D&D Monster Monday: Sire of Insanity

You’ve successfully infiltrated the nightclub that this so-called Sire of Insanity is hosting. Debauchery and depravity are rampant here. Still, you steel yourself, knowing your sacred duty to cleanse the world of this demon. As you go to draw your blade you feel a chill down your spine. You feel your mind overtaken by twisted thoughts. Your will was not strong enough. You too have succumbed to the sire.

I’ve been feeling super burnt out on TTRPGs lately. I took my advice and took a short break from my Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign. Needless to say, I need to take my advice more often because I feel refreshed and ready to pick everything back up again.

To get back into the swing of things I decided to dedicate this Monster Monday to a demon. As I mulled over what one to feature I found the sire of insanity, a super messed up and manipulative demon from Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. It’s perfect.

The sire is a dangerous creature, as most powerful demons are. However, their offenses don’t lie in weapons, claws, or teeth like most demons. Instead, it resides in their unmatched ability to break the spirits and minds of friends and foes alike.

Let’s take a waltz through the seedy underbelly of Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and see just how messed up this creature is.

sire of insanity holding its latest victim above a green pool of liquid
I like the card art for the sire of insanity more than the Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica version. Credit: WotC.

Sire of Insanity Lore

I’m going to drill home that I don’t know much about M:tG lore, but I’ll do my best.

The Cult of Rakdos is a guild in Ravnica that worships/follows the demon Rakdos. I say guild but it’s more of a cult.

If you need shady things done you go to the cult. Assassination? They’ve got your (target’s) back. Torture? They know a guy for that. Foodservice (it’s on the wiki I’m not kidding)? They’ll cater your wedding for a reasonable price.

The sire of insanity is a huge lizardlike demon that prefers to keep itself hidden in the crevices and basements of the cult’s operations. There they feed off the misery and debauchery that happens in the area. They draw sustenance from others’ suffering.

Their favorite place to reside is in the darkness of the various nightclubs that the cult hosts. Here they feast on the dark desires and sadistic pleasures that cultists and patrons partake in. This is giving me some big Devilman Crybaby vibes.

devilman crybaby nightclub scene where everyone takes drugs and turns into rampaging demons
Maybe going to a nightclub full of demons isn’t such a great idea. Credit: Netflix.

The cult uses sires of insanity to help with the initiation process of their members. They’ll draw upon the sires’ power to break and torment peoples’ minds to shape recruits into proper, unquestioning fanatics.

Demons are seriously messed up.

Sire of Insanity Stats and Abilities

You can find the Sire of Insanity’s statblock on page 197 of Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica.

Stats

Size: huge fiend (demon)
AC: 17 (natural armor)
HP: 157 (15d12 + 60)
Speed: 40 ft.
STR: 23 (+6)
DEX: 6 (-2)
CON: 19 (+4)
INT: 14 (+2)
WIS: 19 (+4)
CHA: 22 (+6)

While being such an enormous creature has its defensive advantages such as more HP, it comes with quite a few tactical disadvantages that you need to be wary of. Thankfully, though, the sire of insanity has solid defenses and some decent utility to help counteract the tricky maneuvers your party could pull.

All in all this creature is a defensive powerhouse with a solid foundation shown here. 17 AC is solid for a creature of this stature. 157 HP is a decent pool of health already, but it’s bolstered by quite a few high-value damage resistances and immunities.

40 ft. of movement is speedy for such a large creature. This, along with their 10 ft. reach with their claws and their size will make it tricky for the party to avoid attacks of opportunity.

Their ability score spread is phenomenal outside of their Dexterity. While it’s the most common saving throw against spells in 5e, the sire’s Magic Resistance helps to alleviate this shortcoming. Plus, have good modifiers in 2 out of 3 common saving throw abilities ain’t bad.

Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills

Saving Throws: CON +8, INT +6, WIS +8, CHA +10
Skills: Deception +10, Intimidation +10
Damage Resistances: cold, fire, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: poisoned
Senses: truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages: Abyssal, Common, telepathy 120 ft.
CR: 12 (8,400 XP)

It’s not often that we see creatures with so many goodies in this portion of the statblock.

Between Magic Resistance and the ridiculous amount of saving throw proficiencies that the sire has, it’s going to be almost impossible to crowd control this creature outside of using Dexterity-based spells.

Proficiency in Deception and Intimidation adds some excellent flavor to the sire of insanity. While it has offensive teeth, its manipulative abilities are by far the scariest part about these creatures.

What a list of damage resistances and immunities! 3 out of the 4 elemental ones are super common. Lightning is just a nice bonus to tack on there. Resistance to nonmagical weapon damage is nice but in my experience, most martial characters will have a magical weapon or some way to make magical attacks by the time they face a CR 12 creature. I don’t give those resistances as much weight.

They have an absurd amount of truesight which also happens to have the exact range as their telepathy. This means a sire can mess with literally anyone they can see. And they can see pretty much everyone.

CR 12 feels low for the sire of insanity. They have a ridiculous amount of crowd control while still having an o.k. damage output. There are some, but very few, weaknesses in their kit for the party to exploit.

Traits and Abilities

Aura of Mind Erosion. Any creature that starts its turn within 30 feet of the sire must make a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw. On a successful save, the creature is immune to this aura for the next 24 hours. On a failed save, the creature has disadvantage for 1 minute on Wisdom and Charisma checks and on Wisdom and Charisma saves. At the start of each of its turns, the sire can suppress this aura until the start of its next turn.

Innate Spellcasting. The sire’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 18, +10 to hit with spell attacks). The sire can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At will: clairvoyance, crown of madness, major image, suggestion
1/day each: confusion, mass suggestion

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

Aura of Mind Erosion has to be the deadliest ability in the sire of insanity’s kit. Sure, it doesn’t cause any direct harm to a creature, but for the low, low action economy cost of nothing the sire can make every creature within 30 ft. of it super susceptible to almost all of their crowd control spells.

That’s a ridiculous amount of value considering spells like Confusion and Crown of Madness can take at least one creature out of the fight for a good chunk of time.

The sire’s spell list is quite solid. Clairvoyance and Major Image is useful for messing with the party/gaining more information about them before combat breaks out. While Suggestion, Mass Suggestion, Confusion, and Crown of Madness are all great avenues to impose crowd control and disruption on the party.

Magic Resistance would be overkill if it weren’t for their abysmal Dexterity modifier. As is, it gives the sire a fighting chance to make saves against Dexterity saving throws from spells. It practically allows them to bypass most other saving throws due to the generous amount of saving throw proficiencies they have.

Actions

Multiattack. The sire makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 25 (3d12 + 6) piercing damage plus 16 (3d10) psychic damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8 + 6) slashing damage plus 9 (2d8) psychic damage.

The sire’s Multiattack hits for a whopping 35 piercing damage and 25 psychic damage. A total of 60 damage per turn. While that’s nothing to scoff at, it’s still below average for my expectations of a CR 12 creature.

Although almost half of their damage being psychic damage, which is rarely mitigated, is a pretty decent perk.

Also, Claws reach of 10 ft. coupled with their huge size is another hidden perk. It further extends the range of the sire’s attack of opportunity. Limiting the party’s free space to maneuver around the battlefield.

Sire of Insanity Strengths

Ironclad Defenses

The sire of insanity has some ridiculous defensive perks. They start on the right foot with their base defenses of 17 AC and 157 HP. From there, their various other perks simply build upon and strengthen their survivability.

They have resistance or immunity to 3 super common elemental damage types: fire, cold, and poison. They also have resistance to lightning damage which, while rare, is attached to some powerful spells.

Their resistance to nonmagical slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning damage is mostly tacked-on for flavor and lore purposes but it still might come in handy depending on your game and party makeup.

Last but not least, we have the sire’s absurd saving throw bonuses. Outside of Dexterity, the lowest modifier is +6 for Strength and Intelligence. That is ridiculous.

While it’s true that their -2 to Dexterity is an Achilles’ heel of sorts, it is still propped up by Magic Resistance. Which of course skyrockets their chances to make any other saving throw against spells.

magic the gathering card for the sire of insanity
Here’s the sire of insanity’s M:tG card! Credit: WotC.

Phenomenal Crowd Control

Some would say that the best offense is a good defense, but I disagree. The sire’s defenses are only just part of what makes them so great. Their major strength is the sheer amount of crowd control they can dish out. An amount that can remove a solid chunk of the party from combat for a few rounds.

Confusion is a super powerful AoE crowd control spell that can be used to disrupt the party’s turns. While it can only be used once, that’s not much of an issue if you couple this (and the rest of their spells) with Aura of Mind Erosion to all but ensure its success.

Mass Suggestion can also provide a bit of disruption to the party’s damage output once Confusion has been used up. If all else fails you still have Suggestion and Crown of Madness to shake things up on a single creature if need be.

All of this disruption and crowd control further bolsters the sire and its allies’ survivability. Each time you take away a party member’s turn, you lower the party’s total damage output. That’s a significant amount of damage mitigation.

Sire of Insanity Weaknesses

Below-Average Damage

As I said before, their offenses aren’t the worst. Yet they’re still not average.

Sure there are bright spots to their offensive actions such as the bonus psychic damage and Claws’ reach. However, that’s still not enough, in my opinion, to make up for the lacking damage.

It’s best if you can pair up the sire with some minions or allies to prop up their lacking damage. Then you can focus on dishing out the sire’s superior crowd control without worrying about damage output!

Friendly Fire

Aura of Mind Erosion is a phenomenal trait. However, that power does come with a cost. Which in this case is that the aura impacts every creature around the sire.

Inflicting the sire’s allies with Aura of Mind Erosion will give the party an advantage on imposing their crowd control on them. Which is the exact opposite of what you were trying to accomplish by using this trait.

This sucks because one of my big tips for using the sire is to pair it up with some goons to help with their damage output. You’re going to need to be super careful regarding positioning to try and get the most out of Aura of Mind Erosion while not endangering the sire’s allies.

a sire of insanity roaring
Imagine partying at the club and coming face-to-face with this terrifying thing. Credit: WotC.

How to Play a Sire of Insanity

The Pregame

The sire doesn’t want to face the party head-on. Sure, they have the defenses to withstand a full-frontal assault, but they have the tools to avoid this scenario too.

Clairvoyance is a great spell for spying on the party and learning their movements. Such an advantage will give the sire plenty of time to reposition or prepare their surroundings for a run-in with the party.

Major Image can be leveraged to further mess with the party and create further obstacles to disrupt the party in and out of combat. Couple this with Intimidation or Deception and a sire could even talk their way out of a conflict.

When all else fails the sire still has their phenomenal crowd control and disruption to fall back on. Yet since the sire has the tools to shift the odds further in their favor, you may as well use them.

Unleash the Swarm

Lacking damage isn’t always a death sentence for a creature in 5e. Provided that the creature can accomplish other valuable things in combat with their kit.

The sire is such a creature. Their plentiful and impactful crowd control is super valuable in combat provided that you can prop up their lacking damage.

Using minions or another creature that can dish out some solid damage is such a way to fix this problem. Especially if those creatures have ranged capabilities. This would allow you to throw the sire at the party and unleash their Aura of Mind Erosion and Confusion on multiple members of the party at once.

All the while your backline damage dealers can pick off the remainder of the party that isn’t crowd controlled or disrupted.

5 Sire of Insanity Plot Hooks

  1. Shut Down the Clubs – Pop-up nightclubs have been sporadically appearing throughout the city as of late. Whoever is running these does not want the authorities to know what is happening behind closed doors.
  2. Infiltrating the Cult – You’ve succeeded in acquiring an invitation to the cult’s initiation ceremony. Your duty is to gather as much information as you can so your guild can shut these monsters down and collect the reward.
  3. Subduing the Sire – A sire of insanity has been tracked down. There is a hefty contract from the city to take it alive and transport it to a research facility. Perhaps learning more about it will give the authorities tools to deal with these terrifying creatures.
  4. A Mysterious Package – A merchant is looking for a crew of mercenaries to safeguard a caravan into the city. One stipulation, the crate is completely sealed and no one is allowed to open it.
  5. The King’s Secret – Criminals who enter the palace dungeon are never seen again. The crime families have all fled from the city as well. Rumor has it, the king has a new inquisitor that has terrified the seedy underbelly of the city.

Conclusions

The sire of insanity is yet another creature from Guildmasters’ that is both powerful and super flavorful. For someone with no interest in M:tG I just cannot get enough of this fantastic book. The creatures, in particular, are amazing.

While the sire of insanity could hold its own in combat, it shines when you can pair it with some minions or a more offensively-gifted creature to help prop up their damage output. This allows the sire to focus on its strength, crowd control, and disruption, while still being super threatening to the party.

The cool thing about the sire though is that they’re effective outside of combat too. Clairvoyance allows them to spy on the party. Combine this with their high Deception and Intimidation and you have a creature that can play effective mind games with the party before combat ever breaks out.

The sire of insanity is just a solid creature all around. While they have weaknesses, they’re by no means game-breaking. They’re a terrifying creature to deal with in any facet of the game.

Previous Monster Monday – Mind Flayer

Next Monster Monday –  Grick

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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