Monster Analysis: Yenk the Goristro + Vorugal the Ancient White Dragon

Thanks to @BrinMataujallfor this art piece!

In the fiery corner, straight from the Endless Maze of the Abyss: the elemental terror, Yenk the goristro! In the frosty corner, hailing from the wastes of Northern Othanzia, the third member of the Chroma Conclave: The Frigid Doom, Vorugal the ancient white dragon! FIGHT!

Fiend vs. Dragon

Before we even consider the Mercer Modifications™, let’s take a look at how a generic goristro would fair against a generic ancient white dragon.

This also fails to include the dragon’s legendary actions and resistances. Even so, if the dragon were grounded, the goristro has a leg up in terms of damage per round and damage resisted. However, a winged creature with plenty of time to fly out of range and unleash icy blast after icy blast will eventually take out the grounded target, resistances and all.

Yenk the Goristro

Thanks to @ninasarusrexfor this art piece!

  • First Appearance: 71 Vorugal
  • Armor Class < 25 (Presumably 19)
  • Darkvision 120 ft, Passive 17
  • Resistant to cold, fire, lightning, and nonmagical physical weapon damage
  • Immune to poison and poisoned
  • Suggested average, max HP: 310, 437
  • 396+unknown taken, 32 HDYWTDT by Grog

Goristros are twenty-foot tall Minotaur-like creatures that are, in terms of raw strength, at the top of the demonic pecking order in the Abyss. On top of this, Yenk was legendary for swallowing Joran the Sea-Speaker, a powerful druid of the Verdant Expanse, and the Melora-breathed Ashari staff, the Spire of Conflux. Possibly because of this, in addition to his increased health and damage, Yenk dealt additional elemental damage on each of his attacks in the form of fire, lightning, and cold damage.

The Monster Manual states the following (p53): “A mortal who learns a demon’s true name can use powerful summoning magic to call the demon from the Abyss and exercise some measure of control over it. However, most demons brought to the Material Plane in this manner do everything in their power to wreak havoc or sow discord and strife.” With this in mind, Scanlan’s decision to force it to task proved to be a valuable play, setting Yenk up to focus on the dragon from the start.

Vorugal the Frigid Doom

Thanks to @madqueenmomo for this art piece!

  • Encounter Appearance: 71 Vorugal
    • First Appearance: 39 Omens
    • First Encounter: 40 Desperate Measures
  • Armor Class 20
  • Speed 40 ft, 80 flying
    • Immune to difficult terrain by cold weather
  • Blindsight 60 ft, Darkvision 120 ft, Passive 23
  • Immune to Cold Damage
  • Legendary Actions
  • Legendary Resistances (2/3 spent)
  • Suggested Average/Max HP: 333, 504
  • 823+unknown taken, 32 HDYWTDT by Vex’ahlia

The Frigid Doom was the third member of the Chroma Conclave that Vox Machina has been able to defeat. The icy wind and terrain were a direct product of Vorugal’s presence, hampering his enemies’ movement while granting himself no restrictions for navigation. Furthermore, he could take to the air at the end of his opponents’ turns, often knocking his adversaries prone in the process. Yenk was able to get few hits in on Vorugal for primarily this reason.

Vorugal’s increased size also made him immune to a number of effects. Bigby’s Hand could have grappled a Huge creature such as Yenk, but a gargantuan dragon is much too strong for the hand. Similarly, Grog in his enlarged state could also have grappled Yenk, but not the Frigid Doom, leaving Vorugal free and clear to tactically fly above the battlefield and, if necessary, escape.

Cold Breath was easily Vorugal’s most powerful and most abused ability, used in seven out of eleven rounds of combat (60% actual regen rate over a 33% estimated rate). He could use it up to 90 feet away to target a rather large area. Most scary of all, half of Vox Machina required no less than a Nat20 to save against its DC of 22, ensuring that they almost always took the full 72 cold damage.

The Battle

The initial battle between the two behemoths lasted for six rounds before any member of Vox Machina intervened. During this portion, Vorugal maximized his legendary actions best he could by using his Wing Attack at the end of each of Yenk’s turns every time they were in melee together. This allowed Vorugal to escape to the safety of the air without granting an attack of opportunity, knock the fiend prone (reducing Yenk’s movement by half again on top of the difficult terrain), and chip in a little more damage before his turn.

Vax brought the party into the fray for the remaining five rounds of combat. The roguish paladin used his wings to keep Vorugal busy in the air. Unfortunately, Vax’s proximity also granted Vorugal use of his otherwise unusable legendary action to attack a target within melee range.

Keyleth was mainly offensive support, dealing damage as she was able to both the dragon and the demon, and attempting to keep Vorugal grounded, both by spell (Earthbind) and by presence (Air Elemental). She also provided Scanlan with the Enhanced Ability before the fight began, ensuring that Yenk would even be present for the ambush.

In addition to summoning Yenk, Scanlan also provided what support he could on the battlefield. The terrain restrictions severely limited his options, but between summoning Yenk, bringing Pike back from unconsciousness with a Healing Word, and using a Cutting Words to force a failed save on Fireball, he held his own best he could. 

The ranged fighters not only were able to stay entirely out of Vorugal’s range of attacks, but Vex and Percy were responsible for the majority of the damage dealt to Vorugal by the party, dealing 219 and 154 respectively. Interestingly, Vex cast no spells other than Hunter’s Mark during the 8th round. Percy had trouble with two misfires (including backfired psychic damage from Animus) and took damage from Yenk and falling, but otherwise managed to deal a hearty amount of damage while remaining unmolested by Vorugal.

Grog and Kima both attempted to get their licks in on Vorugal, but their limitations in both aerial and difficult grounded speed ensured that they were responsible for cleaning up what was left of Yenk. Grog also became the primary damage sponge for the goristro, arguably the second best option after the largely unavailable white dragon.

Unfortunately, Pike spent the majority of the party’s portion of the battle unconscious, though Pike’s Divine Intervention, aside from being extremely lucky, proved to be extremely valuable to keeping Vorugal in range of the ambush. Very few things can knock a dragon prone, let alone an ancient one. This also granted Yenk advantage on attacks against the dragon, ensuring two out of three strikes hit instead of only one (for a total of 48 additional damage, in addition to the near 100 dealt at the beginning).

Although Raishan provided support in the form of arcane dwarven mercenary Larkin for Rounds 8 and 9, she dropped her form in Round 10 to engage Vorugal and keep him in the fight. Her intervention as her true self signaled the true stakes of the fight, and encouraged him to stay to (unsuccessfully) take out her allies. Had he flown off, he would had full access to his lair to heal and contact Thordak, making not only Vorugal harder to defeat, but also making the upcoming war with the Cinder King that much more difficult.

Vorugal vs. Umbrasyl

The battle against Vorugal and Yenk went over much more smoothly than the two encounters with Umbrasyl. For one, the two behemoths caused absolutely no casualties (admittedly thanks to the Deathwalker’s Ward), while Umbrasyl nearly wiped out the entire Herd of Storms. On top of that, the total damage required to take down Umbrasyl (1399) still tallies more than the estimated combined HP of Vorugal and Yenk (estimated 1375).

Most importantly of all, Vorugal never once had access to lair actions. The party wisely engaged him outside of his lair. Even though the difficult terrain made it difficult for everyone to target Vorugal, Umbrasyl’s lair actions threw a number of the party into chaos and dealt additional damage on top of his turn and legendary actions. Vorugal’s decision to stay out of range for much of the battle also limited his ability to use his own legendary actions, limiting the amount of damage he could deal per round.

Umbrasyl burned all three of his Legendary Resistances over the course of two encounters. Vorugal still had one remaining when he fell, strategically conserving them for powerful effects such as Earthbind or end-of-battle spells like Raishan’s blight.