D&D Monster Monday: Merregon
How could this happen? Everything the spellcaster throws at them is shrugged off. These devilish soldiers, the merregon, keep pushing forward, breaking through your ranks. The city is lost for sure.
With the announcement of Baldur’s Gate: Descent Into Avernus I felt like it would be appropriate to take a look at a devil for this edition of Monster Monday. I also wanted to find a low-CR devil to showcase as the adventure takes place from levels 1-13. Honestly, this proved to be more of a challenge than I anticipated.
However, the merregon proved to be an almost perfect candidate. They’re essentially the backbone of the armies of the Nine Hells. At their core, they’re a fairly standard tank and spank creature, but they have some really fun traits and tools at their disposal to make them fun to build encounters around.
Today we’ll be hopping into Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes to study the faceless legionnaire, the merregon!
Soldiers, mercenaries, bodyguards, and other professional fighters aren’t always folk that act with the best intentions. Some of these people are truly evil, others forsake their morals for an easy payout. Regardless, many of these people commit atrocities throughout their lives.
Once they are slain or die a natural life, a spirit will travel to whatever afterlife they have been deemed worthy of. In the case of these awful sellswords, their souls travel to the Nine Hells and become merregons.
Merregons are faceless soldiers without any individual identity. They are simply footsoldiers for the armies of the Nine Hells.
Each merregon has a mask that looks the exact same as every other merregon’s mask. The only identifying factors of their appearance are the markings on these masks which dictate the merregon’s commander and the layer of the Nine Hells that they serve.
Their lack of identity and their (magically forced) loyalty make them the perfect pawns in a devil’s army. A merregon will throw down their life for the master and will obey any order that they are given. They do not retreat unless ordered to, and they do not cease unless ordered to.
Merregon Stats and Abilities
You can find the merregon’s statblock on page 166 of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
Size: Medium fiend (devil)
AC: 16 (natural armor)
HP: 45 (6d8 +18)
Speed: 30 ft.
STR: 18 (+4)
DEX: 14 (+2)
CON: 17 (+3)
INT: 6 (-2)
WIS: 12 (+1)
CHA: 8 (-1)
Frankly speaking, their base stats aren’t anything to write home about. It’s all pretty average for a CR 4 creature. Their speed is average for a medium creature, their AC and HP are both decent, but nothing to write home about.
Their +4 modifier to Strength and +3 to Constitution certainly aid in their melee-combatant niche. These are frontline bruisers and they have the ability scores to back it up. A +2 modifier to Dexterity also helps them deal with Dexterity saving throws which are sure to pop up in combat.
However, their mental ability scores are much to be desired. Wisdom is a +1 which is o.k. and sort of required for creatures that are created as bodyguards. They need to be able to perceive incoming combatants. Their Intelligence and Charisma are garbage, though. That being said, their existence revolves around taking orders. They do not think for themselves. It makes sense at least.
Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills
Damage Resistances: cold; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks that aren’t silvered
Damage Immunities: fire, poison
Condition Immunities: frightened, poisoned
Sense: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages: understands Infernal but can’t speak, telepathy 120 ft.
CR: 4 (1,100 XP)
Here is where the merregon’s statblock starts to get interesting, and why their ability score spread and base stats are pretty bland.
They have damage resistance to the three most common damage types in the game, assuming that it’s not damage coming from silvered or magical weapons. They also have resistance to cold damage which is a common damage type for spells.
Not only that, but they have straight-up immunity from two extremely common damage types, fire and poison. I should note that these damage immunities and resistances are fairly standard for devils in D&D, though, but it’s still some solid survivability that we need to account for.
On top of all these damage resistances and immunities, they also get immunity to the frightened and poisoned conditions. So, not only is it difficult for spellcasters to damage merregons effectively, but they also limit their CC.
Their passive Perception isn’t great at 11, but this coincides with their Wisdom so this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. It should come as no surprise that a creature from hell itself has darkvision.
Telepathy with a range of 120 ft. is very cool and extremely useful for a soldier to have. Telepathy, in general, is common for demons to have, but in this case, it lets merregon quickly and efficiently receive orders from their overseers. It also allows them to strike fear in the hearts of the foes even if they don’t share a language.
Abilities and Traits
Devil’s Sight. Magical darkness doesn’t impede the merregon’s darkvision.
Magic Resistance. The merregon has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Devil’s Sight is as the name implies, common for devils to have. However, this is an excellent trait as it yet again limits the amount of magical crowd control that an enemy spellcaster is able to unleash upon a merregon.
Devil’s Sight makes the merregon particularly deadly if they’re paired with a creature that can cast Darkness. They could use this area of darkness to severely hinder their enemy while still being capable of functioning normally.
Magic Resistance just solidifies the merregon’s role of being an anti-spellcaster. Sure, their Wisdom, Intelligence, and Charisma modifiers range from poor to average, but that doesn’t matter as much when they get advantage on the saving throw.
Multiattack. The merregon makes two halberd attacks, or if an allied fiend of challenge rating 6 or higher is within 60 feet of it, the merregon makes three halberd attacks.
Halberd. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10 + 4) slashing damage.
Heavy Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 100/400 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d10 + 2) piercing damage.
The merregon’s Multiattack is pretty damn cool. First of all, two halberd attacks mean that we’re going to be attacking with reach which is already awesome. Second of all, it has a conditional buff. If the merregon is fighting alongside a more powerful devil they are inspired and can make an additional halberd attack.
So essentially, merregon are pretty solid when they’re used by themselves, but if you pair them up with a lieutenant or a commander they can become a real force to be reckoned with.
Halberd is a solid attack. +6 to hit is solid for a CR 4 creature if not slightly above average. The 9 slashing damage isn’t spectacular, but considering we’re getting 10 ft. reach with the attack it’s worth the lower damage in my opinion. Not only that, but they can make this attack up to 3 times in perfect conditions making their average damage per turn 27 slashing damage in ideal conditions.
Heavy Crossbow is by no means your ideal attack. It’s worse than the Halberd in every way except its range. If you have no better option, it’s a reasonable fallback. Otherwise, you should do your best to get your merregons within 10 ft. of the enemy.
Loyal Bodyguard. When another fiend within 5 feet of the merregon is hit by an attack, the merregon causes itself to be hit instead.
Loyal Bodyguard is the polar opposite of the goblin boss’ Redirect Attack. Instead of throwing an ally into harm’s way to protect yourself, you use Loyal Bodyguard to take the hit for ally fiend. This is useful for protecting other merregons, but it’s particularly useful for ensuring that your commander isn’t felled.
Keeping your commander alive should be your merregon’s primary objective. They are at their peak when they have a CR6+ fiend nearby.
45 HP may not seem like a lot, but when it’s backed up by a laundry list of damage resistances and immunities as well as a respectable 16 AC, it’s difficult to chip down that HP effectively.
You can effectively double the 45 HP thanks to how many damage resistances and immunities they have. Not only that, but these resistances and immunities are all for common damage types. There’s a good chance that everyone in the adventuring party is going to be hindered by these resistances and immunities.
Honestly, 45 HP isn’t even that bad for a CR 4 creature to start with. Even if you can attack with a magical weapon to ignore their damage resistance, it’s still going to take you a few solid hits to bring a merregon down.
Bane of Magic Users
Magic Resistance and Devil’s Sight both aid in shrugging off crowd control spells and magical effects. There’s a good chance the party’s magic users are going to dump extra spell slots in order to effectively damage or crowd control a merregon compared to the average creature. These guys eat spell slots for breakfast!
Their Dexterity and Constitution modifiers are above-average as well. This means that even before Magic Resistance got involved, they had favorable odds for 2/3 of the “big 3” saving throw ability scores. This only aids them further when rolling with advantage for saving throws against magical effects.
Merregons also have immunity to the frightened and poisoned conditions. These are two types of crowd control spells that they won’t even have to make a saving throw for. Again, they’re limiting the enemy spellcasters’ usefulness against them.
A merregon is a creature of attrition. Sure, you can blow some high-level spell slots to take them down, but you’re doing so against CR 4 creatures. Spellcasters are going to have to manage their resources with extra care if they are going head-to-head against an army of merregon.
Solid Damage, with Plenty of Range
Multiattack gives the merregon an average of 18-27 slashing damage with Halberd each round. This is of course done throughout the course of 2-3 attacks per round. This is decent damage for a CR 4 creature to begin with, but it comes with a perk.
That perk is, of course, a reach of 10 ft. Reach does quite a few things. Chiefly it ensures that you have a whole 5 ft. space between yourself and the enemy, giving you some extra room to maneuver around melee combatants.
Reach also increases the range that you can trigger opportunity attacks with. This limits the enemy’s ability to maneuver around you. Basically, you’re giving yourself some extra movement and maneuverability while hindering the enemy’s.
They also have the option of using Heavy Crossbow which, while not the most optimal of attacks, is better than nothing. Options are always nice to have.
It was extremely difficult to pick out two weaknesses for the merregon, so I didn’t! They’re a very well-balanced creature in my opinion. Their defensive and offensive options hit the nail on the head for a CR 4 creature.
Sub-Optimal When Not Paired With a CR 6+ Fiend
A merregon needs a CR 6+ fiend within 60 ft. of them to be at their peak effectiveness. This is for two reasons really, but the mechanical reason is pretty obvious.
Mechanically speaking, they need this CR 6+ fiend within 60 ft. of them to unlock their third Halberd attack included in their Mulitattack. This gives them an additional 9 average slashing damage per turn. This 9 average slashing damage puts them at 27 average slashing damage per round which is within the realm of a true CR 4 creature’s damage.
They’re still a perfectly fine CR 4 creature even without this 3rd attack, but they’re suboptimal if they’re not making the most of their action economy.
The second reason is that they’re at their core, unintelligent creatures that serve only to obey their master’s orders. If they are not paired with a CR 6+ fiend that is also intelligent enough to call out tactics and battle plans, they’re not going to be striking with peak efficiency.
Their 120 ft. of telepathy is helpful in this regard. They could have a hidden commander giving them telepathic orders still, even if they don’t have a fiend in the immediate vicinity to guide them, though they’d miss out on that third Halberd attack in this scenario.
How to Play a Merregon
Protect Your Master
Someone is giving your merregon orders, and there’s a good chance they’re fighting alongside them on the battlefield. It’s imperative that they are kept alive for as long as humanly possible.
As I mentioned before, having a CR 6+ fiend within 60 feet of your merregons gives them an additional Halberd attack per turn. Plus, they need someone to direct their attacks and give them orders as they don’t have the capabilities of thinking for themselves. It’s in their best tactical interest to preserve this leader, even if it means sacrificing themselves.
Protecting their leader is also how a merregon would function based on their official lore. They are purpose-built to serve a devil as a bodyguard or as part of their army. Their sole purpose is to follow orders and protect their master.
Smash Through the Enemy Line
The merregon is a creature of attrition. They will suck up the resources of enemy spellcasters and force others to sacrifice resources and time in order to get an ideal attack off on an enemy merregon.
Due to their excellent defenses against magical effects and spells they can practically shrug off a magic user’s attempts at barraging them. Their devil overlord may instead opt to tell them to simply smash into the enemy’s frontline to provide a distraction for stronger devils to take out the party’s backline characters.
If a merregon is left to their own devices, they’d most likely just swing at whatever it is that’s in their way. They don’t have the intellect to determine what the most optimal target would be. However, they have enough wisdom to tell them who is a direct threat to them so their tactics may change as the battle unfolds.
Five Merregon Plot Hooks
- Invasion from hell – A small village has been ransacked by what can be described as faceless warriors that do not speak.
- On the run from the faceless warriors! – You’ve escaped the prison, but can you outrun demonic soldiers with only one goal – to capture you?
- Hell’s Army – An army of devils has beseiged the nearby city, and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon despite their numerous casualties.
- Assassinating the demon lord! – Your goal is to slay the demon lord, but his unshakable bodyguards have not left any openings for you. How do you distract or dispatch of guards that have no free will or selfish intentions?
- Repenting a tortured soul – An elderly mercenary seeks to do good in this world so that he will not become a merregon in death. However, he’s too old and frail to do anything on his own. He needs you to aid him in his quest of redemption!
Honestly, this was probably the Monster Monday that’s taken me the most time to choose a creature. There were so many devils to choose from, but I believe I nailed it. Merregons are deceptively complex creatures for what at first glance looks like a simplistic melee soldier type creature.
Like most devils, their Magic Resistance, Devil’s Sight, and damage/condition immunities and resistances will give spellcasters a run for their money. They have really, very few weaknesses that I can think of despite being a well-balanced for a CR 4 creature.
Their lore isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s just enough to give you a few cool ways to work them into your game. They’re a solid creature that can be justified to be basically anywhere that has a devil or involves devils to some degree.
The merregon is a great creature. They may not jump out at you as something spectacular in any specific way, but they serve their purpose and they serve it well.
What happens if the Merregon blocks a shot that hit an AC lower than its own? Does it take no damage?
Personally, I would still have the merregon take damage specifically because the wording is that “the merregon causes itself to be hit instead” and not that the merregon becomes the target of the attack.
What makes this feature powerful is that you can decide after the original creature is hit if the merregon should take the damage instead.
In terms of flavor, think of it as the merregon throwing themself in harm’s way. They won’t actively be trying to deflect the attack. They’re simply trying to take the shot for their ally.