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Monstrous Compendium: Visage

I am taking a DM’ing break after the Iron Gods Adventure Path while a friend runs Horde of the Dragon Queen.  Nice to be a player again.  However I am thinking about my next campaign which I want to be set in Planescape.  One of the contenders is  Dead Gods as the core of the Planescape game.  One of the key creatures is the Visage.  Here is a 5e example of the one I will try and I expect it will be modified after it “meets the enemy” in a few months.  I didn’t like the 3e version much to be honest so hopefully this version does a better job of capturing the nature of the Visage.  The 3e version fell into the trap of trying to make the Lucidity Control ability purely mechanical when it should really be a role-playing tool with some mechanical options.

This creature appears only somewhat solid, with a mostly shapeless body. Its only definite features include a pale, white, mask that forms the creatures face bearing a perpetual grin and a pair of particularly long and nasty claws.

Medium fiend (undead, demon, tanar’ri), chaotic evil

Armour Class 17 (natural armour)
Hit Points 157 (15d10 + 75
Speed 0 ft., fly 40 ft.

STR 20 (+5)        DEX 18 (+4)       CON 21 (+5)
INT 19 (+4)         WIS 17 (+3)        CHA 16 (+3)

Skills Stealth +10, Escape Artist +10
Saving Throws Str +9, Con +9, Wis +7, Cha +7
Damage Resistances cold, fire, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from non magical weapons
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities sleep, charm, hold effects, fear, paralyzation, poisoned
Senses truesight 120ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Abyssal, telepathy 120ft.
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)

Ambusher. The visage has advantage on attack rolls against any creature it has surprised.

Assume Identity. The visage can use its action to take on the form of someone it has killed within the last round. A visage in an assumed identity gains a +20 bonus on Bluff and Disguise checks made to pass as the victim. It also gains proficiency in the skills of the victim; treat this as an enhancement bonus to the skill check equal to the number of ranks the victim had in life. The visage does not gain the victim’s extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like abilities, nor does it gain any spellcasting powers of the victim. The visage retains its own ability scores, special attacks, and special qualities. This effect lasts for 24 hours, though the visage can dismiss it at will. While a visage is in the form of its victim, that victim can’t be returned to life. After 24 hours, or if the identity is dismissed, the soul is forever lost to oblivion. Killing the visage in this time period also frees the victim’s soul to be resurrected.

Magic Resistance. The visage has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Surprise Attack. If the doppelganger surprises a creature and hits it with an attack during the first round of combat, the target takes an extra 13 (4d6) damage from the attack.

Multiattack. The visage can make two claw attacks. It may also use dominate or lucidity control whenever it is available though it can not use both abilities at the same time.

ClawsMelee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit: 16 (2d10 + 4) psychic damage or, if the demon had advantage on the attack roll 32 (4d10 +4) psychic damage.

Dominate (1/Day). Once per day, a visage can use dominate monster, as the spell (Wisdom DC 19 negates). This is concentration based affect.

Lucidity Control: First and foremost, a visage wields a strange power that graybeards call lucidity control. The fiend can reach into the mind of anyone it sees and change how he perceives the world around him. The visage totally controls the victim’s senses, but it usually does so in subtle ways so the sod won’t realize that he’s being manipulated. As long as the victim is unaware of the visage’s assault, he receives no saving throw against the effect. However, if he tumbles to the fact that something’s playing with his mind, he can attempt a saving throw (Wisdom DC 19). Success indicates that the victim perceives things as they truly are, but he must continue to make successful saving throws each round or fall back into the false reality created by the visage.

To make it less likely that a sod‘ll realize his perceptions are being orchestrated, the undead fiends often mix real experiences with false ones. For example, a visage might artificially exaggerate perceived distances, make real objects appear to fall or move at inopportune times, change the way a building seems to be laid out, and so on.

The thing to remember is that a visage loves to cause confusion and fear. Sure, it could shut off a berk‘s senses entirely, but it‘d much rather do something disorienting and strange. Then, when a victim can no longer trust his own eyes and e m , the fiend rakes with its claws or simply manipulates the sod toward a horrible end (maneuvering him into a pit, stirring up another creature to attack him, and so on).

NB: This can act as a straightforward confusion spell as the character is manipulated and seems to respond in nonsensical ways or as a general role-playing tool to lead PCs astray. Any spell that can affect the senses can be simulated with this ability, in particular illusion spells – mirror imagemajor imagedisplacement and so fourth. The DC to break the affect is Wisdom 19. This is concentration based affect.

The visage is a devious undead creature that steals the identity of its victims to further its chaotic and evil aims. The first visages were formed from the spirits of demons by Orcus, Demon Prince of Undead, while he had assumed the identity of Tenebrous. Though a visage appears incorporeal, it does not actually possess that quality. A visage isn’t very dense, though, and only weighs about 75 pounds despite its size. In its normal form, it is sometimes mistaken for a wraith.

Visages prefer subterfuge to overt combat, since their physical attacks aren’t very threatening. They use their dominate person and lucidity control abilities to influence weak-willed individuals, hoping to draw them to places where they can finish them off secretly and assume their identities. Then, the visage uses this new identity to sow chaos and discord as long as possible. A visage’s natural weapons, as well as any weapons it wields, are treated as chaotic-aligned and evil-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Posted in 5e, Dungeons & Dragons, Monstrous Compendium, Planescape

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