The Wrack Spawn and Lash Fiend are some Nentir Vale monsters who will team up to take you out.
The new year has brought with it a few new Sage Advice updates, and so far, I’m liking this trend. If two data points can be called a trend–and since we’re not fivethirtyeight, we can safely say that two data points are a trend, Half-life 3 confirmed. Or at the very least, Epistle 3.
Now that I have made this image, I am going to use it every chance I get.
IN the meantime, while we await the story and mechanics-driven masterpiece that will break new ground for the form, let’s turn our attention to the two new monsters that have appeared in another Nentir Vale-flavored Sage Advice update: The Wrack Spawn and Lash Fiend.
Both of these monsters showcase monsters that play to a specific theme. 5th Edition is all about mechanics that evoke or are informed by the lore–and these two creatures are located handily within the themes of Nentir Vale.
Two critters for my campaign, creatures spawned by Torog. As written Torog is the god of the Underdark and torture in the Nentir Vale setting, I made him a fiend entombed underground by a curse. His frantic burrowing and malign nature created the Underdark.
And the Wrack Spawn and Lash Fiends are servitors created from this malign presence. Everything about them kind of reinforces what Torog is all about–and you can see it too in the way they work together. Let’s take a look at what these monsters do. First up, the Wrack Spawn:
Wrack spawn are what is left of humanoids that fall into into Torog’s clutches – skin flayed, limbs twisted and broken, turn their pain on others.
The Wrack Spawn is a pretty standard minion-y type monster. They have a interesting mechanic that allows them to be a little more threatening in packs–unless you put them down, you’re risking psychic damage when you attack these things from close range. But! Their speed is fairly slow, and they are easy to hit, and even at first level, it only takes two or three good hits to drop one. So with careful tactics, you can drop them before they swarm and overwhelm you with psychic damage.
That’s where the Lash Fiend comes in.
Lash fiends are lesser servitors, torturers who thrive on the wrack spawns’ pain. They drive them forward with cruel whips to seek out more victims for their master.
The Lash Fiend is a bit beefier bruiser. Still fairly easy to hit, biut with more hit points, deadlier attacks, and two abilities that work really well in tandem. So first there’s Reap the Pain which is basically turn any psychic damage you would take into temporary hit points, those can stack, up to 15. Which also works real well with Bone Lash which, conveniently enough, deals psychic damage to allies and gives them advantage on melee weapon attack rolls.
Now–this has an obvious synergy with the Wrack Spawn. You send in a few wrack spawn which are given advantage by the lash fiend–and the damage of the fiend’s attack is not (usually) going to drop the wrack spawn to 0 hit points, so instead they explode. In an ideal situation, this deals 6 damage to each creature within 10 feet of the spawn (fortunately or unfortunately, depending, wrack spawns don’t trigger each other) but this does mean that it gains 6 temporary hit points as part of its multiattack. And will possibly continue to gain temporary hit points while attacking the PCs.
All the while, it kind of speaks to the torment that Torog inflicts upon his victims while presenting PCs with an interesting tactical challenge. Do they go after the Lash Fiend, allowing the wrack spawn to whittle them down with advantage, while also ‘healing’ the fiend? Or do they risk the psychic damage explosions of the wrack spawn to take them out and deprive the lash fiend of his ability to damage? Either way, it’s not particularly good for PCs caught up in the midst of it all.
The trickiest part about running these is that they’ll want to stay mobile enough to threaten a backline–if I were going to plan a tough encounter, I’d have a couple of packs of wrack spawn waiting near places that are likely to draw a ranged character, and I’d spring them on the backline of the party with some lash fiends thrown in the middle. Because the wrack spawn act as their own terrain feature, they prompt movement. They prompt interesting and engaging decisions–I really like the way these guys work–they aren’t deadly in and of themselves, but taking them apart requires some thought and finesse.