Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Demons Part 9: Manes (Best of the Bestiary)

Have no pity for this damnable wretch. Bloody thing could grow up to be a Demon Lord one day. -Emirikol the Chaotic

Now, at last, we reach the end of the demonic chain of command. It’s time to talk about the foot-soldiers of the demon army. The monster that will likely be the most common enemy for a low-level party in a demonic campaign: the Manes.

When an evil creature dies, its soul will descend into the Lower Planes and transform into a Manes. These monsters mindlessly attack any non-demon that crosses their path, especially so when they’re summoned to the Material Plane by one seeking to cause chaos and destruction.

These monsters are far from respected by other demons and creatures. Orcus, the Prince of Undeath, uses his powers to transform them into undead monsters such as ghouls and shadows. Demon Lords will destroy a Manes entirely by consuming them. They’re frequently killed by other creatures due to their weak bodies, though they are hard to truly kill. After dying, a Manes will turn into a cloud of reeking vapor before reforming one day later.

While this flavor text is certainly interesting, it doesn’t offer a lot of story-telling potential. You can’t even write a short side-quest about these guys. They have one purpose: to serve as fodder. They’re the introductory enemy, the first Demon that the party will encounter at a low-level.

Still, at least it’s a bit more interesting than most of the demons.

Design: Chonky Zombie

Zombie? Demon? Demon zombie? Either way, I don’t think Father Maxwell is going to be a fan of this thing. Heh! Bad Hellsing jokes!

manes-5e.jpg
Wow. That is… really underwhelming.

While this design isn’t very creative, I do have to give credit where it’s due. This is a very effective design! You can glean a lot of this monster’s abilities and lore just by looking at this thing! Its zombie-like general appearance hints at the undead nature of the monster’s origins. The claws stand out enough to draw the eyes, making you aware of the creature’s primary tool of attack.

Plus, it is a little more creative than just ‘demon-zombie’. Its inhuman feet (paws?), thick body and scrawny arms give it a unique appearance. They’re small touches, but they’re nice to have. It’s good to see the designers trying to put a bit of extra life (or death, I guess) into the creature’s appearance.

Granted, it still looks pretty generic. Even with its minor creative additions, it still just looks like another zombie. It doesn’t look all that demonic, aside from a few minor details. There really isn’t much else to talk about.

Overall, I don’t think Manes has a bad design. It isn’t especially interesting, but it is decently effective. Plus, it has a few extra creative additions that make it stand out a bit more. Not by much, mind you. But it certainly helps.

Given the stats this thing has, it desperately needs them.

Stats: The Least Threatening Demon/Zombie/Demon Zombie of All Time

This thing sucks. It isn’t challenging, no matter what your level is. It doesn’t force any creative tactics on the player’s part. It doesn’t have any interesting or unique stats. This thing is boring as hell and I hate it.

It has a pitiful amount of HP and a pitifully low AC, making it super easy to kill no matter what level you are. The only attack available to this thing is its claws, which can deal 5(2d4) slashing damage. Sure, this thing could scare a level one wizard with those numbers. But it won’t scare anyone else.

And that’s it. No, I’m not joking. Sure, it’s resistant to cold, fire, and lightning, not to mention it being immune to poison, but who cares? All you need to do is punch it a few times and it will die! It’s completely pathetic, uninteresting, and super boring! The only way to make sure your players don’t fall asleep while fighting these guys is to make sure there are more of them than there are players and pairing them with a more powerful and interesting enemy!

I’m pretty sure this is my shortest ‘Stats’ section in any ‘Best of the Bestiary’. I have so little to talk about that I don’t even have a clever way of closing out this section. It’s just that boring! So I’m just going to move on to the end.

Conclusion

This monster started out reasonably strong. The lore was interesting, even if it didn’t have much to work with. It had a boring design that it managed to make a bit more interesting than not at all. But the fight is so boring that it completely buries this monster! This is easily one of my least favorite creatures in the entire book!

With all that in mind, let’s put the Manes on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Couatl
  4. Behir
  5. Aboleth
  6. Chuul
  7. Chimera
  8. Death Knight
  9. Ankheg
  10. Aarackockra
  11. Azer
  12. Demilich
  13. Spectator
  14. Cambion
  15. Animated Armor
  16. Banshee
  17. Basilisk
  18. Bulette
  19. Cloaker
  20. Darkmantle
  21. Glabrezu
  22. Chasme
  23. Barlgura
  24. Balor
  25. Dretch
  26. Goristro
  27. Hezrou
  28. Manes <———
  29. Planetar
  30. Carrion Crawler
  31. Rug of Smothering
  32. Bugbear Chief
  33. Bugbear
  34. Vine Blight
  35. Twig Blight
  36. Needle Blight
  37. Bullywug
  38. Cockatrice
  39. Solar
  40. Deva
  41. Cyclops
  42. Centaur
  43. Flying Sword
  44. Crawling Claw

Out of all the demons we’ve discussed thus far, this monster is the weakest. It’s just so dull and boring! It is a waste of time, both for the DM and for the players.

But have hope! Next time, we’ll be getting into the Demon Lords! Hopefully, we should finally be getting into something truly interesting and engaging!

 

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