nearly as strong, nor do they allow the user to retain their sense of self while also holding loyalty to the caster. Cass’s resistance to harm Percy fits with her forced loyalty to Sylas as well as her lifelong loyalty to her family. The potion she used on Lady Briarwood was granted just after Percy misted the vampire, but before Keyleth could finish him; this still fits in the time range of the Charm’s effect.
All this, and this doesn’t even cover the ritual, the orb, the anti-magic field, the theories the fandom has thrown about Vecna’s direct influence in Lady Briarwood’s rise to power, or even talk about Vecna himself. Even after the defeat of the Briarwoods, this isn’t over. This is far from over.
HUGE thanks to @thesingingbadger and @kathatherine for assisting with stats. Unexpected resistances, mumbled Saves, and unstated heals and items make numbers very hard to keep without triple-checking!