Behold the legacy of Gulthias the vampire: plants with a taste for blood.
Compared to many monsters in this book, Blights aren’t the most creative in terms of design. Evil plant people, that’s all you’re looking at. Their lore is pretty neat, their stats are perfect for first level parties, and putting them to use is a lot of fun as a DM. But they will never be my first pick for a campaign.
Lore: Drinkers of Darkness
Blights are basically the messengers of evil. They take evil from the lands in which they are born, then go out to spread it wherever they can. They’re the missionaries of murdering shit.
The living plant people were born from a vampire named Gulthias, who raised a terrible tower called Nightfang Tower. His life came to an end when a hero drove a stake through his heart, which was then doused in a terrible, ancient power. It would go on to grow into a sapling infused with the vampire’s essence, which would be transplanted into an underground grotto by a mad druid. The sapling became a terrible tree, and the first Blights were born.
When a tree is contaminated by a Blight’s evil mind or power, a new Gulthias tree can appear, infesting the forest around it. The roots spread evil, which kills or transform the forest’s habitants into Blights. They then uproot the healthy plants and replace them with toxic and evil ones. Soon, a Blight-infested forest would become a den of corruption.
These forests grow with supernatural speed. Vines and undergrowth spread through buildings and roads. Whole villages could vanish in a space of days thanks to Blights.
Blights are independent creatures, but they’ll mostly act under a Gulthias tree’s control. They’ll display their progenitor’s old habits, such as attacking his old foes or seeking valuable treasures. Either way, they carry on the legacy of an ancient evil.
Needle Blights are easily confused for shuffling, hunched humans at a distance. When threatened, they release pollen that wind carries to other Blights in the woods. This draws in other Needle Blights, who surround the enemy and drown their roots in blood.
Twig Blights root in soil when there is scarce prey. They resemble woody shrubs while in this state. It only returns to its humanoid shape when it pulls itself free, in which their bodies will twist back into shape. They’ll seek out camps and watering holes, then root there to set up an ambush. They hunt in packs, blending in with an area’s natural vegetation. They are extremely susceptible to fire, given how dry their bodies are.
Vine Blights are the most chilling of them all, as they appear to be masses of slithering creepers. They’ll hide in undergrowth and wait for their prey. Worse yet, they’ll animate the plants around them to hinder their prey before springing their trap. They are the only ones capable of speech, using a fractured version of Gulthias’s voice to taunt its victims or bargain with its predators.
You can’t weave an entire campaign around the Blights and their stories. If anything, they’re good for a level one quest. While the flavor text is there, and it is interesting, they can’t be used for a whole lot given their stats.
TL;DR: Cool, but ineffective.
Design: Exactly What You’d Expect
Yup. These guys sure are tree people. Look at them go.
They aren’t super cool looking or memorable. Their design immediately tells you what they’re about, which is the mark of good character design. If you compare them to any other monster in D&D, they lack much creativity.
Effective, but lacking.
Stats: About as Durable as You’d Expect
None of the three Blights are especially powerful. The highest threat level is the Vine Blight, and he’s only at 1/2! Unless you are throwing great numbers at a super low-level party, these guys will never be a genuine threat.
Their abilities were already mentioned in the lore section. Needle blights don’t have anything, Twig and Vine Blights can use False Appearance, and Vine Blights can use Entangling Plants and Constrict rather than using claws.
After a Blight springs his ambush, the fight itself will be very straight forward. You fight them and they fight you, then they die. They don’t require any special thinking or tactics on the part of the players.
Blights are certainly neat. But aside from decently cool lore, there isn’t a whole lot to explore with them! Their designs are effective but boring and their stats are pitiful. There really isn’t much you can do with the Blights in terms of actual gameplay.
With that in mind, let’s put the three Blights on the Best of the Bestiary!
- Death Tyrant
- Animated Armor
- Rug of Smothering
- Vine Blight
- Twig Blight
- Needle Blight
- Flying Sword
They might have been higher. But when they’re placed right next to Bugbears, it becomes painfully clear just how inadequate these guys are.