Monster Analysis: Rakshasa (First Encounter)

Thanks to @darantha for letting us use her art!

  • First Appearance: 20: Trial of the Take Part 3
  • Armor Class: 16
  • Challenge Rating: 13 (MM), ~14-15 with Shield Guardian (CR)
  • Darkvision 60 ft, Passive 13, True Seeing cast (once)
  • Immune to nonmagical physical weapons and spells level 6 or lower
  • VULNERABLE to Magical Piercing by Good-Aligned creatures
  • Half damage taken redistributed to Shield Guardian
  • Speed: 40 ft (50 ft when casts Fly, once)
  • Avg/Max HP (MM): 110/156
  • ~111 damage received, 30-point HDYWTDT (doubled by vulnerability, halved by Shield Guardian) by Vax’ildan

The Rakshasa battle really relied on team dynamic. They were fortunate that they all carried magical weapons, and that Matt (presumably) decided that textbook average health was enough of an ordeal (with which we agree!). The battle itself was still tense, but admittedly less painful than the dungeon experienced on the way to the lair. Without everyone playing their parts, the whole mission would have been lost.

The Rakshasa’s primary means of battle relied on deception and charming others to do his dirty work for him. Tiberius prevented one use of Charm Person, and Keyleth’s Heroes’ Feast prevented Dominate Person from resulting in a TPK. The Shield Guardian did get off its single spell (Level 4 Fireball), but after that, it was mostly a distraction that ate up damage dealt to Hotis.

We personally favor Keyleth as MVP of the episode. After nearly dying to mere dungeon dressing, her Heroes’ Feast not only brought some very valuable HP to the party, but it also prevented them from getting poisoned (saving their cleric from death), increased their wisdom (saving Vax from another round of Domination), AND granted Tiberius the (admittedly unused) advantage die against the fleeing prey. (And that’s just this battle!) All in all, her support guaranteed that the party held its ground.

Vax nearly took out the Rakshasa entirely on his own (shy by 2 points!), and that included a round of domination. Once his Good Magical Piercing Sneak Attack Damage Supreme Surprise with Sprinkles (too much?) was in play, the length of the battle was shortened significantly.

Tiberius’s counterspell was the most important spell cast in the entire battle, particularly when the Rakshasa attempted to Plane Shift out. With that lone spell slot burned, the contract remained winnable.

The Shield Guardian added an extra wrinkle in the battle in that it swallowed half of the damage the Rakshasa recieved. In combat terms, it did prove slightly beneficial, as Thorbir’s leadership abilities granted Keyleth two extra attacks against the Rakshasa (had Keyleth been able to land either hit). We’d argue that Thorbir and the Guardian distracted each other, which allowed the rest of the team to focus on the target, and eventually get it out of the Shield Guardian’s range of protection. (Thanks to the venerable DM himself, Matthew Mercer, for clarifying about the half damage!)

Kashaw was the damage sponge. Hey, someone had to take Vax’s damage, and as long as he was still standing, the party got two Mass Cures out of it for his trouble. Conscious clerics are always useful.