Monster Analysis: Raishan, The Diseased Deceiver, Part II

Thanks to @Viktormon for this art piece!

  • First Appearance: 39 Omens
  • Encounter Appearance: 83 The Deceiver’s Stand
  • Armor Class 22 (suggested 21)
  • Speed 40 ft, 80 ft flying
  • Immune to poison and poisoned
  • 3 Legendary Resistances per day
  • 4 Legendary Actions per round
  • Suggested Average, Max HP: 385, 594
  • 520 HP, 541 taken, 28 HDYWTDT by Kerrek
    • 314 taken invisible, pre-Feeblemind
    • 227 taken while Feebleminded

Raishan’s Strategy

The green dragon has a very defined history of always making a point to set up the environment and the encounters to favor her. In this case, she let her illusionary magic direct the party further into the laboratory so she was able to assault them, invisibly and from behind.

By luring them further in, Raishan ensured that the party was also much closer to the lab’s undead denizens and dragon eggs. It would appear that Keyleth’s Chain Lightning in Thordak’s lair did not have its intended effect, as one of the primordial dragon whelps attempted to break out of its egg as Percy shot it in Opash’s lab. Even so, the two eggs were easily taken care of early on by Vax and Percy. In the same way, the wraiths were more a nuisance that at least gave the party something to hit while they waited for Raishan to appear. Although Grog took the brunt of their potent Life Drains, and Kima wasted a turn attempting to heal him, Grog’s hearty HP pool once again proved that he was the best candidate to take the hit. Raishan did the favor of finishing the remaining wraith off with her early-game Meteor Swarm.

Speaking of Meteor Swarm, this is the second time Raishan has brought out such a powerful spell so early into the battle. In this case, such a move was very strategic. Over half the party had concentration spells up, which were immediately dropped after the effect of the spell. This also dropped the party from full or near full HP to within the range of a single hit of knock out. It’s in this range that relatively low level spells like Cone of Cold start to form a legitimate threat. As we saw in the previous fight, three spells a round amounts to a very dangerous combination.

Raishan has historically stayed out of melee range, reserving her physical attacks for single-target Legendary Actions only when attackers came into range. Her invisibility granted her the chance to stay out of range until she was ready to finish characters. However, once her invisibility was dropped, her resistances used up, and her mind enfeebled, Raishan abandoned all her grand plans and slobbered after Percy like a wild beast.

Raishan Vs. Other Dragons

In terms of health, Raishan is the first dragon we as an audience have encountered whose HP fell within the suggested range of the Monster Manual. Even Rimefang, a mere Adult White Dragon, had 630, 342 points more than the suggested 288 maximum. So, with Vox Machina adding 4 whole levels to the party and coming into the fight with 10 combatants instead of 6 (and two mostly useless giants), how was Raishan still the arguably more threatening encounter?

Two factors: Meteor Swarm, and implementation of critical damage against death saves. Meteor Swarm knocked everyone from comfortable triple digits to threateningly low double and single digits (or completely knocked them out, in the case of Allura, Trinket, and Kerrek).

In the Rimefang battle following a successful Bigby’s grapple, Scanlan failed two death saves as the dragon laid a bite to knock him unconscious, and two swipes while the gnome was down. While the rules were still being felt out at this point in the stream, the two failed saves per melee attack had been fully implemented by Raishan’s time. Hence, two successful attacks by Raishan against Scanlan in Round 3 rendered him unconscious and then forced him to automatically fail two death saves. Later, in Round 4, Raishan’s round of attacks against Percy, combined with his fall from the wall, destroyed the gunslinger.

Lastly, spells. Raishan didn’t get an opportunity to use them as freely as she did in the previous encounter (and none at all once she was visible), but she put the ones she did cast to good use. As we stated earlier, casting Project Image gave the party a distraction and drew them further into the laboratory, which made her later area-of-effect spells all the more devastating. Maintaining Greater Invisibility made all attacks against her at disadvantage, once the party could even roll high enough to figure out where she was. Raishan wasn’t able to use Dispel Magic to use as often as she did in the previous battle, though she did employ it against Scanlan and Pike. This did take her poison breath out of the equation at the end of the battle, at the very least.

Vox Machina’s Strategy

Vox Machina’s main strategy in this battle was to deal as much damage to Raishan as possible while still staying alive. Scanlan and Allura largely served in important supporting roles. Sounding the Horn of Fog was a clever way to make Raishan’s invisible form easier to spot and attack, and Scanlan’s Healing Word on Allura was crucial to ensuring that, when Raishan hit them with Cone of Cold, Allura didn’t start failing Death Saves. Allura’s spells during and after the battle—Dispel Magic, Magic Missile, and Dimension Door—kept the party in the fight and alive.

Grog, Percy, Vax, Vex, Keyleth, and Kerrek all handled the majority of the damage dealt to Raishan. Grog put his newly enhanced ranged attack capabilities to good use, dealing 162 damage to Raishan with the Dwarven Thrower. Between Animus, Bad News, and the Dragonslayer Longsword, Percy dealt 174 damage to Raishan. Vex crucially restrained Raishan while dealing 61 damage to her and later forced the dragon to the ground with Grasping Vine. Furthermore, Vex brought Allura back to consciousness, allowing the wizard to later dispel Raishan’s invisibility, paving the way for Feeblemind. In addition to the 135 damage he dealt to Raishan, Vax dispatched the first of the dragon eggs. We’ll never know if the eggs could have become a real issue, but taking them out of play while they waited on Raishan to show up prevented the party from having to divide their attention when it mattered. Kerrek put his Dusk Warhammer and extra damage against undead to good use against one of the wraiths, and got the HDYWTDT against Raishan with his single successful hit against her. That’s how they do it at level 7, folks.

Kima, once again, served as a healer in this battle (just let the poor woman use her Holy Avenger!), as Pike spent most of it unconscious. Pike never got to use her Spiritual Weapon thanks to being nearly turned to dust by Disintegrate and then frozen by Cone of Cold. After the battle, however, Pike’s successful Revivify brought the mangled Percy back to life.

The MVP of this battle, hands down, is Keyleth. Her Fire Storm was a great move that didn’t burn a spell slot, but her shining moment was:

Feeblemind

“All these spells… Can not use them now.” Thanks to @Malcassairo for this art piece!

As intelligent as Raishan may have considered herself, even she fell one modifier point below the MM suggested Intelligence score of 20 (+5). Of all their saving throws, green dragons are not proficient in Intelligence or Strength. Suffice to say, after Raishan burned all her resistances attempting to maintain her Greater Invisibility (before it was dispelled without an option to save), the odds were definitely in the druid’s favor.

Keyleth’s 8th level spell was the difference between one party member dying and several dying. Without use of her Area of Effect spells and already restricted use of her poison breath, Raishan was limited to single-target attacks, lowering her damage potential significantly. Although the dragon focused all her attention on Percy and managed to kill him, Keyleth not allowing Raishan to use Cone of Cold (or Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting…or Prismatic Spray…or Disintegrate… or Chain Lightning…) like she had in Thordak’s lair kept the rest of the party (and Kerrek!) alive to finish her. Additionally, assuming Raishan had any plans for escape, they were immediately removed when she couldn’t cast Teleport. (Though the lair itself may have also made that infeasible.)

Without her invisibility or wits, Raishan fell within the span of a single round. Without her spells, she essentially had to default to the simplified strategy Rimefang used: attack. Given this was the one strategy Raishan had never deployed before (not was she built for), Keyleth and Melora ensured that Raishan would die as she hoped she would not: with her “brilliant intellect [wasted] away into ash.