Meenlock Tactics

Meenlocks are the unseeliest of the unseelie fey: deformed, sadistic, dark-dwelling predators. They look like a cross between a lobster, a stag beetle and Jeff Goldblum in The Fly (toward the end of the movie, not the beginning). They’re halfling-size and not very strong, relying on Dexterity-based shock attacks, psychic terror and a paralyzing touch to take down victims quickly. They may also hunt in groups.

Because of their Light Sensitivity feature, which gives them disadvantage on attacks and Perception checks in bright light, meenlocks shun daylight. However, because the frightened condition requires their prey to see them in order to suffer disadvantage from their Fear Aura feature, total darkness isn’t ideal, either, unless their prey has darkvision. Thus, meenlocks are most active at twilight, though they’ll also be drawn to the dim light of torches and campfires at night.

Dim light also allows meenlocks to take full advantage of their Shadow Teleport feature, even in view of creatures with darkvision—both the space it’s teleporting from and its destination must be in dim light or darkness, regardless of whether these spaces are unobscured or only lightly obscured to an onlooker. Because this is a recharging feature, available on average one turn out of three, Shadow Teleport is more useful as an ambush tactic than as an escape tactic—it simply isn’t reliable enough for the latter. The fact that it’s a bonus action means that it can be combined with an attack, and a meenlock will usually use this bonus action first, then attack as a follow-up action.

Meenlocks’ claw attack has a chance of paralyzing an opponent, a disastrous condition for anyone who suffers from it: the paralyzed individual is unable to take actions or reactions, fails all Strength and Dexterity saving throws, and takes critical damage from every close-range hit. Fortunately (or unfortunately), meenlocks aren’t out to kill their prey, but to abduct and torture them and turn them into new meenlocks.

Thus, a meenlock attack typically looks something like this: When the light is dim, a meenlock Shadow Teleports up to an isolated victim and attacks with its claws until one of three things happens: the victim is paralyzed, the victim is killed, or the meenlock’s Shadow Teleport recharges. If this feature recharges before the meenlock has succeeded in paralyzing a victim, it gives up and teleports away, though it may try again presently if it’s not moderately or seriously wounded (reduced to 21 hp or fewer).

If a meenlock does manage to paralyze a victim, it stops attacking and tries to haul him or her away. The description of Shadow Teleport doesn’t say whether a meenlock can carry a victim with it when it makes the jump, and unless I hear otherwise, I’m going to assume it can’t. On the other hand, a paralyzed character can’t move and can’t resist being moved, so the meenlock dragging him or her shouldn’t be subject to the 50 percent movement penalty for dragging a grappled victim, either. So in the same turn that it paralyzes its victim, the meenlock will also use its full 30 feet of movement to abscond with him or her. On subsequent turns, as long as the paralysis hasn’t worn off, it will Dash. If the paralysis does wear off, it goes back to square one, attacking with its claws with intent to paralyze again—unless it’s wounded and its Shadow Teleport has recharged. Then it splits.

A group of meenlocks will be more aggressive and less skittish, staying in the fight until they’re seriously wounded (reduced to 12 hp or fewer) but also focusing more on making sure they can capture at least one victim than on trying to get away with one each. Although they aren’t super-intelligent or creative, they can coordinate to the extent of, say, having two run interference while the other two paralyze and drag away a victim.

Meenlocks are mostly indiscriminate in their target selection, generally picking out whichever person in a group is most physically isolated. However, they do know better than to try to take down the largest person in the group. All other things being equal, they’ll favor a smaller target over a larger one—avoiding dwarves, though, because they’re more likely to resist paralysis.

A single meenlock will flee when seriously wounded (reduced to 12 hp or fewer) regardless of its degree of success so far.

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One thought on “Meenlock Tactics

  1. I heartily admire your analysis. I have been playing D&D since the box sets, and concur that credible monster actions are essential to game satisfaction. Thank you so much for making this resource available to the gaming community.

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