Some baddies you find just hold a special place in your heart. Maybe you often fall back on them because they're so versatile, or you save them for that key moment when they'll be most effective. Could they be a striking nemesis, a freak chance encounter, or a surprising subversion of expectation?
I use a lot of monsters, and I make a lot of my own (that's another post altogether), but none so far have had such an "OH CRAP" moment from my players in recent games as the Remorhaz.
The Remorhaz is a traditionally arctic monstrosity. A predator preying on elk, polar bears, and other creatures that wander into their territory. They burrow deep into snow or ice, lying in wait for the faint vibrations of creatures moving above them. While hidden, it can raise or lower its body temperature, keeping the snow or ice around it from melting, or allowing it to glide through the cold tunnel.
A Remorhaz nest is quite a find, especially if you are a frost giant, as the young Remorhaz can be trained from hatching to obey commands and guard your citadels. Some might even become mounts for other creatures. Be careful if training these beasties, though; they are adept at swallowing their victims...
Their Place In Ionian Lore
The Remorhaz has become recently fascinating to me, and not just because of their mechanical capabilities. Residing in the grand north of the world, somewhere beyond the Wynnrik Region, the Remorhazes and their ilk would have been one of the first batches of creatures to encounter menacing Brood as they fled the collapsing Shadowfell at the turn of the 6th Age. This means that the once dormant, territorial creatures, fought, failed, and were corrupted by the impending swarm of shadow monsters. What came out of such a clash was an even more formidable foe.
What Makes Them Scary
1) They Can Swallow You (and then Burrow)
I have a few players it seems with a penchant for getting eaten, and with an ability like Swallow, this number continues to rise.
On their turn, a Remorhaz makes a Bite attack against a creature it is grappling (snake-like body, go figure). If the attack hits, you're looking at 6d10+7 piercing damage PLUS 2d6 fire damage, AND the creature is swallowed. While swallowed, they are considered blinded and restrained, and will suffer 6d6 acid damage at the start of each of Remorhaz's turns.
Now, that's pretty awful. However, your allies can deal damage to this thing while you're in its gullet. Deal enough damage in a single turn and the thing has to make DC 15 Constitution Save or regurgitate you. ...HOWEVER, if this thing swallowed you BEFORE it moved, it can now burrow 20 feet down (movement speed). Without a player with Sentinel, you're in BIG trouble if they can't hit it hard enough with attacks of opportunity.
If you're still conscious, you might be able to get yourself out. Restrained only brings your speed to 0, gives others advantage on attacking you, and your attacks and Dex Saves have disadvantage. You can engage in trying to hack your way out (which at higher levels is completely kosher), cast a spell, and so on. But if the odds aren't in your favor, your body might be SOL.
2) Fire AND Cold Damage Immunities
Let's shut down that Fireball and Cone of Cold immediately, shall we?
3) Their Bodies Are Superheated (Melee beware!)
Every time a creature touches the Remorhaz or hits it with a Melee attack while within 5 feet of it takes 3d6 fire damage. Every hit. Not every turn, or every round. EVERY. HIT.
This one is nasty. True, average damage here is only 10 fire, but it can add up quick. Imagine your Monk suffering 40 damage just for smacking the creature with their Flurry of Blows; sure, the thing can't take Reactions now, but the martial artist is melting. It forces you to pay attention to a creature's mobility, economy, and range - so YAY for tactics!
4) Ionian Augmentations (6th Age)
After their brush with the Brood, the resulting surge of necrosis and corruption moved through the species, garnering them two new curious features.
First is an immunity to Necrotic damage.
Second, a plethora of pulsing, bulbous tumors and sacks that litter their bodies. Every time the Remorhaz suffers damage (except Psychic damage), one of the boiling tumors bursts (GROSS). Every creature within 5 feet of the creature immediately suffers 2d6 Acid damage. Oops.
It makes the 5-foot radius around them extra volatile, and just like before, no saving throw. This, coupled with the Heated Body feature, can really mess with the melee attackers and how they synergize with ranged support.
Keep your healers healthy, you're gonna' need it.
Also, I've been painting two of them! Trying to follow the picture in the book for once. So far his color test is looking really nice. Can't wait to tighten up everything, smooth the fades, and finish him up.
Stay safe and don't get swallowed.
See you at the table.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, amateur bartender, and aspiring fiction author.
1st Saturday: Patreon
2nd Saturday: Monster
3rd Saturday: Worldbuilding
4th Saturday: REST DAY