Auntie Ethel/Combat

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This page focuses on Auntie Ethel's behavior during her combat encounter, and tactics for overcoming her. She can be fought as a boss in the Riverside Teahouse in the Sunlit Wetlands if the party choose to meddle in her affairs.

Auntie Ethel can be encountered again as a boss in Act 3 within The Blushing Mermaid.

Attacks and abilities[edit | edit source]

Generic Summon.webp

Now which is which?
Generic Summon.webp

You'll never find your Auntie Ethel.
Generic Summon.webp

Better choose the right one, dearie.
Ray of Sickness.webp
D8 Poison.png 2d8 (2~16) Damage TypesPoison damage

Possibly Poisons Poisons the target.
CON Save
 Range: 18 m / 60 ft
Throw.webp
Throw Throw ()   –  Poisonous Slime Bomb
Normal weapon damage

Throw a character or item from the world or your inventory.

Your Strength affects how much weight you can throw. Heavier items deal more damage.

The damage of weapons with the thrown property is the same as the weapon's melee damage.

 Range: 18 m / 60 ft
Throw.webp
Throw Throw ()   –  Flammable Slime Bomb
Normal weapon damage

Throw a character or item from the world or your inventory.

Your Strength affects how much weight you can throw. Heavier items deal more damage.

The damage of weapons with the thrown property is the same as the weapon's melee damage.

 Range: 18 m / 60 ft
Vicious Mockery.webp
D4 Psychic.png 2d4 (2~8) Damage TypesPsychic damage

Insult a creature: it has Disadvantage Icon.png Disadvantage on its next Attack roll.
WIS Save
 Range: 26 m / 87 ft
Generic Physical.webp
Claws Claws ()
D8 Slashing.png 2d8 (2~16) Damage TypesSlashing damage

Lash out with deadly claws.
 Melee: 1.5 m / 5  ft
Hold Person.webp

Hold a humanoid enemy still. They can't Move, Act, or React. Attacks from within  Range: 3 m / 10 ft are always Critical Hits.

At the end of each turn, the affected creature can make a Wisdom Saving throw to end this condition.

WIS Save
 Range: 18 m / 60 ft
Mending.webp

Fix a broken item.

Allies[edit | edit source]

Encounter[edit | edit source]

Fight in the Teahouse[edit | edit source]

Ethel can be attacked in her human form in the Riverside Teahouse, though she will try to make this encounter as brief as possible. +7 Initiative gives her a high turn priority and prevents preemptive strikes. She will prioritize fleeing through her fireplace using Break Illusion in the first few turns, and will summon the 4 redcaps outside if the party did not already kill them. Sometimes, attempting to destroy her here requires bringing her hit points to zero before she can take a single action.

She may further attempt to evade aggression by drinking a Potion of Invisibility; this can be thwarted by pickpocketing or purchasing it from her in conversation. Ethel may use scrolls in this phase, if they are part of her trader inventory. The player can greatly delay her flight and trap her upstairs by casting Arcane Lock on the staircase into her lair.

Fight in the Overgrown Tunnel[edit | edit source]

The first turns of the Auntie Ethel fight are pre-determined. Unless the player launches a preemptive strike while hidden, Auntie Ethel will initiate combat through dialogue when approached. Her first turn in combat, when started this way, will always be throwing a flammable slime bomb on Mayrina's suspended cage.

If the player did not previously kill or incapacitate her Mask servants (e.g. Mask of Regret), she spends a turn summoning them to her side as allies. If they were already dealt with, she casts Auntie's Trickery Auntie's Trickery instead.

Each clone of Auntie Ethel functions as a duplicate of the hag, having all of her magical abilities but lacking the bombs in her inventory. Each of them will be dispelled upon taking any amount of damage. Necessarily, they also cannot summon additional clones of themselves. If they are all defeated, Ethel can refresh their supply with A Coven of Hags A Coven of Hags - this time, however, the original hag will be invisible rather than in the mix of illusions, and the number of illusions summoned can vary. She will also eventually use Damsel in Distress, a wily illusion where she teleports Mayrina into her proximity and adopts her appearance.

When not playing mind games, Ethel barrages the party with Ray of Sickness Ray of Sickness, traps them with Hold Person Hold Person, and pelts them with her limited supply of poisonous slime bombs. She mixes in melee attacks and Vicious Mockery Vicious Mockery - two attacks she falls back on when out of grenades and spell slots.

Bargaining for Auntie Ethel's Hair[edit | edit source]

When brought down to 30 health or lower, when she takes her next turn, Auntie Ethel will bargain for her life in exchange for a piece of Auntie Ethel's Hair- a powerful buff that permanently increases one of a character's stats by 1. She will not do anything else on this turn; if the party declines her offer or fails a conversation ability check, the turn will immediately pass to the next character, allowing the hag to be rapidly dispatched. Any surviving Masks become docile upon her death.

Notes

  • Auntie Ethel will only offer this deal if fought in the depths of her lair, not in the teahouse.
  • She will be unable to bargain for her life if she is Silenced Silenced.
  • On Honour Mode any attempt to cast a spell during this dialogue (such as Enhance Ability Enhance Ability) can trigger her Honour Mode passive and cause the fight to resume, preventing the party from getting the Hag hair.

Honour mode[edit | edit source]

Auntie Ethel gains Legendary Action: Weird Magic Surge on Honour mode, punishing the player for casting spells by multiplying Ethel's presence with more illusory copies. The legendary action can be triggered during the bargaining conversation, causing the conversation to exit as if the party had declined the offer.

Tactics[edit | edit source]

It is very important to take out Ethel's illusory copies as quickly as possible. Since the illusions can cast Hold Person Hold Person, it is entirely possible for them to end up paralyzing the entire party. Magic Missile Magic Missile is a particularly effective counter to them since it can hit many of the illusions at once and any amount of damage is enough to dispel them. When playing on Honour Mode, however, spell use is heavily punished, so area-of-effect weapons become quite important, along with party members dual-wielding hand crossbows for extra shots. A character with high movement speed (e.g. through Haste Haste or Longstrider Longstrider) with active Spirit Guardians Spirit Guardians will also make quick work of the clones without triggering Legendary Action: Weird Magic Surge multiple times. Even a lowly void bulb will dispel the illusory copies if it catches them in its pull.

Ethel's copies can be distinguished from the original by selecting "Examine" on them and looking for the feature Fey Life. This is granted by an item that the real Auntie Ethel is wearing (Tarnished Charm) which is not duplicated for the clones, so they do not have this feature. Another way is to check Ethel's clothing : the real hag has red clothes, while the clones have blue clothes. And yet another method is to pay attention to the turn order- the real Ethel will always be in the same spot in the turn order.

Her illusory disguise as Mayrina also has many hints that reveal her true identity. Examining the two's statistics reveals key differences (such as the Fey Life feature once again) that can uncover the true victim. Alternatively, looking at the character models will reveal the truth since only the real Mayrina is pregnant.

Auntie Ethel is also very vulnerable to being silenced, since it limits her moveset to just melee attacks and grenades. Striking her with silencing weapons, such as the Sussur Dagger or Sussur Greatsword, is the best way to inflict this condition since the main alternative, the spell Silence Silence, can be easily walked out of. However, being Silenced Silenced will prevent Ethel from bargaining with the hag hair.

Act Three[edit | edit source]

Auntie Ethel is encountered once more in Act Three. She can be fought upstairs in The Blushing Mermaid, where she is disguised as Captain Grisly, or in her lair in the bar's basement.

Attacks and Abilities[edit | edit source]

Generic Summon.webp

Now which is which?
Ray of Sickness.webp
D8 Poison.png 2d8 (2~16) Damage TypesPoison damage

Possibly Poisons Poisons the target.
CON Save
 Range: 18 m / 60 ft
Insect Plague.webp
D10 Piercing.png 4d10 (4~40) Damage TypesPiercing damage

Locusts attack everyone within range, make the area Difficult Terrain, and impose Disadvantage Icon.png Disadvantage on Perception Checks.

Ethel and her allies are immune to the effects.

CON Save
 Range: 18 m / 60 ft
AoE: 6 m / 20 ft (Radius)

Allies[edit | edit source]

Encounter details[edit | edit source]

Ethel's abilities and tactics are much the same, simply scaled-up with the levels, with several additional twists:

Pearlspore Bells[edit | edit source]

In order to truly kill Ethel, it's necessary to destroy her Pearlspore Bells. These lustrous mushroom clumps will revive the hag each time she is felled, if left unchecked. The Pearlspores will automatically heal to full at the end of each round, requiring them to either be burst down with massive damage in a single turn or for the party to employ heal prevention, e.g. Arrows of Ilmater. Party members with the Sharpshooter feat should fire at the Pearlspores with the "Sharpshooter all-in" passive toggled on, as hitting is guaranteed and thus the extra damage will always be applied.

Hag Pregnancy[edit | edit source]

For full details, see Save Vanra

Ethel has eaten Vanra, hoping to transform the girl into a hag to grow her coven. Killing Ethel kills Vanra as well, locking the party out of any quest rewards later on. To avoid this, it's possible to enable non-lethal attacks when dealing the killing blow, prompting instead a cutscene where Vanra is manually freed from an unconscious Ethel's belly. Alternatively, progressing through Help the Hag Survivors can provide the party with Hag's Bane, which when thrown will force Ethel to vomit the kid. Being pregnant does not imbue any inherent combat bonuses, other than the tension of potential quest failure. If released, Vanra will run into a corner of the room -- the party must thenceforth be cautious about stray area-of-effect damage nearby.

Invisible Copies[edit | edit source]

After her first group of illusory copies has been summoned, any future groups that Ethel summons will also now be Invisible Invisible, making their dispatch trickier and increasing the likelihood they will survive to deal extra damage. The straightforward way to deal with this is area-of-effect damage such as smokepowder bombs/arrows, void bulbs, alchemist's fire, etc. However an additional albeit cheesy technique involves activating the jump ability with a party member (preferably one with high strength and therefore more jump range), and moving the target cursor slowly across the floor: places where the cursor won't allow a jump but which are not otherwise obstructed indicate the presence of an invisible baddie.

Haste Spores[edit | edit source]

A minor but useful feature of Ethel's lair in Act 3 is the barrelstalk fungus on the upper platform (near a patch of smaller mushrooms). Standing directly adjacent to the barrelstalk will confer Haste Spores Haste Spores on any party members who do so, allowing them an extra action per turn.

Footnotes[edit | edit source]