D&D Monster Monday: Bheur Hag

You had to abandon them. You were lost and running out of supplies, so you took theirs. “Self-preservation is my top priority”, you think to yourself. A sharp chill runs down your spine, a chill that cuts through even the bitter cold of this tundra. Then you hear an eardrum-rupturing cackle. Your selfish deeds have summoned a bheur hag…

The bheur hag is a personal favorite of mine and is one a unique take on the typical hags from D&D. The typical hag may have some spellcasting capabilities, but these spells tend to enhance their offensive melee capabilities. The bheur hag, on the other hand, is a spell caster and a deadly one at that.

Bheur hags thrive off of dealing massive amounts of AoE damage while flying above the party on their greystaff. They also have a respectable amount of crowd control and battlefield control making them a huge pain in the ass to deal with.

A bheur hag will go from looking like a frail, frostbitten human to a maniacal, bloodthirsty monster in a matter of moments. They are merciless creatures and are known for their desire to immediately feast upon freshly-slaughtered prey rather than finish off their remaining enemies.

Bundle up because we’re about to go deep into the snowy depths of Volo’s Guide to Monsters for today’s look at the bheur hag!

a hag with light-blue skin and a warped gray staff and gray cloak
The 5e bheur hag artwork is by far my favorite of the bunch. Credit: WotC.

Bheur Hag Lore

The bheur hag prefers to live in a wintery location. Preferably a snowy mountainous region with plenty of caves ripe for bunkering down and hiding in.

These hags love the cold, especially during the winter where the land is at its coldest. During this time of year, they are at their most active, often traveling to towns and villages to cast their wintery magic upon it and make the inhabitants miserable.

Bheur hags are especially attracted to acts of selfishness and greed, typically justified by the bone-chilling weather. For example, stealing food from a hungry child to keep yourself comfortably full would certainly put yourself on a bheur hag’s radar.

Bheur hags thrive off the suffering of others. they relish watching people starve to death, die of frostbite, and other such mortal mistakes that are commonplace in the harsh cold of wintertime in the mountains.

Every bheur hag can craft themselves a graystaff, a magical staff that grants the bheur hag powerful new spells provided that they hold the staff. This is different from a spellcasting focus, so they can still actually cast spells whilst riding upon the graystaff like a flying broomstick, provided that they have a hand on the graystaff.

Bheur Hag Stats and Abilities

The bheur hag’s statblock can be found on page XXX of Volo’s Guide to Monsters. 

Stats

Size: Medium fey
AC: 
17 (Natural Armor)
HP: 91 (14d8 + 28)
Speed: 30 ft.
STR: 13 (+1)
DEX: 16 (+3)
CON: 14 (+2)
INT: 12 (+1)
WIS: 13 (+1)
CHA: 16 (+3)

Overall, the bheur hag has a decent ability score array. All three common saving throw abilities are a net positive. The hag also has proficiency in Wisdom saving throws which is fantastic. Their lowest common saving throw ability is Constitution at a +2.

The bheur hag is a spellcaster first and foremost. The +3 to Charisma is decent, but it would’ve been nice to have at least a +4 to up the ante a bit. Regardless, the bheur hag still manages to pump out a terrifying amount of AoE damage and crowd control.

Her physical defenses are also solid with a 17 AC and 91 average HP. It’s going to take some time for the party to cleave through one of these hags, especially considering that this is a creature that appears as an unarmored spellcaster.

30 ft. of speed is simply average, but I will say that this ultimately only matters in confined spaces such as a cave or a dungeon with a low ceiling. The bheur hag has a unique magical item that allows them to fly with 50 ft. of movement speed per turn should the environment allow them to.

Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills

Saving Throws: Wis +4
Skills: Nature +4, Perception +4, Stealth +6, Survival +4
Damage Immunities: cold
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Auran, Common, Giant
CR: 7 (2,900 XP)

As I mentioned before, the bheur hag has proficiency in Wisdom saving throws which gives them a solid chance of making any of the most common saving throw abilities.

All four of the bheur hag’s skills proficiencies are fantastic. Stealth and Perception are nice for hiding and ambushing the party, but survival and nature are both great choices with regards to the creature’s flavor. These hags live in harsh biomes so having the knowledge and skills to forage materials for their survival and of course any materials one might need to cause havoc and mayhem in the nearby towns.

Immunity to the cold is a must for a bheur hag due to the locations they tend to live in. It’s also a nice damage type to have immunity to due to how common of a damage type it is for spells.

All in all, this is a very strong creature if you can play a spellcaster well against the party. This shouldn’t be difficult to manage since bheur hags have easy access to 50 ft. of flying speed.

Abilities and Traits

Graystaff Magic. The hag carries a graystaff, a length of gray wood that is a focus for her inner power. She can ride the staff as if it were a broom of flying. While holding the staff, she can cast additional spells with her Innate Spellcasting trait (these spells are marked with an asterix). If the staff is lost or destroyed, the hag must craft another, which takes a year and a day. Only a bheur hag can use a graystaff.

Ice Walk. The hag can move across and climb icy surfaces without needing to make an ability check. Additionally, difficult terrain composed of ice or snow doesn’t cost her extra movement.

Innate Spellcasting. The hag’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). She can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At will: hold person,*ray of frost
3/day each: cone of cold,*ice storm,*wall of ice*
1/day each: control weather

Graystaff Magic is a fantastic unique trait that the bheur hag possesses and it gives two benefits to the hag. The first is that it can be used as a broom of flying which can be ridden at a speed of up to 50 ft. of flying speed per turn after. This speed is reduced to 30 ft. per turn, if the rider is over 200 lbs, but I don’t believe our hag would be. Bheur hags are notoriously frail-looking after all.

The second benefit of Graystaff Magic is that it gives the hag additional spells to use in her arsenal, namely Ray of Frost, Cone of Cold, Ice Storm, and Wall of Ice which are all her most powerful offensive tools.

Keep in mind that the graystaff is not a spellcasting focus. The bheur hag only must have one hand on it to cast these spells, so she can ride on top of the staff while casting any of these spells.

Ice Walk is a situational trait that you can make great use out of if you make your maps. Feel free to add a ton of ice to your maps with a bheur hag to slow the party down and giving your bheur hag plenty of room to kite them around.

The bheur hag has a fantastic set of spells that she can innately cast. Hold Person is exceptional for taking a single character out of the mix if needed. Ray of Frost is a nice fallback, but you probably will not be using it until you out of your 9 total casts of Cone of Cold, Wall of Ice, and Ice Storm as all three of these can deal massive amounts of AoE damage.

Control Weather is a nice flavor spell or a fun spell to use on the party as they trek through the icy landscape. However, it won’t (or should not) see much use in combat.

Actions

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d8 + 1) bludgeoning damage plus 3 (1d6) cold damage.

Maddening Feast. The hag feasts on the corpse of one enemy within 5 feet of her that died withint he past minute. Each creature of the hag’s choice that is within 60 feet of her and able to see her must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or frighteneed of her for 1 minute. While frightened in this way, a creature is incapacitated, can’t understand what others say, can’t read, and speaks only in gibberish; the DM controls the creature’s movement, which is erratic. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the hag’s Maddening Feast for the next 24 hours.

Slam is godawful. Don’t use it unless you are forced into a corner and are casting Ray of Frost at disadvantage. Slam has a +4 to hit which is 2 less than your spell attack modifier, and it only deals an average of 13 damage per turn.

Any of your big three AoE spells will deal 20-30 damage on average per person so use those before you even think about using Slam or Ray of Frost.

Maddening Feast is a fun, but situation action that can spread around some respectable crowd control in the right scenario. The downside to this action is that the corpse that the bheur hag feasts upon has to be an enemy of the hag. This means that you’ll need to either kill a PC, one of their allies, or a third-party enemy of the hag to utilize this action. You need to intentionally set up a situation to use this in most cases.

Bheur Hag Strengths

High Burst AoE Damage

The bheur hag is an AoE damage-dealing powerhouse thanks to her three 3/day spells. Keep in mind that you can cast each of those spells three times, effectively giving her nine rounds of AoE damage goodness along with some battlefield control effects that come with the trio.

To illustrate what I mean when I say high burst AoE damage here are the averages for each of our three big spells:

Cone of Cold: 36 damage per person

Ice Storm: 23 damage per person

Wall of Ice: 35 damage per person initially, 17.5 on subsequent turns if moving through a destroyed part of the wall.

Ice Storm is by far the weakest of the trio, but it also creates difficult terrain in the area it was cast so it has that going for it. Also, it deals both cold and bludgeoning damage whereas the other two just deal straight-up cold damage.

Ideally, you need to be hitting at least two people with each of these spells, but that’s not difficult to do. Especially if you’re able to utilize Graystaff Magic to fly high above the enemy and drop AoE after AoE on top of them.

The DC 14 saving throw isn’t high for each of these spells, but at least they all deal half damage on a successful saving throw. You’re going to be throwing around a fair amount of cold damage every turn no matter what.

a scrawny looking bheur hag hunched over and leaning on their staff
Yeah, the bheur hag is definitely not over 200 lbs. Credit: WotC.

Fantastic Control

Hold Person and Maddening Feast are both respectable crowd control options for the bheur hag to use. Maddening Feast is a situational ability, but if you can make good use of it then it can surely give your creatures a leg-up on the party.

Hold Person is sort of a situational action to take as well. The way I would use it would be if you were to have a surprise round or potentially have priority in the initiative order. You could use Hold Person to effectively remove one character from the combat for some time.

Ice Storm and Wall of Ice both provide a different form of control, they provide battlefield control. Ice Storm creates an area of difficult terrain due to the hail (ice) from the storm until the end of the hag’s next turn. Since this is ice-based, the hag can ignore this difficult terrain thanks to her Ice Walk.

Wall of Ice creates a physical wall that a creature will need to use an action to break down to get past it. Even then, a broken wall can be just as thanks to the damage that the frigid air of a broken wall deals.

While AoE damage is surely the bheur hag’s specialty, they are no slouch when it comes to battlefield and crowd control!

Arial Combatant With Ironclad Defenses

An AC of 17 and an average HP of 91 is a solid baseline for any creature’s defenses and survivability. The fact that the bheur hag is a spellcaster makes this even more impressive if we’re being honest.

Thanks to their proficiency in Wisdom saving throws, the bheur hag has a comfortable bonus to succeed on Dexterity, Wisdom, and Constitution saving throws which is super important as they make up the majority of the saving throws called for in D&D 5e.

We also need to consider the fact that the bheur hag has all of this AND they can fly at a speed of 50 ft. per turn. They can still drop massive amounts of AoE damage on the enemy while safely flying above the crowd, forcing melee combatants to use suboptimal ranged attacks to pose a threat to the hag.

Bheur Hag Weaknesses

Movement Restriction and Losing the Graystaff

If, if you can somehow force a bheur hag into melee combat you have effectively won the encounter. Especially if your frontline attackers can grapple the bheur hag and prevent her from kiting your team around the battlefield.

Any type of movement restriction you can impose upon a bheur hag is going to be an enormous boon for your party. The bheur hag’s defenses are solid, sure, but that’s in part because of how effortlessly they’re able to kite their enemies around the battlemap. Once they are unable to move around, they are instantly at a huge disadvantage.

If you can somehow disarm the bheur hag or figure out another way to get her to drop her graystaff then you are also at an enormous advantage in combat. The graystaff is the source of all three of her powerful AoE spells and flying speed. Losing both of these renders the bheur hag almost entirely useless.

How to Play a Bheur Hag

The Kited Becomes the Kiter

Far too often in my Monster Monday articles do I find myself stating that a creature is easily kitable. Essentially, the party can lay down some battlefield control or restrict the opponent’s movement and just run around the map while avoiding the creature’s damage.

The bheur hag can completely turn this stereotype around and kite the party unlike most creatures in D&D. This hag has a ton of battlefield control, crowd control, and Ice Walk to run or fly around the battlefield unhindered while making it a grueling experience for the party.

Block off the enemy’s backline with Wall of Ice and force them to spend their turn breaking down the ice wall so that they can attack you again. Lay down an Ice Storm on top of the enemy’s frontline to slow them down as you create more distance between yourself and the party.

Should the party finally be able to catch up to you, you still have Cone of Cold to now send a blast of ice at the enemy and make them regret the mistake of closing in on your position. On subsequent turns, you can choose to either keep dropping additional Cone of Colds on the enemy or cast Ice Wall and start the chase over!

Graystaff Magic? More like WW2 Bomber Pilot

Graystaff Magic is the bheur hag. Your staff holds all of your most powerful magic and it grants you 50 ft. of flying speed per turn. It is the creature’s identity.

The cool part about being able to both fly and cast a ton of AoE damage spells is that in this scenario we can combine both facets of the bheur hag’s statblock into a single tactic!

You can ride on your graystaff and rain terror upon friend and foe alike thanks to Graystaff Magic. This also effectively eliminates the bheur hag’s glaring weakness of movement restriction outside of being knocked off of your graystaff.

Congratulations, you are now a bomber pilot. Now go out there and give them hell!

bheur hag from the monstrous manual which looks like an old woman with a cauldron
The most dangerous hags are the ones that can pass as a regular person. Credit: WotC.

5 Bheur Hag Plot Hooks

  1. Frozen Highwaymen – A group of bandits was found frozen to death next to the road just outside of town. While the townspeople aren’t shedding any tears over their demise, they are fearful of what could’ve possibly caused this.
  2. The Terrified Townspeople – The winters are always harsh at the base of the mountain, but this year the town has experienced an unnatural number of blizzards in such a short time after the solstace.
  3. A Cackling in the Mountains – Travelers have been hearing a shrill cackling in the dead of night coming from the mountaintops. It’s just their mind playing tricks on them at the dead of night though, right?
  4. The Coven – A coven of hags has recently formed and has sewn havoc throughout the region. A hefty reward is in it for a group of brave adventurers to take down this menace before they cause any more harm.
  5. The Collector’s Intrigue – A wealthy collector seeks to purchase a graystaff. Unfortunately, the only way to get a graystaff is to take it from a bheur hag which is surely no simple feat. It’s an impressive reward to be sure, but it may very well cost you your life.

Conclusions

The bheur hag is a unique take on the typical D&D 5e hag. Instead of being some flavor of melee attacker, the bheur hag is, in fact, a spellcaster through and through. While they do have some options to take in the case of melee combat, they actively want to avoid being too close to their enemies.

Using the hag’s Graystaff Magic the hag can ride on top of their graystaff while raining terror from above in the form of ice-cold AoE damage spells. If, however, they’re not in a position to ride atop their staff they can always opt to kite their enemies around the battlefield thanks to their impeccable battlefield control.

All in all, this is a fantastic creature that can scare the hell out of a group of adventurers. They have very few weaknesses thanks to their respective defenses, battlefield control, crowd control, and 50 ft. of flying speed.

Previous Monster Monday – Yeti

Next Monster Monday – Frost Salamander

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1 Comment

  1. One other weakness of the Bheur hag if the Fly spell. Especially if the party knows their way around the Disarm rules. Sure, the fighter might take a turn to dash up to reach the hag, and sure, they might have disadvantage on a disarm check because the Bheur is holding the staff in both hands, but if the fighter makes his Disarm check the hag is screwed, and even with disadvantage the fighter has a better than even chance of making the disarm check, since a 7th-level fighter will have about +7 to hit and the hag only has +1 Athletics. If the fighter makes the check, the hag plummets, taking a substantial amount of fall damage, and is then left without her magic and with at least one enemy guaranteed to have superior mobility, all for the price of 2-3 actions and a single 3rd-level spell.

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