Monster Manual A-Z is a series of quick looks at each and every monster presented in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. New monsters go up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in alphabetical order, touching on lore, mechanics, and ways to use them in your campaign. To search for all Monster Manual A-Z articles, search MMAZ in the search bar as we’ve excluded them from our Roleplaying Games tag to keep things tidy.
There’s something tragically ironic about the Banshee; once a beautiful and vain elven woman, the Banshee is the corrupted soul of such a maiden made to look as ugly and horrific on the outside as she was on the inside during life. They’re bound to the location of their death and feel no happiness in death, just pain around the living. For that reason they sense and seek out living creatures unfortunate enough to come by where the Banshee resides so that they may corrupt and destroy them. Unfortunately for the Banshee, even in death there is no escape from their living moments, as they constantly remember their life in vivid detail, refusing to take accountability for their downfall.
The situation that happens when a group of adventurers runs into a Banshee can be interesting. The undead creature does have some tricks up its sleeve, and paired with the right monster it can be deadly for characters of any level. In a broader sense, while the Banshee may be fairly easy to hit, it has a good amount of immunities and resistances, meaning if you want to deal full damage to it’s impressive total of HP, you need to be hitting it with magic weapons, force, psychic, or radiant damage as it is immune or resistant to most else. It’s worth noting that the adventurers may not always have time to prepare as the Banshee can sense living creates within 5 miles, getting a general direction of where they may be- and since they are incorporeal, moving through trees, walls, and anything else do not hinder the creature. Once in combat, the Banshee has a devastating touch attack that deals necrotic damage, possibly enough to take down a caster in one or two hits. She can also attempt to horrifying and frighten any living creature that can see her; though any that stand their ground are no longer in trouble of being afraid. Lastly, the Banshee has a wail that she can let out once per day, either instantly bringing adventurers down to having no health, or best case dealing psychic damage to them.
Banshees make for good guardians and minibosses of graveyards, crypts, and abandoned buildings. As they are universal in their motivation to strike down the living there isn’t much room for civil discussion and roleplay, other than perhaps tricking the Banshee. A smart or well read party may hear that Banshee abhor mirrors and carry one with them just in case they need a distraction or way to combat the monster if it is too tough of a challenge for them. If they do engage though, the Banshee’s wail is a great opener to place your party in panic mode as they’ll either all take psychic damage, or some will drop like flies. With a high output of damage and a bank of hit points that are hard to bring down, any adventurers will have to think on their feet once their cleric or paladin falls to any of the Banshee’s tricks. Conversely, if they can withstand the wail and horrifying visage of the Banshee, its possible they will have the upper hand, ridding the land of the ugly spirit, and perhaps giving some form of solace to the soul.
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