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[Let's Read] The 4e Monster Manual and Monster Vault

NobodyImportant

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Immolith - Interesting critter. I'm not sure it needs such a convoluted origin. It's a pillar of fire with lots of grasping limbs. To me, it seems like a typical example of an Abyss creature.
Not to me. The typical Abyss creature is a horrible hybrid of various beasts, twisted into semihumanoid form. Pillars of fire seem to be more Hell’s schtick.
 

Bira

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The bit that makes it demonic is the multifarious burnt limbs emerging from the fire. The picture only has a bunch of hands, but it could be anything based on what the constitutent souls were. Glabrezu pincers, goristro hooves, the odd tentacle or two, or perhaps more biting skulls than the one sitting a the top of the pillar.
 

Gilphon

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the reason the Immolith's origin is like that, I think, is because Demons, not having souls in the traditional sense, can't become undead under normal circumstances- if you get an undead demon that more complicated than just a necromancer vaguely animated a demon corpse, something's gone screwy.

Also- I had a lot of fun throwing an Immolith into a crowded market square- the auto-damage aura created an encounter that was more about trying to force him away from civilians than it was about surviving- with an added wrinkle being that the variant I was using had a big death burst attack, so the players had to make sure him was well away from anything important before they finished him off.
 

MoutonRustique

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Agreed that it does have a bit of a "devilish" vibe - but it's still a very interesting critter. This is one that you're better off thinking a bit about : just throwing that in can lead to some pretty bad situations! It's also got a very strong elemental feel to it (which I like!).

This is the perfect "I summoned a demon to destroy the city" kind of foe - just having it stroll around will likely create massive damage. I also love the idea of a walking bonfire grabbing foes left and right and dumping the charred corpses into itself to feed off the bodies and released souls.
 

Bira

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Marilith



I think I've finally figured out what distinguishes a humanoid from a magical beast in 4e. Does it have hands? If it does it's a humanoid, if it doesn't it's a magical beast.

That's the only explanation that makes sense for why a Marilith is a Large Elemental Humanoid (demon), despite being a six-armed lady with the lower body of a snake. With succubi having become devils (more on that later), mariliths have the distinction of being the most human-looking of demons. Some people even find them sexy. Yes, I'm talking about you Monster Musume fans.

These demons have been a part of the game for a long time, and are iconic enough to exist both in the Monster Manual and on the Monster Vault. The two versions are mostly identical, but we'll still look at them separately here.

Mariliths are among some of the most intelligent demons at Int 14, losing only to the Glabrezu in that field. Their appetite for destruction takes on a more refined shape than usual: they are obsessed with martial skill, so they look for tough opponents to fight and tend to take their gear as trophies. They store these trophies in secret stashes on the Abyss or in the world, presumably to prevent other demons from stealing them. It seems to me that looting such a stash is a sure way to incur their wrath, which makes it a nice hook. Yuan-Ti who turn to demonology are big fans of mariliths.

Mariliths are usually armed with six swords, one for each hand, though you could mix and match the weapons if you wanted. In previous editions the weapons would sometimes take a backseat to their many spell-like abilities, but here they are definitely the main event.

Both versions of the Marilith are Level 24 Elite Skirmishers: they're pretty high up in the demonic hierarchy, such as it is. Their skill list backs this up: they're trained in Perception, Bluff, Insight, Intimidate, and Stealth. Yes, mariliths can socialize if they feel the need. Their descriptions in other editions tend to describe them as excellent tactitians and commanders, and this definitely fits this incarnation as well.

Marilith (Monster Manual)


The MM Marilith has 440 HP, Darkvision, and Variable Resistance 20 (switchable 3x/encounter). They move at Speed 8.

Their basic attack is a scimitar, which is quite weak due to the math bug but has the High Critical property. Their most commonly used attack is Shroud of Steel, which allows them to make two scimitar attacks and use the other weapons to parry, granting itself a +4 bonus to AC for a turn.

Whenever an adjacent enemy misses the marilith with a melee attack, it can make a free scimitar attack against then. And twice per encounter (once at the start, once after being bloodied) they can perform the Weapon Dance, which allows them to make six scimitar attacks, shifting 1 square between each one.

Marilith (MV)

As stated earlier, the MV Marilith is very similar to the MM one. It has 436 HP instead of 440 and slightly different defenses, but retains the extensive skill list.

The main changes are in its attacks. The damage on the basic scimitar attack has been fixed, but it no longer has High Critical. Shroud of Steel now gives it a +6 to AC. It is otherwise identical.

Tactics and Encounters

Fighting a Marilith is much like fighting a blender. Ranged attacks are much safer than melee combat against them, but they're fast, smart and will have backup from other demons when encountered. You could give it some out-of-combat rituals or abilities that allow it to prepare the terrain in advance, adding obscuring or blocking features that limit the PC's ability to stay away and attack it from range. Or perhaps it just chooses a battlefield that already has all of that and baits the PCs into it.

The sample encounter in the MM is level 23, a marilith and four hezrou. The toad goons are just the thing to keep the fighters occupied while their boss slithers towards the squishies.
 

Talisman

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One of the few versions I've seen whose snake half actually looks thick enough and muscular enough to support the human torso.

With succubi having become devils (more on that later), mariliths have the distinction of being the most human-looking of demons. Some people even find them sexy. Yes, I'm talking about you Monster Musume fans.
I will hear no slander of Best Snek, thank you very much.

Both versions of the Marilith are Level 24 Elite Skirmishers: they're pretty high up in the demonic hierarchy, such as it is. Their skill list backs this up: they're trained in Perception, Bluff, Insight, Intimidate, and Stealth. Yes, mariliths can socialize if they feel the need. Their descriptions in other editions tend to describe them as excellent tactitians and commanders, and this definitely fits this incarnation as well.
I'm more interested in the fact that they're trained in Stealth.

"The fifty-foot-long, six-armed snake-demon emerges from the shadows behind you, and . . ."
 

Eklev

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As far as I remember, there isn’t a lot—if anything—that triggers off body type, so whether something is a magical beast or a humanoid seems to be for flavor.

Mariliths are one of those safe D&D staples for me. It’s there, it’s D&D, it’s ok. Sam Wood art is always a treat.
 

Kakita Kojiro

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As far as I remember, there isn’t a lot—if anything—that triggers off body type, so whether something is a magical beast or a humanoid seems to be for flavor.
Doppelgangers/changelings. Change shape (later renamed changeling disguise?) specifies the appearance of any humanoid. Fortunately, it's only Medium humanoids, so no arguing with the changeling player about what appearing as a six-armed snake lady allows for. But there are some critical PC powers that check for "humanoid".
 

Bira

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A mistyped monster in 4e (and in I think in 5e, but I'm not sure) is indeed much less of a big deal than it was in 3.x, where a monster's type was effectively its class. Here, if you think a given origin or type is wrong, you only have to change one or two words. Even though it's not that mechanically relevant I still find it interesting to try to see how well a given type or origin applies to a monster.

I'm more interested in the fact that they're trained in Stealth.

"The fifty-foot-long, six-armed snake-demon emerges from the shadows behind you, and . . ."
Hey, we're talking about the Abyss here. It's not impossible to end up in an area where every feature of the landscape for miles around reminds you of a thirty-foot snake. Or maybe it's just pitch dark and there's plenty of space to sneak around outside the small circle of light cast by the party.

In any case, just you wait until we get to Fomorians, the sneakiest giants in the book.
 

Bira

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Next entry!

Mezzodemon



The Lore

Anyone who is familiar with the cosmology on 3e and earlier knows it tried really hard to have an Official Outsider for every box in the alignment grid. Devils were Lawful Evil, Demons (our current subject) were Chaotic Evil. And then someone created the Daemons, which served the double purpose of filling that Neutral Evil box on the chart and having every possible spelling of a word be a different monster.

Mezzodaemons were a type of daemon. Since 4e doesn't try to follow either of those directives above, these monsters have dropped their extraneous vowel and are now Mezzodemons, belonging to the "demon" category. They look like upright, human sized, trident-wielding bugs.

These fellows are rather "quirky" as far as demons go, because their main thing is greed, not unbriddled bloodlust. Rather than gathering in huge hordes and going on omnicidal rampages, they establish hidden lairs in the world or in some other plane and loot the surrounding region. Binding a mezzodemon to your service is as easy as paying it. Of course, they still like killing. They just think it's even more fun when they get paid to do it and loot the bodies afterwards. So basically, mezzodemons are demonic murderhobos. They are only on the Monster Manual.

The Numbers


Mezzodemons are Medium Elemental Humanoids (demons), and Level 11 Soldiers with 113 HP. They have Resist Poison 20, and variable resistance 10 switchable 2 times per encounter. They see with darkvision and run at speed 6.

Their basic attack is a Reach 2 trident, and they also have an ability called Skewering Tines. This is a trident attack that also does ongoing damage and restrains (save ends). While the demon is restraining someone in this way, it can't make any trident attacks.

They can also breathe poison on enemies in a Close Blast 3, targeting Fortitude and doing both immediate and ongoing poison damage to any enemy they it. This recharges on a 5-6, and the fact that it's a selective attack suggests interesting things. Maybe it's a series of targetted squirts instead of a cloud? Or maybe it is a cloud, but the poison is made of pure evil and anyone who hangs out with mezzodemons is likely to be immune to it.

Mezzodemons are clearly meant to be team players. Maybe they engage your defenders and restrain them while their buddies attack your back line. Or maybe they do that to the mobile strikers instead, allowing those buddies to more effectively gang up on them.

The sample encounter is Level 11: 2 mezzodemons working as a mercenary for a party of 2 drow warriors and 1 drow arachnomancer. This is a nasty combination indeed, because those warriors just love to have restrained PCs to gang up on.

Final Impressions

Mezzodemons are not too exotic number-wise, but they have quite a bit of personality and a reason to hang out with any evil group who can afford to pay them. They work both as early opposition in a demon focused paragon arc, or as "spice" to other evil factions. I like them more than goristros, that's for sure.
 
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