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.
What happens when you combine one part nature with one part ancient evil? You get Blights; sentient plant creatures that take on humanoid shapes and spread evil where they can. The first Blights were believed to have been sown with the essence of a vampire through dubious circumstances, but newer ones could have been born of any evil being inhabiting a tree known as a Gulthias Tree. Regardless of what darkness is infused within them, Blights seek to infest the surrounding land, turning tranquil forests and green pastures into tangles of thorns and briers. They even go so far as to overtake entire villages, causing the townsfolk to flee and the village to be gone in a matter of days. There are three types of Blights that find themselves under the control of the Gulthias tree they spawn from, and they are the Twig, Needle, and Vine Blights. Each one serves a different purpose and brings different types of mayhem to those in their way.
Regardless of their type, Blights share some common characteristics. Each Blight possessed blindsight, and as a result don’t need to see or hear their prey in order to find them, instead sensing them through vibrations. Beyond this they all understand Common and find themselves lacking any major defensive capabilities. The Twig Blight is the most susceptible, being the weakest of the three and taking more damage from fire than the rest. Combine that with their small, frail forms that even a wizard could smash, and you have scouts that don’t pose too big of a threat. They can however hide their appearance and be indistinguishable from other plant life. The Needle Blight is a bit tougher and without the inherent weakness to fire. While they can’t hide as well as their twig counterparts, they are able to shoot their needles from a range, which is something wholly unique to them. And lastly we have the Vine Blight, which is the toughest of the three. Being able to hide just as well as their Twig counterparts, Vine Blights use the elements of surprise to constrict and entangle their opponents, either one at a time or in a small area.
While none of the Blights should pose a serious challenge on their own- even a group of starry-eyed new adventurers should have no problem with a Vine Blight- their strength comes from groups of Blights of different types working together. Twig Blights can easily serve as sentries and scouts, Needle Blights serve as a bigger roadblock attacking at range and out of reach, and Vine Blights can keep adventurers in place and unable to escape the barrage of attacks. In this sense, it’d be easy to overwhelm a party, but to truly make it work you need a good reason. Druids are an obvious place to go with Blights, and I can think of two good ways to use them. First would be to have an evil druid as the one who planted the Gulthias Tree and perhaps it’s their evil that influences the Blights, else they otherwise can control them. Alternatively, a grove of a good druid has been corrupted, and adventurers need to rescue the druid so that they can work on reversing the corruption. You could even frame that as a moral dilemma; perhaps killing the corrupted druid would end it all instantly and potentially save lives, but if the druid acts as a warden against other evils you could have the party attempt to save them and fight back the Blights in order to maintain peace down the line. Quick moral dilemmas like that enhance an otherwise turnkey concept,and make the game more interesting.
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