• Justin Handlin

D&D Monster Tactics: Hags




Main Topic: Monster Tactics: Hags


Crit Academy is joined by special guest Anthony Thomas. Creator of the Sages of Forgotten Realms Community a Dungeons and Dragons Facebook group focused on the sharing of the D&D Forgotten Realms Setting. Today we talk about one of D&D's most notorious monsters, the Hag.


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Anthony, for those who don’t know you. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do in the world of Dungeons and Dragons?


Answer: I've been playing D&D every chance I could get since 1982. I am the admin for the Facebook pages of The Sages sites. If you don't like your pees touching your potatoes when it comes to D&D? Just pick your favorite D&D world and you are with like-minded people who love to help.


What is your most memorable D&D moment?


Answer: I have many. The one that I loved to play was a homebrew that I DMd during my overseas time with the Air Force. The PCs had to get rid of a nearby forest of feral vampires who were eating off a nearby village. When the other GI players got their orders and had to ship out I had them do their last epic battle with the vampires only to become one in them in the end. So? I would have their character as a vampire for others players (GIs just arriving) to fight to keep that process going. I kept that game going for about a good 3 years.


Do you have any moments where you failed as a DM/Player?


Answer: Back in the 2nd Edition times I got to play with a bunch of college guys. Well? The DM had previous issues with another player being a murderhobo. We;? Our characters approached a village starting off the adventure. The DM described a gallows pole with a raven on cawing loudly at the party. The DM was just setting the mood of the adventure. The murderhobo player yells out to the DM/ “I shoot the raven with my bow and arrow!” The DM sighs as the murderhobo player roll low and misses. The DM sort of ignores the incident and the murderhobo wouldn't let it go. “I shoot another arrow at it!” He misses again. The DM says “That's it!” The raven attacks the 1st level murderhobo and rolls a crit killing the murderhobos character outright. Then a fistfight ensued between the DM and the murderhobo player. I think my failure was not knowing my other fellow players being 17 years old and all I just wanted to play D&D. And wow with college students!


Hag Lore:

Originating from the dark places of the Feywyld they are the most iconic monster in D&D. The Hag is a DMs gift that keeps on giving. If you just want to throw a 2-hour one-shot at your players and need a flimsy plot? Blame it on a hag. Hags delight in suffering, priding themselves on creating new and inventive ways to torment people they are obsessed with tragedy and sorrow. They constantly spin untruths and lies to constantly keep their victims confused. Their reproductive process is a campaign within itself (we can get into that further if you like?). For the hag to make another hag they must eat a baby and then give birth to a duplicate baby and return the child to the family only for that child to turn into a hag at age 13. They have so much to offer a DM when it comes to creating them. They have whimsical names like Auntie Mugwort as an example. If you want to know a dark secret? Ask a hag but it will come with a price which always will be in her favor. There are several different types of hags lets go over the well-known ones.


Sea Hag: Absolutely hideous and terrifying to look at. Even when they use magic to change their appearance it's still not enough. Anything beautiful enrages them and will go out of their way to destroy it. They can be very dangerous to Tier 1 characters due to their death glare. They can be found on abandoned islands, seashores and lost or forgotten shipwrecks. I created one for more high-level characters called Mother Fishguts who wears a large enlightened octopus on her head that holds belaying pins in its tentacles and wacks people who come to close. Her eyes bulge out of her sockets and have filthy brackish seawater filled halfway inside of them that sloshes around. In her mouth shark jaws as dentures wearing black sails as a worn-out dress from pirate ships. Her favorite means of travel is on a giant crab.


Annis Hag: Their lairs can be found in mountainous areas. They collect ogres and trolls as if they were their children. Their preferred corrupting target is children giving them hideous tokens (their iron teeth being one) to spread the corruption further. I would take the plotline from Children of the Corn where all of the adults within a village have disappeared leaving these clearly evil feral children (as a plot hook-lets not condone violence to children). One I created Auntie Boulderholder who gives wandering children homemade dolls to talk through them to corrupt the children further who then kills off the unsuspecting village thereby leaving her free to otherwise eat them and turn them into a new dress.


The Green Hag: The Halloween witch of legend. The wretched and hateful green hags dwell in dying forests, lonely swamps, and misty moors, making their homes in caves. Green hags love to manipulate other creatures into doing their bidding, masking their intentions behind layers of deception. They lure victims to them by mimicking voices calling out for help or drive unwanted visitors away by imitating the cries of fierce beasts. They revel in the failings and tragedies of other creatures. They derive joy from bringing people low and seeing hope turns into despair, not just for individuals but also for whole nations. A good Tier 1 encounter (for levels 1-5). The one I like to use as a DM I call her Granny Scary Mary. What she does if the characters ever have to talk with her and happen to look away she appears behind them. She also rummages through the front of her ragged dress and produces candy and cookies asking the players if they would like a treat and then cackling

If the PCs happen to eat one of her treats they hear a faint scream coming from far off after biting the arm off a gingerbread man.


The Bhur Hag: Uses extreme cold weather to isolate and corrupt people creating landslides or blizzards that cut off a village or town. As the food supply runs out the poor village has no other choice but to resort to cannibalism. Every time a villager attempts to leave they are chased back to the village by winter wolves. A good one would be Auntie Dreary Flurry who makes animal fur jackets that spread diseases and corruption. A campaign is just ready for the playing!


The Night Hag: So foul and corrupted while they were in the Feywyld they descended into Hades becoming fiendish. Soulmongers. One thing they are known for is visiting their victims in their dreams corrupting them to conduct evil condemning their souls in the process. After corrupting a person (preferably of high standing) and in the process of getting themselves killed through the hags conniving ways and behind-the-scenes drama they arrive to collect that person's soul to trade or sell within the 9 Hells their souls fueling the Blood War. Their soulbag that is made from the skin of their victims is their prized possessions due to the cost of making them requiring 7 days and a living sacrifice. Mother Krackatoea is one of my favorites that I made as a DM. Her thing that she likes to do is use a stick pin sticking a person with it and then liking it, determining how evil or how much work she will have to do to corrupt them.


As a DM, remember they use strange and weird magic, a witchy poo style of folklore magic. Requiring the players to hand over a lock of hair or “Spit on this frog deary!” as the hag throws it in her cauldron. One trick I like to do on the PCs when it comes to hags? As the PCs start to catch onto the hag and violence is soon to escalate. The hag pulls out a small toad and a small vial of blue-green liquid and forces it down the frog's mouth and then drops the vial shaking the toad. The hag then throws the toad to the ground where a large belching noise can be heard as a stinking cloud erupts from the toad. Some good examples of a sea hag is the Ridley Scott movie Legend with a young Tom Cruz. Another very good plotline for a campaign when it comes to hags is Stephen Kings Needful Things (both a movie and a book) where a small towns antique store is run by a devil/demon (take away the devil and insert a green hag in disguise) who doesn't sell her one of a kind antiques (that the customer had always wanted) not for money but for favors. “I let you have that one-of-a-kind antique. All you have to do is shovel manure into Mrs. Smith's windows and frame the neighbor and it's yours.” The neighbor then kills Mrs. Smith for the vandalism and a cascade of violence and death ensues within the small town. Enter the PCs.


Hag Combat Tactics:

The physical and mental fortitude of a Hag is all pretty strong. A night hag for instance has a +3 or higher in 4 out of 6 stats. Making them pretty strong and durable opponents.


They can cast magic missiles at will, meaning they can decide to NEVER miss.


The hags ray of enfeeblement can be a brutal curse on a melee-focused character, cutting their damage in half. On top of this fact, they have resistance to magical damage and non-magical weapons.


Having Skills in Deception and Stealth already makes for a dangerous combination. But tossing in the fact that they can jump to the ethereal plane at will takes them to the next level when it comes to escaping or ambushing adventurers.


In addition to potent deceptive skills. The hag can change shape into a female humanoid on a whim.


A hag can touch sleeping humanoids from the ethereal realm. Draining life and sapping strength while a target sleeps. Some never awaken again.


All of these deceitful powers and tactics make it extremely difficult to deal with a hag who doesn’t want to be found.


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Character Concept: Tiny Scoundrel

The greatest heroes of legend are those who defeat giants, dragons, or other oversized threats to their homes and communities, using their wits, their agility, and a hefty dose of audacity. These heroes

aren’t necessarily armored warriors wielding legendary swords, and they don’t have lands or noble titles.

They are ordinary folk who rise to the challenge of the times, proving that size and strength aren’t needed to come out on top. You’re one of these heroes.


Like most smallfolk, you have found that the best way to get by in a world full of much larger creatures is to stay out of their way. Doing that might mean keeping out of their sight or staying on their good side. It might also mean keeping out of their reach, or dodging their attacks. Stealth and trickery might not be weapons and armor by themselves, but they are a useful supplement to the finest steel. Coupled with your natural daring and determination, these strengths are enough to bring you victory against any foe, no matter how large.


Compared to the legendary heroes of other races, you might come across as a scamp or a scoundrel. But

the fact that you’re crafty, resourceful, and sometimes sneaky doesn’t make you any less of a hero. You have been blessed with courage beyond question, ingenuity sufficient for any challenge, and the stealth you need to survive.

-4e Player’s Handbook 2-

Monster Variant:

Voidwalker

Voidwalkers are the cosmic guards that maintain the balance of all that exists in the world. While each paladin of this oath may interpret the tenets of the Void slightly differently, one thing always remains the

same; all things will eventually return to the Void. Many of these warriors hold high respect for one another, shirking the idea of infighting in order to prevent reality from shattering around them.


Origin: Gladiator

Lost Features: shield bash, shield, parry,


New Features:

Spellcasting. The voidwalker is a 6th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). The voidwalker has the following paladin spells prepared:

1st level (4 slots): absorb elements, shield of faith

2nd level (2 slots): misty step, zone of truth


Aura of the Void. The voidwalker emanates an aura of dimensional distortion while its not incapacitated. The aura extends 10 feet from it in every direction, but no through total cover.

When a hostile creature in its aura makes an attack roll against an ally, the voidwalker can slip the attack into the void before the attack hits. It can use its reaction to force that creature to make a charisma saving throw. On a failed save, the creature slips into a dimensional void, teleporting them to an unoccupied space the voidwalker chooses within its aura that it can see. This causes the attack to miss.


Lay on Hands. As an action, the voidwalker can touch a creature and draw from its pool of 25 hit points to restore a number of hit points to that creature, up to the maximum remaining in its pool.


Alternatively, the voidwalker can expend 5 hit points from its pool of healing to cure the target of one disease or neutralize one poison affecting it. It can cure multiple diseases and neutralize multiple poisons with a single use of Lay on Hands, expending hit points separately for each effect cured.

This feature has no effect on undead or constructs.


Reactions:


Void Slip. When the voidwalkers ally is being assaulted by a foe, it can slip yourself and your ally into the void, teleporting and swapping places. When an ally it can see within 60 feet is hit with an attack, it can use its reaction and teleport to the space in range that is occupied by a small or medium creature. If that creature is willing, they both teleport, swapping places. If the attack would hit the voidwalker’s AC it takes damage from the attack. This feature cannot be used again until the voidwalker finishes a short or long rest.


Encounter:

Dream Eater

When the characters stop by a small town for a short respite. A local young female (night hag) polymorphed, points the characters to the local Inn. They overhear a distraught parent who just lost their child to the “Night Terrors”. If the characters inquire for more detail. Sarrin (male, commoner) the parent that the night terrors have been taking people in the small village. He isn’t a smart man. But he does know that his young daughter had terrible nightmares for two days straight. They were so bad it prevented her from getting any rest and she slowly grew weaker. This morning, she didn’t wake up at all.

If the characters investigate. The group must succeed in an Investigation Skill Challenge. If a character has the Shelter of the Faithful background. A local acolyte invites them to stay at the temple. This will protect them from nightmare hauntings. The characters must gain 3 successes before they gain 2 failures. Each check represents a day of investigation. During this time, the characters become targets of the night hag’s nightmare haunting. On a success or a failure, The characters learn the following information:

  • There have been three deaths so far, each one having horrible nightmares before their death.

  • They started nearly a few tendays ago.

  • All of the attacks took place on the opposite side of the village's small holy temple.

If the characters failed the skill challenge. The night hag will ambush the party and catch them by surprise unless preparations are taken by the characters to specifically avoid this.


A successful DC 13 Intelligence (Religion) or the use of detect magic reveals a temple is warded by the protection from evil and good. This protects the temple from the evil hag. A successful DC 18 Intelligence (Arcana) check allows the character to connect the dots to the night hag who poses as a greeter to travelers. Upon defeat, a character can make a DC 18 Intelligence (Nature) or Wisdom (Survival) check to attempt to harvest each of the hag’ eyes. These potent magical material components can increase the spell save DC of a necromancy spell cast with them by 3. The component is consumed upon casting. If the target fails the check, they suffer the effects of the hag’s nightmare haunting while awake.


Magic Item:

Deep-Pocket Cloak

Wondrous item, rare


Made from a collection of bag of holdings, this nondescript cloak contains dozens of hidden pockets that have an interior space considerably larger than its outside dimensions. Roughly 6 inches in diameter at the mouth of each pocket and 6 inches deep. The cloak can allow you to keep a wealth of items close at hand. The cloak can hold up to 150 pounds, not exceeding a volume of 30 cubic feet. The cloak weighs 5 pounds, regardless of its contents. Retrieving an item from the cloak requires a bonus action. While wearing this cloak you have a +1 bonus to saving throws.

This item follows all additional rules of the bag of holding.


Dungeon Master Tip:

Variant Behavior

Surprise your players occasionally by making familiar creatures act in unusual or bizarre ways for their kind. The variant behavior should be explainable if the PCs can discover the cause. Perhaps the setting changes those who stay within it too long. Maybe the presence or influence of one or more creatures has swayed others to behave in an unusual way.


Variant behavior can go in many directions. An evil creature might instead behave in a more benevolent fashion, or it could be limited in some way that prevents or suppresses its natural tendencies. Innocent creatures might be forced to fight for the bad guys, causing the PCs a moral quandary. Weak creatures might have stronger yet subservient allies.


Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Time for a bit of R&R!

The rogue/ranger multiclass is a powerful combination. It draws its power from both classes being dexterity-based. It also combines the additional damage dice each class provides on their melee or ranged attacks.


Pairing several things together allows them to achieve beast-like damage. First: hunter's mark extra d6 for every attack, sneak attack (scaling with level), chosen fighting style (I prefer DW), and the colossus slayer (extra 1d8) or dread ambusher feature (gloom stalker 1d8). The player ends up rolling a fistful of dice every time they make an attack.


It's debatable whether to start as a rogue or ranger and really comes down to what saving throw proficiencies you prefer, as well as whether you’re willing to wait until level 6 for the extra attack feature. After taking 5 levels in ranger for extra attack, dump the rest of the levels into rogue.


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