Just in time for the holidays, today we talk about a bit of a seasonal monster. If you’re looking for an icy encounter to throw at your players, this might just be what you’re looking for. Let’s take a look at…
The Bheur Hag
So far in this series we have covered a few high CR creatures that turned out to be a bit disappointing when it came to flavor and available abilities, but even at a quick glance I can already tell that this won’t be the case for today’s monster.
In terms of numbers, we’re looking at matching +1s to STR, INT, and WIS followed by a +2 CON. The Bheur’s highest stats are their +3 DEX and CHA.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. These creatures might not have the highest numbers, but in my experience at least, this is very rarely what makes or breaks a monster.
Bheur Hags, simply known as Bheurs, are considered medium fey creatures of a chaotic evil alignment. They are decently meaty with an AC of 17 and a hit point pool of 14d8+28. Their speed is an average 30ft and, for all intents and purposes, they are CR 7 monsters.
Bheurs have a few proficiencies including Stealth and Perception, as well as immunity to cold damage. This last bit is important, but we’ll come back to it later. They have a Darkvision range of 60ft, passive perception of 14, and are able to communicate in Auran, Giant, and Common.
One of these creatures identifying features is the fact that they all carry a Greystaff that serves a focus for their spells and gives them access to a couple of other abilities. Bheurs can actually use these staves as if they were brooms of flying.
This item also gives the hag access to her Innate Spellcasting of some great spells. The list is as follows:
At will: Hold Person, and Ray of Frost.
3/day: Cone of Cold, Ice Storm, and Wall of Ice.
1/day: Control Weather.
All of which are not only great, but also extremely thematic.
On top of that the Bheur has an Ice Walk that allows her to move and climb through any icy surfaces without needing to make any sort of checks and also saves her from any difficult terrain penalties imposed by this type of icy terrain.
Chances are that if you do end up running this creature, you’ll want to make use of her spells more than anything else, but if your hag finds herself trapped at close range, she does have a melee Slam attack.
Last but certainly not least, is the Bheurs Maddening Feast ability. Anyone who watches the Hag devour a fresh corpse must make a DC15 WIS save or be frightened of the creature. Failing this save no only triggers both the frightened and incapacitated conditions but also rends the player characters completely useless to the point where they are not even able to communicate amongst each other. Talk about terrible table manners.
Bheurs, also known as winter hags or blue hags, have been a part of the Dungeons and Dragons world ever since 2nd edition.
They are based loosely in Gaelic mythology, specifically on a weather deity known as the Cailleach Bheara, the Queen of Winter. Some attribute the creation of hills and mountains to this goddess and it is said that her staff would freeze the ground as she walked.
When it comes to our D&D games, unlike many of the other types of hags, Bheurs don’t have any sort of resistances against weapon damage. Nor are they strong compared to their kin. This is likely due to the fact that these monsters prefer to attack from a safe distance instead.
If we take a look at their list of spells actions, it’s pretty clear to see that they favor range over melee. Not only that, but their flying speed and ability to Ice Walk also point towards these creatures’ preference for taking advantage of their surrounding environment.
Speaking of which, thanks to their Control Weather ability, you can definitely expect any Bheur hunting grounds to be extremely cold and icy. In terms of the favorite terrain, they are most often found in cold mountains and forests.
Although Bheurs are perhaps one of the more solitary types of hags, they are not above becoming a part of a coven.
As mentioned before, I definitely think Bheur Hags are one of the very few monster worth their CR that we have covered so far. They are study enough, have some great abilities, and they’re just oozing with flavor. Without any further ado, here’s what I have in mind for this one. Picture the following:
Your party of adventures receives a letter from a town that is in dire need of help; a sudden winter has fallen over the land despite it being late spring. Farmers and peasants are equally worried ad their crops perish and strange things begin to happen as a winter darkness settles over their area. Desperate, they reach out to our heroes who, upon arrival, discover that things have only gotten worse in the time that it took them to reach town. Townsfolk have begun to go missing, their bodies latter found ripped apart in a half frozen state, missing odd bits of very specific organs, always the same ones. After questioning a few of the terrified townspeople and investigating the frozen remains of some of the bodies, the party begins to get a clearer picture of the situation. All signs point to an abandoned shack near the edge of a lake in the outskirts of town. The party makes their way there begin to notice that it does seem like icy weather emanates from this point. As they approach the building, a foul smell hits their nostrils as they spot a hunched figured bent over a fresh corpse, it turns and stares at them with a wicked grin and reddened teeth in sharp contrast to her icy pale skin.
Aaaand roll for initiative. Well, right after rolling those WIS saves to see if any of the PCs was affected but the winter hag’s Maddening Feast.
For this combat I would definitely make sure to keep the players away from the hag for as long as possible. That Hold Person can do wonders against any players that try to rush her, or simply to hold off the casters from immediately shredding your monster to pieces. If at all possible, I’d definitely also suggest trying to keep combat confined to icy terrain.
I think this is definitely a monster you can build interesting encounters around, and the best part is that, if you’re looking for something a bit more challenging for larger parties or higher level combat, you can run similar versions of this with a coven instead. In fact, this might just be the perfect time to have a look at some of those variant spell lists for covens that Volo’s Guide to Monsters has to offer.
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