Monster Analysis: Saundor + Treants

Thanks to @the-softsignalfor this piece!

  • First Appearance: 63 The Echo Tree
  • Armor Class 20
  • Resistant to nonmagical weapon damage
  • Legendary Actions and Resistances
  • Lair Actions at count 20
  • Heals at start of turn (est. 25 HP)
  • 348 damage taken, 12 HDYWTDT by Grog
  • Rebuilt ability sheet here!

“You mistake, my intent is not to hurt, but to understand.” Saundor wallowed so completely in his own self-pity and bitterness that he not only forgot in what manner he was betrayed, but the name of the individual who he felt betrayed him. In his own emptiness, he stole and corrupted the heart of the tree, then the heart of the Shademirk. After attempting to drain Vex’s self-worth, he then attempted to steal and poison her heart. Upon being denied this, he showed himself as the corrupted, black-bile-spewing tree monster he was.

Edit: We found out quite a bit more about Saundor (or Sondur, both have been confirmed correct by Matt), including a much larger spell list, a Huge classification, and a change in landscape had Vex accepted his proposal. Whether that would have changed his Lawful Evil alignment is uncertain, but we do know that the forest would have begun to revert without a fight, and Vex would be… Well, remarkably different!

Saundor’s Strategy

Saundor used the home-court advantage to the best of his ability. His vine-walking kept the melee combatants plenty frustrated (sorry, Grog), ensuring that those restricted to the ground would have to focus their attention on his treant enforcers. Preferring to keep his distance from the party, Saundor kept the party guessing where he would appear in the walls of the tree next while he passively healed himself each round.

Saundor’s strategy with Fenthras was primarily clouded by his anger and feelings of betrayal. He typically tried to deal as much damage to Vex’ahlia as he could, though he occasionally strayed and hit other combatants. He targeted Vax and Percy each once, though Percy took the brunt of it due to a Natural 20 and a lack of a Cloak of Displacement (sorry, Percy).

Saundor’s least wise tactical decision was to target Grog with the Bramble Shot, since it did the least percentage and amount of damage to the raging goliath than it would have to almost anyone else. Grog was also the best-equipped to deal with the strength saving throw from the restraining effect, with advantage on the save and a +12 modifier. Saundor did wisely stick to ranged as best he could, only using his giant tree fists to lay into a hanging Grog when the goliath got close enough for Saundor to feel harried.

Saundor’s lair actions were intended to shake up the party, but a low DC of 16 ensured that both the poison and confusion clouds had minimal effect. Even the vines sprouting from the walls of the tree only successfully held Scanlan, who was just as effective restrained as he would have been otherwise.

His legendary actions, on the other hand, were put to much greater effect. His “random” bow attacks caused more issues for Vex, but his casting ability (using two slots) provided the largest sources of concern. As a caster with a level 7 spell slot, all of Saundor’s spells were channeled directly through the tree itself. The Reverse Gravity spell shook up most of the combatants, and the vines of the tree reached out to drain Vex twice via Blight. Scanlan very fortunately countered his Wall of Thorns in the first round, which would have made the arena much more difficult to traverse.

Treants

Thanks to @BrinMataujall for this piece!

  • First Appearance: 63 The Echo Tree
  • Armor Class 16
  • Speed 30 ft
  • Resistant to nonmagical bludgeoning and piercing damage
  • VULNERABLE to fire damage
  • Enhanced Slam attacks, two per round
  • Suggested average, max HP: 138, 204
    • Treant 1: 141 taken, 14 finishing blow by Keyleth
    • Treant 2: 150 taken, 35 finishing blow by Percy

Treants are typically chaotic good entities who come into their own sentience as the result of cultivated potential and druidic care over time. Saundor’s corruption of the Shademirk was further demonstrated by the hatred infused into them, both visually by means of his tar and mechanically through their blind, unquestioning assault on whoever was closest.

Though initially awakened by Saundor, the treants acted of their own, hate-driven volition throughout the battle. They hit whatever was closest by, which was almost always Percy (sorry, Percy). One got an attack against Vax’ildan, but was dead by the time its next turn came around. That same treant later landed an attack on Vex’ahlia, but that was due to her running from it, provoking an attack of opportunity. Keyleth might have been a good target, had she not been living flame and within the treants themselves. Saundor wasn’t afraid of hurting the treants, either, as evidenced during his casting of Reverse Gravity.

Vox Machina’s Strategy

Vox Machina also played to the best of their ability, for the most part of the battle. Here’s a rough outline of their strategy, provided by L and N:

“Run in with a plan to woo, realize he is the world’s biggest asshole, stab and burn him to death as quickly as possible while scrambling to avoid arrows, spells, and lair actions.” “Boom, Vestige.”

Vex became the focal point of the battle, and accidentally played meat shield to the corrupted’s wrath. Both potions she used proved effective in wasting Saundor’s attacks, giving her enough hit points to force him to use another arrow in round 2 and just barely render his second Blight unable to put her down. 

Keyleth’s decision to go Fire Elemental paid off very well in several ways. First, the treants’ vulnerability to fire ensured that she was the primary controller of the minions in this battle. Second, even without Tree Stride, she could occupy the space of the treants. This not only dealt extra damage at the start of their turns (that was also doubled), but also prevented her from becoming a potential target from the other treant in play or Saundor’s assault. Third, even when she did take falling damage from Reverse Gravity and Scanlan’s failed toss, her fire form resisted the damage.

Vax got the first hit of the fight on Saundor (after Vex’s surprise round), then spent most of the battle helping Keyleth take out the treant complications from the battle before sprouting wings to confront Saundor at the end. Percy got a few hits on Saundor (resisted due to nonmagical ammunition), and helped Vax and Keyleth finish off the second treant.

Scanlan provided excellent support, in spite of being tied against the wall. His first Counterspell prevented Saundor’s Wall of Thorns rendering the terrain very difficult to navigate, and his Healing Words brought Vex back in the fight and kept Percy in it. Although both castings of 5th level fireball were resisted, every little bit of damage on the big guy brought Saundor closer to death.

Even Grog, who “didn’t do anything” and was “running around like an idiot the entire game,” managed to deal damage to Saundor almost every round. Grog also spent a bonus action to summon Ukurat in the middle of the second round. Although the werewolf didn’t appear until the third round and couldn’t contribute in the final round, his appearance provided a morale boost to the party and an attack of opportunity to the antagonist.