I’ve gotta be honest: I picked korreds to examine in this post essentially at random. I didn’t have anything else on my to-do list, and I flipped through Volo’s Guide to Monsters until I saw one that looked interesting. Turns out, korreds are cool. And hilarious.
They have a feature called Command Hair.
What would really be awesome would be if they could command other creatures’ hair, or just hair clippings swept up from the floor of the barbershop, but alas, they can command only their own hair. That alone is brilliant, though.
Oh, also, they’re Small creatures, but they’re ridiculously strong. Tough, too, with a sizable reservoir of hit points and 7 points of natural armor. They’re practically made to be underestimated.
Their extraordinary Strength and Constitution identify them as brute fighters, although they can do significantly more damage by hurling rocks. They can burrow as quickly as they can run. They have proficiency in Athletics, Perception and Stealth, and the Stone Camouflage feature gives them advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in rocky terrain. They’re resistant to physical damage from nonmagical weapons. They have long-range darkvision and tremorsense. Like little Antaeuses, they do extra damage when standing on the ground (as opposed to levitating or hanging from trees, I guess).
They have Innate Spellcasting and can cast conjure elemental and Otto’s irresistible dance once per day each. I’m not sure Otto’s is a spell they’ll make much use of, though, since the DC to resist it is only 13. Not many mid-level adventurers, and hardly any high-level adventurers, will have any difficulty beating that.
Because of its low spell save DC, the timing is finicky: any attack against the involuntarily frolicking target will have to take place between a korred’s casting of the spell and that target’s own turn to receive advantage. It does have the advantage of forcing the target to waste his or her action on the saving throw to regain self-control, but really, this is just trading one of the korred’s actions for one of the target’s. It’s only worth the cost if a group of korreds outnumber their opponents.
Also, both conjure elemental and Otto’s require concentration, and the former is far more useful. When you’re planning a korred encounter, make sure you include the CRs of any elemental allies you plan to have them summon. Also note that an elemental may go rogue if the concentration of the korred who summoned it is broken—unlikely, given their +5 on Constitution saving throws, but possible. None of the spells that a korred can cast at will—commune with nature, meld into stone or stone shape—requires concentration, so any of these can be cast while a summoned elemental is on the field, although commune with nature is a ritual and not useful in combat anyway, and stone shape is more a favor they might do if they’re friendly. Meld into stone, however, is a handy escape hatch (see below).
Finally, there’s Command Hair. Specifically, a korred can command a rope woven from its own hair to grapple and restrain an enemy. Again, the DC is a lowish 13, but the korred commands its rope as a bonus action, so it doesn’t have to consume its action as it would to cast Otto’s irresistible dance. A korred can Multiattack as its action and Command Hair as a bonus action. And it should Command Hair first, because if it succeeds in restraining its target (which it has a slightly less than 50/50 chance of doing), it will have advantage on its own Multiattack. Command Hair also doesn’t grant additional Strength saving throws or Athletics or Acrobatics checks to break free—if a target fails the Dex save to avoid being entangled, that target can break free only by destroying he rope. And the rope regenerates, albeit slowly.
“In the depths of the Material Plane, korreds typically flee from other creatures but become aggressive when they feel insulted or are annoyed by the sounds of mining,” the flavor text in Volo’s states. Korreds are chaotic neutral, suggesting that while their default attitude is indifference rather than hostility, they greatly prefer to be left alone. Korreds who attack a party of player characters are likely to be reacting to one (or both) of two things: the PCs’ own transgressions against them, or the transgressions of other humanoids they’ve encountered recently.
Korreds that are anticipating a combat encounter will lie in wait, concealed among rocks by their Stone Camouflage feature and Stealth skill, and try to attack with surprise. They begin with Command Hair, which technically isn’t an attack, so it doesn’t give away their hidden positions. Whether or not the targets are restrained, they follow up with a Multiattack action, hurling rocks if any are available (as they will be in any mountainous setting and some subterranean settings), charging and attacking with greatclubs otherwise. If any conjured elementals will be fighting alongside them, they will have summoned these creatures already, before the start of the battle, and will no longer have the conjure elemental spell available to cast.
On the other hand, if an encounter between PCs and korreds happens by chance and turns hostile,
casting conjure elemental is the first thing the korreds will do, followed by Command Hair as a bonus action. On subsequent rounds, they’ll Command Hair if they still can and still need to, they’ll merely follow their usual formula of Command Hair as a bonus action, followed by a Multiattack action.
Note, incidentally, that korreds aren’t limited to a single restraining rope of hair: “The korred has at least one 50-foot-long rope woven out of its hair” (emphasis mine). A single korred may carry several—as many as you, the dungeon master, believe are needed—and may have several targets restrained at once, each by a separate rope. It can command only one rope at a time, though.
Also note that while korreds’ tactics aren’t super-sophisticated (Command Hair, Multiattack, repeat), they choose their battles and their targets shrewdly. Korreds will seek first to restrain, then attack, those targets who can do the most damage to them—especially opponents carrying magic weapons, opponents with Extra Attack and spellcasters. And they won’t pick any fight in which they’re clearly overmatched—or rather, they’ll attack only in numbers great enough for them to win.
Although Command Hair seems like a valuable feature for taking captives, korreds have no use for prisoners. While they’re not malevolent by nature, if they’ve decided to fight you at all, they’re probably going to try to kill you. They know a lot of languages, though, if you want to try to talk them out of it.
When a korred is seriously wounded (reduced to 40 hp or fewer), it retreats, but how it retreats depends on the terrain. If there’s any solid rock close at hand, the korred uses meld into stone to escape into the rock itself, leaving no way for a pursuer to follow. If not, it burrows through the earth at 60 feet per round using the Dash action.
Next: darklings, quicklings and redcaps.