Monster Updates And Evard's Shadow

Aside from monster updates for the chuul, grell, and gibbering beast the only other interesting thing this week was the follow up adventure for Dark Legacy of Evard, Evard's Shadow. Yeah, they did an update for the warlock but most of that was to include the new zone rules and make some of the star pact spells affected by either Charisma or Constitution, something that players have been bitching about for years (even after the warlock article that included a bunch of new spells for Charisma or Constitution, I forget which).

Monster Updates
Starting with the monsters--because I do like monsters so, especially aberrants--I am going to do a side-by-side comparison for mechanics to see what has changed, aside from the stat block layout.

  • Chuul: AC gets dropped by one point, Fort by 3. Attack bonus on claw is dropped by two points, but damage goes up by a d6. Double attack gets a one-point attack reduction. Basic damage boosting.
  • Chuul Juggernaut: Reflex and Will are increased by two points. Claw has its attack bonus knocked down a few pegs, but gains a d8 damage boost (or +7 bonus damage boost against immobilized targets). This is not nearly as brutal as psychic lure, which in exchange for a reduced attack bonus has its damage bonus increased by 17 points. Seventeen. Holy shit. Oh, and it can now affect one or two creatures. Oh, and the secondary attack on double attack gets a three point attack reduction, but oh well.
  • Gibbering Mouther: Defenses have gone up by 1-4 points, attack bonus on gibbering  was improved by one, damage all around was increased by a d6, but the ongoing damage was halved. So it is harder to hit and hits harder initially. The ongoing damage reduction makes me think that the overall damage is reduced (average of a d6 is 3.5 and the ongoing damage was dropped by 5), but since I am not sure how many powers allow immediate saves or saves out of turn, this could actually be in the gibbering mouther's favor.
  • Gibbering Abomination: The aura is subtly altered to impose an attack penalty while you are in it, as opposed to if you start in it. Otherwise attack bonuses and damage dice are increased by one across the board, though attacks also benefit by an increase in bonus damage from 5-6 points (so, kind of like having another 1-2 dice lumped on).
  • Gibbering Orb: Hit points see a major reduction of around the 250 mark, though Fort gains a hefty boost of 5 points. Bite is increased by 2d6, and while each eye ray loses one point of bonus damage, they all either get an extra d8 lumped on or (in the case of souleating ray) deal damage in addition to the previous effect. Oh, and gibbering gains an extra point on its attack bonus. Definitely keeping with the theme of reducing hit points while ramping up the damage. 
  • Grell: The grell's tentacle rake loses a d8, but gains a +2 bonus. On top of that it now has double attack, allowing it to grab and slap someone using one action (a staple for Elites and Solos alike). Tentacle grab's attack bonus loses two points (putting it where it should be) and also gains a +2 damage bonus.
  • Grell Philosopher: AC gets dropped a few points, and tentacle rake and venomous mind lose a point of attack bonus. The damage on lightning lance is reduced, and thank fucking god that psychic storm now only dazes for a turn instead of requiring a save to end. I have dealt with an encounter using a few of these fuckers, and the never-ending field of auto-dazing was the bane of fun.

Other than that, each monster also gets about a page of much-desired flavor content in line with what we got in Monster Manual III and Monster Vault. Also, a fucking awesome Wayne Reynolds pick for the chuul.

Evard's Legacy Review
Evard's Legacy involves a band of characters delving into Evard's bi-planar, monster-infested mansion for...whatever reason they want. Though intended as a sequel to Dark Legacy of Evard, the only thing that is really used in this adventure is the town Duponde in name (which gets a small paragraph glossing over it), and one of the NPCs, but just as part of one adventure hook. Really, if you played through Dark Legacy then it should be easy to segue characters into it, but otherwise you can get away without the module.

The start of the adventure has the characters plowing through a skill challenge and horde of zombies in order to reach the material version of the mansion, which looks like it would be a lot of fun. There is the usual undead, corrupt fey in the undead-infested garden, and some bandits obviously waiting to betray you, but the parts that excite me is the wraith--which could easily be a recurring element of every fight, given that it can phase through walls--but the social role-playing opportunities that the human element provides.

Once you shift into the Shadowfell version of the mansion, you get to draw a card from the Despair Deck (which you really should have), in addition to having to deal with dark ones (one of which is a butler), shadow traps, more undead, and denizens of shadow (which are separate from undead in that they lack the keyword) that include Evard's own shade. He is a level 9 artillery. Good luck, and hopefully you have overcome your Despair card by then.

There are not a lot of maps in this adventure, as most of the encounters are encapsulated on the two that detail Evard's mansion in both worlds. Yeah there will be some flipping around, but it saves a lot of space in the end. Some of the encounters look like they could be insanely hard depending on the level of your party. It is intended for a party in the 3-5 range, but the last encounter looks like it would be overkill. Definitely consider removing monsters unless the party is 5th.

In the end it could have used better art to help emphasize the theme and tone, but otherwise looks very well done. I would also recommend checking out the related Design & Development article, as it explains a few things about the new format.

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