Dissection of a Plague Demon

by Mike Shea on 25 July 2011

Last week my third DDI article, Creature Incarnations: Abyssal Plague Demons, was published on the D&D Insider website. Today we’re going to take some time to put these beasts out on the slab, get out our sharp blades, and see what makes them tick.

Building the Animated Corpse

The animated corpse, a level 11 minion skirmisher, is the foot-soldier of the paragon-tier plague demons. Whenever one builds a paragon tier minion, there are a few considerations. First, they’re going to die. Fast. This means you should throw more of them out there than you (or your players) might be comfortable with. The DMG2 states that you should put out six minions to represent a single creature at paragon. I’d probably increase this to eight.

Second, to stay effective, the Animated Corpse has both an aura and a death effect. This way our little plague corpse is effective even if he’s killed quickly. Whenever you happen to be designing a minion higher than level 10, consider the aura and the death effect as options to make it a bit more dangerous.

Infesting Plague Swarms

I had particular fun with the plague swarms. Swarms are one of the more dangerous creatures you can throw on the table. They usually have a damaging aura and their strange mix of resistances and vulnerabilities means players have to think up new ways to deal with them. I’m not normally a big fan of dominates but I loved the idea that the swarms infest a PC, controlling their bodies for a brief period before the PC makes a saving throw and vomits them out.

A Swarmbringer with a surprise

The Swarmbringer is the big brute of the bunch. When you give a monster a double attack, you have to make sure any other standard action is equally worth while. In this case, a bunch of damage, ongoing damage, and a disease are probably worth skipping the double attack once in a while.

The Swarmbringer also changes the battlefield when it dies by creating a 4 square zone that keeps your PCs moving around the battlefield. Changing up the battlefield as a battle goes on is a great way to keep things interesting late into the encounter.

A boss with alternatives to dominate

The Doomcaller is the paragon boss of this group. Instead of dominates, the Doomcaller uses two different alternatives. First, as a minor, it can do some psychic damage and then push away its opponents. This is handy of the Doombringer needs to move away from a pesky marking tank. The second dominate alternative is a spore burst that has creatures within the burst suddenly attacking themselves. I’m a big fan of dominate alternatives that have PCs attack each other as free actions off of their turn so no actions are lost.

Like the Swarmbringer, the Doomcaller’s death creates an aura that gets your PCs moving around.

So there we have it! Slimy beasts fit for any paragon tier adventure.

If you enjoyed this article, consider checking out Sly Flourish’s Dungeon Master Tips or Running Epic Tier D&D Games. For more awesome monsters take a look at the Monster Vault and Monster Vault 2: Threats to the Nentir Vale. Need some great monster minis? Check out D&D Miniatures from Troll and Toad, an official Sly Flourish sponsor.

Send feedback to @slyflourish on Twitter or email mike@mikeshea.net.