D&D Monster Monday: Nivix Cyclops

Your heart pounds as you dash through the hallways of an Izzet League workshop as you make your escape with the payload in tow. Somehow you navigated through all of the Izzet League’s dangerous traps and security measures! As you smirk to yourself in this realization, you hear the loud thumping of giant footsteps rapidly closing in behind you. You forgot about the nivix cyclops!

I tried to get into Magic: the Gathering for like a month when I was 11 or 12 years old. It didn’t stick, but my bank account thanks me regularly for that outcome. Regardless, I was initially on the fence about getting a copy of Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, but I got it last year as a Christmas present so no harm no foul.

I love this book, and it’s still in the top 3 for 5e books. The art is awesome, but the creatures in it are really fun. They’re also really powerful for a 5e officially printed creature. I’m a fan.

The nivix cyclops is yet another creature I’ve chosen from this book solely because of its fantastic artwork. This is a hulking behemoth of a creature that can just throw caution to the wind and charge into the center of the fray to lay a smackdown on an unsuspecting backline caster.

With that in mind, let’s barrel our way into Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and learn all about the unstoppable force of power, the nivix cyclops!

nivix cyclops with its piston gauntlets, upgraded helmet, and some sort of tank on its back.
I’m glad they reused the M:tG card art for the creature, it’s absolutely fantastic! Credit: WotC.

Nivix Cyclops Lore

There isn’t a whole lot of lore in the nivix cyclops’ statblock, but that’s not unique to them in Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. Each creature gets maybe a paragraph or two at most. Regardless, let’s talk a bit about the nivix cyclops.

Cyclopes, even the basic ones from the Monster Manual, are found natively in Ravnica. Most cyclopses can be found among the Gruul Clans of Ravnica which consist primarily of giants, cyclopes, ogres, goblins, and other such creatures.

The Boros Legion is one of the guilds of Ravnica that occasionally recruit cyclopes into their ranks. These cyclopes are not able to be “tamed” by the Boros Legion, but they are strong and hardy creatures making them desirable soldiers or guards.

The Izzet League, however, is much more akin to recruiting cyclopes from the Gruul Clans. They utilize the cyclopes’ brute strength as workshop guardians, bodyguards, and heavy laborers.

The cyclopes in the Izzet League are specially equipped with a few of the league’s fantastic inventions. Nivix cyclopes have armor that prevents injuries from heavy lifting or using their unmatched strength, piston gauntlets that increase their strength further, and a telescopic helmet that reduces the drawbacks of their monocular vision.

Nivix cyclopes get the name “nivix” as it is the name of the Izzet League’s guildhall. Another name stated in the lore is “monoclon”.

Nivix Cyclops Stats and Abilities

You can find the Nivix Cyclops’ statblock on page 216 of Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica.

Stats

Size: Large giant
AC: 14 (half plate)
Hit Points: 115 (10d10 + 60)
Speed: 30 ft.
STR: 24 (+7)
DEX: 9 (-1)
CON: 22 (+6)
INT: 7 (-2)
WIS: 10 (+0)
CHA: 9 (-1)

Our cyclops being size large has its pros and cons. Larger creatures have a larger radius to make attacks with and force their enemies to provoke opportunity attacks. On the other hand, if you’re a group that plays with flanking rules then large creatures will present more opportunities for the party to flank them.

They have average speed, but more on that later. Their 14 AC is mediocre, but that’s not an issue when it’s being reinforced by 115 HP and a variety of damage and condition immunities.

The nivix cyclops is a prime example of a min-maxed creature. Their two most important ability scores, Strength and Constitution, are maxed beyond the capabilities of an average person in D&D. However, this comes with the cost of the rest of their ability scores being between -2 and 0.

Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills

Saving Throws: Con +9, Wis +3
Damage Immunities: poison, psychic
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Language: Common, Giant
CR: 8 (3,900 XP)

The bonuses to Constitution and Wisdom saving throws is an enormous boon as both of these are common saving throw abilities. Unfortunately, the nivix cyclops still has to deal with a -1 to Dexterity saving throws, but two out of three isn’t all that bad.

Poison damage is fairly common, but psychic damage is a very unique damage immunity to have. I don’t have the numbers on hand at the moment, but I’d put good money on it being one of, if not the least common immunities in the game. That being said, there are quite a few high-level spells that can deal massive amounts of psychic damage that the nivix cyclops can completely handwave.

It’s going to be difficult to crowd control a nivix cyclops because they have outright immunity to six different conditions.

I’m sure that the cyclops’ custom-made helmet aids in their vision, which is important as nivix cyclopes are commonly used as bodyguards or guards for the Izzet League. Seeing in the dark is a useful benefit to have in such a profession!

CR 8 may be a smidge low. This creature hits like a goddamn 18-wheeler and brushes off damage like the best of tanks. As I said earlier, though, many of the creatures in Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica hit above their respective CR.

Abilities and Traits

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

Ok, Magic Resistance helps alleviate this creature’s major pain point, saving throws. Sure, -1 to Dexterity saving throws is still not ideal, but having advantage on those saves (as well as the infrequent Charisma and Intelligence saves) is a boon the nivix cyclops is fortunately privy to.

Also, it’s going to be almost impossible to lock a nivix cyclops in any sort of Constitution saving throw-based crowd control spell. This is a solid trait to help patch up what could’ve been a severely limiting weakness.

Actions

Multiattack. The cyclops makes two slam attacks.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 23 (3d10 + 7) bludgeoning damage.

I will admit that while this is a fun and flavorful creature, the nivix cyclops are fairly mechanically simplistic. They only have a single attack action that they can use. Thankfully, it’s a damn good one!

Their Multiattack consists of two Slam attacks, each with a reach of 10 ft. and +10 to hit. This comes out to an average of 46 bludgeoning damage per turn. However, let’s take a look at the nivix cyclops’ reaction as that further increases the already respectable damage output of this creature.

Reactions

Spell Vitalization. Immediately after a creature casts a spell of 1st level or higher within 120 feet of the cyclops, the cyclops can move up to twice its speed without provoking opportunity attacks. It can then make one slam attack against a target of its choice.

Having a consistent way to use your reaction further increases a creature’s action economy which is always beneficial, especially when they’re a large creature that’s probably outnumbered, like this one.

This is an exceptional spell that turns the nivix cyclops into a spellcaster’s worst nightmare. Whenever a spell (Cantrips don’t count!) is cast within a sizeable range of the cyclops, they can immediately take a dash action that doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks AND make a Slam attack.

Spell Vitalization is buck-wild and will certainly make your players second-guess if casting a spell is worthwhile for the rest of the session.

Nivix Cyclops Strengths

Destructive Damage

Combining the nivix cyclops’ Multiattack and Spell Vitalization damage will give us an average of 69 (nice) bludgeoning damage per round of combat. Keep in mind that this is also the case if the nivix cyclops can make an opportunity attack in lieu of Spell Vitalization.

Simply put, this is a truckload of damage being thrown at the cyclops’ enemies. Tack-on the fact that Slam has a 10 ft. reach and +10 to hit and you have a destructive barrage of damage that can be safely made outside of a medium-sized creature’s melee attack range.

the card abrupt decay from magic the gathering which features a nivix cyclops about to be blown up by its failing equipment
The nivix cyclops’ counter isn’t even in the same game! Credit: WotC.

Unstoppable Force

30 ft. of movement speed is on-par with most medium-sized adventurers. They won’t outpace your typical adventurer, but they won’t fall behind in a chase either.

As I’ve stated before, Slam has a reach of 10 ft. which effectively increases the creature’s attack radius by 5 additional feet. Logically, this means that a creature would have to move 35+ feet to safely leave a nivix cyclops’ attack range if they were previously engaged in melee combat with the cyclops.

Spell Vitalization gives this behemoth a semi-reliable way of gaining a free Dash action that doesn’t even provoke opportunity attacks. This is an absurd amount of movement for a creature so large and lunky like a nivix cyclops. It leans into their berzerker playstyle!

As if all this wasn’t enough, the nivix cyclops has immunity to six different conditions, making it very difficult to stop them from pushing forward and charging into a party’s backline. They can, however, be grappled so keep that in mind!

Stalwart Defenses

14 AC isn’t great for a CR 8+ creature. However, it’s not so bad when we put 115 HP behind it. Physically speaking, this is a respectable amount of beef behind half plate armor.

At face value, this creature should have a weakness to any saving throw against a fair number of spells considering its abysmal Dexterity, Intelligence, and Charisma. However, its Magic Resistance, condition immunities, and damage immunities help to counterbalance this weak point.

A good offense is the best defense after all. The nivix cyclops has the tools required to push through the pain and lay a smackdown on the party before they can react!

Nivix Cyclops Weaknesses

Lack of Variety and Options

Nivix cyclopes have two modes: advance and Slam. They are at an extreme disadvantage if either of these options are taken away from them.

I get why this weakness is here. There needs to be some downside to a creature after all! It would be a bit ridiculous if the nivix cyclops could lob ranged attacks from afar or cast powerful spells.

Regardless, it does suck that if the party can find a working strategy against one of these creatures, the cyclops doesn’t have much in the way of shaking up its tactics.

5e cyclops artwork from the Monster Manual
Imagine being a cyclops without all the cool Izzet League tech? Oof. Credit: WotC.

How to Play a Nivix Cyclops

CHAAAAARRRRGE!

These are not smart creatures by any stretch of the imagination, and based on Magic Resistance, Spell Vitalization, and their damage immunities we can guess that they’re purpose-built to counter magic users. If they see one, they’re probably going to become priority #1 for a nivix cyclops.

Use Spell Vitalization to rush toward the party’s backline and start throwing your weight around. Just keep in mind that you can only make a Slam attack after you have made whatever movement you gain. You cannot attack then move with this ability. You can, however, forgo movement and immediately attack.

If your cyclops cannot make their way to the party’s backline, have them literally punch through the party’s well-armored frontline. After all, they have a reasonable chance of landing attacks with their +10 to hit. Keep pushing forward!

Utilize Spell Vitalization to the Best of Your Ability

Spell Vitalization is such a bonkers reaction that I think it is more akin to a legendary creature’s legendary action. Seriously, slap a 2-cost modifier on this and I’d still gush about this ability. It’s powerful!

Once the party is on the up and up in regards to Spell Vitalization, they’ll probably do their best to avoid casting spells unless they are in a dire emergency. Therefore, you need to use Spell Vitalization as optimally as possible whenever you are given the chance.

By this I mean have your cyclops charge into the party’s backline and start throwing spellcasters and squishy ranged fighters around. In doing so, you may create a situation where the party’s wizard needs to use their spells to retreat to safety, meaning that you get another use of Spell Vitalization!

5 Nivix Cyclops Plot Hooks

  1. The Bodyguard – A shrewd business tycoon and brilliant inventor is said to have many dangerous (and expensive) prototypes locked away in the vault below their factory. Breaking in should be easy enough, but getting past their infamous cyclops bodyguard is unheard of.
  2. Recruitment Drive – The Izzet League is looking for new cyclopes to join their ranks as augmented laborers. Cyclopes are notoriously dangerous to approach, so in their stead they’ll pay a few adventurers to seek out new recruits!
  3. Guarding the Power Lines – Nivix cyclopes are known to be the trusted guards of the power lines of this sector of the city. However, yesterday some unknown force slaughtered the cyclopes and smashed the generator. What could be more powerful than a squad of cyclopes?
  4. Gathering Resources – It’s not cheap to make armor and equipment for a nivix cyclopes, plus they require some special materials that can only be found in remote locations. The good news is that the Izzet League will pay handsomly for such items.
  5. Training the Recruits – Cyclopes are not well-regarded for their intellect, but it’s totally possible to train them to use their Izzet League-created equipment. The Izzet League needs a few paid volunteers to cast some spells and teach their cyclopes how to use Spell Vitalization.

Conclusions

Nivix cyclopes are somehow even more terrifying than your average cyclops. They deal more damage and have the tools needed to completely demolish an enemy spellcaster if need be. The equipment the Izzet League has made for its cyclopes is good stuff.

I love the idea of modifying creatures from the Monster Manual with technology. As in this scenario, it can help polish some of the weak points that the creature naturally has. It also helps to fit these types of creatures into new settings like Ravnica for example.

This is also a solid choice for a creature to take out your anger on the party’s spellcasters after they’ve completely negated the last 6 of your encounters. What? It’s just a joke! Haha…

P.S. This month I may miss a few Monday/Friday articles since I’m planning on participating in the RPG Writer Workshop. I have no idea if I’ll be able to (or want to) finish the workshop, but this is just a heads-up on the chance that I go full steam into writing an adventure!

Previous Monster Monday – Werewolf

Next Monster Monday – TBD

If you enjoyed what you read be sure to check out my ongoing review for all of the official D&D 5e books!

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